So, you want to build your own ISBU home…

Here at CHC, we are frequently approached by families that WANT to build their own ISBU home.

Hardly surprising, right?

But the hardest part about helping a family BUILD their HOME… is teaching them how to PLAN.

Building a home is just a process where several steps lead to a completed home.

“Knit one, pearl two”… Do it enough times and you have a sweater… right?

We’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating.

It takes time to build a home. They don’t just spring up from the ground on their own.

Yes, I’ve seen those cool animations. Yes, I wish that building actually happened like that. However…

It’s not that easy.

Sure, when using ISBUs – you drop the box and suddenly you have “structure” but it’s still not a home. It’s just the shell (or a significant PART of the shell).

The key to successful building is to take the “building process” and turn it into a series of “sub-assemblies (or ‘steps’)”.

After you have your design process completed…

… meaning that you have your plan sets in your hot little hands…

This means planning out everything from digging the trenches for the footings (or the holes for the pilings), to putting the roof on…ย  and everything inbetween.

In MY case, many of my families build homes “paycheck to paycheck”.

Many of my families build over extended periods of time, completing steps while still saving to be able to afford the next. It’s really important to break things down so that the “home building experience” is one ofย  “achieving several smaller victories terminating in the completion of an entire home, built by family and friends.”

This just makes sense.

By breaking down a long process into steps, you avoid being overwhelmed and get the satisfaction of finishing each step successfully, leading to the next.

If you invest your time in finding the right architect, consultant or “building network” – THEY are going to help you establish your “building barriers”.

I commonly refer to these guys as your “BAT” – your “Building Advisory Team”.

I EXPECT them to be able to wade into any situation encountered and use their clout to get you where you need to be. They use their BAT… get it? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Look for guys and gals who have “hands on experience”.

Lots of people are entering the “Alternative Home” arena, because frankly, their old building resources have dried up.

Lots of people (and more importantly, FIRMS) are “re-inventing themselves” to take advantage of a growing market, made popular by both the media (GREEN is the word, right?) and the unstable economy that we now live in.

You’re going to find out quickly that MANY of these “ISBU experts” don’t have a single build under their belts.

Some of them don’t have licenses or the appropriate education/accreditation.

Some of them are just “Glorified Contractors gone rogue”.

Sure, they have a folder full of fancy, full color renders and lofty designs, but these projects, in most cases have never been (or sometimes CAN NEVER be) built.

They talk and talk – using all the right buzzwords – but the fact is that YOU are going to be paying for their ISBU education.

Everything that they know about ISBU building is going to be learned on YOUR building site… and it’s coming out of YOUR pocket.

That. by the way, is incredibly generous of you! ๐Ÿ˜‰

If the answer to “How many ISBU homes have you actually BUILT?” is “ZERO”… Keep looking.

Avoid these guys.ย  Avoid these guys like the plague.

Using anyone who has “never done this before” means that your project is going to be filled with “stalls, mistakes and missteps” and it’s going to be more expensive to complete.

Building using any alternative building practice is fraught with peril for the inexperienced or unwary.

You’re probably not going to be able to do everything that you need to accomplish without help. You’re probably going to need a plumber or an electrician, or a roofer.

Your “BAT” should be responsible for helping you research every step you need to take, to complete your project successfully. The idea is to plan and chart for progress, avoiding mistakes and missteps that will blow your budget or doom your project.

They in turn will help you FIND the right guys – plumbers, electricians, roofers, etc… to complete your project successfully.

These advisors KNOW the building business and the processes involved.

In most cases, they can actually SAVE YOU the cost of their services, using their expertise to track and complete your home build. If fact, if they can’t save you a substantial amount in your building project, you do not need THEM.

It’s important to pick the right team.

Next time, we’re going to talk about HOW you “Plan for Success”…

Stay tuned.

5 comments for “So, you want to build your own ISBU home…

  1. MichaelN
    January 9, 2012 at 9:09 am

    I just purchased your book and want to give you some feedback on the buying experience by letting you know that it was flawless and simple. I’ve had a chance to skim through the book and am looking forward to actually reading it. At first glance though it appears as though there is not quite enough detail to make me feel comfortable about launching into a building project. I am meeting with the chairman of our local Habitat For Humanity organization for lunch today and planning on talking to him about ISBU-based construction.

    I am going to build an ISBU-based house in the near future here in Rockport Texas. Please tell me about your consulting service and associated costs.

    God bless you and your family,

  2. Yza
    April 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I started researching about this venture of building a home in containers because, in spite working full time, having zero debt and having a sideline EVEN rent is getting hard to come by. Being single, there are no program and no help. Most builders and govenmental help are geared toward family, very low income, disables and/or elderlies. Could this finally be a possible way to go, considering landlords are not giving you the safety and maintenance they were before? How to avoid the crooks?Thank you.

  3. liz
    September 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    YZA: Yes, this is the way to go! I personally have had it with all the stress of worrying about how to make rent and student loan payments at the same time and wondering if I’ll end up out on the street. I plan to live as cheap as possible in the tiniest studio I can find and save money for a tiny slice of land I can get a container onto and then go from there. My goal is to live simply and mortgage-free. The “american Dream” of McMansions and white picket fences is OVER now.

  4. Gregory J. Bulger
    March 10, 2013 at 7:18 am

    I am looking to build a home using ISBU for a family farmstead. I am in the research phase, have not secured the finances. My father is a retired Ironworker and will supervise my build.

  5. June 14, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    I always spent my half an hour to read this web site’s posts everyday along with a mug of coffee.

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