Existing literature on self-building suggests classic state-socialism restricted the practice and it expanded only during the disintegration of the regime. The current article challenges this, to date empirically little supported, statement by estimating the extent of the practice in Hungary between 1921 and 2013 with the help of historical sources on housing construction and housing statistics. Contradicting earlier assumptions, data suggest self-build remained relatively stable throughout the twentieth century, was affected positively rather than negatively by the introduction of state-socialism, but there is no evidence of its substantial expansion during the disintegration process. The comparison of Hungarian data with evidence from countries across the world indicates that based on the time of the decline of the practice, a division among countries can be identified by the three tiers of the world-economy defined by Wallerstein: the core, the semiperiphery and the periphery. Hungary seems to have followed the semiperipheral course of development regardless of its state-socialist past.