On this page I’ll show you how much you can reduce your construction costs by doing it yourself.
It’s More Possible Than You Think When You Know the Strategies ..
Your your craftsmanship play at it not the main role.
Simply the 4-step guide Follow and find out what you are comfortable with and which DIY projects make sense for you. With this, you can start planning and building your home with your maximum savings potential today.
Then let’s get started!
Why should you do it yourself?
Before we look at how much money you can save, I’d like to briefly discuss why you should do anything yourself on your home in the first place.
1. You reduce the construction costs of your house.
The boldest advantage is obvious: the construction costs and therefore also the total cost of your house decrease, because less work has to be done by construction professionals.
2. Labor-intensive trades exist at each stage of construction.
From the start of construction, there is enough work in each phase of construction to forgive some small inaccuracies and can also be performed by novice builders without craftsman training.
3. Banks accept a so-called "muscle mortgage".
In order for a construction loan to be granted, most banks require equity capital. Most often from 10 to 30% of the total amount. If you do not meet this quota, you can replace part of it with your work performance, i.e. a muscle mortgage. Nevertheless, this is not too high, because the banks rightly do not want to take too high a risk.
4. You reduce your monthly expenses.
The other way around is easier. With existing equity, it is easier to convince the bank that you do a lot yourself and don’t want to borrow so much money from them. Lower repayments later improve your quality of life month by month.
5. Price and deadline negotiations are easier for you.
Since you plan to do the work on your house yourself, you (hopefully) deal more intensively with the individual construction steps beforehand, just like a "turnkey" builder. This knowledge advantage helps you to speak with the specialists of the building companies on eye level.
6. You can recognize building defects by yourself.
Since you have understood what is important in the construction steps, the chance increases that you can recognize and complain about a construction defect in time.
7. Building your own house yourself fills you with pride.
This is a feel-good factor that should not be underestimated. I always feel pride and joy when I come home from work or when I show our house to guests.
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How much money you can save?
Depending on the chosen stage of construction of your house, the possible share for work you can do yourself decreases. Your personal time commitment increases, of course, the more you get involved in the building process.
Theoretically you can almost all work services, that will be incurred for your house, do it yourself. Remaining would be, then only material and additional costs. I emphasize once again "theoretically". In practice, this approach is not really purposeful and also not allowed.
Although I know someone who built his house (80sqm) "almost" completely by himself within a year. He did nothing else during this time and came to a super result. But this is a blatant exception!
Even for me as an enthusiastic do-it-yourselfer, this way was not an option.
First has our house a floor space of 175 square meters and probably I would have come including part-time job on a construction time of 4 to 5 years. That would have been a cut in the quality of life, which I wanted so in no case.
Secondly I know that for certain work (for example window installation and heating installation) I would have needed a much too high learning time. It would have been out of proportion to the total construction time and potential savings.
Third I would not have been satisfied with the result of some works (for example screed works) if I had done them myself.
A realistic example of saving money by doing it myself might look like this in 2019:
Cost savings of this magnitude are advertised by solid house manufacturers as achievable if you are there from the beginning in the form of "builder’s assistance". And after the carcass work further work services (electrical lines stemmen, laying floors, painting, etc.) itself erbringst.
With a timber house this form of Help from builders also possible with the joinery in the carpenter’s store.
In this table I would like to show you, where the builder of our calculation example has to help everywhere, resp. what he does everything himself in the interior work to save on his savings of 43.000 euros:
Note: The costs listed and their breakdown are only sample values for illustration purposes. They can in no way replace your own calculations. The "pure construction costs" (building costs) do not include the costs for land, development, ancillary costs, outdoor facilities and furnishings.
Bonus tip: Read here in detail, how you already consider further saving possibilities during the planning: Low Budget House – The 3 most important basics
Do-it-yourself – Find out in 4 steps what you can do yourself
At the beginning, as a prospective builder, I had no idea what I could really do well myself and what I could not do.
In this section, I will show you how to find out what work is possible for you and how to integrate it into the planning and construction of your house from the very beginning.
All clear. Now let’s go through the steps in detail so you know how to best engage in the construction phases of your home.
Step 1: What type of builder are you??
In terms of craft potential, future builders can be divided into 4 types:
Type #1: The professional
You have a Profession in construction. This, of course, applies to very few aspiring builders. You have the clear advantage that you know how things work on the construction site. This allows you to assess exactly what you want to do/can do yourself and what you cannot do.
Type #2: The do-it-yourselfer
You are skilled in Dealing with tools. Very good. You can do very many works on your house by yourself. With unknown and new tasks you quickly understand how they are best executed.
Type #3: The Skilled
You are by no means unskilled, but just not a do-it-yourselfer. This means that you clearly lack practice in the use of tools.
Believe me, you can Learn more than you think. If you get involved in all phases of construction from the very beginning, you will be able to do work yourself in later stages of construction that you would never have dared to do at the start of construction.
You grow with the task.
I know many builders who say: Now that the house is finished, I know a lot of work that I could have actually done myself.
Type #4: The clumsy one
Skill you get in the cradle or just not.
There are people for whom it is best not to use any tools other than their cutlery. Assembling an Ikea shelf already brings them to their limits.
Find yourself here? Not a problem, You are honest with yourself and know where you stand. Doing your own work when building a house is not for you.
By the way, self-executed works are only a part of the saving possibilities at the house construction.
"It is not the best craftsman who builds the cheapest house, but the builder with the best strategy and planning."
Own contributions with the building of houses can become the real danger only for unreflective know-it-alls and notorious self-overestimators. To inform oneself before about nothing and to believe one knows anyway everything better, can become existence-threatening here. Such an approach has no place in house building! That ends in a mountain of debt with no finished house or a TV appearance on a construction scam show.
Have you assigned yourself to one of the 4 types?
Very good, then let’s continue with the next step.
I myself belong to the category the do-it-yourselfer. I have no manual training, but I grew up in a family of handymen.
Do you want to know my whole building story? Then check out this post of mine: Building a house on the cheap – 15 tips and my slightly crazy way to get there
Step 2: Set goals and prioritiesn
Why should you set goals for building a house at all??
Isn’t it enough to simply want to build a house??
From my experience I can say:
The better you know your priorities and have set your goals, the easier it is to achieve them.
With goals in mind, you can work faster and more efficiently better decisions meet. And believe me, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of these in house building!
Those who formulate goals automatically think in detail about the tasks that lie ahead. When it comes to building a house, that’s worth its weight in gold. It prevents mistakes, surprises and overestimation of one’s own capabilities.
If you get to a point during the build where you feel like you’ve lost your way, you can use your goals and priorities to help you navigate back and get back on track.
Yes, I know. This sounds more like self-therapy than building a house..
For me this approach has worked excellently. That’s why I don’t want to keep my (or rather our) goals from you, with which we approached building from the beginning:
Our home building goals
1. We want to build a simple and comfortable house, but without a mountain of debt for the rest of our lives!
2. I want to do as much as possible myself.
3. Wherever price permits, we use sustainable building materials.
4. Open living and good indoor climate are important to us.
So you can set your own home building goals, the number 1 question is always:
Money or time?
If it should go fast, then you must assign everything. The fastest way to move into a turnkey prefab home. Many prefabricated house manufacturers have now established themselves in Germany and Austria.
The high degree of prefabrication in the manufacturer’s plant and the dry construction method allow for a very short construction time. In extreme cases, a period of less than 6 months from groundbreaking to moving in is probably achievable.
The more own time you dedicate to the house building, the more money you can save yourself. This applies to the time you invest in planning as well as to your own working time on the construction.
The own brain work represents for me quite clearly a form of the own contribution!
The less you want to spend on building a house, i.e., the "simpler" you want building to be for you, the more money you have to pay for it.
Sounds kind of logical, doesn’t it?
Every service that you do not do yourself, must be done by a professional and that costs money.
It becomes critical when people want to have everything easy, but don’t want to pay for it either. Something has to fall by the wayside.
Guess what it will be when building a house?
Correct, the quality! This approach is the birthplace of cost overruns and construction errors.
Other priorities and goals when building your own house can be:
- The size of the house
- The materials used (starting with the construction method)
- Sustainability of the materials used
- Healthy living climate
- How much home technology does your house need? (not every investment pays off over time)
- The value of the equipment (for me only the best or is a good price-performance ratio enough?)
- High-tech and modern gadgets
- The look – modern, powerful, decadent, rustic, plain, simple, timeless, … (Do I really need to impress the neighbors?)
I’m sure you can think of more priorities…
Bonus tip: Get my free Excel template to calculate your construction costs now.
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Aren’t you building alone, but with your partner or. your partner?
Then it is especially important that your goals and priorities are the same or at least 80% coincide. Everything else leads to problems and quarrels during the construction phase.
You can save yourself relationship trouble up front if you set your goals together.
Write down all your goals on a piece of paper and put them in the front of your folder with plans and ideas for building a house.
Every time you think about your house, you remind yourself of your goals beforehand.
Later you can hang up the note in a clearly visible place in the construction hut or in the shell of the house. It also always leads to interesting conversations with your helpers and the skilled workers.
Step 3: Find your construction method
You can find a detailed overview of all construction methods here: Different construction methods- which one is right for you?
The right one Construction method for itself can be difficult to find. There are so many possibilities.
So let’s look at the different construction methods and their stages of expansion once after the Potential for do-it-yourselfers..
Construction methods: Log house kit, aerated concrete kit, wooden bricks, wooden frame elements, polystyrene bricks
With this stage of expansion is a maximum own contribution possible. You get the necessary kit delivered to the construction site and after a short introduction or workshop you can get started yourself. You will receive on-site support, depending on the agreement, with the kit supplier. One Professional coordinated then supervises the construction activity of you and your helpers. So also Non-tradesmen the possibility to achieve a decent cost saving.
Further trades can be coordinated afterwards via the building kit supplier or assigned by yourself.
If you are interested in a kit house, it is best to visit the respective provider on site and get an idea of how the work would proceed on your construction site.
A plug-in system with polystyrene bricks, which is filled with concrete afterwards, I consider to be "suboptimal" to say the least, when it comes to the basis for a healthy living environment.
Suitable for: the professional, the do-it-yourselfer, the skilled one
Construction methods: Solid brick house, aerated concrete house, timber frame construction by a carpenter
This is not really a construction stage, but the builder’s assistance offers the possibility of a lot of own work.
Just like with the kit houses, you as the builder are involved in the construction from the very beginning. After consultation with the construction company, you can already help even with the foundation work. So you can help yourself to the wage-intensive shell construction save a lot of money.
With the builder’s assistance are in contrast to a kit house throughout experts on site, who lead the construction and cooperate. You provide only the necessary construction workers. This allows the Duration be well planned in advance for the carcass work. A period of 3 to 5 weeks Is usually sufficient for the construction of the shell of the building.
subsequent works are assigned and organized by the builder himself or coordinated through the construction company, if it also works as a general contractor.
Suitable for: the professional, the do-it-yourselfer, the skilled person
Construction methods: Timber frame construction (as a prefabricated house or from a master carpenter), solid timber house, log house, prefabricated concrete house and also solid brick or. Cellular concrete house
With prefabricated house manufacturers the house is usually outside finished. However, it may well be that the facade design is not included in the scope of work. for the other construction methods I assume that the facade is to be ordered separately.
Inside are the walls and ceilings in rough state. Plumbing, heating and electrical installations, as well as the floor construction (insulation and screed) are still missing.
As builder you can do the complete interior work yourself. The schedule coordination, material deliveries for self-performed work and the awarding of individual trades (such as electrician and plumber) are then entirely in your Responsibility.
Do-it-yourselfers and the skilled can contract out the various trades individually and pick out the work they want to do themselves.
Suitable for: the professional, the do-it-yourselfer, (the skilled one)
construction methods: all construction methods
The house is finished on the outside (shutters, facade, …). Inside are usually still missing floor coverings, step coverings, tiling work, sanitary facilities and painting work.
Which works are actually still open, can be different from offerer to offerer. In any case, read the specifications carefully and compare them.
After consultation with the provider, work can be individually excluded from the service package or. be added. The expansion stage is ideal to only the final interior works to be carried out by the builder himself or. to be assigned by myself.
Suitable for: the professional, the do-it-yourselfer, the skilful, (ev. also for the unskilled, if he has skilful helpers)
Construction methods: all construction methods
All construction steps are carried out by a company or. coordinates. So own contribution is not an issue here.
In this stage of construction all construction steps completely finished. Usually only the kitchen and the furnishings are missing.
A lump sum price, if contractually agreed, gives security in meeting the costs.
Suitable for: All types of builders
Bonus Tip: Read here why wood is a wonderful building material from nature and it is a good idea to build a wooden house: Building a wooden house – 33 advantages and all the misconceptions
Step 4: Correctly assess your own work
This step is especially close to my heart. After all, on some basis, as a future builder, you need to be able to decide which jobs you will do yourself and which are better left undone.
In case of doubt, you are always on the safe side if you leave the work to a professional.
Here are a few arguments that could speak against your own contribution:
- You have not understood one step 100%.
- You have to coordinate a whole squad of helpers and keep track of it all.
- Construction delay could be caused.
- The materials to be processed have a very high weight.
- Heavy equipment or special tools are needed.
- Does the result fit? Can there be defects with late consequences or are they only optical?
From my own experience, however, I know that for every work on the house, arguments can be found, why it is better to leave it alone. And before you know it, you build turnkey.
This 6 simple questions have helped me a lot when estimating work on the house:
- How does the professional work?
- Understand all the steps?
- What tools do I need?
- Where do I get the material from??
- How much time do I need?
- Who will help?
And please remember: With the professionals, things can go wrong or don’t work out right away.
Question #1: How does the specialist work??
Scouring the net and studying YouTube videos is definitely helpful, but often not enough.
"Youtube is good, real life is better!"
The fastest and best way to get to know the working methods and tricks of construction professionals is to talk to them directly work together or. Help them with their work.
How do I get in touch with the professionals??
Easiest as voluntary construction helper from friends and acquaintances who are currently building their house. But also foreign builders may be grateful for a volunteer who lends a hand and (apart from gaining experience) asks for nothing. Simply visit a few construction sites and talk to the builders.
The motto is learning by doing!
Of course, you can also just visit construction sites. But someone who just stands around, doesn’t work and then asks questions is certainly not as well received by the professionals as a helper who lends a hand.
You will learn the most by helping out with houses that are being built in the style you prefer.
For more unusual or alternative construction methods, simply contact the contractor directly. Ask as a prospective customer, which you are anyway, for a current building site and visit it. On site you can offer your help to the builders.
Sometimes houses are built in the form of workshops. Interested laymen learn as course participants certain building steps resp. know construction methods and pay with their labor for it.
And please consider: No master has fallen from the sky.
Question #2: Do I understand all the steps involved in the job??
It’s best to think very carefully beforehand about individual work steps according to your planned own work. So even before you ask yourself where you can get the material and the right tools. Also imagine what might be tricky or borderline.
It’s the only way you’ll get an idea of what you’re in for and which Problems there can be. You need to know every step fully understood have and know what will have to be done! Everything else is gambling and has no place on your construction site.
Once the work is done, you are the person in charge. Your helpers will ask you what to do or want to know from you how to do something.
The more precise and detailed you plan through your steps, the better your estimate will be. Like this reduce the risk, that something goes completely wrong.
If you are just about to do a step yourself and then leave it to a professional to be on the safe side, you are definitely a qualified helper!
Question #3: What tools do I need??
If you want to do the work yourself, you need good tools.
I do not mean a cheap tool box from the discounter. Even cheap power tools usually meet their death quickly on a real construction site. They are simply not made for the strain.
"Who buys cheap, usually buys twice."
I recommend going for Brand quality to pay attention to. Look at what tools the professionals (whom you have hopefully helped on a construction site before) are working with so. For you it doesn’t always have to be the high-end equipment of the professionals. The price-performance winner of an established manufacturer will usually do as well.
It is important that solid basic equipment for indoor and outdoor work.
As a future homeowner you will need some tools in the house later anyway. So you might as well buy them, after all they help you save money.
And you don’t lose valuable working time every time because another tool is missing.
borrow very expensive and rarely used tools or. special tools always from or rent them. Or look around on the used market. A new purchase is often not profitable.
Question #4: Where do I get the material?
Especially as a beginner builder it is difficult to calculate the material requirements correctly.
It is either by a hair’s breadth Too little material on the site to complete the work or you are already done and it is much too much leftover.
So that this does not go unnecessarily into the money or cause time delay, it helps to keep the following things in mind in advance:
- Your distance to the material source/ supplier
- transport by car possible or truck necessary?
- How to unload or. where do you store the stuff dry?
- Standard and stock items can be supplied at any time
- Ordered goods often have long delivery times and minimum quantities
- Can you just return leftover material and do you get a credit for it or the money back?
Question #5: How much time do I need?
Compared to a skilled craftsman, who works full-time and knows all the problems, tricks and tricks, even the most skilled do-it-yourselfer needs at least twice as long. Especially at the beginning you may calculate the time rather times 3.
"Building a house is a marathon, not a sprint!"
I had to build almost a whole house before I was able to calculate the time needed for work done by myself to correctly assess.
Only the planned working times, in which professionals were involved, were correct. Reputable companies can estimate their workload very well through many years of experience.
In the beginning I always 2 to 4 times used as long as assumed. In the meantime, I have figured out the reasons why we like to miscalculate:
80% of the working time is spent on details. Only 20% of the time we need for the work we actually think of at the first moment!
When estimating labor time, we often overlook many of these details.
When planking the walls with gypsum fiberboards, I always thought of simply screwing the 1 x 1.5 m boards to the walls and leaving a hole here and there for windows and doors when estimating the working time.
What I didn’t think of was:
- preparation of the tools.
- storing and carrying the panels.
- that in each row at least 1 to 2 panels have to be cut to size.
- drill holes for sockets and switches.
- that in window reveals each piece of board must be cut to size.
- That the last row must always be matched exactly to the ceiling.
- That the adhesive residues must be scraped off the joints the next day.
I actually needed 4 times as long as I thought!
By the way, this was the work where I miscalculated the most.
Question #6: Who helps me?
Volunteers can contribute enormously to cost savings and there are many jobs on the building site that you can not do alone.
But not every helper is actually suitable for any job.
Does he have the same quality standards as you?
Is he reliable?
You know your friends and relatives, judge them as construction helpers only according to where they can be used best.
Is there a talented all-rounder among your helpers? Then use it very sparingly in the beginning. Don’t waste your talent and time on simple unskilled work, where others can be just as much help. He’s your joker when things get tricky.
Bonus Tip: If you want to know more about how I went about building our house, check out this article of mine: Wooden house build yourself – A small step by step guide
Build house yourself: What to consider?
Here are a few more things you should know…
No shell construction without a professional
In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, a new building is subject to approval.
The Documents (Permit or. Submission plan, building specifications, energy certificate, static preliminary design …) for a building permit must be signed by a competent person. This is also responsible for the correctness And comply with all rules and regulations.
In Germany, architects and registered civil engineers are generally authorized to do this. The Bauvorlageberechtigung for other types of professions is not uniformly regulated throughout the country.
In Austria, submission plans may be prepared by architects, master builders or carpenters and other competent persons.
So not everyone can build a house just like that.
And that’s a good thing!
Do at least all foundation and shell work with a professional at your side. With kits or builder’s help and further development, there are more than enough opportunities to do it yourself and save costs.
Trades requiring acceptance
The heating system with chimney must be approved by the chimney sweep and the electrical installations by the electrician.
Do-it-yourself is possible, but only in cooperation and agreement with the professionals.
In Germany as well as in Austria there are a few insurances you should take out as a builder.
If friends and relatives volunteer to help, construction worker’s compensation insurance is definitely a good idea.
Always think about your own safety and that of your helpers.
Properly secure hazardous areas and provide adequate protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses and hearing protection.
If you mess up, it’s your own fault!
I think it’s fair, but you have to be aware of this fact from the very beginning. Why should you be able to hold a company responsible if you did something wrong yourself?
The fine print in the contract with the prefabricated house manufacturer or. of the construction company. Some try with uncool Liability exclusions with builder-own performance, to pull completely from the responsibility.
The 8 most common DIY mistakes
Problems and poor or faulty results almost always come from the following mistakes:
1. Underestimating the organizational effort.
Being a builder is also a management task. The planning phases and all the measuring and material calculation eat up a lot of time. The more you contract out, the less of those tasks you’ll have. But even with a turnkey house there are a lot of things you have to take care of.
2. Incorrectly estimate the time.
You are too comfortable? You are running short of time and construction delays are looming or you lose motivation because it takes much longer than expected and you start to work sloppy.
FYI: For 1.000 hours of work you have to put in about 20 hours a week for 1 year.
3. The work is more difficult and complicated than expected.
You have either not explored your limits properly or you have not informed yourself to the last detail and have not looked over the shoulder of a pro.
4. Bad sources of information.
When building, suddenly everyone is an expert and knows everything better. You listened to relatives who supposedly know a lot about construction, but didn’t learn any trade. Your building knowledge is still from the 70s.
Youtube videos can also to the misjudgement lead. Home improvement stores want to sell building materials after all. And I don’t consider self-proclaimed do-it-yourselfers who will do anything for a few likes to be a reputable source of knowledge when it comes to home building either.
You can definitely find helpful information in home building diaries, building blogs or a home building forum.
But also here applies: There doesn’t have to be an expert behind every post.
5. Fight with companies.
Mistakes in the organization (scheduling, performance specifications, …) by the builder. If mistakes are not admitted, this often ends in mutual recriminations and stops productivity on the construction site.
Conversely, companies sometimes want to shirk their responsibility altogether, even though they have done something wrong.
6. Losing sight of the goals.
Loss of motivation, construction delays, relationship troubles or cost overruns are pre-programmed.
7. The result does not look nice.
Either your expectations don’t match your skill level or you didn’t practice enough at the beginning in places no one will see later and get the hang of it.
8. To think that building a house would be comparable to anything you have done so far. For most of us, this is the biggest project (materially and financially) we undertake in life.
This is how much I built our house myself
Among many other ways to save money, I saw home improvement as one of the biggest levers I could use to greatly reduce the overall cost of our home.
Even during the planning phase, I made sure that I could carry out as many work steps as possible as a layman. I planned our house around my abilities.
Here’s another little overview..
My personal findings after building a house:
- Your social life takes place on the building site during the construction period.
- Building by yourself is hard work.
- Redefining the term perseverance.
- There is no such thing as too much information, planning and re-measuring.
- Learn to filter important information and don’t let everyone talk you into tips.
- Sometimes you have to tell construction companies a little more directly and emphatically what you want (I wasn’t used to that before).
- It’s okay to say if something doesn’t fit, after all it’s your own money at stake.
- With every task you manage, you grow a bit beyond yourself.
Bonus Tip: Visit our mostly self-built house and see how we live in it: Our wooden house – Welcome to the house tour
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a comment below.
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