Owner builder book for do it yourselfers

Ways to free up money

It’s no secret that building a house costs a lot of money. Many people that have a home built for them get a second job to raise enough money to pay the down payment. The problem with that is the thing that’s all too familiar to us. We raise our spending levels so we have to keep that second job just to get by. After awhile, the quality of life hits an all time low. I mean, who wants to spend all their time working?

The idea here is to free up income so you don’t have to get that night job. Besides, if you want to have time to work on your house, you need at least two hours a day for two years or four hours a day for one year or eight hours a day for six months, you get the idea.

My wife and I had to make some sacrifices during our house building years. At first, it was really hard, but once we could see our house coming together, the goal to finish it became an all-consuming desire. If the goal can be visualized, it becomes easier to obtain. So after putting all the plans together, imagine walking through the halls, the beautiful kitchen, and the comfy bathroom with a big, jetted bath, the feel of carpet under your toes, the master bedroom, and a family room that has all the extras. If you can imagine it in your mind with excitement, your subconscious will have influence over your appetite to waste money and you will reach your goal.

Our first step to save money was to stop paying rent. My wife, one-year old son, and I, moved into my parents basement and instead of paying rent, we paid their utility bill. To most people, this is too big a sacrifice to make and so it’s not really an option. I have great parents and we have always gotten along good. It was my Dads idea as a way to help us save money. Besides, it was fairly close to our land where we were going to put our house. It’s quite embarrassing though, when someone would ask where we lived, I’d just tell people, “We live close to my parents.”

Our next plan of action to save money was in the area of food. We decided to stop buying ready-made meals and started to cook from scratch. My wife and I are good cooks and we know how to budget well. We made things that were inexpensive to prepare and I started taking sack lunches to work. Soda pop was minimized and you wouldn’t believe how much that saved us right there. We didn’t go out to restaurants the whole time. Pizza and everything else that can be picked up and taken home got the ax. We ate a lot of pasta, potatoes, tuna, ground beef, eggs, rice, lentils, chicken, vegetables and fruits from our garden, and many kinds of homemade soups. Bread and tortillas were easy to make. We actually ate healthier meals while saving money at the same time. Many people don’t know how to cook, but with a few staple items, anybody can prepare inexpensive meals.

I never had any idea how much was spent on food every month. We were able to save more than $500 a month by not dining out, or by not buying ready-made meals, and by packing my lunch to work. We wouldn’t go to the convenience stores every moment either. One thing we discovered was that we would spend more a month running to the convenience stores to buy a pop and a candy bar, than our entire grocery bill would cost. $500 a month buys a lot of building materials.

The next area to make cutbacks was fun and entertainment. We didn’t go to movies or even rent movies. We found that working on our house, as a family, was a total blast so it was good entertainment. We didn’t go on vacations of any form. We didn’t buy new clothes. No new music cassettes. Christmas was not too extravagant, but adequate. We did the same with birthdays.

There were a few other areas like changing life insurance so we had only term insurance. That saved a lot. I thought I needed a pickup, but we got by without one and its monthly payment just fine. We burned firewood in the fireplace and turned the electric heat down low. We lowered the coverage on our car and took glass coverage completely off.

There are a lot of ways to lower monthly expenses. We have always been taught to live within our means, but few of us actually do that because of easy credit. The whole time we were building our home, we lived below our means and we were happy with the results.


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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.

Name respectfully withheld