You Can Build a House

How to Build a House: A guide to options for owner-builders.

| Jan. 19, 2009

Home. It’s more than just shelter — it’s a reflection of our values and our lifestyles. It’s our biggest dream and it holds our fondest memories. Often it’s the largest purchase we will ever make. And building a house will undoubtedly be the single biggest do-it-yourself project we ever tackle.

If you decide to build your own home, you can jump-start the building process by buying a kit house package of pre-cut building materials from the companies listed in the “Resources” section at the end of this article. But you have several choices beyond conventional 2-by-4 stick framing. Perhaps you long for the tradition and rustic comfort of a log home. On the other hand, age-old timber-frame construction offers a broad range of design options. If you’re looking for superior insulation and short building time, Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) might be just what you need. A tipi may be perfect if you’re a free spirit; or perhaps a yurt, which can be a more semipermanent option.

In the not-too-distant past, each family built its own dwelling place, but recently we’ve set standards of quality and comfort that have outpaced our ability to develop the skills necessary for building a house. But there is still a broad spectrum of how involved you can be, based on the skills you currently have or are willing to acquire. Some people choose to be involved in every detail, from cutting the lumber and stone to throwing the welcome mat by the front door. Others would rather select a floor plan, hire a builder, sign the mortgage papers and move in.

When you participate in building a house for yourself, you’ll not only save money, you can take great satisfaction in the accomplishment. Regardless of the style of housing you choose, the more work you do during construction (including demolition, prep work and cleanup), the more you’ll save financially. It’s commonly called “sweat equity,” and it’s a great way to tap your skill set and keep your mortgage payments low.

Here’s a quick overview of six building styles. A listing of companies across the country that offer prepackaged materials is available in the “Resources” section at the end of this article.

Log Homes

For many, a rustic log cabin makes a perfect home. Logs are a renewable and sustainable building material, although considerable time is required for trees of suitable size to grow. Frequently, logs used to build cabins are locally grown and therefore require low energy inputs for transportation. If you’re building a cabin from scratch, you may even use horses or oxen to transport logs from forest to building site. The insulating value of log walls varies based on thickness of the logs, width of the space where the logs actually meet, insulation between the logs, and caulking.
5/14/2018 11:19:18 PM

I used the plans at WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG to build my own home – I highly recommend you visit that website and check their plans out too. They are detailed and super easy to read and understand unlike several others I found online. The amount of plans there is mind-boggling… there’s like 16,000 plans or something like that for tons of different projects. Definitely enough to keep me busy with projects for many more years to come haha Go to WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG if you want some additional plans :)

1/26/2009 10:31:24 AM

Oh, yeah-- You know that hallway you're building to accomodate your addition?? Remember that you're eliminating a major egress-- the back door-- by doing so. Plan an exterior door into your addition-- end of the hall is convenient-- and install it in the FIRST round of construction. That hallway is also a great place for planned storage space-- closets are nice, but even open shelves facilitate lots of space for tools, outdoor clothing, canned goods, et cetera. You can always hang up a curtain, add doors later, or just keep your shelves neat enough to be presentable (hey, as long as its safe, nobody you want to impress on an aesthetic level is going to get that deep into your house anyway--on this subject anyway, if it's legal and you can live with it, it's good to go).

1/26/2009 10:25:21 AM

I'm not so sure about nationalism. I see its benefits, but also acknowledge that its success relies on no stronger nation coming along to exploit your butt for the sake of whatever advances their people. As far as White Nationalism goes-- ain't going to waste my time on that. Those who want to look out for themselves not at the expense of others or search for ways to bring a better, more sustainable standard of living to all people are welcome in MC's world. These guys can have a single-finger salute from the Scots-Irish-Italian bottom of the AngloEuropean barrel. Back to things that matter. Trailers. Two caveats: 1) You will not be able to service your addition from the existing breaker or fuse box. It was not designed for any after-market load. You will need a second box to service your addition. Plan it in advance-- and unless you are an expert (as opposed to an enthusiastic layperson), have an expert do it. The money spent is well worth the trouble saved. 2) Find your land first, and check codes, check codes, check codes. Lots of municipalities do not allow trailers. It's mostly a stereotype thing. The only vaguely valid reason is fire danger. TBOMK, they are no more likely to CATCH fire than any other structure, but they are far more likely to be totally destroyed and/or to result in fatalities in the event of fire. Put up smoke alarms everywhere, change the batteries with the seasons, have a functional route of egress (like a big window and a hammer) from every room but the loo, and DRILL BABY DRILL, especially if you've got kids. Enjoy your "trailer-trash" experience, and say a word of reverence to the soul of Old Blue.

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