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Old 06-01-2011, 03:17 PM   #1
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Has anyone out there built their own house? I'm talking about doing it all yourself from renting the excavation equipment for the foundation construction to framing the walls, drywalling, wiring, furnace and or fireplace. Everything with your own two hands.
Using your own sweat equity to create a real estate asset?
I'd also be interested to hear about any alternative methods such as using post and beam, timber frame, logs, cord wood etc.
I'm struggling with taking on more mortgage debt at the age of 47 to have someone build me a home, and doing it myself while I'm employed on a shift work job.
Any advice would be helpful.

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Old 06-01-2011, 03:20 PM   #2
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I don't care how handy you are, that is was over your head. About 16 years ago, I contracted my own house and did the Framing, drywall, roofing, finish carpentry, painting, and landscaping. The next time I will do much less, and I am in the trades!

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Old 06-01-2011, 05:35 PM   #3
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I'm not sure why building is a consideration over pre-owned for you. If you are concerned about the mortgage debt, any way you choose to build will be more expensive than buying a pre-existing home. You just need to be sure to get a good inspection before committing to buy.

I know of people who have built outbuildings and seasonal cottages that don't require the sort of care a house needs to be up to code. But to build an entire year-round house in this day and age is a risky proposition.

In addition, there are certain jobs that are actually cheaper to hire out that to do yourself. Professionals have access to bulk materials prices and expensive tools.
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Old 06-01-2011, 05:57 PM   #4
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Most banks are unwilling to make construction loans to anyone who is not a contractor. Trying to do everything yourself, while working full time, will take longer, result in a lot of frustration, and probably will not save you money in the long run. If I read enough books, I could probably do my own dentistry, but I think my results would be similar.
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Old 06-01-2011, 06:16 PM   #5
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I took a year off and funded it with a private mortgage, but I built a house from scratch with my own two hands. Didn't even rent excavation equipment, because of some access issues, I hand dug the foundation pit (with the cash paid assistance of a handful of local 20-something's). Built the concrete block foundation walls, framed (paid for roofers to do the shingles!), ran the electrical, installed the plumbing, installed the HVAC (with the guidance of my Uncle who is retired from the industry), drywalled, plastered, put in the hardwood and tiles, painted, trimmed, installed the kitchen and bathrooms. You name it, I almost did everything. Pulled all the permits, including ESA, passed all inspections. Final house, not including basement, was 1500sq feet over two levels.
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Old 06-01-2011, 07:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Mo View Post
I took a year off and funded it with a private mortgage, but I built a house from scratch with my own two hands. Didn't even rent excavation equipment, because of some access issues, I hand dug the foundation pit (with the cash paid assistance of a handful of local 20-something's). Built the concrete block foundation walls, framed (paid for roofers to do the shingles!), ran the electrical, installed the plumbing, installed the HVAC (with the guidance of my Uncle who is retired from the industry), drywalled, plastered, put in the hardwood and tiles, painted, trimmed, installed the kitchen and bathrooms. You name it, I almost did everything. Pulled all the permits, including ESA, passed all inspections. Final house, not including basement, was 1500sq feet over two levels.
Oh boy!!
Got any pictures??
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Old 06-01-2011, 07:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Mo View Post
I took a year off and funded it with a private mortgage, but I built a house from scratch with my own two hands. Didn't even rent excavation equipment, because of some access issues, I hand dug the foundation pit (with the cash paid assistance of a handful of local 20-something's). Built the concrete block foundation walls, framed (paid for roofers to do the shingles!), ran the electrical, installed the plumbing, installed the HVAC (with the guidance of my Uncle who is retired from the industry), drywalled, plastered, put in the hardwood and tiles, painted, trimmed, installed the kitchen and bathrooms. You name it, I almost did everything. Pulled all the permits, including ESA, passed all inspections. Final house, not including basement, was 1500sq feet over two levels.
The OP wanted to save some money though. Unless you make minimum wage, a contractor would have probably been cheaper on a 1500 footer than taking a year off from a decent paying job. My hat is off to you though for doing all that. Even those in the trade tend to not do that much.
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Old 06-01-2011, 08:20 PM   #8
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That's a lot of work---How big? A cabin is not to bad---Real house might take more time than you can dedicate to the project.

I GCed my own house 24 years ago---Even with the majority of the work done by others it took 5 months and a lot of my time.
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Old 06-02-2011, 01:13 AM   #9
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Thank-you all for the pointers.
I forgot to mention that I own the 4 acres of land for this project, and have a portable bandsaw mill. All the opinions are valid. Time is definitely an issue when a person has a full time job and two young teenagers and a wife to consider.
The objective I am trying to achieve is to be close to mortgage free by putting in my own sweat equity.
A friend suggested I have the shell built by a contractor and then finish the rest on my own at my own schedule.
We presently live in a 16 wide mobile on the land that is getting unbearably crowded as the kids grow. I really don't want to build an addition, as I'd like to get out of the trailer befor the kids leave home. I'm second generation "Trailer trash", and I want my kids to at least have a few years with mom and dad in a real house before they fly.
Reality must prevail, and we've lived like this for 13 years, there is no right answer, but one has to be realistic. Thank-you all.
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Old 06-02-2011, 10:50 AM   #10
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Jim F is right on, but he made that statement before he knew you already owned your land and had a mill. I built my own home back in 82 when the market was different than today. Yes it is doable but it is tough to build alone. There will be many frustrations and probably you will wish you had never started as things will drag at times. There are frustrations even if you were to hire it out so just know either way you go it isn't going to be easy. Some of us are not trying to discourage you we just want you to know how it is.

There are many advantages to building a home yourself such as, you can bargain hunt and find bargains where a contractor doesn't have the time to do that. There are some disadvantages also as your labor pool is more limited than a contractor. There will be things you will need to learn how to do where the contractor already knows. Building your own home will be like getting an education as you will have to know how to do many things that most everyday people don't have to know.

You may already know how to do many of the things it takes to build a house, there is no way we can know what you know. One thing we do know is you have enough spunk to consider building your own house and that is admirable. While there may be several comments here on why you shouldn't try building your house, still there are some here who are willing to help if you do decide to build. So if you do decide to build we will be here to help.

Where your friend suggested that you have the shell built and you finish the rest, just know that once the house is framed and in the dry is when you are really starting to spend the big bucks. That is one mistake many people make when building, they think because we have all this money left and the house is in the dry we can add this and that. There is where many folks go down the tubes as they will not have the money to finish if they have that mindset. Just a thought.
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Old 06-02-2011, 06:55 PM   #11
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That's a lot more info than we originally had. The idea of having the shell built would save you the headaches of having to worry whether or not your structure is sound and everything is the shell would be up to code. You could provide the builder with the lumber from your band saw. The rest of it you can probably learn on this site.

You are already living in a home on the land. Crowded or not at least you are not under any deadlines to have the new home built. You have a place to live. You can build as you can afford it. It may just be doable. Just make sure to do things the right way. I live in a house that was originally homeowner built and, wow, some of the surprises I have found over the years.

I agree, nothing looks tackier than a mobile home with an addition unless it can somehow not look like a mobile home with an addition when you are finished.

Last edited by Jim F; 06-02-2011 at 06:59 PM.
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Old 06-03-2011, 10:15 AM   #12
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My wife and I built our own log home (1600 sq. ft. with loft) a couple of years ago when I retired at age 60. It's in the Eastern Panhandle of WV. We did literally everything ourselves but the foundation, standing seam metal roof, and HVAC. We set up our RV on the property, hooked up water, sewer, landline phone, and DirectTV and lived in it during construction. My wife jokes that she was the GC and I was the only sub. We did it all out of pocket, so there is no mortgage.

While by profession I was not a contractor or any type of trade, I do have a wealth of DIY experience - this was my tenth house since 1976. Didn't build any of the others but remodeled something in all of them.

Trust me, building your own house is a LOT of work. There will be no number eleven.

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Old 06-12-2011, 08:30 PM   #13
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Welcome to the site !

As stated DIY a full house is a lot of work
I'd have the foundation/slab poured & then go from there
Major issue is just meeting all the building codes today
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Old 06-14-2011, 01:20 AM   #14
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Thank-you to everyone who has replied. Everyone has wisdom from their own experiences (pros and cons) which is very worthy of consideration.
It all comes down to knowing ones' self and if there is enough mental/physical capacity to take a project like this on.
I will digest this over the next while and let you know what happens.
Those of you who have built a house for yourself in the past, you must admit that you have created a substantial amount of equity for yourself, am I right?
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Old 06-14-2011, 07:58 AM   #15
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If you have the drive to complete a project--It can be done.

I was younger when I built mine. Worked 8 to 10 hours then worked on the house another 8.

You will build sweat equity---I like framing--in many ways,that's the easy part of building a house.

Choose what you can do efficiently---get help for the parts you are lousy at. Even if it's help to teach you the basics--like plumbing --electrical--or hanging doors.

Make sure your family is backing you on this----nothing worse than having a lot of reluctant skeptics looking over your shoulder.

And come here for advice!----Mike---

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