I've finally decided to build my own house on an existing lot where my
current, older, house sits.
I've never done anything homeowner related before, I've moved into in-laws
house in Oklahoma City after my military service, and am now ready to
replace the house with a newer, safer, more energy efficient home.
So where do I start on permits and such?
Can I do my own work, with out a license, such as electrical, plumbing, etc?
I'm on a very tight budget, but know some work has to be done my
contractors, for me this is foundation, septic & HVAC for sure. I plan on
building a red iron steel framed house, so I plan on erecting the frame,
roofing & siding myself. I'm curious since I'm within city limits if I can
run my own electrical & plumbing. I have the know how, just not
That's for the starting info, I'm sure I'll be full of questions over the
Start by reading and learning from others. There was a popular book called
"House" published a decade or so ago that was praised for the story line
illustrating the ups and downs of a family pursuing the design and
construction of a house. That book told the story of the experience itself
which you need to prepare for much more so than the building codes and other
technical concerns. Especially if you are married with children.
As for permitting and all that other stuff you should contact your local
residential builder's association as they all have some type of publications
about stuff like "woeking with your builder" and so on. Homeowner's playing
an active role is not unique and there's a lot of information to be learned
if your pursue and read it.
<%= Clinton Gallagher
NET csgallagher AT metromilwaukee.com
URL http://clintongallagher.metromilwaukee.com /
MAP http://wikimapia.org/#yC038073&x=-88043838&z &l=0&m=h
You mentioned energy efficient and red steel... not gonna work very well.
Consider using Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) instead. It will give you
very energy efficient walls (up to R-50 performance), wind resistance up to
250mph, sound resistance, as well as being a 3 hr rated fire wall. Besides
it will be a lot easier to construct. For more information go to:
Do you mean by using a metal structure? If so originally it was my
intention for speed of building the extierior so I could work inside
on the buildout faster. I also considered strength and durability
plus, I was looking at a 50x100 with my shop in one half, living
quarters in the other.
I still think you can get around most of the issues but not in a cost
effective way. Additionally, I would have ended up in a astectically
Plan number 3000 says ICF's are the way I'm going which will include a
full size drive out basement with 10 ceilings and living space around
2000 on a single floor.
Reddiform is not a bad product but for easy of construction look at NUDURA.
Larger blocks (18inches x 8feet), no gluing, lock together, 90 and 45
degrees and tee's, go together like legos. Dovetailed inside with ribs to
adhere to concrete better (no delaminating form concrete) screw strip full
height of form... just suggest you check it out. www. NUDURA.com
I have not personally used NUDURA. I have seen many houses in my area that
have and the residents are more that pleased. Reporting energy bills as low
as 40% as their neighbors. I am sold on the concept. And NUDURA is suppose
to be the easiest to use.
My wife and I built our own house a couple of years ago. It was a lot of
work, but very rewarding and allowed us to own a house we probably
couldn't have afforded otherwise.
I'd start with the building department. They will be the ones governing
what you can or can't do. Better to know up front what is allowed and
required before you even start planning your house.
After that, you'll need to come up with architectural drawings. We drew
our own plans, but you may want to consult an architect. Again, check
with the building department. They should be able to tell you what they
need, usually two copies of the plot plan, floor plan, cross sections,
It depends on your local requirements. Check with the building
department. In our area, homeowners can do any work on their own houses,
as long as it is inspected and meets codes. We did all of our own wiring,
plumbing, etc. But, some areas around the country have restrictions on
what the homeowner is allowed to do.
We did our own excavation and foundation work, but did hire out for the
septic and garage slab. They had the tools, manpower, and experience to
do those jobs right.
Unless you have experience with steel framed houses, I would recommend
sticking with traditional platform framed wood houses. The tools and
materials are familiar to work with, easy to locate, and the permit and
inspection process will be easier to deal with since the building
department is already familiar with them. The farther you deviate from
the "norm", the more you'll be on your own for information, and the more
trouble you'll have getting approval from the inspectors. You'll probably
also need to provide engineering approval for anything outside the usual
wood frame construction.
Start small. Build a shed, or a garage, or something similar to practice
your skills before tackling the house.
Be prepared. Building a house is a big project. It'll take lots of money,
and lots of time. It took my wife and I about 21 months to complete our
1456 sq/ft home, with me working mostly full time at it. It quickly
becomes the focal point of your life. You eat, breathe, and sleep house
building. You won't have time or money for recreational activities. No
eating out, no going to see a movie, no vacation. Just house building. If
you're married, you may end up divorced. If you're single, you may end up
married. :) Like I said, it's a wonderful experience, but if you don't
really enjoy what you're doing, it can quickly turn into a nightmare.
Study, study, study. You won't know everything, even if you have
experience in some areas. Be prepared to read books, research the
internet, and ask around until you are positive you know how to do
something. Remember, codes are the "minimum" standard for building.
Before I would start the next stage of a project, I would spend days
reviewing the codes and techniques it would require. Even if I had
performed similar projects in the past, codes change, and I forget
things. Studying before each step gave me confidence and helped me avoid
Work with the building department, not against them. Don't argue with the
inspector. They're just doing their job, to insure the house you build is
safe. If they make suggestions, follow them. If you're not sure about
something, ask the inspector. We had about 8 different inspectors over
the course of our project, and I enjoyed working with all of them. I
would take notes of the items they found, and would ask along the way if
there were any things I could do better even if it wasn't required by
code. I got lots of great ideas from the inspectors and they seemed to
enjoy watching our progress as much as we did. The inspectors deal with a
lot of inexperience and people too stubborn to make changes. They may
show up and expect you're an idiot. That's OK, you're not a professional
builder. Mistakes happen, and you can't know everything. Let them know
you want to do your best and you appreciate their advice. They'll be more
likely to help, and less likely to nitpick the small stuff.
Keep it small. The bigger the house, the longer and more expensive it
will be to build. It will also be harder to clean and heat once it is
Good luck, and have fun!
Red Iron house!! Yes! Dare to be different! I rode out straight
line winds in a red iron VP building,,tornado just missed Us I guess..
That building(under const) did'nt move,,We were safe as Mamas' arms..
Did You find a red iron kit for a house or converting a commercial
kit? Just curious cause the beams/columns we used were pretty big,,the
old pettibone was way too small and a $200 hr crane had to be hired to
set the frame lines..This was 10+ years ago price..We did'nt do any
small red iron buildings so any links You could give to kits would be
cool..I liked walking the beams but walking the purlons sucked!!
I've thought of a steel building with living area inside and the
rest for tools,materials and shop,,all but the living area would be
biz write-off I'm told..
I did find a kit http://www.kodiaksteelhomes.com/ Tons of info on the site,
even videos that can be watched.
They say a sky crane lift is all that's needed to unload the truck & for
assembly, I haven't priced the rental yet.
Being in OK, I want the protection from straight line winds, and near miss
tornados, nothing will withstand a direct hit from a major tornado (F5) like
May 3 1999 that came within 4 miles of our house. I also want wild fire
(steel sidings & roofing) and hail protection as well.
To the others, thanks for the help so far. I need to do a lot more research
still. I'm kind of hoping to also go debt free. I'll have enough up front
cash to buy the kit & hopefully the foundation & septic, then pay as we go
to finish. Opinions on slab vs. crawl space? In either I want an underground
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