There are many reasons someone might have for building their own home. For some, the idea of building their dream home has been a lifelong goal. For others, the idea only comes about when they realize they can’t find the home that they want or need, where they were hoping. Some people have special requirements for their homes. Some people want to live far away from the rest of the world.
Broadly, there are three stages to building your own home. Though, of course, there are several steps within each stage.
This one probably goes without saying, but just in case, it’s been included here. You need to have an idea of what house you want, where you want it, how much you’re willing to pay for it. There are a lot of sneaky considerations here.
- Land and land rights. You might be surprised to learn that just because you have bought the land, it doesn’t mean own all aspects of it. Likely you will only own a few inches of the soil unless you secure the mineral rights. Depending on your country and location you might not have rights to the timber on the land. Some land for sale has specifications about what you’re allowed to build.
- Land location and county bylaws. Every township and county will have its own rules about what can be built and what can be done on specific properties. Make sure you look up all of these restrictions before you buy. Look into things like the water source – will you be hooking up to city water? What’s the quality of city water in the area, will you need a filtration system? Do you need to have a well drilled? Will rain cistern do? Do you need a road or driveway put in? How expensive will it be to connect the property to the power grid if it is not already? What internet provider options do you have?
- What type of home do you want? Kit-homes are becoming more and more affordable. Are you thinking about shipping containers or other small housing options? Do you need an architect? How will the plans for the home be designed? What amenities do you need? Which amenities do you want? How big of a property do you need? How much can you spend on the build? What are the hidden costs? Are you going to be helping with the work? Or hiring professionals? Write down all of the things you need for your new home and land.
Secure the Land
Once you have answered the big questions you can begin looking for the perfect piece of land to build on. This might take you some time, especially if you have several specific requirements you’re looking for. Always when it comes to making major purchases, do your best to remain patient. Don’t settle.
Purchasing land is quite different than purchasing a home on a plot of land. Some people find it simpler to purchase something with a house already on it, planning to tear it down and build what they want. This is because mortgages for land work differently. The land is organized by purpose, meaning some land is for residential buildings and some for commercial buildings or agricultural use and it is very difficult to get these classifications altered.
Most people quickly discover that they need professional help when searching for land, as it is not often advertised for sale in the same way as residential properties. It is possible that looking for land could be the most time-consuming part of this entire process. It wouldn’t hurt to save a few pictures on your computer of what you’ve got in mind, to keep your spirits up when you’re feeling discouraged. Try to keep the end goal in mind.
This stage is going to look different for nearly everyone, but there are a few things that likely will be the same for everyone. If you are able, speak to people who have built a home before, who can explain the extent of the commitment you are making.
- This stage will be fun for about two weeks, but will quickly become stressful.
- Things always cost a little more than you were expecting (30% more is a good estimate).
- Things always take a little longer than you were expecting (again, 30% longer is a good estimate).
- When working with nature, there’s always going to be unexpected surprises that complicate things. (You might be digging a well and discover that the water is way further below the surface than you’d been told and this is going to require a lot more time and money to get your well working.)
Again, try to keep the end goal in mind. Look at those pictures. Visualize the home being done and sitting on the deck in the morning, having your coffee and enjoying the view. Or whatever it is that got you excited about the project in the first place.
Building your own home can be a marathon, but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Whatever hiccups arise, try to envision yourself ten years from now, telling the story to someone about how the house was built, all the little things that went wrong, and laughing about it.