My wife and I are huge DIY (Do It Yourself) fans. We’re always looking for ways we can make our lives more interesting and more creative by doing things on our own. And we are completely addicted to every single DIY show on HGTV. I mean, seriously, it’s like crack candy for the hyper-creative, right?
One of the things that I see come across my blog search results often, and touted on other blogs as the end all be all of home ownership existence, is “DIY Container Homes”. If you’re an architect (soon to be licensed) like me, this search query should make you more nervous than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. “But why would that be? Haven’t people been building their own homes for millennium?” Well, yes. But the real question is not “can you build/plan your own home”, rather “should you”. For many of us the answer should be a resounding NO.
Building a home starts first and foremost with good planning and design. This is even more monumentally true when talking about a home built from containers. And while the average person is very adept at conveying verbally how it is they themselves live in a home, it is something quite different to apply that verbal conversation into a constructable set of documents that a contractor can understand and build. This is where trained design professionals, like me, come in.
A home, any home, and especially a custom home designed for you the client, is the single largest investment you’ll ever make in life (most likely). So it begs the question why would you trust the planning and design of that investment to someone who is wholly untrained in building design and construction? Even if that person is you, the homeowner? Any money that you think you’ll be saving by doing the planning and construction yourself, the “sweat equity”, will be wasted on additional materials and time due to mistakes and the “learning curve” necessary to master certain skill sets. In the end, even if you do manage to build a home for less money, the home you’re getting will perform worse than the one you could have gotten for perhaps a few thousand dollars more.
There is a reason architects go through 5-6 years of college, 3 years of internship under a licensed architect and another 3+ years of license exams and a lifetime of continuing education in order to maintain that license. Think about that the next time you’re listening to some other guy talk about how “easy” it is to “do it yourself”. In the long run the relationship you build with your architect will translate directly into the quality and performance of your home. After all, you really do get what you pay for, or in this case what you don’t pay for.