Let me preface this post by saying that I've wanted to fly since I was a teenager. I'm now 47 and it's a good time to actually pursue this love I've always had for aviation. I'm a pretty handy guy, but have never built a vehicle of any sort. I'm not all that familiar with the terminology, so forgive me if I use the wrong terms to describe something.
I'm planning to take flying lessons in the Spring in order to get my Sport Pilot's certificate. I joined EAA because I was fascinated by the number of people who have successfully home built an aircraft. I seriously had no idea this was a possibility. The thought of building my own aircraft interests me for a few reasons, not the least of which is the potential cost savings. For instance, in some cases, one can build the E-LSA version of an aircraft for less than half the cost of the S-LSA version of the same aircraft. In addition, as I understand it, if you build your own, you can maintain it yourself to a degree and maybe in some instances do your own annuals? That sounds like significant savings to me so the thought of building is something I'm seriously considering.
My criteria is basically a two place, side by side seating low wing LSA with a reasonable useful load.(I'm 6'1" 248) It is not my intention to train in this plane so the useful load needs to only accomodate me.
For my tastes, the Thorp T211 is the perfect plane for me, but I think they're out of business or no longer offer kits for sale so I've been looking at similar styles in an attempt to find a cost effective alternative.
I've settled on the low wing Zenith Zodiac CH650B because I don't fit in a Sonex. It seems I can get in the air for $30k and possibly, depending on power plant and instrument selection, significantly less than that. For my first project, I'm opting for a kit because I think scratch building would overwhelm me, at least until I learn more.
Because I'm new to aviation, I'm not sure exactly how you decide what project to build other than what appeals to you, what is a proven design and what fits your personal needs and budget. I was hoping to field suggestions from owners/builders/pilots of the Zodiac CH650B or it's predecessor the CH601XL as well as other aircraft to compare it to.
Comments, compliments, critiques, anecdotes are all welcome. Enlighten me, please.