How To Teach Yourself To Build a House (8 Steps)

Building a home can be overwhelming, but it’s one of the most rewarding things once it’s finished. However, before you can start building a home by yourself, you first need to ensure you have all the information necessary. Teaching yourself to build a house, whether for yourself or someone else, takes a lot of time and effort, but it is possible.

Here are 8 steps to take to teach yourself to build a house:

  1. Research property regulations.
  2. Learn about various house styles.
  3. Understand foundation.
  4. Learn how to budget.
  5. Learn what materials you need.
  6. Understand plumbing and electric.
  7. Take a hands-on construction course.
  8. Ask the professionals.

While these aspects are essential to learn about when teaching yourself to build a house, there are also many more complicated elements involved. Read on to learn more about how to teach yourself to build a house, including all of the laws and regulations.

1. Research Property Regulations

Picking out a property is one of the first things you will need to do after deciding to build a house. However, before you buy property, you should first research the property regulations in the area – they may handcuff your ability to build the house of your dreams, and you should know what you’re getting into before you make a purchase.

Owning land, while great, doesn’t automatically mean you can do anything you want with it. There are rules and regulations you have to follow and permission you need to obtain before building anything.

Researching property regulations can include getting lot approval, knowing the building codes and ordinances, and understanding zoning laws. These aspects are essential, so knowing what they are and abiding by them is the only way to build a house on your property. I’ll discuss each regulation further below.

Lot Approval

Getting your lot approved for construction is essential. Even if there is already a house on the lot, it’s a good idea to ensure your lot is still an approved building site since laws can change. However, if you have bought empty land to build on, you’ll first need to get your lot approved by a licensed Professional Engineer.

An engineer will be able to create a design for your septic system based on the land, including the type of soil on the ground. 

Before you begin building, you’ll also need a permit. Getting a permit is essential, as, without one, you’re not legally allowed to build anything. Getting a permit can sometimes be a long process, especially for building a house, so you should take time into consideration and obtain a permit as soon as possible.

Building Codes and Ordinances

Building codes are essential to follow when it comes to the structure of a building. Researching these codes is necessary to know how to build a house, as these codes have to be followed. The International Building Code (IBC) covers standard codes and is followed by the United States and many other countries.

The IBC is known for preserving public health and safety. It embraces new technology, is easy to follow, and correlates with other codes, such as ICC’s family of codes.

To follow ordinances, you’ll first have to know what your local ordinances are. Even if your lot is approved for building, your local ordinances might restrict the size or height of the build. Therefore, going to your local government office or mayor’s office to find out the regulations is a good idea.

If your land is in an area with a Homeowners Association (HOA), you should also check in with the neighborhood requirements for building anything.

Zoning Laws

Zoning laws are another thing to research before building. Individual counties or cities control zoning laws, so the laws may differ depending on where you are, so you’ll want to ensure you’re getting the correct information.

Zoning laws control the size of lots in specific areas and what you can use those lots for. There are four major classifications of lots regulated by zoning laws:

  • Agricultural
  • Commercial
  • Residential
  • Industrial

There can be exceptions to zoning laws, and zoning classifications can change.

2. Learn About Various House Styles

To teach yourself to build a house, you need to know everything there is about various house styles. Different house styles have different building techniques involved, and learning about different styles allows you to decide which you like the best. You can then focus your education on that option rather than spending time learning about other styles you’ll never use. 

If you have just purchased land and are planning on building a home, you probably already know what type you want. If this is the case, it would be best to research all you can about this particular style of house to lay out a solid house plan.

Your home style may also need to be similar to other homes around you if there’s an HOA in the area. However, that’s something you’ll have to find out through research.

The Spruce blog lists many of the popular house styles. I’ll also go over some of the most popular house styles and what is involved in constructing each of them below.

Cape Cod

Cape Cod-style homes are typically single-story buildings with a central chimney. This home-style originated in the 17th century and was designed and constructed to withstand stormy weather in the Cape Cod region. Therefore, these buildings were built to be durable, and as time went on, the overall style remained the same.


Craftsman-style homes, also called American Craftsman style, are becoming more and more popular today. Some notable features of this style include hand-crafted stone or woodwork, deep overhangs, a gabled roof, and squared columns supporting a porch’s roof. While craftsman-style homes were initially popular in the 1930s, the style is seeing a resurgence lately.


Modern-style homes are one of the newer styles designed by new construction technologies and focus on a minimalistic approach. Therefore, this style often uses concrete, glass, and steel and is less colorful or “busy” than other home styles, giving it a very relaxed feel.


Farmhouse-style homes, historically, were built to include a housebarn (as the name implies, a combination of a house and a barn) or a separate space for animals. While the overall look and style have remained consistent, farmhouses are now a symbol of agricultural life, even without farms attached to the property. The house is modern and straightforward and typically on the bigger side. Usually, the farmhouse style today includes a lot of white and black themes.


A cottage-style home is small, quaint, and cozy. While it’s often thought old-fashioned, it’s a small dwelling, and the style usually stays modest. While a cottage home has other meanings in various countries, in the United States, you’ll typically see cottages in rural or semi-rural areas.


Cabins, or log cabins, tend to differ significantly from other styles. These were the first homes constructed by settlers in the U.S. The first log cabins in the country are believed to have been built in the 1600s. The first log cabins in the country were built using Finnish techniques, using interlocked logs with notches. While cabins can be built by nailing together the logs, these are not as structurally sound as interlocking cabins.  

3. Understand Foundation

A house’s foundation is the most crucial part of the house. A lousy foundation makes a home unsafe and unlivable, so setting a solid and safe foundation is the most important thing you can do when it comes to building a house. There are various types of house foundations, and depending on the style of the home chosen will help determine the type of foundation needed.

For example, if the house you’re building includes a basement, a basement foundation is necessary. However, you’ll want to consider the area and the weather, as basements are prone to flooding. So, if there’s a lot of rain in the area, a basement and basement foundation might not be the best idea.

Slab foundations are the most commonly used foundations. Slab foundations will provide the most sturdy home, and it’s also one of the less expensive foundations.

Crawl space foundation is another common type of foundation. This foundation elevates the home and leaves about 2 feet (0.61 m) of space under the house.

Doing your research on these foundations, knowing which one is best for your style of home, and knowing how to properly lay the foundation is essential for the overall safety of your home. Therefore, it’s one of the most important things to learn when teaching yourself to build a house.

4. Learn How To Budget

When you first decide to build a house and start to take the first steps, it’s easy to go overboard, which can lead to spending a lot more money than you have. Therefore, knowing your budget for your build and breaking that budget up into different parts of the build is essential. The cost of building a house changes constantly, and everyone’s budget will be different. However, just knowing your budget will help tremendously.

When creating a budget plan, don’t forget to include the little expenses, and don’t be afraid to look around. Don’t settle for the first thing you see, and do some research before making a purchase. Doing this can help cut down on some costs.

5. Learn What Materials You Need

Building a house requires a lot of material, which can even feel like an overwhelming amount. Therefore, learning what materials are necessary for building a home is essential. Not only do you need the building materials, such as wood, concrete, or glass, but if you want to learn how to build a house yourself, you should also know what building equipment you need. 

Southland Custom Homes offers an excellent, thorough checklist, which you can view here. This checklist includes everything needed to build a custom home. The checklist mostly goes over everything you need to do from start to finish, but there are materials included inside, so it’s a great way to gauge what you need.

6. Understand Plumbing and Electric

Building a home isn’t just pouring concrete and framing. A lot of thought goes into the layout, especially when it comes to the plumbing and electricity. Plumbing and electrical lines are installed before any installation and drywall are installed.

When it comes to plumbing, you’ll have to have the entire plumbing system designed and mapped out before building. This includes figuring out where the centralized plumbing system will go and how it’ll connect to each room that requires plumbing. Typically, a professional will be able to tell you if your plumbing design is safe.

Like plumbing, electric wiring is mapped out before the construction of the house. While you can research the best places for electrical wiring in your home, bringing your house plans to an electrician is the best idea.

7. Take a Hands-On Construction Course

Many places offer hands-on construction courses. You can take regular classes on construction, which is excellent for knowledge, but to learn how to build a house, you need hands-on experience. The Shelter Institute is a company that offers hands-on courses on construction and building design. 

This company offers durable and adaptable building techniques and even has online courses to watch.

If taking a course isn’t for you and you want more knowledge, consider reading up on construction. The Edward Allen Teach Yourself To Build (available on is an excellent book that includes exercises in all the major construction systems, making it a great resource.

8. Ask the Professionals

While you can teach yourself a lot with the internet and courses, getting experience or advice from experts is the best way to learn. Construction is a field of work that anyone can enter, as it typically doesn’t require more than a high school diploma. Therefore, getting experience in construction isn’t difficult.

According to Indeed, construction jobs have on-the-job training, so no experience is necessary.

Final Thoughts

Building a house yourself is a lot of work. Although building a house yourself is challenging, it’s something you can teach yourself to do, as long as you’re willing to put the time and effort in. 

Teaching yourself how to build a house includes a lot of research on property regulations and house styles, as well as learning how to budget, what materials you need, and understanding the importance of foundation, plumbing, and electric wiring.

While research is excellent, the best way to learn to build a house is to take a construction course or ask professionals for guidance.

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