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Building a house: Anyone a builder? Recommendations

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We are coming into a paradigm where home building is almost better than buying in some areas on the world.

 

Does anyone have experience building their own home?

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I do not have an experience, but I am looking into it myself. I have taken wood workshop classes. I am also planning to attend housebuilding workshop for 2 weeks in Maine. Check out "how to build a tiny house" on google. I think it's the best way to practice it first on small scale, but it will give you an idea of what will you need to a "big" house. 

 

p.s. Do you already have land? I have signed up to mailing lists for direct land sales. I am actually putting my "binder" together on all the research ( as I said, I am a very scientific cat:P ) with pricing, materials, permits, etc.

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In countries such as Thailand, what you describe is the norm. That home then becomes the family home and is past down the generations. In this case, there is no such thing as mortgages.

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Building versus buying is not for the weak of heart.

There are many obstacles, frustrations and pitfalls.

 

The reward(s) at the end of the build include getting a better than average quality home.

And an invaluable education on construction principles , (human nature both your own and the contractors you employ).

 

Being your own general contractor will often result in 30% cost savings and gray hair!

Long after the frustration and blisters fade the satisfaction of a challenge well met and something real and tangible from your sweat and labor, and effort remain.

 

I got a saying: Its a gonna cost you more than you reckon, take a heck of a lot longer than you plan or budget, but by gol its grand when you are all done.

 

I took down and rebuilt a 4 bay gutter connected greenhouse (2 bays 30 feet wide 120 feet long and 2 bays 30 wide 80feet long. 

First year spent taking down almost 90 % solo,

Second year putting up 50% me 45% general labor, 3% licensed plumber, 2% licensed plumber.

 

I also built a 2 story timber frame barn 1st floor 40 x 80 2nd floor 48 x 89.

Passive solar.

 

Contracted a timber frame company to design and cut frame to my general specs.

Design phase 6-9 months including final approval by me before engineer approved (stamped plans @ cost of $3,500.00 just for engineer approval).

 

Another 9-12 months for frame fabrication by timber frame company as that was happening I was grading site, digging footings, rough in plumbing, 3 full baths first floor, 2 sink kitchen, washer and sink utility room and two separate rooms with radiant floor heating.

 

With the help of timber framers and local labor the shell was cover with roof 5 months, (roof is structural insulated panels with dura panel roofing.)

 

Then first floor outside walls were poured (mickey block) 15 tons of concrete (mixed at 120 pounds per time and poured into blocks) 5- 6 months.

 

Exterior siding 1 inch by 12 inch red oak (green, cut to order) 4 months.

(Over 400 pounds of wood screws used to secure exterior siding).

 

Stairway construction talk about a challenge! I cut my own stairway for the third time in my life only slightly easier the second time, and third time knowing I had done it before...

 

$10,000.00 worth of windows installed by two of us in two days. Master carpenter assisted by a semi skilled laborer (me).

 

Not including my labor or land cost I have over $225,000.00 dollars invested in barn to date. 

 

Equal parts blood, sweat, and frustration add more than a few tears yields tremendous satisfaction!

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I love doing my own building but as I live in Australia in a semi-wilderness area, my experience probably lacks relevance. Something that I image is relevant though is awareness of the qi of both the materials and the building as a whole. As a general rule I’d say that the more a building material is machine processed, the more fractured its qi. For me, in this regard and for general aesthetics, nothing compares to natural hardwood. 

 

I live in a small, pole frame, timber clad cabin. I’ve been here 19 years and it’s the most comfortable home I’ve ever lived in. Most everyone who visits comments on how good it feels inside. It’s basically one room about 7 metres by 8 metres with a sleeping loft over about a third of it. It very light and bright and has high, sloping ceilings with rafters of exposed poles. There's verandas on two sides. The flooring is hardwood, milled locally. The poles were harvested from my land and the only processing they’ve had is removal of the bark. I’ve left them visible inside; they’re neither smooth nor entirely straight. They give shape to my cabin, which, like my life, is neither smooth nor straight. Because nothing is straight or square, it’s meant I've put in many hours of hand crafted work. And for me that’s another aspect of building to consider, namely the qi of the people involved in the building work.
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We are coming into a paradigm where home building is almost better than buying in some areas on the world.

 

Does anyone have experience building their own home?

 

helping build  and others homes .

 

Wish I had the $$$$ to do one now, with what I learned and know now !  Also I got a few designs and I made several models.

 

The first thing, I feel is making it  suitable to its  location ; eg . a pole house design can work well here ; you can get a  roof up first and then work under it at any pace , even live in part of it before the rest finished , some I have seen have just had a temp carpet wall, until more money was available ( walls are not load bearing ) .

 

But then I see those building shows in the UK, numerous times they put the framing in, the wood floors, even some  DAR timber and fixtures ..... and then it rains, and they  'OH  NO !  The woodwork will be ruined ! " 

 

Whats with that ?   When it rains there a lot ????   

 

Poles are easy to start, especially if ya got forest .  A hole can be dug with a post holes digger on back of tractor and slip the pole in and stand it up and tamp down and you got your first self supporting platform , easy ! 

 

Nut over time that can be problematic, the base of the ople can decay and slip into the ground deeper , a concrete pad under it traps water and and doesn't help.    A pad with a metal bracket that holds the pole above ground level is better, but they are harder to get up   ....    so its all a juggle of circumstances and  available $$$$$$$$$ . 

 

20 years back we could good building poles from local farmer , wood from local mill and roofing 'tin' all up for about $5000 to get a shell up with a roof, then do floors bit by bit etc. 

 

Nowadays one would be up for that, at least, just in council charges for approvals   :(    

 

Mud brick seems okay here , you need an elevated or high base and a large overhanging roof due to high rainfall .   It is very suitable for dry areas though . 

 

    I like to work in flat planes, especially on the roof, they can be arranged to be different and innovative, let light in etc ,  cheaper and easier to construct .  

 

Thats just scratching the surface .... there are a zillion things to consider . 

 

if I am asked, the first two are ;   where is the land , and how do you want to live on it there ? 

And that is just scratching the surface ! 

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I love doing my own building but as I live in Australia in a semi-wilderness area, my experience probably lacks relevance. Something that I image is relevant though is awareness of the qi of both the materials and the building as a whole. As a general rule I’d say that the more a building material is machine processed, the more fractured its qi. For me, in this regard and for general aesthetics, nothing compares to natural hardwood. 
 
I live in a small, pole frame, timber clad cabin. I’ve been here 19 years and it’s the most comfortable home I’ve ever lived in. Most everyone who visits comments on how good it feels inside. It’s basically one room about 7 metres by 8 metres with a sleeping loft over about a third of it. It very light and bright and has high, sloping ceilings with rafters of exposed poles. There's verandas on two sides. The flooring is hardwood, milled locally. The poles were harvested from my land and the only processing they’ve had is removal of the bark. I’ve left them visible inside; they’re neither smooth nor entirely straight. They give shape to my cabin, which, like my life, is neither smooth nor straight. Because nothing is straight or square, it’s meant I've put in many hours of hand crafted work. And for me that’s another aspect of building to consider, namely the qi of the people involved in the building work.

 

 

yeah, my experience is more in 'feral building'  

 

here, it has usually gone like this ;

 

1. caravan

 

2.  6 poles around it  and a roof on top . 

 

3.  6 poles out from the front of that and  roof extension and a suspended floor  ( at caravan floor height )  to make a verandah .

 

4.  Move caravan out and floor that side , maybe add some walls. 

 

5.  Complete walls, add fixtures , fireplace, etc . 

 

6.  Have kids, go nuts, do extensions       :)    

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Building versus buying is not for the weak of heart.

There are many obstacles, frustrations and pitfalls.

 

The reward(s) at the end of the build include getting a better than average quality home.

And an invaluable education on construction principles , (human nature both your own and the contractors you employ).

 

Being your own general contractor will often result in 30% cost savings and gray hair!

 

I got a saying: Its a gonna cost you more than you reckon, take a heck of a lot longer than you plan or budget, but by gol its grand when you are all done.

You say it will inevitably run over budget and schedule...yet will still save you 30%?  And result in a higher-quality home than that of an experienced builder?  You sure about that?

Typically, a production type home will cost you anywhere between $150 to $300 per square foot. A custom home will cost you anywhere between $200 to $450 per square foot.

A 2,000 square foot production type home will cost anywhere between $300,000 and $600,000*

A 2,000 square foot custom home will cost anywhere between $400,000 and $900,000*

I think all those figures are pretty high, but regardless...how can a single DIY house beat all the volume bulk pricing of mass-produced, tract housing?  And how can your average Joe with no construction experience ensure a quality product from all his subcontractors - if he has no idea what to check for?

 

For example, a sidewalk laid near your house should generally be sloping ever-so-slightly down away from the house, rather than towards it (to drain water away from the foundation).  Or, if there are any spots in poured concrete that are too wet, they will be rougher and weaker once set.

 

Now for every construction project, there are a lot of details like these to supervise/inspect for.  Yet, how in the h*ll do you expect some regular civilian to suddenly know all this and be a competent, much less great, general contractor?

 

I think it's easy to gain a false sense of competence from watching a lot of popular home "reality shows."  But real life is a lot messier and the devil is in the details...

 

For example, tiny homes are heavily-hyped on TV now.  But in reality, they are basically just glorified MOBILE HOMES.  And, most are not even lived in permanently - but rented out as cutesy B&B's.  This is because most simply aren't PRACTICAL on a LONGTERM basis - due to their miniscule size and often zoning laws...  So, all these shows featuring them are basically just rental ads.

Edited by gendao
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We are coming into a paradigm where home building is almost better than buying in some areas on the world.

 

Does anyone have experience building their own home?

Are you talking about acting as your own general contractor or literally building it yourself from scratch?
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Building any structure without much experience is an absolute pain! I have seen more amateurish construction, along with code violations that would make for many sleepless nights and that just applies to Santa Fe.  Also, I would warn against flat roofs, straw bales, and DIY plumbing and electrical work.

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Acting as your own general contractor :

 

Perform due diligence on all subcontractors re: insurance get a copy with yourself named as additional insured, check with local county / state for proper license (s). And vet for references!

 

County local municipality more than likely* to require plans, site plan for setbacks, grading for drainage, etc. and likely will inspect approve or not grading.

Inspections by county around here anyway: 

1 : Footings 

2: Framing before insulation drywall

3: Electric, plumbing & hvac inspection

4: throat inspection if masonery chimney

5: Final if all went well.

 

The prices  costs you quoted are reasonable, I priced white wood kiln dried 2x? at Lowe, Home Depot, and two local lumberyards mills scheduled delivery onto pallets and covered the wood with plastic to prevent warping (common sense).

How many builder do this ? So even if they start with a discount price they have spoilage warping greater waste and disposal costs.

 

My brother had a manufactured home constructed off site, built in a factory and trucked in to be placed on foundation.

Quality was excellent, but weather wasn't a factor, no rain not to hot not too cold.

Choices were somewhat limited, some but not total customizing. Much better than average on site stick built! IMHO

 

I built a three level deck at the age of 22. No prior experience but passed Home Improvement exam got ticket Yahoo

The steps were a nightmare to say the least. I talked to lumberyards, carpenters, millworks custom stair builders, no joy.

There weren't the stair patterns available then as they are now, (we come along way baby!)

 

The increased costs, in my experience resulted from changes in design or materials to improve the end result.

For instance I widened the stairs from four foot wide to six feet, to accommodate a chair lift on one side whilst allowing foot traffic on the other. 

Y.M.M.V.

 

As Rallis pointed out it ain't for the faint of heart, nor should it be ametuer night at the Appolo, lol.

 

But approached properly this is one case when the governmental services and safeguards are on your side!

 

*IIRC West Virginia (or at least parts of it) didn't require adherence to national building code except for electrical and plumbing, for private residence, may have a tough time selling it ? 

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Before going to far along in tiny home investigation, I suggest exploring Recreational Vehicles.

At least you can move them any time you want, more parks available, land use zoning requirements similar. 

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