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The Owner-Builder Book | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 376 comments | Search Discussion
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(1) | 2 (Slashdot Overload: CommentLimit 50)
DIY (Score:5, Insightful)
by Papa Legba on Wednesday June 19, @11:13AM (#3729254)
(User #192550 Info)

Most contractors are idiots, I am glad to see this book agrees. Remember when dealing with most "profesionals" that they usually have side deals going. While they are working for you this time, they alwasy work with their people. Their prime interests are not yours. That is why they will steer you towards certain yards and certain sub contractors. Not becuase they are the best or the cheapest but because they get a kick back.

A peice of advice not mentioned, from personal experience. While the contractor and the sub-contractors may be who you deal with they are not the ones doing the work. The work crews are the ones that are acutally attaching things to other things. A $60 investment in pizza or beer dropped by the site one day will pay of huge in the long run. If the crews personally like you then they will take more care in constructing your house and be friendlier to change requests. I have seen crews who had been taken care off take all the bad material out of the construction piles (warped or knotty studs i.e.) and place them to be moved to another site for use simply because the homeowner thought enough of them to bring them coffee in the morning. They put the good materials in this guys house and the crap went to everyone else.

[ Parent ]
    Re:DIY (Score:3, Insightful)
    by ncc74656 (salfter@salfter.dy n d n s .org) on Wednesday June 19, @11:53AM (#3729554)
    (User #45571 Info | http://alfter.us/ | Last Journal: Tuesday April 23, @01:04PM)
    A peice of advice not mentioned, from personal experience. While the contractor and the sub-contractors may be who you deal with they are not the ones doing the work. The work crews are the ones that are acutally attaching things to other things. A $60 investment in pizza or beer dropped by the site one day will pay of huge in the long run.

    Pizza's a good idea, but I'm not so sure about the beer. There seemed to be plenty of that in the condo I bought (I saw empty beer cans all over the place during construction), and now all sorts of construction defects are popping up. All of the roofs were rebuilt earlier this year to fix leaks, there seems to be a fair amount of A/C work getting done in the past few months (my compressor and my neighbor's compressor were cross-wired when the place was built...that was fixed two years ago, but more A/C work was needed this year after the roof work), and there's more than likely some other stuff I don't know about.

    [ Parent ]
      Re:DIY (Score:2)
      by markmoss on Wednesday June 19, @12:22PM (#3729756)
      (User #301064 Info)
      So bring the beer around quitting time, not for lunch. Not that any construction worker should be significantly impaired by ONE beer - but they may think they aren't impaired by one sixpack...
      [ Parent ]
    Re:DIY (Score:2, Informative)
    by JustAnotherReader on Wednesday June 19, @12:12PM (#3729689)
    (User #470464 Info)
    Absolutly true. I just did a $150,000 remodel on my house last year. In the year since two other owners on my street have had major remodeling projects done. The one thing that stands out above all others is the incredible number of mistakes that these contractors make.

    My experience:

    • It says right on the plans "Run a quad phone line and Cat 5 cable to the office". They forgot both. I should have checked every wire before the insulation when in and the drywall went up.
    • Our spiral staircase was delivered. It was suppose to be antique white. We came home one day to find a BLACK spiral staircase installed in the wrong location. 2nd staircase comes in and it's just dropped on our front lawn for 3 weeks AND it's the wrong color (bright white) and is very scratched up. We come home one day and the staircase is missing from our lawn. We open up the front door and it's installed (but still the wrong color). After much arguing we get then to come in and paint it the proper color.
    • Our neighbor came home one day to find the wrong kitchen cabinets installed.
    • Same neighbor. Double door installed so crooked that it won't close.
    • Us AND our neighbor: When nailing the plywood shear walls to the studs the building code says that the heads of the nails cannot penetrate the surface of the plywood. The inspectors HATE THAT. It reduces the structual integrity of the wall. You would think that getting rejected once would be enough for a contractor to learn this lesson. But both of our houses had the framing rejected for the exact same reason.
    Just ask anyone who's had a major remodel and you'll hear the same stories. It's up to YOU the owner to catch these mistakes and make sure that they get fixed correctly. So if you're already doing that job then what are you paying the contractor for?

    Also, don't forget the value of sweat equity. The original reviewer mentioned staining the staircase. That's a good example of a job you can do yourself. Interior paint (especially if it's just solid colors) is another good example. Even if you're having custom faux finshing done you can certainly do the primer coat on the drywall yourself.

    And yes, pizza and beer go a long way.

    [ Parent ]
      Re:DIY (Score:1)
      by nexthec (fletcher-at-litech-dot-org) on Wednesday June 19, @04:30PM (#3731812)
      (User #31732 Info)
      I do have to say tho.....I will never sheetrock, it is my living hell, besides it takes me about 10 times as long as the contractor, and about a million visits to the chiropractor. and if your getting a textured wall and ceiling, they will usuaully do the rocking for a fraction of what it would cost you to do it because they get all their materials really cheap, and already own the lifts, and are practiced at it. Besides, most people put the sheets to close to each other, and they cant mud properly between the sheets.

      My other big one is insulating, but i would do that. I sure a s shit wouldnt pay $55 dollars an hour for a couple of carpenters to do it. It is just probably the most annoying experince, but its easy enough to do. a brain dead monkey could do a half good job. I could probably do my own wiring and plumbing, but I dont know if it would be worth it if I had to take time off work, because I'm sure they could do a quicker job of it.

      pizza and bigmacs go along way to fuel anybodys drive.
      [ Parent ]
      Re:DIY (Score:0)
      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @01:03PM (#3730112)

      It was suppose to be antique white. We came home one day to find a BLACK

      That just means that it was exceptionally antique.

      [ Parent ]
    Re:DIY (Score:2, Funny)
    by mph (mph@freebsd.org) on Wednesday June 19, @12:34PM (#3729822)
    (User #7675 Info | http://www.pobox.com/~mph)
    A $60 investment in pizza or beer dropped by the site one day will pay of huge in the long run.
    Note that you should probably provide the beer at the end of the work day.
    [ Parent ]
    Re:DIY (Score:1)
    by jdevons on Wednesday June 19, @11:26AM (#3729355)
    (User #233314 Info | http://consultutah.com/)
    "Bribing" the workers with food, drink, etc is actually mentioned in the book. And from personal experience, it works quite well...
    [ Parent ]
    Re:DIY (Score:1, Insightful)
    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @11:38AM (#3729443)
    There's a guy I work with who made the comment that you can tell what kind of a manager the homeowner is by what he does when he drops by to see the work going on. The good managers show up with beer and pizza; the bad ones hang around with a videocamera.
    [ Parent ]
    Re:DIY (Score:1)
    by sbaker on Wednesday June 19, @03:50PM (#3731510)
    (User #47485 Info | http:/www.sjbaker.org)
    I gotta second this one. We built our house in Texas where all but about two of the people who actually did the work didn't speak a word of English. My wife took Spanish classes just so she could talk to the workers. Beer, soft drinks, Big Mac's and Pizza were all provided - most on a daily basis. It's *DEFINITELY* worth doing that. We asked the contractor if we could have a fancy herringbone pattern worked into the brickwork under the windows - and he wanted to charge us an extra $1k for doing it...well, about $10 spent at MacDonalds got us it 'for free'.

    We'd also visit the site at least daily - often to find the bricklayers sitting around because they'd run out of sand or something...it was our mobile phone that got things moving again by getting the damned contractor to get off his
    ass and get some delivered. Getting friendly with those guys was *well* worth it.
    [ Parent ]
not as easy as it seems (Score:5, Insightful)
by f00zbll on Wednesday June 19, @11:14AM (#3729260)
(User #526151 Info)
To do it properly, one has to have the time and energy to supervise the construction closely. If you don't, it's easy to get into trouble. A contractor has the experience to know where mistakes are made and when to check for them. On the otherhand, if you really have the time and energy to do all that, it produces much better results.

Not everyone can do it. Especially if your work and other commitments aren't flexible enough to allow it.

[ Parent ]
    Re:not as easy as it seems (Score:2, Flamebait)
    by Jobe_br (bdruth@m a c . com) on Wednesday June 19, @12:15PM (#3729713)
    (User #27348 Info | http://homepage.mac.com/bdruth/)
    This is a very sensible post. Doing things yourself is great, but realize that while you're managing the building of your house, you're probably not actively engaged in making money for yourself ... the phrase "time is money" is applicable in this situation. As a co-owner of my own small company, I know that some people think that this leaves me with all sorts of time to do things DIY. Not really - even if I do things on the side while I'm doing business stuff, that means that my attention is split and each task generally suffers. If I take my evenings and weekends to be a project manager for my house, that means that for 6-9 months, I'll have no time for relaxation, an important factor, I've found, if I want to continue to do the work I love. Burn-out comes easy, ya know?
    [ Parent ]
Contractors... (Score:5, Insightful)
by MarvinMouse on Wednesday June 19, @11:14AM (#3729261)
(User #323641 Info | Last Journal: Wednesday July 24, @01:39PM)
"A contractor is very simply a project manager, and usually not a very good one at that."

Knowing a friend who's father built a quite expensive house. As well as knowing contractors myself. I can attest that this is not always correct. You have to understand that a contractor knows the people to go to, and generally who to trust and who not to trust.

If a contractor can save money he will, but unless he is a bad contractor (in which case he won't be around long), they won't purchase the lowest quality materials just because they are cheap. They try to find a happy medium.

Unfortunately, the biggest problem with hiring a contractor is the fact that you have to pay the contractor on top of everyone else. You have to remember though, that you are paying for the contractors time spent in arranging contracts and getting the right people together at the right time. If you take all of that upon your own shoulders, then you are also taking the stress of finding the right people, controlling them, getting good contracts, etc.

If I had the extra money, and a choice. I would hire a quality contractor (one that had been recommended to me), since I don't have the time or the strength really to handle all of the work necessary for proper contracting.

It is true though, that if you are knowledgable on prices for various products, and services, and are willing to take on the work. It is better for you to do the work then the contractor, since you might be able to find deals that the contractor wouldn't know about due to unforeseen circumstances.

In general though, this sounds like a useful book for people who are willing to put in the effort needed to handle a large project like this. (But for my future $1,000,000+ home that I am planning on buying. :-) I think I will have to go with the professionals to handle the work. )
[ Parent ]
    Re:Contractors... (Score:5, Insightful)
    by sphealey on Wednesday June 19, @11:21AM (#3729322)
    (User #2855 Info)
    If a contractor can save money he will, but unless he is a bad contractor (in which case he won't be around long), they won't purchase the lowest quality materials just because they are cheap. They try to find a happy medium.
    Would that that were true. Homeowners contracting construction are caught in several classic game theory traps, particularly those involving information costs and public vs. private information.

    And the homeowner loses every time, because they do exactly one transaction per decade with the contractor, while the contractor does hunderds of transactions per year with homeowners. Yeah, bad word of mouth can hurt in a smaller community, but when was the last time you heard of a contractor going out of business for that reason?

    sPh

    [ Parent ]
      Re:Contractors... (Score:3, Interesting)
      by MarvinMouse on Wednesday June 19, @11:24AM (#3729339)
      (User #323641 Info | Last Journal: Wednesday July 24, @01:39PM)
      when was the last time you heard of a contractor going out of business for that reason?

      Actually, I just heard about a contractor in Edmonton that was dismissed by the company he worked for, for just that reason. He apparently was buying really shoddy goods and customers started to complain to the company. He very quickly was removed from the industry (and blacklisted from what I have heard.)

      [ Parent ]
        Re:Contractors... (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @01:38PM (#3730432)
        Uh, Ok, so he'll just more to Calgary, or Canmore, or Chestermere.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:Contractors... (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @03:16PM (#3731245)
        one in a thousand, an example, a scapegoat. "yeah, we take care of problems, don't worry about anything." (and don't stop by the site to check out the work either.)
        [ Parent ]
      Re:Contractors... (Score:1)
      by libre lover on Wednesday June 19, @02:09PM (#3730691)
      (User #516057 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
      My parents successfully contracted their home back in the late 70's. It worked out extremely well, and here's what I can recall of it (I was about 12 at the time):

    • My mom drew up the flooplan using a pencil and several sheets of 8.5x11 square ruled paper taped end-to-end. Each square represented one foot. This was the extent of the design documentation. The 2500 sq. ft. house (100'x25' with a 100'x10' front porch) was a simple rectangle with a simple truss roof which made framing extremely simple. They got a deal from a framing crew who provided their expertise to fill in any blanks left by the lack of formal documentation. I do recall some minor grumbling from the framers about having to "count them little squares."
    • My mom, who didn't have a job at the time, and my dad, who is a Priest (which gave him lots of time to keep tabs on the project during the week) did what work they could do themselves like painting and insulation and spent practically each day onsite. My mom knew exactly what she wanted when she drew up the plans and there was no changing of minds after something was done.
    • The company that provided the building materials was kind enough to keep a running tab and present them with one bill at the end. This meant that they were able to get the loan for the house and pay the materials bill after the house was built. This saved them some money on financing.
    • This was done just outside a small town (pop. 5000 at the time) where everyone knew each other. The trust factor was high.
    • Total cost, late 70's, for their 2500 sq. ft. stucco ranch-style home and the 13 acres of land it sat on: $40,000. My parents divorced in 1983 (building the house didn't have anything to do with it) and the house sold for $80,000. It sold again about 10 years ago or so for around $130,000.
    • [ Parent ]
    Re:Contractors... are more that PMs (Score:3, Insightful)
    by samf on Wednesday June 19, @01:20PM (#3730240)
    (User #18149 Info | http://slashdot.org/)

    I agree with the above posting, about contractors being more that project managers. Whoever said that they're just PMs, and not very good ones, obviously didn't work with my contractor. There's even more to it than their relationships with the subcontractors.

    I recently build a custom home -- less than $500000 (USD), but not by much. I went with a highly recommend general contractor, who was not cheap.

    At first, I was alarmed by how much money was going to the general contractor. But I was way out of my depth, and I was much happier than I would have been had I gone to a tract builder.

    Then, the problems began, and I was so glad we had a good contractor on our side.

    • The city inspectors found lots of problems that the framers refused to fix. The framers blamed the city, the city blamed the framers. After much argument and delay, the general contractor hired a different framing crew to finish the job. The general contractor ate this cost.
    • The hardwood floor guy used nails that punched through the floor to the ceiling below, and ruined the radiant heat pipes that were there. The general contractor fixed everything, at his cost.
    • After moving in, a bad water leak sprung in one of the upstairs walls. It turned out that a drywall screw had pierced a hot water pipe, and plugged the hole at the same time. Until it rusted out, and the leak began several weeks later. The plumber blamed the drywaller, the drywaller blamed the plumber for using shields that were too thin, to protect the pipes passing through the studs. The general contractor (or rather, his insurance) fixed this, at no cost to me.

    I can't imagine having to deal with all of these problems myself. Sometimes I wonder if the general contractor even made money on my house, after all the things he had to pay for!

    So, be cautious before you think, "I'll do it myself; after all, what good is a general contractor?"

    [ Parent ]
    Re:Contractors... (Score:2)
    by jayhawk88 (rockchalk88@yahoo.com) on Wednesday June 19, @11:40AM (#3729459)
    (User #160512 Info | http://www.joystick101.org/)
    If a contractor can save money he will, but unless he is a bad contractor (in which case he won't be around long), they won't purchase the lowest quality materials just because they are cheap. They try to find a happy medium.

    This is the exact thought I had when he talks about hiring the $5k electrical contractor rather than the $15k one. Those savings won't seem so big in 10 years when you have to pay someone to re-wire your entire house because all the wire and outlets they originally put in was crap and are now a fire hazard.

    Cheaper is not always better.
    [ Parent ]
      Re:Contractors... (Score:1)
      by kubrick on Thursday June 20, @12:45AM (#3734211)
      (User #27291 Info)
      Yeah, but the $15K guys might be putting crap in too, with the extra money being distributed to friends, or to militant unions/the Mob/local government kickbacks/etc. How can you tell, apart from asking people who have dealt with them before?

      [ Parent ]
      Re:Contractors... (Score:0)
      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @03:24PM (#3731296)
      electrical is one area where doing it yourself is totally viable, and not difficult, as long as you aren't required by code to use an electrician. if you are, some electricians will let you help out if you make it clear you'll do exactly as they say.
      [ Parent ]
What? (Score:5, Funny)
by Mr_Silver on Wednesday June 19, @11:33AM (#3729404)
(User #213637 Info | http://www.uberworld.org/user_info.cgi?name=Silver)
I thought this was news for nerds?

A nerd doesn't need a house, just a big fat T1 into his cardboard box. Pfah, homes are for wusses.

:o)

[ Parent ]
    This is how a nerd approaches his house (Score:3, Informative)
    by mekkab on Wednesday June 19, @11:57AM (#3729586)
    (User #133181 Info | http://apl.jhu.edu/~mekkab | Last Journal: Monday June 24, @05:40PM)
    Even a nerd is smart enough to build equity.

    And when I moved into my starter home (town house, actually) I was fully on the DIY kick. I pulled down wallpaper, put up dry wall, changed and added light fixtures, and painted, good lord how I painted!

    Now we're planning on adding a deck in the backyard and we spoke to different contractors. After getting the used-car-salesman "what can I do to make you sign the contract today?", the run-around, the week-to-week price change, and the shady "we'll drive around in my truck and I'll point out the one's I've done, you don't NEED references!"- I've decided to build it myself.
    For a savings of $1,500-3,000 USD (depending upon who's estimate you believe).

    So this book is right up my alley!
    [ Parent ]
      Equity = Location (Score:2)
      by fm6 on Wednesday June 19, @03:30PM (#3731348)
      (User #162816 Info | http://www.dataglyph...?msg=Flying+Monkey+6 | Last Journal: Saturday June 22, @05:26PM)
      Even a cardboard box can build equity -- if it's well situated! In Silicon Valley, where buyers are often shocked at how little house they get for their money (I once saw a half-burnt red tagged house go for about half a mil!), they realtors say you're really just buying expensive land, the house is just bonus!
      [ Parent ]
        Re:Equity = Location (Score:2)
        by mekkab on Wednesday June 19, @05:52PM (#3732402)
        (User #133181 Info | http://apl.jhu.edu/~mekkab | Last Journal: Monday June 24, @05:40PM)
        exactly. Another way to swiftly increase the value of the cardboard box/red tagged house (complete with CONDEMNED signs and all) is to fix 'er up. And the cheapest way to do that is to DIY.

        Think about it, I'm installing a deck for well under a G (well, a G if you include all the beer!)
        and that will more than pay for itself in terms of what the house can be sold for.
        [ Parent ]
          The Nerd Way (Score:2)
          by fm6 on Wednesday June 19, @07:02PM (#3732855)
          (User #162816 Info | http://www.dataglyph...?msg=Flying+Monkey+6 | Last Journal: Saturday June 22, @05:26PM)
          But the NERD WAY to create equity is to just wait for the market to recognize that you have something of value. You don't want to actually DO SOMETHING to create that value! Stock options are a good example.

          Besides, who ever heard of a cardboard box with a deck?

          [ Parent ]
            Re:The Nerd Way (Score:2)
            by mekkab on Wednesday June 19, @08:12PM (#3733248)
            (User #133181 Info | http://apl.jhu.edu/~mekkab | Last Journal: Monday June 24, @05:40PM)
            no no no, I think you are mistaken. The Dot Com Ipo Hound way is to wait for the market to recognize you have something of value...

            The nerd way is to build it on the first go around, have people recognize the value, and then fix the bugs along the way!

            Besides, who ever heard of a cardboard box with a deck?


            That's becuase they sell like hotcakes!

            [ Parent ]
              Re:The Nerd Way (Score:2)
              by fm6 on Wednesday June 19, @08:55PM (#3733394)
              (User #162816 Info | http://www.dataglyph...?msg=Flying+Monkey+6 | Last Journal: Saturday June 22, @05:26PM)
              I stand corrected. But that still doesn't mean the serious nerd needs to build a real house. He can just build a "beta version" out of tongue depressers, and then sell the house as a concept to the above-mentioned IPO Hound.
              [ Parent ]
                Re:The Nerd Way (Score:2)
                by mekkab on Wednesday June 19, @11:37PM (#3733968)
                (User #133181 Info | http://apl.jhu.edu/~mekkab | Last Journal: Monday June 24, @05:40PM)
                Dude... you sellin'? Next to Trex fake wood, tongue depressers are the newest wave in home building materials!

                PS- to bring this back on topic-
                One thing every building geek needs is info on permits and applications. Easy- just get a contractor to spill on exactly WHAT permits one needs to build said structure- pose as a person who might actually buy their services. Then when they say "oh yeah, you just file a 10b21 form a-spec, and it takes about a week..."

                youve played him at his own game.
                Except for you fm6- I think tongue depresser structures are exempt from BOCA standards.
                 
                [ Parent ]
      News for (Yuppy) Nerds (Score:3, Funny)
      by sleight on Wednesday June 19, @12:19PM (#3729741)
      (User #22003 Info | Last Journal: Monday June 17, @04:41PM)
      You forget that a good percentage of /. users are gainfully employed and a smaller percentage are well rewarded for their work. ;)

      And the "Love" poll, a few polls back, indicated that several /.ers are married. While I can't fathom the notion, I suppose it's possible.
      [ Parent ]
    Amateur vs. Professional (Score:5, Insightful)
    by sphealey on Wednesday June 19, @11:33AM (#3729405)
    (User #2855 Info)
    Except for certain specialized tasks (e.g. brain surgery), a dedicated amateur can almost always do a "better" job than a professional - because the amateur can value his own time at zero, and ignore issues of profitability and sustainability.

    Basically, this book is saying that if you have the skills of a project manager and the time, patience, and persistence to act as your own general contractor, you can save money and get a higher quality house.

    No doubt true - IF you have those skills, if the plumber who used to beat you up in high school can't still intimidate you, and if you have the time.

    You also need to consider, however, that most contractors/subcontractors in a given area form their own community, and generally will work together to take advantage of any "lone wolf" outside the system. You will also have a difficult time figuring out, e.g., who the good HVAC contractors are vs. the rip-off artists. This is something the general brings to the game that you can't duplicate.

    Anyway, have fun!

    sPh

    [ Parent ]
      Re:Amateur vs. Professional (Score:3, Interesting)
      by abolith on Wednesday June 19, @12:15PM (#3729715)
      (User #204863 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
      Not always true. One of my old bosses did alot of the work himself as well as all the contracting. He just did some research into each area of the project, step by step. in the end he had a higher quality house for a hellof alot less.

      [ Parent ]
        Re:Amateur vs. Professional (Score:1)
        by Theodrake on Wednesday June 19, @02:42PM (#3730925)
        (User #90052 Info)
        How do you know he had a higher quality house? Everyone keeps saying this, but nobody has proven it. Nobody ever mentions the poor sod that acted as his own contractor and got screwed over. Nobody stands up and says I fucked my self over by going it alone. This is not something you can just research. You have to have some skill. You have to know something about construction.

        In house building in the US we don't train people. They learn on the job. What most of them learn is how to screw the next guy on the job. The guys laying the foundation screw up in one spot. But they say, the framers will fix it and square it up. The framers try but don't quite get it right. They say well the dry waller will square it up. And they try, but it's still a fix, on a fix, on a fix.

        A good contractor knows this and watches for it. A good inspector knows this and can save your ass too. Nothing says even with a contractor you shouldn't be out there checking up on the work.

        [ Parent ]
          Re:Amateur vs. Professional (Score:2)
          by Zathrus on Wednesday June 19, @03:08PM (#3731177)
          (User #232140 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
          How do you know he had a higher quality house? Everyone keeps saying this, but nobody has proven it

          Well, the converse hasn't been proven true either. And while I bet that most people can point at DIY projects gone wrong, I'd also bet that they can point at new home construction gone wrong. I have a friend with a $300k house with $40-50k in rework that he'll have to have done - from the roof to the foundation. Because the builder/GC were scum and are using corporate veils to hide from prosecution. I can also point at my basement (prior to my moving in) and be in utter awe that the house didn't burn down from the "electrical" system they had done themselves.

          This is not something you can just research. You have to have some skill. You have to know something about construction.

          In house building in the US we don't train people. They learn on the job.


          Those are two semi-contradictory statements. Clearly the workers didn't need to know anything to do the job, other than how to swing a hammer, use a saw, or whatever. Certainly in order to spot where the work is shoddy you need to know something about construction, and doing DIY projects is the best way to learn. I wouldn't recommend trying to be a GC on a first home - may as well try and write an entire OS from scratch as your first programming project.

          That said, a good bit of what you need to know can be researched. It's called the local building code. Sure, you'll need some first hand knowledge to know what the hell the difference between hot and neutral is, but it still goes a long ways toward being a GC/inspector yourself.

          A good inspector knows this and can save your ass too

          If you mean the county inspectors, I assume you're joking... most of them just rubber stamp homes, particularly large developments. If you're talking about one you hire, they generally do a good job unless you make it clear that you don't really want to hear about any problems.

          Nothing says even with a contractor you shouldn't be out there checking up on the work

          Actually, everything says that you should be out there checking up on the work. But, frankly, if you have the time and organization skills then you probably can do the same job as the GC. But you have to be damn sure that you'll have the time and really know that you have the organizational skills. This isn't an area where you can afford to let the little things slide.
          [ Parent ]
      Re:Amateur vs. Professional (Score:3, Informative)
      by markmoss on Wednesday June 19, @12:44PM (#3729935)
      (User #301064 Info)
      Good point about the value of your time - how the heck is anyone except a retiree going to find the time the manage building a house while continuing to earn the money to pay for it? I do most of my own repairs, including all wiring and plumbing, and I do it better than a contractor - but I'm not even "earning" minimum wage...

      Related to your comment about the community of contractors in an area, there's the issue of building inspectors. In the US, these are local government employees. They are supposed to both enforce building codes setting minimum standards, and see that whatever is in the plans is what actually gets built. Their "fees" for doing this are several thousand dollars on a small house around here - I'm sure the inspection office is quite a profit center for the county. But the main problem is that they often forget to check on anything unusual in the contract (some other poster mentioned a lot of cat 5 wiring that wasn't installed), and depending on the inspector their interpretation of building codes can cause more trouble than it saves.

      The building codes are pretty subjective - also, in most jurisdictions the law just refers to _copyrighted_ and very expensive publications by building industry groups. (There's something fundamentally wrong about a copyrighted law...) Some of the inspectors are pretty good, but some are arseholes who like to throw their power around, with no understanding of the reasons for the building codes. And the chief inspector in this county just doesn't like do-it-yourselfers, and will hunt through the code for a way to make you tear it out... If you have a contractor, he'll probably be able to get his buddy in the office to pass the work. That's not always to the good, either...
      [ Parent ]
        Re:Amateur vs. Professional (Score:4, Informative)
        by sphealey on Wednesday June 19, @12:55PM (#3730038)
        (User #2855 Info)
        The building codes are pretty subjective - also, in most jurisdictions the law just refers to _copyrighted_ and very expensive publications by building industry groups. (There's something fundamentally wrong about a copyrighted law...)
        A excellent decision by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals just made it a lot harder for laws to be copyrighted:
        Veeck vs. SBCCI [uscourts.gov]

        sPh

        [ Parent ]
          Re:Amateur vs. Professional (Score:2)
          by markmoss on Wednesday June 19, @03:17PM (#3731249)
          (User #301064 Info)
          Unfortunately, Veeck vs. SBCCI (in the parent post) applies to a case where the town, with authorization from the copyright holder, copied an entire Model Building Code into their law. For that situation only the law cannot be copyrighted. (At this point the decision applies only in Texas and other states under the 5th Circuit Court, however after reading this court's decision, it wasn't a close call at all.)

          This doesn't address the case where the law refers to a copyrighted private publication, as in my county: 'If a statute refers to the Red Book ..., the law requires citizens to consult or use a copyrighted work in the process of fulfilling their obligations. The copyrighted works do not "become law" merely because a statute refers to them.' I'd agree with the second sentence there - but I have a big problem with the first one. If you cannot comply with the law without dealing with a private monopoly, it shouldn't be a law.

          By the way, if Congressman Joe Blowhard reads the latest Stephen King novel into the Congressional Record, does it thereby become non-copyrighted? (Of course, you would have to title it "Joe Blowhard reading Stephen King's..." when you republished it.)
          [ Parent ]
            Re:Amateur vs. Professional (Score:2)
            by Zathrus on Wednesday June 19, @05:57PM (#3732448)
            (User #232140 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
            I guess I'm not sure what you mean by "copied an entire Model Building Code into their law."

            I've been doing a lot of DIY projects around my house and I'm starting to get fidgity... because I don't have a copy of the NEC. According to my city's ordinances:


            a) The following technical and building codes, the latest edition of each as adopted and amended by the state department of community affairs, are adopted by reference and shall be enforced in the City of Roswell:
            [...]
            (2) National Electrical Code as published by the National Fire Protection Association.


            So by your wording (and my city's), I'd assume that the NEC doesn't become a public document (assuming that it was published as "City of Roswell Building Codes" and not as "NEC as referenced by ...").

            I also have an issue with refering to copyrighted works as law... it prevents citizens from accessing large parts of the law that they are supposed to comply with. Lack of knowledge of the law is not a defense -- but that presumes that the knowledge was freely available in the first place.

            By the way, if Congressman Joe Blowhard reads the latest Stephen King novel into the Congressional Record, does it thereby become non-copyrighted? (Of course, you would have to title it "Joe Blowhard reading Stephen King's..." when you republished it.)


            Yup, especially since Representatives and Senators cannot be prosecuted for anything while on record in the House/Senate - including libel and slander. There have been numerous efforts to get someone to read the DeCSS code into the Congressional record, thus making it public domain and impossible to prosecute (assuming, of course, that you got the source from the Congressional record).
            [ Parent ]
              Re:Amateur vs. Professional (Score:2)
              by bluGill on Thursday June 20, @01:54PM (#3737481)
              (User #862 Info | http://www.black-hole.com/users/henrymiller/)

              Have you ever tried to read the NEC? I have, and even though I know about what it is going to say, and (some) of the reasons behind it, I still can't read it and understand it. I can also buy the NEC for about the cost of printing, and I execpt (but likely can't...) that I can find the NEC online if I need it.

              Instead of reading the NEC, what anyone wiring a house needs is a seperate book, written by the same people who wrote the NEC that not only has the code, but also explains it in words and format that an electrition can use and understand, vs words that only a lawyer can understand. The same orginization that writes the NEC happens to publish a much more expensive book that explains the NEC in those word.

              [ Parent ]
                Re:Amateur vs. Professional (Score:2)
                by markmoss on Friday June 21, @07:56AM (#3742617)
                (User #301064 Info)
                I've tried to read the NEC. I certainly understand the reasons behind it (training and experience as an electronics tech, electrical engineering degree and 15 years experience, various construction & repair experience since I was big enough to pick up a hammer, and I do better but slower wiring than most licensed electricians), but I sure can't understand it. Besides bad writing, the problem is that it tries to cover all possible cases (residential, industrial, farm, storage buildings), and all possible methods of construction.

                Looking for the NEC on-line, I don't find it. (It's copyrighted so they can legally keep it off the net.) But what you do find is various attempts to tell you how to wire various things according to the code - and the one thing they all have in common is that they say you have to check with your building inspector to find out how he interprets it. The word for that is "subjective" - and a subjective law is even worse than a copyrighted law!
                [ Parent ]
            Re:Amateur vs. Professional (Score:0)
            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @06:50PM (#3732769)
            > If you cannot comply with the law without dealing with a private monopoly, it shouldn't be a law.

            I agree. The opinion goes round-and-round on what should be a patently black and white issue.

            If there is anything out there that says... "Thou shalt" and "Thou shalt not", or else... by whatever literary device, and it can be used against you in any action - then it must be in the public domain for those affected. Period, no question. Any argument otherwise is a plea for tyrany.

            Imagine this. By design, the "Socity for a Safer America" publishes a copyrighted "model code" for stopping Terrorism(TM). It's adopted by reference, and again by design, the author will not produce but a single copy. 'Cus it's their right, ya know.

            Now you can be shot dead for inciting "fear", let's say, for being on a train, looking "mean", and being of middle eastern decent. The best that will happen to your killer is the case is dismissed as the judge is shown that single copy of the referenced book that is apparently not "the law", but was good enough to have gotten you dead.

            There seemed to be some argument (Red Book) that some "law" requires effort to keep current, that effort should be compensated, and copyright has some valid claim on getting that compensation. The argument goes that people affected by the law should pay for the law. Its bogus, completely bogus.

            Laws pit one group against another. Who should pay? Well, the people passing the law, and only the people passing the law. Never those affected by it. So, that Red Book should be in the public domain, for all affected by that jurisdiction, and the services that it takes to produce it should be paid by a check from that government.

            I think this opinion hit the mark, but didn't realize it, did not take it far enough, and incompletely analysed the situation. That is that a copyrighted work can be used as "law", but for everyone afffected, and only those, that work can become a matter of public domain.

            So any jurisdiction that wants to reference "Red Book" in their laws can pay for the privilege. Those that have to live up to those laws should never have to pay to comply.

            [ Parent ]
              Re:Amateur vs. Professional (Score:2)
              by markmoss on Thursday June 20, @12:32PM (#3736743)
              (User #301064 Info)
              If there is anything out there that says... "Thou shalt" and "Thou shalt not", or else... by whatever literary device, and it can be used against you in any action - then it must be in the public domain for those affected. Period, no question. Any argument otherwise is a plea for tyrany. I agree completely. You've said it better than I could.

              The other issues are how the developers of model building codes get paid for their work and expenses, and how building quality is assured, if copyrighted model codes cannot be directly enacted into law. It's not that tough a problem, especially if you are willing to think out of the "there ought to be a law" box:

              1) Local governments desiring to use a building code could pay a fair price for the right to copy it. That would be a lot more than what they pay to put one copy in the inspector's office, but not prohibitive when you consider that the inspection fees on a small house around here are $3,000, or nearly as much as the sales tax. (The cost of meeting wrong-headed standards has sometimes been much, much higher.) It's just that the inspector won't be quite as big a profit center for the county if they have to buy a license to copy the code...

              2. Considering the abuses and weaknesses I've observed in the government-run inspection system, a libertarian solution would be much better overall:

              1. No building code mandated by law, except possibly a few very simple restrictions to keep your building projects from becoming a danger to your neighbors. (E.g., propane tanks arranged so as not to explode.) Enforce it not by inspecting every project, but by allowing the neighbors to sue if they think your place is a hazard (at their risk of paying your legal expenses if they lose).

              2. If you are dealing with a contractor to build a house or other construction for you, you agree in the contract on the code to be used and the private inspection agency to be hired. The contract isn't paid off until the inspector signs off - but he works for you, not the gov't. If you want the house wired with fiber, get an inspector that understands that (gov't inspectors will probably not notice if this part of the contract wasn't met at all). If you want the place built to last, find some higher standards, and get an inspector that will really enforce them. If you want a shack that can fall down in three years but no sooner, pick appropriate standards...

              3. If you are buying a new house, not built to your specs, you check for the inspection agencies sign-off and which standards they used. On an older house, you can check the original inspection - but it's a good idea to hire an inspector to check it again, anyhow.

              4. DIY, you can hire an inspector or inspect it yourself. If you actually know what you're doing, this saves money. If you're like the "Tim" character on Home Improvements, this probably reduces the chances of you or any of your family surviving to spread your genes, and is that such a bad thing? 8-)

              The problems with the libertarian model are the ones of finding a good inspector (not the one the contractor likes because he'll approve anything if the contractor really needs him to) and figuring your way around the competing building codes. I find those problems preferable to paying an exorbitant fee to an inspector I cannot pick, and having only one building code, probably recommended to the county commission by the biggest developer of poor-quality housing...
              [ Parent ]
                Re:Amateur vs. Professional (Score:0)
                by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 20, @01:38PM (#3737324)
                > The problems with the libertarian model are the ones of finding a good inspector ...

                I'm sure that won't be too hard. One will likely show up whenever you apply for a mortgage or insurance contact.

                Unfortunately the best we'd be able to do to get the government out is to replace it with an even more dangerous system of profit motivated Corporate inspections. (Not that codes today aren't profit motivated, but they are not yet specific to things like your insurance premium.)

                In the end, the problem is many people will do unsafe things that can't always be easily identified, until they fail.

                Half those people would do the right thing, if they only know what it was. I happen to think the "welcome wagon" gift basket should include a few pages of practical points. Let's face it, most residential construction breaks down to a 4-5 pager on each of Electrical, Plumbing, Framing, and Yards, Fences and Sheds.

                I want to replace a Shed. It's been horrible getting the township to tell me how big I can make one without their permiting and inspection process. Their answer is "submit your plans, pay $35, and we'll respond with approval, disapproval, or a letter saying you don't need approval." Or, you can buy the ordinance but you have to provide the citation for us. More cute. Of course that formal request will likely be tied to my property records, and will promptly boost my property taxes. Double cute.

                [ Parent ]
                  Re:Amateur vs. Professional (Score:2)
                  by markmoss on Thursday June 20, @02:42PM (#3737896)
                  (User #301064 Info)
                  Unfortunately the best we'd be able to do to get the government out is to replace it with an even more dangerous system of profit motivated Corporate inspections. (Not that codes today aren't profit motivated, but they are not yet specific to things like your insurance premium.)

                  You know Underwriter's Laboratories (UL)? Their stamp is on about 90% of electrical equipment in the US. UL tests a typical unit and monitors the production process rather than inspecting everything, so the cost per unit is very small. UL stamps are mandated by the insurance companies, not by the government, and it works much better than gov't building inspections do.

                  And if you really want to use a different test lab for electrical equipment safety, some insurers will agree. European manufacturers use European testing labs, and their stamps are accepted here and vice-versa in most cases. Or there's a fair amount of small equipment on the market with no stamp at all (from lamps to computers, but all customer installed rather than installed to codes that mandate the stamp). Either the insurer trusts these manufacturers to do the job right, they pay enormous premiums, or they don't have liability insurance and take the risk if something does go wrong.
                  [ Parent ]
          Building inspectors (Score:1)
          by plsander on Wednesday June 19, @01:14PM (#3730189)
          (User #30907 Info)

          At least around here, the county building inspectors could care less about the cable and phone cabling being to plan. All they care about is if the installed wireing (plumbing, frameing, etc) is to county code.

          [ Parent ]
        Amen. Amateur has ZERO experience (Score:2)
        by Ars-Fartsica on Wednesday June 19, @12:40PM (#3729874)
        (User #166957 Info | http://slashdot.org/~Ars-Fartsica/journal/ | Last Journal: Saturday July 27, @01:36AM)
        The amateur contractors use the yellow pages to find their subs. This is why they always end up with the crappiest subs - because they often naively think the lowest bidder should get the job.

        There are enough contractors out there that you can shop around. Maybe doing it yourself is the way to go, but if you end up surfing the yellow pages for a subcontractor, you likely are about to enter the pain cave.

        Also, many good contractors do a fair deal of the work themselves. Mine put in my windows, did some closet carpentry, etc. This guy did not just stand around and eat pizza.

        [ Parent ]
        Re:Amateur vs. Professional (Score:2)
        by david.given (dg@cowlark.com.REMOVE.THIS.BIT) on Wednesday June 19, @01:01PM (#3730091)
        (User #6740 Info | http://www.cowlark.com)
        Damn straight.

        My father recently built a conservatory to my parent's house. He did this by spending about a year meticulously planning it, researching the various companies that supply conservatories, planning all the stages it would take to build (this long to lay the foundation, this long to put up the frame, this long to put on the roof, this long to glaze, etc; plus that stage 1 must be done during a dry spell, as must stages 2 & 3, but it's all right to get wet before stage 2 and after stage 3, and so on).

        The result? The conservatory went up smoothly and flawlessly and *completely* perfectly. (Although I did have to help shovel about two tonnes of soil. God, soil is heavy.) But if you calculate the amount of hours he put into that conservatory, it would hardly be cost efficient --- if he had to pay for those hours. Which he didn't.

        The next big project is to put in central heating. This involves ripping up every floor in the house and installing a wood stove. This one's been planned for about five years...

        [ Parent ]
          Re:Amateur vs. Professional (Score:0)
          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @01:51PM (#3730561)
          The thing is he can take pride in saying that he built it. It does sound like a long time planning though.
          [ Parent ]
          Re:Amateur vs. Professional (Score:0)
          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @02:16PM (#3730744)
          You forget that you have plan in either case. All that work "researching the various companies that supply conservatories" had best be done before you approch the contractor.

          The rest is basic project management. If you aren't one by trade, it will take you longer. But, money you save is "earned" at 1.4 times what you would pay because of the income tax effect. If a "pro" might take 4 weeks, you can take 6 and still earn a pro's wage.

          Of course, you aren't a pro so you can't expect to earn a pro's wage. But, half that wage is pretty darn good for an apprentice. Now you can take 12 weeks to do something the pro could do in 4.

          Turn weeks to months for complete contstruction, and you can profitably spend a year to match the 4 month effort of any "pro".

          In the end, you got something that "went up smoothly and flawlessly and *completely* perfectly" AND your father probably paid himself remarkably well for the effort.
          [ Parent ]
        Re:Amateur vs. Professional (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @01:05PM (#3730130)
        if the plumber who used to beat you up in high school can't still intimidate you, [...]

        You watch too much Frasier.
        [ Parent ]
      Living through it right now (Score:5, Informative)
      by gCGBD on Wednesday June 19, @11:50AM (#3729530)
      (User #532991 Info | http://slashdot.org/)

      I am in the process of building a custom home at this time. Here are some things I've discovered along the way...

      The primary job of an architect is to add design features to your home. In other words, they charge you money to make your house more expensive. You almost always DO NOT need one.

      Instead, I recommend a good structural engineer. Start out with a pretty good idea of your budget, and a pretty good idea of what you want for a house (look through the $5 house plans magazines and books and free sites on the web until you think you are going to be sick).

      The structural engineer will take care of the rest.

      We started with an architect. $25,000 later we had house plans that we couldn't afford to build, and didn't even have the structural engineering done yet. Everything that the builder and subcontractors and permit process need are provided by the structural engineer, not the "architect".

      After abandoning that approach, we purchased house plans from one of those house plan books. Only to discover that it couldn't be 'stamped' for the state we live in (Ohio) and had to be completely re-engineered anyhow. Another $1,000 wasted.

      Once we got this part of the process right - the structural engineer cost us about $4,000 (to do everything).

      I read a bunch of books on being your own contractor. Indeed the job description is basically that which we in IT call a project manager. I figured I'd make a go of it myself.

      Then I discovered the next issue - every single material supplier and subcontractor had higher prices for me, than they did for a full time general contractor. 'Contractor Pricing' was often 1/2 of what they would charge me as an independent general contractor.

      On top of that I had a really hard time finding a bank willing to do a construction loan without a trade contractor involved.

      Lastly, I found the government inspectors to be very grumpy and skeptical about dealing with an independent contractor.

      Therefore I was able to actually save money, as well as many headaches (there are enough already) by hiring a general contractor.

      [ Parent ]
        Re:Living through it right now (Score:2)
        by bluGill on Wednesday June 19, @12:09PM (#3729669)
        (User #862 Info | http://www.black-hole.com/users/henrymiller/)

        Lastly, I found the government inspectors to be very grumpy and skeptical about dealing with an independent contractor.

        Did you know that the inspector is paid by the goverment, and you vote. More than that, local goverment often has a problem getting voters. If the inspector treats you baddly, you can get him fired. A letter to his boss while your a building, and if that doesn't work, get all your neighbors to vote (they probably would only vote for president otherwise) for someone else (like you, hint), who knows that inspectors treating homeowners baddly is a reason some is voting. It won't work everytime, but it can work often enough.

        [ Parent ]
          Re:Living through it right now (Score:1)
          by gCGBD on Wednesday June 19, @01:12PM (#3730170)
          (User #532991 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
          Where I live the local government's are completely controlled by the big developers.

          All a complaint would get a citizen is more trouble.

          [ Parent ]
          Re:Living through it right now (Score:1)
          by vovin on Wednesday June 19, @03:11PM (#3731192)
          (User #12759 Info | http://shaun.tancheff.com/#(NeedsUpdate))
          Hmm... That never gets me out of a speeding ticket. Nope. 'I vote' is only likly to make things worse, much worse. The inspector *is* the local code, and local code trumps all other codes.
          [ Parent ]
          Re:Living through it right now (Score:1)
          by s.fontinalis on Wednesday June 19, @06:16PM (#3732579)
          (User #580601 Info)
          Stop with the conspiracy theories!

          The reason inspectors are more skeptical with a self contractor is because they have to completely evaluate your work, an initial inspection so to speak. For any pro contractor their are tens of prior instances upon which the inspector has already established an opinion, i.e. Joe's a good contractor, but tends to skimp on foundations, so I'll check there. For pro contractors the inspection is more a refresher. Humans ALWAYS study the unknown more closely than the known.

          Of course there is always the gross ingnorance of self contractors which comes into play.

          [ Parent ]
            Re:Living through it right now (Score:2)
            by bluGill on Thursday June 20, @12:07PM (#3736544)
            (User #862 Info | http://www.black-hole.com/users/henrymiller/)

            Thats not what I'm complaining about. Contractors get away with things that homeowners would not.

            I know one contractor who sends his wife to all inspections in a very short skirt. Nothing illegal can be proven to happen, but they are well aware that it might help. (someone needs to attend all inspections, and she knows construction and can answer the hard questions correctly)

            Now I agree that inspectors do get to know contractors, and will let things that should require a followup inspection go when the honest ones promise to fix it. However some inspectors hate to see home owners do their own work and will look for little details that contractors leave. Other inspectors are good though, and as a home owner I like it when the good one points out things I need to correct. I hate is when the bad ones pick up details that do not matter, and are legal and require a change just because I'm not a professional. i've run into both types.

            [ Parent ]
        Re:Living through it right now (Score:2)
        by daviddennis (david@amazing.com) on Wednesday June 19, @02:13PM (#3730722)
        (User #10926 Info | http://www.amazing.com/)
        This sounds like good advice if you don't want a particularly distinctive or interesting house.

        I recommend visiting http://www.architectureforsale.com/ if you want a good idea of what high-quality architects can deliver.

        One of their listings was designed with the supervision of a company that normally designed museums, and as a result it looks like a mini-museum and is wildly impractical. (I know because I visited the open house). But many of their listings are really wonderful places that have a look and feel way superior to the garden variety house.

        If you want a designer home, you have to be careful thanks to the ego of the designer, but you can get a truly wonderful house out of it. So I would not dismiss an architect entirely; just make sure that they are sympathetic towards your needs. Many of them would rather satisfy their ego than yours, and they are to be avoided.

        D
        [ Parent ]
        Re:Living through it right now (Score:2)
        by Overzeetop on Wednesday June 19, @02:46PM (#3730958)
        (User #214511 Info)
        Wow...a structrual engineer isn't usually the design professional you think of when you design a house, but I gotta say I like the idea. Of course, that's 'cause I love residential architecture and I'm a registered strucutral engineer! I designed my own house, and am in the middle of my parent's retirement home. I don't think I could make a good living at the overall design process at $4k a pop, but I suppose it's possible. My personal residence took me 6 months of weekends after 4 years of intermittant research. I suppose a month or so of work could get it done now...

        [ Parent ]
        Re:Living through it - an architectural response (Score:2, Insightful)
        by tomdarch on Wednesday June 19, @06:30PM (#3732646)
        (User #225937 Info)
        As an architect (technically, I've completed the IDP and I'll be taking the ARE very soon) I have to say that I have a different perspective.

        The role of an architect is not to add doodads. There are several perspectives, but fundamentally an architect adds value to your project, not to mention being legally required in many areas for a varitey of reasons - health, safety and public welfare being high on the list.

        Let me say at the outset that there are goofball architects, just as there are quack doctors and MBAs who have zero business sense. If your goal is to get a conventional house for the lowest possible dollars per square foot, there are architects who can help you. There are also archtiects who would hinder you. Take the book's point, shop around - talk to people - look at your options.

        For your first experience with building a house, a knowledgeable architect can guide you through the legal and financial minefield and hopefully get a more beautiful end result. The world is full of horror stories of financing scams, vanishing subcontractors, code problems that shut projects down, structural 'omissions' and on and on.

        Designing a good house takes a fair amount of skill. Most smart people can get a few of the 'balls in the air.' You can develop a decent floor plan, think through the basic cost implications of what goes where and have a sense of how it's going to work in three dimensions. This is usually enough to get someting built, but is the result 'good' or 'great'? Someone with experience designing buildings thoughfully (a.k.a. a good architect) will add value, both qualitatively and functionally. A cynic would say that the market for housing in America has pretty low standards for quality of materials and design. But this is YOUR house we're talking about - do you want the Windows 3.1 of houses?

        A structural engineer can also be an important part of the team. While many architects can do the structural engineering part of the design process, particularly for conventional houses, structural engineers can't do a lot of very important parts of the design process. SEs have stacks of code books and manuals that deal with their parts of building design, which are very important, but don't have a lot to do with the simple construction of houses. Their field of expertise doesn't cover things like the codes that relate to your family not burning to death in a fire.

        Another issue is 'plan stamping'. In areas where an archictect is required by law you may be tempted to try to find a scumbag to apply her seal to some pre-drawn plans. This is a bad idea. If you need the 'what's in it for me' reason try massive dollar costs. 'Stamped plans' are likely to have problems with local codes which can cost you tens of thousands of dollars in fines and rip-and-replace costs.

        I can fudge together shell scripts or bits of C++, but am I a programmer? No. Could I tackle a moderately complicated programming task myself? Maybe, but it would a nasty mess, inefficient, buggy and take a long time. I don't have that expertise even if I know a fair amount about how computers work and know what I like in user interfaces. Don't see architects as an enemy or hinderance. Look for one who wants to work with you in your way for your project and take advantage of her ideas and experience.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:Living through it right now (Score:1)
        by jdevons on Wednesday June 19, @01:40PM (#3730460)
        (User #233314 Info | http://consultutah.com/)
        I actually got better prices than all of my subs could get. There wasn't a one that could beat me...

        And I even told the suppliers that I was an owner-builder.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:Living through it right now (Score:1)
        by s.fontinalis on Wednesday June 19, @06:22PM (#3732604)
        (User #580601 Info)
        "The primary job of an architect is to add design features to your home. In other words, they charge you money to make your house more expensive. You almost always DO NOT need one."

        This is characteristic only of a bad architect. A quality architect will make your home more functional, appealing, and interesting. Quite a number of famous architects have designed sunning homes for marginally (5%) more than you'd pay for a run of the mill suburban heap.

        Of course the real root of your statement is the American aversion to quality design (And no, Quality design is not a computer in 5 different colors!)
        [ Parent ]
        Re:Living through it right now (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @02:25PM (#3730791)
        Ummm, actually, subcontractors should be getting your quotes, not you. You'll be taken for a ride if you try to get it yourself.

        Also, if government inspectors are giving you problems, call them on it. Inspectors should only be interested in whether the design meets code. Your structural engineer and architect, if you had good ones, take care of all of that for you when they did the plan because they know the code. When the office then checks your plan, they check it meets code then. After that, they check the plan is followed with building code checks at the appropriate time. If the inspectors are giving you problems, complain to your municipal or city office. The inspectors are not always nice, but they should always act professionally and do their job.
        [ Parent ]
      A *lot* of hard work (Score:5, Interesting)
      by sclatter on Wednesday June 19, @11:50AM (#3729532)
      (User #65697 Info | http://www.segv.com)
      My parents built the house they live in now. Friends and family did the framing. A few things, like the plumbing, cabinetry and masonry were contracted out. My granddad did the electrical and Dad and granddad did the finishing.

      The only way this was possible in the first place was that my parents have a good friend who is a (very good) building contractor. He sort of tutored them along. Still, there were plenty of problems. My folks paid a premium for the "best" masons, who left mortar stuck all over all the face of the brick. Dad had to spent days with a rented acid washer cleaning up the mess. The guy who laid the marble in the foyer screwed up so most of it has cracked over time. My granddad fell off the porch roof that he was shingling. Luckily his paratrooper training kicked in-- he tucked, rolled, and was fine. But mostly it was the countless little things that just add up.

      Was it worth it? Certainly my parents have a much nicer house than they otherwise could have afforded. But I think it put a huge strain on my parents' marriage. My parents were able to do things exactly the way they wanted, but later they discovered that some things they thought would be really cool just weren't. (The bathroom setup though good in concept has proven to be particularly sub-optimal.) We had to live with my grandparents for a while during the construction and that was pretty hard sometimes.

      Basically, I don't think my dad would do it again.
      [ Parent ]
        Re:A *lot* of hard work (Score:2, Interesting)
        by jackjumper on Wednesday June 19, @12:27PM (#3729776)
        (User #307961 Info)
        On the other hand, I bought a house that was constructed this way. It's a nice house, but when we did some work on it, we discovered, for instance, that the wiring was all messed up and had to get it redone to get it up to code. The previous owner's brother-in-law did the wiring.

        There was also the issue of the shower stall being a load bearing member...
        [ Parent ]
      Slashdot branching out. (Score:5, Funny)
      by eyeball on Wednesday June 19, @12:05PM (#3729646)
      (User #17206 Info | http://www.spacehaven.com/)
      It's good to see Slashdot branching out from computers and politics. Here are some future subjects that need coverage:

      • Dental hygiene

      • Auto repair

      • How to remove tough stains from laundry

      • Arctic survival skills

      • Mens and womens fashion

      • Extreme sports

      • Gormet coffee reviews



      [ Parent ]
        Ask and you shall receive... (Score:5, Funny)
        by dghcasp on Wednesday June 19, @02:30PM (#3730824)
        (User #459766 Info)

        Dental Hygene: Have some. Buy toothbrush and use it regularly, yet not more than four times a day. Unless you grew up in the sewers of Calcutta, at some point in your childhood a dentist showed you how to brush. Dredge your memory and do it - If it seems to take twice as long as normal, you're probably on the right track. Try to avoid having things caught between your teeth, even if it's a hunk of CAT-5 insulation.

        Auto Repair: Go to garage. Pay money. Would you trust your mission critical software to a mechanic who "plays with software?" Didn't think so...

        How to remove tough Stains: Point out stain to drycleaner. They will remove it. Unless you're the kind of person who regularly spills stuff on your clothes (in which case, try to stop,) it's cheaper to pay them occasionally than to buy a whole bunch of cleaning products that will sit unused under your sink 99% of the time.

        Arctic Survival Skills: Stay warm. It only takes a tiny fire to warm an igloo. Remember the fire needs a chimney hole. Note "warm" doesn't mean room temperature - It's surprisingly easy to melt a hole in an igloo, or have the whole thing collapse on you while you sleep, which kind of defeats the point of survival. If you kill a polar bear, don't eat the liver, as it has a toxic level of Vitamin A.

        Fashion (in general): Fashion is designed as "planned obsolescence" without an upgrade path. Designers want you to replace everything every six months - This is why fashion changes every year. The easiest rule to avoid wasting your money is only buy "the look" the year after it's first seen. If it's going to be around for a while, they'll be still selling it. If not, then you avoided having to toss out things after six months because that's "soooo last year." You do get what you pay for, but after a certain point, the incremental return is marginal. These points are (approximatly) Shirt: $45, Pant/Skirt: $80, Shoes: $130, Suit Jacket: $450.

        Men's Fashion: "Sloppy Chic" is not only out, it was never really in. Shirts should have measurements for both sleeve and collar, not S/M/L/XL. No woman on earth is impressed by your "Mozilla 1.0" Tee Shirt. It you're wearing a tie, you should barely know it - if it's choking you, either you tied it too tight or your shirt collar is too small. Pants come in other fabrics than Denim. Shoes should have laces, not velcro or buckles, and cover your whole foot. Mixing and Matching Rules: Solid+Solid or Stripe+Solid or Pattern+Solid - There are no other valid combinations. Easiest way to accessorize and match: Go to Macy's/The Bay/Marks&Spencer and buy the exact same outfits the mannequins are wearing. Don't try this at K-Mart/Zellers/Tesco. It's far easier to be successful dressing "somewhat conservitive" than "modern and fashionable." If you saw it in a magazine and the model's hair was not combed, you have almost a 0 percent chance of wearing that garment successfully. Try mixing in at most one (1) "fun" or "trendy" thing with your outfits (i.e. shirt, tie, shoes.)

        Women's Fashion: See "Men's Fashion," but you have both more choices and more lattitude. If a boot comes less than 1/2 the way up to your knee, you should not see the top of it (They're called pant boots for a reason.) Don't mix clunky with sleek. Undergarments should not show through clothes. If more than 1/2 the time you're wearing the outfit is indoors, wear hose or socks. Never be seen in public in a Mu-Muu.

        Extreme Sports: Have a good medical plan and life insurance first.

        Gourmet Coffee Reviews: I don't drink coffee, so I can't comment on this.

        [ Parent ]
        Re:Slashdot branching out. (Score:2)
        by jhaberman on Wednesday June 19, @01:44PM (#3730503)
        (User #246905 Info)
        "... or you can earn your degree... Choose from business management or accounting..."
        [ Parent ]
        Re:Slashdot branching out. (Score:2)
        by duffbeer703 (duffybj1@FREEBSDyahoo.com minus bsd) on Thursday June 20, @09:13AM (#3735449)
        (User #177751 Info)
        Too bad that won't happen.

        Slashdot gets a little tedious with the same worn out topics and tired arguments all the time.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:Slashdot branching out. (Score:1)
        by tadd (taddjd&verizon,net) on Wednesday June 19, @12:44PM (#3729936)
        (User #51292 Info | http://softcon.com/~tadd)
        Hmm, let us see... I think that housing is definitely "Stuff That Matters"
        Moreover, a do-it-yourself type article is DEFINITELY "News for NERDS" as ANY DIY project is inherently nerdy. So, quit your whining already.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:Slashdot branching out. (Score:1)
        by Merlin42 on Wednesday June 19, @02:18PM (#3730758)
        (User #148225 Info)
        And 30 minutes after your post we get the "Cell Phone in Teeth" story. Hmmm, one down 6 to go.
        [ Parent ]
      BEWARE! (Score:5, Interesting)
      by Overzeetop on Wednesday June 19, @12:54PM (#3730031)
      (User #214511 Info)
      This book is not a typical story. I'm in the industry (structural engineer with an architectural firm) and have seen many different scenereos...many of them not pretty. Here's some basics:

      If you take a typical tract home (built by an experienced, if average, builder) with basic finishes (paint, carpet, vinyl, MDF trim) and standard items you can expect $80/SF for the house and $20/sf for the land/improvements/utilities to purchase the house...we'll use this $100/SF number as a good basis number.

      The contrator is only going to pay about $55/SF to build your house in material and labor. That means he's going to make $100 on a $75 investment. Remember, he'll have to pay $3-5 to market/sell, $3-5 in interest expenses, and his time and liability exposure.

      You'll be competing with this guy for subs and materials. He'll probably only use one material supplier (or just a few) because HE GETS A DISCOUNT! Sometimes is overt, like 10% across the board. Often it includes perks like free job-site delivery, or extras such as a boom truck on drywall deliveries. It's only a couple of percent, but it adds up. You'll be paying full price. His subs, to whom he supplies work on a regular basis, will get to his job before yours - even if you called them first. So what - it's just time right? Well, if you're paying 9% on a construction loan, time is money.

      Don't forget that you're going to need flexible job hours - often your low bidder sub (and even some high ones) aren't nearly as particular with their work when they're not being checked. A neighbor-owner/contractor had the felt left off his roof assembly by his roofer. He found out when a shingle blew off and there it wasn't! He got the roof replaced for free, but only after several weeks of arguing and calls to the building department. You don't need to be there all the time, but you do have to be able to check in on them.

      Finally, if you don't understand how buildings go together, you could be in for a nasty suprise. A contractor generally started as a carpenter, and has seen lots of houses go together. He recognizes when something is not-quite-right. You won't. Trust me - you'll miss something. Did you check to see that the all the hurricane clips were installed, installed properly, and in the correct quantity before the drywall went up? Do you know what the right one looks like - there are different types!

      Which leads me to liability. If you build your house and it doesn't work the way it's supposed to (it leaks, sags, cracks, or worse) you are the one responsible. Sure, you can try and strong arm the subs to fix it if its one discipline. But what if the problem is not obvious, such a coordination issue (framing to siding, or plumbing through the roof?) Normally, you'd stick it to the General Contractor - they're required in most states to warrant their work for a year. Guess what - THAT'S YOU! YOU are responsible, financially, for those problems.

      Finally, if you're getting a $500,000 house for $300,000, you're doing your math wrong, or aren't comparing apples to apples. Most building products are commodity items. Same time, same area sales won't vary by more than 5% or so. You'll save the GC fee of, say, 20% to 25% of the cost of the construction, but you'll pay a little more for everything you get. That cost may be direct, such as paying $30 for every delivery or not getting the 15% volume builders discount at the Midtown Tile Hut, or it may be indirect such as the time it takes you to run around and compare prices, or wait two weeks for the electrician to get around to you because he has higher priorities.

      Oh, one more thing. That lot you just paid $45,000 to buy? The buider paid $5,000 or less because he bought ten acres and cut it up into 10 lots. Don't forget the whole picture. If you "built" your house on a lot you owned and spent $120k, and the neighbor paid $160k for the identical house next door, you've just spent all your time and effort for the exact same thing as your neighbor got for signing a check. Don't lau

      Read the rest of this comment...

      [ Parent ]
        Re:BEWARE! (Score:2)
        by w3woody on Wednesday June 19, @01:32PM (#3730367)
        (User #44457 Info | http://www.alumni.caltech.edu/~woody)
        His subs, to whom he supplies work on a regular basis, will get to his job before yours - even if you called them first.

        That's why you need to shop around for subcontractors before employing them--some subcontractors are flakier than others. Further, this sort of thing depends on the region where you are: some regions are more overbuilt than others, and some regions are more likely to have a few building firms who monopolize the subs.

        Oh, one more thing. That lot you just paid $45,000 to buy? The buider paid $5,000 or less because he bought ten acres and cut it up into 10 lots.

        I don't know how things are done in your state, but in the State of California, a land developer (the guy who buys land and breaks it up into smaller parcels for development) is as often as not a different animal than the building contractor, at least for custom homes. The only fellows I know who are buying large acrage and building their own houses are tract home developers. And while it's true that, as often as not, the building contractor may be getting a better price on the land from his developer buddy, the price difference (at least in California) is really not that significant towards the overall cost of the home.

        Most people I know of who have lost their shirts building their own homes screwed up because they didn't watch their subs like hawks (as you point out), and because they blow their budget in modifications to the house made after construction already started.
        [ Parent ]
          Re:BEWARE! (Score:2)
          by Overzeetop on Wednesday June 19, @02:25PM (#3730789)
          (User #214511 Info)
          Like everything, land acquisition varies. Had I found the land I'm on now when it originally went on the market, I could have had all 177 acres for about $135k. It's just one example of how builders can (and do) leverage their knowledge to maximize profit.

          As another example, I know another builder who buys a train-car-full of 7/16" OSB - the stuff that covers the entire house - each winter (he may buy two or three now) at the market low - about $4.25 a sheet. When the summer comes and the price spikes to $7.85 a sheet, he smiles all the way to the bank. Most owner/builders don't have the resources or facilities to capture these savings.

          One thing I forgot...so I'll say it here. If you plan well, and have good drawings, you can get a contractor to give you a fixed price for the whole job. If the price of materials goes up, the GC eats those costs.

          Being your own contractor makes it cost plus - you pay whatever it costs you, plus your "overhead." It's killing my next door neigbors.

          I contracted my house cost plus - and went over my budget, but that's because I didn't have a good grasp of the local labor rates, didn't figure interest, material prices increased from my benchmark prices (see OSB, above). Of course, by going cost plus my contractor charged me a fixed fee (turned out to be about 7% of the construction cost), and I got his carpentry/labor crew of four for $55/hr plus all his regular subs - and they were all top notch.
          [ Parent ]
            Re:BEWARE! (Score:2)
            by w3woody on Thursday June 20, @11:39AM (#3736378)
            (User #44457 Info | http://www.alumni.caltech.edu/~woody)
            One thing I forgot...so I'll say it here. If you plan well, and have good drawings, you can get a contractor to give you a fixed price for the whole job. If the price of materials goes up, the GC eats those costs.

            If you, as an owner-builder, aren't getting fixed-price contracts from your subcontractors, you are a fool. Likewise--if you are a general contractor (a building contractor here in California) and you aren't getting fixed-price contracts from your own subs, you are a fool.

            "Cost Plus" is sort of like trying to sell software through a publisher for a percentage of "net profit": the final reported costs can be so cooked as to rob you of any money you may have otherwise thought you'd get.

            Of course, by going cost plus my contractor charged me a fixed fee (turned out to be about 7% of the construction cost), and I got his carpentry/labor crew of four for $55/hr plus all his regular subs - and they were all top notch.

            I will bet you cash that he was not paying his carpentry/labor crew $55/hour. Around here in California, the framers don't get $55/hour, but a bit less. I'll bet you that he was padding the rate to $55/hour by claiming a kickback from the carpentry crew for "management overhead" or some such fool thing--that is, he was paying *himself* $55/hour, then using that pool to then pay off the carpentry/labor crew, and pocketing the rest.

            Which goes to illustrate something else: if you think the building industry is an honest, above board industry when it comes to money, you're a fool: I have yet to meet a single contractor or subcontractor who wouldn't sell his own mother into slavery for a buck--which is one of the reasons why as an owner-builder you absolutely must watch the subcontractors like a hawk, learn how houses are supposed to go together so they don't cut corners, and make damned sure you watch the budget. Fixed-price contracts from your subs (who will moan and groan that it's not standard practice--bullshit, it is) is one way to watch your bottom line.
            [ Parent ]
      all well and good....... (Score:4, Insightful)
      by littlerubberfeet on Wednesday June 19, @11:08AM (#3729215)
      (User #453565 Info | Last Journal: Monday June 03, @05:42PM)
      My uncle is a contractor, he builds spec and custom houses in Berkeley. I pity him. People are a**holes about their houses. Sometimes they ask for something, and then insist that it be ripped out, just because they saw something in House and Garden.My uncle gets paid for it, but who wants to waste time?

      Now, anyone who builds custom needs to remember that there are 3 people important in your project.
      You: the owner
      The Builder
      The architect

      Now, if you cannot work together, then it will be a very painfull process. Remember that anything you ask for has to be feasible and buildable. If you develop a good relationship with an experianced architect, and a builder that is used to custom jobs, not just 'tract houses' then you should be fine. Also, remember that you have to live in the house, so make it comfortable, not trendy.
      [ Parent ]
        Re:all well and good....... (Score:2)
        by Graspee_Leemoor on Wednesday June 19, @11:15AM (#3729273)
        (User #302316 Info | http://www.ps2emu.com/)
        "Sometimes they ask for something, and then insist that it be ripped out, just because they saw something in House and Garden.My uncle gets paid for it, but who wants to waste time?"

        Speaking as a contract programmer (IAACP!) I couldn't care less if someone asks for a feature then asks for it to be "ripped out". I get paid by the day, and since I would never write the stuff that people want me to write if I weren't getting paid, I am just happy for the extra money...

        graspee

        [ Parent ]
        Re:all well and good....... (Score:2)
        by RedX (slashdot@@@dslan...org) on Wednesday June 19, @11:28AM (#3729370)
        (User #71326 Info)
        People are a**holes about their houses

        You're right, how dare people be a**holes and demand things to be exactly as they want when they pay to have a house built. Afterall, it's only the single biggest investment they'll likely ever make.

        [ Parent ]
          Re:all well and good....... (Score:4, Insightful)
          by Kintanon (sleffer@hotmail.com) on Wednesday June 19, @11:39AM (#3729450)
          (User #65528 Info | http://www.kyrina.org/kintanon/)
          My dad did was a contractor or sub-contractor for most of my life, and when a contractor says someone is an asshole, they usually mean something like the following scenario has occured:

          Owner: I want a big brick fireplace and chimney on the north facing wall of the living room.

          Contractor: Ok! Are you sure about that?

          Owner: Of course I'm sure! What am I paying you for? To ask stupid questions or to build my house?!

          Contractor: No problem then... *makes the necessary arrangements for the fireplace to be built*

          *Fast forward a couple of weeks, finished fireplace*

          Owner: Y'know, I changed my mind about that fireplace. We decided fireplaces are dangerous so we don't want it anymore. Can you rip it out and just make it look like the rest of the wall?

          Contractor: Ummm... sure, but I'll have to charge you for the additional labor and whatnot.

          Owner: WHAT?!?!?! I ALREADY PAID FOR THE FIREPLACE AND I DON'T WANT IT! I WANT YOU TO FIX IT FOR FREE!

          Contractor: I can't do that.

          Owner: Then you're fired! I'll get a new contractor!

          This scenario actually happened to my dad. He spoke with the contractor that was hired after him and that contractor said the owner had tried to get him to rip out the fireplace for free and had really badmouthed my dad. That contractor was also fired when refusing to do the work for free.
          These are the kinds of homeowners who are total assholes and have no idea what they want.

          Some contractors will actually underbid a job, and then plan for the homeowner to change their mind three or four times so that they can charge them huge amounts of extra money based on no-change clauses in the contract. Those contractors love flighty customers, because they can work the same house for over a year and constantly be getting paid.

          Kintanon
          [ Parent ]
            Re:all well and good....... (Score:1)
            by pivo on Wednesday June 19, @02:42PM (#3730927)
            (User #11957 Info)
            Here a few things for you and your dad to consider:

            - All customers are pains in the ass. Everyone who deals with customers knows that. Tell your dad to get over it, there's nothing special about his customers.

            - Some contractors are good (at least I've been told that, I've never met a good one) but all contractors I've dealt with are semi-literate loosers, often with drinking or drug problems, that can't run their own business to save their ass. I've dealt with many contractors, they've all been indescribably bad.

            - Contractors get away with behavior that normal people can't. Nobody else can work the hours and do the quality of work that any contractor I or any of my friends have worked with with and not be fired on the spot.
            [ Parent ]
              Re:all well and good....... (Score:2)
              by Kintanon (sleffer@hotmail.com) on Wednesday June 19, @05:16PM (#3732151)
              (User #65528 Info | http://www.kyrina.org/kintanon/)
              Heh, my dad doesn't do contracting work anymore. But when he did, he didn't just sit around watching or anything. He had his own building crew that would frequently handle large amounts of the labor at lower prices than most sub contractors. And sometimes he would come in and frame houses by himself on weekends when it needed to be done.
              As for the customer, I wasn't saying that was a special case, that's an example of the kind of requests that ALL contractors get from homeowners that don't know shit about shit.

              I don't know what kind of contractors you've worked with but I've known mostly good contractors around here...

              Kintanon
              [ Parent ]
            Re:all well and good....... (Score:1)
            by Nept on Wednesday June 19, @04:28PM (#3731800)
            (User #21497 Info | Last Journal: Wednesday June 12, @05:49PM)
            dude...this is consulting. a**hole clients and unethical consultants.

            [ Parent ]
            Re:all well and good....... (Score:1)
            by kuroth on Wednesday June 19, @06:51PM (#3732779)
            (User #11147 Info)
            There's another side to that coin: Some contractors are flaming assholes, too.

            My wife and I signed a P&S in August of 1999 on a house to be built. Nothing fancy, just a standard raised ranch.

            We went for a visit after the house was framed in, and discovered that the contractor had put the wall that seperates the garage and the basement in the wrong place. When I asked him about it, he told me "The plumber was worried about the bathroom pipes freezing if they were over the garage." This was of course a lie, because the pipes were over the garage regardless of the placement of the wall.

            I thought about it for a few days, and finally told him that I wanted the wall put in the right place.

            He said no, and told me he wasn't going to sell me the house. I explained that we had a contract to buy the house, built to spec, and that I wasn't going to walk away from the deal. He told me I'd be hearing from his attorney.

            The real reason he wanted out of the deal was that his realtor priced the house around $30K below market value, and he knew he could sell it for more.

            Now, being sued doesn't scare me, because I happen to have a *kick ass* attorney. Besides that, in this case I was right, and I knew it.

            Later, after 18 months of watching my attorney mop the floor with his average attorney - the source of no small amusement for us - he settled. He wound up paying all my attorney fees (around $6K), and he had to knock *another* $5K off the price of the house to cover the misplaced wall. During the 18 months, he was also was paying interest on the construction materials, taxes on the land (30+ acres), insurance on the site, and his attorney fees. All told, his beligerance cost him upwards of $25K.

            Dumbass. I told him I was going to crush him.

            We've lived here for several months now, and it's a great house. No major problems, and I've had three different contractors/inspectors go over it.

            He is, of course, fighting with me over the few minor problems. Some people never learn.

            Kuroth

            [ Parent ]
            Re:all well and good....... (Score:0)
            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @12:33PM (#3729812)
              Some contractors will actually underbid a job, and then plan for the homeowner to change their mind three or four times so that they can charge them huge amounts of extra money based on no-change clauses in the contract. Those contractors love flighty customers, because they can work the same house for over a year and constantly be getting paid.
            This is the secret to wealth-building as a contract programmer as well.
            [ Parent ]
            Re:all well and good....... (Score:0)
            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @06:29PM (#3732641)
            well, while we're here, let's talk about the
            contractor who I told "I need this door to open
            on the right side", and when I got home after MY
            12 hour day at work I found the door opened on the
            left...

            "ring, ring"

            "hello?"

            "hi, the front door, remember, i said it needs to
            open on the right?"

            "yeah, well i thought it should open on the left,
            that's how everybody else's door works."

            "would you please come back here and make it so it
            opens on the right?"

            "no. it's not supposed to open on the right."

            "then don't be surprised when I don't pay for it."

            I did NOT pay for it, and I had to pay to replace
            the door frame and door (both were varnished, not
            painted, and so were impossible to patch cleanly).

            The same guy hung an oak door in a fir frame...
            two weeks later the frame collapsed under the
            weight of the door.

            I could of course go on...
            [ Parent ]
          Re:all well and good....... (Score:2)
          by DNS-and-BIND on Wednesday June 19, @12:10PM (#3729671)
          (User #461968 Info | http://trollaxor.com/story/2002/4/23/02526/4181)
          Well, there's being demanding, and there's being an asshole. You would not believe what twits people can turn into, especially little two-bit Napoleons who insist on endless changes after the work has started, and then think that they don't have to pay. Especially the ones who are not trying to build a nice house, but the ones who want to brag about how cheap they got the house for.
          [ Parent ]
        Re:all well and good....... (Score:1)
        by simpl3x on Wednesday June 19, @12:00PM (#3729604)
        (User #238301 Info)
        my business partner built a house with a contractor, and wound up arguing about details very often. contractors often forget that a person who wishes to pay to have something the way they want, may very well be a pain in the *ss, but they are paying. my grandfather built custom homes for people who were willing to pay for them, and this book is likely helpful in a project planning way. like many things in life, if you make more than a couple hundred k a year, building your own house costs more than working with a competent person. but, competence, as we all know, is rare.
        [ Parent ]
          Re:all well and good....... (Score:2)
          by captain_craptacular on Wednesday June 19, @02:33PM (#3730849)
          (User #580116 Info)
          "like many things in life, if you make more than a couple hundred k a year". No kidding? All I have to do is make more than $200k a year and stuff will stop being worth my time? Where do I sign up?
          [ Parent ]
        Re:all well and good....... (Score:1)
        by Sloppy on Wednesday June 19, @01:41PM (#3730473)
        (User #14984 Info | http://slashdot.org/ | Last Journal: Wednesday July 17, @01:59PM)

        Sometimes they ask for something, and then insist that it be ripped out, just because they saw something in House and Garden. My uncle gets paid for it, but who wants to waste time?

        Wasting time -- working on somebody else's problems instead of your own -- is the nature of having a job.

        Your uncle is probably smart enough to realize that change orders are not a bad thing for him.

        [ Parent ]
          Re:all well and good....... (Score:1)
          by littlerubberfeet on Wednesday June 19, @03:17PM (#3731250)
          (User #453565 Info | Last Journal: Monday June 03, @05:42PM)
          My uncle likes the cash, but the frestration of having something you made ripped out is hard, and on top of that, to get the skilled laborers to do this sort of work is difficult in his market
          [ Parent ]
            Re:all well and good....... (Score:1)
            by carlos_benj on Wednesday June 19, @06:19PM (#3732589)
            (User #140796 Info)
            My uncle likes the cash, but the frestration of having something you made ripped out is hard....

            Lots of things are hard. Meeting the changing demands of customers is called customer service. As long as they're willing to pay for the change someone with good customer relations skills will see to it. If it's a minor request it's often worth not even charging for (builds something called goodwill). If every customer accepted plain vanilla everything any bozo could build a business. Since that's not the case, those who develop and exercise good people skills tend to rise to the top.
            [ Parent ]
              Re:all well and good....... (Score:1)
              by Rouver on Thursday June 20, @11:22AM (#3736254)
              (User #586866 Info)
              I think you're missing the point. *While he likes the cash* he obviously enjoys taking pride in his work and has a sense of accomplishment with its completion. If you had to redo something over & over, destroying what you had made every time, it would get kind of depressing.

              I have a friend who writes code. He was working on a project where the client kept changing their mind on what they wanted. Would *you* want to spend hours & hours on a project, solving a problem, only to be told, "nice job, but do it all over again, a totally different way. Oh, by the way, we're going to throw away everything you just worked on.." ??

              To say that taking pride in one's work is irrelevant because 'the world isn't a nice place, suck it up' is awfully condescending of you...
              [ Parent ]
                Re:all well and good....... (Score:1)
                by carlos_benj on Thursday June 20, @01:59PM (#3737527)
                (User #140796 Info)
                Well, in the first place, it wasn't his work. As the poster indicated he hired craftsmen to build it. Secondarily, your friend's good code is still good code. He can still take pride in his work and perhaps use what he learned on that section of code in something later. Every time you do something you learn a little more. I don't know anyone who doesn't revisit their code and think, "I'd do it differently if I was starting all over." Sometime that comes at a much later date, other times shortly after completion (especially if it's a big project).

                Taking pride in one's work doesn't have anything to do with how well it's received by the client. There's a difference between knowing you did a good job and taking it as personal rejection when someone decides they don't want what you produced. The customer didn't say, "That's a lousy fireplace, please do it over" but they just decided they didn't want a fireplace. You seem to indicate that the client your friend was working for just decided they didn't want the software to function or look a certain way (probably after they spec'd it out that way). That's no reflection on his work, but on the client's changing preferences. It in no way negates the value of the work performed to date. If the client says you did it wrong and you know you didn't, that can get frustrating. In those cases you just point them to their own written specifications (you did get them in writing didn't you?).

                You really just illustrated my point with this post. If you take things personally and can't differentiate between a client's changing needs/wants, then your business will likely not be very successful. This applies whether you're building custom houses or custom software.
                [ Parent ]
        The problem is Berkeley (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @11:27AM (#3729366)
        As seen here [berkeleyboycott.com], they get uptight in the most irritating and unpatriotic ways.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:all well and good....... (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @12:01PM (#3729617)
        This is a common attitude among BAD contractors. They take it personal when the homeowner wants to make a change.

        Good contractors realize that they get paid by the hour, and shrug it off when homeowner changes their mind. These are the guys that have more work than they can do because of customer referrals.
        [ Parent ]
      I suppose.... (Score:4, Insightful)
      by Ooblek on Wednesday June 19, @11:08AM (#3729218)
      (User #544753 Info)
      This probably works if you have enough time to oversee the whole process. I wouldn't trust a contractor as far as I could thrown him to oversee the building of the house. As the book points out, they are generally bad project managers. (I'm sure having Jack Daniels for breakfast doesn't help.) For that matter, I wouldn't trust my wife to manage the job as far as I could throw her either, but thats another problem altogether....

      Building you own house doesn't look like a job for a software engineer in my opinion. I'm sure the software deadlines would never be hit if all the engineers here oversaw the building of their house.

      [ Parent ]
        Re:I suppose.... (Score:5, Funny)
        by Peter Trepan on Wednesday June 19, @11:43AM (#3729477)
        (User #572016 Info)
        It's generally a good idea to meet with as many contractors as possible beforehand, to see who can be thrown the farthest.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:I suppose.... (Score:3, Interesting)
        by mcolony on Wednesday June 19, @12:47PM (#3729956)
        (User #586622 Info)
        No matter how good that book is, if you don't have a substantial understanding of construction you really shouldn't even attempt to be your own general contractor. My wife and her parents have more knowledge about construction than most general contractors. Her parents built their 5000 sq ft home by hand (nearly no contractors). My wife has worked in the construction industry. Her father also did for a couple of decades. Her mother served as CFO and project manager for a mid-sized construction company. In spite of all that, it was still a very daunting task.
         
        If you have a full time job, forget it. This is a full time job, and then some. My wife and her father weren't working and we still spent many nights up until after midnight.
         
        Contractors, in general, just cannot be trusted to do anything correctly. It's not their home and they'll cut corners anywhere they can. They really have to be managed full time and you have to know their trade nearly as well as they do. If you've been in the game for a long time you can build up a short list of those that can be trusted. But if you're a first-timer then you're just going on uneducated instincts. Good Luck.
         
        A good contract with every contractor is very important. There were several things that we inferred from the contracts we signed, but when it gets right down to it, it's a legal thing and a contractor will end up using it against you if he has to. If you don't know enough to add in everything you really need, you'll either do without or you'll pay extra because it wasn't in the contract. You need ALL of the details. Plus, they generally are willing to let you threaten to take them to court. They know that the legal fees are just not worth it to you to take them to court over a couple thousand dollars. Plus, you don't want the delay. You just want your house completed.
         
        I could go on. In the end, however, we ended up with the dream house we set out to build. I truly don't think it would have been possible without the substantial amount of knowledge and experience we had on our side though.

        Also, I agree with another poster. Design your house around your comfort and the house's ability to function. In the end you're the only one that actually lives there.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:I suppose.... (Score:1)
        by Avwar on Wednesday June 19, @12:02PM (#3729627)
        (User #586585 Info)
        I built my own house, spent a lot of time instead of money; and have'nt spent a lot of time bellyaching about a contractor every since.
        [ Parent ]
          Re:I suppose.... (Score:0)
          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @01:22PM (#3730256)
          Did you do a lot of the work yourself? I am considering building a house, and most of it I could handle. But, I would need a inspecter to look over stuff to make sure it is right.

          I am basically looking for a $400,000 home for $200,000 or less. (Without cutting too many corners on material) I can work an extra 5 hours each night, and then 20 hours on the weekend on it. And if I need an extra hand it shouldn't be a big problem.

          [ Parent ]
        Re:I suppose.... (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @11:50AM (#3729533)
        >>(I'm sure having Jack Daniels for breakfast doesn't help.)

        Wow are you a stereotypical idiot.
        I guess you will just chunk all software engineers into the same bunch, those who write crappy code for M$, hey look your one of them by those rules. Oh how easy it is to be stereotypical.

        How much of a lemming are you?? Did you buy a house because you saw another engineer buy one that was the same, did you buy that car because you wouldnt trust your wife to buy it, like you wouldnt trust her to oversee building the house, hell you better not trust her when you go out of town for the next convention either.

        I look at it like this, you got this stereotype from one of two places. You either tried to get off cheaply and had something done by a contractor that you did not research, you were being lazy and you got stuck. Or you were running your mouth, being a stereotypical idiot and got put in your place by a contractor at one time or another. I bet it was the former, which you being lazy is the reason why you got stuck.

        Your such a loser, I doubt you could build a birdhouse.
        [ Parent ]
          Re:I suppose.... (Score:0)
          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @01:05PM (#3730131)
          I may be a stereotypical idiot, but you have a chip on your shoulder.

          Actually, my information came from the third option, the one you were too interested in skipping at the expense of making a personal attack. I have a few friends that are contractors, that are extremely good contractors, who build some of the finest custom houses I've ever seen. They have said they have problems finding contractors because most of them do a good job one time despite the Jack for breakfast, then skip out on them on the second or third job.

          Yeah, and maybe I couldn't build a birdhouse, but they just didn't have wood shop class in college. I don't regret bypassing vocational training at all. I find my career much more interesting than driving nails, sitting out in the burning hot sun, and standing in line at the permit office for hours.

          If you're pissed about the stereotype, make it harder for the people in your profession that really suck and are dishonest (and you know who they are) to prey on people. Make the penalty much more than a slap on the wrist. Until you do, you are going to get the stereotype from more than just myself.

          [ Parent ]
        Re:I suppose.... (Score:-1, Offtopic)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @12:11PM (#3729683)
        so you're saying your wiphe is a fatty?
        [ Parent ]
      How to Build Your Own Custom Server (Score:4, Insightful)
      by giminy on Wednesday June 19, @11:24AM (#3729342)
      (User #94188 Info | http://reid.vendaworld.com/)
      It sounds all fine and good to manage the construction of your own home, and even buy the lumber and whatever else you need. But you'd better have some carprentry experience before you do so.

      I could save a lot of money by building my own file server too, but then I wouldn't have a support contract to go with it, and getting any warranty work done on it would suck, and would probably result in two companies pointing the finger at each other, saying "It's their fault!"

      By the same token, if you go out and buy lumber, and have your framer put it together, and something goes wrong, he may say, "Well, the lumber you bought wasn't so great, there's only so much I can do." Going to the lumber company results in, "The framer must have done something to the wood, that was my best pressure-treated.." If your framer picks out the wood, then you definitely a case and can put it solely on his shoulders.

      This is just an example, IANAC (but my brother is).

      [ Parent ]
        Re:How to Build Your Own Custom Server (Score:2)
        by garyrich (mr-hat@zig.brewtek.com) on Wednesday June 19, @12:33PM (#3729818)
        (User #30652 Info | http://www.pacificnet.net/~garyrich/)
        I could save a lot of money by building my own file server too, but then I wouldn't have a support contract to go with it, and getting any warranty work done on it would suck, and would probably result in two companies pointing the finger at each other, saying "It's their fault!"

        Then you shouldn't. I, on the other hand, would build my own file server in a heartbeat over most of the ones I can buy. If a hard drive goes out I can just get it replaced by Seagate/Maxtor/IBM - who can finger point? Service contracts are vastly overrated. I sign off on probably $100,000 in service contracts a year which have a real world value of $0. Good hardware rarely breaks, my 24/7 expensive maintenence contract with HP got me a $150 4.3G HD replaced last year for "free" - quite the ROI.... I know more about most of the software than the guys that man the support desks (hence we never call them), but we still have give them the $$ because it's "policy".
        [ Parent ]
        How to Get Experience. (Score:1)
        by Zillatron on Wednesday June 19, @11:25PM (#3733915)
        (User #415756 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
        It sounds all fine and good to manage the construction of your own home, and even buy the lumber and whatever else you need. But you'd better have some carprentry experience before you do so.

        Habitat for Humanity [habitat.org] can give you experience and knowledge while doing something good for people that could use something good in their lives...

        [ Parent ]
      You want to save money? (Score:4, Insightful)
      by superid on Wednesday June 19, @11:39AM (#3729453)
      (User #46543 Info)
      Avoid the "edifice complex". Do you really need 4400 ft^2? Sure, I understand that a smaller house would stand out like a sore thumb in a smaller neighborhood, but thats a lotta house!

      Every week in our real estate section we can find featured houses that are less than 5 years old, being sold by the people who built their "dream house" only to find that its now too big. IMHO a house that big is like a St. Bernard puppy, you don't realize how big it really is when it grows up, especially the cleanup!

      Another pet peeve. Ever been in a 4400 ft^2 house that echos like a gym because the new owners can't afford nice drapes and furniture and art/mirrors to fill the place up?

      If you can afford the neighborhood, the taxes, the furnishings, the maintenance and the upkeep of a house that big, then saving $100k might not be that high on your priority list.

      My family of 5 live more than comfortably in a 2300 ft^2 house.
      [ Parent ]
        Re:You want to save money? (Score:1)
        by timeOday on Wednesday June 19, @12:30PM (#3729802)
        (User #582209 Info)
        It may or may not be more economical to live in a cheaper house. If your house is in a nice area, you may make a lot of money when you sell that nice house. Nothings guaranteed, of course, but it's not like buying a nice car, clothes, or food, where you KNOW you'll never see your money again.
        [ Parent ]
          Re:You want to save money? (Score:3, Insightful)
          by Zathrus on Wednesday June 19, @12:42PM (#3729897)
          (User #232140 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
          If your house isn't in a nice area, why did you buy that house in the first place?

          The real estate mantra is "location, location, location" -- not "space, space, space". If you buy a nice home in a $100k neighborhood you can get just as much (if not more) ROI as if you buy a nice home in a $400k neighborhood.

          Frankly, the OP was correct. Evaluate how much space you need, not how much house you can afford. Yes, they drive each other, but there's always flexibility. Too many people wind up in homes that have far more space than they need or can upkeep -- and then complain that they have no free time, money, etc. -- because all the money is being sucked down by their mortgage payment and all their time by the too-big house.
          [ Parent ]
        Re:You want to save money? (Score:1, Funny)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @12:49PM (#3729974)
        Ehh having lived in California in a shitty 1900 ft^2 house with barely 4000 ft^2 in land, I can safely say that living in a bigger home is much much better. Sure our family of 6 lived fine in a house that small, but once we got the taste of a real home [read "we moved to Ohio"] of 4200 ft^2 [including a half-finished basement] we found out how much easier it is to live. I don't think I'll ever move back to cali to live, granted I lived in a shithole portion of San Jose. If you live in Cali in a house with a decent amount of land, look into moving to North Carolina. Our house in California sold for $260,000. Note how small it was. Our house in Ohio [with an acre of land] was $220,000. And our house here in NC [2 acres, 4100 ft^2] cost $230,000. You can be a king! King of the Rednecks really....but you're still a king :D
        [ Parent ]
          Re:You want to save money? (Score:2)
          by Grishnakh on Wednesday June 19, @01:23PM (#3730266)
          (User #216268 Info)
          You're forgetting something very important in real estate: location, location, location. For one thing, I used to live on the east coast, and it pretty much sucks. I'd much rather live in CA than in OH or NC just because the weather is so much nicer, and the people aren't so conservative and religious. Secondly, you have to go where jobs are, and for engineers they're in CA.
          [ Parent ]
            Re:You want to save money? (Score:0)
            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @03:47PM (#3731488)
            In Wilmington, NC you've got the beach. A much better beach than the one in CA [imo]. I've got a great tech job [nuclear reactor simulators, in java, c++, and fortran90] only 25 minutes away. I'd say location location location. And having lived in CA I'd like to be the first to point out that its the land of fruits and nuts. And btw: liberals are harder to get along with than conservatives, and Wilmington NC isn't that religious if you don't count the stupid 10 commandments being posted in our classrooms. [Search the news section of wilmington morning star [wilmingtonstar.com] for more info]
            [ Parent ]
              Re:You want to save money? (Score:0)
              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 20, @12:36PM (#3736770)
              Um, in Wilmington, NC, you've got massive hurricanes coming through every year. No thanks.

              Conservatives are only easy to get along with as you keep your mouth shut when they start yapping about how bad Democrats are or how high gas prices are (because their 8mpg SUV needs a lot of it). True, some liberals are a pain too (esp if they're more extreme).
              [ Parent ]
          Re:You want to save money? (Score:1)
          by Morgoth_Bauglir on Wednesday June 19, @02:33PM (#3730847)
          (User #261701 Info)
          hmmm. I live in NC.

          230k, 2 acres, 4100 sq ft. What-- do you live in the woods?

          Hell of a commute eh? Perhaps you telecommute?

          Where I live, (10 minute bike ride to work, 20 minute walk to groceries/restaurant/shopping, 15 minute drive to RDU) 230k would get you about 2400 sq ft and 1/3 to 1/2 acre.

          I prefer convenience...
          [ Parent ]
        Re:You want to save money? (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @01:52PM (#3730569)
        Crying out loud. 4400 sq ft is not a lot of room depending on the needs of the family. Your criteria do not match every single other person's, and just because you can deal with 5 people in 2300 sq ft, not everyone can or wants to. You buy what you need, not what your neighbor does.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:You want to save money? (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @01:55PM (#3730587)
        Properly built 4400 sq ft homes do not echo. No chance of that. Drywall and insulation absorb a lot of sound. Maybe the house you were in had a lot of hardwood with no insulation between the floor joists and no sound absorbing flooring material.

        A lot of people do not realize that, in many areas, building a larger home does not cost much more. You buy more material, can usually get a discount. You pour more concrete, yeah, more money, but you've still got to pay the guy to roll the trucks out anyways.
        [ Parent ]
      Beware: you can get into trouble really quick (Score:4, Informative)
      by w3woody on Wednesday June 19, @12:49PM (#3729975)
      (User #44457 Info | http://www.alumni.caltech.edu/~woody)
      My parents are architectual drafters. (They're the ones you would go to for house plans and engineering if you were to build your own house.) I've watched while I was growing up several people try to build their own houses. And while many save a lot of money, an equal number of people get into serious financial problems really quick.

      By the way, I bought a house rather than building my own, dispite being in a family who is in the construction business. Partly I did so because building your own house is a serious time commitment (you don't think that $20-80K savings comes for free, do you?), and partly because where I live (Los Angeles), the only available buildable lots are located tens of miles away from where I live. (The closest lots I could find in my price range were located about 30 miles from the Glendale/Pasadena/Burbank area where I worked--while the house I live in is in Glendale--I can see the downtown skyline from my front yard.)

      Anyways, the two most common mistakes that I've seen are (a) overbuilding what you can afford, and (b) not settling on a design before beginning the construction process.

      In the first problem, many people who try to build their own house try to "overbuild"; that is, they try to build a much bigger house than they really can afford. It's not that they can't afford the shell of the house; they just can't afford to put stuff in it, and plant the lawn, and pay for the cooling costs and everything else associated with house ownership. Sure, perhaps at $70/sqft you can afford to build a 4,000 sqft house--but all those rooms are going to look rather stupid if you don't have any money left over to buy furnature. Likewise, if you are paying all your money into making the strokes on your house loan, how are you going to pay for electricity, water, gas, sewar?

      My parent's advise is to always build smaller than the biggest thing you can afford. Instead of building a 4,000 sqft house which maxes out your monthly budget (and omits property taxes, utilities, that extra T-1 line from the equation), build a 3,000 sqft house but then decorate it nicely.

      Keep in mind that "McMansions" are no longer in style, by the way, but smaller (but cuter) "bungalo" houses are all the vogue nowadays. Your profits after reselling your house will be higher, and your enjoyment of your house will be greater, if you build under what you can afford, so you can live in your house comfortably.

      The second mistake many people make, which eat up that $100K promised savings faster than an OC3 connection, is not to plan every detail of their house before pour the foundation. Meaning they will often decide, after the foundation is poured, that perhaps they really want a 9 ft. plate line instead of an 8 ft for higher ceilings, or maybe that downstairs bathroom should be moved over two feet so they can have a bigger closet. Granted, each change doesn't seem like it should cost that much, and often you think of things that didn't come to you in the planning phase that you really wished you had. But take it from someone who has seen a couple of folks driven to bankrupcy (literally!): creeping featurism in the house can suck your wallet dry.

      Part of the problem is that a house is a complete system: each change you make can have consequences farther down the line which you didn't account for. For example, making the ceiling taller may only take an extra few thousand in framing costs--but it can have consequences on the plumbing of the second story, or the exterior windows, or the amount of siding you need: in short, that one change can seriously affect your budget in other areas in unexpected ways.

      Further, unless you plan right down to the fixtures from day one, you may find yourself doing stupid things like throwing in the $800 sink instead of the planned $80 sink in the bathroom, or upgrading the kitchen cabinets, without realizing these things can quickly eat an additional $30K real fast. (When I redid the bathroom in our house, we upgraded the fixtures and cabinets. T

      Read the rest of this comment...

      [ Parent ]
        Re:Beware: you can get into trouble really quick (Score:1)
        by jcrash on Wednesday June 19, @02:00PM (#3730633)
        (User #516507 Info | http://www.craddockfamily.com/)
        First part crap - build a big house just be reasonable. Small houses are NOT in vogue where I live. People are hermits these days and want the biggest house they can afford.

        Second part good - get it all figured out in advance.

        We moved into our newly built house last week. You can see it at www.craddockfamily.com

        3200 square feet and I love my 450 square foot game room.

        [ Parent ]
          Re:Beware: you can get into trouble really quick (Score:2)
          by w3woody on Thursday June 20, @02:11AM (#3734421)
          (User #44457 Info | http://www.alumni.caltech.edu/~woody)
          Well, here in Southern California, the term "McMansion" refers to those really large houses on really small lots you see littering the hillsides around here. Those houses are generally built by figuring out the maximum cubic feet allowed (by taking the setbacks and figuring out the buildable area, and the maximum allowed height of the building), and building the largest thing that will fit in that volume.

          They're out of style in large part because they're ugly eyesores. The worse example of a "McMansion" I ever saw was some guy's 10,000 sqft monstrosity which was basically a cube which exactly fit in the setback and height requirements, and contained an indoor pool. The thing was a wonder to behold from the inside; from the outside it was a very large box--the ugliest possible building one could build in a residential neighborhood.

          Smaller, well styled homes are in vogue here in California (which means they'll be in vogue in about 10 years throughout the rest of the country) in large part because they make better use of the lot space, and because they are more "creative" than a volume filling cube. Further, creating small outdoor spaces around the house (as sort of "entertaining rooms" surrounded by bushes and overhangs and foutains) is also in vogue--but that's probably something that won't translate well to, say, Montana.)
          [ Parent ]
        Re:Beware: you can get into trouble really quick (Score:1)
        by winchester on Wednesday June 19, @02:35PM (#3730865)
        (User #265873 Info)
        Now why does this story bear a close resemblance to a software project, and why do those comments how not to do it sound so much like those failed software projects i was on??
        [ Parent ]
        Re:Beware: you can get into trouble really quick (Score:1)
        by HeyLaughingBoy on Wednesday June 19, @02:48PM (#3730986)
        (User #182206 Info)
        Anyways, the two most common mistakes that I've seen are (a) overbuilding what you can afford, and (b) not settling on a design before beginning the construction process.


        (b) sounds an awful lot like software development :-)
        [ Parent ]
      Very simple (Score:3, Insightful)
      by Black Aardvark House on Wednesday June 19, @11:12AM (#3729244)
      (User #541204 Info)
      You're doing the work the contractor does. Not everyone will have the patience to run through all the steps in the book. Therefore, people hire contractors to do all this for them.

      This book will appeal to a rather limited audience who has the time and energy to do all this themselves. Despite the savings, most people would rather "take the easy way out".
      [ Parent ]
      Things to do with the money you save on your house (Score:3, Funny)
      by Zen Mastuh on Wednesday June 19, @11:21AM (#3729318)
      (User #456254 Info)
      1. Put together that Beowulf Cluster you've been dreaming about
      2. Build a huge walk-in closet with a robot arm that automagically pours bowlfuls of hot grits down the front of your pants after you get dressed
      3. Dress up your pool area with Natalie Portman, naked and petrified
      4. Make a copy of your favorite piece of music or software package. When the Notice of Final Judgement from your friendly District Court arrives (thanks DMCA, etc...), use your hard-earned money to support the industry leeches
      5. Pay two slashbots to keep a vi/emacs flamewar going--forever!
      6. Buy the fastest AMD/Intel production chip--each time one is released! Tell your friends "I need more Megahertz"
      7. Get pulled over by the man--in Georgia.
      8. See the back of a $100,000 bill--on weed!
      [ Parent ]
        Re:Things to do with the money you save on your ho (Score:1)
        by eclectus (steve DOT dobbs A ... telephone DOT net) on Wednesday June 19, @01:11PM (#3730166)
        (User #209883 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
        3. Dress up your pool area with Natalie Portman, naked and petrified

        Petrified? What use is that?
        [ Parent ]
        Re:Things to do with the money you save on your ho (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @11:33AM (#3729403)
        Dress up your pool area with Natalie Portman, naked and petrified.

        Somehow, I don't think you're going to get Natalie Portman to pose for a nude statue for less than a cool million. But that would be a hell of a /. coup.

        [ Parent ]
        u r teh sux (Score:-1)
        by News For Turds on Wednesday June 19, @11:25AM (#3729349)
        (User #580751 Info | http://goatse.cx/ | Last Journal: Monday July 15, @03:01PM)
        usuck

        Hewlett-Packard Install Network Printer Wizard
        v 02.00

        Table of Contents
        1. Overview
        2. DHCP
        3. DNS
        4. IP Address Support
        5. Suggest IP Address (Autonet)
        6. NetWare Support
        a. Supported Versions
        b. NDS Multiple Tree Support
        c. NetWare 5 Support
        d. No Novell Print Path
        e. No NDS volumes
        f. Support for NDS localities
        7. Device Discovery
        a. Gateway
        b. Multi-homed Machines
        c. 0.0.0.0 IP Addresses
        d. Class A Subnet Masks
        8. Driver Support
        a. License Acceptance
        b. Have Disk Support
        c. HP Driver Updates
        9. IPX Port Monitor and Data Corruption
        10. Printer Names
        11. Printer Share Name
        12. Error Messages
        13. Known Problems Installing HP Printer Drivers Under Windows 95/98
        14. Known Problems Installing HP Printer Drivers Under Windows NT 4.0

        1. Overview
        This Read Me file contains last-minute product information for the Hewlett-Packard
        Install Network Printer wizard for Windows 95/ 98 and Windows NT.

        2. DHCP
        If you try to change just the subnet mask on an HP JetDirect print server that has
        been configured via DHCP, you will get an error message while using the Hewlett-Packard
        Install Network Printer wizard. Once a JetDirect print server has been manually
        configured, it will store the IP address, subnet mask and default gateway statically
        instead of trying to obtain them dynamically. Allowing a static change only to the
        subnet mask would cause DHCP-configured IP conflicts in the future. For more information
        on this subject, see the HP JetDirect documentation.

        3. DNS
        In a DNS environment, the Hewlett-Packard Install Network Printer wizard will
        automatically set up the port with the host name rather than the IP address. If you have
        a DNS environment that allows Host lookup by IP, but not the reverse lookup, the printer
        will never print a page. We consider this environment to be an invalid DNS environment.
        To fix the port without changing the DNS environment, view Properties for the printer.
        Select the ports tab. Select the port that is in use for that printer. Click Configure
        Port. Change the host name to the correct IP address.

        4. IP Address Support
        Hewlett-Packard Install Network Printer Wizard do not support class D IP address. Class D IP
        addresses are those addresses with the form of 224.xx.yy.zz

        All addresses of the form 127.xx.yy.zz are reserved for loopback testing. They are not valid IP
        to be used to configure device on the network.

        5. Suggest IP Address (Autonet)
        The algorithm for obtaining the IP address for the "Suggest Settings..." button is
        derived from the Internet Draft DHC-IPV4-AUTOCONFIG by R. Troll entitled "Automatically
        Choosing an IP Address in an Ad-Hoc IPv4 Network". The algorithm for generating the IP
        address i

        Read the rest of this comment...

        [ Parent ]
      TV above Jacuzzi tub (Score:3, Funny)
      by wiredog on Wednesday June 19, @11:21AM (#3729321)
      (User #43288 Info | Last Journal: Monday October 01, @07:53PM)
      I hope the contractor who installed the TV did a proper job of bolting it to the wall. Otherwise it'll be 'TV in Jacuzzi tub', which could be unfortunate if you happen to be in there at the same time.
      [ Parent ]
      A Contractor Tale (Score:3, Interesting)
      by wytcld on Wednesday June 19, @12:17PM (#3729731)
      (User #179112 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
      When my dad retired from a job with a building materials manufacturer he bought a lot in Florida to have his dream house built. He hired a contractor with a good reputation who'd been building high-end homes in the coastal town for over a decade. Half-way into the project, he hears from subcontractors (who he talks to frequently because he's renting the house next to the site) that they haven't been paid. The contractor leaves town, is tracked to the Panhandle, but by that time has transferred all his wealth to his wife's name. My dad is out $100,000 that he'd given the contractor to pay the subcontractors. His lawyer informs him that Florida courts consider this a "contract dispute," a civil rather than criminal matter to steal $100,000 in this way. There's zero likelihood he'll ever collect if he brings a civil suit, since the contractor technically has no wealth, having passed the bag to his wife.

      This was not the only project this contractor had going. He probably walked with similar sums from a half-dozen to a dozen other projects. So at least in Florida it looks like the cards are stacked so as to allow any contractor to at any point cash out with on the order of a million bucks without penalty. Thank the gods we don't have the kind of government which stifles initiative!
      [ Parent ]
        for another $15000.... (Score:3, Funny)
        by No-op on Wednesday June 19, @01:15PM (#3730196)
        (User #19111 Info | http://i.watched.the.nasdaq.crash.live.com)
        ... you could put out a hit on the contractor, and (maybe) his wife. It's important to make sure the subcontractor you hire to do the job has a good reputation for quality work, and won't do things with shoddy tools. You don't want the $5000 sub to just use an ice pick that could leave the hit still alive, when the $15000 sub could use a proper high-caliber weapon to turn his face to mush.

        Some are inclined to do their own contracting, but I've found that the federal inspectors tend to be grumpy in these kinds of situations. I'd suggest that folks leave the work to those with the right skills and cope with the additional cost.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:A Contractor Tale (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @01:49PM (#3730548)
        It's amazing, but the residential and light commercial building industry has got to be among the most corrupt in existance. You constanly hear about subs & owners getting screwed that way.
        [ Parent ]
      custome home... (Score:2, Flamebait)
      by doubtless on Wednesday June 19, @11:10AM (#3729232)
      (User #267357 Info | http://www.naoc.net/)
      Now I would be happy to be able to pay my rent on a monthly basis in this economy. Many of us are out of job and actively looking for one, something like "Custome Business Book" review might help a little more.

      It'll be nice to run a /. polls on how many of us are really in the position to even buy a small apartment, let alone to be able to shelf out $300,000 for a custome home.. you.. you insensitive nerd!
      [ Parent ]
        Re:custome home... (Score:3, Insightful)
        by grue23 (mirth23@hotmail.com.FISH) on Wednesday June 19, @11:19AM (#3729301)
        (User #158136 Info)
        That's not to mention whether or not they have the money to buy the land that goes under said $300K custom home.

        One issue with getting a custom home opposed to one that is already there is that you not only have to start paying morgtage/loans on the custom home and the land it's on, but you also have to continue paying rent for several months in wherever you're living while it's built!
        [ Parent ]
          Re:custome home... (Score:2)
          by leucadiadude on Wednesday June 19, @12:52PM (#3730008)
          (User #68989 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
          You usually don't pay anything on the custom home construction loan during contruction. The interest of what you have drawn on your loan accumulates until the house is finished. The amount you draw is usually in five or six chunks spaced out over construction. The land mortgage(if any) usually is rolled into the first chunk of the construction loan. The only thing you will pay is rent where you need to live for six months to eighteen months during contruction and some upfront costs not allowed to be included in the construction loan. Upfront costs are things like permits and utillity tie-ins, architects fees etc...
          [ Parent ]
          Re:custome home... (Score:0)
          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @12:19PM (#3729743)
          If you can shell out over $300k for a home that isn't an issue. Those guys are fucking rich. They're probably doctors or something.
          [ Parent ]
        Re:custome home... (Score:3)
        by Geek In Training ([moc.liamtoh] [ta] [893bc]) on Wednesday June 19, @11:50AM (#3729535)
        (User #12075 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
        ...Many of us are out of job and ... something like "Custome Business Book" review ... run a /. polls ... able to shelf out...

        Well, if you're in the English-speaking world, I think I know why you're having a hard time finding a job, boss.

        Those of us in stable jobs are shelling out big bucks for our apartments/houses, and are doing just fine, thanks. I have dozens of friends in technology, and the only ones not able to keep decent work are the ones who only know VB or C++ (programmers), or who are "A+ Certified" to be able to correctly distinguish a LAN card from a Video card 75% of the time (hardware people).
        [ Parent ]
          Re:custome home... (Score:2)
          by doubtless on Wednesday June 19, @02:32PM (#3730833)
          (User #267357 Info | http://www.naoc.net/)
          hahaha, thanks for the correction.. it was early morning, didn't bother to read what I typed.

          I am an recent graduate, and was working for a big company for about half a year before the infamous 'restructuring' came and axed our division. Thus far the major problem for me (or people like me) is the requirement of visa sponsorship to work in this country. I am not blaiming anybody or saying this is unfair, it's just a tough economic condition for foreigners.

          This is still a great country with ample opportunies for many who are willing to work hard. I have not given up just yet.
          [ Parent ]
          Re:custome home... (Score:0)
          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @03:11PM (#3731195)
          mmmm.... so it's really smart to be shelling out big bucks for your housing, right? and "the only ones not able to keep decent work are" programmers and hardware people? are you out of your fucking mind? what do you mean by "programmer" or "hardware people"?

          oh, let me guess - you're in marketing! technology marketing! yeah, you guys are a barrel of laughs.

          i know *brilliant* programmers (no, not VB jockeys) who are, for example, doing sysadmin work because that's what's available... if there's anything available at all. one guy lost his previous job because he was too good - ie, his part was done, tested, and clean, so they didn't 'need' him anymore. now he's doing the tech equivalent of mopping floors.
          [ Parent ]
        Re:custome home... (Score:2, Insightful)
        by Torinaga-Sama on Wednesday June 19, @11:39AM (#3729449)
        (User #189890 Info)
        Unemployment in May 2002 was 5.8%

        This is not the great depression.

        Commerce goes marching on. Besides this is a potential revenue source for geeks with project management skills. That could very well be your Custom Business book.

        I feel that it is very applicable.
        [ Parent ]
          Unemployment is _25%_ (Score:2)
          by coyote-san on Wednesday June 19, @12:49PM (#3729980)
          (User #38515 Info)
          The *overall* unemployment was 5.8%, but unemployment figures usually vary by sector and location.

          In the metro Denver area, the figure I've heard (very quietly) is that unemployment in the IT fields is around 25%. But again that varies by subsector and experience, and the market seems to be preferring less experienced developers, with almost all companies are extremely "brand" conscious. Some of these cases are extreme - one company has been advertising for "java" or "embedded" developers for 6 months, but unless you have at least 3 years of experience on a specific "set-top" box in the consumer cable TV market you're not worth talking to. In some cases it's clear the company is just trying to rehire laid-off employees, but almost all publicly announced positions have some type of mandatory application experience.

          Among my immediate friends and acquaintances, *two* are still working in the IT field. Another is a certified Oracle DBA decorating cakes in a supermarket (last I heard), another is getting into marketing, a third is talking about opening a sub franchise store in the Middle East, and I'm signed up for some sysadmin training so I can get past the "ten years of related experience, but never in my job title" barrier. That's 66% unemployment, far beyond the unemployment rate in the great depression.

          But there is good news! Bush is trying to streamline the H1B visa process so the big companies can bring in even more foreign workers, since these companies have found it so hard to find qualified candidates. Why, how can any company be expected to find local talent when a single ad on Monster or Dice may bring in a thousand resumes?
          [ Parent ]
            Re:Unemployment is _25%_ (Score:3, Insightful)
            by ocbwilg on Wednesday June 19, @01:16PM (#3730205)
            (User #259828 Info)
            Among my immediate friends and acquaintances, *two* are still working in the IT field. Another is a certified Oracle DBA decorating cakes in a supermarket (last I heard), another is getting into marketing, a third is talking about opening a sub franchise store in the Middle East, and I'm signed up for some sysadmin training so I can get past the "ten years of related experience, but never in my job title" barrier. That's 66% unemployment, far beyond the unemployment rate in the great depression.

            Really? Then by your own logic we have a 0% unemployment rate since all of my friends are gainfully employed in our chosen fields. Cool! I love this economy...

            I guess what I'm trying to say here is that all statistics are lies, for the very reason that you demonstrated with your own "statistical analysis" of the situation.
            [ Parent ]
              Re:Unemployment is _25%_ (Score:2)
              by coyote-san on Wednesday June 19, @01:41PM (#3730466)
              (User #38515 Info)
              WTF??

              I didn't say that the IT sector unemployment was 66%, I said that it was among my circle of friends and that I therefore had to put a lot of weight into the 25% unemployment cited by economists. But even they will be quick to admit that the 25% figure is a gross overgeneralization since "IT" includes "Bob, the IT guy" at small businesses and cable TV installers in addition to programmers, DBAs and sysadmins.

              Finally, "all statistics are lies" is crap. Plenty of statistics are accurate, but they're misapplied by people trying to push a point. (E.g., using the overall unemployment rate when the discussion was of IT-sector unemployment.) Or they're based on false or changing assumptions. If you keep this in mind, statistics are very useful.
              [ Parent ]
            Re:Unemployment is _25%_ (Score:1)
            by Torinaga-Sama on Thursday June 20, @11:39AM (#3736374)
            (User #189890 Info)
            Look to see if your state has a government run employment site. Here is Washington state we have a site that I have found useful while looking for a job last year (it is how I found my current position).

            Monster and Hotjobs I found to be a joke and when I was enemployed after quiting my job last February (in what I thought at the time to be a good markey). Neither site even resulted in a single interview, much less even a call. My state site provided a number of calls, as well as a couple of interviews and even a job (two actually I ended up turning one down after accepting this position).

            Most of all I wish you luck, and to keep your chin up. A positive attitude will get you a lot farther than you might think.
            [ Parent ]
            Re:Unemployment is _25%_ (Score:0, Offtopic)
            by SubtleNuance on Wednesday June 19, @01:36PM (#3730415)
            (User #184325 Info)
            Bush is trying to streamline the H1B visa process so the big companies can bring in even more foreign workers
             
            whahh whaaah, them stinky foreign people are talking all the good jobs...
             
            Tell me, where does your family come from..? Because if your not Native NorthAmerican, you dont belong here (and some would say even the natives that the europeans slaughtered were not the 'original peoples' - they were foreigners)
             
            so, with that in mind, which Rightist party are you a memeber of?
             
            [ Parent ]
              Re:Unemployment is _25%_ (Score:2)
              by doubtless on Wednesday June 19, @02:40PM (#3730909)
              (User #267357 Info | http://www.naoc.net/)
              Right on!

              From US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [eeoc.gov]

              * Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;

              It always bother me that national origin is in there, but never nationality. Subtle you may say, but to me, it is not. Especially when you are well qualified but the company job posting clearly says Only US Citizen and Green Card holders entertained

              From the same website:
              Employers who impose citizenship requirements or give preferences to U.S. citizens in hiring or employment opportunities also may violate IRCA.

              Anybody know of any an example where this is the case and the company got into trouble?
              [ Parent ]
                Re:Unemployment is _25%_ (Score:3, Informative)
                by unitron (unitron@tacc.net) on Wednesday June 19, @03:50PM (#3731523)
                (User #5733 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
                Speaking of government regulations (and construction) Home Depot now has a policy of not selling anything to the Federal government or anyone acting for them due to all the regulations and paperwork involved. Apparently they save more money that way than they lose in sales.
                [ Parent ]
        Re:custome home... (Score:2)
        by Eil on Wednesday June 19, @08:58PM (#3733401)
        (User #82413 Info | http://www.cybermesa.com/~dincht/ | Last Journal: Thursday June 13, @08:47PM)

        Heh heh, my thoughts exactly. I'm sitting here wondering how, in 3 months, I am going to afford a $500 apartment and go to school full time while my fiancee looks for a job.

        But oh no, we've got clods like this one singing and dancing about how his dream house only cost him $320,000! Wow what a bargain!

        I'm sure it's great info for the geek-scene superstars like Malda & Co who've already got the rest of their lives planned out, but to the unwashed masses (such as me), it doesn't really apply... (And in my case, probably won't apply for the better part of a decade, no less.)

        I especially agree with the poll bit:

        My humble place of abode:
        [ ] Just built my $320,000 seaside dream mansion
        [ ] Got a fairly nice condo
        [ ] Livin' in the 'burbs
        [o] My apartment's getting a little cramped
        [ ] There'll be a party in my dorm room tonight
        [ ] I tend to think of my parents as landlords, really...
        [ Parent ]
        Re:finances for projects like this (Score:1)
        by Zurk on Wednesday June 19, @12:18PM (#3729733)
        (User #37028 Info)
        this does raise an interesting issue though -- how are such things financed ? do you have to have everything in cash to build your own home ?
        whats the process ? does the bank give mortgages on building homes or what ?
        [ Parent ]
          Re:finances for projects like this (Score:2)
          by Zathrus on Wednesday June 19, @12:45PM (#3729945)
          (User #232140 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
          Yes, you can get mortgages for unbuilt structures. They have higher interest rates, but it's generally not a huge issue. They're pretty common. Go searching on some mortgage info sites if you really want details.
          [ Parent ]
            Re:finances for projects like this (Score:2)
            by ocbwilg on Wednesday June 19, @01:19PM (#3730225)
            (User #259828 Info)
            Yes, you can get mortgages for unbuilt structures. They have higher interest rates, but it's generally not a huge issue.

            I don't know for sure, but I would expect that once the home was completed that you could conceivably get re-financed at a more normal rate. With the bonus that if your completed home is worth more than it cost to build (not all that uncommon I should think) you could end up with some automagic equity built in.
            [ Parent ]
          Re:finances for projects like this (Score:2)
          by captain_craptacular on Wednesday June 19, @02:49PM (#3730993)
          (User #580116 Info)
          I'm doing it right now. You get a "construction loan" which is similar to a mortgage but is designed for this type of thing. Basically how it works is you pay based on how much you have used to date (up to a set cap). To get a construction loan you generally have to have a bit more down than a typical mortgage (25% usually), and you have to somewhat know what you're talking about and be able to provide and discuss plans/schedules/blueprints/etc...
          [ Parent ]
          Re:finances for projects like this (Score:1)
          by lynnroth on Wednesday June 19, @12:59PM (#3730074)
          (User #213826 Info | http://penguin.nu/)
          My bank offers a "construction loan" where you get approved for $x, and then while you are building, you get the money as you need it, and only pay interest on that part.
          [ Parent ]
        Re:custome home... (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @11:15AM (#3729272)
        I just did :)
        [ Parent ]
        Re:custome home... (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @11:18AM (#3729292)
        Out of a job? Less /., more job search. Whaa...
        [ Parent ]
      Good review (Score:2)
      by hrieke on Wednesday June 19, @11:17AM (#3729286)
      (User #126185 Info | http://www.polsci.wv...ecream/icecream.html)
      As someone who is planning my own home (brother is an architect, so that saves me some money right there...), this sounds like a great book to check out.
      I would have liked to have a small summery for each chapter, but that's all.
      Thank you for your review Jeff.
      [ Parent ]
        Re:Good review (Score:1)
        by SN74S181 on Wednesday June 19, @11:46AM (#3729500)
        (User #581549 Info)
        (brother is an architect, so that saves me some money right there...),

        Oh, I dunno. Being overly involved with an architect can actually drive your costs up. Architects are highly involved with the aesthetics of the project, and practicality is often a secondary consideration for them.

        My family lived in an architect-designed/built house for most of my adolescence. There were things like:
         
      • the big flat patio roof over the garage, made out of poured concrete, that cracked..
      • the huge natural stone fireplace in the living room with double faces ('pass through') that we never, ever had a fire in, because it was non-standard dimensions so the fireplace screen would have had to be custom and would have cost many thousands....
      • the way the moisture condensed out of the deep-well skylights in the second floor bathroom (a rainstorm after every shower!).
      • the hole in the parquet(sp.?) floor where a dumb waiter from downstairs was supposed to be installed.

        Hire an architect to do some sketches and early layout. Then get involved with somebody practical, so you don't spend many thousands in the decades after the house is built dealing with the problems an 'aesthetic' person doesn't consider.
      • [ Parent ]
          Re:Good review (Score:2)
          by hrieke on Wednesday June 19, @01:23PM (#3730265)
          (User #126185 Info | http://www.polsci.wv...ecream/icecream.html)
          Well that's the good news of the architect being my brother. I know he's going to listen, or I'm going to tell mom. :)
          As far as aesthetics, well we both have the same tastes so I don't have to worry about that.
          I should also add that my parents built their own home. I learned a lot about how a house is built, what is needed, what is not needed, and so on. One of those things that you don't enjoy until you get older I guess.

          From the sound of the home that your grew up in, it appears that some short cuts where made, which is too bad. But I bet that it was a cool house to live in.

          [ Parent ]
          Re:Good review (Score:1)
          by Echemus on Wednesday June 19, @12:06PM (#3729654)
          (User #49002 Info)
          Thats a major slight on the Architectural profession you are making there. Architects do not just deal with "asthetics". A /good/ architect should be considering how the building is to be used, which materials are suitable to be used together with asthetic values.

          Architecture is a lot about layout rather than just fancy features. Do you know for a fact that the Architect specified the patio roof to be concrete? Or did a contractor figure he could do it cheaper that way? Was the house designed for the location it was built in, or was it a design imported from somewhere else? Were features added at the insistance of the client, which the Architect added under protest?

          Given that most modern designs of houses are incredibly poor and often just carbon copies of a design that a contractor has made over and over again, the world would be a better place if more people employeed architects. (and they do not cost a vast amount of money) I sigh in dispare at the suburban sprawl a lot of N.American cities seem to have, all the houses looking largely identical.
          [ Parent ]
            Re:Good review (Score:2)
            by sphealey on Wednesday June 19, @12:46PM (#3729953)
            (User #2855 Info)
            Thats a major slight on the Architectural profession you are making there. Architects do not just deal with "asthetics". A /good/ architect should be considering how the building is to be used, which materials are suitable to be used together with asthetic values.

            Architecture is a lot about layout rather than just fancy features.
            Well, they should. And a few do. However, too many architects have read Mies' work and decided that they are out to Change the World and teach everyone how buildings "should" be built. Which generally means throwing out 10,000 years of accumulated experience. The result is buildings which look good to other architects but are absolute horrors for ordinary people to use. See any work by Helmut Jahn for an example.

            See From Bauhaus to Our House [amazon.com] or Death and Life of Great American Cities [amazon.com] for more details.

            sPh

            [ Parent ]
          Re:Good review (Score:1)
          by dohcvtec on Wednesday June 19, @01:38PM (#3730423)
          (User #461026 Info)
          Many architects think that they can also be structural engineers (aforementioned cracked concrete, anyone?) when they should really stick to the creative side of things. Sure, most of the time, the architect designs nearly every aspect of the house, structurally significant portions included, and there usually aren't any problems, but engineering considerations ought to be handled by someone trained in engineering, not architecture. On commercial projects, the architect takes care of the aesthetics, and the structural engineer fills in the details. Maybe if more residential construction was handled this way, the situation would improve.
          [ Parent ]
        Re:Good review (Score:1)
        by maxconfus on Wednesday June 19, @11:57AM (#3729585)
        (User #522536 Info)
        before you DIY a home check to see if you will get the warranty that is standard with a new construction by a home builder. Most states it is 7years on the structure. Also, getting financing for a DIY is very, very hard. If you got the collateral or cash then no prob but you should contact a bank immediately and tell them your plans. I see many DIY homes where I am located that will never be finished because the DIY builder ran out of money... Also, don't lay out big cash to a builder that you do not think you can trust. I was lucky and met a good one but looked around for a while.
        [ Parent ]
      Wusses (Score:2, Funny)
      by boristdog on Wednesday June 19, @11:17AM (#3729288)
      (User #133725 Info)
      Contractor, schmontractor. I built my own house with my own two hands. It takes over a couple year's worth of weekends to do, but you get exactly what you want (or what you are willing to do,) and you pay as you go. Once built, it's paid for. Now I just have to finish paying for the 32 acres of land...
      [ Parent ]
      That's nice, but... (Score:2, Insightful)
      by An IPv6 obsessed guy (spam@radioactivedata.org) on Wednesday June 19, @11:23AM (#3729330)
      (User #545330 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
      This is all well and good, for those living in areas where you can actually get some land. Here in Somerville (just outside Boston, MA), there's literally no developable land left. Meaning to build your own, you'd have to demolish an existing property... Not a cheap proposition, considering the potential for asbestos and other hazards.

      Still, sounds like a good book for those in rural/suburban areas.

      [ Parent ]
        Re:That's nice, but... (Score:2)
        by Brento (brento.brentozar@com) on Wednesday June 19, @11:45AM (#3729489)
        (User #26177 Info | http://www.brentozar.com)
        This is all well and good, for those living in areas where you can actually get some land.

        Well, yeah, that's kind of the point of the book. Complaining about that is like whining about a review of a Linux book because you're running Windows. The book is about building houses: if you don't need it, move along, nothing to see here.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:That's nice, but... (Score:2)
        by Jucius Maximus (j13moh@netscape.net) on Wednesday June 19, @12:19PM (#3729739)
        (User #229128 Info | http://slashdot.org/ | Last Journal: Thursday July 18, @10:43AM)
        "This is all well and good, for those living in areas where you can actually get some land. Here in Somerville (just outside Boston, MA), there's literally no developable land left. Meaning to build your own, you'd have to demolish an existing property... Not a cheap proposition, considering the potential for asbestos and other hazards."

        Try look at the U.K. ... land there is far more scarce than in North America. I live on a ~5 acre plot in Canada in a rural area and if I went to England and told someone that, the person would probably think I was a millionaire.

        On the same topic, I have read that land in downtown Tokyo tops US$250k per SQARE METRE.

        [ Parent ]
        Same story in Bay Area (Score:2)
        by Ars-Fartsica on Wednesday June 19, @12:34PM (#3729824)
        (User #166957 Info | http://slashdot.org/~Ars-Fartsica/journal/ | Last Journal: Saturday July 27, @01:36AM)
        Try finding an empty lot that is open for development and for sale to individuals. I dare you.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:That's nice, but... (Score:2)
        by mikeee on Wednesday June 19, @12:35PM (#3729831)
        (User #137160 Info)
        Well, what you do here in Somerville (hello, neighbor!) is strip an old house the inside (leave the framing and maybe the outside shell if it's in good shape) and rebuild the rest as if from scratch.

        Across the street from me is a 2-family; guy bought it for $300k three years ago. Ripped the interor down to studs; new roof, windows, and paint; new walls/kitchen/bathroom/electric; sold it two years ago as 2 condos, for $250k and $330k. Could have kept one of those for himself, of course...

        Same story, just a little different in the early phases.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:That's nice, but... (Score:1)
        by dubiousmike on Wednesday June 19, @12:22PM (#3729757)
        (User #558126 Info | Last Journal: Wednesday June 19, @12:48PM)
        Actually, you can get an entire 3 story house demolished with all debris removed in 2 days from a demolition company. About 15K. I can forward you to a number of sources, if you like.

        100K - 15K = you can still aford to buy me a beer at a Sox game.

        -Mike

        [ Parent ]
          Re:That's nice, but... (Score:1)
          by sunking2 on Wednesday June 19, @01:00PM (#3730084)
          (User #521698 Info)
          That's nice, but you still have to pay for the house you just demolished. So you just paid $250k for a plot of land worth $50k so that you can destroy $200k of it and build another house on it for $200k. Thats some savings! (Prices are made up, take witha grain of salt).
          [ Parent ]
            Re:That's nice, but... (Score:2, Interesting)
            by dubiousmike on Wednesday June 19, @01:32PM (#3730369)
            (User #558126 Info | Last Journal: Wednesday June 19, @12:48PM)
            There are "absolute auctions" of buildings all the time. I personally have bought office space in Massachusetts for 1/8th of the city's estimated worth. There was actually nothing wrong with the building, just that the bank had tried to sell it, then auction it with no success until they said, "This time we are auctioning it off no matter what the offer." Thus the term "absolute auction".

            I think when the original poster mentioned an existing structure and not an empty plot of land, one would assume that the building was not wanted. After all, this IS an article and thread about building your own home.

            Also, one could read the paper, look for the next big building fire in your hometown. It is very possible that a person can offer very little money (say just the cost of what the land is worth) to buy the land and burned remains. This way the former owner collects their insurance and doesn't have to spend a dime to repair the property (which often is a full rebuild anyway when there is major structural damage). You would be VERY surprised how often a property owner is interested in this type of situation when approached.

            So how do I know any of this stuff? I am not only a property owner, a person who HAS demolished an entire burned structure to the ground (when I was a teen, I took that on as a 2 week summer gig - just me, one hired hand and 4 full size dumpsters) AND I am a state licensed Public Adjuster (the second youngest ever in the state of MA). A public adjuster is one that works for insured (you) against insurance companies and their adjusters to maximize your claim for a %. I have had to write estimates (construction costs and contents) for more burned houses than you can imagine, with countless more before I was licensed (my dad had the same occupation and who was the lucky guy to provide free manpower to him). Thus my insider insight.

            There are countless building auctions every day in every state. Many of them are absolute auctions that can provide for some unbelievable deals. I know someone who bought a 3-tenement house for $100 (plus a few hundred in back taxes) a few years back. A search on Google containing "auctioneer" and your state's name is likely to provide you with quite a few results. By contacting these folks, you can get a mailer from each of them once a month with all of their auctions for the next month or so. Definitely worth checking out.

            I suppose my first post was short and to an incomplete point for brevity, thus did not relay the above.
            [ Parent ]
            Re:That's nice, but... (Score:0)
            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @01:44PM (#3730501)
            Um, youre numbers are wrong.

            Friend just bought a house (Berkeley) for around $250k.
            Went through the insurance ritual. The house is insured for around $100k.
            He went to the insurance guy and say "I just paid far more than this! I need more than $100k insurance"
            Insurance guy pointed out that if the house falls down, burns down, gets transported away by aliens, it's still worth $100k. The LAND is worth $150k (location, etc).

            Shall we talk about the $800k 1br houses in Palo Alto? Those houses are worth very little. The LAND is worth very much.

            So you paid $250k for land with a house on it. I'd bet that an empty lot would still cost you close to $150k.

            That's why another friend buys up old trashed houses for depressed prices (often tax seized crack houses) and either fixes them or rips them down and rebuilds. He then resells (within 6 months of buying) for a bunch more. Oh, and the local neighborhood folks and politicians love him for replacing crack house with low income resident owned house.

            So buy a plot of land with a house that's falling down, rip it down and put your fantasy bunker there.
            Or get out of Slummerville and move to New Hampshire :)

            [ Parent ]
          Wrong. (Score:0)
          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @01:01PM (#3730093)
          You're forgetting the cost of what you demolish.

          For example,
          you buy a $250,000 house & lot.
          You demolish said house for $15,000.
          How much money are you out compared to purchasing
          an empty lot for $50,000?

          Let's see:
          250,000 + 15,000 - 50,000 = 215,000

          If you have $215,000 to trash by all means. Just don't confuse the issue by saying it's only 15,000 dollars.
          [ Parent ]
        Re:That's nice, but... (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @12:45PM (#3729946)
        Not necessarily. My father just bought a house in Somerville, gutted the whole thing, redid the entire interior, and is looking at close to $100,000 in profit.
        [ Parent ]
      wireless (Score:2)
      by Hooya on Wednesday June 19, @11:25AM (#3729351)
      (User #518216 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
      Well, i don't own a home yet. and for a forseeable future i don't plan to. however, the apartments that i've been renting have been pretty good about phone lines. i have a wall mount for phones in each bathrooms! but to a nerd like me, phone lines mean nothing if they don't carry DSL service. i was thinking about drilling some holes to wire the apartment with cat5 to get back to the DSL router but with the (relatively) cheap wireless hardware out there, i'm pretty set without the holes. someone mentioned wiring for cat5 but then later upgrading to fiber once fiber becomes cheap. i would imagine wireless would follow 'moores law'/n curve. i, for one, would consider being a little behind the curve in terms of bandwidth in exchange for not having to wire the house at all! most of my traffic is out to the internet which is limited by the DSL bandwidth anyways. why wire the house now with cat5 and then rip that out and rewire when fiber becomes cheap? use wireless! (and pray that it keeps getting fatter in terms of bandwidth).
      [ Parent ]
        Re:wireless (Score:2)
        by Brento (brento.brentozar@com) on Wednesday June 19, @11:30AM (#3729385)
        (User #26177 Info | http://www.brentozar.com)
        why wire the house now with cat5 and then rip that out and rewire when fiber becomes cheap? use wireless! (and pray that it keeps getting fatter in terms of bandwidth).

        Well, there's security, for starters. Sure, you could set up a VPN and use it for every single device in the home, but that's overkill and won't work with most consumer-level gear (think ReplayTV).

        Then there's interference - if you've got 2.4ghz phones, you're going to be much happier wiring as much as you can, and then only using wireless gear for things that truly need to move around the house. I still plug into wired jacks when it's time to copy big files, do tape backups, ghost drives, etc.

        Don't forget that most consumer gear is just now coming with ethernet jacks (think ReplayTV, Tivo, home MP3 components), and wireless is out of the question.
        [ Parent ]
          Re:wireless (Score:0)
          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @11:35AM (#3729415)
          You can also use dlink wireless routers. The range is so poor that even with a Cisco Aironet card the signal falls to zero 5 feet outside my door.
          [ Parent ]
            Re:wireless (Score:0)
            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @12:00PM (#3729609)
            You can also use dlink wireless routers. The range is so poor that even with a Cisco Aironet card the signal falls to zero 5 feet outside my door.

            Hahaha, I thought this was just me and my access point until I bought another D-Link for my mom. Nope, they're shit. :-) Barely reaches through the ceiling to the floor above them without losing a ton of signal and about 90 feet away around a corner and up a level is completely dead, no signal at all. I have NO worries about people sniffing my wireless lan.. I can barely pick it up on my patio!
            [ Parent ]
        Re:wireless (Score:1)
        by AIXman on Wednesday June 19, @01:49PM (#3730542)
        (User #134709 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
        Yes, wireless networks are becoming cheaper and more commmon. However, if you are building a house you are foolish not to install the extra wiring (cat5 twisted pair, RG-6 coaxial) anyway.

        Why?
        1. It costs relatively little to add it now. After the house is finished it becomes more expensive/impossible)
        2. Distributing multiple TV channels cannot be done practically without the coax. So if you are going to have put in coax outlets for the TVs, why not put in cat5 at the same time?

        Cable with 2XRG-6 cables and 2Xcat5 and multimode fiber all in one is commonly available (Home Depot). This is what I would install at computer and TV locations in a house if I were building one. If you want to save money, don't terminate the fiber or other strands in the bundle. Do it later, when and if you need it.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:wireless (Score:-1, Offtopic)
        by 8databits on Wednesday June 19, @12:00PM (#3729606)
        (User #583565 Info)
        DSL sux! 8databits Ain't 'dat a bitch!
        [ Parent ]
      DIY Disaster (Score:2, Insightful)
      by uncoveror on Wednesday June 19, @11:26AM (#3729362)
      (User #570620 Info | http://www.uncoveror.com/)
      If you want to do it yourself, you had better know what the hell you are doing. You can't learn overnight reading a book. My house, which was all I could afford for a first home,is full of some clown who thought he was handy's botch jobs. It's a disaster! Cabinets hung too high to reach, and I'm a tall man! Doors are hung backwards, and nothing is level or plumb. Some things are worth paying for, like competent contractors.
      [ Parent ]
        Re:DIY Disaster (Score:1)
        by stipe42 on Wednesday June 19, @11:43AM (#3729482)
        (User #305620 Info)
        Contractors don't build houses, the workers do. You're bitching about somebody being a lousy handyman, when the book is dealing with managing the building of the house, not building it bit by bit with your own incompetent hands.

        stipe42
        [ Parent ]
        agreed. this is just more geek arrogance (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @12:42PM (#3729903)
        i have also had to tear down some other idiot's DIY crap. my advice - DON'T. you do not know what you are doing. it will end with you dismantling it with a claw hammer.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:DIY Disaster (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @03:08PM (#3731171)
        Hey! I resemble that remark!

        Besides, if he'd done a good job, you wouldn't have been able to afford the house. So quit whining!
        [ Parent ]
      So is profit a dirty word for building contractors (Score:2, Funny)
      by jaunty on Wednesday June 19, @11:32AM (#3729392)
      (User #56283 Info | http://timmers.bc.ca/)
      People can be real idiots. I'm sure the person who wrote this book, and the person who wrote the review, used software supplied by our friends from Microsoft. So I wonder what the markup on MS software is? Prolly a _lot_ more. Why aren't they complaining about that, and providing 15 easy steps to saving $$$$$ with computer software? I'm in the housing construction industry, and I don't see too many "fat-cats" around me. Most people make enough to provide for themselves and their families, but they're definitely not living in half million dollar homes. And I might add, the products they turn out with their daily work, generally aren't the cause of great frustration, without needing an monthly or yearly upgrade, etc, etc... This book is a variation of those "Get Rich While Sitting in Your Lawnchair Surrounded by Beautiful Babes" type books. The only people who benefit from this sort of book is the author and publishing company. Now that I've gotten rid of some steam, I'm going back to work :-)
      [ Parent ]
        Re:So is profit a dirty word for building contract (Score:2)
        by klieber on Wednesday June 19, @01:07PM (#3730141)
        (User #124032 Info | http://www.silentpcreview.com/)
        Who said profit was a dirty word?

        [reads original post -- looks for negative reference to profit]

        I'm not sure where you saw that reference, but it sure as hell wasn't in the original post. The original post simply said you could save money if you were willing to do it yourself. Why is DIY a dirty word?

        --kurt
        [ Parent ]
        Re:So is profit a dirty word for building contract (Score:1)
        by bogie on Wednesday June 19, @01:37PM (#3730419)
        (User #31020 Info | http://www.geocities.com/aboutlinux)
        The point is in dealing with contractors, just like the auto mechanics, its bend over and take it. These are two industries where the consumer gets screwed over constantly and has little recourse. And yes, most people do just "deal with it". Now you may be a "great guy" and treats his customers well and gets the work done on time, doesn't overcharge etc. But most in your industry are not like that, no matter how many good guys you know. It's a shadey industry and mostly consumers just end up getting taken advantage of. So you'll just have to live with the fact that the general public has a little resentment towards you. Deal with it.
        [ Parent ]
        Work is work. (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @01:47PM (#3730532)
        When you DIY the money you save is "earned" by you is a higher salary than the contractor makes. Just to cover the big ones... a 28% federal, a 3% state, and 7% employment... You pay yourself a factor of 1.4 times what you pay a contractor.

        It's simple business, not a profit is evil issue.

        I can pay a contractor $20/hour, or I can pay myself $28 and do it myself.

        So, you're saying a contractor earning 40% more than you must be an idiot. Yea, right.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:So is profit a dirty word for building contract (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @02:16PM (#3730741)

        I'm sure the person who wrote this book, and the person who wrote the review, used software supplied by our friends from Microsoft.

        What makes you think that?

        [ Parent ]
      A whole nother story (Score:2, Interesting)
      by rochlin on Wednesday June 19, @11:34AM (#3729412)
      (User #248444 Info | http://www.bestportlandrentals.com/)
      Along the same lines, Tracy Kidder (of "Soul of the New Machine" fame) wrote a terrific book called House [amazon.com] telling the whole story from dream to carpentry to $$ etc of a couple building their first home... Great book.
      [ Parent ]
        Re:A whole nother story (Score:2)
        by sphealey on Wednesday June 19, @12:10PM (#3729672)
        (User #2855 Info)
        House is an excellent book. The contractors that Kidder wrote about in House later wrote their own book, The Apple Corps Guide to the Well-Built House. I believe it is out of print but it is well worth tracking down a used copy if you are starting the house-building (or even buying) process.

        sPh

        [ Parent ]
      New Home Construction (Score:2, Interesting)
      by maxconfus on Wednesday June 19, @11:46AM (#3729505)
      (User #522536 Info)
      Ok, maybe it says it in the book but how much time did this take? 1 year, 2 years? Most homes built by a home builder are completed in a 4 to 9 month span. Try paying rent or an existing mortgage while you are waiting to finish your home.

      My big question though after reading this post is if you DIY the home yourself do you still get a warranty? Probably not. Most states require a home builder to guarantee the structure up to 7 years. Second, I imagine it is very tough to get financing for this type of DIY construction. Let alone getting financing for the land. Usually a bank requires collateral and you will not have that much if all you have is a pile of lumber.

      I recommend contracting with a home builder for new construction but just don't layout cash to the first who comes along. Look into them and ask around. Most of all make sure you are comfortable laying out that type of cash to someone you do not know.
      [ Parent ]
        Re:New Home Construction (Score:2, Informative)
        by yack0 (yacko.talker@com) on Wednesday June 19, @12:04PM (#3729641)
        (User #2832 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
        It took 7.5 months. The reviewer planned for 6. As far as the book writer's house, we don't know without reading the book.

        And this isn't about DIY construction, it's about DIY General Contracting (mostly). General Contracting is simply project management - you get all the trades to come in at the right time relative to the other trades, work with inspectors and make sure money gets passed around appropriately.

         
        [ Parent ]
          Re:New Home Construction (Score:1)
          by maxconfus on Wednesday June 19, @01:03PM (#3730113)
          (User #522536 Info)
          The 7.5 number you state does that include everything finished? Electrical, heat, paint, floors, decks, landscaping? I am skeptical. What about the warranty? If the structure sinks who is left holding the bag? If it was built by a home builder its the builder's liability.
          [ Parent ]
          Re:New Home Construction (Score:1)
          by jdevons on Wednesday June 19, @01:45PM (#3730504)
          (User #233314 Info | http://consultutah.com/)
          The 7.5 month's includes everything EXCEPT landscaping. I am currently in the process of doing that now.

          And, indeed, I would be responsible for repairing myself anything that I didn't spefically get in a contract to have under warantee. That is why contracts are so important.
          [ Parent ]
        Re:New Home Construction (Score:2)
        by coyote-san on Wednesday June 19, @02:02PM (#3730640)
        (User #38515 Info)
        You should learn more about the world. It's an interesting place.

        "Construction loans" are commonplace and not a big deal. And since you asked, the banks make sure that you have the personal resources to continue living in an apartment or current house if/when the construction takes longer than expected.

        Speaking of money, you "don't lay out cash" to anyone in the construction business. You may provide a small deposit, but the normal practice is that they do the work, file a lien against the property, the work is signed off by the local building inspectors, you write them a check and they release the lien. Your construction loan undoubtably requires that all work pass inspection before subcontractors can be paid.

        If your house falls apart during the next decade or three, the lawyers will be looking at the inspections, not guarantees. Guarantees usually refer to cosmetic and minor problems (cracked tile, stuck doors, unstained woodwork) that anyone who acted as general contractor can have fixed by a subcontractor (either under the subcontractor's warranty, or as new work).

        Additionally, "guarantees" normally refer to work produced for sale to others. I suspect that most of those laws have exemptions for individuals who acted as their own general contractor for a house they occupied for a specified period of time - they're exempt as long as they disclose that they acted as general contractor for their own house.

        Finally, if you bothered to read the original article you would see that they estimated 6 months for completion, but it took 7.5 months because of repeated problems with the roof trusses. This delayed interior work since you can't finish drywall, etc., without a roof.
        [ Parent ]
          Re:New Home Construction (Score:1)
          by maxconfus on Wednesday June 19, @03:22PM (#3731282)
          (User #522536 Info)
          I suggest you take a drive around your area and look for home construction that has started but is languishing incomplete. Dollars to doughnuts they are DIY General contractors. Sure a construction loan is common but not easy to obtain when you have no collateral in a half built house. Also, talk to the neighbors of an incomplete home. Ask them how they feel about the incomplete dream home. The warranty you get on your home when it is built by a home builder is on the structure for about 7 years, depending on the state you live in. If it sinks in that time period then its their responsibility. A nice little thing to have when every dollar counts. But maybe you don't have too.
          [ Parent ]
          Re:New Home Construction (Score:0)
          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @03:50PM (#3731517)
          Are you a professional asshole, or do you just have lots of experience as an amature?
          [ Parent ]
        It Took 7 1/2 months (Score:1)
        by Hecatonchires (fakemail@fakeserver.com) on Wednesday June 19, @06:56PM (#3732813)
        (User #231908 Info | http://www.zip.com.au/~grendel/)
        Did u read the review?
        [ Parent ]
        Re:New Home Construction (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @02:19PM (#3730768)
        You've never built a house, have you?

        The vast majority of time of construction is, well, waiting. Waiting for one subcontractor to come in and finish before another can start.

        If you count the active days a house is worked on, it should be completed in 2 months for anything under 8000 sq ft. Certain homes, like modular construction, can finish in 2-3 weeks. Even Swiss homes that are transported to the US (yes, they do that, *excellent* construction and insulation), partially modular, finish in 6 weeks. Stick building is about 75 days.

        Most contractors try to plan loosely. They leave gaps in your project to focus on their other projects. They let subcontractors stick around and don't get on them to complete their work. They mess up, causing scheduling conflicts.

        A home across the street took a year and half. You know how soon they had the basement, framing, and roofing done? 4 weeks. Why did it take a year a half minus 4 weeks? Their contractor didn't get on the subcontractors.

        Remember, home construction should go *faster* with the way new tools are used--nails are shot in pneumatically or using a small charge, flooring products try faster, basement walls can come prefabbed, framed, insulated, and sealed. Ever see a good roofer on a schedule? Hell, the longest thing to wait for a lot of times in new construction is the concrete, mouter, or drybit to dry. They can tar paper and roof a 3000 sq ft home in 1 day. I've seen framers do a floor a day complete. Around here, you see framing for 2 stories go up 2 days and then stop. Why? Roofing frame hasn't come in, so the project stops. The roofer can't come in. Everything stops.
        [ Parent ]
      Location, location, location (Score:2, Interesting)
      by The Fun Guy (Brendan Niemira (bniemira@arserrc.gov)) on Wednesday June 19, @11:55AM (#3729572)
      (User #21791 Info | http://members.tripod.com/bniemira)
      The same house can cost 2x, 3x or 4x to build, depending on where you build it, becasue of local codes, materials costs, etc. Also, the difficulty/expense of building the house is influenced by location in another way. If the area where you live has strong, tightly knit unions (plumbers, carpenters, etc.), then you may not even be *able* to get your work done in a timely manner. If there just aren't many non-union plumbers, etc. in your town, and the union doesn't like its members to work on building jobs without a GC, then getting the work done will take forever. The GC's most important role may just be as an insider, a familiar name that can grease the skids in getting work, inspections, etc. scheduled. What you'd be paying for in that case is the guy's connections and knowledge of the labor environment.
      [ Parent ]
        Re:Location, location, location (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @12:15PM (#3729711)

        Thats just another reason to hate unions for that reason.

        fortunatly I know a General contractor who will probably let me use his name if I have to. When I was helping a friend on his house, he said "If any of the subs say something about a non-licensed worker let me know, I will fire them, and I do enough buisness with my subs that they will feel that". My friend works for the GC though.

        Posted anonymously because it was illegal for me to proform my Christian duty of helping my neighbor with some of the things I did.

        [ Parent ]
      Kinda reminds me of... (Score:2, Funny)
      by ricklow (ral613@yahoo.com) on Wednesday June 19, @12:02PM (#3729625)
      (User #124377 Info)
      ...a coffee mug someone gave me:

      "If builders built buildings the way programmers write programs, the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization."
      [ Parent ]
      new homes (Score:2, Informative)
      by numbuscus on Wednesday June 19, @12:03PM (#3729635)
      (User #466708 Info)
      Ok, I've worked as a real estate and development consultant for the last three years. I help major developers decide what they should build and when they should build it. I have a little advise for all of you out there. You may not like it, but it is the same advise I give family members and anyone who asks.

      NEVER buy a new home unless you plan to live there the rest of your life. Why, you may ask - They don't appreciate in value. It's simple as that. Usually it take a generation for a home to gain in value (above and beyond inflation and interest rates). This is because the new neighborhoods are designed very poorly and gain no real character until the trees are grown and people begin to take down or modify neighboring homes. My advise if you absolutely have to have a new home: buy one outside the city on a few acres and, yes, build it yourself. That way the land will appreciate greatly as the city grows outward. If you ever decide to move, you then have the chance to make out nicely. It's not that easy, though, so be careful. You are better off buying in an up-and-coming neighborhood that is older. Somewhere closer to the downtown (commute times are beginning to be very important to home values). You will then have to put a little time and money into the home - maybe upgrade appliances and add on. But the rewards in terms of value will be immediate, allowing you to move into an even larger/better home sooner. What I advise:

      (1) Never buy a new home in a new development (there are exceptions - like downtown condos, which tend to appreciate greatly in good economies i.e. not in the current Seattle situation).

      (2) If you have to have a new home, buy/build it somewhere that the land will have a chance to appreciate.

      (3) The best thing to do is buy a home near the city, in a neighborhood that is beginning to revive itself (i.e. you don't have to worry about getting shot). Do some upgrades on the home and you will immediately see appreciation.
      [ Parent ]
        Re:new homes (Score:3, Insightful)
        by L. VeGas on Wednesday June 19, @02:53PM (#3731033)
        (User #580015 Info)
        As with most generalities, this advice needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I use my real estate investments as my retirement vehicle (and legacy for my son) and as such look to appreciated value over decades, not years. My editorial of the advice:

        (1) Don't buy in a new development *if* it's geographical/political boundaries allow for massive growth. Do buy if you can realistically predict the limits of the area's growth and the area's economic vitality.

        (2) Short term, buy for structure and land. Long term, buy for land appreciation only. You can depreciate the stucture's cost (if you rent it out).

        (3) The best thing to do is buy a home near the city, in a neighborhood that is beginning to revive itself. If it's a heap, don't throw good money after bad. Be willing to tear it down and build condos. Take a short-term hit for long-term return.
        [ Parent ]
          Re:new homes (Score:1)
          by numbuscus on Wednesday June 19, @03:12PM (#3731209)
          (User #466708 Info)
          You've summarized better than I did. I knew that my post would shock some people - but I guess I should have explained a little better.
          [ Parent ]
            Re:new homes (Score:2)
            by L. VeGas on Wednesday June 19, @03:55PM (#3731560)
            (User #580015 Info)
            Well, you were right. I think the shock came from people whose knowledge of the market is based on localized experience instead of research. Virtually every expert / professional agrees with you. My only point was that it's important to look at the details of a property transaction instead of dismissing it out of hand because it fell outside the preferred parameters. There are lots of exceptions.
            [ Parent ]
        Re:new homes (Score:2)
        by Watts Martin (mika@sollu n a . org) on Wednesday June 19, @03:41PM (#3731423)
        (User #3616 Info | http://www.ranea.org/watts)

        While in general your advice makes sense, it's been my observation that in my area (Tampa Bay, Florida), as soon as a new home subdivision in a growth area is completely built out, the new home values skyrocket. A friend of mine bought a home for $90K in '98, during the final phase of construction in that subdivision. Less than a year later there weren't any new homes there to buy. Then he ended up getting a job later on the other side of the metro region--a different county, with a 60+ minute commute one way!--and put the home back on the market in 2001. He sold it for $110K.

        I'm philosophically against most new tract housing for a variety of reasons, but in high-growth metro areas, you're probably not going to lose money buying into one unless the subdivision development goes sour for some reason, or unless the region's economy just tanks overall before the subdivision has developed into anything useful. I suspect the ugliest tracts--the ones cleared of all trees, filled with shoddily-built literally identical homes down to the mailboxes--are going to be losing propositions no matter what, though.

        [ Parent ]
          Re:new homes (Score:1)
          by numbuscus on Wednesday June 19, @05:07PM (#3732091)
          (User #466708 Info)
          First: I have no experience in Florida; however, I would ask, what is the availability of land in the area? That can have a huge impact on the value of homes.

          Second: Growth from 90k - to 110k is not _that_ much in three years. If you calculate his costs, they were probably 6.75-7.25% per year just for the loan. His annualized appreciation was around 6.91% annually - maybe a bit higher, depending on what time of year he bought/sold. You can see, even if he put a lot of money down on the house (you have to consider lost interest/investment revenue from giving up the downpayment) he may have actually _lost_ money.

          Just something to think about.
          [ Parent ]
        Re:new homes (Score:2)
        by GooseKirk (gooseNO@SPAMolywa.net) on Wednesday June 19, @05:59PM (#3732466)
        (User #60689 Info)
        Say, numbuscus, I'm interested in the work you're doing... if you'd be willing to answer a few questions about the pros and cons of your work, please drop me a line - goose at olywa dot net.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:new homes (Score:1)
        by talks_to_birds on Wednesday June 19, @12:46PM (#3729948)
        (User #2488 Info | http://www.finchhave...omputers/acspam.html)
        WTF are you talking about?

        "Why, you may ask - They don't appreciate in value. It's simple as that. Usually it take a generation for a home to gain in value..."

        Simply put, you're nuts. You don't have the faintest idea what you're talking about. Where have you been, Afghanistan? Or Indiana?

        Do you have any familiarity with the real estate market in California over the last 15 years, or in Seattle, for that matter?

        In an article dated Tuesday, February 19, 2002 [nwsource.com] from the Seattle Times, and I quote:

        "In fact, the value of a single-family home continued its escalator ride up in most parts of the Seattle area last year, a Seattle Times computer analysis of year-end data from the King County Assessor's Office shows..."

        Given that you're this far off on this one, I won't bother to blow holes in the rest of what you've said...

        But while you're at it, make up your mind:

        "...My advise if you absolutely have to have a new home: buy one outside the city on a few acres and, yes, build it yourself..."

        And then:

        "...The best thing to do is buy a home near the city, in a neighborhood that is beginning to revive itself..."

        Make up your mind.

        Personally, I don't think you have a clue about real estate...

        t_t_b

        [ Parent ]
          Re:new homes (Score:1)
          by numbuscus on Wednesday June 19, @03:03PM (#3731129)
          (User #466708 Info)
          I work in Seattle and 90% of value escalation in that metro area has come out of OLDER HOMES. New home PRICES may be increasing but that DOES NOT MEAN your home built last year will increase in price. Understand the difference?
          [ Parent ]
          Re:new homes (Score:0)
          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @03:24PM (#3731298)
          Maybe the last 8 to 10 years in CA. Butmy cousin bought a home is Thousand Oaks in the mid 80's

          The real estate market bombed, and he was upside down on the loan for about 6 years. Not long in the grand scheme, but forever if you want/need to sell & move.
          [ Parent ]
        Re:new homes (Score:1)
        by 3Cats on Wednesday June 19, @02:37PM (#3730879)
        (User #113616 Info)
        Um. What are YOU smoking?
        Temecul, CA.
        my 1st _new_ home, new subdiv, 2261 Sq. Ft, bought in Aug 1997 for $149,900 , sold in July 2001 for $244,000.

        My current _new_ home, new sub div.( phase 2 ) 3217 sq. ft, bought in Nov. 2001 for $264,990 is selling like hotcakes in phase 7 for $303,990

        Everyone wants to live out here, as it is a bedroom community between to major cities , Riverside and San Diego. Wine country, microclimate, low crime, great schools...

        3C
        [ Parent ]
          Re:new homes (Score:1)
          by numbuscus on Wednesday June 19, @03:09PM (#3731182)
          (User #466708 Info)
          Read the next posting. What I said was a generality. Most people do not live in Southern California. I live in Riverside right now, but I have lived in Portland and worked (and still do) in Seattle, S.F. and dozens of West Coast cities and all across the country. What your are experiencing is unique to this area. Generally, if you purchase a new home in one of those subdivisions, your home value decrease instantly - who would want your 'used' home if there is a new one right next door. However, you may have been lucky and bought into a community where the developer screwed up. Priced homes too low at the beginning, saw that demand was increasing and increased prices accordingly. What you are quoting is anecdotal - not what the data says.
          [ Parent ]
        Re:new homes (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @01:47PM (#3730530)
        I agree completely.
        4 years ago we bought a 30 yr old house in pretty good condition. It's butt-ugly, but cosmetic not bone-deep :)

        At $170K it cost just 5K more then a new tract house that our friends have. They have an extra 700 ft^2 on a postage-stamp lot but we have 2.5 acres of mature trees, a large detached garage/workshop. And the commute is about the same!

        They are having to sell their home to take a new job out of town and can't get within 15K of what they paid for it. I just got a 100% loan-to-value home equity loan for $55K to add a large addition and take care of those cosmetic issues. That's $55K appreciation on a $170K home in just 4 years!
        [ Parent ]
      Contracting is HARD and a lot of work ... (Score:2, Insightful)
      by Titusdot Groan on Wednesday June 19, @12:08PM (#3729660)
      (User #468949 Info)
      This is a lot of work and you had better have some idea of the nature of the business. Be really careful about doing this if:
      • you're not a good negotiator and you don't like negotiating
      • you're not a good judge of character
      • you don't know the difference between pine and poplar or which of black or white is live
      • you don't have lot's of free time

      That said, there are some really bad contracters out there. Some places have huge building booms (Toronto for instance :-) and all sorts of fly by night organizations and people are head contracting these days. Picking a good contractor can be harder that just doing it yourself.

      My dad just had a brutal experience last year where he ended up doing a lot of the project management because the head contractor was so bad.

      Either way, as somebody else said -- ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS take the time to buy the guys who are doing the work beer or coffee. Construction guys always do better work for somebody they know and think is an ok guy rather than some anonymous jerk who phones in complaints to their boss.

      [ Parent ]
      Comparison (Score:2)
      by DNS-and-BIND on Wednesday June 19, @12:17PM (#3729727)
      (User #461968 Info | http://trollaxor.com/story/2002/4/23/02526/4181)
      Can you build your own linux distribution, from scratch, starting with a kernel tarball and stub compiler? This project is FAR easier to complete successfully than being your own general contractor. One of my relatives builds houses on the side, and he's *always* on the phone to someone. But, as he's a workaholic, he doesn't mind. On the plus side he's picked up a nice Spanish-speaking ability with a mean Mexican accent and peppered with a wide vocabulary of vulgarities (according to my friend from Spain).
      [ Parent ]
      WARNING, it is easy to spend money. (Score:2)
      by bluGill on Wednesday June 19, @12:21PM (#3729750)
      (User #862 Info | http://www.black-hole.com/users/henrymiller/)

      I know someone who did this, and ended up spending more money on extras. $30,000 worth of extras is really easy to add. Unfortunatly for them, their house isn't worth that extra $30,000, so they paid more for the house than it is worth on the merket. When you allow $400 for lights (true case) and spend $1,300 it doesn't seem like much difference, but it all adds up a little at a time.

      Be careful, that extras do give you a better house. The $250 kitchen faucet is better than the $40 one, but they look the same and in the end your house isn't worth more after putting in the more expensive one.

      [ Parent ]
        Re:WARNING, it is easy to spend money. (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @04:12PM (#3731681)
        $30K sounds like alot, but it is a percentage game.

        If you live in the house for some time, you gain the advantage of being able to use nice things while you're there.

        If you live in the house the rest of your life, then the $30K was worth every penny.

        If you do need to sell, maybe to relocate, an over featured house will likely be first on the block to sell at the top of the area prices.

        Quality features last longer. I'll can tell you that $40 kitchen faucet will likely be a mess in 5 years. That $250 one may well last 10-15. Doesn't add up? Well, they don't replace themselves. But, faucet replacement is dead easy, try adding in-wall electrical/phone/data/video circuits, or upgrading the bath tub.

        In general, the time to "over build" a house is the day it's built. A 10-15% over expenditure can pay back double in 5-10 years. That's 7% ROI, resale value be damned. Retrofitting/Replaceing is a pain, and remarkably more labor intensive. Some, like your cheap faucet may well fail and cause water damage far in excess of the $200 savings.

        If you plan on selling within 5 years, at a resale profit, go cheaper.

        If you plan on being there 5-10 years, buy mid-range and spend some time thinking ahead.

        If you plan on being there 10+ years, make the place somewhere you'd want to live in.

        [ Parent ]
      You don't know as much as you think you do (Score:2)
      by Ars-Fartsica on Wednesday June 19, @12:28PM (#3729788)
      (User #166957 Info | http://slashdot.org/~Ars-Fartsica/journal/ | Last Journal: Saturday July 27, @01:36AM)
      I have watched many a self-contractor wash untold amounts of money down the drain as they dole out work to the cheapest bidding subcontractor. Not everyone who charges a lot of money is a crook. Some of them are actually better at what they do.

      Get references for your contractor and look at their past projects. If they don't have any past projects, don't pay them a premium.

      Don't be naive in thinking that you know plumbing and electrical just because you like to tinker. I have watched folks drop $200-$300k on bungled self-contracted jobs. Don't buy into the /. arrogance that tells you that geeks know better.

      [ Parent ]
        Re:You don't know as much as you think you do (Score:2)
        by Pfhreakaz0id on Wednesday June 19, @01:18PM (#3730220)
        (User #82141 Info)
        this is such B.S.... Get a book. The Black & Decker complete guide to home plumbing (& electrical) are awesome. I had a plumbing project bid out at $2500! $200 in supplies and two weekends later, it was done. Please, you program computers for a living and you think PLUMBING is rocket science? Gravity and pumps my friends. It's pretty simple, it's just hard, sometimes dirty work. If you don't want to do it, that's fine, but don't justify the $$$ by saying you CAN'T, because you can. Now for a small job, the overhead of tools you may not own could be a factor, but plumbing doesn't require many tools. Hack your house!
        [ Parent ]
          Re:You don't know as much as you think you do (Score:0)
          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @04:51PM (#3731978)
          > Get a book.

          I'm with you. We built our first house when I was in the 9th grade. I did the electrical and supply plumbing. 9th grade, and a book. Both passed inspection, first try.

          But, sadly, most of America is woefully incapable of such acts of simplicity. The house I had to buy when I relocated is a freaking mess. The electrical "hacker" that came before me was a complete idiot. Things like "The Grand Unified Circuit", 1 active circuit for the entire house in a box full of unused breakers. Neat.

          Or, the branch circuit that was laid in using 12/2 Romex simply taped to 16 lamp cord then taped back to 14/2 Romex, all inside the wall. Look in the boxes, you see Romex. Look in the wall and you find lamp cord and freaking tape. That was a keeper too.

          And the list goes on.

          The trouble is, there are alot of rejects out there. Too lazy, too dumb, too greedy, can't be bothered, simply won't or can't read. Due to the nature of the market and political environment, the construction arts are the best very place for the very worst of humanity to hang out.

          Then you have the goverenment "inspection" racket on top of that. Like previous posters have indicated, the "system" is geared to push sales towards licensed workers. Yea, those that claim they can hold their own with a 9th grader and a book, and have a Government license to prove it. That adds substantial FUD, and real risk, to the DIY angle. In some places it is flat out against the law to do your own work.

          [ Parent ]
      It's called Opportunity Cost... (Score:2)
      by tommck on Wednesday June 19, @01:01PM (#3730090)
      (User #69750 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
      It's called Opportunity Cost...


      Basic Economics. I couldn't afford to be my own contractor. Say, if you make $100/hour, you can't handle pissing away all that lost billing time to make sure that the plumber shows up on the right day and installs things properly. All those hours supervising adds up to a big total.


      I had a truly custom house built recently and stopped by almost every day after work. With all the decisions I had to make, I can't imagine how much more effort it would have been to have to manage the subs and all the other stuff.

      T

      [ Parent ]
      Dome living (Score:2)
      by Junior J. Junior III on Wednesday June 19, @01:05PM (#3730133)
      (User #192702 Info | http://www.livejournal.com/users/jjjiii)
      Check out the monolithic dome institute's website [monolithicdome.com]. Some very interesting concepts for building your own house. I don't work for the company, but I am interested in one day building one of these for myself, when I can afford it.
      [ Parent ]
      *owning* a house? dream on (Score:2)
      by Cally (cally@zpok.demo_NOT_THIS_BIT_n.co.uk) on Wednesday June 19, @01:51PM (#3730562)
      (User #10873 Info)
      Here in London UK the cheapest skanky 1 bed apartment is well over 100K. If you want a HOUSE, well, forget it. I shan't be able to afford to buy a house at all unless I win the lottery, or if my parents die and turn out to be ten times richer than I think they are.


      This is shit.

      [ Parent ]
      Review? (Score:2)
      by jonbrewer on Wednesday June 19, @02:18PM (#3730763)
      (User #11894 Info | http://www.rock-chalk.com/)
      Review? No, this is not a review. This is marketing. It's a press release, or an "Advertorial." It's like paid programming on TV, but Slashdot didn't get paid.

      I learned how to do this a few years ago in a class called "promotional writing" for my degree in Advertising. This is a textboox example.

      Timothy, remove your head from your ass! Filter this stuff out! A genuine review with a geek slant (ie, how to deal with electricians who wire RJ45 jacks improperly) would be useful. This, is not.
      [ Parent ]
      Straw Bale & Cob (Score:2)
      by puppetman on Wednesday June 19, @02:55PM (#3731044)
      (User #131489 Info)
      In most climates, wood frame construction is actually less efficient than other building methods.

      In Nebraska, back in the olden days, they had no wood to build homes (and it was cold in the winter), so they dug a hole, and covered it with sod and straw. Great insulation. Cob [cobworks.com] and straw [ark.com] are catching on in North America now.

      Straw bale and cob are more energy efficient, can be used to build zero-toxicity homes, and are often cheaper to build (though that assumes some owner-building). They can be made to comply with building codes, and people are even getting bank-loans to build them.

      Amazon has a couple of good books (both of which I own):

      Serious Straw Bale [amazon.com]
      The Beauty of Straw Bale Homes [amazon.com]

      Save the 3-little-pigs jokes. Most people interested in straw bale have heard them, oh, 5000 times already.
      [ Parent ]
      I did this (Score:2)
      by 4of12 on Wednesday June 19, @03:14PM (#3731219)
      (User #97621 Info | http://slashdot.org/ | Last Journal: Wednesday May 08, @05:12PM)

      Yep, I'm a licensed contractor and when through all that hassle to build my own house a number of years ago.

      Practically, being a contractor is a 5hitload of headaches and worries about scheduling, people (eg, some of the framing crew didn't show up, are in the slammer for DUI, etc.), and money.

      What I found was that whatever money I might have saved by being my own contractor got used up in buying better quality construction at each stage of the process. I know my house is not going to have the same raft of problems as most tract houses do after 7 years, but I paid extra for doing things the right way with the right materials.

      There are a few important lessons I learned the hard way.

      • Good people that do what they say, when they say and care about what they do are worth the money.
      • Whatever it is, it will take longer.
      • Whatever it is, it will cost more.

      And, absolutely, no matter the story (and you'll hear them all), don't pay people too much too soon into the job (I liked dividing into thirds).

      [ Parent ]
      Geodesic domes anyone? (Score:2)
      by Ogerman on Wednesday June 19, @05:04PM (#3732071)
      (User #136333 Info)
      Anybody have experience with building a custom home using geodesic design? Supposedly many of these can be built with very little if any hired labor. Or how about straw-bale construction?
      [ Parent ]
      well.. (Score:1, Insightful)
      by Hatechall on Wednesday June 19, @11:02AM (#3729168)
      (User #541378 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
      This sounds really similar to those spam emails I was talking about earlier!
      [ Parent ]
        Next book review... (Score:2)
        by Codex The Sloth on Wednesday June 19, @11:44AM (#3729486)
        (User #93427 Info)
        Real Estate with no money down!

        Book reviews on Slashdot have hit a new low...

        [ Parent ]
          Re:Next book review... (Score:0)
          by gvibes (gvaebes@@@yahoo...com) on Wednesday June 19, @12:02PM (#3729622)
          (User #579654 Info)
          You really can buy a home with no money down. It is just more expensive because of mortgage insurance, but you can always refinance when the LTV ratio hits .8.
          [ Parent ]
            Re:Next book review... (Score:1)
            by maddogsparky on Wednesday June 19, @12:17PM (#3729728)
            (User #202296 Info)
            We did and only pay interest to boot. But the only way we could get by with this was posting some mutual funds as collateral. The only problem was that we had to post more collateral when the stock market crashed.
            [ Parent ]
        Re:well.. (Score:-1)
        by L0rdkariya on Wednesday June 19, @11:07AM (#3729205)
        (User #562469 Info)
        This is so true it's not even funny. What the fuck ? This is practically one big advertisement.
        [ Parent ]
      Not enough phone lines? (Score:1)
      by fruey on Wednesday June 19, @11:04AM (#3729182)
      (User #563914 Info | http://www.mtds.com/)
      My first house was a simple tract home that did not even have phone lines in two of the three bedrooms.

      Woah! I guess he means extensions, rather than different phone numbers for each room, right? Even if he does mean extensions, come one guys, you really need a phone in every bedroom and all that too? Sounds like those people who want RJ45 sockets in their bathrooms.

      Get a cordless.

      [ Parent ]
        Re:Not enough phone lines? (Score:1, Informative)
        by Torinaga-Sama on Wednesday June 19, @11:32AM (#3729398)
        (User #189890 Info)
        who DOESN'T want RJ-45 in the bathroom?

        [ Parent ]
          Re:Not enough phone lines? (Score:1)
          by Gonarat (gonarat@nospamatyahoo.com) on Wednesday June 19, @11:49AM (#3729524)
          (User #177568 Info)

          I prefer wireless -- but not paperless ;)


          Actually cat-5 is nice to have for speed, but 802.11b or a is nice to have if you have a laptop. It may be a wee bit slower, but then you are not tethered to a cord.


          The best advice I have heard is to put plastic PVC pipe in the walls from a phone closet (or at least a central point) when your home is built for your phone and cat-5 runs. That way phone, fiber, cable, more cat-5, etc. can be run with a lot less difficulty.


          [ Parent ]
            Re:Not enough phone lines? (Score:5, Insightful)
            by Jucius Maximus (j13moh@netscape.net) on Wednesday June 19, @12:04PM (#3729640)
            (User #229128 Info | http://slashdot.org/ | Last Journal: Thursday July 18, @10:43AM)
            "The best advice I have heard is to put plastic PVC pipe in the walls from a phone closet (or at least a central point) when your home is built for your phone and cat-5 runs. That way phone, fiber, cable, more cat-5, etc. can be run with a lot less difficulty."

            Here is a strategy that I think is even better than this for running cat5 and such:

            The people who install home security systems tend to be extremely skillful about putting wires through walls. If you are getting a home security system, these people can often put your networking equipment through the walls for a small surcharge, and do it with much more ease than you could yourself. This was how the home my family bought, which was 30 years old and had exactly 2 phone jacks in it, was increased to 22 jacks over 2 lines plus cat5 in all the bedrooms, living room, rec room, plus coax from the satellite in a couple of the bedrooms and rec room as well.

            [ Parent ]
            Re:Not enough phone lines? (Score:2)
            by reemul (reemul@nomail.reemuldotorg) on Wednesday June 19, @12:14PM (#3729707)
            (User #1554 Info | http://www.reemul.org)
            Maybe someone with more knowledge can check me on this, but isn't using conduit a potential building code violation? At the very least, you have to use the more expensive plenum rated cable instead of the more common version. (Which is nasty stuff - instead of the insulation burning in a fire, it just melts and gives off toxic fumes. Bonus!) I know that putting pvc pipe in so that you can pull later cable more easily is cheap and convenient, but I think that the pipe in this usage is considered a fire risk, since it allows a fire in one location to more easily spread to another.
             
            Check local codes first. You don't gain anything if you have to rip it all out later.
            [ Parent ]
              Re:Not enough phone lines? (Score:3, Informative)
              by sphealey on Wednesday June 19, @01:56PM (#3730597)
              (User #2855 Info)
              Maybe someone with more knowledge can check me on this, but isn't using conduit a potential building code violation? At the very least, you have to use the more expensive plenum rated cable instead of the more common version.
              Um, no. In fact in many cities it would be a building code violation not to use conduit.

              If you are planning on doing this kind of work, do yourself a favor and do some research on the national and local code, the practicalities, and your options.

              Generally speaking, you are going to want to use riser rated (not plenum rated) cable in conduit and firestop all ends of the conduit.

              But again - either hire someone fully qualified in this area, or do the detailed research.

              sPh

              [ Parent ]
                Re:Not enough phone lines? (Score:1)
                by saridder (.moc.oohay. .ta. .reddiras.) on Wednesday June 19, @06:58PM (#3732824)
                (User #103936 Info | http://sar.dynu.com/)
                What's wrong with plenum rated?
                [ Parent ]
                  Re:Not enough phone lines? (Score:2)
                  by sphealey on Thursday June 20, @03:57PM (#3738481)
                  (User #2855 Info)
                  What's wrong with plenum rated?
                  Plenum rated cable generates less smoke than standard cable; it is specified when the area above the ceiling is used as the HVAC return air plenum. However, inside a conduit smoke generation is not a concern, and plenum cable is quite a bit more expensive.

                  Riser rated cable, otoh, is supposed to limit vertical flame spread. This would help to prevent flame from travelling up the conduit from floor to floor. Although in a residential application the benefit would be small - the key would be to firestop the conduit openings after the cables are in.

                  sPh

                  [ Parent ]
              Re:Not enough phone lines? (Score:3, Informative)
              by unitron (unitron@tacc.net) on Wednesday June 19, @03:02PM (#3731121)
              (User #5733 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
              That part where you said to check local codes first? Well, at least you got that part right. The rest, however...

              Plenum cable is more expensive and is required when cables, instead of being run in conduit, are run in areas, like heating/air-conditioning ducts, where air that is breathed by building occupants passes through. It is designed to give off less in the way of toxic fumes in the case of a fire.

              There are different types of conduit. Some of it made of metal, some of PVC, and what is required or allowed depends on what the local code says. The reason you don't have to use plenum-rated cable inside conduit is because, although the conduit system probably isn't perfectly airtight (a little leakage at the outlet boxes, etc.), there's very little airflow in it under normal circumstances, even if the building is on fire, so the cable inside is less likely to catch fire or melt in the first place and less likely to be able to fill the air where the people are with fumes if it does get too hot.

              All that said, if you're building from scratch, find out what kind and size of conduit you can legally use and consider it strongly. Then when Extended Expanded Cat 5 plus extra sooper-de-duper cable is considered ancient, you can use it as a pull cable to install whatever the not even invented yet state of the art thing is at the time. For example, if you had built a house 25 or 30 years ago and put in oversize conduit for the phone lines or the TV cable to all the rooms, you could wire up for Ethernet now (a concept-a home computer network- very few would have forseen back when the Watergate break-in was just hitting the news) with very little trouble.

              [ Parent ]
                Re:Not enough phone lines? (Score:1)
                by Russ Steffen on Wednesday June 19, @07:14PM (#3732941)
                (User #263 Info | http://slashdot.org/)

                Actually, the smoke from burning plenum-rated cable is just as toxic as that from non-plenum cable. There is just less of it, and it tends to be invisible. Somewhere it was determined that toxicity of burning cable was less of a factor than the loss of visibility. There is a subset of plenum rated cable called low-toxicity, also known as Zero Halogen or Low Smoke cable. It burns very clean, unfortunately it also burns very fast, having almost no fire retardant properties.

                [ Parent ]
              Re:Not enough phone lines? (Score:1)
              by Gonarat (gonarat@nospamatyahoo.com) on Wednesday June 19, @01:50PM (#3730557)
              (User #177568 Info)

              Good point...I didn't think of that. I'm not ready to build yet, but toxic fumes do not sound like fun. Time to look at other options...


               
              [ Parent ]
        Re:Not enough phone lines? (Score:1)
        by Eccles (slashdot dot org at belltower dot org) on Wednesday June 19, @12:15PM (#3729718)
        (User #932 Info)
        Even if he does mean extensions, come one guys, you really need a phone in every bedroom and all that too?

        Yes, if you want your choice of which one to use as a home office, home theater (for your TiVo connection), etc., or if you have a very talkative teenager. $10 for cables and outlet covers is a pretty trivial expense for adding the flexibility.

        In future perhaps this would be handled by having a WiFi hub for the internal connections, but for now cable is still the way to go.

        Sounds like those people who want RJ45 sockets in their bathrooms.

        Using a computer in the bathroom can lead to hemorrhoids. I strongly advise against it, from related personal experience...
        [ Parent ]
          Re:Not enough phone lines? (Score:1)
          by fruey on Wednesday June 19, @12:31PM (#3729808)
          (User #563914 Info | http://www.mtds.com/)
          Please remember that not all of us live in the US, and sometimes cannot believe how connected, wired, and techno-hungry you are.

          I, for example, am in Morocco. I think I'm ahead of the game with digital satellite TV, PC with TV in/out, and 3 phone points. Still, I don't see why you'd need more elsewhere. It's just consumer overkill in my eyes.

          [ Parent ]
            Enough already! (Score:1)
            by NDPTAL85 on Wednesday June 19, @07:43PM (#3733093)
            (User #260093 Info)
            Oh save your trendy US hate for your filthy Eurotrash friends. If you think the US is well connected you should see Singapore or Japan.

            I still love you anyway my wayward European brother!
            [ Parent ]
              Re:Enough already! (Score:1)
              by Ozymandias_KoK on Thursday June 20, @01:24AM (#3734297)
              (User #48811 Info | http://www.savagenet.com/oz)
              So...is he a wayward European brother because he got lost and ended up in Africa? Just cos, you know, that's where Morocco was last time I looked at a map. :)
              [ Parent ]
              Re:Enough already! (Score:0)
              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 20, @02:24AM (#3734460)
              Morocco is in Northern Africa. Silly wayward yank rabbit scum of much ignorance! :)

              Note: Outside America, Yank is a generic term for anyone from USA.
              [ Parent ]
        Re:Not enough phone lines? (Score:1)
        by DynamicBits on Wednesday June 19, @11:33PM (#3733952)
        (User #542509 Info | http://dynamicbits.com/)
        Sounds like those people who want RJ45 sockets in their bathrooms.

        Sometimes people want to listen to music while they shower or bathe. And some of those people would enjoy streaming audio to save the trouble of changing CDs, downloading MP3s, etc.

        Get a cordless.
          Let's see..
        • Reception isn't always perfect.
        • Anyone with a scanner can listen in.
        • If the power goes out and you don't know where the phone is, the find (beeping thing) often will not work.
        • If you get an important call, you may have to rush to find the phone.
        [ Parent ]
        Re:Not enough phone lines? (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @02:40PM (#3730908)
        read the review, he wants a musical bidet in the bathroom. A $550,000 home in Silicon Valley is pretty damn nice.
        [ Parent ]
      Doing without professional help (Score:1)
      by ObviousGuy (ObviousGuy@hotmail.com) on Wednesday June 19, @11:05AM (#3729187)
      (User #578567 Info | Last Journal: Tuesday July 30, @06:00AM)
      Who do you sue when things go haywire?
      [ Parent ]
      damn it... (Score:1)
      by paradesign on Wednesday June 19, @11:06AM (#3729202)
      (User #561561 Info | http://vidgame0.tripod.com/)
      now there spamming /.! there needs to be a spam filter in the slashcode!
      [ Parent ]
      He should read more slashdot (Score:1)
      by af_robot on Wednesday June 19, @11:21AM (#3729317)
      (User #553885 Info)
      "Now I love that TV above Jacuzzi tub."
      This one is not modern now. Try Jacuzzi with 42'' Plasma TV [slashdot.org]
      [ Parent ]
      Custom House? what the hell? (Score:1)
      by ayeco on Wednesday June 19, @11:33AM (#3729406)
      (User #301053 Info)
      What the hell is a "custom house" Go see an architect. Not a joeblow architect or a "home builder", let alone a contractor. If you want to build, see someone who can maximize the costs - materials don't come cheap but someone with a little insite can make a little go a LONG way. i.e., sam mockbee, rip. [construction.com]
      [ Parent ]
        Thank you for mentioning Sam Mockbee (Score:2)
        by Zen Mastuh on Wednesday June 19, @12:12PM (#3729686)
        (User #456254 Info)

        It's true that people automatically equate "dream home" with "custom home", which refers to slight modifications to a cookie cutter style house plan found in a circular devoted to large collections of cookie cutter homes. These homes are designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator; as a result they don't fulfill anyone. Why do people support the cookie cutter home industry? Reason: it's a lot easier than using ones imagination or simply asking "what do I want in a home".

        Thanks for the Mockbee link. He spoke to my design class at UF [ufl.edu] about five years ago. He was much more interesting than Rem Kookhaus and the other Overpaid Professional Eardrum Masturbators (OPEMs) that UF acquired to indoctrinate us with their postmodernist mumbo-jumbo. Most of these OPEMs exist on a purely intellectual level and are incapable of truly connecting with their clients. Two things can happen as a result: either the potential client will avoid hiring an architect, or the client will feel so intimidated by the architect that the architect will dominate the client, building a home that really means nothing to the client.

        Anybody interested in owner building should buy this book and look into Mockbee's work [google.com]. His studio has built some of the most beautiful and inexpensive works in the South. More importantly, he finds uses for perfectly good materials that would otherwise be destined for the landfill. Funny how a home built for someone with an $8K/year income can feel more homey than a house built for a millionaire. Anybody with a DIY mentality and a little imagination can explore the region around their home site to get a feel for regional material preferences and building styles, analyze their site to understand where the sun will be at certain times of the day throughout the year [the reality factor], find creative sources for materials, think of ways the house can accomodate your hobbies, and build a home as opposed to a house.

        I was very happy when Sam spoke at UF. He had just received the MacArthur foundation grant and was very upbeat about the freedom that money gave his whimsy. He even went drinking with us after the speech! Sad to hear that he died though. The world has lost a great architect, but Sam made many more great architects.

        [ Parent ]
          Re:Thank you for mentioning Sam Mockbee (Score:2)
          by kisrael on Wednesday June 19, @12:43PM (#3729912)
          (User #134664 Info | http://kisrael.com/)
          On the other hand, sometimes people who take two free of a hand in the design of a new home end up making mistakes that the cookie cutter patterns probably miss. My wife's family did that, ended up with very poor lighting conditions in some places, and other awkwardness in room layout and the like. I don't know who they worked with on the design or how good they are, but the danger is there.
          [ Parent ]
      Owner-builder (Score:1, Funny)
      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @11:37AM (#3729435)
      "Learn the wealth building secret"

      ???

      I think I got about 1000 email spams in my inbox with that subject line.

      I didn't think it was possible but slashdot has hit a new low with this "news story".

      Pathetic!
      [ Parent ]
      My Question (Score:1)
      by Yohahn (z932928@peace.tbcnet.com) on Wednesday June 19, @11:45AM (#3729493)
      (User #8680 Info | http://peace.tbcnet.com)
      With the Urban Sprawl that has been experienced in the United States, do we really need to be promoting building of homes?

      Perhaps building where are previous building was torn down would not be a bad thing.

      hrm...
      [ Parent ]
        Re:My Question (Score:2)
        by Geek In Training ([moc.liamtoh] [ta] [893bc]) on Wednesday June 19, @12:15PM (#3729710)
        (User #12075 Info | http://slashdot.org/)
        With the Urban Sprawl that has been experienced in the United States, do we really need to be promoting building of homes?

        Perhaps building where are previous building was torn down would not be a bad thing.


        I'm assuming you're European?

        That's the problem here, there aren't really any "previous buildings" being torn down. At least not in suburban areas that are desirable for new homeowners.

        In England, you have restrictions to stop sprawl and re-use existing space; most of this is related to the fact that it's a small island and if there were no restrictions, the whole thing would look like a borg cube of industry and residence, with almost no greenspace.

        We're at varying degrees of that is this country. (Another thing neglected by many Europeans who have not visited the central/midwestern USA is the sheer size of the land that has yet to be developed here. Remember, we haven't been putting up stone structures for a thousand years or more.)

        Based on climate, time since settelment of the area, and natural resources; we go from overdeveloped (Boston, New York City) to medium/mixed (Ohio/Pennsylvania, which is medium urban areas surrounder by huge suburban sprawl, followed by forests and trees for a hundred miles til the next metro area. The other extreme is Wyoming, where I lived briefly: Beautiful, cold, sparsely populated all over, largest city of 50,000 people. You have mountainous terrain that does not lend well to utility building (electrical, water, gas, fiber)... while this can be overcome, it is not economically prudent because of the sparse population. Which doesn't entice new population to move in, because there are no utilities. Vicious cycle.

        As far as the population needs/wants: More and more people are renting old homes out instead of selling them, so even traditional "apartment dwellers" are willing to rent a home until they can afford to buy one, as opposed to "flat living," which Europeans seem much more content to work with. Everyone here is looking around and seeing people in houses, and seeing themselves as inferior if they are "so poor" that they have to live in an apartment.

        Myself, I'm planning on living in my apartment for a fifth year yet before I buy a house. And I won't be building new, as land costs are usually outrageous in desirable locations.
        [ Parent ]
          Re:My Question (Score:2)
          by Yohahn (z932928@peace.tbcnet.com) on Wednesday June 19, @03:08PM (#3731167)
          (User #8680 Info | http://peace.tbcnet.com)
          I live in the Chicago area. Near the western suburbs. I agree that europeans don't understand how much land there is here, but I do not think that this is reason to squandor it.

          Most of the area in the midwest is wetland. I look at the tract housing being built out here and shake my head. 50% will have floding problems within the next 10 years.

          And there is plenty of wasted space in the more "inner city" suburbs, but the drive to move into "newer, modern" housing continues to extend the urban area.

          Given the trends in food production and consumption, and knowing how profitable the soil is in northern illinois, I see no reason for such action.

          As for the -1 moderation, you know it's interesting. I've had comments with a score of 4 and no responces, now I have an item with 3 or 4 intelligent responces moderated down to 1 from my +1 bonus. I just don't understand that.

          [ Parent ]
          Re:My Question (Score:0)
          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @01:56PM (#3730596)
          Just look ahead 5-10 years to find land that will be in a desirable location.
          [ Parent ]
        Re:My Question (Score:0)
        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 19, @02:07PM (#3730671)
        Maybe that was true in the 80s but far, far less so today. Most cities are at least attempting to renovate low income housing to something better. Many areas in the US have a clue and conserve their land, forcing companies to reuse old and neglected buildings if they intend to do business in the area. I've checked out building shows, and generally, population growth and new home ownership is up, necessitating new home building. Furthermore, renovation expenditure in the US *far* outspends new home building--yes, renovation costs more than new home building, but people are preferring to buy and renovate, esp. with DIY projects.

        In my area, Lancaster, PA, we've been trying to conserve farmland--not only is that smart, but we realize there is an economic tie with the Amish. In the past, we screwed up and forced many of them away with land expansion. We're better at it now, although some may argue we still suck. Larger retail stores that move in have been forced to reuse land. The Lowe's that came back was forced to partially tear down and renovate a building that was in prime location, even though they really wanted to build on new land. The old Lowe's is now an Erlich or whatever building (the pest control folks). Target has been denied land applications several times, some of it including because they are focusing on messing with unused acreage, as opposed to empty lots.

        In Philadelphia, the mayor, along with then PA governor Ridge (yes, the now Homeland Security fellow), has insisted that new companies that want to build say in the city. Most want to build on new land. They're saying, intelligently, to renovate or rebuid existing lots. Why is this smart? Conserves tax money--less new road to build and maintain. Less PUC build up and maintenance. Brings companies back into areas where the economic situation has slumped as well as better infrastructure usually. Conserves land.

        Really, I'm confused where this Urban Sprawl idea is coming from. It's like an environmentalist screaming that we are deforesting the US--simply not so and has not been for almost a decade now.
        [ Parent ]
      Anything like this for renovations? (Score:1)
      by dougayen on Wednesday June 19, @12:00PM (#3729608)
      (User #30976 Info)
      I'll probably pick this up anyway, but I was wondering if anyone knew of a similar book for people looking to renovate their homes instead of building a new one.

      Thanks.

      --doug
      [ Parent ]
      (1) | 2 (Slashdot Overload: CommentLimit 50)
        Boy, am I glad it's only 1971...
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