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Building in Gloucester VA


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By Kerry in Newport News, VA on 2/25/2007


Hi all,

Anyone who can provide any helpful info would be great!  We are owner building our home and will be closing on our land in March.

Any advice for newbie OB(s).  We are working with Owner Builder Alliance and are trying to work out 1 closing with the construction company.  I just bought this book "the owner-builder book" and realize we have a LONG way to go in regards to planning. 

Does anyone have any excavators, subs, plumbers in the Hampton Roads/ (Gloucester) area that they were pleased with?  Who also offered competitive bidding?

Any help that could be offered would be much appreciated..

Also we will be doing radiant heating in the floor and the floors of our house will be polished concrete finishing?  Has anyone here done that?  If so how did it turn out and who did you use?

Thanks in advance.


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 2/25/2007


You may want to read  and research more before signing any contract with a construction company. PLAN!!!! 1000 hours! then commit based on what you find, not what the construction people tell you.

And you will need a sense of patience to make things work well, forcing time schedules creates problems, both money and trades wise.

Quality, timing or cost. You generally get two of those three in your favor and be wary of anyone that says you can have all three.

Check/search the general forums for discussions about radiant heating and exposed concrete.

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By Kerry in Newport News, VA on 2/26/2007


Thanks for your response so much. We picked our our floorplan last year and are adding the finishing touches to the blueprints now. 

We have requested bids from five contractors from every trade and are waiting on more itemized ones to show up. I even ask to have the overhead itemized. We will be purchasing all our supplies separate from the labor. I have a retail/wholesale ID that I have due to another business that I own. So lots of things I can get at contractor or less prices. 

I know I will definitely need a team to help me with the framing on the interior and on some of the drywalling. I can drywall, lay carpet, install doors, window sills, tiling, hardwood flooring and even decking. However since I work full time at a desk job, there is no way I will have the time OR energy to work a lot on the project, especially since I travel as well.

We will be closing on our land in March and hope to break ground sometime in April or May. There's no rush here. We will either do this right, or we just plain won't do it. I'm only 33 and unless I croak tomorrow I have plenty of time to work on things.LOL!! I have no problem just buying the land and holding it for however long we need.

One huge obstacle for us is going to be the inflexibility of our schedules. There is no WAY either of us can be at the site 4-5 hrs. a day. We will be lucky if we can get there (just one of us) early in the am, or later in the evening. Which has my mind swimming with horror scenarios of subs kicking their feet up and relaxing on my dollars. Which I know will happen, it always does. Another nightmare of mine is not being able to see what corners they try to cut while we're not there. 

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of good and honest contractors out there. But good work is hard to find. 

Thanks so much for your reply. I look forward to more responses, this site is chock-full of good info.

Kerry

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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 2/26/2007


A few things that will make the job easier.

Put a phone on the job site w/o long distance.
Keep your cell phone handy.
If you are real flexible on your schedule don't rush into contracts for trades that are months or years down the road.

Don't ask the subs to rebid their aspect every month, keep them informed of progress and timing. Then have your top three choices update their numbers. Or find someone else altogether with the original numbers as a point of reference.

If trades people are getting paid by the job rather than by the hour you don't have to worry about their work habits. But to keep them doing a good job you may want to consider a third-party inspector to check on things before you call for the official building inspection.

Remember labor costs will go up in the future, but hopefully so will your income.

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By Kerry in Newport News, VA on 2/27/2007


I am wondering if this is even possible right now.  I don't see how either of us can be there at the site at a minimum of four hrs a day.  BUT, I also know we are not the only owner-builders who have built that both have full time jobs.  How in the world have others balanced this. 

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By Mark in Provo, UT on 2/27/2007


Kerry:

    In the new O-B Book (4th edition) we discuss being on-site for an average of three hours a day, the surveyed average of those who built after reading the book. Most of the effort is in the planning, and those who plan fully get away with less required site time to control the job.

All the best,

Mark

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By Nancy in Clifton, VA on 7/9/2008


Hello Kerry,

We also are building in the Gloucester.  I would appreciate any advice you can offer and we are going to be our GC. I am an interior designer so I have some building knowledge.  We are finishing up with the house plans, just a few revisions to be made then we will be ready to go.

Nancy


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