The nightmare begins
Regular readers may remember that I bought a manshon last year, and renovated it by installing inner windows and a second door at the entrance. I am very happy with my new home and was not planning to make any changes.
Earlier this month my wife told me that it was extremely important to her for us to build a house on her parents' land so that we could live with them as they get less able to take care of themselves.
And thus the nightmare begins. We are hoping to build the house next year, so this is the first of what I imagine will be a number of posts documenting our experiences. Feel free to come along for the ride or share your advice in the comments.
We already have the land (it's where my in-laws live now) but have the added complication of having to demolish their house and maybe have the land prepared for a new building. We are told this will not be cheap.
Over the last three weeks or so we have gotten used to the idea (and had a couple of fights along the way...), started thinking about what kind of house we want, and started talking to house builders.
One pleasant surprise has been that every time we visit a model house or talk to a house builder rep we seem to get a better idea of what we want. It's a process of getting new information (seeing designs or asking questions) and improving our mental model.
We started off thinking we wanted two bungalows. This turned out to be expensive and complicated. Then a single bungalow divided into two living areas. Ditto. Then a two-story house divided into two separate homes. This leaves us with useless space a few years down the line though.
Our latest thinking is a two story house with a large common area downstairs, then two sets of stairs to completely separate areas upstairs: a master suite and a guest flat. When we move in my in-laws can live in the master suite and we can live in the guest flat. Eventually we'll move into the master suite and visitors can use the guest flat.
I'm excited at how we're getting closer to a workable design.
We've talked to about ten house makers, of which two are possible candidates. One thing we learned quickly is not to give them many contact details, as they can be quite annoying. I tend to just provide an email address now, otherwise they will 1) call you at night, or 2) turn up at your home uninvited.
Ultimately I'd like to find 3-4 serious contenders before making a final choice. We're inclined to go with smaller, local companies rather than the big national chains.
I've also been looking at financing. There are lots of online calculators. The Rakuten Bank one seems to show that I can borrow up to 57 million yen at 1.06% fixed for 35 years. This is at the same time both terrifying and kind of interesting.
There is also a special tax break at the moment for parents to give their children money for the purpose of building a house. Currently it seems they can give up to 15 million yen tax free as a one-time lifetime gift. I'm pretty sure my in-laws are not in a position to do this, but it's an option worth exploring.
There are also government funds for building 'zero-emission houses' and two-family homes that we might be eligible for.
So far one company gave us a ball-park figure of 40 million to clear the land and build a two-family home with decent insulation, solar panels, and batteries. We'll see what the more detailed quotes look like when we get a bit further along in the process.
One thing I am already noticing is how exhausting this process is. Each visit to a house maker takes several hours, and I can see us getting to the point where we are so sick of the whole process that we just say yes to get it to stop. Have to watch out for that.
How about you? Any advice for us as we head into the house-building nightmare?