The Pros and Cons of Building a House Yourself

Things to know ahead of time and which insurance coverage is ideal to have on hand before starting your project.

New Home construction in growing subdivision. The Pros and Cons to Building a House Yourself.

Though building a home from scratch on your own may not seem common, it's still a project that many folks choose to take on. But before you start such a huge task, there are many things that can be helpful to keep in mind. Just one of those is which types of insurance can help you if something goes wrong

An independent insurance agent can help you get set up with all the homeowners insurance and other types of coverage you may need for such an undertaking. They'll get you covered long before you grab that first brick. But for starters, here are some helpful considerations to keep in mind even if you hire a builder to do all the hard work for you.

The Pros and Cons of DIY House Building

Building your own home from scratch comes with many upsides and downsides, and one list may not necessarily outweigh the other. Check out just a few pros and cons to DIY house building and decide for yourself. 

Pros

  1. You get the home you really want: When you decide to build a house from scratch, you're in total control over the layout, features, finishes, etc. This gives you much more freedom to end up with the style, size, etc. of the home that you've been envisioning. 
  2. You have control over the building process: You can arrange for your home to be built on your schedule. If you need the project completed within a certain timeframe, you can establish that from the beginning.
  3. No competition to finding the perfect home: When you build a house yourself, there's no need to rush and worry about being outbid by another prospective buyer. If you're building your own home, you've eliminated all competition from the process. 
  4. You know exactly what materials are used: You're also in charge of the materials used in your home when you build one from scratch. If you want your home to be constructed of all brick or environmentally friendly materials, you have that input.
  5. You don’t have to worry about repairs: Newly constructed homes typically don't need to have repairs done before you move in. So if you build a home yourself from scratch, in theory, you shouldn't even have to think about getting repairs done until many years down the road.
  6. Your home will meet current building codes: Sometimes homes that were constructed in previous decades no longer meet current building codes and have to be updated, which can be expensive. One major pro to building a house yourself is that you can ensure the entire structure is built up to current code.
  7. It's most likely more energy-efficient: Newly constructed homes can be built with solar panels and other energy-efficient options that can save you money on your energy bills and help the environment as a two-in-one bonus. If energy efficiency is important to you, consider these options when drawing up your home's plans.
  8. Your home will include up-to-date technology: If you're interested in a smart home or any other type of current technology, you have the power to include that in your home's construction as well. If you build your home yourself, there's no need to worry that any of its technology will be outdated and in need of replacement after you move in.
  9. An internal feeling of accomplishment: Designing and building your own home from scratch can also create a large reward internally. There's nothing quite like the feeling of living in a home that you constructed both in imagination and reality.

While this list of pros to building your own home can certainly inspire you, it's also worth noting that there are some potential cons.

Cons

  1. You can’t move in right away: Obviously, when building a home yourself, you'll have to wait until it's finished for you to move in. But if you were to buy a move-in-ready home from the market, you could pack your bags tomorrow.
  2. You can’t negotiate the price: Depending on the market and competition for a specific house, sometimes buying an already-existing home can end up being less expensive. You may find an opportunity to negotiate an existing house's price, but you can't negotiate the price of a home you have to build.
  3. It's time-consuming: It can take an average of seven months to build a house from the start to the end of the process. But even just having plans drawn up can sometimes take as long as four months.
  4. Customization and upgrades can increase price: If you get more ambitious with your home's plans than you originally anticipated, it can get pricey. Any specific customizations and upgrades to your former plans can eat into your budget big time if you're not careful.
  5. You run the risk of building a poor-quality house: Obviously, if you're building a house entirely by yourself and aren't an experienced contractor, you take on the risk of botching the job. But even hiring licensed contractors can still leave you with an imperfect build, whereas buying an existing home can provide the comfort of construction that's lasted for years already.
  6. It can be hard to find land and acquire permits: When choosing to build your own home, you'll first have to find an open plot of land and acquire the appropriate permits. If you're not sure where to look, this process in itself can be time-consuming and stressful.
  7. You'll need somewhere to live during the building process: You can't stay in a house that's still under construction. So unless you have a current home that you'll be selling or passing on once the new build is complete, finding a temporary living situation could pose some difficulty. 
  8. Unexpected out-of-pocket expenses: As with any type of home project, from DIY builds to renovations, there can always be unexpected costs that add to the budget. If you haven't planned for these ahead of time by setting extra money aside, they can be a huge roadblock to completing your DIY home.
  9. Port-a-potties: No one likes port-a-potties, but they're typically a necessary part of a home building project. Renting port-a-potties can not only increase your overall project's expenses but also be an unsightly and smelly presence on your new property for several months. 

These possible drawbacks to a DIY home construction project might not be enough to sway your decision. In that case, there's still more to consider before choosing to build your own home. 

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What to Consider before Building Your Own Home

Before you decide once and for all that building your own home is the right call, and long before you start the actual construction process, there are a few key decisions you’ll need to make. 

Some relevant considerations before you start a DIY home build include:

    • Full DIY or half DIY: Expect some hiccups if you opt for a 100% DIY home build. Your game plan needs to include thorough budgeting, scheduling, design, buying materials, performing quality control, and adhering to building standards. If you’re not feeling up to the task, you may want to hire a contractor to take some of the load off your shoulders.
    • Your budget: Just like completing DIY upgrades to an existing home, having a budget is necessary. You don’t want to get stuck with half of your house completed and no remaining money for the project or to live on.
    • All the costs: Make a list of every possible cost that’s associated with building your house, including hidden costs like construction upgrades, inspections, and fees for missed deadlines. Also be sure to factor in appliances, flooring, and landscaping. 
    • Location: Choosing the plot to build your home on is not only important for making your dream home wishes come true, but it will affect the type of house you build. Decide if you want to be in a “mature” or newly constructed neighborhood, you want a corner lot or a house near public transportation, or you need enough land for kids or animals, etc. Also consider HOAs and other fees relevant to your location.

There are many big decisions that must be made before you can fully commit to a DIY home-building project. While these are a few of the major ones, this list is far from exhaustive. Just keep that in mind before you get started drawing up plans.

How to Get the Home Insurance Your DIY Home Deserves

Since your home is more than just a collection of walls, ceilings, and floors, homeowners insurance is designed to cover all of its elements. This includes your personal property, family, pets, and friends or other guests who come to visit. The more complex your home is, the more coverage you will likely need.

The core protections included in standard homeowners insurance policies are:

  • Dwelling coverage: Covers what insurance companies refer to as the “dwelling,” or the structure of the home itself. Damage to or destruction of the dwelling by covered perils like fire falls under this category. 
  • Personal property coverage: Covers your personal belongings like furniture, clothing, electronics, silverware, etc. from perils such as fire or theft. Items stored within the home and in external storage units are covered, though property stored off-premises may have a lower coverage limit.  
  • Liability coverage: Covers legal expenses such as attorney and court fees if you get sued for bodily injury or property damage to a third party. Many incidents that occur away from the home are also covered.
  • Additional living expenses: Covers living expenses if your home gets badly damaged or destroyed by a covered peril and you’re forced to live elsewhere while awaiting repairs. Your insurance company provides reimbursements for things like hotel rooms, eating out, extra gas mileage, and more. 

Special Insurance Considerations for DIY Homes

According to insurance expert Jeffery Green, homeowners insurance applications don’t ask who built the house before granting coverage. If the insurance company is concerned about the dwelling because of age, materials, or location, they may require an inspection. If a carrier determines your DIY home to be of high risk, they may deny you home insurance coverage.

Green added that you'd want to have builders risk insurance while the home is being built. Builders risk insurance can protect materials and other components of the home project from incidents of theft, fire, etc. This coverage is helpful for DIY home projects because the construction materials are not yet technically a part of the new home, and cannot qualify for coverage through a regular home insurance policy.

Knowing some key points for consideration before taking on a DIY home construction project can help the process run smoothly. It can also be extremely helpful to connect with a local independent insurance agent, who can walk you through all the types of coverage you'll need for your new home, and for the construction project itself. Happy building.

Why Choose an Independent Insurance Agent?

Independent insurance agents simplify the process by shopping and comparing insurance quotes for you. Not only that, but they’ll also cut through the jargon and clarify the fine print so you'll know exactly what you’re getting.

Independent insurance agents also have access to multiple insurance companies, ultimately finding you the best home insurance coverage, accessibility, and competitive pricing while working for you.

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TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Jeffrey Green

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