Site built home partially finished with lumber and tools around

The Ultimate Guide to Building Your Own Home

If you've got the confidence, you can build your own home. We will teach you how to get a simple estimate of how much the project will cost, and show you what your options are.

What Is The Best Way To Build My Own Home

Building your own home can be a unique and satisfying experience. Creating your dream home is entirely obtainable, and there are many options to do it.

Do-it-yourself homes are popular right now, also meaning it is more affordable than ever. If you already have land to build on, it will be even cheaper since you will only be paying to build your house. If you do not have land, getting land would be the first step in your journey.

Next is determining what type of home to build yourself. Some options for DIY home construction are prefabricated for easy assembly or getting contractor help for larger projects. Shell homes, container homes, tiny homes, and home kits are all popular options.

Shell homes are homes that have the shell of the home prefabricated by a contractor. It is then picked up or delivered to the desired location of the owner to finish it up. One company begins its pricing of shell homes at $16,000, but it can be higher depending on size and complexity. 

Container homes are homes fabricated from shipping containers. With prices beginning at $3,000, it is no surprise that this is one of the most affordable housing options on the market. When purchasing the shipping containers, they can come insulated or uninsulated. The containers can be between 8′ by 40′ to the size of a full-size home.

Tiny homes are a high-demand market right now for DIY homebuilders. The price of a tiny home can cost from a couple of thousands up to $100,000. Many online stores sell the plans, supplies, and various upgrades and finishes. Most people pay for their tiny home out of pocket, but some banks will allow you to finance it through them.

With DIY home kits, a home is directly delivered to your address, ready to be assembled. Kit homes are excellent choices for people who need to build their homes quickly or don’t know where to start when it comes to making their homes. The price of DIY home kits is based on the size of the home and usually costs 20% less than builds with a contractor. Homebuilders can purchase kits online through retailers, even Amazon. Some kits can be as low as $10,000.

Getting An Estimate: How Much Does it Cost to Build a House

Getting an estimate for building your new home is as simple as a few steps. First, find the land that your project will be located. After locating or buying the property, decide what type of DIY home is best for you. After determining what type of home to build, decide on the size and any upgrades that you may want. Be sure to research each professional company and read the reviews before deciding which one you want to use.

So, how much does it cost to build a house you might ask? Your total price can range anywhere from $10,000 up to $300,000 depending on factors such as the cost of lumber involved, whether you hire an architect or general contractor to assist in your project, if building permits need to be acquired, whether or not you have purchased the plot of land the home will sit atop, and the overall size of the project.

A helpful tip is to check online for free estimates on different options. Checking online eliminates the need for a salesperson or investigating stores to check out your options. A good place to start is by researching estimates for contractors and companies near you and then calling them to ask questions.

Finding A Contractor

Finding a contractor can be tricky, but there are a few tips to make your search easier. First, rely on reviews and reputation rather than price. Generally, the lowest price is the lowest for a reason. Cost is calculated based on the quality and experience of the contractor.

Begin by speaking to co-workers, friends, and family for advice on who they would recommend. Check those contractors out online and read any reviews you can. Once you have identified 2 or 3 potential contenders, find the phone number and jot them down to call later. The best scenario would be to speak with someone currently undergoing a project and ask them about working with the contractor. Some important things to ask about are:

  1. Cost compared to budget.
  2. Commitment/ability to meet deadlines.
  3. Honesty.
  4. Performance quality.
  5. Any problems that have come up so far.

Contractors encourage these types of calls to their current clients. Many will welcome the chance to give honest feedback on their current project.

Always ensure that you are getting bids “apples to apples.” The term “apples to apples” means getting estimates based on the same materials, labor, and quality. You will need to provide specific details about your project when getting an estimate.

Choosing A Location

Choosing a location can seem overwhelming when you do not know where to begin. Start by thinking about the main area you want to live in and then one or two backup locations. Begin by researching land for sale near you on social media, Craigslist, or in the newspaper. Identify a budget and figure out if you need a bank to help you with the cost.

After identifying the budget and location, finding the perfect spot to settle down is all that remains. Make sure the land lot has everything you need, including power, water, and internet hookups. You can find somewhere that needs work, but that will need to be added to your final cost and can get expensive. Lastly, purchase the perfect space for your DIY home to be located. Now you will have somewhere for your home to be shipped when you order it.

Choosing Your Materials

Construction quality is one of the most important features when it comes to building your own home. Because there are so many materials to choose from, it can be challenging to know where to begin. Starting with a local contractor’s help can get you going on your DIY home journey. The contractor can advise you on which materials add more structural integrity and value to the home. By combining expert advice with your research, you can create the perfect home for a great price. Consider the following steps to help guide you:

  1. Walking through the site of an ongoing project to see potential materials can help you visualize what it will look like in your own home. By talking to an experienced builder, you can compile information to make the best decision on which material to choose.
  2. Balance aesthetics and functionality. Some materials are cheaply made but are popular to use in homes; the catch is that they fall apart within a few years and need replacing. By being knowledgeable of products like that, you can avoid a functionality mishap in the future.
  3. Finally, only buy readily available materials. They should be available locally. If they are difficult to come by or reliant on shipping, you could end up waiting a long time for shipping and handling throughout the building process.

Working Out Costs For Your Project

Preparation and Clearing

Although DIY homes can be cheap, they can also be expensive after adding and upgrading materials. For the most part, it is more affordable than having someone build a home for you; however, there are some things to consider when working out costs for your project.

There might be some parts of building the home that is out of your skill range. Some features of building that you may need a professional are:

  1. Foundation work.
  2. Building/installing roof trusses.
  3. Plumbing work.
  4. Electrical work.

These are just a few examples of crucial aspects of a home that need to be done right. They require an expert and special tools for the job. Hiring people or a company to tackle these issues would be the best option unless you specifically know how to do all the above.

The next step is lot clearing; the lot is cleared and marked by a surveyor to draw out the property boundaries. One tip is that you will need to order temporary utilities from the electric company while building your home. An electrician will need to come out and hook it up for you. The average cost of prepping and clearing a site for a home measuring 1800 square feet is $3,000. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average price per square foot can be between $1.28 and $2.00. A considerable lot (an acre or more) could cost $80,000 or more to prep for a home site.

If you have the time and ability, you can clear the land yourself. It is possible to rent equipment and ask friends and family to help. Depending on the size of the property, you could be saving thousands of dollars by doing it yourself.

Utility Hookups

Temporary utilities will be necessary while building the home. If the property doesn’t have hookups already, utilities will need to be run there by a professional. If you cannot hook up to city utilities, you must build a septic and well. These require their professionals, maintenance and will also have an additional cost.

The total cost to run utilities to a new property is between $10,000 and $30,000. The farther the property is from utility connections, the more expensive it will be to run utility lines. Connecting to the sewer is a little more unpredictable. It can cost between $2,000 and $15,000. If you can connect to existing sewer lines, then it will be much cheaper.

As for the well and septic, the cost averages at $8,000 but can go upwards of $12,000. The cost depends on the property and its location.

Housing Features

The foundation of the home is one of the most important things to get right the first time. The average cost to build a concrete foundation is $9,000, but other fees get added. Some of the expenses include inspections ($500), permits ($1,000), and the location can also add to the final cost (being in an expensive area).  

Before the foundation is laid, utility workers need to come in and lay the groundwork for the home. Plumbers and electricians will both have a lot of work before professionals can lay the foundation and the average cost is $8,500.

Another housing feature that will require monetary attention is the framing of the home. Framing includes the overall frame, metal or metalwork, and trusses. The average cost is $3,000, but more expensive areas will see upwards of $6,000 for the framing. If there is a basement, then there could be an additional cost for that.

Exterior finishes are another important housing feature that home builders cannot ignore. The overall cost will depend on which finishes are chosen and the total number of doors and windows. The price for the exterior averages at $50,000 but is entirely dependent on what you desire. Landscaping or adding a deckporchpatio, or driveway can also add a price tag but could be the perfect finishing touch on your custom home

After framing and exterior, professionals can install significant systems. Major systems include electrical, HVAC systems, and plumbing. The cost is dependent on the size of your home and the efficiency of the system you choose. The average price is $40,000 for all of these services.

Once that is done, interior finishing can begin. Interior finishing consists of drywall installationinsulation, interior trim, and painting. It also includes flooring, appliancescountertops and lighting, and plumbing fixtures. The costs for everything can be $80,000 or more depending on the quality and location of the home.

Adding everything up will cost a little over $200,000 to build a single-family home, not including the cost of land (NAHB). A mobile, modular, or tiny house would cost less to build than this model.

Most Affordable Areas

The area you build your home in has a significant impact on the final cost. According to HomeAdvisor, the cheapest place to build a house is in Oklahoma. The estimated cost for a home with 1800 square footage would be $145,000. A few other affordable states are:

  1. Mississippi
  2. Nebraska
  3. Arkansas
  4. Michigan
  5. West Virginia

Labor costs are also very affordable in these states. Building a home is even more rewarding when you make it in an area as cheap as one of these. The location has a massive impact on the total construction costs of the project. From exterior finishes to interior details, you have the choice in every fact. If you can be your own contractor, you can save even more money on your new house, leaving money for luxury items like hardwood flooringcarpetsgranite countertops, and more.

Is it Cheaper to Buy or Build a House

If focusing on overall cost, building a house can appear much cheaper; the reality is that building a house can get expensive if you don’t already have the property. Furthermore, custom finishes and special situations (plumbing and electrical) can add cost to the building project. That being said, the average cost of an existing home in 2020 was $310,000 and the average cost of building a house was $302,000 (National Association of Realtors).

What is the Cost to Buy a Tiny Home

Tiny homes are growing in popularity due to their size and starting price point. Tiny home kits can be found for as low as $10,000 for a basic shell with no amenities. Bigger tiny homes with customizations and luxury finishes can run as high as $150,000 or more. A few things that impact cost are if the tiny home is on wheels, types of materials, price of the location, and utility access.

How Long Does it Take to Build a House

The amount of time it takes to build a house depends on the clearing and preparation of the site and the actual home itself. Clearing and preparation of the site can take as little as a week with a full team. After the site is prepared, the home can begin to undergo construction. The fastest amount of time that a home can be built is four months. This would require a full, experienced team working on it. If you are planning to undergo the project alone, plan for more time on the building part.

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