Mutual Self Help

Build Your Own Home

Everyone deserves a place to call home.

The Owner-Builder Program, also known as the Mutual Self-Help Housing Program, is an affordable housing program that uses “sweat equity” to reduce the overall cost of building your home.

The goal of the program is to provide families with modest single-family homes with affordable monthly house payments.


1. Meet

Everything starts with an informational meeting with our Mutual Self-Help Project Coordinator. We’ll assess your financial and household situation to see if you meet qualifications. If you need to improve your financial situation first, we can provide information for Home Buyers Education and financial counseling.

2. Apply

When you’re ready and we have a spot available for you in one of the groups, we’ll help you submit a loan application to the USDA. It takes approximately 2-6 weeks to receive eligibility.

3. Learn

Attend pre-construction classes and safety training with your group.

4. Select

Choose your lot and house plan, and begin making selections for the interior and exterior of your home. Some of the selections will be made upfront, while others are made later in the construction process.

5. Build

You’ll close on your loan, and then it’s time to start construction! Over 10-12 months, you will work for 30+ hours per week building the homes in your group with other Owner-Builders.

6. Celebrate & Move In

When your group has finished building, Tooele County Housing Authority organizes an Open House event to celebrate your achievement. Friends, family, and the community are invited to see your beautiful, owner-built homes. After that, you’re free to move in!

About The Homes

3-4 Bedrooms, 2 Bathrooms
Two-Car Garage
Front Yard Landscaping & Sprinkler
Energy Star Certified
Includes Most Appliances
All House Plans Include Unfinished Basements


Below are some common questions about the Owner-Builder program. The best way to learn about the program is to call and schedule a 1-on-1 appointment with our Mutual-Self Help Project Coordinator, who will go through everything about the program and analyze your potential to qualify and meet eligibility.

What is 'sweat equity'?

Sweat equity is the work that you do to build your home instead of paying someone else to do it. This substantially reduces the cost of your home. To purchase in this program, it costs you time and effort and is considered a “work down payment” – instead of a cash down payment.

Do I need prior construction experience?

Not at all! Each group goes through pre-construction classes and then builds under the direction of a professional construction supervisor.

Do I build my home alone?
No – we will gather a group of about 6-10 eligible households who work together to build each other’s homes. You will start and finish together, and no one moves in until everyone’s homes are completed.
Am I expected to build the entire home?

There are certain things that are subcontracted out (plumbing, electricity, etc.), but you will directly participate in 65% of the construction of your home.

How long does it normally take?

From the time you formally apply to the program, it can take approximately 2-6 weeks to receive eligibility from the USDA. The length of the construction process depends on what time of the year your group starts, the weather, how many homes there are, and several other factors. Most groups average about 10-12 months.

Is there a set construction schedule?

Yes – the schedule is Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 4:00 pm to 9:30 pm and Saturdays from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Someone from your household or someone representing your household must be present during these scheduled group shifts. You or others in your group may put in extra hours outside of these times, at the approval of your supervisor.

How much do I have to work each week?

Each household is required to contribute at least 30 hours/week on the construction site. These hours can be put in by anyone in your household or someone representing you, at least 16 years of age or older.

Do I get to choose my lot and house plan?

Yes, you get to choose from available lots. House plans have been specifically engineered to fit that particular lot. Available lots and house plans will be available for you to view.

Do I have to make house payments while I build?

No! You do not pay your mortgage until your home is completed and you have moved in.

Where are you building right now?

We are currently accepting applications for the Murdock subdivision in Tooele, located at 360 North and 100 East.

How does the home loan work?

By participating in this sweat equity program you qualify for a 502 Direct Self-Help loan from USDA Rural Development. For more information about how this loan works, we invite you to make an appointment with our Mutual Self-Help Project Coordinator.

Can I sell my home in the future?

Absolutely! Like any home loan, you will have to pay back whatever you still owe on your mortgage balance. If you have been receiving payment subsidy, you may have to pay some of it back from the profit you earn on the sale of your home. Ask the Mutual Self Help Coordinator more about how this works at your appointment. 

Owner Builder Locations Map

We are currently building in Tooele, Utah.


If you have more questions or want to contact us for an appointment, call us at (435) 882-7875, Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.