What does it take to build a house

Build a house yourself: This is how much you can save

Building a house is always an adventure. Regardless of whether it is a prefabricated house, a kit house or a classically self-designed house. But to do it entirely on your own, with the help of a few experts and many friends, is a crazy undertaking. Nevertheless, it can be financially worthwhile. We have compiled an overview for you with the costs for the various trades so that you can calculate what can be saved through your own work.

Build a house yourself: This is how much you can save
Build a house yourself: This is how much you can save

What does it cost to build a house yourself?

A solid house with 140 square meters of living space costs from 1,300 euros (without basement) to 2,000 euros per square meter - depending on the equipment and normally without a basement or floor slab and without a balcony or terrace. That means: between 182,000 and 280,000 euros. Labor costs make up 60 percent and material costs 40 percent. This leads many builders to want to save on the larger item, i.e. labor costs, through their own contribution. On average, savings of 22 percent are achieved. But be careful: not all trades are suitable as a do-it-yourself project. Especially if you are a less experienced do-it-yourselfer. In fact, it would be easier for you not to have a prefabricated house built on a turnkey basis, but to buy it in an expansion stage and finish it with a given plan. This also saves you up to 50,000 euros, but often requires less manual skill. For experienced do-it-yourselfers or craftsmen, on the other hand, a finishing house is the best alternative. In addition to these construction costs, there are around 15 percent ancillary construction costs - i.e. house connections, notary fees, taxes, permit fees, land registry costs and, not to forget: construction insurance.

Build a house yourself: insure helpers

If you want to cover a lot of work with the muscular strength of your family and friends, then you should insure your helpers. Both those who usually sit in the office and the cousin who works as an electrician after work. Something happens quickly on a construction site and unfortunately there are permanent problems, the costs and consequential costs of which are not covered by the accident insurance - neither for your friends nor for your cousin. Not only can this break a friendship, but you, the client, will no longer be happy in your new house. With one to two euros per working hour you can prevent this disaster and register your hard-working helpers with the BG Bau BG trade association. Another cost item, yes. But your helpers should be worth the investment to you. Mainly because, thanks to you, you can take on the muscle mortgage.

How to get the muscle mortgage

At least 15 but up to 30 percent of the construction costs are accepted by most banks as part of their own contribution - and are therefore counted as equity. If you take out a loan from a bank for the construction of your house, then the amount of your equity capital plays a major role for the institute. If this turns out to be a little smaller than the bank would like - i.e. usually 20 percent of the total costs - you can use a sensibly designed and realistically worked out work flow plan to demonstrate during the bank meeting that you will increase your equity ratio by doing a lot of your own. In this way you can get a loan that is urgently needed for your dream home despite low equity.

It is important that you can demonstrate in writing when you will take on which work yourself. That means: Have the construction company confirm in writing which trades you and not the company will tackle. In the case of a prefabricated house or a kit house, the manufacturer can issue this certificate for you.

Build a house yourself: what are the risks?

When it comes to how much house you can build yourself, you should be honest with yourself and the craftsmen you are collaborating with. There is no point in portraying your abilities better than they really are. Whoever suffers from it afterwards is you and your family - because you then have to live in a defective new building, which in the worst case even makes you sick. Therefore, think carefully about what you and your hard-working helpers can really do on your own and where it is advisable to let a professional do their work for the mental and physical health of your loved ones. The following table can help you make a decision. It shows what a trade costs and what can happen in the case of botched construction due to excessive DIY pride:

Cost of laborPossible harm
shell550 euros per square meter
  • leaks
  • crooked foundations
  • unusable shell
Electrics94 euros per square meter
  • unusable lines
  • Electricity that doesn't get where it's supposed to
  • Risk of fire and death
Heater:94 euros per square meter
  • the house stays cold in winter
  • the walls are getting wet
  • Risk of fire, explosion, and death
Sanitary77 euros per square meter
  • Water damage, wet walls
    or no water at all
Doors and
110 euros per window / door
  • leaky windows and doors
  • Cold and draft in the house
  • wet walls from penetrating rain
Plastering44 euros per square meter
  • leaky and crumbling plaster
  • Soaked building and risk of mold
Tiles55 euros per square meter
  • leaky tiles
  • sloping tiles
  • damaged tiles
  • Risk of mold
Floor coverings33 euros per square meter
  • damaged flooring in wet rooms
  • Risk of mold
  • unsightly laying technique and from it
    resulting optical inconsistencies
Painters &
17 euros per square meter
  • optical discrepancies
  • Wallpaper is peeling off
  • Wall looks stained

What can you do yourself when building a house?

Work for less experienced do-it-yourselfers

WorkSavings potential
Wallpapering or painting60 - 80 percent
Floor coverings and their
Laying insulation layers (except parquet)
Laminate: 50 percent
Tiles: 50 percent
Drywall components,
process plasterboard, for example
70 percent
Insulate heating pipes100 percent
Create outdoor facilitydepending on size
and your taste
up to 100 percent

Work for experienced do-it-yourselfers

WorkSavings potential
Structural work50 percent
Plastering work
(labor-intensive, therefore high wage costs)
70 percent
Insert windows and doors
(Low wage share for professionals)
10 to 15 percent

Work for very experienced do-it-yourselfers

WorkSavings potential
Assistance with plumbing and electrical installation
(don't do it alone!)
10 to 15 percent
Assistance in laying the heating pipes15 to 20 percent

How much personal contribution when building a house is healthy?

Whether you are a less or very experienced do-it-yourselfer: Once you have classified yourself, there really is only one question left: How much work do you really do? Don't underestimate the effort.

Advantages of building your own house

  • Everything you do on your own saves you money.
  • Even if it may seem so little to you at the moment, many small things also add up.
  • Craftsmen can realize themselves and their own ideas.
  • Working together on the house welds you together, whether with friends or family, and gives you the good feeling of having achieved something really great.

Disadvantages of building your own home

  • As the client, you not only work, you also bear responsibility on your shoulders. They stress themselves when something doesn't go well and smoothly. You take the hassle of the construction site home with you, to your family, to your work.
  • Very few builders can stay away from their workplace during the entire construction phase - they will be exposed to a very large double burden over a fairly long period of time. And even if you take your annual vacation in the strategically important construction phases and realize yourself on your house, you will not have a vacation later and thus no more relaxation phase.
  • The situation becomes even more difficult if you have young children and your grandparents may not live nearby.
  • Building your own house project can be a daunting challenge for a relationship. Establish contact rules, regularly take time out as a couple, hire a babysitter or join other families who are also building and mate the children for each other.

tip: Once you have moved in, allow yourself a breather first and enjoy your work. However, in order to secure your future in your own home and be prepared for work that will inevitably be due on your dream home in about ten or 15 years, you should save 50 cents per square meter of living space per year from the first anniversary of your move-in. At 140 square meters that makes 70 euros a year.