When to Avoid DIY Construction

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 22 August 2018 08:37
When to Avoid DIY Construction AEC Business

If you’ve recently purchased land with the intent of building, you may be wondering how much of the construction you should take into your own hands.

A lot of people dream of nailing 2X4s and wielding staple guns. They love the idea of designing their future abodes through house design software or collaboration with a local architect and designer.

DIY construction can also save homebuilders some serious cash. Given the fact that it can cost, on average, $285,000 to build a home, tackling much of the contractor work yourself may be tempting from a financial perspective.

Handling your own construction projects may have its merits, but there are also instances in which it is likely wiser to consult professionals. In this post, I’ll discuss when you should avoid DIY construction.

If you’re still wondering whether or not to build or to buy a home, I have a post for you. Read here.

Your Mortgage Prohibits It

If your mortgage is a land-to-construction loan, your lender may have stipulations about how and when you can build our residence or commercial structure. These stipulations will depend on the lender itself, as well as zoning regulations and state requirements.

In most cases, in order to secure this type of loan, homebuilders will have to select contractors ahead of time and have them approved by the lender. Or the lender will provide a list of viable contractors and require homebuilders to select from this list prior or just after approval.

You may be already aware of these stipulations. This may also be the first time you are hearing about them! In either case, have a conversation with your lender if you do have a land-to-construction loan. If you aren’t sure what type of loan you have, reach out to your lender regardless.

It’s also vital to assess zoning requirements for the area in which you intend to build. These won’t likely alter your decision to pursue DIY construction (or professional construction), but they can inform the nature of the construction you have in mind.

You Really Don’t Have the Expertise

Many homebuilders assume that the home construction process is complex yet easy to understand—the skills, that is, are readily acquirable, particularly in the age of YouTube and online tutorials.

For this reason, they offload only a portion of construction on contractors and professionals, hoping to tackle the rest themselves. Yet a vast majority of home construction tasks do require basic fluency in construction itself, including power tool knowledge, construction safety, and material selection.

While it may be possible to glean specific how-to’s from videos and blog posts, some tasks are better left to experts if you simply do not have the fluency required to get the job done well.

This can be humbling to admit, especially if you always tend to want to handle things yourself. (I certainly relate to this!) If it’s hard to hand tasks over to the experts, begin with some informed consultancy. Construction consultants are viable options for DIY home construction projects and can be an asset for those who wish to navigate their home build relatively independently but with the right kind of guidance.

Safety is in Question

This is perhaps the most compelling reason to avoid DIY construction, either entirely or in part. If DIY construction poses any hazard to your health and well-being, it’s wise to avoid it.

If you are unsure about how to navigate a project safely, even after performing research and investing in the right tools, delegate the task to someone else. If surfaces where you intend to work are unstable or if you lack the proper equipment, hold off on DIY construction until you can hire someone to handle the situation properly.

Any homebuilders who have any existing medical conditions—particularly respiratory—or vision correction needs should consult their practitioners before tackling DIY construction tasks.

Your safety matters above anything else during your home build, including dollars in your wallet and your timeline. Given the fact that the number three cause of death in America is due to accidental injury, be on your guard.

You Lack Time and Tools

Home construction takes time. Lots of it. You may aspire to finish your home within a handful of months or just under a year. Perhaps you have to finish your home in a short period of time for personal reasons.

DIY home construction should have generous breathing room when it comes to time. If you can’t allow a serious timeline for your DIY home build, it’s likely best to turn to the experts.

The same goes for equipment and tools. Some aspects of home construction depend on technology and mechanics you may just not have at the ready. In some cases, forking over money for the construction tools you need may be more financially intensive than simply paying for the labor to accomplish the task.

Outsourcing May Be More Cost-Effective Than DIY Construction

To continue that last point, it may be wise to do a quick cost analysis of DIY projects and outsourcing construction needs. Be generous with your estimates here. When calculating the cost of DIY projects, be sure to assess tools, your personal time, and all materials involved. You may also wish to include the cost of consultancy services.

Reach out to contractors to get actual estimates of their services. Request quotes that are as specific as possible—you may already have these on hand. I recommend asking for quotes for all construction needs so that you have a sense of the numbers you are working with.

This cost analysis can be wildly helpful, especially if you are trying to decide which tasks to handle personally (provided you have the tools, safety, and the go-ahead from your lender). In some cases, you may realize that outsourcing is more cost-effective than DIY construction, particularly given tool cost. Or, it could be a wash.

If it is a wash, always opt for outsourcing. Having professionals tackle even a portion of your home build can mean more time for you to focus on your needs, financial future, and interior design.

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Kate King

Kate King is a freelance writer, editor, and blogger. 

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