Sunday, May 30, 2010

Buying a House in Japan Part 3 - Building from scratch or buying finished

Ok, so just to quickly recap the events here for those who are too lazy to go back and check the earlier posts in this series.

Basically, the Salaryman household had at this stage decided to A) Purchase a free-standing house and not an apartment/mansion and B) To look outside main metropolitan Tokyo for this.

The next critical question that appeared was how to approach this, basically the three choices of 1. Buying a used house (to possibly renovating depending on the state of it), 2. Buying a lot of land and then having the house built, or, 3. Purchasing an already (or almost) finished new house to move in our meager belongings to.

At the onset, we did not rule out any of the options, but after viewing quite a few used houses and not finding anything we really liked, we mostly set our focus on the latter two options. The obvious appeal of buying a lot of land and then contracting the building of the house to a company carried with it the very attractive options of being able to fully customize the layout and everything related to the house (for me, crawlspace and a Gary Heidnik style torture dungeon were pretty high up on the wish-list to give it a bit more of an unique flavour).

For a little while we basically pursued this path (or somewhere in-between, where some customization was possible) but after realizing that this would first of all take considerable time (several months since the house did, for obvious reasons, not physically exist when we would start) and also endless meetings where materials used etc. would need to be discussed, priced and decided upon together with the architects and the construction company. Not to mention that the culmulative knowledge of house-building and proper materials for such between me and Mrs. Salaryman basically is close to the freezing point... Also,the fact that Mrs. Sunshine's brother was simultaneously pursuing this house-building path and that his project had been dragging on for over a year just further discouraged us.

In the end, we decided to go for purchasing a finished house for immediate moving in, and to depend on more knowledgable family and friends that the house would be solidly built with no cheap stuff.

Ok, so far I don't think this has been very entertaining, but now the scene has been set for some of the more interesting challenges we were facing when moving forward with this!


aimlesswanderer said...

Hope you didn't go with a more traditional house, with skinny walls and heavy tiles. I remember seeing a program which suggested that they did rather poorly during earthquakes. And they saw that Tokyo is due for a Big One sometime...

I have read that many Japanese homes are optimised for the hot humid months, but have no insulation at all...

Mr. Salaryman said...

Hey Aimless, well, I believe your sources are generally correct! But technology is getting better, even here in Japan so insulation is reasonable and it's supposedly built in some "earthquake safety up" method which gave us quite a discount on the insurance!

Winter was actually quite tolerable compared to our previous haunt so it seems like we didn'T get completely ripped off!

RMilner said...

It took Odakyu House about six months to build my new house.

The insulation is good, not as good as 14 inches of brick and stone like in London, however you could not build a house like that in Japan owing to earthquakes.

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