By Michael Penn in Dripping Springs, TX on 4/19/2007
Matt, you don't say very much about your situation, so these thoughts may or may not really apply to you directly, but I have a few general thoughts to throw out.
Of course owner-building is not for everybody--in fact it's probably not for most people. Most people don't have the time available, or the persistence necessary, or even the desire. And for them, it's not such a bad time right now to get a house the more conventional way--lots of existing houses for sale on the market, many at good prices; lots of builder-built spec homes available in many areas, with lots of incentives. Or you can hire a general contractor for a custom build.
But assuming that you have the desire, and you're willing to persist, and you have some time availability and flexibility, and you're just wanting to become more comfortable with your prospects as an owner-builder:
One thing that may help is to reflect on your relevant life experiences.
What big project have you undertaken and carried to completion? In school, in team sports, at work, with your family, with an organization you're a member of, whatever... Doesn't matter at all whether it's even vaguely related to construction.
What experiences have you had working with people, coordinating people, managing and leading people? When you've had problems arise with projects, have you been able to find a way thru, over, or around?
Also, understand that there's an abundance of resources that can help you at all stages of the process. A great deal of help is available for free, or nearly free, some of it is pricier--but probably still much cheaper than just hiring a general contractor. You can choose the level of help that works for you.
I've found it very helpful to talk to people at ownerbuilder consultant companies--they can give you a good overview of the process, they aggressively promote their version of owner-building, and they offer a service that you could choose to employ, that can provide a measure of assurance and "insurance".
But I've found it even more helpful and even reassuring to talk to subcontractors about their part of the process, and their view of the overall housebuilding process. To them, you're not all that different than the experienced general contractor that they work for more frequently. It's their job to know more about their trade than just about any general contractor would. And it's also their job to understand, to work with, and to please the guy whose project they're working on. That can be you.
And of course I've found it especially helpful to find resources such as this forum where I can read about so many people's questions and answers throughout their journey in housebuilding, and even join the conversations.
So welcome to the adventure, if you choose to embark...