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poutanen 01-26-2013 01:11 PM

Building your own house
Well I was looking for another forum on the subject, but until I find one I'll pose the question here:

Anyone built your own house? I don't necessarily mean doing 100% of the work yourself, but being your own general, doing some work yourself, etc.?

I'm looking into doing it sooner than later. Luckily I work for a construction company so things that are expensive for some (basement an septic excavation) will be cheap for me. I'm also considering some alternative materials like rammed earth, concrete counters, more raw floor products, etc.

Is the most important thing an accurate estimate? Well planned schedule? The prospect seems kind of scarey, as costs could go WAY over plan, but at the same time it's a house, it's not a mars rover, it can't be THAT hard to plan right!

Anyone? :blink:

ETM 01-26-2013 02:58 PM

Builders dont build anymore, they are tradie organisers and need a certain kind of fear related respect to get everyone on site and jobs completed on time. Mr nice guy gets shit on and the jobs dont get done on time, so does mr owner builder.

TorpedoVegas 01-26-2013 03:22 PM

I am a Construction Manager for a local home builder.. I've supervised the construction on hundreds of homes including my own. If you start getting too fancy on alternative building methods and materials you may never recoup those costs if you plan to sell... People don't care that you have fancy concrete work and excessive engineering, they pay for square footage and a nice lot. If you plan to live in the house forever and don't care about equity, then go to town on the fancy stuff. I've seen people spend 600,000 on a house after basement developments and fancy upgrades in subdivisions where the average house of the same size sells for 400,000... Good luck selling it later on.

Supervising a home build is really just good organization and management. If you have good trades, then they will deliver a good quality product on time and on budget. Don't start anything without estimating out all your costs, including extra for a contingency should problems arise (9 times out of 10 there are unseen or unplanned issues that cost money). The hardest thing right now is finding good reputable trades to work with, there is a real trade shortage starting up in Calgary, especially if you're trying to get things done at a reasonable price.

poutanen 01-26-2013 03:52 PM

Thanks guys. Yeah I see myself doing about 40% of the work on the house myself. Looking at one of the pre-fab home builders in the area. You spec the structure you want, they design it including engineered drawings, build it at their facility, and either truck it in pieces or as one unit depending on the options.

Torpedo, I'm thinking of doing a bit of a modern design, but not going crazy on material costs. The concrete counters I will do myself so they'll actually be cheaper than quartz or marble.

Work I'm planning to sub-out:
- foundation forming and pouring
- main structure from one supplier
- plumbing (may do this myself also)
- drywall mudding/taping
- kitchen cabinets

Work I'm planning to do myself:
- pre-grading, septic excavation and backfill
- electrical
- drywall hanging
- flooring
- tile/concrete in bathrooms/showers
- roofing

Luckily if the trades are really bad around here, I can steal some portugese guys from work for a month in the winter and they'll have the house built for me in no time! :yahoo: Everything on my list of things to do I've done before, and half of the sub-out list.

The piece of land I'm looking at is really nice (for me) it's about 4 acres just outside the city. Not excessively priced, already serviced, etc. Similar pieces of land in the area with 2000 sq ft homes on them sell for $600-$800k and up. I think I can build one including the land for $500k. Gotta start working on a proper estimate!

snowklinger 01-26-2013 04:00 PM

I'll come up and put the roof on for ya for the price of beer and lodging (I know what I'm doing too).

Just have the shingles roof loaded and Ill be up there with bells on. If I can I'll stick a Yankie chick into a duffel bag for yas.

SimonB 01-26-2013 04:04 PM

Check local laws regarding electrical work.

In QC I could not do anything related to electrical in a new building. You need to be a licensed electrician, even to run the wires...

Don't forget to plan the unplanned :)

snowklinger 01-26-2013 04:07 PM

that's why you work at night :)

poutanen 01-26-2013 04:14 PM


Originally Posted by snowklinger (Post 638858)
I'll come up and put the roof on for ya for the price of beer and lodging (I know what I'm doing too).

Sweet! I brew my own beer now so I'll have some ready lol... And the Yank will be much appreciated. Was thinking about possibly going with metal roofing instead. But the house will be in tornado/hail alley so not sure that's the best idea.


Originally Posted by SimonB (Post 638874)
Check local laws regarding electrical work.

In QC I could not do anything related to electrical in a new building. You need to be a licensed electrician, even to run the wires...

Laws?!? :tempted: Luckily I have a buddy who's a licensed electrician. I'll do all the work and he can come over and check it for me.

As for the unexpected: what's a reasonable percentage of margin to add into my own bid? When I did my basement in Ontario I did the estimate in excel, then as I purchased things/service I put the actual prices in. Can't remember for sure but I think it was within 10% of estimate.

Also, anyone have experience with building mortgages? I'd either need a bridge mortgage while I built, and lived in my current house, or rent an apartment for 6 months while it's being built. Dunno...

poutanen 01-26-2013 06:35 PM


Originally Posted by Snowolf (Post 639210)
I am seriously considering for retirement an off the grid home often called "cob houses". Been picking up a lot of books on the subject and love the idea. Looking at a "hobbit hole" partially underground with sod roof, etc.

*in my best Mr. Burns voice*... Excellent...

I like the idea of building partially underground. Moderating effect of the earth would mean no A/C needed in summer (at least probably from Montana and North), and less heat needed on the cold winter nights.

What I'm planning is a wide bungalow with a walkout basement facing SW. Should be able to capture some of the suns energy to help heat the inside of the house (hence the concrete surfaces to again act as moderators)

If people won't pay more for fancy finishes, they will be more if their monthly bills can be reduced or eliminated. How much would you pay extra identical houses if one was off the grid?

gmore10 01-27-2013 12:44 AM

My neighbor completely built his own house himself the only thing he had done was the foundation and the roof, everything else was done by him.he said once the plans were drawn up it was pretty easy, but he has also built two planes in his garage :blink:. I was even crazy enough to fly in one of them :dizzy:.

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