Published on Sunday, September 02, 2018 by Land Century
Imagine being able to build your dream home with your own two hands. As romantic as it sounds, building a home takes a great deal of time, work, dedication and skill. But if you have what it takes to tackle this monumental – but rewarding task – you may be wondering if it’s even possible to do it yourself and how much it will cost to finish the job.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Conventional Home Yourself?
If you plan to build your home yourself – with your own two hands – you're probably assuming that it’s cheaper than having someone else do it for you. And that would be mostly true, but there are some things you need to consider.
If you want to build a conventional home, there are some parts of the building process that may be out of your skill range, such as:
- Pouring the foundation
- Building and installing roof trusses
- Electrical and plumbing work
These are all specialty jobs that require expertise and the right tools for the job. These jobs are best left to contractors that have experience in these areas.
Keep in mind that some states require you to have a general contractor’s license to build a home.
Lot Clearing and Grading
Before you can do anything, you have to prepare the site where your home will be built.
- Clearing the site of debris and brush to ground level. The lot should be cleared at least 25 feet around the planned home’s perimeter.
- A surveyor will stake out the lot using plot drawings with property boundaries.
- The site may need to be graded to alter water flow.
- You’ll also need to order temporary utilities from the electric company and have an electrician come out to hook it up.
The average cost of clearing and prepping a home site is $2,695. The average cost per square foot is between $1.28 and $2. A half-acre of land could easily cost $40,000 to clear and prepare.
You may be able to clear the land yourself, depending on how much needs to be done and trees on the property. It’s possible to rent the equipment needed for clearing from a home improvement store. Rental costs will vary, depending on your location.
It’s best to have a professional take care of the grading.
Average Cost: $2,695
Utilities will also have to be run to the property if there aren’t any there already. If you cannot hook up to city water and sewer, you’ll need to also build a septic and well.
It can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 to run utilities to a property, depending on how far away the lines have to be run. The further the property is from utility connections, the most expensive it will be to run lines.
Connecting to city sewer can cost between $1,500 and $15,000. Costs may be higher if you have to install sewer lines in the area. It can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars to connect to the city’s water line.
If you have to put in a well and septic, the cost can range from $5,500 to $10,000 or more, depending on the property.
Average Cost: $15,000 for power; $10,000 for city water and sewer connection; $7,000 for well and septic.
On average, it costs $8,447 to build a foundation on a home, but costs can be as low as $4,012 and as high as $12,883.
Other fees that will factor into the cost of the foundation include:
- Inspections: $80-$1,300, with the average being $500.
- Permits: $1,300 on average, but can range from $500 to $2,000.
The type of foundation you build will determine the cost, and your location will affect the cost of inspections and permits.
Before the foundation can be laid, plumbers and electricians must come in and lay the groundwork for these services.
- Plumbers will lay down pipe that will be covered with concrete when the foundation is built.
- If you plan to have electrical lines run through the slab via metal conduits, then you’ll need to lay the groundwork for this before the foundation is built.
This will add to the overall cost of the foundation.
Average cost: $8,447
The home’s frame will be size of the home as well as the location of the rooms and the roof. Framing costs typically include the overall frame, general metal work and the trusses.
Costs can range from $1,500 to $6,500.
Average Cost: $3,000
The exterior finishes include the roofing, exterior walls, doors and windows. The cost will depend on the types of finishes you choose as well as the number of windows and doors.
Costs can range from $40,000 to $60,000
Average Cost: $50,000
Electrical, HVAC and Plumbing
Once the framing and exterior is complete, the home’s major systems can be installed, including electrical, HVAC and plumbing.
The size and efficiency of the system will dictate the cost.
Installation costs can range from $30,000 to $50,000
Average Cost: $40,000
Finally, the interior of the home must be finished. This step includes the installation of drywall, insulation, interior trim. Lighting, painting, flooring, appliances and plumbing fixtures.
Costs can be $80,000 or more.
Average Cost: $80,000
If we add up all of the average costs from each section, we estimate that it will cost at least $206,132 to build a home yourself. This figure does not include the cost of land, and is for a home that is stick-built.
A modular, mobile or tiny home would likely be cheaper to build.
What’s the Cheapest Way to Build a House?
Everyone seems to have their own opinion on the cheapest way to build a home. Most of it comes down to planning; looking at each stage and finding the most economical option.
But you also have to consider the type of home. Stick-built homes may cost more and take more time to build than other options.
Modular and mobile are generally cheaper, although modular homes can be close in price to a stick-built.
There’s also the option of buying a home kit. Kits include all of the materials you need to build the frame of the home. You’ll still need to hire someone to build the foundation and connect the utilities. But the companies that offer these kits include all of the “parts” you need to put your home together yourself. And lots of people build these homes all by themselves (just one person).
Can You Truly DIY Build a House?
It’s possible to truly DIY build a house, but it’s not recommended. You can buy plans and get the materials to build the frame and finish the home (or buy a kit).
But it’s still best to hire someone to lay the foundation, do the electrical work, and connect the plumbing. If you need a well and septic, you also want to hire a professional to take on this task.
The biggest issue is building the house to code. If the foundation and other essential components of the home are not up to code, you could be asked to take down the structure or pay someone to fix the problem. Working with electrical and plumbing on your own can also be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.
So, if we’re talking about building just the house – not the foundation, septic, water, etc. – then yes, it’s totally possible to build a house on your own. Many people do it, and they save money doing it.
Just keep in mind that what you’re saving in money you’re spending in time. It will take a lot of time to build a home by yourself, but you’ll save on labor costs and have the satisfaction of knowing that you truly built your own home.
The Most Affordable Areas to Build
Other affordable states include:
- Mississippi: $155,215; $13.92/hour in labor costs
- Nebraska: $152,263; $14.50/hour in labor costs
- Arkansas: $162,662; $12.38/hour in labor costs
- Michigan: $150,310; $18.31/hour in labor costs
- West Virginia: $154,157; $16.47/hour in labor costs
Not surprisingly, the cost of building a home in these states is lower because labor costs are generally lower. In Hawaii, the most expensive place to build a home, labor costs are $27.01. In these states, it’s estimated to cost more than $200,000 to build a home.
Building a home can be a rewarding experience, especially if you live in one of these affordable areas. You have a lot of control over your home, including your location, the type of land and lot size, and the home’s design.
If you have the ability to be your own general contractor, building the home on your own will save you money and give you even more control over the quality of the house.
If you are looking to find your next dream opportunity to start building your home, view our latest land deals here.