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So You Want to Build a House (1948)

Joe McDoakes decides to build his own home. As the project progresses, he sees his dream house turn into a nightmare.


(as Richard Bare)


(as Richard Bare)


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Complete credited cast:
George O'Hanlon ...
Narrator (voice)


Joe and Alice McDoakes have twenty-six days until they are evicted from their apartment, with no alternative housing yet in sight. Alice convinces a skeptical and penniless Joe that with current financing, he can build a house for them for next to nothing. From the home designer to the loan officer to the completion bond broker to the lot appraiser to the building inspector, Joe finds that the process isn't as straight forward as Alice implied, while he signs his life away at every turn. But a little advice from someone in the know may make the process easier and the end product come to fruition... or not. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Short





Release Date:

15 May 1948 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Vitaphone Production Reel #1606-A. See more »


Follows So You Want an Apartment (1948) See more »


I Know That You Know
Music by Vincent Youmans
Played during the opening credits and at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

Flannel Cakes with Cottonseed Oil
16 November 2006 | by (Van Buren, Arkansas) – See all my reviews

Today, more famous for being the voice of George Jetson, George O'Hanlon portrayed everyman Joe McDoakes in sixty shorts from 1942 till 1956. "So You Want To Build A House" is typical of these one-reelers filled with lowbrow slapstick and often corny humor, yet still harmless fun for the family getting ready for the main feature to begin.

Made in post-World War II America when returning servicemen and their families (the baby boomers) were searching for homes during a national housing shortage, "So You Want To Build A House" was timely and even lampooned the prefab craze of the day.

While no Groucho Marx, George O'Hanlon had his moments, plus he fit his character well, actually looking and acting like a Joe McDoakes. His devoted wife, Alice (Jane Harker), stood by her man through all Joe's mishaps. Many times narrator Art Gilmore would interject comments, making transitions from one misadventure to another easier for the audience to comprehend.

"So You Want To Build A House" has several colorful characters thrown in to add to the shenanigans, a particular delight is Happy Jack the Laughing Irishman (Ralph Peters), a typical loan shark who nearly dies laughing as he attempts to send Joe to the poor house.

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