Constructing Your Own Home

Things to Consider When Building Your Own House

I started building my own home in 1989 with absolutely no experience in building a home. Within six months my contractor went bankrupt and left me with a half finished house. The problem was the half that was finished was done wrong. The foundation was already cracking, and the wood framing wasn't built anywhere near what the drawings called for. What follows are the most important lessons I learned from building my own house.

Don't count on anybody to do their job right!

Just because an architect has a nice office and a good reputation doesn't mean the drawings will be done properly. Just because the contractor comes highly recommended doesn't mean he won't rip you off and do shoddy work on your future home. In all my experience I've never run across a group of more shady characters than contractors and sub-contractors. You must stay on top of the entire home building project if you want to keep from losing all your money and end up getting a house that you hate.

Plan Your Home Building Project Up Front

Contractors love nothing more than a home builder who isn't sure what he wants, and decides to fill in the details as the house is being built. Why? Because once the contractor has the job, he can charge you anything for changes that weren't in the contract. My contractor wanted to charge me $10,000 to add a small staircase to a room. I found a sub-contractor to do it for $1800. My contractor wanted to charge me $15,000 to add a fireplace to a den. When I asked how much he would discount the price to NOT build a fireplace in the living room, he said he would discount $1500 from the price. Trust me, when you make changes you're going to get ripped off.

The Project Will Cost 50% More and Taking Twice As Long!

I'm sorry to burst any bubbles here, but this is a fact of building your own home. Whatever you think it's going to cost - add 50% more to the price. And however long you think the project is going to take - double. The only exception to this is if you have a top of the line contractor who gave you a very high quote to begin with, or if you have incentives in the contract to pay the contractor more if he gets the job done sooner.