We're just getting started
At the end of last month I posted the first in this new series describing our adventures as we look into our options to move in with my in-laws.
A lot has happened since my wife told me that this was important to her, and while it hasn't always been fun, we are learning new things every day :)
The most important thing I have learned so far is that this is going to take a long time, but the more people I talk to the better I understand our options and what we want. My one piece of advice to others would be not to rush this process. Give yourself a year or so just to get information and compare companies and products. We're only a month into it, but already I know so much more than I did five weeks ago.
We've gone from wanting to build two houses, to one house, to an extension, to renovating the existing house, and now we're thinking about those options. Some are impractical, some too expensive, and some might not work day to day.
We've talked to a number of house builders, and have selected two (for now) to follow up with. I have another two that I intend to contact, and suspect we'll end up talking to some of the ones we initially dismissed too, just to make sure we are not missing anything.
The first company is a medium-sized company out of Iwate. I first noticed them after seeing one of their houses going up nearby, and taking a leaflet. They focus on insulation, ventilation, and livability (all good things in my eyes). The guy we are talking to turned out to be very competent and responsive once he got through the sales pitch. They talk about passive houses but aren't able to build to full PassivHaus specifications.
He went to see our property and discovered that the slope at the bottom of the garden counts as a cliff and we may not be able to build near it. The existing house was build 40 years ago when regulations were less stringent, but now it may be impossible to get planning permission for new structures on the plot. Hmmm.
Apparently we'll need a survey to check the angles and heights of the slope.
Worst case scenario is that we won't be able to build a new building on the site (but would be able to renovate the existing structure).
He also provided us with our first quote (the picture at the top)!
This is for a two-story, two-family (duplicate kitchen, bathroom, etc.), 45-tsubo house with decent insulation and a ventilation system, solar panels, and various other options that seem slightly too expensive ;)
So the house would be about 36 million, the extras about 4 million, and clearing the land and demolishing the existing house another 5 million or so.
Right now I kind of like this company and would consider them if we were going to build a new house.
However, I would prefer not to be on the hook for 46 million to some bank, so we're also considering option 2: renovate the existing house so that my wife and I can move in/stay with my in-laws as necessary.
I would probably keep my manshon under this scenario.
We're also talking to a local, smaller company about renovating the house. They are kind of the opposite to the larger company.
They don't have the technical knowledge or experience, but instead focus on a very personalized service. Apparently working with them will take several months just to get the design finalized. They are busy with current projects so the earliest they could fit us in would be late next year.
Their 'thing' is making a lot of the furniture and fittings from scratch, and using clever little gimmicks to use space more effectively and create a unique home tailored to the client.
They would also be a lot cheaper than the demolish/build from scratch option.
Everything is still up in the air at this point though, particularly with the cliff thing, so I'm not sure how things will turn out.
I'm planning to continue talking to people, getting more information, and of course talking things through with my wife so that we can achieve her goals in a way I am comfortable with.
I will, of course, keep you posted :)
Any advice? Are there any questions we should be asking? What do you think of that quote?