The Pros and Cons of Sweat Equity When Building a Home

model of a house and key ring on a blueprint

You are planning to build a home. You have decided on mountain modern in the beautiful Park City, Utah area. Sparano + Mooney will be your Utah architects; now you just have to settle on a builder. Here’s a question: do you plan on investing sweat equity in the project? If so, your choice of builder matters.

Investing sweat equity means doing some of the work yourself. Unless you have previous experience in home construction, your efforts will probably be limited to things like painting and laying down flooring. Moderate experience might let you do things like installing windows and doors, finishing the drywall, etc.

As with all things related to home building, there are both pros and cons to sweat equity. You have to determine for yourself how much you are willing to pay for as opposed to doing yourself.

Sweat Equity: The Pros

Sweat equity’s main advantage is financial. The more work you can do, the less you pay to cover sub-contractor labor. Spending two or three weekends painting can save you thousands over having a contractor come in and do it.

For a lot of people, money is the overriding factor. They want more house for the same budget. They have decided that the only way to get exactly what they want and stay within the budget is to do some of the work themselves. If that sounds familiar, you may be a good candidate for sweat equity.

One of the hidden advantages of investing sweat equity is a sense of accomplishment that makes your home even more personal. Ten years from now, you might be looking at the kitchen floor and remembering when you installed the tile. You hated it then, but you love it now. You get a profound sense of satisfaction every time you see that floor.

 Sweat Equity: The Cons

The other side of the sweat equity coin is its many disadvantages. For example, you might start out thinking that doing the work yourself will save you money. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, all of that savings – and then some – could be eaten up by having to fix what you’ve done wrong. Simply put, you might not save as much as you originally intended.

Another disadvantage of investing sweat equity is time. Some people choose to do work themselves so that they don’t have to wait for contractors. But unless you have a lot of time to invest in the project, you might not get it done any sooner.

Imagine Utah Architects Sparano + Mooney suggesting you could save money by handling your own trim carpentry. You are finally swayed by the fact that your builder cannot get a contractor in for three weeks. You figure you’ll take care of the job yourself. Then you discover that trim carpentry is harder than you anticipated. It still takes you three weekends to finish the job. You gained nothing in terms of time.

 Building a Kit House

The ultimate in sweat equity is to build a kit house. A kit house is exactly what its name suggests: a house that ships to your site in a kit, after having been built in a factory. The nice thing about a kit build is that you only have to use a contractor to handle the structural aspects. Everything else you do yourself. But really, you are assembling more than anything else.

There are both pros and cons to investing sweat equity in a new house. If you are planning to build, think about it. Sweat equity is just one of your many building options.

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