Frequently Asked Questions

Who are you? Just a guy from New Jersey, a 6-foot, 190-pound, 60-something, twice-divorced Caucasian. (I imagine that says a lot right there—and none of it good, right?)

Where's your home? North Hanover Township, in the northeastern corner of Burlington County, in Central New Jersey.

Why did you decide to build your own home? I have a whole page dedicated to the answer.

Wasn't it scary taking on such a project? Not in the slightest. I've known in my bones for many years that I could do it.

How do you know what you're doing? Since I was old enough to hold a tool in my hand, I've learned how to make things, and I've never stopped learning. Plus, there are loads of books and other information sources on every subject. And most importantly, I'm not afraid to try new things.

Don't you need to be licensed to do the work? Nope. There are just a few things that require a licensed professional, such as drilling a well, building a septic system or charging an air conditioner. Other than that—at least where I live—the homeowner can do anything they choose. Anyway, if something fails, there's no one to blame (or sue) but myself.

So, you did everything? Except for the foundation, well, septic system and roof surface, I cut every board, drove every screw, and did all of the wiring, plumbing and HVAC. More recently I've had some help, but this has been mostly to compensate for increasing physical limitations, as well as to speed things along. (This is not meant to diminish their contributions in the slightest—I couldn't have gotten where I am now without their help.)

Who designed the house? I did. Every inch of it. I wouldn't have even bothered with an architect, except that one is required in order to obtain approval to build anything. And I have the mason that poured the foundation to thank for this freedom when he said, "You don't need to follow the blueprint; build it the way you want." This is not meant to slight my architect in any way; it's just how things played out.

What's the architectural style? None of which I'm aware; I designed it first and foremost to meet my needs, so form very much follows function—for the most part. If there's an established style that it resembles, it's probably Mid-Century Modern, but that's by coincidence rather than by design. The exterior looks nothing like what I'd envisioned, having become much more rustic (out of necessity), while the interior is vaguely Euro-modern with rustic overtones (again, by necessity). But Frank Lloyd Wright was not an influence, despite what some people may think.

When did you start the project? I bought the property in October 2013 and started designing the house in May 2014; groundbreaking took place February 2016, and I began framing the following month. See Milestones for a detailed list of significant events.

When will it be done? As of this writing (15 March 2020) I don't know, but if it's ever going to get done, then someone else will need to do the work. I will undoubtedly die from congestive heart failure before I can finish it.

Why has it taken so long? Owing to circumstances beyond my control, I endured a significant financial setback and, while the issue was resolved, it has added years to the project and slowed progress to a crawl due to substantial capital losses.

Are you living there now? Yes; I moved in early May 2019. Although far from finished, the house is functional and quite livable. A summary of the remaining work can be found in the To-Do List.

Do you have any advice for anyone else thinking about doing the same thing? Yes—here's a whole page of lessons learned.


Copyright © 2017-2020 by David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved.
Home | Top of Page | Site Map