Long time lurker, former poster

Started by Onkeludo2, November 09, 2014, 10:50:49 PM

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So I used to post occasionally while working in Iraq but it has been a while.  Recently divorced so my last barrier to building the simple home of my dreams has been (amicably but sadly) removed.

I have a unique opportunity and am investigating pursuing it.  I live in northwest Indiana and work at a major refinery here.  Though as a contractor I am pretty "agile" for relocation I have a few odd roots set here and a "cushy" job where it is near impossible to get fired (not due to union rules).

The unique situation is a failed subdivision.  It was set up for 6 cross streets, 8 houses per block with 75' x 130' lots.  Only the first street was built up and the rest have ended up at (importantly) county competitive sale.  All lots have sewer, water, electric drops (200 amp) and gas.  They are selling it per "street" for give or take $35K.  Before you get excited...this is in Gary, Indiana...technically.  The post box is Gary and the fire, electric, sewer, etc are a slightly more reputable city of Merriville, IN.

So my question is two part:

How long should an experience remodeler in all areas (including structural repairs both stud and foundation) expect to casually build a 16' x 20 "guest house" that has all the amenities of a real house (older design plans to follow if requested) but smaller.  This is a standard 2' x 4' single story, wrapped in 1" rigid, with 12:12 pitch, metal roof over SIPs and storage loft, on piers.  i am reasonably fit and able to employ occasional younger labor but I trust (sadly) no professional contractors to show up on time, finish on time and do a quality job...70% of the time i wold be happy of 2 of the 3.  I can work, pretty diligently, in all kinds of weather about 2.5 days a week once the primary work site is fence for my dogs.  I have all the power and hand tools needed but lack ownership of any heavy equipment.  I recently bought a true work truck for a back-up to our tow vehicle for our race car ( 1995 Chevy 3/4 ton, 350, 5-speed, 4:10 rear axle with dents and scratches on every square inch).

The sewer and water are guaranteed good.  The electric is guaranteed to the pole but the existing meter and temporary service are not guaranteed.  Gas is unresponsive but likely guaranteed to the stub but the meter must be installed.

I am assuming 6 weeks to dry in if a finished foundation is supplied...extra week if not. Electric rough is two days max.  Plumbing rough about 3 full days with a helper.  Insualtiong is 3 days with a helper.  I am done with drywall so that will take as long as it takes but let's say 4 weeks  Flooring is 7 days if I do not have a slab.  Finish bath...4 days plus drying time so 7 days.  Kitchen finish can be as simple as two days but likely four.

So i am saying a year from title and building permits.  How far am I off...keep in mind, this is a simple guest cottage with no fancy finishes.  The main house will be built as cash allows but only after the 2400 sq ft pole barn shop ( with a Real 14' garage door!) is built.


Onkel Udo
Making order from chaos is my passion.


Forgot the second part...am I and idiot to expect the rural land to remain rural as it was platted for a subdivision?  No HOA covenants ever made it to the books and the bargain basement prices tell me it will stay that way but am i being foolish?  90% of Merriville is rural with about half of it unincorporated.  Gary is bankrupt and has been for years so not chance they will care if I actually pay taxes.
Making order from chaos is my passion.

Dave Sparks

It seems to take 3 times longer and cost 3 times what you think.
I think I see the real question in your second post.
The answer to that is,  if the rural land changes,  will you love the place either way?
"we go where the power lines don't"


" The answer to that is,  if the rural land changes,  will you love the place either way?"  As long as it never becomes an HOA-centric subdivision with tons of really unnecessary rules, yes.  The goal is a place to have a decent sized lot (minimum 1 acre) with the ability to have the main house, guest house, large shop, adequate power for the shop, no within-city-limits restrictions on animals.

3-times longer and 3-times as much I am familiar with.  Considering I am now working as a heavy industrial turnaround planner you would think i could get it down some...but it still has not worked except on my deck project.  Using this calculation, I should be able to get it done in a little over a year...about half that if I can get a reliable helper.

Thanks for responding!
Making order from chaos is my passion.


Can HOA's be imposed on a subdivision after the fact?  I'm trying to think how that would work - if lots had been sold then everyone in the subdivision would have to agree?  Rural subdivisions with HOAs that I know of seem to be inclined to degrade into legal quagmires.  So yes, avoid if there is a possibility.

I can think of a situation local to me where a contractor abandoned a subdivision, and early residents got stuck with unreasonably large property taxes from the city for maintenance of infrastructure local to the subdivision. Unhappy residents, who did not at all expect this, and legal wrangling ensued. It was eventually resolved, but for a certainly time lots and houses in the subdivision became completely un-saleable.


Another thing to think about - if Gary is bankrupt and people are not paying taxes -- are those services - sewer, water, electric - truly guaranteed.  If no, that could be a sign that the property will tend to stay rural as many don't want to take that risk personally.


89 or __ ? Colorado Springs after the oil shale bust.  It bounced right back.  Gary in the rust belt nothing seems to bounce back there anymore but government controls.... However I am quite a distance away and  things might not be near as dismal as they sounds or look. 
Proverbs 24:3-5 Through wisdom is an house builded; an by understanding it is established.  4 And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  5 A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.


Quote from: hpinson on November 13, 2014, 09:55:19 AM
Can HOA's be imposed on a subdivision after the fact? 

My opinion is No. It all has to be in effect at the outset. Changes after that should require all sorts of legal notices and meetings, etc.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


Quote from: hpinson on November 13, 2014, 09:55:19 AM
Another thing to think about - if Gary is bankrupt and people are not paying taxes -- are those services - sewer, water, electric - truly guaranteed.  If no, that could be a sign that the property will tend to stay rural as many don't want to take that risk personally.

Gary supplies no services to this area...it is just the post code and school district.  This is all to common up here that "border communities" can end up in one fire district, another water district and another police district.  Hobart, Merriville, and Gary have lots of this overlap.

In the case of Gas and Electric it is the same supplier either way, NIPSCO.

I drove out there again last night.  The road in and out is in disrepair but no more than most non-major streets in "The Region".  No streetlights look like they were ever installed but the footers and electrical is there.  The easiest route to the subdivision is via a northern boundary road that passes through a well maintained blue-collar 1970's neighborhood that end abruptly at what was obviously a farm in the past.  The two houses ever constructed in the subdivision, on the first cross street are occupied with the typical cars out front you would expect in this area: early 2000's work truck, similar age rusting GM Sedan, older fishing boat in the side yard, etc.

Gary's only chance for recovery is sadly if they level 1/3 of the city and start over.  The beautiful brick homes, 4-plexes and small apartment buildings built by US Steel have had a less-than 50% occupancy for more than 30 years.  Ownership of most them reverted to the city long ago but the city does not have the funds to do large-scale demo and are unable or unwilling to relocate residents that hold up clearing a whole block.  The violent crime legacy (much reduced now) has left the city with no chance of becoming a bedroom community to Chicago despite the fact that the commute is significantly shorter than most in the NW suburbs put up with.

For fun I put in a minimum bid for the last cross-street.  I found out the county will finance, for 5-years at 7%, 50% of the winning bid if the buyer puts up cash for the other half.  23 days left and i doubt I will win but worth a try.

Making order from chaos is my passion.