To build your own house you need to prepare and organize carefully, well in advance, and in several different ways.
If you are planning on doing much of the construction yourself, you need to be in good physical condition. Once past the planning stages, much of house construction is hard physical labor. Prepare for it by working out, if necessary.
Organize mentally, by gaining knowledge wherever you can. Try to envision the build, and prepare yourself for as many eventualities as possible. Read books, browse the internet, visit construction sites, and get some practice if you can. Make preliminary scetches. Ask questions when something puzzles you. Perhaps you can work on a few renovations or builds to gain a little experience. Talk to other people who have built their own home, about their experiences, and what they would do differently.
If you are a tradesman that works in the home building industry, you already have a leg up. Pay attention to what everybody else is doing and ask questions. If others are planning to build their own home, you may be able to arrange to trade some work. Organize early for this.
Early in the game you need to think out your financing options, and decide your maximum final cost. Plan to build for about 20% less than this to cover the unexpected. You might need to organize your cash flow and prepare a plan.
Acquiring the land is next if you do not already have it.
Are there any special considerations because of the location, or physical attributes of the property? One example would be municipal land use by-laws. Another might be uneven or rocky terrain. Where can you access services, and who provides them. Contact the providers and get a rough idea of costs.
Now it is time to develop a rough site plan. Determine how to best position the house for ease of building, and to take advantage of special features of the property.
By now, you should have a fair idea of what you can afford, and what will fit on the property. You can plan your house, keeping it within your budget and the site limitations. If your house does not quite conform to land use buy-laws, you may be able to get a relaxation of the rules. This is not a sure thing. It is time consuming so try to restrain yourself.
Plans all done? Now you can start on the permitting process.
This may take a lot more time than you expect so start early. Sixty days is not unusual. A development permit will be first. This is where the municipality decides if your planned house is in compliance with their land use by-laws. A building permit is next. You can, normally, not start any construction until you have these two. You may not need your other permits immediately, but it is usually convenient to get them at the same time.
Take your plan to the service providers, showing where connections will be made, and make your best estimate of when connections will be required. Pay the deposits if necessary.
Arrange appropriate construction insurance, including workers compensation, if you hire anyone.
Organize some type of temporary electrical service.
If you have not already done so, it is time to determine exactly where your property boundaries are , and to stake out your house location. Be precise. Pick a point on the property from which to determine the elevations. Make sure the drainage will work adequately.
Choose your supplier, and organize delivery of the framing package, preferably for just after the excavation is completed.
Choose a heavy equipment contractor, and arrange to do the site prep and excavating, or prepare to do it yourself.
Arrange for water and sewer connections to be dug in. This does not necessarily need to be done at this point, but is usually more convenient.
All that preparation done. Now comes the exciting part, starting the actual construction.
Strip all the topsoil from the house location, and store it out of the way for future use. Excavate as needed for basement, crawl space or slab. Haul away any dirt not needed for back fill or land shaping. Try to place the rest where it will not be an inconvenience. Here is where you might encounter surprises such as soft spots, or other poor soil conditions. Be prepared to modify your plans, and for extra expense.
Now you can place you footings, build foundation walls, and install your floor system. If you are building on slab, you will avoid some of those steps, but you may have to incorporate some of your heating, plumbing, or other construction elements in your slab.
You may be able to back fill at this point. If you are using a preserved wood basement, you will need too install the basement floor first. Use a lot of care here. Make sure concrete is sufficiently cured, nd that drainage tile is installed. Exterior waterproofing must be done.
Now you can frame and sheath the house. Some tubs and showers will not fit through interior doors, so they may have to be installed during framing.
Plumbing and electrical rough in can begin now.
Roofing should be completed, and house wrap applied at this point
Install Windows and exterior doors. try to complete the exterior finish, as quickly as possible, to prevent weather damage.
Once the plumbing and electrical rough ins are done you can insulate, install vapor barriers, and sheath the interior of the home. If drywall is used, you can tape, finish, prime ,paint and finish ceilings.
Electrical can be finished at this point. Cupboards and vanities can be installed. Most of the plumbing can be completed. Heating, air conditioning and ventilation can be installed.
Have the services connected.
Most of the dirty work should now be done, and you can install the flooring.
With the the floors in, you can install the interior doors and do the trim.
Just the final touch ups to do, and perhaps the toilets to install, and you can move in.
Now begins the continuous maintenance that is required to keep a property in top shape. This ranges from regular grass cutting to repairing damage that occurs.
One of my reasons for writing this article is to refresh my own memory, and organize my own course of action. It is meant for some one intending to do the majority of their build, with their own hands. If you use a general contractor or a project manager, much of this will be taken care of for you.
Some of the steps can overlap a bit, and might vary slightly depending on construction types or methods. Some are not so critical that they have to be organized in this exact order.
Remember to treat everyone with the utmost respect and courtesy , even though you may feel like using your hammer on them.
It is painful to go back, hat in hand, to someone that you came unglued with. You likely need employees, tradesmen, contractors and officials more than they need you. Don’t annoy your neighbors by making noise early or late. Try to keep dust under control. Try not to obstruct traffic for long periods on adjoining roadways
Organize for inspections at the appropriate times. Give them as much notice as is feasible, and be sure to be there when they come.
When something goes wrong (and it will) don’t panic. Just stop, organize your thoughts, and consider your options. Most mistakes can be fixed fairly easily.
Make job safety your top priority.
This is what the first day of spring looked like in Alberta, and this is the Southern half. Barby anyone