Many people like the idea of building their own home, but are afraid that they don’t have the skills to do at least some of the work themselves. They worry that the project would be too difficult and take too long. “Building your own home” has come to mean, for most people, being the project manager and hiring tradespeople to do the actual work. If the motive for doing it this way is to save money, the result is often disappointing. The way to save money on building a house is to do at least some of the work yourself. The more work you do, the more money you can save.
The first option is to hire a builder, or organize tradespeople yourself, to do most of the work, then take over the project and finish it. A relatively small amount of money can be saved by doing the painting. A more ambitious, but still manageable approach, which will save much more money, is to pay for the house to be built to lock-up stage. The house will have external and internal walls, a roof, ceilings, windows and external doors, but will otherwise be unfinished inside. Your job will be to fit out the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, and wardrobes, then paint. Fitting out a kitchen is not as difficult as it might seem. There are many choices of do-it-yourself kitchens which are ready-made and do not require a high level of skill to install. Installing a shower, a bath, vanity basins, and tiles, are all jobs that an untrained person can learn to do, and do well. Electrical, plumbing, sanitation and gas installation, however, should be left to professionals.
The second option is to buy a kit home, which you erect yourself. This option can save money, but only if the kit is chosen very carefully. It is very important to work out all of the costs involved. Many kit homes are designed to be built on a concrete slab. They seem cheap because the cost of the slab, and the electrical, plumbing, and sanitation work, are not included. It is very important to study the kit very carefully and find out what work you have to do. Kit homes can be very different in this respect. Those that require most work supply ready-made wall and roof sections for assembly, plus materials such as roof sheeting, wall cladding, plaster board and so on which the amateur builder has to measure, cut and install. People who buy this type of kit without researching it properly find that there is much more involved than just bolting the home together. Kits that require least work involve components that have been manufactured to a more finished stage. A good-value kit home will save money if you are willing to do the work. Hiring a builder to construct a kit-home will greatly increase the cost.
The third option involves doing all of the work from the ground up. There is no denying that it involves a considerable amount of hard work, and the patience to develop skills and solve problems. Although it might seem a daunting challenge it is best not to look at a finished house and think “I couldn’t do all that”. In reality building a house involves a large number of much smaller steps which can each be completed in a reasonably short time. Each step is not too daunting by itself. It certainly can be done because many untrained amateur builders have built excellent homes with their own hands. A variation is to buy a non-assembled steel house frame, with all the components cut to size, and holes punched for bolts and screws. The builder assembles the wall sections and roof trusses on site, and perhaps also a steel floor supported on stumps. This approach costs more than doing everything yourself, but the savings can still be very big.
Apart from the enormous satisfaction which many amateurs gain from building their own homes, the saving in money varies from modest to major, depending on the amount of work done. Becoming involved in the hands-on work of building can provide a way of owning a debt-free home years earlier than would otherwise be possible.