20' x 30' on a walkout basement?

Started by schof, September 11, 2018, 09:58:50 PM

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Hi there!

I've been lurking around this site for a while now, so I figured it was time to take the plunge, join up, buy some plans and get stuck in!

We are purchasing a 40 acre parcel of land outside of town.. The plan is to get utilities hooked up, build a small house and sit tight while we stockpile the funds to build the 3,000 sq ft home of our dreams (and by our, I mean my wife's)  ;)  Then the small house becomes our sons (he's autistic and not able to live 100% independently).  I just purchased the 20' x 30' plans and am anxiously awaiting their arrival.

We have some equity in our house now so we are taking out a HELOC to fund the land and construction to a point where it's liveable, so we can sell the current house.  We don't have a lot of wiggle room budget wise until we sell.  I'd live in a trailer on the lot during construction to free up more funds - but the wife vetoed that idea.  RV living with snow on the ground didn't appeal to her!

The well on the adjacent lot is 587' deep.... so we are looking at $50K for well and pump.  Power is 500ft away - about $15K to get it to us.  Septic I will do myself - so we will save some money there.  I am also going to do 100% of the labor myself or with friends and family.

There is a chance we may want to mortgage the small house to build the bigger one sooner.  So finished square footage matters when it comes to an appraisal value.  The lot has a ton of topography variations across it, several hundred feet elevation variations. The wife thinks we should put the 20' x 30' single story on top of a walkout basement (walkout will count in appraised value, dugout won't).

So, finally, to my question.  Are these plans modifiable to place on top of a walkout?  Frost depth here is min 24".  I have a fair amount of experience when it comes to masonry so I'm thinking concrete block as opposed to poured concrete.

Thoughts?  Suggestions?

Looking forward to this project!  I will, no doubt, be a frequent visitor here with a million questions!!  I'll be sure to post progress updates as we move through this!


Hi, welcome to the forum. You're about to start quite an adventure.

I can only give advice from my perspective - I believe a key to being an owner builder is keeping things as simple as possible.

I would consider making compromises on the house your building now, and not building a second one. Especially if part of your goal is to be debt free. Sitework is going to be the biggest single expense of the build. It will not change too much if you go from 20x30 to 20x40. A walkout basement with the right topography is a great idea. A second story is also not going to add huge expenses, although now you're going to be spending a couple months way up high.

Nothing wrong with a block foundation. For unbalanced fill you just need vertical rebar reinforcement.

I don't know a whole lot about wells. At that price they must have to run casing down several hundred feet? We paid a flat rate for the first 200 feet, and I think it was $10 a foot after that. We lucked out and only needed 40 feet of casing though.

Another wrinkle in all of this, is that many banks will not finance an owner builder mortgage. I know the one around us wants the house completed in 90 days. I'm on the 90 month plan.  ;)


Thanks for the response  ;D

Jealous on you well costs!!  I guess it's the price I have to pay for the gorgeous mountain playground I live in though :)

I could probably have been clearer in my post - current finances, plus a HELOC will (just about) get us the land, utilities and a small house with pretty low end finishes.  We then move into the small house and sell our current house.  Even after the HELOC there is still a sizeable chunk of equity - if we live lean for 8 months to a year then the savings and equity from the sale will probably just about be enough to build a larger home with better quality finishes.

The question of mortgaging the small home is more of a worst case scenario, but I want to make sure I factor it in - just in case. We wouldn't be getting a construction loan.  We would be mortgaging a finished property - the small home - then using those funds to build the larger.

Building only one house isn't an option.  Our son needs a semblance of independence, but still needs support.  A separate property for him is a must have.  It's just convenient that I can build that fairly quickly and have somewhere to live that doesn't involve the mortgage payment we have now.

I have a fair amount of excavator and heavy equipment experience so I'm not too concerned about the sitework.  I hate ladders though!!  That's partly tipping me towards going down instead of up :)

I guess I''ll just have to run the numbers all ways and see which is more cost effective - walkout basement, two story above ground, or increase the footprint by 200 - 400 sq ft.

Wondering has anyone adjusted the single story 20 x 30 in any of these ways?  How'd it work out?

John Raabe

Quite an interesting and challenging project.
It sounds like it might be good to consult with a builder and, possibly, an engineer.
I would advise taking the existing plans, along with your ideas for modifications, to a local builder/designer, or even to your building department, to get rough estimates of costs and what, if any, engineering work might need to be done.
This amounts to a feasibility study which, hopefully, would help you avoid getting partway started on a project that could be more difficult and expensive to build than you would want. 

Best of luck with your project.

None of us are as smart as all of us.