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Thread: Anyone ever build their own house?

  1. #1
    adamceckhardt
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    Anyone ever build their own house?

    The wife and I are having one helluva time finding a house that we like that is in our budget. We're willing to do some work, but nothing is coming along.

    We've started to look at land.

    I've done some pretty extensive remodeling before- some of which felt like building from scratch.

    I would have to hire a portion of the work to be done simply because I have to keep my job, but I'm willing to put in another 30 hours a week on top of my obligatory 40.

    The parts I'm not comfortable with are:
    -foundation
    -finish carpentry
    -roof (I want metal, and have only done asphalt shingles)

    Anyone else contracted their own house AND done a lot of the work?

    Adam

  2. #2
    JAMESDUNN
    Guest

    Yes you can!

    Adam, all the things you list you are not comfortable with are actually fairly easy. I think you can accomplish those things as well as others given time and desire. There are a lot of "How To " books available. I have built many houses and other structures. Unfortunately, none were mine.

    Building material centers and tool sellers, such as Menard's and Woodsmith conduct siminars on how to do the work. There are also books available ,such as "Modern Carpentry". Essentially for example to lay out a foundation all you need is a 100' tape measure, some wood to build batter boards and some lime to lay out the lines for digging. And perhaps a rechargeable drill and if possible a builders level (you can rent the last item). You'll have to hire a backhoe.

    All is contained in the appropriate reference material, much as a Hayne's Manual or a Clymer's has info for working on your BMW.

  3. #3
    adamceckhardt
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by jamesdunn View Post
    Adam, all the things you list you are not comfortable with are actually fairly easy. I think you can accomplish those things as well as others given time and desire. There are a lot of "How To " books available.
    Thanks for the friendly advice! It's kinda funny that you mention the how-to books. As a kid, for some reason, I used to love watching "This Old House" and other shows like it. Between that, a few how-to books, and partnering with a good friend that is a carpenter, I've been successful with all my remodeling adventures.

    I guess I should re-phrase my list of "uncomfortables" to something more like "I don't have a lot of experience in / it would take me so long to get these things right that it would be cheaper to hire it out."

    With the finish carpentry, my partner in past adventures is pretty talented in this part of the game. A lot of his work has been published in magazines. I'd be happy to pay him to make a $250,000 home look like a million dollar home on the inside.

    Adam

  4. #4
    BOKRIJDER
    Guest
    Adam,

    I've done two such projects, the first, 100% - the second, about 50%. The size of the second required a jump start to guarantee completion before I ended up in a white room with dementia.
    Get yourself a subscription to the magazine, Fine Homebuilding. In addition to the magazine, they have an excellent selection of specialized, how to do it books. The books are written by working professionals, up to date, and well written to boot.
    Visit your governing building inspection/permit office before getting too deep in the thought process. You are going to have to comply with local code and any missteps will cost money. It has been my experience that the office will be very helpful and a resource which will help avoid headaches.
    If you will be working with a lending institution, you probably will discover that the cards and rules are stacked against you as a self builder.
    My suggestion is to develop a total future house plan, but design it such that it can be built in stages. This will prevent the final home from looking a mish-mash, but keep the initial project manageable. You've got to realize how much work it will be.
    Build a minimum square footage dwelling with all core systems, however the heating system and such would be sized for the total ultimate size. I'd suggest contracting the foundation, framing, sheathing and roof. The point being to get the structure weather tight. This is important, as a few weeks of rain can wreak havoc with an open structure. Additionally these are areas where you get a good bang for your dollar in hiring a professional crew. Quality professional rough framing will save a lot of time down the road.
    I can't stress enough to have a completed design before beginning, buy a stock plan or draw it.
    Many find such a project putting a real strain on the marriage, not a reason to back away from the construction but be aware. I believe often there is a gross misjudgment on the time and labor involved. Don't move in prematurely - a family living in saw dust can be trying.
    I've been lucky - my wife occasionally mentions building another, but I'm not sure that I'm up to it.

    Motard

  5. #5
    JAMESDUNN
    Guest
    Motard is right. You have to consider the whole process and all that entails. If you're serious you'll need to have all bases covered before beginning. In a former life I was a builder and a carpenter and though it is not"rocket science" it does require planning.

  6. #6
    Registered User kgadley01's Avatar
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    did you ever consider a log home? they are affordable, and come in many sizes. You pick the home you want and they deliever it to your site. hire out the concrete work.

  7. #7
    adamceckhardt
    Guest
    The last time that I dedicated a good portion of my life to remodeling several of my rental properties, I was in the early stages of dating my wife. She's been through it before, and after all that nonsense she actually agreed to marry me. She'll be a great help if we decide to build. I know the stress that a project like that brings.

    Some of the areas we're looking at have no building code- not that I'd cut corners, but it would sure be nice to avoid dealing with inspectors and their schedules.

    Thanks for the magazine recommendation.. I'll have to sign up for that. I think that my biggest hassle will be getting a construction loan. Maybe the bank of mom and dad will help out in that department???

    Neither one of us are into log homes, but they certainly are nice to look at.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by adamceckhardt View Post
    The wife and I are having one helluva time finding a house that we like that is in our budget. We're willing to do some work, but nothing is coming along.

    We've started to look at land.

    I've done some pretty extensive remodeling before- some of which felt like building from scratch.

    I would have to hire a portion of the work to be done simply because I have to keep my job, but I'm willing to put in another 30 hours a week on top of my obligatory 40.

    The parts I'm not comfortable with are:
    -foundation
    -finish carpentry
    -roof (I want metal, and have only done asphalt shingles)

    Anyone else contracted their own house AND done a lot of the work?

    Adam
    Adam,

    Check out Timberpeg http://www.timberpeg.com/ which is a company that markets semi custom homes post and beam homes either in doug fir or white pine. They tout continious wall insulation, the best in terms of wood flooring, Anderson Windows, and many other top of the line features built in their packages. The company works directly with the homeowner from design to construction, but still the foundation, finish and plumbing, electrical is done "by others" which is ok, since your sub-contractors are in the loop with local and state inspectors. I have done three of this style of home over the years, from small to huge. I sub-contracted out what I didn't know, and did the rest on my own.

    Make sure you got everything/everbody lined up on the calender before scooping up any dirt! And of course, make sure you have about 10%more money in the bank than you think you could possibly need! Everybody needs to be on the same page before beginning, including you and your spouse! Seriously, building your own home is a stressful, but wonderful time. Be prepared!! Don't forget to have fun!
    Last edited by redclfco; 05-04-2009 at 02:59 AM. Reason: added link

  9. #9
    BOKRIJDER
    Guest
    Code compliance can be a very sticky subject in some areas. Often in rural settings there is code (national and/or state) but the local governing agency chooses not to inspect or enforce compliance. This can be a minefield.
    A lending institutional normally will require inspections before the release of incremental funding for your project. These inspections are usually contracted out to an inspection service. The inspection service's "Bible" in case of any disagreement - national and state code. Here the bank sets the ground rules.
    Your electrical power utility will dictate electrical code compliance - either a bit of leeway or "Inspector Nazi" to deal with. Expect 100% compliance.
    Waste management - federal government has put some pretty stiff mandates on states for waste management plans. I'd expect NH requires an approved sewage system.

    Motard

  10. #10
    Old man in the mountains osbornk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Motard View Post
    Code compliance can be a very sticky subject in some areas. Often in rural settings there is code (national and/or state) but the local governing agency chooses not to inspect or enforce compliance. This can be a minefield.
    Very true. In many parts of the country (like Virginia), there is no qualifications needed to be a building inspector. It is a political appointment. The inspector can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I would check with local contractors and materials suppliers to see what you have in your area.

    It sounds like you need to be your own General Contractor rather than the builder. You can just subcontract out what you can't or don't want to do just like a building contgractor would do. You have to make sure you hire good subs that will show up and do a good job when you want them to do it. It doesn't work if the electrician delays and doesn't get his work done by the time the drywall crew shows up.
    'You can say what you want about the South, but I almost never hear of anyone wanting to retire to the North.

  11. #11
    BMW MOV Muriel's Avatar
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    Adam is living in "Live Free NH" - he shouldn't get hassled by inspectors.

    My ex (yes, the house was the crowning blow), my three kids and I built a 10-room saltbox style home in Vermont. We used plastic tubing w/water in it for a level on the foundation ;-) I was the bricklayer (triple flue chimney, fireplace, wood box) and laid the tiles; we all pounded nails and "did sheetrock". We had help with the plumbing (not the plastic, but the copper), had the wood/oil furnace installed, and contracted out the septic system. We did move in when it was still partially unfinished. We started in April and moved in for Thanksgiving. I drew the plans on graph paper. I don't think I'd tackle it again (probably too old), but it did help stretch the dollar and get more for our money. I still miss that house. My next house I had everything contracted out but the painting, staining, and landscaping.

    Muriel
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  12. #12
    OUTBACKUFO
    Guest
    sorry cant help much... the houses i built ... the first one got blown down by the big bad wolf... the second one got soggy when the carboard got wet and the duck tape stop being sticky...

  13. #13
    Rally Rat
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    Consider hiring enough help to get it dry ASAP, makes a big difference

    If you or your heirs ever want to sell, use camera to document, also handy when searching for that buried in the wall whatever.

    Be sure to check building codes in your area. They WILL make you tear out a wall (Or worse) for an inspection.

    If basement, put in good perimeter drain.

    Learn best practices for what ever you are about to install. Roof, windows, siding, flashing, insulation all critical.

    Personally, I rough in all the plumbing and ductwork BEFORE I put down the subfloor.

    I Rough in all the electric before I put in the insulation and drywall.

    it will take longer,

    it is rewarding in its own way.

    Rod

  14. #14
    adamceckhardt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muriel View Post
    Adam is living in "Live Free NH" - he shouldn't get hassled by inspectors.


    Muriel
    Hey Muriel

    We actually found a few pieces of land in Vermont that got our attention, so we'll have to deal with the communists that run that state if we go that route.

    I've already found an electrician that I know and trust. He said he'd let me rough it in, and he'd come give it a once over and finish it up. He knows enough subs in the area that we can work with as well.

    I ordered some information on the timberpeg houses- thanks for that! I am a bit leary of those "kit" home types- my parents got burned pretty bad by Lindal Cedar Homes a few years ago. They lost a good chunk of life savings and two years in court thanks to them.

    Now the trick is getting someone to sell a piece of land for a decent price (you wouldn't know that we're in a depression if you could see what people are asking for land around here!) and then get the wife to agree that the land is nice.

    Taking lots of pictures is a great idea. I didn't do that the last time I had a big project, and kind of regret it.

    Any more ideas?

  15. #15
    Jammess jammess's Avatar
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    You bet you can! I contract out all foundation work because I don't own the forms and a pro can make it just about perfect. If your foundation is off you will be correcting for it from the floor to the roof. A metal roof is about as easy as it gets. Invest in a grinder with a bunch of cut-off wheels and make sure you get the right screws for installation to roof sheathing. Screws are different depending on whether you use plywood or OSB sheathing. Also, forget tar paper use the new synthetic overlay material as it is lighter, easier and faster to put on and will stand up to anything including snow load. You can save the most money by doing your own wiring and plumbing. Lots of good framing contractors will take on a job with you acting as the assistant.

    GO FOR IT!
    Jammess

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