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Is it really difficult and miserable to build a house

(19 Posts)
bran Sat 31-Oct-09 23:22:36

I hear so many tales of woe about house-building, is it ever straight-forward and easy?

If I have to ask does that mean that we are not the sort of people who should even attempt it? I'm quite pessimistic, and if Grand Designs is anything to judge by, people who build are bizzarely optimistic (at the start at least) and that seems to carry them through.

We wouldn't be actually building anything with our own hands, we would have an architect and a project manager etc. We would have quite a healthy budget to throw at it, but I imagine there would still be issues arising that will cause sleepless nights and marital discord. So would it be better to just buy a completed house if we can find one we both like?

bibbitybobbitycat Sat 31-Oct-09 23:25:13

I think it would be better to build your own house if you are confident of getting the right plot of land in the right location. There will be angst and heartache - but how fantastic to design your own house!

Singed Sat 31-Oct-09 23:32:32

Oh I would love to build my own house!!

Well not literally, I'm far too idle, but I'd love to live elsewhere in a proper house with walls and hot water and have a team of people build my dream house to MY specification and design. Then I could move in when it was finished and it would be shiny brand new, exactly as I'd want it and all perfect.

<hopes my lottery numbers came up tonight>

bran Sat 31-Oct-09 23:39:52

I think designing a house could be one of the major sources of marital discord tbh. grin DH is not great at 3-D visualisation, nor at describing what he wants/needs in more than general terms. I worry that we will build the house and when it's all done I will have the rest of my/his life with him saying "there should be a door here" or "this isn't what I asked for at all".

I have seen a site, which is what has triggered me off thinking about this. We are moving back to Dublin in the next few years and I have a feeling that there are several urban/suburban sites that would suit us. This is because when the property market was booming there the govt was keen to increase population density in the city and so encouraged people to divide their garden if it was large enough. Plenty of people built houses and sold them, but there were also quite a few who had been granted planning permission but hadn't started building when the bottom fell out of the market. Some of these are now on the market as sites with pp.

bran Sat 31-Oct-09 23:42:14

Signed, do you not have walls and hot water now? shock

I have to admit that there are some things that would attract me, like being able to have a better level of sound-proofing than most modern builds.

bran Sat 31-Oct-09 23:43:08

Sorry, Singed not Signed.

FiveGoMadonTheDanceFloor Sat 31-Oct-09 23:45:28

Go for it.

bran Sat 31-Oct-09 23:47:21

Have you built a house Five? Or are are you just being encouraging from the sidelines because I sound as though I want to do it. smile

Singed Sat 31-Oct-09 23:48:14

Sorry I just realised I didn't make myself very clear! (trying to type too quickly)

Oh I live in a lovely house now, we are very lucky. What I meant was, that if we built a house ourselves I couldn't live in it whilst it was being built, or in a caravan or something. I'd like to stay put until the new place was 100% finished.

I think if you have found the perfect site and have a good team the build would be worth doing.

SofiaAmes Sat 31-Oct-09 23:48:22

As an architect, I think that building your own house is as easy or hard as your architect is good or bad. A good architect will translate your dh's mutterings into functional architectural features while making sure that you both are getting what you want (and need). And a good architect will make sure that a good builder is hired who can build what the architect has designed for the price that was promised and in the time the was promised. But maybe I am a little biased.

MmeGoblindt Sat 31-Oct-09 23:57:07

I know lots of people who have built there own houses as it is very popular in Germany where we lived for many years.

I know that for some it was fabulous for some it was a nightmare. For all it was an extremely stressful time.

Even with a very good architect and project manager, you will have to be onsite a LOT to make sure things are progressing as you want them to.

GrendelsMum Sun 01-Nov-09 01:04:53

In Laws are building a house now - he loves every minute of it, she is just gritting her teeth to get through.

I think a lot of it's about personality - he has always wanted to do this and is fairly relaxed when things go wrong, get delayed etc, she is much more perfectionist and doesn't enjoy the process at all.

I think it can help if you have project management experience in other fields of work, though. Things do go wrong, inevitably, but it depends on your project management as to whether that is a major problem or not.

bran Sun 01-Nov-09 12:00:44

I'm a bit worried about having to be on-site MmeGoblindt. We are in London and will be moving to Dublin. I guess we would rent a house nearby and not start until then as I don't think I could cope at all with constant flying to and fro. I agree with Singed, I definitely couldn't live in a caravan while waiting for the house to be built. grin <shudder at the thought of coping in a small space with the large personality of DS.>

Both DH and I have a great deal of project managment and scheduling experience through work GrendelsMum. Unfortunately DH's experience doesn't transfer into non-work life at all. He is a workaholic and always puts that first. I find that outside of work if I want something done or organised then I need to do it myself. He will willingly agree to do something but needs a lot of nagging, and sometimes a full-blown argument, before he even starts. Once started he will continually try to delegate (to me). Anything he actually finishes will be sloppily done, not to agreed specification and it will somehow be my fault that it's gone wrong. I could give you yesterday's laundry as a prime example, but it's too dull to tell.

I think if we did build then SH would have to put in his requirements at the start and then not be involved too much. He's bound to be working anyway so won't have much time to spare. So it will all fall to me (including the blame if it goes wrong) and I'm not sure I can be bothered really. I'm fundamentally very lazy about organising things. I only have two modes, super-controlling, planning ahead, niggling at every detail or letting everything slide. TBH the super controlling mode is a bit exhausting. It was fine at work because if I let anything slide then it would be a nightmare at a later date and also because I could just switch off my work brain when I left the office, but I wonder if I would be very stressed by something that is more difficult to control and that would be harder to switch off from as I would be literally living with my mistakes.

bran Sun 01-Nov-09 12:24:35

On the other hand, of course, I might get really into the whole building thing and end up smugly living the rest of my life in a house that I love. My parents built their house and, while the site prevented them from building some of what they wanted, they still love it. (I don't BTW, my house will be nothing like theirs. grin)

GrendelsMum Sun 01-Nov-09 15:07:54

I think the project management does help a lot, because you're used to thinking in terms of job blocks, dependencies, fixed dates, etc etc, so you can make sensible plans at the start, and adapt them without difficulty when things go wrong. DH wanted to have all the work on our house done at once, to save money (i.e. every room in chaos simultaneously), but I have spread it out instead (i.e. one room being focused on at once), so that I can project manage it more easily.

I wouldn't do it if you don't want to, because it does seem to end up taking over your life. I've found myself doing major renovations on a house, and although luckily I very much enjoy it, I do step back from time to time and think 'hang on, I actually have interests and hobbies of my own, and I didn't choose to give them up'. It's really odd things that take up the time, like getting back from work and having to wash all the floors and wipe off all the surfaces in the house after the builders have been. (And I am NOT houseproud)

And DH has opinions but not much support - so yesterday some friends popped round for tea and asked him why all the plaster had been taken off the walls of one of the rooms - and he said 'oh, I don't know, ask GrendelsMum'. How can he not know why one of the rooms is totally unusable?

But having said that, it is good fun!

bran Sun 01-Nov-09 16:01:35

I suppose it might be good to have a project to occupy my mind. I do sort of miss the mental discipline since I stopped working 18 months ago. One of the other houses I've been considering needs so much doing to it that it would essentially be a rebuild, in some ways it's easier to know where to start when you're starting from scratch. A project would also give me something to do while I'm settling in and finding new friends, although I come from Dublin I've been away for so long that I don't have much of a network there. DS will be in school, and DD may well start pre-school so I'll have a bit of time on my hands.

Whatever we do, we won't be living in the mess. If we buy anywhere that needs something doing to it then we will rent first, although it will be a pain to move twice.

We're quite limited with location as DH doesn't drive, so need to be on a light rail/tram line. I also want the DC to go to one of a few secondary schools and don't want to have a long school run. This particular site is quite handy in its location, although the site itself is a bit limited. It's quite narrow and the front faces south, also the house design has to fit with the other houses on the road (Victorian/Edwardian/Arts and Crafts). My ideal house would be a sleek super-modern one with a south-facing back garden.

I'm probably pondering over nothing anyway, by the time we are looking to buy this site will probably have been sold.

darkbeforedawn Sun 01-Nov-09 16:26:51

I've been involved with self building. It's really a lot of work and a big learning curve. As seen on Grand Designs the people who do best are the ones who know what they want and don't change their minds, keep on top of what's happening on site, have a good architect and builder and don't get carried away with £5000 baths etc. If you are a good manager (of anything) you probably have the right skills.

danabu Mon 02-Nov-09 21:01:06

Definitely go for it. We built our house and although it's not perfect due to budget limitations and planning rules, we're very proud of what we achieved!

We didn't follow the rules(no architect or project manager or contracts with builders), but it was still relatively straight forward - I think we got lucky with our tradesmen. The one bit we thought we could do ourselves (decorating) still isn't finished 3 years later, but the arrival of two children is to blame for that.

If when we self build again it will be using an architect, with a bigger budget and definitely no caravan

bran Tue 03-Nov-09 09:02:03

I don't suppose anyone ever builds the perfect house danabu, there are always things that get in the way. My parents built their house to their own design (with architect-drawn plans) and 40 years on my Dad still sometimes talks about the house he would have built if the site hadn't been on such a slope. grin

We're not actually going to buy anything until next spring, so who knows the perfect ready-built house might just appear by then.

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