I'm interested to buy a lot and build a house in either PV or Woodside, and have several questions:1.

Asked by Yaniv, San Mateo, CA Sat Aug 23, 2008

for a family with young kids, which of the two communities is a better fit?
2. what is the average cost per foot to build a 3,000 sf house?
3. which of these two areas have more lot offering relatively close to 280?
4. whats the best way to find a good builder in these areas?
5. am I better of buying vacant land versus tear down an old house?


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Arn Cenedella’s answer
Arn Cenedella, Agent, Greenville, SC
Sun Aug 24, 2008

Either Woodside or Portola Valley will be fine - both have excellent school districts.
Woodside is an older community where most of Portola Valley was developed in the 1960s.
Cost to build will be $350 to $400 per square foot though yuo need to be clear on what those numbers mean. Do they include permit fees and engineering costs? Financing costs?
I know two escellent builders who have been buiders for over 25 years each and they both build excellent homes.
My sense is you will be more likely to find a tear down rather than vacant land. Most of the good vacant land has been built on - what's left typically has some geologic or soils issue involved.

1 vote
Tisza Major-…, Agent, Upland, CA
Sat Aug 23, 2008
Hi Yaniv,

I can't speak to your first three questions but I will happily weigh in on the last two.

To find a reputable builder in the area you are interested in I would suggest that you first cruise the area and when you find a property being worked on, stop and talk to the owner to see what they think of their builder.

Contact the local Chamber of Commerce to see who they have recommendations for. And then be sure to investigate to make sure that whomever you choose is licensed, bonded and has not faced any disciplinary actions. The state Contractors Board can supply some of those answers for you.

As for buying an empty lot versus buying a tear down. I would suggest that you start by looking for a home that you could "remodel". You will be able to see what the neighborhood surrounding the home is like. You will be assured that all necessary services already reach the property. You will be sure that the area is zoned for the type of use you wish to put it to. And, it may be significantly cheaper because if you don't flatten the entire structure it could be considered a remodel and not a new build which may not require you to jump through as many hoops and a first build would. Also, it is much more difficult (but not impossible) to get a loan for vacant land than it is for land with a home upon it.

Whatever you do, good luck, I am sure it will turn out great!

Take care, help lots of people and have a wonderful day!

Tisza Major-Posner, Realtor, IVPG Realty (909) 837-8922
Web Reference:  http://Route66Living.com
1 vote
Dallas Texas, Agent, Dallas, TN
Sat Aug 23, 2008
Vacant land is GREAT however you need to determine if there are utilities ran the property. If not this can be expense process with city permits required and etc. I would also have an appraiser involved if you are building a home fits given area. Builders will always try to do upgrades you could spend more than appraised value of area. Check deed restrictions prior to building confirm that homes values are from $$$,$$$ to $$$,$$$ ... I have seen in some areas no restrictions you have luxury home built next to a $90,000 home ! YIKES
http://www.lynn911.com http://www.homes-for-sale-dallas.com
Web Reference:  http://www.lynn911.com
1 vote
Athena Chili…, Agent, Weston, FL
Sun May 30, 2010
Hello Yaniv,
As a Realtor in Woodside and PV, I agree with all of the helpful suggestions of my colleagues.

In addition, the opportunity to find vacant land is greater in Woodside vs. PV. However, the price per sqft is greatest at the flatland and less expensive along Skyline.

Please remember that if you are financing, the Lender environment is such that institutional lenders are very shy in providing financing and you may need to look toward hard money lending. However, if you purchase land with a structure, the opportunity to obtain institutional financing increases tremdendously.
Web Reference:  http://www.5335lahondard.com
0 votes
Janie and Jo…, Agent, Palo Alto, CA
Sun Aug 24, 2008
Hi Yaniv,

Just a few more considerations in addition to Arn and Matthew's thoughts below.

If you are planning on building new (either on a vacant lot or a tear down), you should plan on 24 months of construction time. I was with a client just a few days ago in Los Altos Hills looking to tear down and build new, and the local builder we were talking to walked my client through the steps (design through completion) and in the end said 24 months would be a reasonably smooth project. He also quoted $350-$450 per square foot for construction costs.

As for builders, I'd recommend seeking builders (and architects) that are familiar with all of the local building codes/regulations. Both Portola Valley and Woodside can be somewhat picky, so it really pays to go with a team that is familiar with the town where you are building. It will likely save time and headaches in the end.

Regarding proximity to 280, many of your decisions will be influenced by desired lot size, flat vs. steep parcels, tolerance of road noise and desire for views. All of these factor into the cost, so you will have some decisions to make and priorities to evaluate.

Finally, remember that not all of Woodside attends Woodside Elementary (a portion east of 280 attends Redwood City schools). If public schools are important, be sure to know which schools each home attends.

Finally, a quick plug. I have 2 kids, and Ladera has a great sense of community. Plus it is close to 280 but avoids much of the 280 road noise. There aren't any vacant lots however, and teardown quality homes don't come on the market all that often.
Web Reference:  http://www.babblingbrook.com
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