I promised myself that once I took this journey of building our own home, I would share whatever I learnt with others who may be going through this process or are at the crossroads where they’re trying to decide between a home loan or a ‘build it yourself project.’
I chose the later. This is a personal preference. Primarily, because I hate loans of any sort and I detest the fact that you have to report to a financial overlord who doesn’t care about your family’s welfare and monthly finances.
The other reason, also personal, was to remove myself from the depression of calculating how much I rent I paid to landlords every year. Paying rent gives you a false sense of security. It’s only when you miss a few days, that you realize how much the landlord dislikes your lack of punctuality.
Please note that this is not the perfect option. This option works if you have access to land. Also note that we had a lot of help from friends and family especially our younger brothers, their friends, our friends and their parents. So I can’t claim all the credit :D.
- MAKE THE MOVE, MAKE THE SACRIFICE.
Your home won’t happen if you try to ‘ease into it.” Make a decisive move. Our decisive move was to leave the comfort of rented accommodation and, literally, set up camp where we intended to build. Putting yourself in a difficult position, creates innovation. Innovation doesn’t happen in a place of comfort. The move forced me to research and design everything from camp designs, pit toilets, sanitation, house designs, building materials and building options.
- TRUST AND HAVE FAITH.
A guru once said to me: “Whatever you want to do, go and do it and the Universe will come and help you.” On the first night, after completing the camp. I laid on the ground looking up into the starry sky. My daughters had moved to Madang with their mother and I, dirty and sweaty was thinking to myself: ‘WTF have I gotten myself into?’
All I had was a design of a rather large house drawn on SketchUp (great software BTW), 36 metal posts bought from Atlas Steel, hardwood bearers and no idea how I was going to build it or who was going to build it.
Then, a very important family friend and elder came to visit that night. He happened to be a builder and owned a small construction company. Long story short. He asked: ‘Who’s going to build it for you?’
I said: ‘I’m still thinking of it.’
He said: ‘Go and bring the bearers and the posts and we start building tomorrow. The rest, you just trust and believe.’
The first part of home building is the right state of mind.
- GET AN EXPERT TO SET YOUR BUILDING PROFILE.
Don’t settle for less. The profile of your building is super important. I cannot stress this enough. GET AN EXPERT TO DO IT. If you don’t your whole building won’t turn out as you expect. With an expert, this job will take at least two days depending on the size of the house.
- THE POSTS
If you are building on stilts, you have to decide between tall and short posts. I chose the 1.8 meter posts. Which gives enough storage space under the house. The floor will be head high when you lay the bearers (the big timbers that sit on the posts horizontally.)
- BUY IN STAGES.
Don’t buy the studs (wall timber) if you have not bought your bearers. Timber that is exposed, deteriorates in wet weather. Don’t go buying doors if you don’t know how wide your door frame will be. The general sequence is:
- Posts, bolts, bearers and cement bags
- Joists (timbers that go on the bearers, walls stand on them)
- Studs (wall timbers)
- Trusses (roof timbers)
- Outer walls
- Inner walls, ceiling, electrical, plumbing etc…
I hope this helps, I’ll continue in part 2.