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If you were building a house today

What would you do differently?

DidiE
post 4.Mar.2010, 03:32 PM
Post #1
Location: Skövde
Joined: 18.May.2008

Mr Didi E and herself are in the beginning processes of finding land and building a new house in the Karlstad area. We have looked and looked and can't find what we need, so we decided to build. The last time we did this, I was in Alaska for the most part, and True Love handled the vast majority of the work himself. This time, we are doing it as a team...but I'm really clueless about a lot of this stuff, having always lived in older homes before this one. I have two requirements: I want a home that is as eco-friendly as possible, and I want ten times the amount of storage (cabinets, shelves, places to put stuff in, in an organised fashion) as we have now. I'll settle for twice the amount of storage, though. I'm NOT a pack rat by any means. We live very stripped down, except for the books. There are a huge number of books in every room of the house, and I got to do something about them besides buy more Billy hyllor from Ikea.

If YOU were building a new home today, what details would you be wanting to consider? What advice can you give the very clueless OP here? I'm particularly worried about the kitchen, as that is where we spend a lot of our time. All feedback is welcome.
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Greg in Canada
post 4.Mar.2010, 03:59 PM
Post #2
Joined: 2.May.2009

It's really tough to be your own sub contractor and wouldn't recommend it if you've never done it before. I've renovated old houses and even lived in them while doing so, but building a house from scratch is a different ball game unless you're having professionals do the job for you. I've known people that have built their houses by themselves even as they've lived in them. It works out cheaper in the long run than mortgaging for a new house that somebody else builds for you, but be prepared for unexpected challenges if you go this route. If your significant other is experienced in home building that's a huge asset, but if not, you're taking on a very challenging task.

One guy described it this way to me - figure out your costs and time involved, be very generous in this calculation and then add on another 50%.

There are home plans that you can purchase. Some are quite detailed. Also spend a lot of time looking at home magazines and other houses for ideas if you're planning on designing your own place.

You'd better do a lot of research beforehand and know exactly what you are wanting to build before digging the foundation. You don't want to be making changes half way through.
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Gordy
post 4.Mar.2010, 04:00 PM
Post #3
Location: Skåne
Joined: 1.Oct.2005

We are contemplating building in the next year as well, you might find this website helpful although after reading it a bit myself I'm not sure rolleyes.gif

We built ourselves in 2001 using what we call in Ireland "direct labour" i.e. we acted as the building contractor ourselves and employed all the various tradesmen directly. It meant that we saved quite a bit of money and had good control over the quality of work and the materials used. I would however find it quite daunting to do that in Sweden in the short term without being fluent in the language, what have other peoples' experiences been?

If you look on booli.se they have a new section called "inspiration" where they have photos from the nicest houses and apartments listed broken down into the various different areas of the house, it's probably worth a look for ideas.
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Rick Methven
post 4.Mar.2010, 04:07 PM
Post #4
Location: Linköping
Joined: 30.Nov.2005

Most of the pre-fab house companies in Sweden have a design service where you can build up the house as you want both inside and out.

http://www.borohus.se/menu/hus.html

What you can and cannot do is often down to the land. I would suggest that you contact one or two of these companies and discuss things with them
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Rick Methven
post 4.Mar.2010, 04:19 PM
Post #5
Location: Linköping
Joined: 30.Nov.2005

I was just flicking through the latest copy of Vi i Villa as I want to build a new Summer room and saw a thing they have on book shelves.

If you do not get this free magazine. Take a look here

http://www.viivilla.se/default.aspx
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Monark540
post 4.Mar.2010, 04:31 PM
Post #6
Location: Stockholm
Joined: 20.Mar.2009

That's a tall order but if you are interested in minimizing your energy costs and building in a sustainable manner, check out these two websites:

Passive House Institute

Building Science.com

You'll find everything from articles on insulation and ventilation right the way through to plans. Having lived both in the States and in Sweden, I've found that the Swedes already incorporate many of the features that are just coming into common use in the U.S.

Good Luck!

ps - just tried to find info on HusExpo, a large permanent exhibition of model homes just South of Stockholm. Turns out that it closed a year or two ago, but a similar, but smaller operation has opened up not far away. Here is the website:

Hus Mässan
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Baned
post 4.Mar.2010, 04:33 PM
Post #7
Joined: 22.Feb.2009

I absolutely love barn conversions. The high ceilings, exposed beans, and open-plan makes me swoon! If we didn't have a budget, and can have any style we want, that's definitely what I'd pick!

I saw something on TV the other night, one of those home buying shows - it featured a house with a 1/2 portion of the top floor as a library. The other part is completely bare so when you sit up there on your couch, with your books, you overlook the bottom floor. I want that.

As for the kitchen, ideally I want it to be the integral part of the house. I want it large, without any walls separating the dining area and living room. So essentially, one big-o room. Since we're talking hypothetically, I'll add a massive wooden deck outside overlooking my view of the region. A perfect place for a summer's fika!

Down from the deck lies my lush garden with a mix of fruit and flowering trees and shrubs. Hmm let's see what else? The master bedroom must have an attached bath with one of those whirlpool tubs, dual sinks, and a walk-in closet. I also want a large kitchen pantry.

That's about it. I'm a simple girl.
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DidiE
post 4.Mar.2010, 06:07 PM
Post #8
Location: Skövde
Joined: 18.May.2008

Oh, man- if I could have a deck that wrapped around the house, I'd be a happy person.
We have done the sjödalshus route with the last one, AND did the subcontracting ourselves, as in, read, Mr Didi did it all. But it about killed him. He just gets too engaged. So we are stating that we want nyckelfardig- we wanna be able to walk in, hang the pictures and turn on the TV. But the Swedish half of us is already showing signs of going way way overboard again, so needing advice from you all is a serious matter. I need to be able to balance him out, discuss things with him intelligently, and help him decide some of this stuff.

There is a house in Skåne that actually gives back energy. Right now the power company is not ready to buy, but sooner or later, that is what the owners plan to do. It was in the train magazine last month, and I figure since so many of us were stuck on trains for hours and hours, we probably all have the same ambitions now for eco-friendly stuff.

The big problem is--I know there has to be a really organised kitchen out there. I look at HTH and Ikea and all the design systems, but I still don't know what I need. It's hard to talk to the designers at those places if you don't know what you want- you end up getting what THEY think is okay, not what you think is great.
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nic_tester
post 4.Mar.2010, 10:50 PM
Post #9
Joined: 17.Jan.2008

Never heard of people who had their own house built who didnt end up paying twice the original cost. But heard about quite a few who ended up paying even more.
Since you as a private person cant really afford to hire a top of the line projectmanager, i guess you better have good contacts and know people and know you can trust them. Then you might get lucky and just pay twice as much as you were planning to.
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hjoian
post 5.Mar.2010, 12:39 AM
Post #10
Joined: 25.Jun.2009

completely disagree with the previous post.Many builds come in on or under budget. Costs normally overun for several reasons,one being that you make changes half way through the build...

You need to know pretty much exactly what you want before you even start. Draw it out on paper,every concievable design and feature you may want until you see what you like,then run it past an architect. Paper is cheap...building the wrong house isnt!! Good luck.
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DidiE
post 5.Mar.2010, 07:24 AM
Post #11
Location: Skövde
Joined: 18.May.2008

Don't want to sound extremely naive, even though I am from Skövde- but in Sweden, given our reliance on pre-fab and cookie cutter houses, wouldn't it be more expensive to go it alone? I'm asking within the Swedish context, mind- I only know one person who did his own house, from start to finish, including design.
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Puffin
post 5.Mar.2010, 08:33 AM
Post #12
Location: Dalarna
Joined: 5.Apr.2006

We looked into this a few years ago - we even looked at some show houses from Karlsson hus who build low energy houses but have unusual shapes (less cookie cutter) and have a high quality finish (we were looking at building a Stora lust hus or a Kaptensvilla)
http://www.karlsonhus.se/1/1.0.1.0/4/1/

If you want to design your own then the process can be long a hard - In my famous English class for pensioners there was the wife on an Architect who once explained that the reason that so many houses look the same is the cost and time of getting plans approved - therefore people tend to base designs on the already approved. There can also be problems if the kommun have strict local regulations on what can be built or if it is an areas of historical/natural or cultural importance - I did a Swedish class with a woman married to a multi millionnaire who spent a year trying to get plans approved - in the end they moved to a different kommun (and the kommun lost millions of tax revenues)

However one of the issues for us was cost - in our area the cost of houses is low and the new build house was high. The house we wanted would have cost (5 years ago) around 4 million SEK when all was included - yet we bought a very large renovated farm house for 2 million - so it is not always work building new if market prices are lower
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hjoian
post 5.Mar.2010, 08:43 AM
Post #13
Joined: 25.Jun.2009

Puffin has a very valid point. I like conversions over a new build,BUT,if you know what you want,and its not there on the market,then that leaves you will very little choice. I can imagine here in sweden the waiting times would drive you nuts...as always,you pays your money,you takes your choice! Good luck.
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DidiE
post 5.Mar.2010, 09:54 AM
Post #14
Location: Skövde
Joined: 18.May.2008

Our big problem is that I like old, and am happy to take something and work to make it more eco-cool. But Himself is far more sensitive to the environment around him, and every single house we've seen in the Karlstad area that I've liked or seen potential in, leaves him with the vapours. And there are exactly six plots available that don't involve commutes of 45 minutes each way so we are feeling a little pressure to decide NOW. I am pretty firm that I want to take busses or other collective traffic and not spend my life in a car. Also, we have a severely disabled adult son to consider, so I don't want to be waaaaay out in the sticks- it makes it harder for his team to visit him, once we get that lined up again.

Usch. I am hoping that as I link to the stuff you've given here, and as I learn more about the process, that I'll at least be able to identify the things that are important to me, so that we have a more balanced discussion. Building, buying, anything to do with real estate here in Sweden is so very different from what it's like in North America that I feel pretty clueless.
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Plowbridge
post 5.Mar.2010, 10:07 AM
Post #15
Location: Stockholm
Joined: 11.Sep.2008

The now TL departed Smokin Joe aka stan dan deliver from Uppsala built his own place from scratch. May be worth a PM to see if he has any observations/suggestions?
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