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Posted by Paul in Madison, GA on 2/26/2009 8:39:39 AM

I completed my journey as a owner-builder a week ago. Closed Tuesday, and have a novel to sell. I would like to share my experience with other people in the state of Georgia as I think every state has its own secrets, codes and changing markets. Let me just say first that I am an accountant by trade but grew up in the construction field. I have worked many jobs in construction to help me through college and to have a little cash as a teenager.

As many of you, I took over a year in planning, budgeting, and design, etc. I do not have the time to go through all the worries and challenges, but I would like to make a quick summary of the initial challenges and financing questions. First, do not buy some stock plan! Find the design you like that has a picture elevation and the basic floor plan you like. Go to Craigslist and find a CAD designer in your area. $25 hr for his time and for less than $1,000 you can have a customized floor plan with all the little changes you want to make. Being that he(she) built the plan they can make the changes very quickly. I thought I bought the perfect house plan, but spent over $700 in changes, plus the cost of the original plans -- $1,400. My house was on a full basement and the original plan showed no daylight options and had over $7K in steel beams. Don't do it! Don Gardner plan: "Macallaster."

In Georgia - Agsouth is the best place for a construction loan for an owner-builder. Also, all you guys in Georgia talking ICF - forget it! My basement walls are 10" thick concrete 10' tall and cost 1/3 of the pricing you are looking at. ICF does not add to the value in your appraisal. My framer studed out all 2x4 walls along all the concrete walls. This allows me to add R13 and sheetrock. Think about it - I have 4" of brick, 10" of concrete, 4" of insulation and sheetrock to boot. My daylight walls are 2x6 walls with 4" brick. Save the money!

I built this house for $250K, plus the lot cost $ 85K. 2,900 sq ft living 550 sq ft garage, 3,000 sq ft basement. This includes $13K driveway that is 11' wide and 600' long! Brick pillars with lighting, etc. There is over 33K in bricks on this house. If you would like to see the home and spend a full day going over all costs, do's and dont's, local sub pricing, etc. ($250). Then email me.


Posted by Nadia in Falls Church, VA on 3/8/2009

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Hi there..

we're in fairfax, virgina.. and we're just starting out 'planning' for our newly acquired lot.. We're also looking at the sort of dimensions you have just finished.. and you seem to have the features that we want - the shower in particular.  How did you manage it on $250K?! It would be wonderful if I could do that too!  Did you come across panel manufacturing in your research?  do you think it is worth it?  How do I locate a framer?!!!

Would appreciate any feedback!


Posted by Paul in Madison, GA on 3/9/2009

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Framing is certainly one of the most difficult subs to find. I got over 20 quotes before finding a price I could not pass up. Most quotes were $20k had one for $45k (this guy does great work and drives all nails by hand, not sure why that is a good thing). I found a hispanic crew that quoted $10.5k. Scared to death took the whole week off to be on-site. They did great work but could not understand any english, tough ordering materials. After they finished I offered the "owner" lead guy $9k cash. They took it and was so greatful you would have thought I gave him extra $500. I did tip all the guys $100 each (4). They cleaned up all scraps, and finished framing all basement walls to for finishing, placed blocking in all walls, etc. My father is a plumber, and I grew up in the trade so I did majority of the plumbing work. That shower cost me $400. Craigslist was a display for a supply house that went out of business. Keep in mind though that it took two full days of labor for an experienced plumber to install then trim out. Labor would cost approx $800. It has 5 valves, 4 jets, and hand shower, plus rain shower. I have another shower in front bath that is the same thing w/o jets. I have four finished bathrooms and two unfinished baths in basement. Trust me took a lot of great deals to make the $250k work for building to these specs. Best of luck. Paul 

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