Build it Yourself house plans
We Did It!
My husband and I did exactly what you are doing - except we built a 1750 sq. ft house on five acres in Indiana. We found and bought our floor plans after checking out lots of architectural magazines out of the local library. You have many, many books to choose from for free!
After we bought the plans, we found local subcontractors (foundation guy, concrete guy, carpenter, plumber, etc.) that would do the work on their own time. They were all trade workers who treated this as a side job. The carpenter was the only full time worker on the site. We functioned as the general contractor ourselves, and when we could do the work, such as getting the permits, installing insulation, general site clean up, purchasing all materials, scheduling the inspections, painting, shingling the roof, etc., we did it.
We looked at log home kits and found them to be more expensive in our area. Brick was also more expensive. It was a ton of work, (and I do mean a ton) involving a lot of learning and exhausting late nights working on the house after working at a job full time. There were also a few times that we were taken advantage of by subcontractors because of our lack of experience and our youth. There were also many tears shed, on my part, from frustration. However, we got through it and we loved our house once it was finished.
We lived in it for 4 years, and then had to move because of a job transfer. Our house sold 9 days after we put it on the market and we cleared over $45K in profit. I can highly recommend building your own house. This was our first house, we were 25 years old, and we had no contracting experience. However, and this is important, we had relatives who had built many houses and were in the trades. We relied heavily on their expertise and advise. We had a lawyer reviews all our contracts. We are also very organized and self-motivated people. If you don't have good people to advise you, and you aren't an organized self-starter, doing this is going to be a real disaster.
Building a House: Construction Choices
Brick is a lot more expensive than frame or stucco construction, but if you intend for this to be your retirement home, the lack of maintenance and longevity may be things you would like.
Look through the log-home guidebooks and you can find plans that only include the log frames - not the interior finishes for as low as $53, 000. That then allows you to do the interior finishes as you have time. My sister and her husband did this and saved a bundle, because they learned to do most of the interior work themselves.
You can do almost the same thing by good pre-planning on a traditional frame home if you tell everyone from the beginning this is your goal - to just get the exterior skin built and finish each room, as you need it. The unfinished room(s) will be cold and unwelcoming, but you will save up-front cash.
Personally, I loved the look of the log-framed home and enjoyed the entire process. The key is to choose someone close to you for the delivery, and pick someone to help you complete the foundation and utility lead-in work and exterior construction who has worked with log homes before. Your supplier can often recommend several contractors for you to review.
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Monolithic Dome Homes Offer Resources
Have you considered a Monolithic Dome Home? We too live in rural East Texas (who knows we may be secret neighbors) and have visited the Dome Institute ( in Italy, TX several times (about 35 miles from Dallas, toward Waco). We did, and continue to do, research to determine the type of home to build when we retire, (not too far off) and the dome has won hands down.
They offer a great book of floor plans, which also includes misc. information you will want to study. The only thing your husband will not like is the fact that in our area a central heating/cooling unit is not necessary. We plan to have a window combo unit, which will heat/cool a lot cheaper, the little it will have to run. They offer schools during which you actually build a home on their site. Who knows, your husband may be able to start a sideline.
Log Homes Have Drawbacks
A log home may be a cheaper floor plan. But, be very careful. We live in a log home that is 15 to 20 years old. The maintenance is incredible. I would not recommend a log home to anyone living in a humid or rainy climate unless you have a complete understanding of the costs and extent of the maintenance involved.
Building a House: Budget and Value Need to be Balanced
Budget is important, but it has to be balanced with what result you want. I would suggest figuring a budget, and using 10 percent of it to consult an architect and a landscape architect. These people can help you end up with the most beautiful, livable, high resale value result, and they will respect your budget if you make it clear they have to. I am not an architect or a landscape architect, but my husband and I saw a lot of ugly rural homes when we were looking to buy. People built them with cost only in mind, forgetting that a good plan is the cheapest way to have both shelter and a livable, attractive home. Fixing bad designs is very expensive, so plan for the long run.