Author Topic: which is easiest to build solo?  (Read 2196 times)

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Offline AspenHills

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which is easiest to build solo?
« on: December 20, 2016, 11:38:44 AM »
We are looking to build a small home (something between 14-20' wide).  Our budget doesn't allow for much, if any, of the labor to be hired out.  We also have two small kids which will prevent me from helping DH regularly with the build.

 So our dilemma is which plan will be easiest for a solo builder?  Does the building width have anything to do with ease of construction?  Are the 14' wide builder's cottage or 16' wide studio house easier to build than the 20' wide structures?   
Also, are there any differences in the foundation options for the 14',16', or 20' wide buildings? Are there limitations to the "simple to build post & pier foundation" as described in the little house plans?  Can that type of "hillbilly foundation" be used for the 20' wide house?

Offline hpinson

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Re: which is easiest to build solo?
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2016, 06:42:26 AM »
Hi. No one seems to have answered so I will take a shot.

Multiples of 4 are to some extent easier to work with, in that there is less cutting. Smaller, with lower pitch on the roof, is certainly going to be more manageable if working alone. 

However, ease of building is only one factor. Which footprint really suits your needs best? 2 kids? Despite the interest in tiny homes, really-tiny may really not be the best choice for living.

Certain designs, like the Whole Enchilada plans available here, do give options for adding on later. If I remember, that is 14x20 with options for wing additions. John's 20x30 one story plan is very straightforward.

If you search here on pier foundations, you will probably see that the general thinking is that a poured footer with continuous poured, or block wall, or slab is preferred over post and pier.  Reason being that the building codes that you may live under may restrict due to local soil or weather conditions.  These conditions can be very real concerns and if you look around this forum you will find examples of failed pier foundations.  Because of the potential for failure, piers may not be prescriptive and you may be required by your building inspector to do engineering analysis.  Talk with your County or City building department about what they will want or will allow.  Also, the general thinking seems to be that  a solid foundation adds more long-term value in case of resale.

That said, piers are certainly easier for a DIY especially on a smaller building. Many examples of that here in these forums, and John Rabbe's excellent plans (various footprints) give piers as an option.  There are also many examples here of how to reinforce piers to increase their lateral sheer strength. Typically this is done with some sort of X bridging between piers.

Width would determine pier configuration.  14' is certainly easiest with piers - using the plans here I think it is just two rows. I don't think you will find many here advocating a pier foundation for a 20'x30' footprint, though it certainly has been done.  14x20 or 16x24, yes - many have built with piers.  Again, the best examples seem to reinforce heavily with bracing.

I think you can find a lot of ideas and answers just by searching through the various builds documented in this forum.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2016, 07:07:36 AM by hpinson »

Offline hpinson

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Re: which is easiest to build solo?
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2016, 10:41:23 AM »
For example, in the ajbremer build:

And great detail here:


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