Building your own home from a shell can be accomplished in two ways. You can either hire a building contractor to stick build your home on site, to the point the exterior is complete, or buy a kit. Shell kits can be one way to save a lot of money if you are a decent handyman and have time to tinker. Kits come in a lot of different materials, including Structural Insulated Panels (SIP), Concrete Insulated Panels (CIP) and Panelized Log Kits. These types of kits save on waste, and make it possible to build your kit quickly. You will need a crane for many of these however. This is why it is often better to pay a bit extra for the kit vendor to build on your foundation.

Building Your Own Home from a Shell Process

Building Your Own Home from a Shell Process: Costs
Many home kit companies can erect your home in a day or two. Some offer kits for as low as $21.00 per square foot, installed on your foundation. Others may run about $45.00 per square foot. Either way it sounds like a steal right? Well not exactly, but you can save a little on materials and a good bit on labor. The fact is that your stick built home shell can cost about $25 per square foot. Remember we aren’t including the foundation, or anything finished inside, not the plumbing and not the electrical either. Typically, when building a 2000 square foot home, the materials for stick building would be about $51,000. The labor would additional. With the cheapest kits you are paying about $30,000 to $40,000 including labor for the shell, and the cheapest kits may not include insulation, while other kits do. The savings only start with the shell though. Doing the interior work yourself can save a lot of money.

Building Your Own Home from a Shell Process: Wiring and Plumbing
Call an electrician and a plumber before having your kit delivered, and find out if they need to come out before as well as after the kit is installed. If you are getting your contractor to stick build a shell, then make sure the plumber and electrician come out before the floor is laid, and that he is working in co-ordination with the carpenters. Typically the plumber and the electrician will both need to come out before the floor is put in, again before the drywall goes up and again to install fixtures and plates.

Building Your Own Home from a Shell Process: Insulation and Drywall
The next step may be insulation, unless the building contractor or kit vendor already installed it. Foam core or closed cell insulation are best, and probably best left to a pro. Get a contractor to handle this as well, if it’s not included in your shell. After insulation comes the dry wall. Most people can learn to hang drywall, but if you find yourself getting frustrated at any point, just back away, take a deep breath and give it some thought. Doing these things yourself will take longer, but patience is the key to learning new skills. The good news is that with some kits, dry wall will not be necessary.

Building Your Own Home from a Shell Process: Laying the Flooring
You will probably be able to handle laying floor tiles and other vinyl floor coverings. It can be messy, but it’s not difficult. Watch a few instructional videos online, and read the instructions on all grout and adhesive products carefully, and you should be fine. Carpet is tricky to get stretched out so that it doesn’t wrinkle, but you can learn. You will need a kick pad and a few instructions. Watch the process on some online videos. It’s fairly simple but exhausting work.

Building Your Own Home from a Shell Process: Installing Cabinets and Countertops
Save money by purchasing stock cabinets, and prefabricated countertops from the home improvement store. Installing stock cabinets is fairly simple. The key is to make sure they are exactly level. Sometimes even in a new house you may need a wafer thin wooden shim or two between the cabinet and the floor to scotch up any discrepancies. Get them level, and lined up and then scotch them in place with toe molding at the bottom. Always do this after you lay the floor coverings. Also make sure your upper cabinets are nailed to studs. If there are no studs due to using structural panels, you may have to install some type of wood framing behind your cabinets to support your upper cabinets. You could either hire a carpenter or get creative. Ask your kit installer for pointers. I would not trust a plywood sheet to hold upper cabinets though, no matter what your kit salesman says. You need studs for that. One thing you don’t want is for those over burdened cabinets to fall on you years from now.

Building Your Own Home from a Shell Process: Paint and Wallpaper
Paint and wallpaper are amazingly simple. Be sure to read directions before applying paint or wallpaper paste, but overall it’s not too hard. The important thing is to keep your head, always pay attention to what you are doing, work slowly and let common sense prevail.

Once you have your shell, most of the work would be classified as home improvement type tasks. None of them are extremely heavy. If you are handy around the house, you may find ways to save money when you are building your own home from a shell.

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