Is it better to build your own house or buy one? Finding your dream home that ticks all your requirements, as well as your wish list, is an almost impossible task.
This process can be exhausting. In the end, you might need to settle and make trade-offs to what you really want.
If you are looking for a fully-customized home, then it might be a better option to build your own house. Having complete control over what goes in your home definitely has its own allure. For one, you can guarantee hazards like lead-based paint and asbestos will never endanger you or your family.
You can also cherry-pick only the most beneficial features for you and leave out everything else. These advantages alone convince many people to build their own homes.
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Is it Better to Build or Buy a Home?
The greatest advantage of building your own home is the freedom to make all decisions and the chance to look for cost-saving opportunities at every step.
If you do your research and stick to your budget, you can have the house of your dreams that may cost less than houses real estate agents or housing markets offer.
There are many options on how to build your own house. You can consider other more budget-friendly options, like buying into a housing development.
A housing developer will work with you and offer several floor plans, as well as optional upgrades and add-ons to provide customizability. Buying into developments can provide as much as 15% in savings.
Prefabricated homes will cost you even less. The homes are manufactured off-site then the pieces are assembled on location. Not only is this cheaper, but the process is also faster than regular construction.
Yet another option is the tiny house. This house type can usually accommodate any lifestyle and budget requirements due to its smaller scale. You also typically get to use the best materials since you need to use less of them to build a tiny house.
How to Build a House
Before going out and buying the first lot you see, you should first determine if the house you want to build is within your budget. Some major factors include build type, location, and size.
To find out the actual cost of your dream house, it would be best to work with an architect.
Once you have decided on the house you want, the next step is to create your master budget. This list requires a lot of research as well as estimates taken from building professionals. A good budget keeps you on track and helps you to avoid taking on a project that you cannot actually finish.
Next, you have to look for the perfect plot of land. Price is just one factor. Does the location make sense to you? Is it close enough to essential facilities like the town center, hospital, and grocery? Is the lot itself accessible? Do the houses in the vicinity have similar projected home values?
Prepare the Home Site
With a lot ready, you are now ready to site your intended home in its intended spot.
First, have the site preparation crew clear any debris and have the surveyor stake out the lot. The surveyor bases this on original drawings that plot out the lot’s boundaries.
You may need to make modifications to the topography to alter the water flow to the site. This step would often require home builders with earth-moving equipment.
You would also need to order temporary electrical and plumbing for the workers and have the necessary contractors set this up.
If you have decided to build your own house, then it would be wise to hire a general contractor (GC). A GC oversees the various moving parts of construction and makes sure they coordinate in several critical ways.
Coordinating individual projects and subcontractors is no simple task. Tasks must be scheduled in the correct order, in addition to numerous municipal inspections in between. Moreover, you need to know the building codes.
It would also be a great time and money saver to have a network of subcontractors you can rely on to perform trustworthy work. A trusted GC can provide these.
Alternatively, many states allow homeowners to become the contractor of their own home. This arrangement would usually refer to you as an owner-builder.
Contracting out for a large-scale project like a house requires you to apply for an owner-builder exemption. It will also require you to sign the building permit application yourself.
Work with an Architect
Designing your house to be a healthy place for you and your family takes skill and experience. It is not something learned overnight without proper education, licensing, and experience. This is where an architect excels.
Having a customized home requires a lot of planning, so consultations with an architect are a must. This planning stage allows you to develop your ideas and build a structurally-sound reality. When you hire an architect, you also get a house that is built to last well into the future.
This means having a logical and structurally-sound house, as well as designs for energy efficiency to make sure your investment now can minimize rising energy costs well into the future.
Set a Timeline
In a perfect world, building your own house will happen without any hiccups or delays. Realistically, the building process will likely experience some form of complications that can be frustrating.
When you decide to build your own house, keep in mind factors that could impact the build. For example, is the ground frozen solid when the foundation is scheduled to be poured? Are you beginning to build in the middle of the rainy season?
Also, local building permits and zoning laws will dictate much of your project specifics and how contractors can turn your idea into reality. To build your own house, you’ll need permits, permits, and even more permits.
It is invaluable to have a GC on the job in this step as they’ll take care of this, as well as any inspections that need to be performed.
If you want to take on a more hands-on approach without sacrificing build quality, then you can take on smaller, late-stage, post-contractor projects. This includes exterior finishes, planting trees, installing windows, and much more.
Your timeline must also factor in the final inspections. Before moving in, an inspector needs to take one last look to certify that everything has been built according to plan, is up-to-code, and is suitable for its owners.
After considering everything, determine if your completion date is reasonable.
Your contractors likely have insurance of their own, but purchasing your own insurance to cover the project gives you peace of mind and protection in the event that something goes wrong. The last thing you want is to be left with nothing during an emergency.
Also, not all insurance policies will protect you from buying a poorly designed house. This is why having an architect is essential not just during the building process but years after too.
If your house sags, cracks, rots, falls down, grows mold, or gobbles up money due to rising energy costs, then insurance companies will normally not cover such things.
How Much Does It Cost to Build Your Own Home?
In some situations, building a house from the ground up is actually cheaper than buying among existing homes. Current estimates put the cost at around $290,000 to build a new house while an existing one would fetch an average of $300,000.
The total cost actually varies greatly from home to home but some estimates put it at a low of $147,000 and a high of $436,000. In reality, those figures can skyrocket very quickly based on factors like location and house size.
An architect will help you get the design and construction you have in mind. As custom homes can cost $100 to $400 per square-foot, an average 2,500 square feet home can become quite expensive.
As for tiny homes, these can range from $10,000 to $180,000, but the average falls somewhere in the range of $30,000 to $40,000.