I can't believe this is actually happening, but I am excited to FINALLY tell you that…we are building a HOUSE! Are we crazy for doing this? Yes! Is this process going to give me 267 ulcers and a head of grey hair? Probably. Is it going to be the project of a lifetime? Heck, yes! Here's how it all began…
We have been living in the same rental since we moved to Los Angeles 8 years ago (before kids, before my husband started his current job, before Oh Joy grew to being more than just me). We only had a few days to find an apartment when we decided to move to LA in 2010 and rented the top floor of a little duplex (with a great little balcony and view of the city) thinking we would eventually move into a real house with a backyard once we had kids. But Bob and I were both building our careers, and we had a really great deal on our rental so we took the time to save money for a house. We had no real rush to buy anything and no desire take on all the responsibilities that come with home ownership. Our place felt just fine with one child. However, once we got pregnant with Coco in 2014, we felt ready to make the leap and do what grown-ups think they should do…buy a house with more space for their growing family.
Four years ago, I wrote this post how we were looking to buy our first house in Los Angeles and how not easy the process was. Los Angeles isn't a cheap place to live, and the prices of homes here are pretty insane. We spent a good year looking while I was pregnant with Coco as that balcony with a great view didn't seem as amazing anymore when all I wanted was a backyard for my kids to run around and play in. As I had mentioned in that blog post, our first house offer got outbid by someone who had ALL CASH (how do you compete with that?). Then, we decided to up our budget a little bit and found another house we liked even more…thinking, "THIS is why that other house didn't work out. We were meant to get this one!" We put an offer on that 2nd house, only to get outbid WAAAAY over our budget. We started looking at fixer uppers that would be in a comfortable budget, but then we'd still need to spend a ton of money on renovations after the fact to make them livable. Feeling deflated, we kept looking and realized to get the moderate-sized house with a flat yard in the neighborhoods we wanted, we would need to increase our budget more than we could afford. No one wants to be house poor, so we were ready to stop the hunt and keep saving so that we could come back with a bigger down payment in another year or two.
THEN, during one of our drives around the neighborhood looking for open houses, we ran into a friend who had just finished building their house. They invited us in to see it, and we were floored. The value of their house when finished was double what it cost them to build it. The thoughts running through our minds as we talked to them were…
"Yes, of course this house is amazing because it's brand new and custom-designed."
"It's always been my dream to build a house!"
"We could never afford to do that now."
"Wait, what? It costs you HALF the price to build a house in Los Angeles then to buy one?"
Our friends, Cleo and McShane from Project M+, who happened to have also designed their own home, set the path for convincing us that if we had the patience, we should build a house instead of buying one. At the same time, a childhood friend of mine, Melissa, had just moved to Los Angeles. She was an architect as well and told me how she was about to begin designing and building her own family's house, too. And I was like…"Wait, what is happening here? How are these people who are still building their careers, like us, able to do this?" Yes, they were both architects and knew what they were doing. But, it turns out that in Los Angeles (unlike most of the country), the real estate prices here are so ridiculously high that it actually cheaper to build a house from scratch then to buy one. Who knew? Now, that does NOT mean it's quicker to build a house because if that was the case, this post would have been posted a lot sooner than today.
So, that was 2014…how it took until now for me to tell you this story and announce that we are actually doing this is….to be continued. We started construction on the house about six months ago, and it will take another year or so until it's done. I'm excited to share details about this ENTIRE process from start to finish and share snippets with you in real time as we go. I'm also so excited that we will be partnering with Architectural Digest's Clever to tell the story on their channels as well over the next year to completion. We'll be providing additional tips and takeaways over there so you'll get a lot of great information. I have learned so much, and it's really so fascinating (both the fun and not-so-fun parts about it). Here's a little peek!
If there is anything in particular you want me to share, please (please!) leave a comment below. Do you want to see photographed posts or video posts? Do you want to see things in a Pinterest board, Instagram, Instagram Stories…all of it? Do tell! This project has been my second job for the last couple years, and I can't wait to tell you everything I've learned.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will talk about how we found land to build on, and how went about buying it!