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Owner-Built home
Old 09-27-2007, 06:51 PM   #1
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Owner-Built home

Again, just curious. Who here on the boards have ever actually built one or more of their own homes? Not just the Ken Kern thing, but from a kit, or done a conversion from something thst was not originally a house (i.e., barn, silo, chicken coop, etc.).

For myself, I've read a lot over the years, but (for various marital reasons) I didn't do it.

I'm interested to hear from those who actually did do it, and how the living was, once they moved in.
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Old 09-27-2007, 07:21 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by ScooterGuy View Post
Again, just curious. Who here on the boards have ever actually built one or more of their own homes? Not just the Ken Kern thing, but from a kit, or done a conversion from something thst was not originally a house (i.e., barn, silo, chicken coop, etc.).

For myself, I've read a lot over the years, but (for various marital reasons) I didn't do it.

I'm interested to hear from those who actually did do it, and how the living was, once they moved in.
I did it once, in 1979, in a moment of sheer stupidity. It started out as a $17,500 kit for a 1000 sq ft 1BR cabin. It ended up a $35,000 3BR 2500 sq ft two-level second home in the mountains with cedar siding and a wrap-around redwood deck on 1 acre (I already had the land). That was a lot of money back then, at least for me, and I had to finish it in one year or the construction loan would expire. Back then interest rates were going nuts, I think they peaked at around 19%.

I felt a sense of accomplishment and enjoyed it very much with my family for about 10 years before selling it, but it was the hardest thing I've ever done. I swore I would never, ever, do that again -- and proceeded to obliterate from my mind as much as I could about home construction, to vaccinate myself from ever doing it again. Today I can't even wire a microwave.

I went back a few years ago to look at it. It's been flipped a couple of times and it's now up to around 4000 sq ft with lots of bells and whistles. I can't afford to buy it back.
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Old 09-27-2007, 07:35 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScooterGuy View Post
Again, just curious. Who here on the boards have ever actually built one or more of their own homes? Not just the Ken Kern thing, but from a kit, or done a conversion from something thst was not originally a house (i.e., barn, silo, chicken coop, etc.).

For myself, I've read a lot over the years, but (for various marital reasons) I didn't do it.

I'm interested to hear from those who actually did do it, and how the living was, once they moved in.
I have. Our primary house I designed in 1974 and worked as the general contractor to get it weathered-in, then did the interior work myself. Our vacation house which will soon become our primary house was built in 1991. This one I designed and it was built entirely by DW, young son and daughter and myself (with the exception of excavating and placing concrete which was subcontracted out). Garage for the secondary house is only 1,152 SF; time to build a 3,200SF shop to house the toys before making the final move.
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Old 09-27-2007, 07:52 PM   #4
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We built our own house once. Not a kit. Regular house. 2200 sq. ft. Took 4 1/2 months. Most done by DH (weekends and after work) and my dad (full time). We subcontracted out the things we weren't able to do. I designed the plans and took them to the architect, picked the finishes, did the wallpaper.

We really enjoyed it, put lots of special touches in the house. The only bad thing was that about a year and a half later we got recruited out of state. Rented the house out for awhile before selling it at a loss

We would do it again. Build that is - hopefully not have to move away or sell.
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Old 09-27-2007, 08:02 PM   #5
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I have. I designed the house with the help of an architect friend and I was the GC on the project. It is a 1500 sq foot house elevated on pilings, with a continuous concrete footer. The porches add 1050 sq ft to the footprint.

We built it in 2002 for $134,500 on a lot that cost $114k. We used a whole lot of salvaged materials, like the kitchen cabinets, all interior doors, two giant 8-0 sliders, the tubs, sinks, and toilets in the baths, the fireplace insert, many of the fans, water heater, etc. This saved us a good bit. DH did all of the electrical, we contracted out the foundation, framing, roof, drywall, HVAC, and the rough plumbing. I did all of the insulation work in one memorable July week.

Well worth the immense satisfaction created by doing the job ourselves. The county folks were very unforgiving, and I had some hard lessons along the way. I think we'd never do it again, just because it is already covered ground and we'll stay here for the forseeable future. It is recently paid for, and we could never have done that by going the conventional route of contractor built. But we couldn't have done it without the help of some amazing subs, including a friendly GC who agreed to help me find and oversee the subs doing the heavy work and order materials through his suppliers--for cost plus 10%. A real bargain!
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Old 09-28-2007, 03:02 AM   #6
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Did both of my last two houses (stick built), but I also spent enough time in the residential construction biz many moons ago that it wasn't a big deal. Subcontracted out some things, did lots of others myself. DW even got in the act and is a pretty darn good custom tile person.

If you love designing and just building things with your hands then building or rehabing a house can be a lot of fun and rewarding. If you are not so inclined and just want to save money, forget it and hire a pro.

[my next project is rehabing-expanding-releveling(!) an older waterfront cottage on pilings. Chompin at the bit to start]
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Old 09-28-2007, 07:55 AM   #7
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Always told myself if I attempted to build my own home: it would never get finished and I'ld be divorced.

Watched a friend attempt this ... 5 years later it was still not finished and he was served divorce papers. Sold the house - unfinished - in the divorce settlement.

Definatly need the DH/DW on board with this commitment.
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Old 09-28-2007, 09:29 AM   #8
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Building your own house is a family tradition in my wife's family. I am 5 months in process right now. My FIL has actually done a lot more work than I have. He worked as a finish carpenter and custom furniture and cabinet maker. We did electric, finish plumbing, finish carpentry, kitchen cabinets, tile, paint, roof, other misc prep work. Contracted rest. Saving ~80,000 on a 2650 sqft house. In our area you have to have a general contractor or bulder to get a construction loan. A family friend has stood in for the GC for us for a small cost. He also helps with the finish carpentry.

The best advice that I can give is use a plan that has been built before, if not then choose a local architect. We have a NY architect (friend's brother) design a house for us. Too many problems between him automatically overbuilding house (2x6 onstruction, 2 inch too thick foundation walls) to NY building specs to things that might have been ironed out if it had been built before. My house didn't need to be one of a kind. We just couldn't find a predesigned house plan that fit our needs. I would look a little harder given a second chance.
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Old 09-28-2007, 10:33 AM   #9
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My only advice would be, have plenty of time to build it. My problem was trying to finish the whole thing in 12 months because of the construction loan. If I didn't have to worry about that, I could have proceeded at my own pace. Of course, I would never have finished it, either I still have nightmares about trying to nail 4x8 sheets of sheetrock on cathedral ceilings while balancing them on 2x4 Ts.
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Old 09-28-2007, 12:56 PM   #10
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Never done an all new one. But we did buy old Art's home after he died in '93. Our longtime neighbor Art had lived here since the 30s and home improvement wasn't his thing. Good old overall wearing gnome of a guy. SWMBO and i had lots of discussions about how to do this home for us - ended up stripping the inside, changing the floorplan up and down, jacking it up and replacing supports and some perimeter foundation, changing the upstairs floor level so it was all on one plane, doing all new plumbing from the water meter to the main sewer line in the alley, all new wiring, insulation, sheetrock, wood windows, roof, staircase, upstairs deck, refininshed about 1/3 of the floors and replaced the rest with tile or recycled oak T&G. New fireplace and tile walk-in shower. Custom cabinets. Added a couple bathrooms and natural gas and a furnace. Replaced about 10 doors with transom window doors from a 1912 hotel as well as using a bunch of moulding and window/door trim from the same place. Built a hidden door to a large storage area. In the middle of the whole process we tore down a barn on the place and used the barn boards to side a brand new 24x36 garage with an upstairs 14x36 loft and dormers. Garage is insulated, finish sheetrocked, wired with 220 and has natural gas heat and a bathroom and kitchenette. It's nicer than many of the homes i grew up in. The new garage was SO easy compared to working on the crooked old house redo! We were in this home just in time for Y2K. Six year project, paid for as we went, took time off now and again as we had different ideas of how something should look or be done. Still together. Got busted by the building inspectors on several occasions and finally did it (mostly) all legal. Many hands - worked with a good neighbor who was out of work, drunk roofers, a tax-protester Libertarian mason, a really funny deaf cabinet maker, 2 top notch finish carpenters, Russian sheetrockers, the ex-violent ex-con painter that had a soft spot for kitties, and an assortment of other folks who either worked out or didn't. Never done a new house though. Would like to do one that incorporated a cliff face....
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Old 09-29-2007, 03:29 AM   #11
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I built my first house in 1984 - did the framing with help, also electrical, plumbing, siding. Then a detached garage. Then my current house in 1994. Only did plumbing, electrical, trim - sub'd out the rest. Built a detached garage at his place in 2000.
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