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Lost..
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Discussion Starter #1
This is something that I have contemplated for a long time. I never knew when I was a kid that one day my greatest desire would be to build a home for my family. I've given this alot of thought over the past couple of years, and I really want to do it. I know there are some out there that have done it, Especially in this type of forum. I have a couple of things in mind that I have considered, but I just haven't nailed down exactly what I want to do.

When I got this wild idea some years ago, I decided first to build a small shop / garage. I figured this would get me a better understanding of the basics of what I was dealing with, and also give me some idea of how the process works. Sure, I ran into some problems, but I can say without a doubt that I am up for taking on a home. Here is a thread with some pictures of what I came up with:

http://www.diychatroom.com/f19/small-shop-garage-build-thread-97542/

My main reason for wanting to take on something like this is so that I can get out from under a mortgage. I'm not rich, and I can't afford to outright buy a house. I am currently in a mortgage, and will have been in it for 5 years this November. The american dream is just not something that is so desireable once I realized I will likely never pay my house off. Of the few payments we have each month, the house is the one thing I cannot see the end of, and I don't like it.

The only thing I haven't quite figured out is where exactly my family and I will live during the home's construction. I know it will take time, but the plan is this:

1. Sell current home.
2. Buy some land.
3. Establish some sort of temporary means of a place to live
4. Build house to the dried in stage, and then move in.
5. Finish

I know there are always options like apartments and rental properties to house my family, but if I have to incur those monthly costs it will greatly hinder my financial ability to save for the house. I want to maybe do a basement, or something, or maybe a small (but bigger than the one I just built) shop to live in, and then once the house is finished or dried in I will have a shop.

A couple of the things I know I will have to do:

1. Find a piece of land that is outside the jurdistiction of the building dept. I don't want to have to deal with inspectors, or deal with having to be told I cannot do something myself (this was the case with my shop I just built when it came to electrical). The whole reason I'm doing something like this is to save costs on labor.
2. Be sure this piece of land is within the school zone where my wife wants our kids to go to school.

I think with some time and alot of sacrifice we might be able to pull this off. My wife has already told me she would live in a tent if we could have what I want to do. She is behind me 100% on this. If I don't do it now while my little girl is still young, I find myself wondering if I ever will.

I'm not sure exactly what kind of home to build though. I know that if I build a small, just big enough for my family type home it will be alot easier to finish and simple to construct. However, when I get done, I don't want to feel like I could have done better and wish I would have stuck to a more elaborate house plan.

I'd like to hear some of you all's experiences and advice.
 

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Framing Contractor
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1,492 Posts
Building your own home is much different than building a shed. You did a great job on the shed. You estimated that you would take three days off work to frame it. How long did it actually take? Judging by your thread, it seems it was probably double that. How long do you think it would take to build even a small home? Gonna need extra hands too, thats for sure. Sounds like you are planning to move into a house that is unfinished. Been there, done that, your marriage will suffer for it. I don't understand your unwillingness to deal with a building department either. Seems like you were able to satisfy them on the shed build, so what gives? I guess they wouldn't be thrilled with you living in the house prior to completion anyways. Insurance is gonna be tricky too. Talk to your agent ahead of time to make sure they will cover you for this. Best of luck to you. Keep posting here if you get it up and running, as there is a lot of great advice to be found here.
 

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#1) Land outside the jurisdiction of the building department? Are you in the US? Does this even exist? If so, where because I've never heard of it.

#2) If not wanting to pay for a home is your goal then energy star rated should be your #1 priority. Un-broken thermal envelopes, passive solar techniques, etc. Building "traditional" because you don't want to have monthly bills would be totally counter-productive in an economy with rising energy costs.

#3) Unless you find that "out-of-jurisdiction" property, you will not be able to live in the house that is only "dried in". You will need to get a CO (certificate of occupancy). That usually requires an operational toilet, sink, and I believe a shower.
 

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Lost..
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Discussion Starter #4
Building your own home is much different than building a shed. You did a great job on the shed. You estimated that you would take three days off work to frame it. How long did it actually take? Judging by your thread, it seems it was probably double that. How long do you think it would take to build even a small home? Gonna need extra hands too, thats for sure. Sounds like you are planning to move into a house that is unfinished. Been there, done that, your marriage will suffer for it. I don't understand your unwillingness to deal with a building department either. Seems like you were able to satisfy them on the shed build, so what gives? I guess they wouldn't be thrilled with you living in the house prior to completion anyways. Insurance is gonna be tricky too. Talk to your agent ahead of time to make sure they will cover you for this. Best of luck to you. Keep posting here if you get it up and running, as there is a lot of great advice to be found here.
Thanks for the reply.

To answer some of your questions-

1. I think I had it framed in under a week. That is no decking or anything for the roof. Yes- I definitely underestimated the time it would take to do it.

2. I'm not sure how long it would take to do a small home. I guess alot of that actually depends on which design of home and size I decide to do.

3. I have heard the comments before about moving into an unfnished home. I have never done it, so I can only go by what others tell me. I have told my wife that it would not be an easy road to go down, but she agrees that she would be willing to do it, if it would make us mortgage free in the years to come.

4. The reason I want to be outside of the jurdistiction of a building dept is so that I don't have to be governed about what I can and can't do. I had to deal with them, and a HOA on this shop project and it was a complete pain. I undertstand why they are there, but I also feel like I shouldn't have to be governed by them. My project ended up costing alot more than I could have done it for since I had to satisfy certain rules and regulations. Further out of the city limits I should be away from this type of thing and now so close to my neighbors either.

5. I'm not sure how the insurance was built. I have no idea about that. I will have to check into it.
 

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Lost..
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Discussion Starter #5
#1) Land outside the jurisdiction of the building department? Are you in the US? Does this even exist? If so, where because I've never heard of it.
I have known several people that have built houses, and I'm not sure of the specifics but I'm pretty sure they were outside the range of the building inspectors - that was the only reason they were able to take on the project by themselves in the first place. Are you saying that there is some sort of federal building dept that would have jurdistiction?

#2) If not wanting to pay for a home is your goal then energy star rated should be your #1 priority. Un-broken thermal envelopes, passive solar techniques, etc. Building "traditional" because you don't want to have monthly bills would be totally counter-productive in an economy with rising energy costs.

I'm sure things like this can be utilized throughout the build.

#3) Unless you find that "out-of-jurisdiction" property, you will not be able to live in the house that is only "dried in". You will need to get a CO (certificate of occupancy). That usually requires an operational toilet, sink, and I believe a shower.
Well we would definitley have to have those things. Still not sure who is going to grant this "certificate of occupancy" thing though.
 

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Registered
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People often assume the building codes are "oppressive". What they fail to realize is that much of what is contained within the codes stems directly from the deaths of people who inhabited non-code compliant structures or structures that failed and could have killed or harmed people.

In 11 years I have not come across a piece of code that is "too much". Anything that is borderline can be changed with a variance if a worthy case is presented.
 

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Learning by Doing
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I know two families who did this.

One Spent something on the order of 15 years to get to completion (same criteria as you -btw). Tent for a year, first two years or so in the house the entire family lived in one room.

At one point, one of the children elected to move out into a tent in the yard to get out of the house.

Keep weather in mind. Many locations you can't rely on building year round. This was one of their problems.

My Grandparents built their retirement home over many years of work. Where they built, they only had 4-5 months of build-able and tent-able weather (upstate NY).

My dad was a kid/teenager while this was happening. He remembers it as fun/summer camp type adventures. His littlest sister was a toddler/middle schooler and remembers it as very unpleasant. No usable running water for weeks at a time. Location and life-style was very socially isolating for a young girl.

Btw- both built to code (and above code in some instances). Remember, building codes are primarily to protect health and safety.

The first family bought pre-designed plans and built to them. My grandfather was an engineer . He designed and engineered the house.
 

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Lost..
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Discussion Starter #8
People often assume the building codes are "oppressive". What they fail to realize is that much of what is contained within the codes stems directly from the deaths of people who inhabited non-code compliant structures or structures that failed and could have killed or harmed people.

In 11 years I have not come across a piece of code that is "too much". Anything that is borderline can be changed with a variance if a worthy case is presented.
I don't want people to take my attitude the wrong way. My goal is not to disobey the building dept by any means. Like I said, I understand the reason they are there, and they are a great help. I will go through every step I possibly can and be absolutely sure that what I have done is correct. It's not like I want to underbuild something to save money. I fully plan to do it correctly; I just want to cut out the labor costs.

Case in point:

When I went to do the electrical on my shop, my city building dept told me I could not wire it myself..

I did all the research I could, and even did a fair ammount of it here. I could have done it myself if I were not bound by them. Instead, since I couldn't, I ended up spending an additional $325 LABOR that I did not factor into the project. A small ammount yes, but that isn't the point. The point is, I had to hire a contractor to come in and do it. I could have wired the shop based on the knowledge and understanding I got from learning about the process. Irrelevant, but don't forget I had to wait a month before I even got an electrician to come out and do it.

The whole reason I am even thinking about doing something myself is because I WANT t do it myself. Not hire it out.
 

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Lost..
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Discussion Starter #9
I know two families who did this.

One Spent something on the order of 15 years to get to completion (same criteria as you -btw). Tent for a year, first two years or so in the house the entire family lived in one room.

At one point, one of the children elected to move out into a tent in the yard to get out of the house.

Keep weather in mind. Many locations you can't rely on building year round. This was one of their problems.

My Grandparents built their retirement home over many years of work. Where they built, they only had 4-5 months of build-able and tent-able weather (upstate NY).

My dad was a kid/teenager while this was happening. He remembers it as fun/summer camp type adventures. His littlest sister was a toddler/middle schooler and remembers it as very unpleasant. No usable running water for weeks at a time. Location and life-style was very socially isolating for a young girl.

Btw- both built to code (and above code in some instances). Remember, building codes are primarily to protect health and safety.

The first family bought pre-designed plans and built to them. My grandfather was an engineer . He designed and engineered the house.
Well I guess this is proof that it can be done.
 

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Electrical Contractor
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3,368 Posts
22 years ago, I built my own house. One of the most satisfying things I have even done in my lifetime.

I wanted to live out of town (away from the city, and their bureaucracy, taxes, etc.) but not so far away as to make coming to town for shopping to be a burden.

As such, instead of dealing with city inspectors, I had to deal with county inspectors. Such is life.

We started framing in January, 1989, and moved in on August 11, 1989. 7½ months, by my reckoning.

We rented a house about 5 miles away during construction. Camping out gets O-L-D really quick. And, paying that rent is incentive to get the job done, so we could move into a completed house! Worked for us. :whistling2:
 

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Lost..
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Discussion Starter #11
22 years ago, I built my own house. One of the most satisfying things I have even done in my lifetime.

I wanted to live out of town (away from the city, and their bureaucracy, taxes, etc.) but not so far away as to make coming to town for shopping to be a burden.

As such, instead of dealing with city inspectors, I had to deal with county inspectors. Such is life.

We started framing in January, 1989, and moved in on August 11, 1989. 7½ months, by my reckoning.

We rented a house about 5 miles away during construction. Camping out gets O-L-D really quick. And, paying that rent is incentive to get the job done, so we could move into a completed house! Worked for us. :whistling2:
Great!

So what exactly did you build - how big? And did you do the work yourself or hire it out?
 

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if you choose to build good luck to you , my cousin built his own home with his wife and they had a builder giuding them on it , it was quite stressful on them and their marriage considering they both had fulltime jobs and 3 kids , sometimes it just better to put it in somelses hands but it would be exsperance for you
 

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I don't want people to take my attitude the wrong way. My goal is not to disobey the building dept by any means. Like I said, I understand the reason they are there, and they are a great help. I will go through every step I possibly can and be absolutely sure that what I have done is correct. It's not like I want to underbuild something to save money. I fully plan to do it correctly; I just want to cut out the labor costs.

Case in point:

When I went to do the electrical on my shop, my city building dept told me I could not wire it myself..

I did all the research I could, and even did a fair ammount of it here. I could have done it myself if I were not bound by them. Instead, since I couldn't, I ended up spending an additional $325 LABOR that I did not factor into the project. A small ammount yes, but that isn't the point. The point is, I had to hire a contractor to come in and do it. I could have wired the shop based on the knowledge and understanding I got from learning about the process. Irrelevant, but don't forget I had to wait a month before I even got an electrician to come out and do it.

The whole reason I am even thinking about doing something myself is because I WANT t do it myself. Not hire it out.
In my neck of the woods you can wire and plumb the building yourself, but the final connections (electrical panel, boilers, etc.) need to be made by a licensed professional. The CO (certificate of occupancy) I spoke of is the final sign off the local building official gives you saying that the house is safe for occupancy. you likely will not be able to get homeowner's insurance without one as you won't have a "certified home".
 

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Lost..
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Discussion Starter #14
This makes more sense. I understand now what a certificate of occupancy is. I'm not sure if that applies where I'm at, but I'll find out.
 

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Work Hard, Play Harder
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You might plan a two-stage home; a large first story; no deck/garage/etc. But plan for where the garage will be; and the second floor. Build the base first floor living/dining/kitchen/bath/bedroom/etc and complete it 100%. Then take off the roof and add your second floor + garage?
 

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Lost..
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Discussion Starter #16
You might plan a two-stage home; a large first story; no deck/garage/etc. But plan for where the garage will be; and the second floor. Build the base first floor living/dining/kitchen/bath/bedroom/etc and complete it 100%. Then take off the roof and add your second floor + garage?
Id like to keep it one story. I just never really have been interested in two story homes. I think they are nice, but I have no desire to build one. I guess the only advantage is more. Sq ft. For a smaller slab area.

Thanks for the suggestions though.
 

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Registered
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My wife and I built our own log home. Got the Occupancy Certificate just a couple of weeks ago. We did everything ourselves but the foundation, metal roof, and HVAC. I am not a professional, just an educated DIYer. It took us about 2-1/2 years. With some software I bought, my wife designed it and the log home company did the kit to match. It was all out of pocket, so no mortgage company was involved (a big hurdle if you're not a licensed GC).

I retired in 2008 (engineer for a defense contractor). After traveling the country in our RV and working with Habitat for Humanity for a few months, we set up the RV on the property and built the house. In WV, a homeowner can legally do virtually everything.

It was a LOT of work. Needless to say, we won't do it again.
 

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Retired Moderator
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In 1988 I built my own home. 2400 feet.

I was working full time and doing what I could efficiently . broke ground in June and move in in January.

I hired two framers and a helper--plumbling and concrete subbed out---most electrical done by a friend.

Roofing subbed out---drywall subbed out.

I saved a lot and ended up with a very energy efficient home----Would I build another ?? Oh, yes.

I would still sub out a lot,but the next one I would do more---It's a matter of time---Some times it makes more sense to work a job that you are good at and use that money to pay someone else to do what they are good at.
 

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Super Moderator
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I built my home back several years with the help of my son and two nephews, the oldest one was 16, the house was 3,200 sq ft. I would highly advise not moving in until the house is finished, you and your family will hate the day you do.

If I had it to do over I would do like a fellow I knew did, he built a huge workshop/garage away from the house and built removable walls inside so he could take them out after the house was built. He didn't spend unnecessarily on a trailer home or rent elsewhere.

I know of places in Alabama and Mississippi where there are no permits issued, just go out and build what you want. I think they are now inspecting the electrical and plumbing but not the building.

Many will tell you not to do it, but I am not one of them, you can do it but be warned, you will be very frustrated, it is not easy. Matter fact if you had someone build your home you would be very frustrated. If we can help you, just jump in here and ask.
 

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Wire Chewer
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3,579 Posts
It's crossed my mind, and I think my next house (in the far future) what I want to do is get a contractor to come in, dig the basement, pour the foundation, install proper weeping tiles, frame the outside and any inside load bearing, do the roof, as well as all the outside "weather" covering. So basically from outside the house will look done. From there, I would do the rest. Electrical, plumbing, inside wall divisions, drywall, flooring etc etc. My reasoning is that the shell of the house is the most important part and if I don't do it right, the rest of the work could be ruined. Ex: bad flashing on roof = roof leak, bad siding/brick install, walls rot out due to moisture, etc.

I'd probably do the bedroom, kitchen and bath first, basically to a finished state, that way the house is more or less livable. Then the rest I would just do all at the same time.

What makes a project like this hard is working full time. A contractor, well it's their job, so they get 8 hours or more per day to work on it. As a DIYers we only get a couple hours here and there, and the weekends. So it would be a very long process.

But at the end, the money savings would be very good and it would be a great feeling to know you did it. Though you'd still probably end up with like a 5-10 year mortgage, materials arn't free, and while you're saving money in labour, may as well buy the good quality stuff such as the more expensive higher R value insulation, maybe even spray foam. Split up electrical circuits more, etc.
 
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