An owner builder is an individual who takes the role of a general contractor when building their own home. They handle the design, planning, scheduling and management for the construction of their own house. An owner builder must complete all of the same tasks as a general contractor.

Owner builders do not typically perform the actual labor to build the home, instead they serve as a manager who oversees work performed by subcontractors.Owner Builders do not need to be skilled at construction, in fact it really requires no construction experience at all. What is important is the ability to stay organized and communicate with the people who are hired to do the work.

Building your own home is a huge achievement that carries a number of benefits, but there are risks as well. Below we outline both.

Owner Builder Benefits

  • Save up to 25% on the cost of your home. (Read more: How Much Do Owner Builders Really Save)
  • Design your home exactly how you want it.
  • Nobody telling you what you can and can’t do.
  • Communicate directly with subcontractors to ensure nothing gets missed.
  • Pride of building a home yourself.

What You Need To Know

  • Building your own home requires no previous construction knowledge or experience.
  • All work will be performed by subcontractors. You don’t need to perform any of the manual labor. (Of course you can, if you want. But we don’t recommend it!)
  • Most home builders only offer limited options. When you build yourself, you can build a truly custom home.

What is needed to build your own home?

  • Vision for how your home will look.
  • Sufficient credit for a construction loan.
  • Ability to stay organized.
  • Ability to communicate with contractors.
  • No construction experience is required.

What are the risks of an owner built home?

  • The buck stops with you. There’s no finger pointing at a general contractor.
  • You must inspect work yourself, if you don’t catch something soon enough you could be the one paying the bill to correct it. (Read more: How To Inspect Subcontractor Work and Catch Mistakes)
  • You must carefully watch your budget. Saying “yes” to upgrades can add up fast and there is nobody telling you when to stop.
  • You must carefully design your home so that the layout and room sizes are functional. (Read more: Keys To Designing A Functional Home)


Most cities and states allow anyone to build their own home, as long as they follow the same rules set forth for general contractors. In certain cities and/or states, owner builders may be required to complete some form of education before they are allowed to build a home themselves. In these areas, an “Owner Builder Permit” is required and can only be obtained after completing an approved course.

Read More - Who Can Become An Owner Builder?