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rich the builder (can he build it, yes he can!)

Title of this entry is to the theme song of Bob The Builder - a very good children's television program. Why? Because it teaches the values of teamwork and management in order to get things done (something we should all know).


I read this great article on large houses and it confirms every single thing I can't stand about BIG (yes it deserves the all caps) houses. Just because a house is BIG does not mean it has usable living space.

Back in Connecticut I used to know this guy who had really wealthy parents with a really big house. The living room was huge, but almost every single other room was tiny. It was one of the worst floor plan designs I'd ever seen.

In addition to the tiny rooms, the main living room had super-high ceilings. Did it look nice? Yeah. But how do you clean it? The people that owned the house had these little electronic static-charger things mounted that would make clicky-clicky noises every 30 seconds so dust would not settle up there. Good idea, but still, for anything beyond dust you'd have to hire someone just to clean something that high.

The way I'm going to build my house makes much more sense.

Take any design for a two-bedroom house. A cottage, small ranch, or whatever. The square footage is somewhere around 900 to 1200 square feet.

Now instead of having an attic, open it up. Take out the ceiling and leave nothing but beams. Put flooring on 1/2 to 3/4 of the open area above the beams, "seal" off the rest with a balcony (which looks very nice). Separate the new area into two or three rooms depending on how much space is up there.

Set up above-beam access with stairs either directly in the middle of the house or on the extreme left or right.

You just gained at least 700 square feet of usable living space, effectively turning a 1000 square foot house into 1700.

This type build is considered a "semi-custom" home. Any builder will have existing house designs ready to build. All you have to do is talk to the builder and tell him (or her) that instead of the standard ceiling, open the sucker up. Draw up a new floor plan using the above-beam area as a second floor.

Contrary to popular belief, this does not add craploads to the cost of the build. Yes, you need more wiring, more plumbing and blah blah blah, but if you figure 25% (and that's being generous) more on top of the cost for the original build, you're still saving money.

You can either buy a 1/4 million BIG money pit with 2000 square feet with tiny rooms, or you can build a semi-custom with all of the house having usable living space for 40% less.

Seems fairly obvious to me which one is the better deal. The deal with a house is to utilize all available space - NOT have it sit there and look pretty while collecting dust. Having a smaller house using all the available area inside the box makes more sense.

As I wrote about before, southern Tampa Bay Florida has lots of "communities" with cookie cutter houses. All of them start at 200k. They boast "adult active lifestyle" with pools, community "features" and blabbity blah blah bloo. It's all crap. Seriously. Better to buy a parcel of land and build on it. It costs way less than 200k even with the house and land combined.

I'll close this one off by saying building a house isn't easy. There's so much involved to it, like building permits, well drilling, land clearing and well.. you get the idea. However, if you do your research and build carefully - you do come out cleaner on the other side.

And yes I will document everything once I start the whole process - not to worry. 🙂


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