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We want to build a better house for less money. I'm a stay-at-home mom, but our youngest is almost in school. I'm taking this on as my next "job." I have previous professional experience as a manager and lots of budgeting and frugality experience as a "home manager" from these last years staying home. Plus, we have definite ideas of what we want for this next house and want to be in charge of the whole process.
Lisa in Onalaska, WI

Try one of our new Construction Bargain Strategies for free. Coupon code: CBS. One strategy could save you $1,000 or $10,000 or maybe $50,000 when you build or remodel.

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Posted to Taking-the-Plunge by Bryan in Springfield, OH on 9/18/2007 8:09:45 PM

How time flies when you're building a house!  Things are going great.  We've been ahead of schedule,  behind schedule and not sure of our schedule.  We had problems with our lumber company not believing how fast our framers would work.  We got what we thought was a great reccomendation on a siding sub that turned out to be a really bad choice.  But, we're still moving forward and everything really is turning out great.  We're right on budget even though we've upped our finish level in almost every area.

Now, we're painting and laying tile.  Then we'll move into hanging the cabinets, let my plumber finish installing fixtures, hang interior doors and all the other fun stuff that involves "finishing" a house.  We can't wait to move in.

I can't say how happy we are that we've done this on our own.  The biggest key to making it work, though, has been my father-in-law whose been onsite almost every day to oversee everything.  It might have worked without him, but I doubt it.  There are so many errands to run, little things to get done and questions to answer that with my wife and I working fulltime, we would have struggled to make it work.

We love that  this house is ours; from design to everything being exactly the way we want.



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Posted to Taking-the-Plunge by Bryan in Springfield, OH on 6/1/2007

So far, so good.  The weather is cooperating and we have been able to dig, pour footers and walls.  Our plumber is coming Mon to work the rough-in basement plumbing and we'll get the walls waterproofed.  The rest of the week should be pouring slabs.  We're still on schedule.


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Posted to Taking-the-Plunge by Bryan in Springfield, OH on 5/23/2007

We are finally really underway.  Our plans breezed through the county building office.  I was surprised, but the clerk said that we had a very complete package and could, obviously, follow directions.  Since the permit came faster than expected, we had to wait a week or so to get our excavator out to the lot.  That's not bad, but it was excruciating. 

Now, we're on a good track.  The excavator started yesterday with the driveway.  He dug most of the basement today and will finish it and the trenches for garage/porch footers tomorrow.  Our concrete guy will have his footer crew in Fri to set/pour footers.  If the weather holds (Ohio in springtime so who knows) we'll have the wall crew in Tue to start setting forms and pouring walls.  The following week would be plumber roughing in my basement plumbing and my flatwork guys pouring my slabs for basement and garage.  The framers are ready for the next week.  It's a great plan.  We'll see if it holds.

At least we're now the proud owners of a gravel driveway and big hole.


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Posted to Taking-the-Plunge by Bryan in Springfield, OH on 4/15/2007

Here's our current plans. The first-floor joists aren't correct on this print. We have one option of a single beam down the middle and are exploring an option of using a load-bearing wall instead of the beam.

We have our septic/well permit. Ohio passed new codes for this year, which makes things a little more difficult, but the woman in charge of the county office was great. She even re-drew my profile plan for me when my attempt didn't have all the required elevations.

We're working to get bids for all the main trades so that we're ready to go when the permit and construction loan are done. Let's hear it for the spreadsheets and tools posted on this site!! 

My fears from last time about our appraisal were unfounded. Our appraisal came in at $375K so we're fine.

So far, everyone we've dealt with has been great. None of the lumberyards, government offices or subs have given us a hard time because we're owner-building. In fact, most have been very helpful.


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Posted to Taking-the-Plunge by Bryan in Springfield, OH on 3/30/2007

Well, we have initial prints and we're starting to get bids. The floor joist plan isn't final. I've got a floor truss company working on it to get us down to one cross beam. We're also looking at 19.2" joist spacing versus 16". Has anyone else used that? The size is new to me. It saves one floor joist every 8'. 

We're using IndyMac bank for our construction loan. We just gave our prints and specs to the appraiser they hired. Now's the time when we're holding our breath that they won't come back with some outrageously low appraisal. Springfield, OH is a pretty inexpensive place to buy/build a house, so I'm worried that we're stretching things. I'm probably worrying too much because we're only looking at a build estimate of $280K, but I'll be happier when we get through this part.

I'm hoping to have my final plans by the second week of April. I want to finalize our floor joist plan first and my draftsman is adding all the details the plans department wants to see. They have a standard for established builders and a different one for owner-builders. They want to ensure we know what we're doing.

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Posted to Taking-the-Plunge by Bryan in Springfield, OH on 3/18/2007

Well, after over a year of debating between paying a builder and building for ourselves, we've decided to take the plunge and become owner-builders. My wife had concerns mainly due to her lack of experience with the home-building process and belief that it must be harder than we think or else why would builders charge so much. We have her stepfather to help us. He has over 30 years experience working part-time in the framing and general construction world. Also, his friend is a home builder with over 30 years experience. His view is that he's had a lot of people help him along his way and he wants to pay that back and help us when we need guidance. 

I've been reading this site, The Owner-Builder Book, and other books and sites for over a year now. We decided that we can handle the management piece and get the home we want for the budget we want much easier by putting our time into the process. I can't take the time off of work to do too much of the work myself, but even subcontracting most of the trades should still yield a better, less-expensive result than paying one of the builders who bid on our project.

Our lot is 1.25 acre on the end of a cul-de-sac and our home plans are around 3,700 sq. ft. We designed the plan ourselves using Punch's home design software. A drafter/designer cleaned them up and made them acceptable to the county plans office. At least, we hope so! We're talking to them and looking to turn the plans in within the next couple weeks.

More to come as the project moves along.

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