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Studying the code
Blue prints
Finding a lot
Percolation test
Septic system
Getting permits
Water well
Framing 1st floor
Framing 2nd floor
Framing roof
Windows & Doors
Moving in
Tools & equipment
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Is it true that you built the entire house yourself?

I don't know why people find it hard to believe. I heard that a few years ago many folks built their own houses. It didn't surprise anybody that time. Materials, tools and techniques were much different back then. I would say they were much harder to use. Today with modern tools, building techniques and all sorts of available materials somehow the majority of people prefer buying from a builder.

Does it make sense to build a house yourself?

I think most people mean financial sense. Let's put it another way: is it cheaper building a house yourself versus buying a house from a builder?

This is a known fact that a house material to labour ratio is appoximately 40 to 60, that is 40% - material cost and 60% - other costs such as labour and builder marging.

Builders of course, have wholesale advantage to an individual. They can buy materials cheaper, say 5 to 10 percent. Not a big deal. As I showed in Financing, I spent 50% on materials instead of 40% but I still saved 50% on a house by building it myself.

I hope the reader understands that we are talking about cash here. If one takes borrowing of substantial amount of money into account, then savings are much bigger.

What do you do for living?

Build houses. No, just kidding. I'm a system administrator (with MSc in Physics).

Don't you need a license to do certain jobs like wiring, for example?

No, as long as you are not doing it under a contract. A home owner is allowed to do any kind of job for his house. Certain jobs like building a foundation, framing, wiring, plumbing, gas and sewage systems require inspections. An inspector duty is to ensure that the job is done according to any applicable codes.

How long did it take to build a house?

From start to finish - two and a half years part time excluding 10 months in two winters. I only worked on evenings, weekends and vacation. I didn't work during cold time from November to March. I would dare to say that one could build a house in 6 months working full time. During the construction boom it takes builders even longer as they don't have enough trade workers.

Where did you get the blue prints?

Initially I had thought to buy them. There were many floor plans on the Internet. They were not the real blue prints. Well, at least not all of them. Those that I had seen lacked many details. If they were not designed for Canada, they might have needed a few adjustments to satisfy the National and Provincial Building Codes.

I also couldn't find the perfect floor plans. There always was something that I didn't like. At the end, I spent a couple of months in a library studing the Alberta Building Code and drew my own ideal blue prints using MS Visio.

What would you do differently if you build another house?

First, it would be a bungalow, not a two-storey house. Too much of carrying materials to the second floor! And too high for working on the roof!

Second, rent a big excavator for digging the foundation. I spent too much time doing it with little Thomas and hand-shoveling later.

Third, the foundation would be built from the insulated concrete forms filled with concrete. Again, labour-saving material. They are more expensive than concrete blocks though and they require hiring a concrete pumping truck.

Why are you not advertising on your web site?

Do you really want it??? I don't think so. I'm for ad-free internet! This web site is going to stay ad-free!

In August 2010 out of curiosity I tried Google AdSense. For 9,292 page displays (each has from 1 to 6 ads) and 43 clicks I earned... guess how much? $3.45! Sorry, no ads any more! Damn Google!