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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

The Pros and Cons of Building Your Own Home

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 13 September 2017 18:47

Many people dream of building their own home, however most of these people aren’t sure if they can handle the challenge. There is nothing more impressive than a person who constructs their own home, and you might be surprised how many people make it happen. Whether you want to create a non-traditional, affordable home or try your hand at something traditional and architecturally spectacular, there are some important considerations to be made both in favor of and against the notion of building your own house.


It costs a great deal of money to pay a general contractor and team for their undivided attention for the duration of your project. Many general contractors will charge the cost of your materials plus 20%, some similar rate, or a flat fee determined ahead of time. It’s easy to see that if you eliminate the GC from the equation, you’ll save that 20% up front.

Another benefit of choosing to build a house yourself is that you can build experience. For those interested in building homes as more than a hobby, the process of building a home you will one day live in is of inestimable value. You’ll still have access to the same construction insurance, just in case all does not go well your first time. By the time you’re done, you’ll have all the knowledge necessary to build a house - something few people can say.

Finally, you’ll be able to manage costs more easily. A general contractor will make many of the decisions regarding materials and workers, depending on your level of involvement. Sometimes this means that they’ll spend more than you would, or have a process go more slowly than you would be comfortable with if you were your own GC. Acting for yourself, you’ll be able to hire workers as needed, or do much of the work by yourself with friends.


You might not save as much money as you think. General contractors give the benefit of their experience. First time builders will have to make all of the mistakes involved in the trade. They’ll also be limited by their own skills in the time it takes to complete projects that would be a breeze for experienced contractors. In the event that you have to rely upon subcontractors because you can’t do one or more tasks, that’s extra costs cutting into the 20% you saved. Many people find that they spend more than 20% in lost time and hiring experts.

There’s also the issue of quality. Unless you can hit the ball out of the park your very first try, you’ll likely be forced to live with small errors and rookie mistakes you wouldn’t have with an experienced contractor leading the project.

In the end, deciding to build your own house or to hire someone else to do it is up to you. Some people will DIY just for the learning experience, or for the potential savings. Others won’t trust themselves or be willing to do all of that hard work. Fortunately, there are reliable methods that will work for both kinds of people.

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