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O/T build or not to build

Old 05-16-2003, 08:36 AM
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Default O/T build or not to build

I currently live in a 3/2 2yr old home. It's very nice but the wife and I are planning to have kids and stuff soon. My take is I'd like to get a bigger house before kids....I just think it would be easier.

Ok we've found a lot that we like but we're in the middle of figuring out if we want to contract it out ourselves.....or just get a builder and let him do it all. I'd like to save money on it....but then again I don't think I'll have a whole lot of time to devote to it and I know that building a house is a big big project and you have to stay after the contractors daily to get it all done. I know it puts a lot of stress on marriages ( or so I've heard )

What I really don't know about it all it really that much cheaper to do it all yourself as opposed to paying a builder? If it's not that bad I'd rather the builder do it all. I don't know a whole lot about building but have a buddy thats building now and he says it's unreal how much hidden stuff the builders hit you up with. Now I know some of you have been through all of this or are going through it right now. Whats your take?
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Old 05-16-2003, 09:35 AM
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What area are you in ? My brother is a custom builder and could maybe recomend someone . Also sells modular homes . IF you get the right modular it is a great home ! Get it in about 6 weeks and just stand it up and move in ! Unless someone rips you , you can save a lot of money on a modular too . Not trying to push you that way but it is quick and easy and more dependable then a contractor ! You would need a contractor of some kind anyway . You need to do driveway , septic, foundation, heating , plumbing , etc. and the finish work to the house and yard . Lot of permits and stuff too . For you to do it yourself would take at least 3 times longer to do ,unless you can quit work for a year !

Some tips:
Alot of contractors are scum bags ! Don't trust them !
get references and use one that is well known and astablished . Small guys tend to crab the money and run .....

GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING !!!! Do not take their word for ANYTHING ! !

Find out who they are going to sub contract to for everything and check them out too . (Masons , electricians , plumbers, etc.)

And don't pay too much in advance for no work done .

Make sure they are going to do your work on time and not be doing 10 other jobs at the same time !!

If you can find a good contractor ,It would be the easiest thing for you unless you have a LOT of time on your hands ! The other thing is most people tend to burn out quick ! The first week is fun and real cool buiding your own house but after a few months of the same thing everyday you loose the drive .

Just my .02 . Best of luck with it , JOE
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Old 05-16-2003, 09:44 AM
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If you're not sure that you can do it, then you need a professional. Yes, you can save by being your own general, but all the contractors will raise their price in anticipation of you so it's a moot point-especially when you figure in for the hassels.
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Old 05-16-2003, 09:44 AM
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Right now with the economy the way it is the high end housing market suck's, you can buy a nice big house a lot cheaper than you might think. I got mine for 160k less than he was asking and 185k less than it appraised for. Just because I was the only guy that made an offer, it was 200k less than he was asking and he told me not to talk to him again. Then ten day's later he called me back with what he had to get for it. So it might be better to go find one to buy then build.
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Old 05-16-2003, 09:44 AM
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I haven't done it, but had several friends that did.
You essentially become the contractor and sub contract all the various tasks out. You'll have to gather all the information pertaining to each area of responsibility. Like electrical, you'll need to know how many outlets, switches, what size wire is required, cable TV outlets, computer lines, etc. Then you have to send out to several companies for price quotes before you settle on a contractor. Don't forget the permits and in-process inpections.
The bank will specify a date that the roof must be on after start of construction or you could be in default of the loan and loose everything. So all the work prior to that (excavator, mason, plumber, framer, roofer) has to be scheduled for completion by that date.
If you plan on doing some of the work yourself, expect to spend every evening, weekends and holidays working on it. One friend took an entire summer to build a house. He spent every hour not at his regular job at the house.

Even if you don't do it yourself you should still make an appearence at the jobsite every day so the construction crews get to know who you are and so you can spot errors as they occur. My neighbor picked out a house and lot, told the contractor to "call me when it's done". He had nothing but trouble for the first year of ownership.
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Old 05-16-2003, 10:00 AM
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Boss first Mortgage Co.'s do not finance self builders as easily as they use to (GMAC Mort. requires proof of competence). I was a home builder from 1985 to 1992, built around eight hundred homes. I would tell you that someone, as Cashbrain alludes that does not have first hand knowledge of all tasks involved is jumping into a very traitorous endeavor.
There are roughly 50 line items to deal with building a house (Sub-contractors & material suppliers). You will not be able to buy materials at the same price an everyday builder and will also err sometimes on materials which will nullufy any savings. Dealing with sub-contractors is even more dangerous if you are not aware of defined scopes of work, even the good ones will rightfully (Contractually) come back to you with costs when anything in your scope definitions are exeeded, since you might lack experience in scope definition. And this will be repeated with all 20-25 subs you will have to contract. These items, if your lucky will also nullufy any perceived savings you had by self contracting, most lickly it will cost you even more than if you would of given it to one General Contractor as a "turn key" contract. Last thing here is Warranty you will deal with all 50 line item Warranty by self contracting.

Hiring a General Contractor makes you deal with 1 entity for all issues (material, subs,warranties) instead of the fifty, don't understand here that I endorse all GC's, like any field there are stars and a$$holes. Be extremely thurough choosing one ask for reference call people that have dealt with them ask banks that have issued construction mortgages to that GC and digg as deep as you can. Remember here also that if it sounds to good to be true it ALWAYS is. Contracting with a GC you will also get what you pay for don't cheap, go with verified reputation and intent you feel comfortable with. This will save you money and headaches. A lot of people think they can build because it is in fact a series of simple tasks and supplies but knitting them together well makes the difference and there are traps all over. If you lack experience deal with one entity You will save money and maybe your marriage!!!
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Old 05-16-2003, 10:19 AM
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you can always find a contractor that will work with you on how large of a scope you are willing to handle. cost plus 5% they will just expedite for you. cost plus 10% they will be more involved, cost plus 15-20% they will do everything. there is no set hard limits and it is not a put down to them to ask. If your educated and can read you can pretty much do anything. Make sure you have a good architect and make your changes on paper before you start the bidding so the subs don't get you for changes, that is where you give them the opportunity to rape you on costs. Get good subs and bid everything three times so you have a low, high, and medium bids, make your decision from that and references. Keep a cash account and pay in cash-they are responsible for declaring it not you. Get a lien waiver everytime they are paid.... no if ands or buts.

Last edited by liquidlocomotive; 05-16-2003 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 05-16-2003, 10:47 AM
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What area are you in ? My brother is a custom builder and could maybe recomend someone
boot= I'm in Brandon, MS

I appreciate all the advice guys....this is really helping me. I think I'm coming to realize that my best bet it too just let the builder handle it. Or else I'll have to spend a lot of time there and since I don't know a lot about it all, I'll end up screwing something else. If I do go with letting the builder handle it....I will be there a lot though because as you guys mentioned they'll just slack off if I don't make my presence known daily and make sure what they are building is what I've asked for.
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Old 05-16-2003, 11:22 AM
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Default Stop, if you value your wife, job, business

Building the house yourself is not very smart. In this boom time, you (or anyone) acting as his own builder, would have a very hard time getting Subs to even call you back, let alone put together pricing for you, they know you are one shot customer. The building depts. HATE homeowners being their own G.C's, Most building inspectors don't want to hold the builders hand, as far as when inspections have to be called for, etc. Try dealing with as many as 25 separate inspections, supply houses that don't make delivery schedules, constant construction changes on the fly, weather hold ups, and a customer (wife) that you have to see each night. Plus it is very hard to not be overcharged (remember these subs will never hear from you again) The percentage that you will pay a builder 20-25% typ. is well worth it, when you realize his costs to build will be 20-25% less then you Will pay. Also you will not pay him for his mistakes, but you will pay for any you as the builder makes. Find a good reputable builder, local, very important, local. Go to the largest supply houses located close to the building site, and ask to speak to the owner, ask him for (3) builder recommendations, the supply houses know who pays their bills, and who have good reps. interview the builders, and speak to their last 2 or 3 customers, be very specific with your wants when pricing, get it in writing, and try to avoid upgrades and changes!!!! If you think you might want Granite counter-tops (and you will) state that in the beginning, the extra will be way too costly, the mark up on extras is 80%, no extras, no changes if you ca do it that way. Put your effort into finding the right builder, not being the builder. If I can be of any help please just ask.


Last edited by Philip; 05-16-2003 at 12:00 PM.
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Old 05-16-2003, 11:35 AM
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Exactly what Philip said. This is a full time job and no one needs two. Think of it this way, the money you gain in doing it yourself will be lost on your real job, you can make more doing what you do than trying to coordinate subs. They will have no loyalty to part time builders. I do this for a living and I have a builder for the house I am building right now.
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