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Custom House Idea

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#1 Hypervision


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Posted 11 October 2015 - 08:40 PM

Lets say i know a guy who has been paying rent for quite a while and hates the idea that all this money is not really 'going anywhere' (except for the temporary housing it pays for lol). He wants his 'own' place. He is young (<30) but is very wise in the sciences and has 'the knack' if ya know what i mean.... dilbert.


He has very little actual building experience but can appreciate that there is a lot that goes into a project such as this. Foundation, structure, insulation, flooring, plumbing, electrical, air conditioning. He knows about this stuff but has no practical knowledge of  installation of them.


He does not require a large space. He desires a modest 1 br home similar to those called 'Tiny Houses' but bigger than most what you see. He likes to stretch and do yoga and would prefer at least enough room to do said activity in at least one 'room' (living room?). He is good at making sketches of floor plans. He has zero  knowledge on 'legal stuffs'.


-Roughly 800-900 sq ft preferably (he thinks this is cozy and comfortable to call home but not 'tiny')

-kitchen (all appliances + 'bar' style for eating at)

-bathroom (no tub required)

-washroom (laundry)

-living room

-small bedroom with practically only the bed (located in the 'loft' of the house would be ok)


Prefer to pay good money to get good efficient long lasting appliances.


Do you think this is all stuff that CAN be done by someone such as this guy of little experinece. Or would he be better off shelling out even more money to pay a contractor to perform this custom work with his sketch of a floor plan? (IDK how much that would be but id estimate 2x as much.)


This is all just for thought at the moment. Serious thought though. Time is not a major concern. Still figurinjg out if he is going to live permanently where he currently is. But nevertheless he would like to be prepared for such a project when the time comes and figures its never to early to start preparing. Thoughts?

Edited by Hypervision, 11 October 2015 - 08:41 PM.

#2 happy4nic8r


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Posted 11 October 2015 - 08:59 PM

Depending on where you live, there may be some real concerns before you start to do any building.


Most areas require a permit, and plans stamped by an architect, sometimes an engineer needs to do calculations on beam sizes, snow loads, window sizes and insulation.


You would want to start with a septic, or sewer hookup, and temp. electric power so you don't have to have an outhouse and generators.


Your idea is a quick and easy, but the neighbors, and other townfolk have probably got some rules you have to jump through and some fees to pay before you can fire up the skilsaws. Penalties for ignoring these and starting anyway can be 10x the cost of doing it before, and in the correct order.


You might need to have a fire hydrant or tank to drain in case of a forest fire in your area.


There are unfortunately a lot of things that will keep the hippies from ruining your town.


I think that's where a lot of regulations came out of.


I would make your drawings, and find an architecture major, college student who can cheaply render these into something you can take to the town building and planning dept and see what they suggest you do next.

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#3 pharmer



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Posted 11 October 2015 - 09:01 PM

Have him consider building this thing with expansion in mind. With the right plan he can live in the 800 sq feet now but when he has more money just remove a wall and add more bedrooms and living area.


I've seen a ton of expanded cottages around the lakes here and almost every one is a logistical nightmare because no thought was given to expansion later. You see goofy things like staircases in the middle of the living room, fireplaces on the wrong side of the living room if not blocking the lake view, you can imagine the rest.


He can be the contractor of the house but would be wise to have the mechanical contractors hired and pull permits. That will cost him a few extra bucks but, man, that's not something you want to fuck up or go cheap on especially if the city/township/county will be inspecting the structure.


If the land will support a basement don't miss the opportunity to dig it. It's dirt cheap space by comparison to the rest of the house and oh-so useful for dry storage.


That plan drawing skill you mentioned will fit like hand-in-glove with this.


It sounds like a hoot and something I'd like to do before I die.

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#4 Skywatcher


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Posted 11 October 2015 - 09:10 PM

I totally agree, money spent on rent, is thrown away for a temporary roof. No equity, and its not yours so you have to accept any landlords rules and restrictions on what you can and can not do to the property.


Do you have a place to build? Have you considered water, power, heating, cooking, utilitys in general? You can cut a lot of cost by doing as much yourself as possible, but you need a qualified person to supply the details of weight load, and permits are required.


In my opinion, it would be worth the cost to have someone who knows their way around all this, supply the architecture drawings from your plans and want list, and ideally someone to help with permits and construction.


Trust me, you will still have a substantial amount of work you can do yourself. 

#5 dead head jed

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 10:08 PM

good luck man

building a house is a pretty daunting task given all the permits and stuff

that is one reason a lot of people go the tiny house route

under a certain size and on a trailer you don't need a building permit and alot of the other stuff is easier too


if you want to get some hands on experience you might be able to volunteer at a habitat for humanity build

I know the one in my area builds 2-3 a year, and its a good place to cut your teeth

the project manager could probably also help answer some of the local building code/ permit questions

#6 happy4nic8r


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Posted 11 October 2015 - 10:17 PM

If you have some ideas, plans etc. especially if you have a plot plan of the property you are going to build it on, there are probably many people, including myself who can look them over for free and give you specific advice.


If you don't have a building dept. to deal with, and don't need approved drawings it's pretty simple to come up with a materials list and some details on foundation, roof etc.

#7 Alder Logs

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Posted 11 October 2015 - 10:26 PM

It's a shame one cannot simply provide one's own shelter.  The stratification of wealth has made it ever harder on poorer folks. 


I saw better lumber than I can buy, but mine isn't graded, so if I had to endure an inspection in a city or highly populated county, no dice.


[Direct Link]

Edited by Alder Logs, 11 October 2015 - 10:27 PM.

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#8 Juthro


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Posted 12 October 2015 - 12:13 AM

Like Pharmer pointed out, try and come up with a plan that allows for expansion and plan ahead. If you have an ultimate goal that you can work to in manageable steps, it will save you stress, grief, and money in the long run.

IMO the most important thing is to figure out the permits and logistics to get your basic utilities, water, power, and sewer. Like Pharmer said, have a bigger picture in mind before you start, and work at it in stages.

There are a few places left in the US that don't require building codes, but if your not in one of them, do your home work or it will cost you. An anal inspector with a bad attitude can ruin your project and dream in the matter of an hour or so.

I love your idea, and hope you can find a way to make it work for you.

#9 Myc


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Posted 12 October 2015 - 10:54 AM


if you want to get some hands on experience you might be able to volunteer at a habitat for humanity build

I know the one in my area builds 2-3 a year, and its a good place to cut your teeth

the project manager could probably also help answer some of the local building code/ permit questions


^This is likely the best way to learn what you need to know.^

Those salty, old contractors who participate in Habitat projects generally know their stuff. Many of them were former Project Managers for bigger companies and know all the ins and outs of construction. 


After's not what you know but who you know. Put in some goodwill time on a charitable project - reap the rewards later.


I've built a project - exactly like the one to which you refer.

Buried water storage tank with submerged pump = running water, shower, toilet

Leach field for waste management 

Solar system with battery back-up - no utility - no grid inter-tie - totally stand-alone system

Generator inlet for charging batteries - because sometimes there just isn't enough sunshine

Insta-hot - flow-through hot water system = hot showers, dishwasher

Propane storage for cooking and heat

Wood stove for main heat source


The place feels like an on-grid house. 


Some neighbors came to visit throughout the process and decided to do something similar.......

They cooperated with the "authorities" 

After being allowed to construct their unique, tire and rammed-earth structure.........(plans submitted, details approved, etc.)

They were forbidden to occupy by order of the County

Now their shit just sits there - for around 5 years now. They're just screwed - and on the radar. Authorities periodically scrutinize their property in order to insure that it is not occupied. These folks are not "dirty hippies" either. Just honest. Do with this anecdote what you will.

#10 pharmer



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Posted 12 October 2015 - 11:29 AM

have an example of the idea of expanding from 800 sq ft


your drawing INCLUDES the next 1000 sq ft


a future great room, bath, and more bedrooms go in the new space


your build of the first 800 includes big fat beams, vertical and horizontal, where you will remove an existing wall to flow into the new space. The beams are already in place to frame the passage into the new space - now all part of an open floor plan. No chopped up boxy rooms but a nice flowing living area.


Why? because you planned it that way.


Sorry, not trying to be preachy. Just trying to sell the idea.

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#11 SteampunkScientist


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Posted 16 October 2015 - 08:45 PM

Here's what this guy (me) did when I was less than thirty and did not have money to go wasting on permits and contractors...

I bought a half acre with a dumpy junk trailer on it. It was livable, barely. It had raccons living under it. But it was cheap.

I discovered that "adding on" to your house required very simple permits that could be signed off in one visit. Also "repairing" required no permit. Also, I did not give much of a fuck about government intrusion and this was out in the country.

So, I bought or borrowed books, asked around, took free courses at hardware stores, etc. I essentially built my own house around that trailer, first a roof, then a wall, then another, then a porch, etc. When I was done we had a nice ranch house where a cheap ass trailer once stood. No government interference, and I eventually sold it for a tidy profit.

You could go that route.

Edited by SteampunkScientist, 16 October 2015 - 08:46 PM.

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