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Old 11-05-2018, 03:33 PM   #1
mattmass
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Default Cost difference between finished and framed home?

We are looking at having a new home built in Meredith next fall. We currently have two local builders quoting a finished 1,730 sq. ft. retirement home for us stick built. I have had a great deal of experience in my 30 years as a home owner at interior and remodeling work like flooring, tile, painting, cabinets and plumbing. I would love to have a turn key finished home but I am starting to get fearful of not being able to swing the total cost all at once. Since I am still working for another 4 years I was thinking perhaps I could have the house framed with heat and one working bathroom and I could work and finance the completion of the interior over time myself with an occasional sub if needed. What would the cost difference be between a finished turn key home and a framed home per square foot?
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Old 11-05-2018, 04:33 PM   #2
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We are looking at having a new home built in Meredith next fall. We currently have two local builders quoting a finished 1,730 sq. ft. retirement home for us stick built. I have had a great deal of experience in my 30 years as a home owner at interior and remodeling work like flooring, tile, painting, cabinets and plumbing. I would love to have a turn key finished home but I am starting to get fearful of not being able to swing the total cost all at once. Since I am still working for another 4 years I was thinking perhaps I could have the house framed with heat and one working bathroom and I could work and finance the completion of the interior over time myself with an occasional sub if needed. What would the cost difference be between a finished turn key home and a framed home per square foot?
It is very hard to say without a lot more information such as excavation required and interior and exterior finish choices. A complete turn key could be anywhere between 125 a square foot and 250 on upward depending on choices
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Old 11-05-2018, 04:53 PM   #3
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Hmm. Can you even find someone that would build that without finishing it? Not much margin there for a builder when times are pretty good.
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Old 11-05-2018, 05:04 PM   #4
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We are looking at having a new home built in Meredith next fall. We currently have two local builders quoting a finished 1,730 sq. ft. retirement home for us stick built. I have had a great deal of experience in my 30 years as a home owner at interior and remodeling work like flooring, tile, painting, cabinets and plumbing. I would love to have a turn key finished home but I am starting to get fearful of not being able to swing the total cost all at once. Since I am still working for another 4 years I was thinking perhaps I could have the house framed with heat and one working bathroom and I could work and finance the completion of the interior over time myself with an occasional sub if needed. What would the cost difference be between a finished turn key home and a framed home per square foot?
Any work you can do yourself is going to save you a significant amount of money especially interior work which is the most costly and time consuming. Most of this is not rocket science it really comes down to what is your time worth and do you have the time to do it. Playing weekend warrior gets old after a while and progress will go at a snails pace when you only have a day or two at a time to get things done and working alone or with limited help.

Keep one other thing in mind you'll be pushing your luck if you are actually staying in a building that doesn't have a certificate of occupancy. Granted you don't have to be finished but there are aspects of the building that need to be there to get one... I think you'd want to pay to get that far then pick your battles from there.
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Old 11-05-2018, 05:18 PM   #5
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Keep one other thing in mind you'll be pushing your luck if you are actually staying in a building that doesn't have a certificate of occupancy. Granted you don't have to be finished but there are aspects of the building that need to be there to get one... I think you'd want to pay to get that far then pick your battles from there.
This is the key, one needs to understand what must be done to get a certificate of occupancy.... I do know that parts of a house can be left unfinished I have seen it many times... And also what constitues finished can vary....

In Ma. we had a certificate of occupancy, without finished bathroom floors, but the toliets, showers, and vanitys where installed and working... Likewise that same house had trimwork etc. that was not finished as well. Also fire Alarms had to be in place. In that case it seem part of the criteria was that all plumbing, and electrical work needed to be complete...... However I have also seen people get certificates with only a single bathroom complete....My experiences come from a variety of areas, and the bottom line is this... Talk with the town inspector about what the criteria are to get that certificate...

My guess to start is Fire Alarms must be in place, and a certain amount of fire safety must be completed (i.e. sheet rock)... Heating systems installed and working for a year around residence... And you likely need to have electrical and plumbing at a certain point.....
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:23 PM   #6
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I've used a company called Wallace Building Products out of Danbury NH before. They build your frame in a factory here in NH and then bring it over in panels on the back of a flatbed. A small crane shows up and 24 hours later your house is fully framed and reasonably weather tight (I don't think they do windows or shingles)

You could probably get a bid from them to come and do the same for you without including a GC. Then you'd just need a sitework and foundation guy to get it ready for the frame.

A friend of mine did something similar and bought a low cost, small, used RV which he parked on the property to have a place to sleep. I was shocked at how cheaply he was able to build his house.

Most contractors add a 20% markup plus all of the value of your free labor. I'm guessing the savings would be substantial. Every contractor I know is slammed right now. Also, I've been able to save a good bit by telling contractors that I don't have a set schedule and allowing them to fit me in between other jobs.

Best of Luck!
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Old 11-05-2018, 09:16 PM   #7
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Insurance co may give you a problem. Usually for a "Builder's risk"y want it finished and occupied within a year. Limited coverage for an unoccupied building.
You need a "Plan B" if you are personally unable to complete thew work you planned, to protect your investment to date. Hard to sell a work in progress if you have to go in another direction. A little different if you have the funds and are just trying to save money compared to building this way because you can't afford to do the standard building sequence.
My house started as a 1600 s.f. ranch, although the outside looked like a cape. The first floor was totally done and stubs went to the second floor for plumbing. Upstairs was unfinished and the builder's health failed. We had subs finish the second floor and then some additions brought it to a little over 3200 sf. Point is, the original living space was 100% finished, so no problems with bank, insurance, code enforcement, etc. Although I had/have various skills, I would not consider such an evolution at age 60 compared to age 30. You need a better plan, not just some partial building skills.
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Old 11-05-2018, 09:54 PM   #8
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Keep one other thing in mind you'll be pushing your luck if you are actually staying in a building that doesn't have a certificate of occupancy. Granted you don't have to be finished but there are aspects of the building that need to be there to get one... I think you'd want to pay to get that far then pick your battles from there.


He never said he was staying in the building while finishing, just that he wanted one finished bathroom. Which he could use while finishing the interior and not paying for a porta potty.


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Old 11-06-2018, 05:41 AM   #9
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If you need a loan, the bank will want it finished. I agree with others, the Certificate of Occupancy is the key. Ask the Meredith code officer what is required.
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Old 11-06-2018, 07:10 AM   #10
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I've built a couple houses that way. It will save you money but it will also take a lot longer than you expect. The ones I did all took about 5 years to completely finish.
As far as the occupancy permit is concerned I doubt any building inspector would throw you out of your house as long as you had a functioning septic, running water, bathroom and were only using it on weekends. I've seen some camps around the lakes that are a lot worse and have been used that way for ever.
Many towns will allow a trailer for a year while building but I've seen people stretch that longer than a year.
The first home I built that way was 30 years ago. I tried to get an occupancy permit with one functioning bathroom and they wouldn't give it to me.
I told the building inspector I was moving in anyway because I had no where else to go.
I did the kitchen my first week in the house and it took me 5 years to complete that house. I never got an occupancy permit.
I borrowed money from my in laws to finish the house then got a mortgage after that 3br, 2 1/2 bath house was completed to pay them back all without an occupancy permit. My kids crawled around on plywood floors for a few years, heaven forbid!
I sold the house after about 12 years and that guy just sold it recently and no one has ever discovered that it never had an occupancy permit. Oh, and by the way, it just sold for 750K.
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Old 11-06-2018, 07:42 AM   #11
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Thought Wallace was strictly commercial applications? Give them a try tho.

I do know Benson Woods out of Walpole will set up a home and you can finish it off without any monetary penalty. Give them a call.



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Originally Posted by winnipiseogee View Post
I've used a company called Wallace Building Products out of Danbury NH before. They build your frame in a factory here in NH and then bring it over in panels on the back of a flatbed. A small crane shows up and 24 hours later your house is fully framed and reasonably weather tight (I don't think they do windows or shingles)

You could probably get a bid from them to come and do the same for you without including a GC. Then you'd just need a sitework and foundation guy to get it ready for the frame.

A friend of mine did something similar and bought a low cost, small, used RV which he parked on the property to have a place to sleep. I was shocked at how cheaply he was able to build his house.

Most contractors add a 20% markup plus all of the value of your free labor. I'm guessing the savings would be substantial. Every contractor I know is slammed right now. Also, I've been able to save a good bit by telling contractors that I don't have a set schedule and allowing them to fit me in between other jobs.

Best of Luck!
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Old 11-06-2018, 03:36 PM   #12
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As far as the occupancy permit is concerned I doubt any building inspector would throw you out of your house as long as you had a functioning septic, running water, bathroom and were only using it on weekends. I've seen some camps around the lakes that are a lot worse and have been used that way for ever.
Whether the building inspector throws you out or not - legally speaking he or she could. Here is what the COO form states from the town of Meredith

No person shall use or permit the use of any building, structure, or premises, or parts thereof, herby erected, relocated, altered, converted or extended until a Certificate of Occupancy has been issued by the Building Inspector.

I don't think the intended purpose is in any way ambiguous.

From a traditional home mortgage and insurance standpoint, closing a mortgage on a house that is not issued a COO is not going to happen, I have been held up for this very reason. Insurance policies are written differently before and after considering before as it is assumed the house being under construction does not meet applicable codes therefore the liability and risk factors are far different.
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Old 11-06-2018, 03:57 PM   #13
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I'm not arguing the legality of it. I'm just stating from my experience. I've done it twice, never got an occupancy permit on either one and sold both houses with no issues. If you are just working on it on weekends and you have a working septic system with bathroom facilities I highly doubt they would throw you out unless you had neighbors complaining.
The log cabin across the street from me in Meredith was built about 10 years ago and I was told by my neighbors that he lived in it while he built it. They use to offer him up a room and shower but he refused prefering to camp out in his log home.
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Last edited by Biggd; 11-06-2018 at 05:19 PM.
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Old 11-06-2018, 05:26 PM   #14
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I'm not arguing the legality of it. I'm just stating from my experience. I've done it twice, never got an occupancy permit on either one and sold both houses with no issues. If you are just working on it on weekends and you have a working septic system with bathroom facilities I highly doubt they would throw you out unless you had neighbors complaining.
The log cabin across the street from me in Meredith was built about 10 years ago and I was told by my neighbors that he lived in it while he built it. They use to offer him up a room and shower but he refused prefering to camp out in his log home.
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Biggd, that was then.30 years ago, building laws were far more lax than they are now. I'm guessing the COO requirements have changed dramatically over the years, and not in a lenient way. Same thing with setbacks, sewer, water etc.

Glad you were able to do it.

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Old 11-06-2018, 05:37 PM   #15
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I wouldn't hesitate to do it again now. What's the worst that can happen, they tell you to get out. So then you get a trailer to stay in while you build. I think all the towns allow you a temporary trailer on site for up to one year.
You have the right to build your own home. You may not legally have the right to live there before you get an occupancy permit but it's highly unlikely that they would do anything to you if you were just spending weekend nights camping out there while you worked on it. Unless they had complaints from neighbors. Then they would have to act on those complaints.
I think the most important thing is a state approved septic system, electricity, running water, and a bathroom.

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Last edited by Biggd; 11-07-2018 at 09:49 AM.
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