Build Your Own Home and Save!

You can build your own home, even if you’re not an expert carpenter, with the do it yourself home kits from FirstDay Cottage.
By Stewart Lytle
August/September 2010
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You can build your own home for less! Do it yourself with a post-and-beam house kit from FirstDay Cottage.
PHOTO: HUNT SMITH


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If you would love to build your own home but have little construction experience, the post-and-beam house plan kits from FirstDay Cottage may be your solution. These simple house plans come in five designs, ranging in size from 960 to 1,840 square feet, each for about $32 per square foot. According to FirstDay, almost anyone with determination, a good work ethic, and the ability to operate a circular saw can build one!

David Howard, an MIT-trained architect with a passion for owner-built homes, started FirstDay Cottage in 1995. The company estimates that two workers can build a small FirstDay Cottage in about 15 weekends.

The FirstDay DIY home kit arrives on trucks carrying the structure, sheathing and decking, foam insulation, roofing and siding, windows and doors, building wrap, interior partitions, and kitchen cabinets. Also included are the plans and instructions for the house. What you won’t find on the trucks are the concrete for a foundation, plumbing and fixtures, electrical wiring and fixtures, heating or cooling systems, appliances, countertops, or paint. The homeowners, with optional advice from FirstDay, must purchase their own appliances and hire their own foundation contractors, plumbers, and electricians.

For a three-bedroom, two-bath cottage, FirstDay estimates the cost is about $130,000. Howard says that a conventional building such as this, when finished, will be valued at about $250,000 — instant equity! Plus, the plans have been designed to produce an energy-efficient home, minimizing your utility bills.

To eliminate concerns about building codes, FirstDay cottages have been designed to be built anywhere. According to the company, the kits have been used to build houses in 37 states, and all have met code requirements. Should you need assistance, FirstDay employees are available throughout the building process for advice and support.

For more information, visit FirstDay Cottage online.








Post a comment below.

 

B Dellinger
4/13/2012 6:29:24 PM
My husband built our FirstDay Cottage from 2006-2008. We lived right next door, so access and taking our time was not a problem. My husband is a full-time teacher, so he only had weekends and summer to do the work. He did have occassional help from his father and a couple of friends helped set the roof trusses, but otherwise he did all the carpentry himself. And what an excellent job he did! We hired out the grading, foundation, plumbling, electrical and mini-spilt heating/air system, well, septic, etc. It isn't easy to be your own GC, but the end result for us was so lovely. One of the best things about FirstDay is the ability to customize and tweak your plans as you go along. We changed window and door placement to enhance our pastoral/mountain view, turned a bedroom into an open "cathedral ceiling" study, and added a sunroom onto the back. Every inch of the house is exactly the way we wanted it to be. Can you get that with an expensive house plan? The interior wood sheathing that is used on the walls is just beautiful. I customized our "Original" which is a 16x30 two story on a walkout/daylight basement with as many windows as we could practically use, and the result is an airy, light filled, warm and "living" home. Our electricity and heat/cooling bill for 2011 was less than $1500 for the YEAR. The design is tight and efficent. We have recommended FirstDay many times, and we will continue to do so. We found David Howard and his staff to be helpful and very willing to work with us when we ran into snags...and we are nowhere near his office in NH. He even stopped in to check on us in NC when he was traveling through. I'm sorry to hear that the fellow below had a less than satisfactory experience, but I'm guessing it has more to do with his expectations going in than the product itself. We love, love our FirstDay home and the value is fantastic. We built our for $85K and that includes luxuries we added ourselves (in other words not in the kit price) like granite countertops, a huge greenhouse kitchen window, and a solid mahogany/stained glass front door. The apprasial value, even in this depressed market, is about $220,000 and the total sq ft is 1626 (including the dining room that was an addition, i.e. not part of the kit). We are conisdering adding on this year or next, and FirstDay will help us figure out how to integrate the design. For DIYers, I don't know what more you could ask for.

H LaClair
1/19/2012 4:26:37 AM
In February of 2011 my grandparents 1820's house in Alstead, New Hampshire suffered an accidental fire. Our family gathered to clean the house out and take it down in June. July saw the foundation poured, and on the first of August, 2011, we began to build a First Day Cottage. There were three of us working on the project an average of four to five days per week, as well as occasional appearances by the plumbing and electrical contractors. The house was completed in November of 2011. We spent no less than $115,000.00 on the entire project, including removal of the old house, the dirt work, foundation, plumbing, carpentry and electrical contractors, kit (a large 24x36' Cape), appliances, miscellaneous materials not provided by First Day, and necessary permits. We put in a lot of sweat, yes, but what we got out of it was so much more. I found Mr Howard to be an entertaining and insightful guide, willing to advise, but like all good guides, also quite willing to allow us to learn what we needed to learn to do the project ourselves. As many times as I sat in his office, or visited with him on the job site, I don't recall any time when he didn't take me seriously and answer every question and concern I had about the project. As a 90lb female I appreciate the willingness of any man to look me in the eye and say, "Yes, you can do this, here's how." I will be for ever grateful for the opportunity to build a First Day Cottage. If I could, I would build another one today. The chance to restore my grandparents to a brand new, beautiful, well built home at a price they could afford and in less time than we believed possible is beyond words for me. I would be happy to answer any questions your readers might have about my experience with First Day Cottage, David Howard, novice home-building, or even what kind of problems to expect with this type of project. Make no mistake, there will be problems. First Day is not for everyone. If you want a home but don't want to get dirty doing the hard work, look somewhere else. If you want precision architectural drawings and a general contractor to manage the job for you, don't buy a First Day. If you are willing to work hard for something, persistent enough to keep going when you feel lost, independent enough to believe in yourself, humble enough to ask for help when you need it, and poor enough that you can't afford to buy an existing house at today's rock bottom prices, then First Day might just be your ticket out of whatever apartment slum you're foundering in right now. Whatever you do, common sense will always be your best guide.

Ed Small
12/23/2010 2:25:53 PM
My experience with FirstDay Cottage has been very negative. The quality of the materials is not very good and when I priced it out it was double the cost of the lumber yard. Contrary to the hype on the website, most people take a year or more to build. The instruction "book" is a collection of crude drawings, most of which will not be of your house. I had to hire a crane to set it up. The estimates of cost on the web site should be doubled or tripled. David Howard is NOT an Architect. He has no licence, he is a complete fake. You will not be able to finance this house unless you have an approved contractor and any real contractor will probably not touch this project because of the fussy complicated building system and also because of the grade school "drawings'. All in all a very poor choice for a first time homebuilder. There are many better choices available. I wish I had gone with the ShelterKit, or just some plans, and a materials list. David Howard is not a nice person. Save a lot of money and frustration and avoid FirstDay Cottage. Good Luck

Ed Small
12/14/2010 2:44:48 PM
CAUTION! Virtually everything about FirstDay Cottage is a LIE. David Howard Is NOT an MIT Trained ARCHITECT! He is not an Architect at all. I am trying to build a FirstDay Cottage and I have been ripped off. There are better choices for anyone wanting to build their own house. Check out his credentials. David Howard (and FirstDay Cottage) is a fraud. CAVEAT EMPTOR

Ed Small
12/14/2010 2:34:54 PM
Building a cabin in NY








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