What if You Could Be Your Own General Contractor...

After receiving bids from builders which made our budget look like a spec of sand, I felt discouraged. I had a vision for my dream house and I was starting to feel that it may not happen. That’s when my husband Ronny who is the incessant researcher began exploring the concept of building ourselves; in essence becoming our own general contractors and well, saving tons of mula!

2nd floor view

Needless to say, when Ronny posed th­e idea, I jumped down the poor guy’s throat. I thought he had lost his mind! All the reasons why we shouldn’t take this project on flooded me for days: I don’t know diddly-squat about home construction— we can barely keep our heads above water as it is with young kids and our crazy lives— if we fail it will be financially devastating— by golly where would one even begin!

our land

But as it usually happens when my husband plants a seed of a new idea in my brain, it starts to grow and then it takes over! Soon my doubts were replaced with MUSTS. This was going to be THE only way to do this thing. And before long we were up to our foreheads in the owner-building process.


•First we read The Owner Builder Book. This book was an invaluable tool.
•Dedicated six-months to research and planning
•Embarked on the process of getting an owner-builder loan. This is another journey that I will describe in a later post.
•Hired a designer to do our plans. Although we had purchased Southern Living’s Sugarberry Cottage House Plans, we wanted to make some modifications and needed someone who could do that and also ensure the home would be designed to local code requirements.

Under stairwell pantry

Talked to: other owner-builders, suppliers, building inspectors, city officials, builders and sub-contractors.
Made lots of calls to obtain quotes for every part of the project (On average 3-6 quotes per trade obtained)
Developed an itemized budget based on quotes (add in at least a 20% buffer)
Developed a building schedule
•Obtained permits

stem wall

For those curious about the owner-building process, I hope I haven’t scared you off yet! It can be a daunting task and I must say it does take over your life. But for us, it became an impelling personal mission, one that motivated us every day to work hard, learn, overcome obstacles, and see it through. There is something to be said about seeing what was in your head come to life. To be able to design every detail of your house and shop around for bargains in a way that a builder wouldn’t is beyond rewarding. We saved approximately 40% on what it would have cost us to build. That is a number we are certainly happy about

building AGAIN! Our Home Addition

It’s 2021 and we are embarking on another building project. This time we are adding a family lounge, a new laundry room and workshop to our home. I will be sharing each step of this process. If you’d like to see how we are owner-building from design to completion, click HERE.

6 thoughts on “Owner-Building”

  1. Jessica,

    First of all, I hope you and your family are doing well amidst where our world is right now. I follow a lot of sugarberry builds on instagram, and I wanted to say how lovely yours is! I have a modified sugarberry plan that I can’t wait to build, but money is the crunch. I am shocked at the range is prices I have received from different builders. I have thought of general contracting it myself, I am also an insane researcher 🙂
    I would love to ask you a few more questions, perhaps where not the whole world is reading it.
    You are incredibly talented, and I love your style….stunning work. Please let me know if I can message you privately. I was so excited to see your pictures you have posted!! Beautiful to say the least. Thank you!

    1. Ann, thank you so much for your kind and inspiring words. That means A LOT! Yes, we ran into the same financial challenge when planning out our Sugarberry build. But through drive, creativity and resourcefulness, it is achievable!
      Sure, I’d be happy to help! Feel free to email me at nooksinbloom@gmail.com
      P.S. Sorry it took me so long to reply. Have to figure out these comment notification settings!

  2. So interesting to read and so amazing to see this project so beautifully concluded!
    It must be a dream come true to see your dream house built by both of you. You’re a brave and awesome couple with a beautiful home. Please walk us into your dream house!

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