Ask a Realtor: Building a dream home versus buying a home: Am I getting in over my head? (column) |

Ask a Realtor: Building a dream home versus buying a home: Am I getting in over my head? (column)

Joan Harned
Ask a Realtor
Joan Harned Ask a Realtor

Dear Joan: We have been totally enamored by the idea of building our dream home. We have discovered there are many great deals on land in this valley, and we think we should buy soon before land jumps up in price like homes have.

Now that we have told friends and family about our proposed plan, I am getting an unbelievable amount of cautions and advice. Since it is free advice, I realize it is worth what I pay for it, but even so, I am getting a little nervous about the total price and process of building. I am beginning to worry that our dream might turn into a nightmare. Please point me in the right direction before I get started down the wrong path.

— Dreamer

Dear Dreamer: I think you are in a very good place. You have not gone forward yet, and you are discovering picking the right lot and building contractor is not to be taken lightly. Your decision will be easy once you have acquired all of the facts.

As always, I suggest you start with a knowledgeable, helpful Realtor to help you see all of the opportunities and be able to know all the facts about the neighborhood or area you are looking into, for land and homes.

If you are looking in town, then your Realtor can help you get the homeowners association information and design guideline requirements, and you will need to check on water and sewer tap fees and location of the nearest utilities.

Each area has its own set of rules (sometimes down to what kind of dog you can have), and every lot in a large subdivision can have different soils that will dictate how expensive a foundation you will need. And don’t forget to figure in what landscaping you will want and/or be required to do. Your contractor can help you with this.

Other Regulations

Now if you are looking at acreages and outlying properties, you will also want to check on the costs for a well and septic, in addition to any extra charges excavators and builders might add on for travel time. Even though you may not be in a homeowners association or have design guidelines, there are still county regulations that must be adhered to.

If you know all of the facts and all of the costs ahead of time, and engage a skilled, honorable contractor, then choosing your land and building your own home can give you great pleasure. You can have a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction designing and building just the home you have always wanted, and that can be an experience of a lifetime.

Be sure to check your financial situation first because building in general takes more money on the front end than purchasing an existing home. Hope this helped give you some things to consider. All the best in making your decision.

Joan Harned is an owner and broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

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