I can’t believe we are at the point where we are physically writing this down for the world to see!!! We have dreamed about this for so long! We never thought we would be thinking about making this happen and yet, here we are- looking and planning, running numbers over and over, and going out there to figure out how to make it happen!!
OK…so here it goes….. we are putting it out there into the world, into the universe, and hoping we don’t sound like we have gone off our rockers.
We are in the early, early, super early stages of planning to BUILD OUR OWN HOUSE you guys!! Butttt, that’s not just it. Plenty of people build their homes from the ground up. What we are planning on doing and HOW is what will be different. We are figuring out a way to build our house MORTGAGE FREE!! We are looking at buying acreage, building an RV garage, utilizing our RV on the property, living on very little of our income, and building our home construction loan free!! We told you our RV would be involved in some way shape and form!
I have gone on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and some forums to do research on anyone else who has ever done this and have literally come up with nothing….at least no one that has ever documented living in an RV garage while building their home. Now, we have found some threads of families who have stayed solely in their RV, a cheap mobile home, or just a converted garage, but nothing like the route we are looking to take with this. We know of a few people on YouTube that are building debt free and living in their RV on the property with their kids, but there is no information about the financial side of doing this or the struggles of living in their RV while building. We are so curious about the process of building a home, how to do it debt free, building a large RV garage and “living” in it while building, but with little to no resources out there, we want to document all sides to this as it unfolds and we figure it out in our lives. We want to share the good, the bad, the ugly, and the pretty as it happens.
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Now this plan keeps evolving and we are learning more each and every day. But as it stands today, this is our plan:
FIRST UP, BUYING PROPERTY– Each weekend for the past month, we are searching for raw land in an area not too far from us. This area is not as developed and built up as the county we are in now, which makes for finding property with more land perfect for us. We have looked into schools in the county and these are also proving to be great as well. We are looking for property between 5 and 10 acres and seeing if the property checks all of our boxes. I won’t go into our process of how we are finding land right now, but if our unconventional methods work and we end up closing on something, we will let you know exactly how we did it! But for now, securing land is our first priority. Our plan is to purchase our land in cash so we don’t need to finance anything upfront. When we move onto the land, this will help us save more each month and use our income for building our home. We won’t be paying any interest over the long run and we can go into closing on a parcel much faster (with way less hassle and paperwork!).
SECOND, SAVING UP– I posted on our Instagram the other day about how we had been strict on budgeting when we had our last house. We put our budget in place years before that to save for that first house and we saw first hand how well our method worked for us. When we sold our home midway through 2019, we were looking at what we were spending but not really managing. We bought our RV and just kind of went with the ebbs and flows of life. We started off 2020 still not knowing what we wanted to do or what the next thing was going to be, but as soon as we figured it out, we picked right back up on our budgeting. Over the next few months, we will be budgeting our faces off yet again. We will cut and lower as many expenses as possible, watch every penny that comes in, every penny that goes out, and saving as much of our income as we can.
THIRD, RUNNING NUMBERS AND DOING RESEARCH– As much as some of people may think that things just happen for us, it is so far from the truth. You guys, it took us 3 years to move from NJ to NC. Wanna know why?? We literally looked at the minimum income we needed (this would determine which job I was willing to take) and how moving from one state to another would affect taxes that would come out of A,B, and C scenario income. We put spreadsheet after spreadsheet together estimating costs of moving, costs of apartments, old costs we would get rid of with a house but new ones we would pick up. And so on and so forth. For THREE years we ran every scenario possible to ensure that we were making the right decision financially for our family. When the time came for an employer to make an offer, we knew exactly what our bottom line was, what our costs were going to be, and how to make the transition as seamless as possible. Because we did the research! We have always operated this way. EVERY. SINGLE. DECISION. You bet your A$ we are doing the same thing with buying land and the process we are about to embark on.
I have spreadsheets upon spreadsheets running scenarios, we have calculated cost estimates of things like clearing out land, putting in a driveway, etc, etc. If the land is clear, we can pay $X amount more for the parcel because it’s one less thing we will have to pay out. With these estimated costs in place we know the max dollar amount we are willing to spend on a parcel. We are doing our due diligence and making sure we don’t fall on our faces- even in a situation we have never been in before. We know, and expect, this will take time and energy.
FORTH, LIVING ON THE PROPERTY– Because of the extremely positive experience we had last year and 28 day full time test run with our RV, we are pretty sure that this transition from apartment to land will involve partially living in our RV. What we envision is putting up a large garage first (one that hubby has always dreamed of!). This garage will have an overhang for the RV (on concrete) next to a door leading to the garage. We picture a 3 bay over-sized garage with “living quarters” inside complete with heating and cooling. We want the living quarters to have a full bathroom and large sitting area. We would use our RV to sleep and cook, and the finished off garage portion for hanging out and showering. The garage is essential for allowing us to keep all of our things out of storage while we are building so we aren’t paying out that expense. But it is also essential that we keep our lives as easy and as normal as possible. Having a space larger than our RV, somewhere to go to, somewhere to hang out, drink coffee on the couch in the morning, and having a full shower with regulated water and zero RV tanks to deal with is important to us. So, a finished off portion of the garage along with our RV is just going to be the easiest and most cost efficient way to do this for us. Not to mention, we will have the garage in the end which we wanted on the property anyway, and we would now have a guest house or game room or man cave (not sure which just yet!!).
FIFTH, BUILDING OUR HOME IN CASH– Because the only thing we plan on financing is part of our garage frame, the plan is to live on what we are estimating to be about 65% our income while living on our land. We will save about 35% of our income per year that will go towards building our home. We are leaning towards a barndominium type of build, but aren’t opposed to manufactured or a sticks and bricks home. We haven’t really figured out exactly what we want just yet, but whatever we decide will be dependent on how much we are willing to spend. We have an idea of square footage we want but have no clue about exact layout, upgrades, or finishes so estimating cost is nearly impossible right now. We figure the first obstacle is finding land within our price range and doing all the things we need to do in order to get the garage up to live in. We need to eliminate our apartment rent and start saving. From there we can come up with the total cost of our build and long-term game plan. We are also assuming hubby will act as GC since this will save us another 40-50% of our building costs making our dream home within reach using cash to do it.
Why Are We Doing This?
- With living on 1 income for so long, it scares the living poop out of us to go down the path of taking out a construction loan for building. My employer is constantly restructuring and we have subsequently seen layoffs just about every other year with them. I have never actually been laid off, but this is one major factor for us when deciding to build with cash. God forbid, we have no income for a little while, at least we don’t have a construction loan with time commitments hanging over us. The thought of having to refinance with the reality of our 1 income and job situation is just plain scary. We just aren’t willing to take the chance and put ourselves in that kind of situation.
- At the end of our endeavor, we will be walking away with no mortgage. We won’t be paying interest for the next 15 or 30 years. We won’t owe anyone a dime. There is an idea of “early retirement”, or “financial idendepence” in our brains but it’s pretty far off. If that’s what we plan on doing one day, having zero mortgage will allow us to get there faster. In general, eliminating life’s biggest expense will free us up for whatever we want to do in the future.
- When our daughter was born, it made more sense for one of us to be home with her instead of paying daycare expenses. So for the past 2.5 years, Dave has been home with her. She is now in daycare part-time, but he still has another 2.5 years before she starts Kindergarten. This gives him plenty of time to be on the property working on being GC for our build and saving us thousands.
- We have always dreamed of building our own home. We just always assumed it was out of reach because of the amount of money you need for the build upfront. And neither of us wanted a mortgage of $300k at the end. We just assumed at some point in our lives, like maybe when we make enough money, or retire, we would get to live out this dream. Doing it the way we are planning allows us to do it NOW, and not wait for the future. Our plan may not be conventional, but…….
- Our daughter is still young enough to enjoy this process with us. She won’t mind sleeping in a camper or hanging out in our garage. She is still at the age where it doesn’t matter what we do, she just loves being with us even if that means we are spending time working on the house. Knowing her, she will think we are camping every single day of the week and love it! As it is, she constantly asks us if we are going camping…at least we will be able to say yes! Even on a weekday!!
What!? Are You Nuts?!
Are we crazy for taking this on? You know what….maybe we are. Maybe this will be more than we can handle at times. And maybe we have ABSOLUTELY.NO.IDEA. what we are doing each and every step of the way just yet. And maybe this is going against the grain…actually…going against the American norm….
But you know what….we followed the norm when we first started dating and into the beginning of our marriage. While it got us some luxuries like a buying a new motorcycle and our first home, the pressure of debt and payments, the potential of losing a job and then bringing our daughter into all of it was enormous. It puts stress on your relationship, on yourself, and on your family. So what we say is pick your hard. It’s hard to go the route we are choosing to go, but it’s equally hard to know we would be going to work everyday to give our money away to a bank in interest over the next 30 years. It’s all about your personal preferences. It’s all about your personal life decisions. Your idea of hard might be completely different from ours. And this may not be for everyone. We get that! We get that people may not understand our why! AND THAT’S OK! Heck! This may not be for us and we may not choose to ever do this again…. But, we have been there with saving up and purchasing our first home….owing that mortgage each month and fixing our house up along the way…and THAT’S not something we want to do either. So we are choosing our hard. We are making this decision and hoping we come out better for it at the end of the day- better financially, better stress-wise, and better and stronger as a family for it.
Some Garage and House Inspiration!
Below are some of the pictures we grabbed off Pinterest (of course!). We can’t help ourselves! We will take 1 of each of these considering how swoon-worthy these are!