Self Building vs. Hiring a Builder

I would say that most people who end up building do hire a builder. You are guided by your builder and they have the experience to run your build smoothly (well you hope anyways!) For some, hiring a builder can land you over your budget. We chose to self build for a few reasons. I know this may not fit everyone’s need and abilities, but I’m hoping this will give you a better insight on why we chose this option! I will say that my Husband has experience in the construction field so this definitely helped us out!

Photo Credit: @house_sprucing


We were originally supposed to add an addition to the very small and neglected house that sat on our property. When we realized this would end up costing us more than if we tore it down, we decided starting fresh was the way to go! We called around and got a few quotes for the cost of demolition. The lowest quote we received came in at around $10,000. We decided to price out the cost to rent a machine and dumpsters to do it ourselves. In the end, we saved about $3,000. To some people that may not seem like a lot of savings, but to us, every dollar counts so this was considered a decent savings for us.

Choosing a House Plan

We chose to work with a designer vs. buying a house plan online for a few reasons. Our lot is pretty small as it sits. This limited us on dimensions and shape of the house. When we were sketching up ideas for the addition in the beginning, we drew up a house that was based off the original foot print. When we knew that this was going to be a brand new build we tweaked a few things, but otherwise, most of the house plan worked out really nicely and fit our lot still! The cost for this ended up being a little less than $1 per sq. ft. because my Mother In Law knows the CAD system and was able to provide our designer with a decent amount of the layout to start. Our floor plan is just over 3,000 sq. ft. split between two levels and we will have a finished basement in the future!

Pricing Out Lumber

This was an interesting process for me and I definitely learned so much! I took our house plans and emailed a few local lumber yards to get an estimate. Some got back to us, some did not. The company we ended up choosing went above and beyond with their service right from the beginning and made it really easy for us to decide to give them our business.  We chose to go with Kelly-Fradet Lumber and our salesperson Corey has been phenomenal. We would highly recommend them if you’re local! For our home, our building materials to get a “shell” up as they say, totaled about $36,000. We have been told by a few people in the industry that through a builder, you can expect to pay about 3x your material cost. This was the biggest deciding factor for us!


For our foundation, we sent out our house plans to a few companies and received a range of quotes. Our footprint is designed as a big rectangle basically. This is very helpful to keep your foundation cost down! The more intricate your footprint is, the more your foundation cost will be. We have 8ft high ceilings in our basement and plan to finish this space off in the future! My husband could have done our foundation, but one quote we received came in so close to the cost of doing it ourselves we chose to hire this job out. For our home we received a quote of about $12,000 for the foundation. This was about $2-3,000 cheaper than most quotes we received.


Up until very recently, we planned on framing our house ourselves. My husband was able to get a crew of guys together from work that would help him on the weekends. This obviously would take us longer to frame vs. if the crew were working all week long. Our foundation guy was amazing once again and gave us an awesome quote of about $16,000 to frame and sheath the entire house. since we are already in October, and New England is always iffy on weather at this point in the year, we decided to bite the bullet and pay to have him frame our house also. This will definitely speed things up for us as he stated it would take about 8-10 days to get us a shell and boxed in ready for a roof and siding. We would have been looking at about a month or so timeline if we chose to frame ourselves.

These are the essential items on the list that can really start your budget for your build off on a scary note! We have made sure to get multiple quotes and make sure the company is reputable before we have committed to anyone. The construction field can be a very interesting (to say it nicely) area to be involved in. There is definitely a learning process, but it has been really fun for me to chat with so many different people in the field. Self building (self contracting) can be stressful, but can also be very rewarding in the end!

I will do a separate post about windows, siding, roofing, etc!

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