Reasons not to build diy

can't work

Reasons people have for not building their own house

These reasons are very real and I have heard them all several times. Building a house is definitely not for everybody though. There are a few good reasons not to do the work. If you have a good reason not to build it yourself, I respect that.

If everyone built their own homes, contractors and subcontractors would be flipping burgers. I like contractors and I have a lot of respect for them. They put up with a lot of garbage from clients, inspectors, and quite often their own employees. Whenever I drive past some hard working carpenters in the dead of winter all bundled up, or in the heat of summer sweating like a horse, I realize that they’re tougher than I am.

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But the biggest reason people opt to not do their own work is ignorance. They don’t know that they are allowed to do it first of all, and secondly, the very idea of attempting to do the complex and demanding work doesn’t seem realistic to them. And finally, they have no idea how much money they can save and how great life is with a much smaller home mortgage payment.

Let’s bring a few other beliefs into the light of scrutiny here. These are some reasons I have picked up on over the last few years:

. I don’t know how to build a house, that’s a professional’s job.

· I don’t have the money to build, and nobody will borrow me money for a construction loan if I’m not a contractor.

· I think a person has to be a licensed contractor or journeyman to build his or her own house.

· I don’t have any tools and it must be expensive to buy everything needed to do the job.

· I’ll just rent it’s cheaper.

· My workmanship is so lousy, my house would probably fall down, even if it didn’t fall down, it would look like a dump.

· I don’t have a pickup truck to haul all the materials.

· I don’t know anything about plumbing or electricity, I don’t want to sleep in a house where I did the work, it might be a deathtrap.

· I don’t want the stress of doing all the work.

· I can buy a Mobile Home for about half the price it takes to build my own house, I can have it right now and I don’t have to work for it.

· If building your own house is so great, why aren’t more people doing it?

· Dealing with inspectors is too much of a pain; I hate it when other people tell me what I can or can’t do.

· You have to be smart to build a house.

· I don’t know if I’m strong enough to do all the lifting.

· I don’t have anyone to help me.

Some of these are good reasons and some are pretty lame. At any rate, it’s a good way to clear up some misconceptions about doing all the work. Let’s talk about each reason.

learning to walk· I don’t know how to build a house, that’s a professionals job.

That’s the most common reason I hear for a person not to do the work, but not knowing how to do something is a poor reason for not doing it. If it were a good reason, none of us would be able to walk, talk, drive a car, or program a VCR. (I still have a hard time with the VCR thing) Building a house is like everything else we learn. We have to take it one step at a time. It’s good to have an image of the completed project in the back of your mind, but if you look at everything all at once, you’ll get very overwhelmed because it is a huge undertaking. When I got started, I knew what every step of the project would entail because I had a good plan, but at each phase of the project, I tried to only focus on the task at hand. It helped to keep my overall perspective in balance.

build a cabin

First, I bought a book on how to do foundations and cement work. I also asked people for advice. When that step was completed, I bought books on framing and called more friends for advice. Every step of the way, I gave full effort to do the job right because it was costing me a lot and I hate to waste money. There were many times when I was caught with a hammer in one hand and a book in the other as people drove by. Many times though, I would be in a stupor while contemplating my next step. There was a lot of head scratching going on during my whole project. I think that friends and neighbors doubted my abilities at the time. Hey, so did I. But, all worked out very well in the end and now people around here know that I finished my long project. If they remember nothing else about me besides that, I’m happy.

no money· I don’t have the money to build, and nobody will borrow me money for a construction loan if I’m not a contractor.

The money part is usually the biggest hang up. I can only tell you that there are many different ways to get the money. Times are different than they used to be.

women in construction

There are now many financial institutions that make construction loans to owner/builders. The high equity from the owner’s labor is very attractive to lenders. Anymore, they are not as concerned about unskilled contractors because of strict building codes that all builders have to follow. They are very concerned however, that the collateral has enough value. “Sweat equity”, is the term used in this case. To a lender it means that every bit of work done on the house is security. To the owner, it means value appreciation without having to pay cash for it. Sweat equity is the dollar amount that your time and labor is worth. Bankers drool at the sound of it!

credit cards
I decided to buy as many materials as possible without a starting loan. I used credit cards and whatever cash I could spare to get our project to the point of borrowability (that’s my own made up word by the way). I had my home finished to the point where I was starting to tape and texture the walls. It was at the point of borrowability way before that, but I wanted to be sure it had enough value to satisfy the appraisers. The value of the land is important, as well as the site improvements like a well and septic system if you live in the country.


If you live in the city, the value of the property and the house value is what determine borrowability. Finishing the home within the loan time period is not a problem because if you determine how far along the house is by a dollar amount, you will have your home almost finished work wise, but financially, you’ll only be about half done. The final fixtures and finish work is where the high expense comes from. Cabinets, carpets, heating, lights, appliances, bathrooms, and a bunch of other things will need to be done at the end. Those things are all easy to install but they’re spendy. Fortunately, to start construction on a home is quite cheap compared to finishing it.

contractor· I think a person has to be a licensed contractor or journeyman to build his or her own house.

That’s not true in most cases. There are a few cities and counties that prohibit a non-licensed person from doing any type of construction or systems. There are also ordinances of conformity that state that every house has to have a certain type roof, special siding, two-car garage, etc. But, cases like that are rare and usually the neighborhoods are in the upper class. I wouldn’t want to live there anyway. I wouldn’t like it if I was told what kind of house I could build.

homeowners association

If you choose to live in a “Homeowners Association” like that, you are giving up many rights as a homeowner however; by living in places like that, you probably won’t have the problem of someone raising pigs or putting in a car salvage yard next door either.

building codes
The truth is that in most areas, the owner of a home can do whatever he or she wants just as long as it meets code. Before you start your project, you should be familiar with the building codes in your area, and you need to have a building permit. You will need to show the Building Inspector your plans. He can then help you make adjustments if necessary. When your site is approved, you will get your permit to hang on a wall when you put it up. You will also need to get permits from the Health Inspector, Electrical Inspector, and a Plumbing Inspector. They can be a wealth of knowledge and they will gladly help you with compliance issues because it’s their job.

building inspector

The inspectors just want to be sure that your home is safe and that no mishaps will happen later because it’s their name on the permit meaning they are responsible. If you look at it that way from their point of view, you’ll be a lot more cooperative. I don’t blame them for making sure everything is perfect. I would too if my name was on the permit. They can still be a big pain though. I’ve never met a mean inspector; they all seem very nice and extremely helpful. I’ll cover the permit scene later.


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I just wanted to say that I love your website. My husband and I followed your instructions on building our own home. Most of the work we did ourselves, but not all. We saved $90,000 in labor costs and now have a beautiful home that we own.

--Sue and Les Carrigan, Draper, Utah

I built my own home doing all my own labor. My house costs me around $70,000 for materials. It took me 8 months to build and is about 2,000 square feet. I didn't think I could do it, but your house web site encouraged me. I used all the info you had.

Thank you,

Benny Luis Lopez,

Gainsville, Florida

I can't thank you enough for your free information web site about home building. I was looking for Electrical wiring diagrams when I found your site. It was very helpful.

Steve Lundquist,

Little Rock, Arkansas

My wife and I lost our home to foreclosure but we kept a plot of land to start over. We are halfway through the construction of our house. Your website gave us hope to start over and build a house with low payments. We are in our late 60's but we find it rewarding to put so much effort into a project that will reward us for years to come.

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