Why Bother To Build Your Own House?


| 1/15/2014 8:36:00 AM


Tags: owner-builder, energy conservation, Richard Drace, David Wright, California,

hill houseRD: In our last installment, we discussed the quantity reason for being an owner-builder: You can get more house building your own than buying ready-made, and that’s valid, as long as you listen to our warnings and be careful what you wish for. 

DW: But if you can afford it, why not just hire the professional specialists? I’ve gained more and more respect for the professionals through the years…. and my wife has, too, particularly after I mess up something I thought I would be easy to do myself.

RD: Well, I know this is going to sound weird, but I’m going out on a limb here and make the claim that the careful amateur can sometimes achieve better quality control than the professional contractor.  This is the quality reason – the owner-builder might spend more time and pay more attention to detail and end up with a higher quality product. The idea is “if you want it done right, do it yourself.”

David: Like the folks who built the beautiful house in the photo! I agree, but I think “sometimes” is the operable word here. You’re asking the owner-builder to accept responsibility for quality control. If you get too far out on a limb, it might break.

RD: True, but if you are responsible, you can spend more time doing a good job with details and finishes, and also be very selective with the selection of materials and sub-contractors. You can have a bit more relaxed schedule, and take the time necessary to achieve high quality.

DW: The quality oriented conscientious contractor will say “No way!” We wish they were all so righteous, but the professional general contractor has to deliver in a very imperfect world – time and money drive the job, and those two can prevail at the expense of quality.




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