"How do I build a house?"
"I have a half acre of bare earth in the desert. It has municipal water at the site, is zoned residential and I have neighbors on either side of me. I would love to do as much of the sweat equity as possible as I only have very little money. I want to build, perhaps, an 800 sq. ft. house. Where do I start, exactly? Should I buy a house plan? Should I get the site surveyed first? When do I apply for a permit? Should I get it soil tested first? What could I do myself? Could I put in the foundation myself without anything other than hand tools (maybe a table saw) and paying a cement company to do just the pour? With my limited money, I don't think I'll be able to complete the whole thing in one fell swoop. What is a good stopping point so as to be able to continue it piece meal as I save and do it on my own? Where do I track down the answers to these questions?"
Hi, Desertdungarees. You've made a great choice in deciding to undertake this. Building your own house is a great experience that everyone should have eventually.
First off, don't sweat the core "house building" stuff. Four walls and a door is all you need, baby. Set that up and you're good to go. What you should be stressing about, however, is defending your desert abode from giant sand rats. Most of your energy is going to go into the construction, cleaning, and maintaining of a "desert scarecrow." This scarecrow will demonstrate to all beasts that you are the alpha male of the scorching plains.
This video should give you all the instruction you need: