With a plan of action it is possible, though you need to start off with a good property. Pay a little more for the land to start with and ask the seller to finance the difference, negotiate a 2 year note interest only. That should give you time to get permits through Coastal & County. Remember once you have permits you can move onto the land in a temp mobilehome. Make sure your initial plans call out for a temp. Mobile home (perhaps to convert to perm guesthouse) you can buy them for under 10K used and trick it out. When you fund on construction loan they will pay the original note on the land to be in 1st position. My experience (though things may be different today) is that the bank reimbursed out of pocket archetectura fees and permit expenses and automatically made the payments during construction placed them on the back end of the loan plus gave a contingency for overruns. I heard US Bank has started financing projects. Find out lending guidelines, negotiate with the lender that once the I-house is built you automatically roll over into permanent financing over 30 years. Lock in a low rate and your payments, a payment of $1,400.00 per month amort. over 30 years at today's interest rates will buy you approx. $240,000.00 You'd be cutting it close if you don't want to pull on your newly earned equity, the value of the NEW home would be between $850,000 - $1.250,000K perhaps more depending on the site and improvements and location. Personally I like fernwood, cooler in the summer and closer to the beaches. Draw some additional equity from the L.T.V. to pay the over runs or perhaps rent out the mobile home as the guest house, for about $1,800.00 per month. It is all about doing the numbers and going for it. The best time to get a deal is in early spring, when the sellers are tired of carrying the land over the winter, when mid to late spring come about the canyon looks beautiful and the good properties do sell. Good Luck, keep the faith and deal with the challenge, because, it is like putting money in the bank but the return is much greater. There is an element of personal accomplishment having built your own home. The time to get in is when prices are low. Look up u-tube info on Topanga being the largest urban park, and efforts to conserve the land resource; it is the basic law of supply and demand that will within the next 5 years drive the prices up. You could keep paying rent or you can take the effort to negotiate for your future. An added benefit is the mortgage interest may still be a tax deduction where as paying rent is not (check with your accountant). It is all in taking the time to plan your decade remember 2020 is hindsight, hopefully with no regrets for what you could have done.