Author Topic: DIY Home building  (Read 2603 times)

waffle

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 286
DIY Home building
« on: April 16, 2018, 08:59:20 AM »
Hello all

I recently moved from Colorado to Washington where I have some acreage and want to build a house. I'd really like to act as my own general contractor and DIY a lot of the build. I'm planning on a 1500-2000 square foot house on top of an unfinished basement (basement to possibly be finished later). I'm interested in doing ICF specifically Faswall blocks. The issue I've been having is finding a lender who will do an owner builder construction loan. The lenders I spoken to say they've heard of people doing that, but their company doesn't. I work from home, have great credit, no debt, and pretty large cash reserves so I'd imagine I'd be a strong candidate; I just cant find a lender willing to consider me.

Does anyone know of a lender, preferable in the northwest, who does owner builder loans, or any ideas on alternate ways of financing my build?

Thanks

zolotiyeruki

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2779
  • Location: State: Denial
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2018, 09:51:55 AM »
How much cash do you have on hand, vs how much would the home cost to build?

waffle

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 286
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2018, 10:10:48 AM »
I have about 25-30% of the cost to build in cash. There is no debt on the land either and that is worth another 120-130k so loan to value would be really low.

zolotiyeruki

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2779
  • Location: State: Denial
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2018, 12:29:12 PM »
I have no personal experience, but I've heard that local credit unions can be easier to work with when you're trying to take out an unconventional loan.  If you had most of the cash on hand, I'd tell you to try and cash flow the construction.

rothwem

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 415
  • Location: WNC
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2018, 01:50:41 PM »
Maybe try to do a cash-out refi on the land?

Fishindude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1840
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2018, 07:01:20 AM »
What's your house building experience?
A banks biggest fear is having to foreclose on an unfinished, screwed up property that isn't worth anywhere near what has been loaned for it.

lthenderson

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1151
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2018, 08:56:42 AM »
I'm a big fan of building a monolithic dome home someday due to them being extremely efficient and resistant to things like wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.

http://www.monolithic.org/homes

One of the problems people who build them have is obtaining a loan due to dome homes being unconventional. Many of the members of the now closed forum on that website obtained the financing to build their dome homes through second mortgages on their current house and unsecured loans from credit cards and such. Once they got the dome built to a point, they would then be allowed to get a traditional mortgage loan to finish the details. Banks were much more willing to loan them money once the exterior of the house was complete.

waffle

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 286
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2018, 09:10:36 AM »
What's your house building experience?
A banks biggest fear is having to foreclose on an unfinished, screwed up property that isn't worth anywhere near what has been loaned for it.

I've done a full renovation on a previous house, I work in the construction industry (not in a trade though), I have two brothers, one a framer and one a welder, who would be helping with the build. I think I can make a pretty solid case for a loan if I could find a lender who even considers owner builder loans.

HipGnosis

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1378
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2018, 09:52:45 AM »
Find a contractor that does Faswall ICF blocks houses.  The local seller of the Faswall blocks might be able to connect you with one.
Have them build the shell of the house, the plumbing, elec. and HVAC (these all require credentials and licences).
You should be able to get a mortgage for that.
Then you do the siding, roofing, drywall, flooring, cabinetry...  you should be able to fund this yourself (even if you have to do some of it cheaply the first time).

CatamaranSailor

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 119
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2018, 03:07:06 PM »
Owner builder financing is hard to get, but not impossible. The fact that you own your land free and clear is excellent and will help a lot.

What you first need to do is get an appraisal. Take your proposed plans to a real estate appraiser and have him give you a value based on comps in the area. Appraisers do this all the time off plans.

Next, go to your planning department and find out the exact requirements for your municipality for serving as an owner/builder. With very few exceptions, almost every municipality will allow you to act as your own general contractor. Almost every municipality will also allow you to do your own electrical and plumbing work as long as it's your own home. Some areas have different rules, but for the most part--if it's your own house--you can do everything as long as you pull all the permits and pass all the inspections.

That being said, I'd plan on acting as GC...but not doing a lot of work myself. Trust me on this. Unless you're a tradesman, it's well worth it (and most likely will be cheaper) to pay subs to do the majority of the work. Being a GC is where you'll save the most money, not in hanging your own drywall.

Next....build the house on paper. Run a complete budget based on actual numbers. This will take a while, especially collecting bids (that's a whole other post) but it's probably the most crucial part. Get an actual budget. Then run through it a dozen times asking yourself "What have I forgotten? " You'll add a bunch believe me. Add 15-20 % to the number you come up with. Subtract what you have in cash or will pay for out of pocket. Don't forget all the little things that add up...like a porta potti for the site...temp electrical and water for while you're building..etc. Go to a Home Depot and just walk the isle...realize you're house will require 1 to 10,000 of every item they stock. :)

Now you have A) an appraisal and B) a realistic number to go to a bank with. You'll also be able to give them a LTV ratio. It will need to be at least 20%. 50% would be better.

There are companies that say they specialize in owner builder financing. It's fine to go through one of them (just do a Google search for one that serves your area) but I'd start with your local banks and credit unions. What you're looking for is a good old fashioned construction loan. 12 month term with unlimited draws. You should be able to get one for a decent interest rate (construction loans are always higher than mortgages, but you should be able to get one that's competitive). Some banks will talk to you, others won't. Some may be OK loaning you the money if you're willing to have a GC on call...as an advisor. Obviously that's your call.

It's totally doable...just a lot of hoops to jump through. It also has gotten harder since the crash, but owner builder financing is still done.

Just remember...once you secure you're financing, you're just beginning. Building a house is a very tough thing to do, even if you're not planning on doing a lot of work yourself.

Where O/B projects go awry is when A) The owner does not come up with or stick to a realistic budget B) The owner plans on doing a majority of the work themselves and pushes the construction schedule beyond the terms of the construction loan C) The owner runs into significant issues which add cost---beyond what can be budgeted. This can be avoided by doing the due diligence ahead of time. (D) The owner starts making changes or adding tons of expensive fixtures or finishes. This is the most common......you start buying $5,000 toilets and don't have enough money to finish.

Being an owner builder is extremely satisfying. But it also means you take on 100% of the problems, the liability, the headaches. Good luck. it can be well worth it.



« Last Edit: April 17, 2018, 03:11:09 PM by Sailor14 »

Frugal Lizard

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1315
  • Age: 51
  • Location: Southwest Ontario
  • One foot in front of the other....
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2018, 07:06:08 AM »
I would not scrimp on the design.  And I am not saying this just because I am a landscape architect.  So many clients/friends/family watch some HG tv and cruise design websites.  They proudly ask me what I think and honestly - it looks like shiny new bad design. 
Architects have a lot of training.  I have five years of university, three years of interning and five exams over three days.  And I won't design my own house - because I don't know enough about inside houses.  I can see bad architecture when I am in it - poor layout, hard to furnish, wasted space, not enough space in critical areas, too much storage, hard to use storage, poor acoustics but I don't have enough expertise to avoid any of these pitfalls myself.  And just about every new build without professional assistance, has silliness and/or plain old ugliness in every corner. I have always consulted architects for my reno projects and gotten some small but critical feedback every time that made the project better.  And frequently saved us money.

You are going to spend a lot of money building the thing - build it beautiful in the true sense of the word - completely fit for purpose, with nothing extra and nothing missing.  The Most Beautiful House in the World by Witold Rybczynski

trollwithamustache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 566
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2018, 08:00:51 AM »
Can you obtain a General Contractor's license? this may help.

If you go the ICF route, please report about it here.

CatamaranSailor

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 119
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2018, 02:32:05 PM »

If you go the ICF route, please report about it here.

What do you want to know about ICF?

trollwithamustache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 566
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2018, 08:09:26 AM »

If you go the ICF route, please report about it here.

What do you want to know about ICF?

Lots of fantasies about building my own ICF house that is incredibly energy efficient.  There don't appear to be many ICF builders in my area, and in a larger several hundred mile radius they seem to be used a lot by luxury home builders. So... that seems like it leaves some rolling your own as an option.  I claim no practical knowledge.

waffle

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 286
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2018, 09:20:58 AM »

If you go the ICF route, please report about it here.

What do you want to know about ICF?

Lots of fantasies about building my own ICF house that is incredibly energy efficient.  There don't appear to be many ICF builders in my area, and in a larger several hundred mile radius they seem to be used a lot by luxury home builders. So... that seems like it leaves some rolling your own as an option.  I claim no practical knowledge.

My first choice is actually this company http://www.auscretehomes.com/ They are building a manufacturing facility near me and I've toured their prototype home and was really impressed, but its unclear if they will be up and running in time or be affordable for what we want to do. If we are able to go with Auscrete then they would do all the structural work and we would just do the finishing. My second choice is Faswall. I like it over other ICF's that I've researched because it will take a nail or screw anywhere instead of just on those plastic strips with the Styrofoam ICF's. I got a sample block from Faswall and was really impressed with it.

zolotiyeruki

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2779
  • Location: State: Denial
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #15 on: April 19, 2018, 11:50:43 AM »
As far as I understand it, the advantages of ICF are:
1) no traditional forms needed
2) no need to remove forms afterward
3) easy to get exactly the geometry you need
4) easier to insert rebar
5) easier for a single person to assemble the forms
6) no need to add insulation afterward

Those interested might find this Youtube channel interesting--it's a couple building their own house, and they opted for ICF's for their half-buried garage.  Their videos give a lot of insight into the practicalities of building with ICFs.

CatamaranSailor

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 119
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #16 on: April 19, 2018, 08:09:29 PM »
I built my last house out of ICF's. Like any building material it has its pro's and cons, some of which have already been discussed. I was not a professional builder and I've done exactly one ICF house, so my perspective is limited.

Note, my whole structure was built out of ICF's, not just the foundation.

First, the pros:

The first thing you notice about ICF houses is that they are quiet. Because the walls are solid concrete, you just don't get the street noise you get in a regular wood framed house. Remember the first time you ever rode in a Mercedes? It's like that.

You do not get the drafts either. Wood framed houses, even those with Tyvek, still let in air.

They are energy efficient, no doubt, but don't believe everything the manufacturer says. I've seen claims of up to R50 in the walls! Take that with a grain of salt. That being said, you will spend less to heat and cool them, but you still need proper insulation in the floors and attic.

In building with ICF's you frame,sheath and insulate all at the same time.

You're basically living in a bomb shelter...hopefully you don't need to worry about drive by shootings, but it's nice knowing your walls are literally bullet proof. If a fire sweeps through your neighborhood, your structure (at least the parts that are not wood) will survive. Same with a hurricanes. ICF houses are about 10x stronger than wood frame ones, so they are often built in areas prone to natural disasters.

Impervious to rot, termites, carpenter ants, etc

There are more pros but those really are the biggies...

Now for the cons.

Although they are marketed  as being "green" you do need to understand the initial carbon footprint of an ICF house is pretty big. Manufacturing Styrofoam for the blocks is a pretty nasty. Some block companies are claiming to use less environmentally disastrous manufacturing processes, but I don't have any direct experience with them. Concrete itself is also a very carbon unfriendly product and you'll use a lot in the construction. Now, you will use less energy to heat and cool the house over its lifetime, so thats where the "green" building line can get fuzzy.

Stacking the blocks is simple...like stacking Legos.

Pouring the concrete however can be a royal bitch kitty. The blocks need to be braced or they will not stay plumb or square and will blow out when you pour. You will need a very good concrete crew who can manage the "lifts" correctly, vibrate the concrete within the blocks to make sure you don't end up with voids and folks standing by with plywood patches to handle blow outs when they happen (and they will.....nothing like watching your expensive concrete squirt out onto the ground like cake frosting). Pouring is not something you and a few friends can manage...unless those friends are professional concrete guys with lots of experience :)

Running electric can be interesting. With plumbing, you want most of your pipes to be run through interior wall, but electric goes everywhere. Many electricians will not have experience with ICF walls. They do make tools for "melting" channels into the styrofoam, but you may then be required to run your wires in conduit as you can't protect romex with nail plates.

Many ICF blocks come with strips embedded in them that you can screw into.....you'll use them for hanging the drywall, cabinets, etc. However, once the house is done and you want to hang a picture or a mirror...you won't be able to find a single one close to where you want to hang something (or so it will feel like). You'll be getting out the hammer drill to hang your picture of Aunt Edna.

And yes....there are more cons for sure.

The fact is I loved my ICF house. Would I build with ICF's again? Absolutely.

Are they the most perfect building solution in the world? Of course not.

One final thing...and this isn't a con, just an FYI...

You will spend more money to build out of ICF and it will be worth it...to you.

However, it doesn't add any value to the house. It won't change the appraisal, nor will you get a bigger offer from a potential buyer. Most buyers don't care it's a better way to build, only that it has walls.

Papa bear

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 773
  • Location: Ohio
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2018, 09:35:15 PM »
I've heard that a drawback to ICF is that the house can be "too" tight for air.  Do you need to have a fresh air intake for the home? I've seen those on other very well insulated houses where there wasn't enough exterior air turnover with the windows closed.

Oh and posting to follow. Good luck with finding a loan! You may be able to cash flow most of this, or call your CC companies and ask for 0% interest for a year. If you have enough credit available, you could borrow for free against CC and then cash out refi the home when finished to pay it off.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

waffle

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 286
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2018, 08:28:00 AM »
CatamaranSailor that is a pretty good overview of ICFs. The reason I'm so interested in the Faswall ICF block is because it addresses most of the cons that are on your list (they were on mine as well). Faswall is made out of 85% de-mineralized recycled pallet wood and 15% cement, so they get a head start on being green. Faswall keeps all the pros but get rid of some cons. They are a lot heavier so harder to handle, but require much less bracing and are much less susceptible to blowouts. They take nails and screws and can be cut with normal wood tools, so not only do you not need a hammer drill to hang a picture you don't even need to worry about finding studs. Running electric and needing an experienced concrete crew are still cons. For electric though we plan to install conduit within the blocks as we stack so there should be minimal if any channels needing to be cut later.

For homeowners inssurance did you see a big discount for having an ICF house?

trollwithamustache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 566
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2018, 08:34:46 AM »
I built my last house out of ICF's. Like any building material it has its pro's and cons, some of which have already been discussed. I was not a professional builder and I've done exactly one ICF house, so my perspective is limited.

Awesome! I believe I am up to speed on the concrete work side,(100% would sub out the pour and vibrating), appropriate drainage and how I would handle seismic. The planning of utilities is a worry that good planning can address.

the HVAC side seems to be a huge mystery. The house is more energy efficient (I know, I never said "green", I did mean energy efficient engineer's fantasy), so you can't use the old HVAC rules of thumb for sizing everything. But there do not appear to be any engineering guides on this out there. 

I have also read without proper air control there can be condensation in the house? like in a safe?

robartsd

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1802
  • Location: Northern California
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #20 on: April 20, 2018, 03:24:20 PM »
I hadn't heard of mineralized wood concrete before. Durisol/Nexcem is similar product.

Frugal Lizard

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1315
  • Age: 51
  • Location: Southwest Ontario
  • One foot in front of the other....
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #21 on: April 21, 2018, 05:39:22 AM »
Passive house standard addresses the air exchange problem .  If I  was building new I would build a passive house with IFC.

CatamaranSailor

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 119
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2018, 06:43:00 AM »
For homeowners insurance did you see a big discount for having an ICF house?

We did get a small break, but it wasn't earth shattering.

Quote
the HVAC side seems to be a huge mystery. The house is more energy efficient (I know, I never said "green", I did mean energy efficient engineer's fantasy), so you can't use the old HVAC rules of thumb for sizing everything. But there do not appear to be any engineering guides on this out there. 

I have also read without proper air control there can be condensation in the house? like in a safe?

We used standard H/VAC guidelines to size all of our mechanicals and never had any issues. I never felt our mechanicals were oversized, but they certainly didn't have to work as hard.

I suppose it's possible to build an ICF structure so tightly an air handler would be required,, but honestly for a house, I think it would be a stretch. We did not install one and never had any issues at all. With a normal family coming and going, friends visiting, kids going outside to play, not to mention just opening the windows for the breeze...I'd be amazed if you weren't cycling the air 5-10 times a day. But again, not an expert.

When I think of buildings needing air handlers I think of large multi-story office buildings where none of the windows open.

And no...we never had any condensation issues either.

Now, we DID have A/C and an attic fan, but we were also in a hot climate. We made it a point to insulate the attic very well and install plenty of soffit vents. This made an enormous difference in the summer and had nothing to do with the ICF construction. Just good building practice.

Hopefully the OP gets his construction loan and we can all watch as the project unfolds. I'm interested in some of the newer technologies that have been described!



waffle

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 286
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #23 on: June 28, 2018, 02:48:26 PM »
Update. We weren't able to figure out any good options for ICF between financing, timing, and availability of sub contractors. We are now moving forward with a barndominium style house. Similar to a Morton building ( https://mortonbuildings.com/projects/home-cabin ). Morton doesn't come fare enough west for us, so we will use Cleary Buildings to build the outer shell for us and then we will do most of the rest ourselves. We are able to build a fairly large and efficient house for under $50/sqft (if we are anywhere close on our estimates). That doesn't include the ground which we already own.

Mgmny

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 517
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Northwest 'Burbs of MSP
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #24 on: July 03, 2018, 09:28:30 AM »
We are able to build a fairly large and efficient house for under $50/sqft (if we are anywhere close on our estimates).

No way, get outta here! I've looked at building my own in a similar way that you are (doing all the finishing on my own), and I consistently come to over $100. I've looked at Menard's houses, modular homes, etc and still can't even come close to $50/sqft.

Can you upload photos and your plans??

waffle

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 286
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #25 on: July 03, 2018, 10:14:45 AM »
We are going to be doing something similar to this, but 80x50 instead of 100x50. Its Hoyt 5066-5BD-3BA floorplan here
 http://barndominiumfloorplans.com/

Some of the things that lower our estimate are stained/sealed concrete slab instead of hardwood or tile, DIY concrete counter tops, being gifted a lot of the electrical supplies we need, etc... Also I am counting the shop space as part of the total square footage because once the rest of the house is done it will become the rec/theater room and I will do a separate shop made from used cargo containers (we are currently using one container for storage while we build)

Cleary will build the shell with an 8' full length front porch for about $20/sqft. I'm sure there will be a bit of price creep as my wife talks me into nicer finishing's, but if I go over $70/sqft I took a massive wrong turn somewhere.

Mgmny

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 517
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Northwest 'Burbs of MSP
Re: DIY Home building
« Reply #26 on: July 06, 2018, 11:16:08 AM »
We are going to be doing something similar to this, but 80x50 instead of 100x50. Its Hoyt 5066-5BD-3BA floorplan here
 http://barndominiumfloorplans.com/

Some of the things that lower our estimate are stained/sealed concrete slab instead of hardwood or tile, DIY concrete counter tops, being gifted a lot of the electrical supplies we need, etc... Also I am counting the shop space as part of the total square footage because once the rest of the house is done it will become the rec/theater room and I will do a separate shop made from used cargo containers (we are currently using one container for storage while we build)

Cleary will build the shell with an 8' full length front porch for about $20/sqft. I'm sure there will be a bit of price creep as my wife talks me into nicer finishing's, but if I go over $70/sqft I took a massive wrong turn somewhere.

That's amazing!

I started talking to my Father-in-law about these steel buildings to build on our (read: his parent's) land on a lake in northern MN. Turns out a woman he works with's husband does steel work on these buildings and they are building their home (either as Morton, or other brand - not sure yet). He is really jazzed about the idea after talking to her, so I may get to build one in the next few years as well as a cabin/garage/shop for our land up north!

Thanks so much Waffle! Awesome share!