You can build your home and pocket the home builder's profit -- but be prepared also to pocket his grief and his headaches, says a savings and loan executive.
"It's true that you save the builder's profit by building your house yourself, but at the same time you have to make do without the builder's expertise, which can be considerable," cautions John L. Domeier, president of Great American Federal Savings and Loan Association in Chicago.
Buying a lot and building plans is simple enough, said Domeier. And maybe you can do some of the work, such as painting. Maybe you'll save several thousand dollars.
But, Domeier said, most people who build their houses wind up hiring subcontractors for various work: excavating, foundations, framing, carpentry, brick and concrete work, plumbing, heating and air conditioning; tile; roofing and so on.
"The builder's job is to get these different trades working in phase and on time," Domeier said. "That takes skill and experience. There are 3,000 to 4,000 components that go into a typical home, everything from 2-by-4 lumber to cabinet hardware, and the builder has to know what they are and get them there on time."
If materials or people don't show up on time, work grinds to a halt. A good builder can often see trouble before it occurs and make adjustments. Or, if trouble is unavoidable, he may be able to schedule around it so that some work can go on.
Domeier noted that the typical home buyer is inexperienced in this sort of organization and may wind up spending more for the home doing it himself than if he bought it from a reputable builder or contractor.