As you may know, a couple of years ago, I built my house. It was crazy.
Today, we’re going to go over the process, to see if it makes sense. First, one thing you need to know is when I built my house, I didn’t really have an option. See, where I live, you don’t really find architects.
People pretend like they know their stuff, but after ten minutes, you see they don’t. I could get a poorly built house for the price of an architect, or built my own with my specs.
The first thing I was thinking about when I built my house was imagining myself living in the property. For example, if you open the door to your right, you need a light switch to your left, so you don’t have to open the door, go around it, then find the switch to your right, hidden behind the door.
That makes no sense. But many architects I asked for a quick drawing delivered stuff like that. So I thought to myself “why pay 10% on top of the price of the house for someone who doesn’t care about the end result? better do it myself.” And that’s how I became the architect for my house.
Aside from a home warranty that will cover the main structural defects of your house after you build it, you don’t need much when you decide to make the design of the house yourself. Where I live, an architect will usually charge you 10% of the whole price of the project. That means not only labour, but also materials.
So whenever you buy £1,000 worth of materials, you pay £100 to the architect. That didn’t seem fair to me. I agreed with paying an extra 10% for labour since the guy had to oversee the whole process, but paying a premium on materials just didn’t seem right.
Anyway, I decided to be the main contractor, the plumber, the electrician, and the supervisor.
It was a hard task since people could clearly see I had no experience in the matter, and as such they were looking down on me, but I didn’t care. I kept on pretending like I knew my stuff, and for all the rest, I asked Google.
Honestly, the time you spend researching how to do a three way switch or a plumbing hook is money well spent, since people can’t overcharge you, making you think the job is super complicated, and on top of that, whenever you are in need of repairs, you know exactly what needs to be done, and you don’t have to ponder for hours thinking whether the quote is agreeable or not.
What I loved the most with building my house was how good it felt. It is very empowering as a single woman to be in control of such a big task, and to manage a team of builders and see something come to completion. Such as a house. A house is a huge project. It is probably your single biggest expense in your whole life (read my post on budgeting for a new home). You might buy a house once or twice while you are alive. Even a car payment or student loans won’t be that big.
A house is a big deal. I loved that I was in charge the whole time.
On the other hand, it was a lot of work. Building a house yourself takes a ton of time, dedication, and will. You will be faced with a lot of decision making. I hated that. On one hand, I felt like I had to stay firm, because I was the boss and all. And on the other hand, I felt like these people had more experience than I did, and as such, I should listen to them. So it was really a struggle.
Building 90% of the house took about 9 month, and the last 10% is still going on over a year later. It has been exhausting. Sometimes I wonder whether I’d be better off hiring out the whole process, and able to rent or occupy the place months earlier.
I am technically losing money because I am unable to rent right now. But on the other hand, I know exactly what went on there. I know the materials we used, why we did so and how much it cost.
Which is a really good selling point. So all in all, I feel like building my house myself was a good experience. It made sense financially and it feels really great to say you undertook such an achievement. It is not for the faint of heart though.