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owner builder

Do you have what it takes to be an Owner-builder?

April 22, 2024

Why owners make great builders

Could you really be an Owner-builder, save BIG, and maintain control of the build in order to build your dream home? If you are ready to build your dream home, you’ve probably already looked into all sorts of options for building. Congratulations on thinking outside the box and being open to a different way of doing things!

That’s why you’re here, right? 

do you have what it takes to be an owner builder?

Building your dream home doesn’t have to be as complicated as it may seem. In this blog, we’ll explore how you can take control of the homebuilding process by self-contracting your own home! Not only will we teach you how this process can save you money, but it also allows you to have more agency and control over decisions regarding your home!

Although this might sound scary, I guarantee that by the end, you’ll be ready to take the next step towards owning the home of your dreams. Read on to learn how you can take the homebuilding process into your own hands!

man and woman looking at builder plans asking what is "owner-building?"

What Is “Owner-Building”? 

Also called self-contracting, owner-building is when the owner acts as the General Contractor (GC) to hire subcontractors (subs) to complete the build of their home. Many choose this route to save money and maintain control of the build and budget. 

what roles do owner-builders perform?

What Roles Do Owner-Builders Perform? 

As acting GC, you will need to find, hire, and manage subcontractors, maintain a budget, and oversee construction. You do not have to build anything, unless you want to.

When it comes to building your own home instead of hiring builders, most people’s first thought is, “No way I could ever do that, even if I wanted to.” or “I don’t know the first thing about building a house!” 

While these are completely reasonable concerns to have, I believe that anyone with enough willingness, determination, and savvy can be their own Owner-Builder. Let’s discuss whether owner-building is the right choice for you!

should I be an owner builder?

Should I be an Owner-Builder?

Owner-building is certainly a big task and it is not for everyone. As owner-builder, you will oversee EVERY aspect of building your dream home, from the floorplans to the finished product. 

The last thing we want to do is encourage someone to owner-build if they are not likely to be successful.  That’s not good for anybody! 

You can eliminate yourself as a potential Owner-Builder if you answer “yes” to any of the following 4 questions:

Ask yourself why owners make great builders

Ask yourself:

  1. Do you or will you live farther than 1.5 hours from where you will build?
  2. Do you AND your partner BOTH have day jobs WITHOUT the flexibility to visit the site sometime during the workday for at least 30 minutes 2-3 times per week?
  3. Are you unwilling to learn and ask questions as you go, so you can make the best choices for your home and budget? (By the way, even with a builder, you’ll have to do this.)
  4. Will you need a construction loan AND is your credit score below 640?  (If you don’t need a construction loan, your credit score will be a non-issue.)

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you might want to take some time to examine your priorities before you take on the task of building your own house. Although I believe that ANYONE can build their dream house with the right amount of effort, this is a task that requires you to be sharp and eager. Before you build, you want to take the necessary steps in making sure that you and your family are ready financially, physically, and mentally! 

If you’re still reading, I’ll assume you answered “no” to the above questions. Congratulations! I am SO excited for you to begin your journey to building your own dream home. 

However, I know you also may still be questioning your ability and qualifications to self-contract your home build. Let’s address the elephant in the room: 

Imposter Syndrome  

Even if you are in the right position to be an Owner-Builder, you may be feeling inadequate. You might wonder if it’s possible for you to learn everything you need to know to self-contract, and you may be unsure whether you are up to the task. 

Can I let you in on a little secret? Everyone feels this way. Everyone! 

Top-ranked surgeons, CEOs, and experts of all kinds have thoughts of not being good enough. We all have thoughts from time to time that we aren’t capable of accomplishing the tasks before us, or that someone else might be better suited for the job than us. 

These thoughts are not only incredibly unhelpful, but they also aren’t true! Instead of letting self-doubt and insecurity hinder you from saving 25% on the home of your dreams, ask yourself:

“What would it take for me to do a great job?”

When you think about the process of building your home, approach it with the mindset that you CAN succeed! 

Don't limit your self you can be an owner builder

Don’t Limit Yourself– You CAN be an owner-builder!

The conventional assumption people generally have is that builders are more knowledgeable, more experienced, and better able to handle the job of hiring and overseeing the construction of a home.  

While this is partly true, keep in mind that builders often have many houses being built all at the same time. Your dream home will be one of many that your builder is working on at once– and chances are, your home is probably not at the top of the priority list.

When there are too many items to juggle, one is bound to fall.

Additionally, in an effort to streamline their process, your builder might limit your options for fixtures, appliances, flooring, countertops, and more. What does this mean for you?

  • You won’t be able to get that freestanding tub you wanted
  • You can’t get the microwave drawer you really wanted and adding it later will require costly demo.
  • If you didn’t want shoe molding on your baseboards, too bad. It’s a wrench in the highly streamlined process and therefore it can’t be done.
  • You can’t have quartzite counters, you must choose one of the 3 granites your builder allows.
  • Want a bidet? Your builder doesn’t have that as an option.

When you choose to build your home with a builder, you trade your agency in decision-making for their bottom line.

Imagine what your dream home could look like if you didn’t have to compromise or feel like you’re spending money on things you don’t even want.

How much less stressful would the building process be if everything didn’t feel out of your control?

Owners builder: Reasons you are qualified to be an

Let’s take a look at the reasons and ways YOU are THE RIGHT PEOPLE for the job of OWNER-BUILDING.

1. No one knows and understands your vision for your dream home better than you. 

Have you ever played the telephone game? The one where one person whispers something to their neighbor, then the neighbor whispers to the next person what they heard, and so on. When the message finally gets to the last person, it’s never exactly the same as the original. 

This is what happens when you try to communicate your vision to the builder and then the builder tries to take his interpretation of what you said and pass it along to a trade foreman, who then takes his filtered version and passes it along to his crew to execute.  At this point, it probably has very little resemblance to your vision.

As the owner, you are uniquely qualified as the creator of the vision. You have been dreaming of this home for years, and you can see it in your head.  No one knows your vision better than you! You are also very capable of speaking to other human beings, pointing, and presenting photos. As an Owner-Builder, you can convey your exact vision directly to the subcontractors! Eliminate all that filtering, misconstruing, and interpretation by all the middlemen.  

2.    No one cares about the outcome more than you.

Will your builder lose sleep if, for the foreseeable future, you are stuck with a tub that is too small for you to relax in? Will it concern them if you can’t use your microwave as you age? Do you think a builder managing several builds at a time is going to take the time to measure and check that what they are building matches the plans as carefully as you would? 


As an Owner-Builder, you can take control of design choices, and you don’t have to settle. Don’t settle for a home full of tiny mistakes that other builders would try to hide or minimize.

You are the ones who will be living in this home for years to come, and you are the one footing the bill, so YOU should be the one who gets to decide and maintain control. Owner building allows you to make sure your home is built to your standards, exactly how you want it. 

If you’re thinking you know what you want but you’re not sure about how to ensure your home is well-built, we can help. Our Bootstrap Builders Program teaches you ways to ensure your home is being built properly using quality materials and best practices.

3.    You don’t need expertise to do be an owner-builder, just a willingness to learn the process.

Let’s review the responsibilities of a General Contractor. As a GC, you will need to find, hire, and manage subcontractors, maintain a budget, and oversee construction.

In our Bootstrap Builder’s Program, we will teach you how to do these, and give you the tools and processes to make sure it all flows smoothly and efficiently. Use our handy checklists along the way, right when you need them in the process to make sure nothing is forgotten. 

We will even give you a big head start with many spreadsheets, forms, and documents, that you can use without having to create them from scratch. If you ever need any additional encouragement or have a question, you can either reach out to our exclusive Facebook group of fellow Owner-Builders (that includes Cody and I), or you can ask us in our monthly Q&A Zoom call.

4.    You probably have a partner to share the owner-builder load

One of the beautiful things about marriage is that you share one another’s burdens. When the process gets tough or when you hit bumps in the road, you and your partner have an amazing opportunity to support and encourage one another. 

Some people say that building their home was one of the greatest strains they ever had on their marriage. I think this stereotype must come from building with a builder, because Cody and I really enjoyed the building process! It was an amazing opportunity for us to grow closer together, and it really is exciting getting to watch your dreams become a reality. 

Additionally, you and your spouse each have something unique that you bring to the table– when you take advantage of your combined skill sets, you can overcome any challenge and accomplish any task! If you’re still worried about the building process putting tension on your relationship, we offer advice for maintaining a healthy relationship in our Bootstrap Builders Program

5.    You are resourceful.

We already know you’re resourceful because you found this blog post! You’re determined to find a way to make your vision happen, which means you are willing to look outside the box– and you’re not convinced to go the traditional builder route despite that being the norm.

As the owners and ones who will live in the house when it’s complete, you will be more determined to find the RIGHT solutions for you. Also, as owner-builders, you are motivated to seek out sales, comparison-shop, and find the best price for your selected finishes, fixtures and appliances.

When builders make a percentage based on how much you spend, they are NOT motivated to find best prices and good deals. The more you spend, the bigger their cut.

Our Bootstrap Builders Program will teach you how to make choices throughout the homebuilding process that align with your vision. Paired with your own resourcefulness, you are equipped to build the home of your dreams!

6.    Owner-builders pay subs quickly and on time. 

Many subs like working with Owner-Builders because Owner-Builders typically pay them much more quickly than builders. When working with building companies, there are often many more hoops that builders have to jump through in order to pay subcontractors. This delays their payments and gives you, an owner-builder, an advantage that you can point out to potential subcontractors.

The Bootstrap Builders Program will teach you the proper practices for paying subs so you don’t get taken advantage of and can avoid payment disputes. This makes the process simpler for your contractors AND you!

7.    You understand the power of leverage – who, not how

When you take on the role of Owner-Builder, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to actually build anything. In fact, you don’t have to BUILD a single thing– unless you want to!

Again, your role as an Owner-Builder is to find, hire, and manage subcontractors, maintain a budget, and oversee construction. You will use your knowledge and savvy to hire the best subs for the job. Then you’ll supervise as they turn your visions into a reality!

Building your own home may seem like a daunting task at first. However, with the right knowledge, resources, and time, you can build your own home! 

Not only does owner-building save you a TON of money in the long run, but it also is incredibly empowering. Once you begin building your home, you realize that you are capable of taking your dreams into your own hands and making them into a reality. That is exciting!

Want more info about our Bootstrap Builders program – everything it includes and how it can help you navigate the home-building process? Click HERE.

Ready to start your journey? Join our Bootstrap Builders Program today and get one step closer to seeing your dream home become a reality!

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