Author Topic: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)  (Read 1373 times)

Roland of Gilead

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Asking this in badassity because it is badass to build your own home without much help even if it might not make the top financial sense.

I am curious if any of you have built a home from the foundation up (having the land graded and foundation poured by a company is acceptable).

Having built a RV from complete scratch with electrical, propane, plumbing plus having designed and built a large shed including asphalt shingled roof, a 50 foot by 16 foot deck, and other random items I think it might be possible for us to build our own home if we can figure out how to keep the costs reasonable and get some contractor type discounts.   I am interested to hear of any other experiences.

ncornilsen

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2017, 08:52:28 AM »
I built a 200sqft addition on my home.

Dug the footings, formed everything, hired a concrete pumper and truck to fill and finish the forms.

Framed, sided, dry walled and finished.

Electrical, plumbing, framing is easy and fun with not a ton of knowledge... May need some friends for tipping up walls, etc. Use trusses, have them crane them on top of the walls.

 Spend a few days reading code for the electrical and piping... and make sketches to know your material list as much as possible up front and ensure you can get your grade right on the sewer pipes, etc.

My recommendations:
-Hire out the foundation. I happened to have access to forms. These can be a PITA to build yourself otherwise, the consequences for a mistake are dire.
-Hire out the drywall tape/texturing. An experienced person can do this in one or two passes. If you're like me, it takes... many more passes.
-Hire out the roof/shingle installation. A crew of 4 layed shingles in a single day on my house. (you buy them yourself from a wholesaler, not lowes. Pay to have them put on the roof with the conveyor truck thing. SOOO worth it.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2017, 09:18:01 AM »
Thanks.  I think we would definitely hire out the foundation but unsure about roof as it may be a bit more inline with something we want to do ourselves.

I am only at the initial phase trying to examine costs.   I want to get an idea of everything involved with fees.   Building permit fees, septic fees, school impact fees, fee fees (I am sure there is a fee fee in there somewhere) and see if building versus buying a fixer upper even makes sense.

BeginnerStache

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2017, 09:33:26 AM »
Asking this in badassity because it is badass to build your own home without much help even if it might not make the top financial sense.

I am curious if any of you have built a home from the foundation up (having the land graded and foundation poured by a company is acceptable).

Having built a RV from complete scratch with electrical, propane, plumbing plus having designed and built a large shed including asphalt shingled roof, a 50 foot by 16 foot deck, and other random items I think it might be possible for us to build our own home if we can figure out how to keep the costs reasonable and get some contractor type discounts.   I am interested to hear of any other experiences.

Sorry irrelevant to your question but this sounds pretty badass. Do you have a write-up of this somewhere. Just curious what you did and how it turned out.

Spork

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2017, 10:02:12 AM »
Paging Rural....  I know she and her husband built theirs from scratch.

My wife -- somewhat tongue in cheek -- promised she would divorce me if I attempted to build my own.  We ended up going with a general contractor and negotiating several parts out of the bid as "ours".  I may be forgetting some, but it was something like: site cleanup/maintenance, final site grading, paint, trim carpentry, tile work, wood flooring, drywall in a couple of unfinished areas (but contracted the majority of the drywall).
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soccerluvof4

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2017, 01:50:58 PM »
I generaled 2 and then my cousin and I built a 7200squ foot Mc Mansion I lost my ass on. But we did pretty much everything we could. Contracted out The heating but laid the infloor part ourselves and we did 50% of the electrical. All the plumbing we had done. Alot of fun, took a year an a half but all the money I made in the 2 houses before I lost and then some. Stupid times.
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CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2017, 02:05:07 PM »
Asking this in badassity because it is badass to build your own home without much help even if it might not make the top financial sense.

I am curious if any of you have built a home from the foundation up (having the land graded and foundation poured by a company is acceptable).

Having built a RV from complete scratch with electrical, propane, plumbing plus having designed and built a large shed including asphalt shingled roof, a 50 foot by 16 foot deck, and other random items I think it might be possible for us to build our own home if we can figure out how to keep the costs reasonable and get some contractor type discounts.   I am interested to hear of any other experiences.

Sorry irrelevant to your question but this sounds pretty badass. Do you have a write-up of this somewhere. Just curious what you did and how it turned out.

Check this out  http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/drove-our-homemade-rv-today-(but-didn't-turn-out-very-mustachian)/

Roland also had a journal about his travels.

« Last Edit: February 17, 2017, 02:08:03 PM by CowboyAndIndian »

Rural

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2017, 03:04:22 PM »
 We built ours, including grading and foundation digging but not including the concrete pour. He built the road in, too, before that.  My husband did the design work as well, and the engineering. I swung a hammer a little bit but mostly I made money to buy building supplies. He and my dad built the place, with a little bit of help from my brother and an uncle. Oh, and my father-in-law.

Woodman

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2017, 07:22:38 PM »
Just moved into our house last year. We contracted the foundation, hvac, and shingles. We did all the framing, siding, electrical, plumbing, plaster, and finish work. It took just over a year to finish it all. I estimated it took me about 2000 hours and probably had 5-600 hours man hours of help from family. The house is 1500 sq ft. We were able to afford some custom things with our labor savings,which probably would have added a lot of cost to the average "spec" home. Overall I would say it was financially worth while and definitely gives you a sense of pride.

Rightflyer

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2017, 09:05:13 AM »
So far...

1 self build house (did everything but basement pour, plumbing, gas and siding and roof/soffit/fascia)

1 self build yurt (everything but plumbing and gas)

1 self build shop/office (everything but shop floor pour, siding and steel roof)

1 major reno (3500 ft2)

 Several smaller projects (sheds, decks etc)

I would say that you would have no trouble building a house, given the skills you have acquired.
The main constraints are time, money and energy.

Energy (as in your energy) is the only thing I have run out of on some projects. You get to point where you start asking yourself if it is really worth it. Of course, in the end, it usually is. But you need to make sure you really enjoy building things.
Six is having problems adjusting to his clone status.

Fishindude

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2017, 09:17:35 AM »
I'm a builder and have built just about everything, but never a new house for myself.  Have always thought there were better deals out there buying something existing and remodeling it, plus I like the character of older homes.  Having said that, building a new home is well within the capabilities of a skilled handyman with the right tools.   Things I would hire out:
Drywall & Roofing - Takes too long to do by yourself and isn't that expensive to hire out.
Electrical - I'm just not comfortable doing electric.  Also would want plenty of IT wiring in a modern home.
HVAC - Sheet metal work for duct takes requires some specialty tools, plus I want the warranty from a contractor.
Carpet, flooring and Specialty counter tops - Buy this stuff installed.  A rookie can really screw this stuff up, and you'll be looking at it forever.

Spork

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2017, 10:38:46 AM »
Electrical - I'm just not comfortable doing electric.  Also would want plenty of IT wiring in a modern home.

Running CAT5/6 is something totally DIY'able.  I know electricians seem to love to do it. 

I ran CAT5 all over my house when it was being built and put 2" conduit in the expanses where I thought I might want more of it in the future.
Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
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Roland of Gilead

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2017, 10:48:41 AM »
Good answers all.

I am also trying to grasp how much one might save (or do you save anything at all) when building your own house?

I have been looking at all of the required inspections and impact fees plus knowing you won't get the builder type discounts.

Is there a lot of wink wink between commercial builders and the city/county that allows them to sidestep some of these costs and put more profit in their pocket?


Fishindude

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2017, 03:29:55 PM »

I am also trying to grasp how much one might save (or do you save anything at all) when building your own house?

I have been looking at all of the required inspections and impact fees plus knowing you won't get the builder type discounts.

Is there a lot of wink wink between commercial builders and the city/county that allows them to sidestep some of these costs and put more profit in their pocket?

You should be able to save the complete cost of labor on anything you self perform.  Builder material discounts are not significant.  If you do a good job shopping out your materials, you will get similar prices.  I don't know what you mean about wink wink side stepping?  Good builders pull all of the same permits and build everything to code.  About the only break we ever get is they sometimes skip inspections because they know we don't cut corners.

You will likely have some expenses a builder wouldn't such as needing to purchase or rent tools and equipment, and you won't build nearly as fast as a good builder so you will have extended utility costs during construction, and possibly added months of interest on your loan.

dcorazal

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2017, 01:54:47 PM »
This is just the topic I have been looking for!  I have all the experience I would need to build a house and I'm saving money now before I FIRE so I can make this my first big project.  I am not worried about the construction or purchasing the materials.

My concern is more around "where do I start?"  I have a large lot 4.5 acres and can easily fit another house on my lot.  Where do I go to get a survey and get the property subdivided?  At what point do I contact the city and see if they would even let me do what I want to.  I have a drain field that would need to me relocated if I build the new house were I want it.  I'm about 3 years from the project but want to get a running start.
4 1/2 years and counting

Landlady

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #15 on: February 22, 2017, 02:09:19 PM »
My husband and I are building a house now and we're doing these things on our own:
-heated tile floors
-shower/tub installs
-wood floors
-door installs
-siding and soffits
-kitchen cabinets
-counter tops (soapstone, so we can cut them)
-decks
-lighting fixture installs
-vanity and toilet installs
-trim
-staining and painting

We're doing the last 1/3 of the house - the finishing stuff. I'm seeing our drywall go in now and I wouldn't recommend DIYing it. We've also handled a lot of the permits.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #16 on: February 22, 2017, 04:39:15 PM »
You should be able to save the complete cost of labor on anything you self perform.  Builder material discounts are not significant.  If you do a good job shopping out your materials, you will get similar prices.  I don't know what you mean about wink wink side stepping?  Good builders pull all of the same permits and build everything to code.  About the only break we ever get is they sometimes skip inspections because they know we don't cut corners.

Yes the skipping inspections is what I was wondering.   The inspector charges $110 an hour and I was unsure if a private builder might be required to have the inspector come out to the site a lot more than a known commercial builder's site.  Probably insignificant though in the grand scheme of things.

I got burned once on the critical areas stuff and it has somewhat poisoned me.  We were charged over $3,000 for a few visits that did not really accomplish anything other than a lot of billing for the inspection department.  We never even made it to the building plan phase.

Heckler

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2017, 10:51:55 PM »
My dad built the home they now live in.  Two story A-Frame open concept cottage.

They paid for it one job ata time. It took 15 years to complete. I will really have trouble selling it when we have to make that decision for them, because I'm sure they plan to get carried out in a pine box.

infromsea

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2017, 06:39:43 AM »

My concern is more around "where do I start?"

Your city/county should have a permits/plans office (depending on size). They are usually staffed by wise folks who are willing to help. I suggest stopping in for a visit and asking those behind the counter, they've always been patient and open with me.

infromsea

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2017, 07:04:35 AM »
Asking this in badassity because it is badass to build your own home without much help even if it might not make the top financial sense.

I am curious if any of you have built a home from the foundation up (having the land graded and foundation poured by a company is acceptable).

Having built a RV from complete scratch with electrical, propane, plumbing plus having designed and built a large shed including asphalt shingled roof, a 50 foot by 16 foot deck, and other random items I think it might be possible for us to build our own home if we can figure out how to keep the costs reasonable and get some contractor type discounts.   I am interested to hear of any other experiences.

Having helped others build a home from scratch and having put two additions on my home, I agree with the others, you have the skillset needed.

My lessons learned (many of them echoed in other responses):

1. Many things are easy to do but hard to do well (dry-wall mudding). If you have time to learn, they can be rewarding. If time is a constraint, then I agree with hiring out someone to do the mudding. In my mind, hanging is too easy to pay for BUT you need help, it's not a one-person job. It's very forgiving too, tape and mud cover up a LOT.... Anything that you can do the "initial" work on and then have an "artesian" come in and finish, might be worth it, the initial work is usually the most labor intensive thus most expensive/where you might see the largest savings.

On the flip side, some of the easy things take too much energy to do on your own/manually/without the right power tools. For example, digging your foundation can be a lot of work if done manually. Hiring someone to knock that out will result in them bringing in unskilled laborers to dig/move the dirt, allowing you to focus on other things and save your energy (it's a marathon, not a sprint).

2. In my area, Craigslist is my friend! I ran short on time on a project so I put out an add for a siding "guy", had 15 responses in a matter of hours, hired a guy, had him do the job in a few hours and I moved on, saving me two days of work. I was unsure about how to build the roof so I hired a roof guy and he and I knocked the job out in three days. His experience and tricks of the trade were well worth the cost (and it didn't cost that much, I paid him cash by the hour and bought him lunch). That part of the job would have taken me two weeks if I had done it alone.

3. Inspectors are a pain/part of the process that must be dealt with. My understanding is that if you build/add on someone and you don't pull permits, and you go to sell the house, it can cause problems as you may not be able to price the addition/upgrade into the value of the home. I may not have a full understanding of the situation but I've always pulled permits.

4. I think the only contractors getting discounts are the BIG guys, those who build hundreds of homes/apartments etc. in an area. Where I'm at, there are plenty of those big guys BUT a LOT MORE of the smaller guys, and those small guys cover up the home depot parking lot. I think the discount point is far too high for the guy building a single home to obtain, and I doubt it's worth focusing on. By the time you do your own framing/electrical/finishing plumbing etc. etc. etc. you'll have saved so much in labor, you can easily absorb the "higher" prices you paid for materials (I'm assuming the material prices are not THAT much more than what the big guys pay...).

I've gained most of my knowledge from books, hiring experienced guys on craigslist and working side by side with them, and volunteering for habitat (don't overlook the value of that...). The best "start to finish" book I've found on building a home is "How to Build a House" by Larry Haun (I'll read anything by Larry), this book takes you step by step through a simple home building project that, in my opinion, enables most folks to be able to build their own place, it might not be the fanciest design etc. but, I don't think that's an issue on this message board.

Good luck!

Tim


Rightflyer

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2017, 08:30:39 AM »
Good answers all.

I am also trying to grasp how much one might save (or do you save anything at all) when building your own house?

I have been looking at all of the required inspections and impact fees plus knowing you won't get the builder type discounts.

Is there a lot of wink wink between commercial builders and the city/county that allows them to sidestep some of these costs and put more profit in their pocket?

If your talking of builder's discounts for materials then yes, you can get deals and save some money.
On our big reno we (actually Mrs Rightflyer) just asked for the contractor rate. They had her fill out an info card, gave her an account number and we got builder's discounts on most everything.
For the house and shop, I researched the lowest prices from HD and HH. Took the quotes to the local independent hardware store and the guy matched just about everything. (A few things he couldn't come close on, like 14/2 wire and roofing metal.)

If your talking about the discounts that the trades get on inspections then probably not. We paid the same for the building inspector but more for the electrical inspections. Kinda makes sense in that the electrical inspector will likely need to spend more time with me being an amateur than if I was a licenced contractor.

In our experience, you don't get a cheap (low price) home by self-building, but you do get a much nicer, personalized home for the same money. The satisfaction and health benefits are bonuses.

Six is having problems adjusting to his clone status.

infromsea

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #21 on: February 26, 2017, 10:25:10 AM »

In our experience, you don't get a cheap (low price) home by self-building, but you do get a much nicer, personalized home for the same money. The satisfaction and health benefits are bonuses.

That's a good point. I've always been able to build XXXX with high quality cabinets/fixtures etc. for less than what a contractor would charge and with greater over-all quality. Go into any big box home goods store and take a look at the cheap end of items, that's what goes into most of the contractor built homes around here.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work)
« Reply #22 on: February 27, 2017, 10:20:04 AM »
That is a good point.   I would probably carry over some of the things we did in our RV build which were relatively inexpensive but seem a lot higher quality than you get in a cheap house.

Example:  For the kitchen cabinets in our RV, we used 13 layer maple "ApplePly".   This is an amazing, beautiful plywood with an incredible amount of layers and straightness.  It is expensive at $110 a sheet but you can make a lot of cabinet doors out of one sheet.   We used a router to round over the edges which brought out the edge of the layers in an interesting pattern.   After 11 months on the road in various humidity and lots of vibration, the cabinet doors are still flatter than 1/16" gap over a 2 foot span of a metal straight edge.   I think I would do a similar thing in a house instead of buying cabinet doors.  They were easy to make.