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Should You Build Your Own House?

Should You Build Your Own House?

November 3, 2018

Author - Jonathan Life, PhD

By: Jonathan Life, PhD

19th-century philosopher Henry David Thoreau famously moved into the wilderness and built a log house in which he lived alone for 2 years. Contrary to popular understanding, not all philosophers live in the woods. Ethicist Peter Singer does not live in the woods. Logician Saul Kripke does not live in the woods. But Thoreau lived in the woods. It is true.

Upon hearing the tale of Thoreau moving to and living in the woods, it’s natural to ask yourself, “Should I be living in the woods?” to which the answer is, “Sure, why not really? It couldn’t hurt just for a couple of years.’”

But then comes the next, more daring, question: “Should I build my own house?” Before being swept away by an overwhelming wave of excitement—Yes! I will build my own house! I will begin right now!–it is crucial to ask yourself some immediate follow-ups: “Where will I build my house?”, “What supplies will I use to build this house?”, and, oh yeah, “Is there even a minute probability I have the requisite skills to build a house?”

Safety is an important concern with all construction projects and DIYers must always take it seriously. Yearly, power tools alone cause ~87,000 injuries (mere screwdrivers ~3,500, OSHA anyone?).1 Even hanging wallpaper puts ~1,500 a year in the hospital.1 During DIY projects, be sure to persistently do your due diligence, especially while eager and overconfident Saturday before noon.2

Thoreau’s philosophy may offer you great life wisdom, but it is probably not the best manual for safe and reliable construction. Consult the experts and ask for a helping hand when it’s needed (be sure to reciprocate!). Nothing great is ever accomplished alone.


1 Sapsted, D. 2006. “200,000 Injured Every Year in DIY Accidents.” The Telegraph.
2 Wallender, L. 2018. “Home Remodeling Can be Dangerous.” The Spruce.