The floor plans are done, and we are out bidding trades. Our money-saving strategy is becoming more clear as we work through this:
1) We are trying to build the right structure in the right neighborhood to maximize it's appraised value vs. cost. We found that the same house in two different neighborhoods could have a value differential of $100K or more, even more than the cost difference for the land.
2) We are focusing on saving money on the products we put in the house. If we can buy on eBay or through some other outlet, we are. We also got our builders license so we could maximize discounts when we have to buy from stores.
3) We are cutting the middleman out as much as possible. The bids we get are from people doing the work. We are trying to avoid contractors that have a lot of managers and overhead and focus on trade-specific contractors. We are also asking for bids that break down all of the costs, including labor. We are trying to be the buyer of all materials. If a contractor has to buy things like siding, windows, or lumber, then they are going to mark it up. Maybe they can get a better price than us, but so far that hasn't been the case.
4) Lastly, we are going to do a very tiny portion of the work ourselves. I will try to limit myself to jobs where I can save $1,000 or more in a weekend.
Because we are owner-builders, we can get all of the permits ourselves in the state of Michigan. I got my builders license instead so we could run the construction through a separate company we formed.
We are off to meet another ICF contractor, look at his work, and then stop by a window store to look at North Star brand windows.
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