To Hire or Not to Hire Professionals? The Truth About DIY-ing Your Home

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As of 2019, the average cost of building a 2,000 square foot (186 m²) home is a little over $300,000. That translates to $150 per square foot, and that’s for construction alone. It doesn’t include land costs yet. But depending on your home’s location, you can build for way less. The average construction cost range is actually $150,000 to $440,000. Converted into cost per square foot, that’s $75 to $220.

Several factors influence construction costs, most notably professional fees. When you build even a small home, professional involvement is often necessary. Hence, some people opt for the cheaper route and skip hiring pros.

DIY-ing home construction isn’t anything new. Many people have acted as their own contractors when they built their dream homes. But before following their example, consider if you have the skill and time. DIY-ing your dream home may cut you a break in costs, but if you end up making lots of mistakes, you’d ultimately spend more money to fix those.

That said, here’s a crash course on home construction, so that you’ll see if it is manageable for you:

The Home Construction Team

If you’ll be acting as your own contractor, you also have to fulfill the roles of these professionals:

  • Architect

An architect is the first professional you approach prior to building your home. They design your house and create the floor plan, ensuring that the traffic is smooth, the spaces are functional, and accessibility is good. If you’d hire an architect, expect their fees to add 5% to 15% to your budget.

  • Civil Engineer

A civil engineer ensures the sturdiness of a home. If the architect works on the design, the civil engineer tackles the structure. They review the plans to check if it follows local building codes. Considering that, you definitely shouldn’t skimp on your home’s structural integrity. If you still want to DIY, at least have a civil engineer inspect your home’s foundation, and the building materials you’d use for the rest of your home.

  • Electrical Engineer

Electrical lines are the first utility installed in a home. If you’re not a licensed electrician, you can’t forego an electrical engineer. They come to the site several times, because are they required in every stage of the construction, until completion when they test if the electrical system is safe and functional.

  •  Master Plumber

Master plumbers are crucial in your home construction project, too. Again, you can’t skip them unless you’re also a plumbing expert. Aside from installing water lines, the master plumber also ensures that your home has a working sewage system.

  • Contractors

Construction site

Contractors are the builders of a home, the ones overseeing the work of laborers. When people say they’d DIY their home, this is what they actually mean. They’d do all the labor-intensive tasks, such as pouring concrete, installing the framing, putting up the drywall, etc.

  • Painters and Drywallers

Though you or a contractor can put up your home’s drywall, there are also drywallers, the tradesmen who specifically hang drywalls to hide wires and insulation. Painters are of course painting contractors. You can fulfill their roles in your construction project, as long as you have their skill and precision.

  • Mason and Roofers

Most homes today are made from concrete, so masons are now becoming common in home construction projects. They work closely with a civil engineer to ensure that their work is sturdy. Roofers, on the other hand, handle not just the roof but also the trusses and insulation. You must be a licensed roofer if you want to install your own roofing.

  • Carpenters

If masons handle concrete, carpenters handle wood. You can also fulfill their role if you’re skilled at woodwork. That way, you can save money on framing and cabinetry installation.

  • Interior Designer

main painting walls

Besides implementing aesthetics, interior designers also choose your home’s flooring, paint colors, countertop material, and other practical stuff. Many people forego their service, but if you want a streamlined and timeless interior look, then you should enlist their help.

  • Landscaper

Unless you’re not interested in maintaining a beautiful garden, then you can skip the landscaper. Just mow your lawn regularly, and remove the weeds.

Ways to Build Your Own Home For Less

Being your own contractor may be easier on the pockets, but you’ll lose a personal experience with the permitting office. In addition, you may not receive wholesale discounts, miss out on a general contractor’s network of subcontractors, and risk structural issues and other problems because of your limited know-how.

To minimize the risks and potential hidden costs, consider buying a prefabricated home. It can cost 10% to 20% less than a custom-built abode. However, prefabricated homes are usually small.

Generally speaking, it’s more sensible to let professionals handle the construction of your home. To manage the costs, get at least three contractor bids, and choose the one most qualified to build your dream home. The cheapest contractor isn’t necessarily the most qualified.

DIY-ing your home is only feasible if you have broad knowledge and skill about construction. But if you just want to save money, better stretch your budget for professionals.

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