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Re: [Shop-talk] Have you built your own house?

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Subject: Re: [Shop-talk] Have you built your own house?
From: "Al Fuller" <>
Date: Wed, 3 Aug 2016 10:33:45 -0400
References: <> <>
Thread-index: AQJZPipHttKonHUzgWZd3bX1Gy9PKwEKDFUWAlSpcc4=

I echo Pat's comments, and would add the following:

I helped my best friend build his house some years ago, and we had the/a
builder put up the shell and some of the rough carpentry.  

The builder may also have contracted for the shovel, which was good, because
the guy made a mistake [dug too much], which could not easily be fixed [in
Michigan you cannot build on fill, so they could not just put the dirt back
in the ground.  The foundation for the house had to be slightly enlarged -
which becomes a contract nightmare of who is responsible, and who will pay
for the extra footprint of the house -- if you are not experienced...]

Overall, we did most of the carpentry, all of the electrical up to the
tie-in, for which we hired a professional.  The roof was done by a roofing
company, even though he and I had done many roofs in our time - it was just
better to have the professionals up there 2 and 1/2 stories in the summer
heat.  We did the plumbing ourselves.

We put up much of the wall boards, and had professionals in to finish them
off.  We did the painting.  I don't recall who did the flooring.

As regards financing:  he was able to get a construction or bridge loan,
probably because the builder was involved.  At the end, the bank required a
particular minimum level of finishing before it would transition to a
regular mortgage loan, so you can't just stop where you want...  The
building inspector looked at the house a bit more closely [in my
opinion...], knowing the owner was doing much of the work.  My friend took
on the responsibility of coordinating the periodic or step inspections that
had to be done before certain things were closed up.

It was a tremendous amount of work, and more so if you are juggling other
responsibilities [job, family, etc...].  I was working at my business full
time, so I would work on the house from 6-12p, plus 18hr Sat/Sun as a
minimum.  As I recall, this took 6-8 months.

In the end, I guess if I were 30 years younger than I am now, yes - I would
do it again.  The main change I would make is to ensure the homeowner paid
for an architect, so as to ensure all issues of livability are settled in
favor of what the owners want and need.

I hope this helps.

Al Fuller
al at bighealey dot org
'65 BJ-8
'85 Rx-7

-----Original Message-----
From: Shop-talk [] On Behalf Of Pat
Sent: Sunday, July 31, 2016 8:39 AM
To: Jim Franklin <>
Subject: Re: [Shop-talk] Have you built your own house?

Building your own house is certainly possible. I've built quite a few as a
house lead working with Habitat for Humanity.  I know that leading a house
construction is different from doing it yourself, but it will give you an
idea. I also built my shop with the help of a couple friends. 

There are several things to consider. 
How complex is your house? The more complex, the longer it will take to
build it. 

How sure you will have the conviction to stick with the project through
completion? The Habitat houses I build take up to 4000 man hours to build
for about 1100 sq.ft. 

How are you planning to find the construction? Most banks will not fund a
construction loan only if the project is built by a construction company
with required licenses & insurance.  

I'll be glad to discuss any other points you are concerned about. 


Pat Horne 
We support Caldwell County Habitat for Humanity

On Jul 27, 2016, at 7:44 AM, Jim Franklin <> wrote:

I'm toying with doing this, mostly myself. I've done a few big projects like
dormers, full remodels, so I'm not green. I'm mostly curious in what you
thought about the experience and the result, and would you do it again. I
have read Norm Abrahms' book (which is a fun read if you haven't) as well as
House by Tracy Kidder. 




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