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Man Hour Estimate to Build This House

adamflyer's picture

Hi All,

I am planing on building a house mostly myself. I'll sub out the concrete work (footers and garage slab) and am planning on paying 160 hours worth of paying a general laborer. I consider myeslf skilled in most the skills needed to build a house, am physically very fit, and am a fast learner. I will not be working a day job while I'm building. I am estimating 2056 man hours for me plus the 160 of a general laborer to help with things like framing and roofing. Working 40 hour weeks and some extra cushion for delays I'm thinking 16 months permit to final inspection.

Does this sound reasonable or am I way out in left field?

The house is 4,000 ft^2 lower level with a loff and unfinished attic in the 1/2 story. U-shape design with three care garage. Double stud wall, not a tract home, but not luxury either.

Here is a copy of the house plans

A detailed labor hour breakdown is on the second tab "House_Est" of this spreadsheet

This materials cost from this site was really close to what I cam up with doing a detailed budget from scratch. The cost of a contractor is about half of the materials cost which seems to be consistent with what I have read. Question is what is a good assumption for hourly rate for a contractor to reverse engineer labor hours? I'm located in Dewey its outside Prescott, AZ.



2200/4000 = about 1/2 hr per (post #215503, reply #1 of 5)

2200/4000 = about 1/2 hr per sq foot. Unless you are not to bright (G) it should take you less than that since you are contracting out he concrete work.

Last house I built (@68 YO) was only 1500 sq feet and took me about 1100 hours, but had pre and teenage grandkids teaching and helping which slowed me down, plus I did all the excavation, concrete/elec, and plumbing myself also.  100% self built.

It takes longer to build concrete forms (7 ft  walls) than to frame the house!  Could subtracts 300 hours for the basement walls. 

When I built first house (4500 sq feet) by myself age 26, including clearing 800 ft of road thru heavy DFir timber an milling/preparing beams from the trees, , it took me 2-1/2 years working 2 weeks vacation a year plus weekends. About 2000 hurs.  Wife was able to contribute 200 hrs or so, but had a 5 YO and 7 YO at the time also.

Level of finish for the 1500 sq ft house seen in the photos.

Other question to ask is if your wife supports you 100%, mine did, because otherwise no way we could have had the type house we wanted at the time.

Cost of the 1500 sq ft house was under $10 per sq ft, as had much of the lumber cost free (just labor during previous few years collecting/milling, etc) and very judicious material purchases.  Hard to save on concrete and roofing material below wolesale costs though.

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Difficult to say (post #215503, reply #2 of 5)

It is difficult to know what to say. For instance, are you striving for "perfection"? Is punctuality or quality of essence? My experience is that "estimators" rarely match the actual time and material costs of my style of work. Each builder establishes his/her own rate of production. Another factor affecting production is the area of the country in which you build, and the proximity of your suppliers. Unless you plan your work well, you will be wasting many hours hauling materials.  I voice caution, not to discourage you, but to warn you that "reality" may not match the best-laid plans/estimates. 

My partner and I built part of a subdivision -12 ranch starter homes). Each house was 1,500 SF. We subbed out crawlspace excavation, footers, concrete flat work and driveway. We laid foundation block and did everything else, including framing, roofing, siding, windows and doors, drywall work and painting,  trim and cabinets. We subbed out plumbing, HVAC, electrical and flooring (carpets). Two guys 10-11 weeks depending on weather. Quality: good+ (see photo below).

As a general rule, with details as desctibed above, my partner and I typically needed 3-4 months to build a moderate-sized ranch. It took us 6 months to build my own, two story home. We hand-framed/hung our doors and built the kitchen cabinets onsite.

A huge factor is the EFFICIENCY at which you work. It is possible to work hard and accomplish little. It is possible to work thoughtfully and efficiently and accomplish much. And then there are weather-related issues. My sense is that a skilled worker and a skilled helper can do a 4,000 SF 1.5 story home in 6 months. A great deal depends on what you sub out. 

The second photo is a 2,500 SF, 1.5 story bungalow that was completely field-framed (rafters, beams and all). A high level of attention to detail, and high-quality work. 12 months of intense labor for a two experienced builders, doing everything from excavation of roofing, but not plumbing and HVAC. Selling price: $320K. Sold before the walls were up!

Mel Fros

I think you're way (post #215503, reply #4 of 5)

I think you're way understimating the time. Your hours equate to less than 60 man weeks. A typical 1 story house of half the size of yours would at least that much time and a 2 story much more. My guess would be that you would need a helper far more than you've estimated as well.  A typical tract house built by an experienced builder will take 6 months of construction using skilled carpenters, electricians, plumbers, dywallers, etc. . 

But, maybe you're a fast worker so go for it. The worsrthing that will happen is that you hae to hire pros do do some of ther work. Building a house is not rocekt science. One nail at a time, one stud at a time. Good luck!

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 50 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.

To Florida in reply to Adamflyer (post #215503, reply #5 of 5)

Thank you for being frank. The OPer does not deserve to get "fake news" :) Realism trumps optimism, as your and my many years in the profession show. As you correctly point out, estimating is an art form; it is not rocket science.

Mel Fros