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  1. I know I am a little bit late, but congrats on the kickoff! My only comment: don’t go for two stories, if you are not absolutely sure if you need extra space. I talk from experience. Just go with one and an attic which can be turned into living place in case it is needed.
    [HCF] recently posted…Don’t save like DoryMy Profile

  2. What a great opportunity. (Land costs are a lot less in US than in the UK! $34k would get you a 0.05 acre plot outside Edinburgh. )

    My son and his wife did this last year in NZ. They really enjoyed doing it. Their biggest learning from it was – once you’ve got an agreed plan / design and gone to build. Don’t change anything! Those little add-ons really add-up! They also made their house as eco-friendly as possible, to minimise heating / air-con. Costs a bit more on the build but saves on ongoing costs.
    And finally – I agree with the stairs – my Mum at 94 was still climbing them several times a day – she reckoned they were a major contributor to her fitness.
    Erith recently posted…Save Money – Spend CashMy Profile

  3. Awesome! I’m with you- two stories instead of one. But I know how that argument ends. Geoarbitrage is inredible. We couldn’t touch anything for that price out here.

    Congrats on Groovy Ranch. Maybe we will stop by next year. But we want wear out our welcome. Nothing worse than a chowderhead guest that won’t leave. Nope, we will only hang for a few weeks. Two months, tops.
    Happy New Year!!

  4. We are in the design phase currently, and just got the floorplan finished. now moving on to electrical and interior elevations. It’s been fun, but some overages that we hadn’t considered prior to starting this are: electrical and water hookups are $5 and $15 per lineal foot from the street to the house. We’re looking at ~160′ from the road, so that’s extra $3200. The driveway is only covered for the first 90′, so the extra is on us. our building costs were estimated at $130/sq ft, but we didn’t account for the $40/sq ft for garage space and $80/sq ft for outside deck/patio areas.
    Our total is coming in a bit higher than we had originally planned, so we’ll probably delay construction a year to account for it.

    As far as a builder, we interviewed a few and looked at a couple of homes that were mid construction, pre-drywall phase to assess quality. We could ahve gotten it built for cheaper from other builders around the area, but we know that we won’t have to worry about anything shoddy, or half assed with our builder. To me, that’s worth the extra costs.

    I’m excited getting to read your posts on building Groovy Ranch. I’d go 2 stories or 1 floor with a bonus room(s) above the garage.
    Mr. SSC recently posted…“Tanks” for the Memories: Justifying Large ExpendituresMy Profile

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thanks for the heads up, Mr. SSC. No city water or sewer for us. We have to go with a well and septic system. We’ll see how much per leaner foot it will cost to bring electricity from the street to our home. I’m sure it will be in the $5-$10 range. And I’m budgeting for $150/sq ft. Mrs. G. thinks $125/sq ft is more likely, but I don’t want any surprises. Rather awesome a higher per sq ft costs and make we’ll never have to fret about our budget. And I hear ya about going with the more expensive builder. You get what you pay for, and some things should be done on the cheap. Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

  5. I have never had a home built before. I have watched my neighbor build one across the street from me a few years ago. It was fun to watch even though it was not mine. The greatest benefit is that you will be able to have it built exactly how you want it.
    Dave recently posted…Why You Need Health InsuranceMy Profile

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, Dave. That’s the game plan. We’re working out our finally needs and wants, and we’re meeting with a designer next week. Things are moving along. Cheers.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thanks, James. Appreciate it. It should be interesting. Oh, there’s a possibility we may be heading to your neck of the woods in 2019. The Albuquerque Balloon Festival is on my bucket list and we saw that Phoenix is only six hours away. I’ll keep you posted, my friend.

  6. Congratulations on finding and buying the land for Groovy Ranch! It looks like a great plot of land to build your dream home!

    I love that you guys bought your realtors a gift card to a local restaurant. I’ve always believed in rewarding people for outstanding work, and also leaving a good impression of yourself to others.

    I can’t wait to here the update in 2 weeks!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, Sean!

      Mr. Groovy will be doing weekly updates but we don’t plan to meet with the home designer for another two weeks. That wasn’t particularly clear.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thanks, Sean. Our realtors were really wonderful. They treated us like we were buying a $500K home rather than $34K piece of land. If you’re ever looking for a place in the Wake Forest area, I got a pair of realtors for you. Cheers.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, Steve. Only one of us loves the old classics but now you gave Mr. Groovy a reason to watch one with me.

      • Not in much detail. But after reading other stories I think we were in a weird situation.

        A home building company owned the lot – and in fact they owned every lot in the neighborhood. They had a selection of about 10-12 different floorplans, and you could customize them a bit.

        We went in, chose our lot, and our base model floorplan. We put down earnest money (1.5% of the purchase price) to get the lot secured for us so they wouldn’t sell it to someone else.

        A few months later we went into their design studio to pick out all of the finishes. We didn’t get to select whatever we wanted – we had to choose something they had pre-selected. Thankfully we loved everything so no worries there.

        About a week before they broke ground, another 1.5% down, and then they got moving. Construction lasted 4-5 months.

        A couple days before we closed, we wired money over. Our mortgage was through the financial arm of their construction company. They had the best rate but we were free to go with someone else if we’d wanted.

        Only ever dealt with one company, two or three people. It was incredibly seamless. Go in, choose your lot, choose your floorplan, choose your finishes, pay.

        In some ways it maybe would have been nice to design something from scratch, but in others this served our needs absolutely perfectly and I’m kind of glad I didn’t have to go through much hassle. The builders were quite reputable and we had a few friends who had homes built by them, so we knew what we were getting.
        Dave @ Married with Money recently posted…2017: A Year In Review (And 2018 Goals)My Profile

        • Your experience sounds like what happens in many of the subdivisions in our area. We would have gone through that with our current home, except that it was already built as a spec home. It was new, but we didn’t get to make any choices. Still, there were a bunch of upgrades in place we liked a lot.

          Thanks for sharing!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks Mr. DF!

      For the last 3 years of our employment Mr. Groovy and I both worked full-time jobs remotely from home. And some folks thought the arrangement wouldn’t last. It was easy. However, we didn’t have to make joint decisions for work like we will with building a home. Stay tuned…

  7. You definitely want to climb flights of stairs when you’re older. Mr. Fitbit wants me to climb 10 flights of stairs per day. You aren’t building south of the frost line so there will be days when you’ll not venture out onto icy sidewalks and trails. You can get your heart rate into the cardio zone very quickly climbing stairs. Use the handrails while descending when you start worrying about falling and breaking a hip. Don’t locate stairs someplace where you’ll fall down them while maneuvering into the house wearing a cast with arms full of groceries. Do locate stairs where you can ascend/descend them 10 times in a row without disrupting a sleeping or TV watching spouse.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Very true about the cardio, Steve. We won’t have many sidewalks where we live. We can make a path on our property but we’d still have to shovel or de-ice.

      Discussing this post has made us revert back to our first choice design, which is a two story farmhouse we both fell in love with. I think it may stick! If so, we’ll be sure to assess the placement of stairs.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Damn! Even though you took Mrs. Groovy’s side on the floor issue (I think), I still consider you one of my favorite bloggers. All’s fair in love, war, and house design opinions, I suppose.

  8. Hi Groovy’s

    This is going to be fun to follow. Like you, I just don’t see that off the shelf houses have what we want, so build your own sounds like a great option, although finding the right land in the right place is not so easy.

    By the way, on the stairs, no stairs issue – I’m for stairs. To me it feels defeatist to think that I wouldn’t be able to manage them in the future. I refuse to imagine that I’m not superman😂

    Good luck, David

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! We’re all supermen and superwomen until we’re not. But I’m with you, David. My parents are well into their 70s, and they don’t have any major problem with stairs. Also, Mrs. Groovy and I are in our late 50s and we’re in excellent shape. So I don’t think stairs will be a big issue 20 years from now. And don’t forget, this will probably won’t be our last home. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. I really appreciate it.

  9. Hey Mr. and Mrs. Groovy!

    What an awesome adventure! I know a few things about the subject because my wife Lily and I did a full-gut renovation in 2016. Here’s some of what we learned:

    I’m sorry to say that most building and reno jobs come in over budget and take longer than expected.

    Prepare for a big time commitment with lots of little decisions, almost on a daily basis.

    Make sure everything is done with permits and up to code.

    Consider a local carpenter/craftsman for the kitchen and/or other appropriate areas.

    All the big things should be good quality. Some cosmetic or easily replaceable parts, like closet doors, can be IKEA.

    Speaking of IKEA, there are plenty of blogs and websites with useful “IKEA hacks” you can use.

    E-mail communication with your builder is generally better than phone calls, because you have a record of all promises made, and misunderstandings are avoided.

    Lots of things can be bought online for big savings (like bathroom fixtures, etc.).

    Consider a Japanese toilet with a built-in electric bidet (Toto Washlet). They’re expensive, but will improve your quality of life on a daily basis. My best splurge ever!

    It’s all worth it in the end, because you have a custom house and know what it’s made of.



    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, Miguel. Very impressive list. You are a font of wisdom, my friend. I especially like the IKEA hack and email communication with the builder. And I’m very intrigued with the Japanese toilet. Mrs. G has just added it to her list of things to research. Like I said, you got a great mind for this stuff, and I can’t wait to hear your future input. Cheers.

    • Mr. Groovy

      You mean you don’t have $10 million to buy and renovate a beach-front property? I think you and I and just about everybody under 60 in the United States was born about 80 years to late. Housing was very reasonable in LA back in the 1940s and 1950s. But today? I shudder for young people in the LA area. I don’t know how the typical young person gets by. I understand paying a premium for paradise, but the LA premium is crazy. If it’s any consolation, I think the amenities and culture of LA far eclipse the amenities and culture of Louisburg, North Carolina. And the former are well worth a little home envy.

  10. Becky

    As Maarten pointed out be prepared for possible big bills to get your utilities. Even though we built near a neighborhood the cost of having electric and cable run to our property ran about 4K each. We waited several years for the cable and finally did it after not having internet service of any quality. Wish we had done it from the beginning but at that time it felt like we were bleeding money on our 225k home!
    Something that we indulged in and only wish that we had extended to other rooms in the house…heated tile floors in the bathroom. So nice on a cold morning and not too expensive if done from the beginning!
    We had our home designed as a ranch but it turned out that it was going to add about 25k to the price to go out instead of up. At that time it didn’t seem worth it to stretch the budget. We paid the designer another fee to come up with a plan that had a half story upstairs and shrank the footprint. The upstairs area Won’t be used as much when we are empty nesters. Everything essential is downstairs.
    Good luck! I learned so much while having our home built that I wish I had blogged like you are doing.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Wow, Becky. So many great suggestions. I think it’s time to get another spreadsheet together so we can track all the wonderful advice we’re getting. I hear ya about the heated bathroom floors. Mrs. G already has that on her wants list. And as far as utilities go, I think we’re good. There’s a small development behind our land, and it’s our understanding that electricity and cable are readily available. We’ll see. Thanks for stopping by, Becky. Your suggestions are definitely being added to our wants list spreadsheet. Cheers.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! Fritz asked the same question. Why is it that two the smartest bloggers I know think alike? I love it. And, yes, we’re going to keep a fight W/L tally.

  11. This is probably too late to bring up but one of our local families that built found out after the fact it would cost $10,000 to get cable into the house. They are now stuck in an internet desert. They’re only option is to get awful satellite internet.

    Good luck!!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, Maarten. According to our realtors and the one builder we’ve already met with, our area is covered by Time-Warner (Spectrum) for cable. So I think we’re good on this matter.

  12. It’s so exciting to be building your dream home from scratch. If it were me, I would definitely go with the 1-story because you never know when health issues might make that more practical. Then again, if you have 2 stories, you might postpone those issues with your stair climbing. As you can tell, I’d be a big help. Whatever you decide, just remember that a happy home is more important than a perfect house so try to enjoy the process together. I’m looking forward to the updates!
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted…My Holiday Wishes for a “Super” Year Ahead!My Profile

    • Mr. Groovy

      “If it were me, I would definitely go with the 1-story because you never know when health issues might make that more practical. Then again, if you have 2 stories, you might postpone those issues with your stair climbing. As you can tell, I’d be a big help.”

      LOL! You are awesome, Gary. I definitely have a man crush on you.

  13. Ranch, your knees will thank you! Have one bathroom with a tub. Walk in showers are nice but not always practical. At least a three car garage one door for storage and two for vehicles. Flooring quality pays for itself. If you decide to have a finished basement consider access ( getting stuff up and down the stairs, consider a lift!)

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, I’m the fabulous Mr. Groovy. My knees are impervious to the assault of excess body-weight and time. Haha! I hear ya, my friend. Your very sensible suggestions are duly noted.

  14. LOL, love this!! I’m with Mrs. Groovy on the gift cards, for the record. 🙂 I am so thrilled for you guys about this!! We haven’t built, but have been researching it for several years now. We may know a little bit. Biggest piece of advice right now, plan carefully and try and think outside the box. Don’t necessarily build a mini mansion, but tour some homes and think about some design features you may not have considered.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      My fiery redheaded/separated at birth friend agrees with me!

      The regs are strange here in NC. Have you ever heard of a non-refundable due diligence fee? This precedes the earnest money fee, which is refundable. The seller gets to keep the due diligence fee in return for taking his property off the market while in contract — whether the deal goes through or not.

      As Mr. G said, our realtors earned very little in commission fees (like, under $900 after working with us for a year). They’re also very by-the-book people who mentioned their agency is very strict with how money is handled. The last thing I wanted to do was create any issues for them.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, Laurie. I’m all about thinking outside the box. For instance…

      I would love corrugated steel to cover the outside walls.

      I would also love to put corrugated steel on our ceilings. I love that farmhouse/industrial look.

      I would love cheap, wide-plank pine for the floors painted a dark brown.

      I would love cheap pine shiplap for the walls painted white.

      I don’t want any upper cabinets in the kitchen. Open shelves supported by plumbing pipes would be perfect.

      I would also love base kitchen cabinets made out of two-by-fours, wrapped with reclaimed wood.

      I could go on, of course, but I think you see that I’m definitely an out-of-the-box guy. My only problem is that Mrs. G has a knack for smacking me back into the box.

      Thanks for stopping by, Laurie. Always a pleasure hearing from you.

        • Mrs. Groovy

          The due diligence fee is a recent development. I can sort of understand it. If a buyer isn’t particularly serious or credit-worthy, and a seller takes his home off the market, perhaps the seller should get something for his trouble? I think it’s more of an advisory to the buyer to be serious and have all his ducks in a row before making an offer. But its definitely not fair to a buyer who is totally serious, goes as far as paying for an inspection, finds something terribly wrong, and decides to walk away. In that case he gets his earnest money returned, but not the due diligence fee. That would hurt.

          I believe the commission is 6% here generally, but 5% on land.

  15. It is getting real on the Groovy Ranch! I am so impressed with you guys wanting to build a house and am so excited for this series to document the journey. Sounds like a lot of work, but that it will be completely worth it in the end.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, Mrs. WoW. I really appreciate your kind words. In fact, you’re making me blush! And you are absolutely right about the amount of work. I don’t know how people do it when they’re also working full-time jobs.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Absolutely. We just couldn’t find an existing home that met all our needs. We also wanted to bring at least one thing into this world before assume room temperature. Since we’re not having kids, a custom home is it.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, Jason. I’m looking forward to how our competing interests are resolved. On the one hand we want things like a farmhouse sink and a metal roof. On the other hand we want to keep the total cost to be under $200K. It should be interesting to say the least. No one every said building a home was going to be easy.

  16. Congrats on getting everything kicked off! We’re going to be going through the same process over the next 2 years, so I’m definitely going to use these for a look at what’s ahead 🙂

    The fight log is an awesome concept – I love that the first fight was about the gift card. You guys rock just got gifting those in the first place!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Oh, thank you, Chris. Yes, we felt so bad for our realtors. They really did an excellent job and their commission on the land sale was so small. So we felt the least we could do was get them a little something to show our appreciation. In the immortal words of Major Frank Burns, “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.”

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, Chris. As Mr. G mentioned, and as I explained to Laurie, our realtors earned very little off this deal. They’re good, solid people who sold homes to Groovy Sister-in-Law and Groovy Friends who relocated. I assume they get most of their business by referral but I have no doubt they’d treat a walk-in client with the same professionalism and courtesy. The better thing I made sure to do was to provide a good review to their broker-in-charge.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I curse Joanna and Chip Gaines! Yes, our new house, because it will be a classic farmhouse with shiplap walls, will be tailor-made for words on the walls. I’ll probably go with “RELAX” in my bathroom, unless I come up with something more suitable. Any suggestions?

  17. Louise

    How exciting! Best wishes to you on this lengthy process!
    As you make little models and imagine scenarios, or however you work, (a floorplan using flashlights to simulate morning sunrise coming in the windows?), consider the things we do that don’t matter the way they used to.
    Specifically: Laundry. It used to be outside, then in the basement, because it was hot and messy wet work. It isn’t anymore. Put the laundry room close to where you get undressed, (ie, bedroom).
    Think outside of the box and make sure your designer is good!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Excellent points, Louise. We always had our laundry room in the basement. The home we’re currently living in is the first one to have laundry right off the master bedroom. And it’s heaven! We won’t forgo this design feature in Groovy Ranch.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Weird. For some reason, your first comment went to spam. And I hear ya about the stairs. I’m fine with a one floor house. But one of the plans we fancy is a two-story and is perfect for the location. So we’ll see. Mrs Groovy and I have some homework to do this week. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. And sorry about the comment confusion.

  18. Pat

    Found you after subscribing to The Retirement Manifesto last year. When you work on the design, don’t forget to include things like a broom / utility closet and easily accessible general storage. We forgot the broom closet and it wasn’t until we added on that we finally got the closet we needed. We have tons of attic storage but as we get older, who wants to climb the attic pull down stairs. Also, consider including a second story if for nothing else but guest rooms and perhaps a bonus room and seasonal storage. This will allow you to keep your home’s footprint smaller while keeping everything you need for day to day living on one floor. Good luck with the house build!

    • Louise

      I worked with a realtor who said she studies every house to determine where she would put her broom and her Christmas tree.
      Imagining storage space is very hard.

      • Mr. Groovy

        Yes, imagining storage space is very hard. And easy to forget about when designing all the more glamorous parts of a home. We’ll try not to drop the ball when it comes to this.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, Pat. These were very good suggestions. It’s amazing how the absence of a few key things can really sour the enjoyment of a home. A broom closet/utility room and a coat closet are musts, and we’ll make sure to include them. Thanks again for your very wise council. I really appreciate it.

  19. Congrats…1 floor if you ask me…

    We are in the process too. Rebuilding our old home with changes on the inside. Fun and nerve racking all at the same time.

    Good luck, congrats, and happy New year’s.

    • Mr. Groovy

      LOL! Until 9 a.m. this morning, I thought we were all set with 1 floor. Oh, how I love Mrs. Groovy! Thanks for the well-wishes, DDD. And you know Mrs. Groovy and I extend the same graciousness to you. Can’t wait to share homebuilding “war stories” with you in the near future. Cheers.

  20. Cool post. I spent the weekend figuring out what we could afford as a second home. I’m considering starting out with a mobile home in Vermont, which will give me lower costs and an opportunity to discover how realistic it is to travel there (3 hr drive). Finding a reliable builder w/ staff is the hard part. These days it seem like even simple jobs turn into nightmare projects. Best of luck with it, it will be fun to follow along.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you for your kind words, Jim. I really appreciate it. And I hear about finding a reliable builder with competent subs. Most of the builders in the Raleigh/Wake Forest area are tract builders, building dozens if not hundreds of home. There are very few small guys who limit themselves to 5-6 custom homes a year. We found one promising builder so far. The few others we’ve reached out to don’t want anything to do with a one-off small home. This is definitely going to be interesting. Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

      • Good of you to follow that “storage/closets” advice above. We have the bare minimum – but there wasn’t much we could do. In a new build – it’s important. But we also don’t want to keep a bunch of crap around anymore either 🙂

        • Mr. Groovy

          Less space = less crap. But some crap is necessary so you need space. What a tightrope we homebuilders tread upon!

    • Mr. Groovy

      “Exciting, full of potential and stressful all at the same time.”

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you for your kind words, my friend.

  21. I’m so excited for you and Mrs G! We have never built, though my parents joke that we might as well have. We pretty much took this house down to the studs. One day, I’ll round up all of the before photos and do a post. To say the previous owners left us little choice is an understatement! I cannot wait to watch Groovy Ranch unfold. Best of luck…and congrats on only two “discussions” to date 😉

    • Mr. Groovy

      Yes, Penny, please do a post about your major reno. That would provide another gleaming example of what it really costs to own a home. And thank you for referring to our fights as “discussions.” Something tells me that defaulting to less incendiary language may make this build more palatable.

  22. DANG! So cheap for all that land! Less than the price of many cars. Wow… I really have to get the heck out of San Francisco. There’s no reason to be rooted here anymore.

    Keep up the home building pictures. Love em!



    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! It’s amazing how cheap land is where few dare to tread. We’d love to have you in the Raleigh area. But even though I love North Carolina, I’m afraid that my corner of the United States pales in comparison to California and San Francisco. Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

  23. Just don’t forget, “fights” are NORMAL for stuff like this! 🙂

    Your Groovy Ranch Lot looks really nice. It’s not too terribly far from where I live, actually. I’ll be interested in reading how the build goes. I’m in the “never done that before” camp.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Rybo. Agreed. One of my primary jobs is to always remember that “fights” are normal. Very sage advice, my friend.

  24. I’m so excited for you guys! Here is my suggestion. Bring in an idea binder (or start making one) for your designer. Just cut out pictures, or use pinterest and create a board of the things you like. Exterior styles/color/shape/texture. Plus at the interior layout, overall feel and design. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, find 100 pictures and you will save a ton of time and words solving miscommunications!
    Jillian recently posted…The HitsMy Profile

    • Mr. Groovy

      Jillian! Jillian!! Jillian!!! Great suggestion. And we’re way ahead of you. Already got the idea binder set up in a Google doc. My goal is to finish it this week. And when we’re ready to meet the designer, we’ll just print it out and hand it to him. Miscommunications should be minimal. Thanks for stopping by. And I’m sorry to ask, but what’s the temperature in your neck of the woods?

      • Oh, it’s a lovely 8 degrees. Just got a fresh foot of snow! And land here is SO affordable (oh wait, no the opposite of that!) Geesh. But this week we are going to soak in hot springs and downhill ski. So it’s not all bad. =)

        • Mr. Groovy

          Oh, man, Jillian. You are a lot tougher than I. Hope you, Adam, and the gang enjoy the respite from the harsh Montana winter.

  25. Ah, that gentle sucking sound of money leaving your bank account daily!

    This is going to be an epic, multi-chapter chronicle that will enliven all of us in 2018!

    Happy New Year and best of luck!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Indeed, Mr. Bond. I weep for my wallet. But at least building a home will give me plenty of fodder for this blog. Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

  26. I know a guy named Jack Squat, he can help you…

    As a person also ignorant of building anything, my only advice would be to be careful about getting into too many fights with Mrs. Groovy. Although I have not met either of you, my guess is that she can kick your a$$.