What can you do yourself?

Foundation footings

After an event nearby, a friend and I swung by the project site to see that the foundation footings had been poured. After the concrete cures the wooden forms will be removed and discarded, and then the foundation walls are ready to go up.

As an owner-builder, people often ask what I’m allowed to do myself. The answer, surprisingly, is pretty much everything. Construction work typically has to be performed by licensed subcontractors, but there are very broad exceptions in Anchorage (and elsewhere) for owner-builders doing one single-family home at a time. With few qualifications, owner-builders can basically complete every part of a project themselves, including foundation work, plumbing, and electrical.

But just because you can do the work yourself, does that mean you should? Unless you’re extraordinarily skilled and have near-unlimited time… probably not. Some tasks, such as building foundations, are probably better left to the pros. It’s not like you can waltz down to Home Depot and rent your own cement truck.

For many, the phrase “owner builder” is actually kind of a misnomer. Yes, some owner-builders actually do everything on their own, but most are really closer to being “owner-managers.” Some owner-builders actually don’t do a single bit of “building” at all. I’m still deciding what work I’ll complete myself, but hiring out the site work and foundation to an experienced local company was a very obvious choice.

Photo taken September 26, 2019. Posted November 10, 2019.

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