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No, I have not built a house. However, I highly recommend you take a look at two books before you move earth.

The first is "House" by Tracy Kidder.


The second is "Renovation" by Michael Litchfield.


The first book is a detailed, engrossing narrative about building an actual house (it exists). The second book is a renowned compendium of all things in home renovation.

As a quick commentary on your idea, go check out RSMean's cost estimations. It gives you a ballpark estimate of cost per square foot for, say, poured concrete with rebar. You are going to need rebar because concrete is brittle and it cannot carry tension. You are going to need steel framing because concrete floors are damn heavy. With wood, you can use much, much cheaper standard wood framing. Rebar is expensive because you need to be a metalworker to do it properly. It is likely you will not be able to do it DIY because of building codes. The rabbit hole goes on and on. Good luck with your research!


If you prefer the video format over a book, Grand Designs (BBC, select seasons available on Netflix) is a series covering the build from nothing to completion of complex or unconventional building designs. Most of the time the episode covers how the build goes wrong.

There are certain themes across the variety of site locations and designs and backgrounds of the individuals building:

1) It costs more than expected

2) It takes longer than expected

3) Project managing it yourself is extremely difficult

4) Building it yourself is even more difficult

"House" by Tracy Kidder is such a fantastic book. Kidder does a great job pulling you into the story of the house and the folks involved with the process. My favorite scene (if I recall correctly) is one where the owner's father is on site one day and noticed the efforts the builders go to for seemingly unimportant pieces in the house (specifically around which piece of wood they chose for something that would be hidden). It reminds me of the stories about the internals for the first Apple machines.

House looks like a fantastic book!

Tracy Kidder is also the author of The Soul of a New Machine for which he won a Pulitzer. One of my all-time favorites.

I really enjoyed House because I bought a 200ish year-old fixer-upper about the time the book came out. I had read Soul of a New Machine and, in fact, joined Data General and knew many of the people in the book quite well.

Unfortunately, I looked at a couple of other Kidder books and, while I'm sure they were good, the subject matter just didn't grab me.

The OP's description also reminded me of "A place of my own" by michael pollan. It is a really inspirational tale of another amateur coming from a similar excited and childlike fascination.

The first is "House" by Tracy Kidder.

Shocked I hadn’t heard of this before. Ordered!

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