There’s building a new house and then there’s building your own home.
Not many people have the skillset to build an entire house starting with the foundation. Much less the inclination and patience.
However, it can be an excellent way to save money or to build and own a much nicer house. Is it worth considering? That’s what a listener of the Clark Howard Podcast recently asked.
Should I Build My Own Home To Save Money?
I have the skill set to build my own home. Should I consider doing it to save money?
That’s what a listener wondered on the April 19 podcast episode.
Asked Sadie in Colorado: “How much should you stretch to buy a house? Does it ever make sense to build your first home?
“My fiance and I have lived in our small town for five years. During that time, housing prices have more than doubled. I am a teacher and he is a carpenter, so we make local wages that really cannot compete in the current market.
“We had hoped that mortgage rates going up would bring prices down, but they have stayed steady. Any houses we could put 20% down on would require a lot of work, and we would be quite stretched financially.
“Or we could build. My fiance has access to materials at cost, use of heavy machinery, etc., through the construction company he works for. We could do much of the work ourselves. The odds are good that we would have immediate equity in a newly built home, but it feels risky. Your thoughts?”
If you have the patience and ability to build your own home, and you’re out to save money in the process, you’re on the right track. It’s an idea that excites Clark.
“This is actually not risky as long as the two of you don’t kill each other in the process,” Clark says. “This is something you see in more rural parts of America all the time. People who know construction who can use heavy machinery.
“That’s such a savings opportunity. And it’s going to take a while to build the home. Because you’ll be doing so much of the work yourself. But you can save a fortune this way.”
Helpful Elements To Building Your Own Home Right Now
There’s more good news for Sadie and her husband, according to Clark.
First, the cost of construction materials has come way down. COVID-19 created an extreme shortage due to supply chain issues alongside so much money pinging around the U.S. economy due to historically low interest rates.
Those factors created a pricing frenzy that made building extremely expensive. Since then, home prices have mostly stagnated. And building materials are in some cases significantly cheaper.
Second, it’s possible to get access to a special loan.
“Living in a rural area, you have the potential for a USDA loan,” Clark says. “That’s right: the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a loan program for people in rural areas that’s very favorable.”
Clark’s Advice on Building a House From Scratch
Clark has some advice if you intend to build your own home. Assuming you’re capable of it, he suggests sticking with a standard plan.
There are blueprints available online that you can buy. These plans will tell you, for example, how many pieces of lumber you need. And every dimension you should build.
“It’s much, much easier to do that than to try to do anything architect drawn, custom built. And I think you can pull this off,” Clark says.
“You’ve got to know that the two of you have the temperament that you would be able to ride through this project together and have it be a joy instead of an agony for you.
“I like it. Because the sweat equity would give you, as you said, instant equity in the property.”
It’s not easy to literally build your own house. Not many people have the skill and access to equipment and building materials. Patience and coping with stress are perhaps just as vital.
But if you get it done, not only will you feel immense pride in your home, but you’ll save a lot of money in the process.