Building My First House On Time and On Budget No Money Down
As a landscaper I watched clients get divorced, fight, feel stressed, occasionally bankrupt themselves and move in late to their houses for decades. It was painful. So I wanted to help. The trouble was that I was a "landscaper" and that's when I learned that labels matter more than results in uneducated circles. A few clients let me manage their projects from picking an architect, finding them land, placing the house and integrating landscaping, but first they wanted to see that I had done it. So I first bought $600. in courses by Carlton Sheets on No-Money-Down-Real-Estate. Then I wrote letters of intent to multiple land-owners giving them three options: A low cash sale, a small down payment on a higher price with a balloon payment in 18 months, or an even higher price for a small lump sum payment to lease the property with the option to purchase it in 18 months for a yet higher price. 
 
My seller sold me the land for 50% of what they had paid for it, well below appraised value, and took the middle option. I gave them $1,800. with a note for the balance in 18 months. I knew that after 12 months I could get a construction loan based not on what I had paid for the property, but the appraised value, which was double. I then put together a fixed-cost bid and design on the land that the bank was willing to loan 90% of appraised value on. Because I designed carefully to maximize value my construction design appraised in 12 months for 110% of the cost to build the house and hire my own company to do all the land development. 
 
Next, I went to work on eliminating the stress-points in most construction projects:
1) I did all the site work myself, letting the bank loan hire my company to do all site work. I prepared the driveway, the parking areas, graded the land, moved landscape materials in place for future work behind the house before access was cut off. I stabilized the ground with wood chips to minimize mud.
2) I then got the building permit from the county.
3) Next I shopped around for a builder with a site ready to build and a house with no uncertainty and plans and construction loan in place.
4) I found a builder and agreed on a fixed price and a date work would be done by.
5) I asked the builder for a complete list of every paint color, every carpet choice, every window type etc. that I needed to participate in. I then went shopping at Home Depot and took photos of every single choice I made, along with the price. 
6) Rather than giving me "allowances" I then asked the builder to give me a fixed total price for everything, with him being responsible for anything he forgot.
7) I then gave him the job. 
 
The result was that I only needed to drive by the site four times for fun. There was zero stress. There were no surprises. There was one small thing I added for $360. that I paid for in cash and otherwise the project was totally on budget. It was done more than a month early. I was very happy. It was another situation in which I was told I was not qualified by architects and builders and real estate agents and clients to help them eliminate the stresses I watched most clients going through by relying on the "professionals." I loved living in my house until it sold for full price above appraised value to a woman who told me that it was the only house in her price-range that integrated home and landscape and she wanted to make sure she would get it so she offered full price. Many of the buyers of houses I have landscaped have told me that they bought the house largely because of the garden.