You would usually build and install it on the prefix
$HOME. That means the binary would go into
$HOME/bin, libraries into
$HOME/lib and so on. Then you insure that these directories appear on
$MAN_PATH, etc (usualy by editting your shell startup files) and it will work transparently.
Here's a recipe that will work with many programs
$ cd $HOME
$ mkdir src
$ cd src
$ wget http://host.name/path/to/program.tgz
$ tar xzfv program.tgz
$ cd program
$ ./configure --PREFIX=$HOME
$ make install
Note that unlike installing on
/usr/local there is never any need for root privilege.