Preconstruction Planning

Just like a general contractor, the owner builder must do preconstruction planning to ensure a successful homebuilding project.

Many owner builders lose interest or get worn out during this period. The "instant gratification" level is very low. Your lot remains empty and no work is being done. It begins to seem like you will never break ground. It is important to stay focused and keep moving forward.

Preconstruction Tasks

There are several important tasks that take place during preconstruction. Lot selection, as you may have already reviewed, is a daunting task. Home design and/or plan selection is vital. Homebuilding cannot begin without trades and material, so bid acquisition, review and award must happen. Once you have selected your lot, floorplan, trades and material, you then must get your permits before you can begin any homebuilding. Dealing with municipalities can be a nightmare. As you can see, preconstruction is not just some bump in the road. It is a key to success.

Now is when you are doing the mental homebuilding. Lot selection and floorplan design lay out exactly what you want in a home. Remember to take your time on these tasks and don't settle for OK. Make it yours, even if it takes a while.

Owner Builder Financing

Wow! One look at today's housing market and the sub-prime mortgage mess and most people get scared. It's hard to tell how much of the problem is with banks lending money to people who aren't in a strong position to borrow and how much is a weakening economy. Recent stories of people abandoning their mortgage to get a better deal suggest it may be more of the first.

Remember, I used to work for one of the major builders. In their case, it seems to me, the appetite to grow got too big, too fast and they overextended themselves. Now they have land that they paid too much for and can't afford to build on.

So the big builders are building less...This actually will be a boon for owner builders. Trade contractors and construction managers that used to charge a premium because they were swamped, are now looking for work and are ready to negotiate. Land that a year ago was out of reach is now coming back down to a reasonable price. Now is the time to get your project planned and underway. Financing is an important step. Owner Builder Financing

Lot Selection

A big step you can take towards building your own home is selecting and purchasing the right property. This part of the preconstruction process can take a long time. Technically you could already have been conducting your preconstruction research for years as you have looked for that perfect lot.

There are a number of things the owner builder should consider when picking that piece of real estate that will become their building lot. This portion of preconstruction is covered more thoroughly on our Lot Selection Page.

Building Departments

The local building department will be a great resource moving forward. We suggest that the owner builder meet with building department officials to discuss their project prior to the actual purchase of property, bid process, home design or permitting. They will be able to give the owner builder guidelines as they move forward with preconstruction. Aren't sure exactly what to ask? Our building department page has some great suggestions.

Home Design

This is by far my favorite portion of the preconstruction process. I love putting together a floorplan.It is amazing how many resources are out there to help the owner builder realize their dream of designing their own home. Even if you are not artistic, there are ways to put your mark on every aspect of your home design. What are some of the home design resources available?

The Bidding Process

Buying a home is like any other purchase you make. As an owner builder you are a project manager and must manage your budget. That means shopping for the best value. Getting bids and evaluating them properly will save you money and help ensure that the trade contractors you hire are the right ones to help you build your home. There are several things to remember when starting the bid process.


Building Permits

Before the owner builder can even dig a trench on their lot, they must obtain a building permit. Of course, there are some rural or remote areas of the country where this isn't the case, but they are the exception. The owner builder should have already paid a visit to the building department. If this was done, the permitting process will go much more smoothly. There is a more complete synopsis of the permitting process on the Building Permits page.

Jobsite Preparation

The preconstruction process is about to become the construction process. Before the transition, however, the owner builder must do some jobsite preparation. There are a number of tasks that must take place in order to have a construction site that is ready for work, deliveries, inspectors, trash, etc. Take these steps to ready your worksite for the beginning of the construction project.

Get Excited, Tell the World

One fun thing the owner builder can do is share their project and progress with an internet website. If you think it is too much work, you're mistaken. With a free "lens" at, the owner builder can quickly block build a site and begin to showcase their home. We have started a group for owner builders and now have a ton of related lenses in the group as well as owner building project showcases. Plus, since Squidoo is a co-op, they profit share. You may not make much but the pennies will come in. You can even pick your favorite charity to donate the revenue. Check out and join our group. The rss feed is there as well. You can see new pages and updates on existing pages.