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Building a Lego house, is custom better /cheaper?

JAKBCATJAKBCAT Member Posts: 5
edited June 2011 in Building and Techniques
Hello all,

I was searching ebay because I want to get some type of a lego house for my son. I can't seem to find much variety in the stores....and we all know these sets aren't cheap.

While searching ebay I found A) people selling lots of bricks for a fair price and B) people selling plans.

Can anyone give me advice if it's better to buy custom lots and random brick lots? Is there a well known seller for this? Is there a well known custom set of directions? People who sell instructions and the bricks?

Comments

  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 814
    Depends what you have in mind. LEGO's had a lot of kits that are houses in more recent years, for prices like these (MSRP):

    2004 - $40 - http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=4886-1
    2007 - $70 - http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=4954-1
    2007 - $50 - http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=4956-1
    2008 - $35 - http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=4996-1
    2009 - $60 - http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=6754-1
    2010 - $45 - http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=5891-1
    2011 - $30 - http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=5766-1
    2011 - $70 - http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=5771-1

    If you're thinking about something larger or more detailed, you'll probably have to go custom. Custom is always more fun when you design it yourself (you can make a model of your own house, or your dream house or something), but that has the potential to get pretty big. "Real" houses are larger than LEGO's sets, so you'll have a tendency to build something larger.

    If money is even entering into your head as a possible concern, I would advise you not to buy someone's designs online. If they have a phenomenal-looking design, it'll be phenomenally expensive to buy the required parts. And if they have a mediocre design, you can design something just as good yourself. The only way you'll want to buy someone else's design is if they're also selling you the pieces (and usually, that's more expensive per piece than a LEGO set).

    Your best bet is to start with the pieces you already have at home to offset the price. See what you've got, and see how you can integrate that into a design. What colors do you have the most of? What color windows and roof elements do you have?

    If you buy 100% of the pieces you need for a custom house from online sellers, expect the cost of your house to go up by a lot. I would guess that if you tried to make one of the above sets using pieces purchased online individually, you'd probably spend somewhere between once and twice the cost of the set purchased retail.

    DaveE
  • LegorunnerLegorunner Member Posts: 35
    edited June 2011
    I agree with what davee123 said. Avoid buying the plans people sells. Some parts may be harder to get due to rarity of them in term of building.

    Unless you happen to live near a Lego retail store, they have those "pick a brick" and you should be able to grab handful of each color to custom build a house you want. The "pick a brick" should be roughly .10 cents per a brick if I remember correctly. Give or take few more cents.

    Toobad the Lego retail store is 4 hours away from here. (I can't just up and go on a trip to grab those bricks I want. I need good excuse to go visit Mall of America.)

    I'm in processing of getting the bricks and some smaller parts to build a better Log Cabin. I bought and built the http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=5766-1 Overall the price for this is sensible. $29.99 you can't go wrong with that price. I had fun building it. Only thing is I'm not too pleased with certain things with this set. So I'm currently designing a slightly better and bigger log cabin than this one with a different idea in mind with Lego Digital Design program. It'll be more of MOC style.

    By building a custom house will take time. If you don't have time now. My suggestion is either the #5766 Log Cabin or the #5771 Hillside House.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited June 2011
    The cheapest way of buying plans is as part of a lego set.
    The best plans are the ones lego produces.
    The cheapest way of buying bricks is as part of a lego set.

    Hillside house is way overpriced IMO, and Log Cabin is not really a house.

    I'd recommend Apple tree house as it's on sale most places, plus it has a lot of roof tiles to play with. If you want a bigger house, buy 2 of them and make something up based on that, it'll give you a good selection of bricks and cost next to nothing compared to other methods.
  • YellowcastleYellowcastle Member Posts: 4,401
    ^ Agree about the apple tree house.
  • legohairlegohair Member Posts: 41
    I agree, it is cheaper to stick to sets. Combining two of the same model to make one bigger house is a great way forward, but to mix it up a little you could also combine two different reasonably priced sets to add variety to the one house - say an Apple Tree and a Hillside, or an Apple Tree and a 5956 House.
  • MinifigsMeMinifigsMe Member Posts: 2,844
    Apple tree is lovely, I've ended up with 2 and you can pretty much make 3 of the town house version in it, to create a nice little 'street' :)
  • legomattlegomatt Member Posts: 2,548
    edited June 2011
    I was searching ebay because I want to get some type of a lego house for my son.
    Yep, the housing market is pretty tough to get onto for us young folk... but James May tried the LEGO solution, and it didn't pan out all that well. :o)

    (a joke for the UK readers i think).
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    Lol!
    Well, he did use child labour to build it with!

    Actually his lego house was very close to where I live, apparently the council made them remove it in the end because they didnt have planning permission, and they cut it up with chainsaws cos May hadn't built it in a modular way like Lego had recommended, so they couldnt dismantle it to take it elsewhere.
  • MatthewMatthew Cheshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 3,734
    I read that LEGOLAND wanted it, but with transport costs it would have been cheaper to build their own!
  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    I don't think LLW particularly wanted it, but they agreed to take it (under a lot of pressure), until they realised that they would have to find the money to move it themselves. IIRC, it finally ended up being completely dismantled, the (chainsaw & weight) damaged bricks were disposed of & the remainder are held by LLW as a resource for use in charity events.
  • StuBoyStuBoy New ZealandMember Posts: 623
    ^ What a waste!!! But I guess thats how it is these days - cheaper to demo it than pay to dismantle it.
  • mkoeselmkoesel USAMember Posts: 97
    I would strongly recommend you look into the Medieval Market Village. It isn't a house per se, but it is a very well designed set, it has great parts for building houses or other buildings, and it is a fanstastic value.
  • JAKBCATJAKBCAT Member Posts: 5
    Thanks everyone for the input, especially Dave who put in some good research.

    I agree with most the comments, I think they are accurate for building a house with some design to them.... but then I saw a picture of a lego house that was literally a giant box.

    Something like that doesn't even need plans. I guess at this point I just need blocks in bulk, in one color. If I'm not near a lego store where's a good place to buy in bulk?
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 814
    Probably BrickLink, I'd say.

    The best place to get bulk for retail is Pick-A-Brick at LEGO Brand Retail stores. It's probably the cheapest on a per-piece basis, and gets you good quality brick. The problem is that it doesn't give you a lot of variety. There are only a scant few options in matching colors, usually primary ones.

    The next best is probably BrickLink. You can get cheap prices, but it depends on what seller you get. You may get someone who's excellent, but you might get unlucky and get someone that's slow to deliver, or has poor standards when describing their pieces. Generally works out pretty well though, especially if you specifically look for "new" elements.

    After that, I'm not sure if it's Pick-A-Brick online or Pick-A-Brick at Legoland parks. Each are pricey (PAB at the Legoland parks is done by weight, not volume, and PAB online is by the element, with some generally higher prices that BrickLink), but they've got decent selection, and come directly from the company, so you're just about guaranteed to get high-quality stuff.

    DaveE
  • RavenhookRavenhook Member Posts: 70
    The thing about the James May LEGO house, is that it didn't really look like a LEGO house.

    It was made of LEGO, sure, but it looked more like a large liquorice allsort than a large scale LEGO house.

    image

    I remember when watching the TV show, there was an hoity-toity designer responsible for it and she designed it like the cardigan she was wearing or something. I doubt she was even a LEGO fan.

    I'm not at all surprised that preserving and moving it didn't justify the cost. I wouldn't want it in my garden either. If I had that many bricks, I'd try to make something that looked much better.

    A shame, considering the effort and cost that went into it.
  • RedBrickMarketRedBrickMarket Member Posts: 28
    Sets are cheaper - Custom is more fun since you can say you came up with the design yourself
  • JAKBCATJAKBCAT Member Posts: 5
    Probably BrickLink, I'd say.

    The best place to get bulk for retail is Pick-A-Brick at LEGO Brand Retail stores. It's probably the cheapest on a per-piece basis, and gets you good quality brick. The problem is that it doesn't give you a lot of variety. There are only a scant few options in matching colors, usually primary ones.

    The next best is probably BrickLink. You can get cheap prices, but it depends on what seller you get. You may get someone who's excellent, but you might get unlucky and get someone that's slow to deliver, or has poor standards when describing their pieces. Generally works out pretty well though, especially if you specifically look for "new" elements.

    After that, I'm not sure if it's Pick-A-Brick online or Pick-A-Brick at Legoland parks. Each are pricey (PAB at the Legoland parks is done by weight, not volume, and PAB online is by the element, with some generally higher prices that BrickLink), but they've got decent selection, and come directly from the company, so you're just about guaranteed to get high-quality stuff.

    DaveE
    I live near Enfield, but I don't think there is an actual store there. I might just try Ebay.
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 814
    Enfield? You're about 1.5 hours or so from the Natick store-- they've got a PAB wall (although, again, it'll give you a great price but for not all that great selection).

    Technically, there IS a store in Enfield, too, but it's only open to LEGO employees, not the general public :(

    DaveE
  • JAKBCATJAKBCAT Member Posts: 5
    Thanks for the tip! I was so focused on CT that I never looked at MA. I'm actually a lot closer then that to Natick.

    We went there this week and crammed in over 300 legos into a cup. The house project is under way!
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,205
    edited August 2011
    One house that was planned for production in 1961-62 in USA/Canada but never actually built in this style was the prototype for the 717 Junior Constructor set. This house used 22 classic LEGO windows and 2 classic LEGO doors. It was based on an almost identical design used as a continental European glued retailer model, which also found itself in the 238 Idea Books of 1960-65 (also known as Building Ideas Book No.2 and No.3 in the UK and Australia).

    This nice design was somewhat similar to a Cotswold Cottage style, and it's a great way to use up all the red/yellow/blue bricks that you'd get in sets but never used... and instead of 9 old 10x20 thick baseplates... 2 new 32x32 green baseplates work fine.

    Also, it looks nice with the old flat LEGO trees from the 1960s.

    Here's my model, and a catalog image of the "mock-up" box that does not exist in the Billund Vault. This would have been the largest LEGO house model of the 20th century. The 3rd image was of the much smaller (only 4 10x20 thick baseplates) actually produced 717 set (as a modern flat roofed house).

    Of course, this doesn't fit with most modern builders... because you need to stick your minifigs nearby... thus turning them into giants next to this smaller scale (but still huge) house.... ;-)
  • JAKBCATJAKBCAT Member Posts: 5
    edited August 2011
    One house that was planned for production in 1961-62 in USA/Canada but never actually built in this style was the prototype for the 717 Junior Constructor set. This house used 22 classic LEGO windows and 2 classic LEGO doors. It was based on an almost identical design used as a continental European glued retailer model, which also found itself in the 238 Idea Books of 1960-65 (also known as Building Ideas Book No.2 and No.3 in the UK and Australia).

    This nice design was somewhat similar to a Cotswold Cottage style, and it's a great way to use up all the red/yellow/blue bricks that you'd get in sets but never used... and instead of 9 old 10x20 thick baseplates... 2 new 32x32 green baseplates work fine.

    Also, it looks nice with the old flat LEGO trees from the 1960s.

    Here's my model, and a catalog image of the "mock-up" box that does not exist in the Billund Vault. This would have been the largest LEGO house model of the 20th century. The 3rd image was of the much smaller (only 4 10x20 thick baseplates) actually produced 717 set (as a modern flat roofed house).

    Of course, this doesn't fit with most modern builders... because you need to stick your minifigs nearby... thus turning them into giants next to this smaller scale (but still huge) house.... ;-)
    Geez! look how thick the base is! You are lucky if they even include much of a base now.

    These house are close to what I had in mind. I got the bricks now I need to find some windows.

  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,205
    edited August 2011
    Jakbcat... I wasn't trying to promote my Bricklink store (well OK maybe I was subconsciously ;-)... but I have a 15 page PDF file for sale there that gives the history of the Prototype and actually produced 717 Junior Constructor Set and model variations. It includes about 4 pages of building instructions... as well as 2 alternative building designs... for the left side of the original house, which is not a very satisfying design...

    I was selling it for $3.00 in Bricklink, and it would be free shipping if it were EMAILed versus sending a printed copy.

    Also I have over 1000 white classic windows/doors in my collection, and I could get you a decent price on the all 24-29 items (depending on which model version you want to build). Below is an image from the original green 1960 Continental European Glued Retailer Model Catalog, item #0769, and my 2 alternative building designs (utilizing more windows).

    The 15 page document also shows some historic building images from a USA TV commercial of this house, as well as Idea Book images of it from the 1960s.

    My fascination with this model and 717 set in general is that I was a young child in the 1960s, and I wanted this model set very much. My aunt spent 2 years trying to find this model... which she was going to buy me for Christmas or my birthday. 40 years later I found out from the Billund Archives and LEGO Collections... that they have no record of this model as a 717 set... and no box of this type in the Billund LEGO Set Vault.

    So it took me 40 years to find out that the set I wanted so badly as a child was only used in USA/Canada LEGO catalogs (found in 1961-62 USA catalogs, and 1962-65 Canadian LEGO catalogs).... TLG... the child LEGO dream crusher...

    (Huw and Ian... I hope I'm not breaking any forum rules)... but Jakbcat... you can email me at; [email protected], if you are interested in getting the instructions/history and the windows/doors... (all of the doors/window are less than 50 cents each). Then your son could build it from the instructions I made... plus it's a fascinating read with lots of historic images.
  • dimefielddimefield Edmonton Alberta CanadaMember Posts: 314
    Awesome designs! And youre right it is a great way to use up all those yellow, red and blue bricks that youll never use.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 9,933
    Thanks for the tip! I was so focused on CT that I never looked at MA. I'm actually a lot closer then that to Natick.

    We went there this week and crammed in over 300 legos into a cup. The house project is under way!
    Also remember there is always PAB online which costs for shipping BUT you have a bigger list of parts to buy from, if needed....
    Right now it seems like the grays and tan parts are still to be found at PAB and those are good for homes..


  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,205
    edited August 2011
    @dimefield Thanks, the irony about that 50 year old set is that it was the first very large LEGO model set until the new millenium. The box with contents weighted 9 lb. No other set came close in size (except maybe the USS Constellation 398 set), but that set had mainly very small parts... this 717 set was mostly 2x4 bricks.
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