Dear Phil Ryan,
It really depends what kind of house it is, doesn't it?
From the sources I found, a building a small house takes several
thousand of man hours, bureaucracy and equipment purchase not
included, when the amount of time depends on the number of people
working on the house and their experience in such endeavours.
For example, a cordwood wall could be theoretically completed in 34
hours. If you multiply it by the number of walls, and add other
components of the house (assuming that you use a built-in kitchen for
example), you'll reach an estimate (SOURCE: Day Creek Journal, "How
A person, who built geodesic house, reported that "The time required
for the basic fabrication is about 72 man hours. This would be for a
trained worker using simple jigs in a proper environment. This equates
to 9 working days or 12 weeks of part time work of 2 hours every other
day." (SOURCE: "24' Diameter Geodesic House"
If you buy a house the is already modular (a kit), this will be
easier, than if you plan everything and construct the materials
yourself, not to mention the beaurocracy involved.
An article in the Guardian states that in general, "the fastest
self-build kits can be put up in a few months, although most projects
take at least one year." (SOURCE: "Build a dream house" The Guardian
In the case of "FirstDay cottages (one of the many available
commercial modular houses), its marketing team claims it takes between
600 to 1,000 man hours to complete (SOURCE: FirstDay Cottage,
Another system prides to be able to complete a house in 100 man-hours,
given 3-4 workers (SOURCE: Omni-Globe Building System, PDF Document,
More modular homes:
In a list discussing such things, a member recommends "You should
realize that even a small house generally takes man-hours in the
thousands, and this time will be longer for those without expertise
(like most things)." (SOURCE: "Re: Community members doing the
building (was: rich and poor)",
homepage: Sustainable community discussion groups
Other people with experience also estimate it by the thousands (and
like me, saying that it is very different from one house to another):
Q: "I know 'average' anything is hard to pin down. But would someone
with some experience hazard a guess at the average man-hours to build
A1: "4-man crew (2 very experienced, two experienced) with all the
tools (and necessary permits and licenses!):
To end of mechanicals: 3 months (1,920 man-hours)
To end of finish carpentry: 10 weeks (1,600 mh)
To the exhausted move-in: 6 weeks (960 hours)
Total Time: Seven months (4,480 hours)"
A2: "I built my own house (2000 SF and attached garage). It took me
160 Man days excluding the foundation excavation and concrete walls."
(SOURCE: Estimate of Man-hours, alt.building.construction,
Group's Homepage: <http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&group=alt.building.construction>).
"Build a house in 3 months?" misc.consumers.house
(Group's Homepage: http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&group=misc.consumers.house).
And more (for example, using the rubric "about * man hours").
I hope this answered your question. Please contact me if you need any
further clarification on this answer before you rate it.