I would like to build my own stone home, with my own hands, on my own land,
with my own money (not the bank's) meeting modern safety and energy
standards. Alas, I am told that I cannot because I am not a licensed this or
that or the other and they will not let me pull the permits. I assure you
that the home I would build for myself would be a work of pride exceeding
all standards of workmanship and materials.
This has been a dream in my life. What suggestions do you have for me?
Thank you in advance,
a) I might move away but I would never sell a home I built myself with years
of my life. Even if it was doing me no good whatsoever I wouldn't consider
b) I prefer to self-insure even when not forced.
c) I was hoping for a different answer than "move towns".
I was really hoping for some answer like "The Amish Church is exempt from
the licensed electrician / plumber requirements; donate the land to them
under the agreement that you can live there and build what you will until
the death of both you and your wife." (I just made that up but you get the
Hope this helps,
Call the licensed contractors in your area and find the ones that will
take on a job involving owner sweat equity. I'm no were near you so I
cannot help but I have been involved with a number of electrical
projects were some or all of the work was done by the homeowner.
The problem is that a residential contractor's license (as I understand it)
isn't enough. In fact, I already have a contractor's license. Here is
where the problems come in. Where I live to replace an existing toilet you
must be a MASTER PLUMBER to pull the permit. It doesn't matter if you have
replaced 100 toilets. It doesn't matter that most 16 year olds could
replace the wax ring and bolt in another toilet. You cannot become a master
plumber by demonstrating any skillset, or passing any written test. You
must prove that you have worked as a plumber for some number of years.
Hope this helps,
If you need a permit to replace a toilet, then the previous
advice holds: move!
Where I live, you can do essentially all the work yourself.
However, the final work has to be inspected and approved
by a licensed person. This applies to plumbing, electric etc.
With those approvals, you can then get the municipal approval.
My personal approach (in a future project that seems to be
slipping away into the future more and more... sigh) is to
do the dirty and time consuming work and let the pro do the
finishing. For example, the electrical system - I'll run
all the wire and place all the outlets, switches etc, but
have the pro inspect that and do the connections. That way
the parts the inspectors get fussy about are done by the pro
and I get rid of a lot of time consuming ($$$) work on the
Call the permitting office. Most places will allow "owner/builder" permits as
long as you don't immediately roll the house over to a new owner.
There are some rules about sub contractors having to be licensed, insured etc
but if you are truly doing all the work you are OK. I built my own pool with no
hassles from the county and my insurance guy didn't care.
There is really more interest in income, FICA taxes and insurance on casual
labor than the qualifications of these people. You pulled the permit and you
"own" code compliance.
You can buy some extra liability insurance to cover a guy who gets hurt on your
job, just don't cheap out on it.
The FICA deal is between you and the IRS. There are rules about "casual labor"
and the number of hours you can employ someone before you have to start
I was told that I could not do the work myself but I didn't say the magic
words "owner/builder permit".
I will call back using this phrase and see what happens.
Thank you for the advice,
You can probably find out everything you need online if you live in a county
that owns a computer. I was able to download all my permit applications and all
It will be something like "community development" or "building services" on the
county/city web site.
William - all this stuff you're discussing is confusing and ambiguous
because we don't know what community you're talking about and what their
zoning and code regulations are. There are many places in America that have
virtually no zoning and absolutely no code requirements. There are others
that have highly restrictive zoning and code requirements. It varies from
state to state, county to county, and town to town. There are NO hard and
fast rules that apply to the US.
I know - An area in which I have lived has pretty much unrestricted zoning
and absolutely no code requirements. There are no requirements that a
licensed contractor do any work. There are no legal requirements that any
code or standard is followed. There are many "owner built" homes - some that
meet the stereotype of $hitty construction, some that are
professional-grade. It is indeed possible to get insurance for these
houses. It is also possible to get bank financing for owner-built both
during construction as well as if you're trying to buy one on the market.
Of course, banks may require inspection by a qualified inspector before
financing, and may require that things they finance meet uniform building
codes, but there are also financing options for "non-conforming" housing.
The insurance business is the same (around here).
So the point is that it is indeed possible to do what you're wanting to do -
in terms of just building a house yoursel. It is also possible to get
financing and insurance if you want to go that route (you said you didn't).
You just need to find a part of the country that has unrestrictive zoning
and/or code requirements. Generally this will be in the rural part of a
western state, but you might find other areas that suit your plans. Heck,
we don't even know if there's anything in your particular community that
would preclude it.
then the answer is you can but there are repercussions to you
sounds like you're in an incorporated area, many of which think of
themselves as "governments"
find out the rules in the incorporated area, know the rules, play the game,
or get the rules changed...
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