Build Your house yourself. A house is an emotional aspect for many people, especially first-time house owners. The construction of a house is challenging and exciting. Taking the command in your hand further increases complexity. However, witnessing your house construction and supervising the detail is pure joy. Furthermore, self-constructing your house is not only financially a good decision but also builds a cushion for changes during construction without the contractor creating a fuss about it.
This article aims to guide you to build your house yourself with minimum help from a builder or a general contractor (GC). The write-up is divided into 12 sections to take you through the entire process of house construction, starting from permissions to furnishing.
Lastly, I have assumed that you have the land possession and all the necessary land-related documents. Also, the drawings and design have been finalized as per your requirement. Hence, I am skipping land procurement, registration, design, and drawings.
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Step-1: Getting the Pre-Construction Approvals
Since you are going solo for your house construction, you will need to get the paperwork done yourself. The pre-construction documentation includes the various statutory permits and approvals from local authorities and paying statutory fees.
In continuation, the number of approvals and permits required to construct a house may differ from state to state. So, check for the statutory requirements for your locality beforehand.
Some of the regular documentation are listed below-
- Land papers duly verified by the relevant authorities including documentation by the revenue department.
- Land clearance certificate (if you are using agricultural land for house construction).
- House layout/site plan by a registered and approved architect.
- A construction NOC from local authorities.
- NOC from the pollution control board.
- NOC from the fire department.
- Construction permit.
- Workers’ compensation policy.
- State-prescribed forms and affidavits.
Quick Tip: Consult a local architect or a lawyer to assist you to get all the approvals and permits. They charge nominal fees for these services but save you from getting caught up in legal and technical issues. In addition, it will also save you time and effort.
Step-2: Site Development
If you are building your house on agricultural land or uneven land, you will have to level the plot to ease the construction.
Further, other site development activities include but are not limited to boundary wall construction, covered material storage yard, construction of approach road to the site, power and water arrangement, construction of water storage tank, clearance of vegetation, tree cutting/removal, construction of drains for wastewater, sump-pit, security, informing authorities of starting the construction activities etc.
Quick Tip: Thoroughly inspect the land for the need for site development activities. To ease the process, you can talk to local contractors, authorities or neighbours for figuring out the available facilities in the vicinity of the land. You don’t want to be surprised by damaging underground pipelines or electric lines during excavation.
Step-3: Excavation & Foundation Construction
The excavation for the foundation marks the start of the construction of your house. Barricade the excavation area to ensure the safety of workers against falling into the pit. Also, plan for disposing of the excavated material. Excavation typically costs 3% of the total cost of the house construction.
Foundation is the base and hence one of the crucial parts of the house. We need to make the ground surface ready for foundation construction. Level the excavated ground and lay 75-100 mm thick plain cement concrete (PCC) for the foundation.
Subsequently, reinforcement, shuttering and concreting of the foundation are the next steps. Also, start the column reinforcement from the foundation’s bottom. It allows safer load transfer from the column to the foundation. The typical cost for constructing the foundation of a house is 12% of the total cost.
Quick Tip: The excavation depth depends on the soil strength and house load. An expert would determine the same for you on nominal charges. Else, you can draw an analogy from the existing structures nearby and decide the depth of the foundation. However, the minimum depth of the foundation is 1 m.
The general rule is that the foundation gets safer with increasing depth. But the cost also increases dramatically with the increase in depth. So, decide wisely.
Step-4: Plinth Level Construction
The plinth level is the level at which your ground floor exists. In addition, your staircase also starts from this level. This level is crucial as it involves the construction of the plinth beams, damp proof course and backfilling of the foundation pits.
A plinth beam holds the columns into place and improves structural rigidity. It also forms the base for the wall construction. However, if you aren’t constructing a plinth beam and going for the brick-based foundation, you will need the damp proof course (DPC). A DPC is a layer of rich concrete (1 cement: 3 sand) that prevents dampness from intruding into your house through the ground.
Lastly, backfill the foundation pits and the plot area up to the plinth level with the soil. You can use the excavated soil also if it doesn’t contain organic matter (vegetation & night soil). Ensure the backfilling is done in layers with adequate watering and compaction by mechanical rollers, hand rollers or rammers.
Quick Tip: The construction up to the plinth level needs special consideration. Carefully check the layout of the footings and columns for the design before proceeding with the construction.
Step-5: Slab & Roof Construction
The slab rests on a network of beams. Further, the beams rest over the columns. This system efficiently transfers the load to the foundation and is prevalent. The construction of columns, beams and slabs costs roughly 23% of the total cost.
The process of concrete slab construction involves the following sequence of activities-
- Setting up the staging and scaffolding for the beams and slab.
- Installation of centring for beams.
- Reinforcement laying and tying for beams.
- Installation of centring for the slab.
- Reinforcement laying and tying for the slab.
- Lay electrical conduits into the slab and mark openings in the slab (if any).
- Side shuttering installation for beams and slab including side supports.
- Concreting for beams and slab with a concrete mix. Use a ratio of 1 cement: 1.5 sand: 3 aggregate for concrete or as instructed by the consultant.
- Continuous curing of concrete for 21 days.
- Deshuttering and destaging of slab supports. Stack the material properly after use.
On the other hand, sloped roofs made of wood are also customary in areas experiencing snowfall and heavy rain. They cost lower than concrete slabs and take lesser time to build. A simple procedure to construct a sloped roof is-
- Erect wooden A-frames on the beams and ridge beams.
- Place rafters on the A-frame and tie them together firmly with fasteners.
- Install purlins on the rafters and tie them together with fasteners.
- Place the sheeting over the roof. Use fasteners to fix it into place.
- Hang the supports from the rafters for a false ceiling inside the house.
- Lay electrical conduits.
- Install a false ceiling under the roof.
- Install rain gutter and pipes on the outer periphery of the roof slopes.
Quick Tip: The concrete slab is a good choice for multi-storey buildings. It is strong, durable, waterproof, reliable and costly. However, there are lower-cost options available e.g., reinforced brick slab, steel girder-based stone slab etc. However, their strength is also lower than the concrete slab and may face water leakages if their joints are not good.
Material tips include cleaning the steel reinforcement bars of dust, rust, oil, grease etc. Maintain proper spacing between the reinforcement bars. Also, put cover blocks between the shuttering and reinforcement bars.
The centring and shuttering boards should have a smooth surface. They should be properly oiled before concreting for a seamless finish.
Lastly, use a concrete vibrator to compact the concrete. An uncompacted concrete may appear solid at the surface, but it doesn’t have adequate strength to carry the load. Also, avoid concreting in very hot or chilling weather.
Step-6: Blockwork & Plastering
Brickwork or blockwork is used for constructing walls. The outer walls of the house are generally 9″ thick, and the inner walls are 4.5” thick. Furthermore, you can use various types of brick options available in the market like red-clay brick, fly ash bricks, concrete blocks etc. All of these options are widely used, and you may choose any depending on the cost and availability in the local market.
Moreover, you can use a mortar mix for jointing bricks having a cement-to-sand ratio of 1:4, 1:5, 1:6, 1:7 and 1:8. You can choose a mortar mix depending on the wall height, location, strength requirement and cost. In earlier times, people used lime and red clay to join bricks. It is the cheapest and most-sustainable method but offers minimal strength.
Plaster is a layer of cement mortar over the blockwork, slab and columns. It provides a finished surface and improves the appearance of the house. Use a cement mortar mix having a cement-to-sand ratio of 1:4 or 1:5 for outer walls and 1:6 for inner walls.
The blockwork and plaster cost roughly 17% of the total construction cost.
Quick Tip: Find a skilled mason to do the blockwork and plastering. Ensure the mortar is laid evenly between the bricks.
Clean the wall of loose material and dust before applying plaster, or else it may develop cracks, disintegrate or even fall. Also, rake the joints between bricks to bond with the plaster. If possible, do plaster in two coats with a proper interval between the two coats.
Blockwork and plastering also need water curing for 7-14 days to gain strength.
You may find our article on brickwork relevant. See here.
A drywall is a very convenient option for the internal partition of the house. It is quick to install, cheaper and flexible in their removal.
Quick Tip: You can install drywall on your own, but hiring a contractor for drywall installation will result in better quality and time savings.
Step-8: Flooring & Tiling
The flooring and tiling are the finishing steps of the house. There exist varied flooring options like tile, vinyl, laminate, wood, cork, linoleum, concrete, marble, terrazzo and many more. You can choose any of them based on your house’s architecture and colour theme. However, the cost may be a limiting factor for choices.
Tiling of walls is frequent in kitchens, bathrooms, and toilets. But you can use tiles anywhere you like.
The flooring and tiling cost approximately 10% of the total construction cost.
Quick Tip: Make the subfloor levelled and clean before installing the flooring. Also, provide a gentle slope to the floor to drain the water off the floor.
Step-9: Electrical & Plumbing Work
For electrical and plumbing work, you will need electricians and plumbers, respectively. The electrician will lay electrical conduits and cables, install incomer power feeders, and electrical boards, and fix lighting & power sockets.
The plumbing system includes water and sewage piping. You will need to install pipes from the incomer water connection to the storage tank, tank to taps & geysers etc.
The electrical and plumbing work cost nearly 8% and 5% respectively, of the total cost. The time taken to do these jobs is 7-10 days.
Quick Tip: You can do electrical and plumbing work simultaneously with brickwork and plastering. This way you can install electrical conduits in walls by chipping the cavity in the walls and subsequently covering them with plaster.
Step-10: Installing Doors, Windows and Ventilators
Readymade doors, windows and ventilators are available in the market and are also cheaper. Moreover, you can also get them custom-made as per your design, but it is costlier. A carpenter will fix these items in place using suitable fixtures.
Nowadays, there are many materials available for doors, windows and ventilators, e.g., wood, plyboard, steel and aluminium.
The typical cost for doors, windows and ventilators is 8% of the total construction cost. It takes 3-7 days to complete this work.
Painting a house is the last labour-intensive job in house construction. You may need multiple coats of different products like putty, distemper, primer and paint.
Putty provides a smooth finish to the plastered surface to receive the paint. A distemper makes the wall smooth and shiny. However, you should either putty or distemper and not both together.
First, apply a primer coat on the surface and then the final coat of paint. You can choose different paint types for separate rooms. There are various types of paints available in the market, such as acrylic emulsion paint, enamel paint, textured paint, metallic paint etc.
The painting work costs 6% respectively of the total cost. The time taken to do these jobs is 6-8 days.
Quick Tip: Cover the flooring, tiles, doors, windows, electrical appliances etc., before painting. Engage a skilled painter for the work. It shall render a clean finish to the house.
You should choose different types of paints for the interior and outer walls. The exterior walls bear heat and rain and need durable paint to last years without peeling or fading.
The approximate cost of furnishing is 5.5% of the total cost. The time taken to do these jobs is 6-8 days.
Advantages of Constructing Your House Yourself
- Self-construction of a house saves 10-15% of the total cost.
- You can slow down or fasten up the construction at your convenience.
- You can change specifications for works anytime as per your budget and design.
Disadvantages of Constructing Your House Yourself
- It is a tedious task and not meant for everyone.
- Dedicated and constant supervision is required.
- One needs to plan for material procurement in detail.
- Finding and engaging skilled workers throughout construction can be difficult.
- Getting approvals and permits can be overwhelming.
References and Relevant Links-
Source for costing: https://www.ultratechcement.com/tools/cost-calculator
Learn to control the quality of construction and materials with this guide. Check it out here.
Learn the art of cement quality checking with no prior knowledge.
Estimate the cost of your house with this cost estimator and material estimator excel sheets.