Why We Built

Every Friday I have been sharing with you our house building process that occurred 3 years ago (check out the progress here).  I have had some people ask why we built…and here’s your answer.  It’s lengthy.  I apologize.  Our scenario is definitely different than most who build a house.

Why we built our current house begins with why we built our first house.  Meet house #1…

We built house number one because we had a small budget with a limited number of options due to location (we wanted to build somewhere between Iowa City (so I could finish pharmacy school) and the Quad Cities (where Nate was working)).  Our options were less than desirable. The houses that were available were at the top of our price range and needed a lot of work.  We were okay with doing the work.  We just wouldn’t have had to money to do so.  We also knew that we needed something that would hopefully sell easily in around 2 years once I graduated from pharmacy school.  Renting would have been an option but we wanted the added equity in owning something.

Nate’s dad suggested that maybe we should look into building a house.  We both thought he was crazy. There is no way we could afford to do that.  We couldn’t even afford a house with a working bathroom or electrical system.  After doing a lot of calculations we decided it was something we could pull off using Nate’s young 20-something body and his dad’s previous house building experience.  (Interesting fact: growing up Nate always lived in new houses.  Two of which were built by his dad.)

Luckily we built in a county that allowed Nate and his dad to all of the work on the house without the use of a contractors or professionals (plumbers, electricians).  They did all of the work on house #1 except for the foundation walls, the roof, the drywall, and the heating/cooling. That means Nate and his dad (with the help of various other family members) poured the basement floor, framed the house, did all of the plumbing and electrical, cabinet installation, floor installation, etc.  Nate’s mom and I painted, kept the boys fed/hydrated, and carried boards from one end of the lot to the other (girl jobs suck).  All of this hard work allowed us to stay within our goal budget and have a new home.

 Why did we build house #2?

After house #1 we swore we would never build again.  Ever. Done. House building was stupid.

Nearing the end of pharmacy school, we started searching for houses in the Quad Cities.  We again ran into the problem where the houses we liked/could afford would need more work that we would be able to pay for…and, weirdly, I think we were both itching to build another house.

2008 was the last year you could build a house in Iowa without the use of a contractor.  Contractor = lots of $$$.  We banked on the sale of our first house, purchased a lot, and got to work building house #2…


House #2 is obviously larger than house number #1 which means we weren’t able to frame the house ourselves but we still did a lot of the work (which you can read about here).

The profit we made from the sale of house #1 left us with the down payment for house #2.  By doing a lot of the building work on these two homes, we now own a home that is valued at ~$140,000 more than our mortgage payment.

This post kind of makes building a house sound all super and wonderful.  The finished product is.  Getting there…not so much.  Picking out floor plans, light fixtures, and paint colors is fun.  So fun.  Some people thinking picking out every detail in a new home is super stressful.  We LOVED those decisions. Spending every free moment covered in saw dust and plumbing goo..not so much fun.  Nate and his dad have spent over a year of their lives on these houses. When building our current house we would all go to work from 8-5, eat supper, and then head over and work on the house until about 10.  Every night for about 4-5 months.  Plus all day on the week-end…every week-end.  Nate’s dad enjoys it.  Nate and I are still deciding.

There you have it.  The reason we built our house.  Will be build another one?  We won’t say never (we’ve done that once) but we are both very content with our house and would love to stay in it for many, many more years!

Any specific building related questions you have for us?