Building a House, In Phases

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Forum topic by BGerrits posted 02-07-2011 09:02 PM 13270 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14 posts in 3242 days

02-07-2011 09:02 PM

I am relatively new to the home owner scene. However, I do have some friends that have built smaller homes that are designed to be added onto in the future. Has anyone ever built a home like this? If so, is there a special term for this kind of project?

Also, would you suggest taking this route? Feedback?


-- Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.

6 replies so far

View bobkberg's profile


439 posts in 3271 days

#1 posted 02-10-2011 10:40 PM

I’m a fan of this approach – simply because you can do it on a pay-as-you-go basis. I don’t know if there is a term for this or not, but here’s my take on what’s necessary.

Plan, plan, and plan! Think of everything you might ever want in such a house. If nothing else, this will give you and your wife some fun “what if” time to fantasize about all the goodies you could have.

Plan to put in chases for future expansion space.
Put conduit to boxes stubbed out to the crawl space and/or attic for future wiring that you don’t know about yet.
Make room for a central wiring room, and make sure you allow stubs and space for future expansion.
Plan for central vacuum – the pipes are cheap – we had pipes but no central unit for years
Think about recirculating hot water (saves water), or look at the “instant” hot water.
Make sure that everything can be placed or built to be serviced without intruding on your living spaces.
Think about security systems – both sensors, and cameras
Plan for finial finish, but make it workable now – we lived with painted subfloor for years to save money.
Allow for LOTS of insulation, attic and underfloor, thicker walls, etc.
Plan for solar – both water heating, space heating, electrical generation.

Bottom line – you don’t have to install any of these things – but if you have installed conduit, externally accessible chases, plumbing that doesn’t go anywhere yet, etc. then when you DO want to install them, there will be a minimum of tearout to do so.

Similarly, you can build nice cabinets, and put in formica countertops for the time being – Home Depot/Lowes, etc. sell them pretty cheaply.

Plan on putting outlet strips just underneath the cabinets that overhang your kitchen counters – they’re out of sight, but very handy. Also plan on under cabinet lighting the same way.

I could go on….

-- Bob - A sideline, not how I earn a living

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2891 days

#2 posted 02-10-2011 10:54 PM

And how to all above. I recently purchased a log home and every minor addition seems to require exhorbitant expense that could have been avoided. Just as an example, a trenched feed exits my main load center to feed my shop to 60 Amps. When I upgraded to 100 amps, the electrician told me the job was executed very well, just with small diameter conduit, too small for the new cables. The same was true for irrigation, video feed, stereo speaker line, fiber optic cable, etc. A few dollars in conduit could have saved me many thousands. My last 2 cents: I’d plan on having the wiring for a stand-by generator at least roughed-in. You might not need the transfer switch now, but it’s nice to have that cable waiting. Good luck!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View canadianchips's profile


2613 posts in 3195 days

#3 posted 02-10-2011 11:25 PM

Some call them modular homes. YES , you are doing a great thing. Plan your electrical, HVAC, water for the home you will eventually have. When the times comes to add that addition you want or can afford you just need to add to what you already have without major expense. With some pre-planning your home will not look like someone just aded on !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Jack_T's profile


623 posts in 3229 days

#4 posted 02-10-2011 11:34 PM

Hire an architect that specializes in this type of design. Make sure he overbuilds it so when building codes change and become more stringent you will still meet code. Good luck

-- Jack T, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

View boonelumber's profile


11 posts in 2799 days

#5 posted 06-16-2011 07:48 AM

Home building is a delicate matter, and only those who are really knowledgeable of the ins and outs of this particular industry can successfully build homes. When you want to build your home, whatever the size, it is important to hire someone who specializes in home building.

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2838 days

#6 posted 06-16-2011 08:44 AM

I am a builder and also design homes. I built my first brick home for myself at the age of 23. It was a 1500 sf 2 bedroom 1 bath home. All the rooms were decidedly larger than normal because of that. It was designed to be added to and indeed I added on to it less than three years later.

Nothing worse than cramming too many rooms into a certain space, because even if you add more space you have all those under-sized rooms to deal with. In our remodeling, one of the most common projects is the removal of load bearing walls between old “living rooms” and the “den” behind them. Also common is either “opening up” the kitchen to the rest of the house with walls replaced with islands, etc. and even removing the walls between the kitchen/breakfast area and the formal dining room to gain room for a luxury kitchen and a single all-purpose eating area.

Today, in many areas anything less than 3 bedrooms is hard to get the bank to approve.

To answer your questions: The special term is “smart” (or clever).

I think it is a good idea given the right situation now and planning for the future.

Regarding getting a home builder: Like anything else there are rank amateurs that have built 100 crap houses and they continue to build crap. There are builders that are knowledgeable about all phases and trade disciplines that are required in properly building the most significant possession in most people’s lives. Yeah, unfortunately the average IQ of home builders is 100 just like the general population, so you need some way to make sure your guy is THE guy (or gal). Many only actually know how to do one or two things themselves (used to be a framer or a siding charlatan, etc.) and really just ride around in their truck with their cell phone looking for the hungriest subs to drag your way to maximize profit (and possibly minimize quality).

My advice to anyone that hires a builder or remodeler… or even goes it alone and tries to run the subs themselves where needed… get the references ! Not just any list of the few people they may have made happy over the years… Oh No ! Ask for the name, number and address of the last three jobs they have had (including the one or two they are currently working on AND the three completed jobs before that. Call and talk to these people. Drive by the house and/or ask the homeowners if you can take a look at their completed work. Don’t go to a model home and get a sales pitch. There’s a reason so many homeowners dislike their builder at the end of the job. They will tell you all about it if you just ask.

If you are wanting to actually do a lot of the things yourself, but don’t know it all… you might look for a “construction supervisor” that will work for a flat fee (cost plus percentage can be a blank check for you to get screwed until you cry real tears).

If you go turn key, make sure you have everything down and make sure your “allowances” are enough to get good quality carpet, hardwood, tile, cabinetry, fixtures, etc. If you don’t you will pay the overage. Anything not specified is subject to change orders and that can kill you to.

I have made every single homeowner happy… over 30 houses… most over 3000 square feet. (I’m afraid those days are gone). Never been taken to court, never had to place a lien, and most got in under 80% loan-to-value and did not have to pay PMI. Yeah, I leave money on the table all the time. Just not all of it.

The last person that checked my references was given a list of six customers in the past six months with similar projects. There were two “A” last names and four “B” last names. That was as far as I had to go in the alphabet. I saw the lady the next day and she asked if my shoes were wet. I told her i don’t understand. She said according to all six references I walked on water, so I had the job. lol I gotta tell you that makes you feel good.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

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