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Louisiana Owner-builders


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By Joshua in Kenner, LA on 1/5/2004


I am just starting my project (one month old) and would like to talk or email with other owner-builders in the area to share some of their knowledge and maybe even share some that I have. Good luck to all!
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By Robert in Lafayette, LA on 1/6/2004


I'm just getting started in Lafayette. Have found a property and have a set of plans that we like, and will begin budgeting, etc., ASAP. I'm interested in saving too, so keep in touch!

Robert
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By Penny in Mandeville, LA on 1/11/2004


Hi from Mandeville Louisiana. My husband and I are in the beginning planning stages, but how to begin building this summer. We would love to stay in touch with other Louisiana builders to talk about bank/loan financing, subs, local vendors, sales, etc... Hopefully we will be able to help each other find the best prices and reduce headaches!
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By Joshua in Kenner, LA on 1/11/2004


Penny, nice to hear from a local person. I am in the same situation. Trying to figure out a budget and how much potentially it will cost to owner-build. I have received quotes from two contractors and they have come back around $85-$90/sq foot for total footage, not just living. I need to be around the $65/sq foot mark to fit within my budget.

I have talked to one contractor who is not well known but does good work. He is willing to work with me and let me do a lot of my own work. I was planning to do the interior painting, buy appliances (brother-in-law works in appliance store in Orlando, and I can get a pro kitchen at 50% off). I am getting other things made by people I know, iron spindles for stairs, fireplace mantel, columns. I also want to start buying the faucets, fans, tile, things I know I will need.

Two of the things my wife requires are wood floors and granite or quartz countertops. I have been able to find real good deals on both and want to compare to the price he will get. He is also wiling to have me work on the site and help out his contractors to reduce labor cost on the weekends. As far as research, I have been searching the Web, and have found many good sites. If you want links let me know.

I have been reading The Owner-Builder Book. I am stuck on the preliminary budget, so if you know of a way to determine what the owner-builder cost would be, I would appreciate it.

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By Joshua in Kenner, LA on 1/11/2004


Robert, nice to talk to you. Let me know how you come up with a budget. I am kind of at a loss as to how to determine cost without actually going out for bids.
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By Penny in Mandeville, LA on 1/12/2004


As far has finding price per square foot, we are doing two things.

First - We are talking to other owner-builders we know. For example, some friends of ours just moved into their O-B house last month. They spent $40 a s/f (not including their land.) My husband and I want to be around $65 a s/f with about $10,000 of the land cost in the loan. We have looked at our friends' sub list and cost breakdown. They did do their own painting, countertops, trim and molding, and electric wiring. (The wiring was done with the help of one professional.) We also know two other couples who O-B'ed in the past three years. After talking with them, we feel very confident it can be done.

Second -- Once we finalize the plan we want, we will begin asking for bids from the sub lists we gained from all of the people we know who have owner-built. This is really the best way to get an idea of cost. I feel very confident we can do it for $60-$65 s/f. We want to do a 2,500 s/f two-story plan with a three-car garage. We want to use HardiePlank siding on the outside and we also want wood floors throughout and granite as well.

I would really like to know who you received your granite quote from. We talked with S&S out of the Hammond area. They had low prices, and if you use them they will let you look through their scraps. They are usually large enough to use as a bathroom countertop. They will install these at cost if you use them for your kitchen. The actual granite comes from a yard in Metairie. (I can't remember the name right now. I have it in my files at home.) VERY NICE people and also have fantastic travertine tiles for backsplashes.
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By Joshua in Kenner, LA on 1/17/2004


Penny, I found the granite at doityourselfgranite.com. Can you send me the information on the one you talked to? Thanks.
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By Wayne in Slidell, LA on 2/3/2004


Penny,

Today I was reading some of your and Joshua's correspondence and found myself and my family in the same boat as you guys. We are living in Slidell and have a home to sell and are making an offer on a great piece of land in Mandeville. I am at the very beginning of this process and would like to touch base from time to time and share information. Could you provide to me either links or contact information for local contractors, vendors and of course the sweet deal information on appliances and supplies.

Thank you,

Wayne
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By Penny in Mandeville, LA on 2/12/2004


Wayne, It is always nice to meet others in the area! My husband and I closed on our land in Covington yesterday. We are very excited to be done with the search for the perfect spot. We also have our construction financing in order. (We went through Parish National Bank.) Our next goal is to begin finalization on the plan. We think we have found right plan, but need to have some changes made. We will purchase the plan then go to DesignTech in Covington to make changes. When you do you plan on starting construction? I would be more than happy to alert you to any deals we find. Once I compile the sub lists, we can share that info as well.
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By Joshua in Kenner, LA on 2/12/2004


Penny,

Have you guys done any assessment on cost at this point, have you started interviewing subs? I will be closing on my lot next week so will have to do all that soon. When do you plan on starting? I plan on breaking ground the end of July.

Joshua
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By Penny in Mandeville, LA on 2/17/2004


Right now we are finalizing our plans. We have found the plan, but need to order it and then find someone who we can make a few changes. Right now the house is on a basement foundation, and we need crawl space. We also need a powder room added under the stairs a wall bumped out to make room for an office. We are also ready to get prices on products (cabinets, floor, etc.). We have not interviewed subs yet since we do not have our copy of the blueprints. We hope to break ground in June-July. Suddenly 6 months doesn't seem like very much time.
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By Charline in Bush, LA on 2/25/2004


I am in the planning phase of owner-building my house in the Covington/Bush area of LA. I am also a licensed real estate agent and in my career have seen the terrible damage termites can do to a house. I was wondering if anyone can give me some advice on metal framing as opposed to wood. And subs that are experienced in this field.

Thanks,

Charline
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By Joshua in Kenner, LA on 2/25/2004


Funny you ask about this. I just left a message for a company called Metal Pro, they do residential metal framing, I will let you know when they call me and give you the answer. Nice meeting you, Joshua.
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By Wayne in Slidell, LA on 2/25/2004


Charline, In addition you may want to look into ICF construction. They use Styrofoam stackable blocks that remain in place and are filled with concrete to form solid walls with great properties including noise reduction, energy savings, and no termites. The cost on average is 5% higher to build, but results in lower utility and insurance cost as well as stronger hurricane protection properties as well as fire resistance. Good luck.

Wayne

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By Penny in Mandeville, LA on 3/5/2004


Well, it looks like we have to go back to square on on the house plan. The publishing company has decided not to sell the plan we found feature in BHG magazine. We are meeting with designers tomorrow to begin looking at new plans. Hopefully we will find something soon and still be able to begin building this summer.
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By Joshua in Kenner, LA on 4/7/2004


Penny,

I wanted to let you know that I was able to find a builder, willing to design and build the house for about $69-$70 per square foot. It is about five dollars more than I wanted to spend, but I think it is worth it, especially since I do not have any experience. The guy is very detailed, builds a very quality home with the top of the line insulation, windows, and others. Let me know if you would be interested.
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By Penny in Mandeville, LA on 6/13/2004


Hello Louisiana owner-builders... Just wondering what everything things about the rising construction costs? Has anyone see evidence of this in our area? I hear lumber has gone up 30%. A friend of my is no longer going to owner-build due to the cost increase and is now looking to purchase an already built home. I've been busy working on the new house plan the past 6 weeks and am now afraid that we can't afford the house we have designed. So what is everyone doing to combat the rise in interest rates and building supplies?
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By Heather in Baton Rouge, LA on 9/29/2004


My husband and I just closed on our lot and construction loan last week. We are waiting for permits and hope to kick everything off within the next couple of weeks. I just wanted to touch base with my fellow owner-builders in Louisiana!

Heather
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By Kirk in LA on 9/29/2004


Hi Heather,

I am in the process of trying to get financing as an owner-builder. And was wondering which lender you were using.

Thanks,

Kirk
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By Heather in Baton Rouge, LA on 9/30/2004


Kirk, We went through American Gateway Bank. I would recommend calling Arthur Mitchell (he is at the Coursey Branch in Baton Rouge). Most of the lenders that we found around BR will loan you 100% of the price of the lot and then 80% of the appraised value of the house. We had no problem meeting the 80% amount though. I hope this helps! Heather
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By Heather in Baton Rouge, LA on 11/11/2004


We have started our home in Baton Rouge. If anyone is looking for the names of some excellent subs in this area, just let me know and I can pass on our experience!

Heather


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By Erin in Paulina, LA on 11/12/2004


Dear Heather,

My husband and I are currently working on house plans and intend to start building early next year in Paulina, just outside of Baton Rouge. I would love to get any information you have regarding good subs and any other valuable information that you can give us. How far along are you on your project? Any major problems so far? Any money-saving techniques? We are somewhat worried over the rising cost of lumber and other materials. We would love to hear from you.

Erin and Mike


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By Penny in Mandeville, LA on 11/12/2004


Just thought I'd chime in and say were we were in the project. We finalize our plans on Monday. Then we have to have a structural engineer do the foundation plan since we are building a crawlspace foundation, three-foot raised. I have been talking to framing subs, and think I have found the guy who will frame, black in, and put the Hardie siding on. I am now trying to find a roofer.

I took my set of plans to the local lumber provider Poole Lumber, and they did a takeoff using my plans, so now we have an estimate of what materials are going to cost.

Monday I am having lunch with a guy who is a sales rep for sheetrock, shingles, cabinets, marble, etc. This happens to be an old friend who says he can beat any quotes I have.

Later next week I am meeting with the custom cabinet co. in Baton Rouge. I think I am going to go with Louisiana Quality Cabinets. Their cabinets are amazing. They are also a custom millwork place and do crown, baseboards, etc.

I have also been spending a lot of time pricing windows. To all you LA folks, if you want an excellent and good-priced window, check out SHOWCASE WINDOWS showcasewindows.com. There are local distributors in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Slidell. Great-looking vinyl window, that will do SDL. Lifetime warranty. Since we can't afford the cost of wood-clad windows, this is the way we think we are going to go.

We cleared and staked out the lot last week. Once we have the plans finalized (been working on the plans for 6 months!) We can begin the permit process. We hope to bring in the fill dirt, let things settle, and begin framing right after the new year!


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By Charline in Bush, LA on 11/12/2004


Penny,

I am almost ready to build myself and I have been pricing materials etc. I really would appreciate the name of your guy with the sheetrock and marble, etc. I have the greatest custom cabinetmaker and the price is a lot less than some of the manufacturers. I can also exchange any other names I have come by, too.  I am building in Bush, LA.

Charline


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By Erin in Paulina, LA on 11/12/2004


Dear Charline,

Can you provide any details about your cabinetmaker (name, number, etc)? How many bids did you get? What was the range in prices for your bids? What kind of wood are you using?


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By Erin in Paulina, LA on 11/12/2004


Dear Penny,

Thanks for the information on the window and cabinet companies. If your sales rep for sheetrock, shingles, etc. is interested in more business, we would love to talk to him.

I have heard that the best place to get granite is at Intrepid Stone on the west bank. I recently went to their annual clearance sale in October and the prices were pretty amazing. The ranges that I saw were $500 to $800 for a very large slab of beautiful stone. They also had many different sizes of marble. The sale starts at 5:30 am and many people get there earlier than that. When you arrive you are given a ticket with a number and you have to wait until a sales rep is available to talk to you. You also need to go with your plans and measurements for your countertops. I arrived at 11:00 am and was told it would be a two-hour wait to get with a sales rep. I was able to walk around and the selection was outstanding. 

I have also been shopping around extensively for my appliances and have found the best prices on commercial style ranges at Commeaux's in Metairie. They have a 36" Thermador 6-burner gas range for $3,000. I love the full-size refrigerator and full-size freezer look that Sub-Zero and G.E. Monogram carry, but really can't afford their prices. However I found that Conn's in Baton Rouge sells the Whirlpool brand full size for both for the best price. The only problem is that they are not counter depth. We are working on our plans now and have decided to have the refrig./freezer combo against the same wall as our walk-in pantry and will recess the wall several inches back into the pantry to make them look counter depth. This will save me $6,000 to $9,000 over the high-end brands. If anyone has any other information on good places to get appliances, please let me know! 

Thanks for the replies already posted.


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By Heather in Baton Rouge, LA on 11/15/2004


We will start framing this week. We have been very happy with all of our subs so far. If anyone is interested in references for subs for dirt work, framing, diggers, concrete companies, or concrete finishers, just let me know. I am not sure how far out from Baton Rouge they will travel, but since it is their slow season they may travel farther than normal.

I was looking into granite prices too, but once I did some research we are going to go with Avanza for our countertops. It is a compressed quartz material that has the best of granite and Corian. Also, if you get the Avanza at Lowe's, they have a promotion (ongoing according the the sales rep) that you get a free sink (under or overmount - savings of about $300-$600).

Again, if you are interested in any names just let me know!

Heather


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By Bobby in Slidell, LA on 11/17/2004


We have recently bought a lot in Slidell. I am very new at this, and any info is appreciated. We have been browsing through floor plan books but I have found nothing that I exactly like.

What kid of price/sq ft are you guys looking to finish at in your areas?

How much can I save doing a 3,200 sq ft on one story or two?


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By Heather in Baton Rouge, LA on 11/17/2004


We looked at house plans for a long time before coming up with ours. We used a local architect who does house plans out of a home office. Check out the following site - globalhouseplans.com. They have a lot of different layouts and you will quickly see what you like and don't like. After all of that looking, we sketched something out and brought it in. Within two weeks we had a rough draft of our plans and we absolutely LOVE them!

We are building a single-story home with 2,940 LA (includes a bonus room, double carport, and a extra large boat port). Our costs will come in at about $60/sq foot for the house. The bank's initial appraisal based on our floor plan and room descriptions came back at $77 sq foot (house only). We can only guess that the appraisal will be higher once it is completed, though.

The one thing that we learned early on is that you can add extra living area for a minimal amount of money and the extra amount spent is nothing compared to the increase you will see in your appraised value.


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By Charline in Bush, LA on 11/18/2004


Hi Erin!

The cabinet guys company is A&S Custom Cabinets & Entertainment Centers. They are located in Belle Chasse, LA at 9193 Highway 23. The phone number is 504.392.8111 and they will go across the lake. I used them on my last house and they are very good. Please let them know I gave you their names.


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By Joshua in Kenner, LA on 11/18/2004


For anyone building in the New Orleans greater area I have a great guy for custom cabinets. I am paying this guy what I would pay for prefabricated cabinets. He is doing a great job and is really making the cabinets look like furniture! Email me if you want his info. I also have great vendors for electrical, plumbing and countertops ($45 per sq foot installed).


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By Bobby in Slidell, LA on 11/18/2004


Is that price per square foot, living or total?
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By Erin in Paulina, LA on 11/18/2004


Could you post the names of your vendors for electric and plumbing? My husband (and several of his friends) will be doing most of the electric and plumbing work but we need to start pricing around for supplies. We got our first rough draft of our plans today and look forward to start getting a materials list and sub bidding. Thanks for any info you have!

Erin


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By Erin in Paulina, LA on 11/18/2004


Are you and your husband doing any of the work like painting, etc., or are you contracting out everything?


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By Heather in Baton Rouge, LA on 11/22/2004


Our price per square foot is based on living area. My husband is doing the A/C work. Other than that, we are contracting everything else out. We know a few people in construction fields (cabinets, plumbing) but we are still paying them to do the work.

The bank only loaned us 85% of the appraised value because we were owner-building. We had no problem with our bids coming in at the 85% mark. We will actually be about $25K less than our loan amount. 

Our rule of thumb is that if we go over budget in something we have to make it up somewhere else. For example, we were about $900 over in our windows estimate (we upgraded due to the large amount of glass in the sunroom), but we were $1,300 under in our doors.


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By Bobby in Slidell, LA on 12/1/2004


Thanks so much, that is very useful information!

I am still debating the savings I will see building a 1.5 rather than a two-story?

Any advice as far as this?


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By Heather in Baton Rouge, LA on 1/10/2005


I just wanted to check in with my local LA owner-builders to see how all of you were coming on your houses? We have the house blacked in and are wrapping up our rough plumbing and electrical (rough AC is complete). Our roofer is scheduled for Wednesday, then mason next week.

The one thing that we have learned and probably the most valuable -- be up front with the suppliers when you get a lower bid from someone else. If they want your business, they will quickly "price match" or beat their competition!

Everything is going smoothly, only a few bumps so far. It has been a lot of work, but definitely worth it!

Heather


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By Joshua in Kenner, LA on 1/10/2005


We are almost done, painting next week. I will email pics if you send me your address.
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By Dawn on 1/28/2005


I would love to have the names of any good subcontractors in the Baton Rouge/Gonzales area. Thank you!
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By Charles in Metairie, LA on 1/31/2005


Hey guys and gals,

Just wanted to see if I could get the names of different types of subs that other people are using in the Jefferson and Orleans areas.

I am not starting my project until late November, but need to get this list started as soon as possible.

Also, can any of you O-B's give me a rough estimate of the percentage you have saved being an O-B in LA.

Thanks,

Charles


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By Heather in Baton Rouge, LA on 1/31/2005


Dawn,

P.M. me and I will share all of the sub information that I have!

Heather


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By Heather in Baton Rouge, LA on 3/10/2005


I just wanted to pass along the name of a building supply store based out of Baton Rouge that has great prices. The company is Acoustical Specialties & Supply. They have everything from windows, bricks, and stucco to fireplaces, countertops, and glass blocks. Check out their website.

We are using them for our Silestone counters and a cast stone fireplace mantel. Their prices are about $12 a square foot cheaper than we have found anywhere around here. And the fireplace mantel is about $600 cheaper. They have showrooms in Baton Rouge and they respond promptly to an email generated through their website!

Our experience has been great, and I hope you guys can use them too!


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By Heather in Baton Rouge, LA on 4/29/2005


We are in the final push of our O-B experience, we just passed our final building inspection and we are waiting for our Certificate of Occupancy to be issued. 

The past year has been a wild ride, but every time I look around our new house I have to stop and think how much it was worth it!

We are going to finish at $71/sq ft (living area). It is higher than we had hoped for, but we made many upgrades that are well worth it. 

For all of you just starting - hang in there it can be done and it is worth all of the sweat and tears!


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By Walter in Saint Amant, LA on 5/3/2005


For estimating construction costs, I highly recommend Means Residential Detail Costs by RS Means. Comparing the unit costs in this book to actual costs from a friend who is just finishing a house in Springfield, I found them to be very accurate. 

Don't forget to apply the geographic adjustment factor (from the appendix) to all costs. The adjustment for Baton Rouge, LA is 78% (100% being national average).

One caveat - they call it "detailed" costs for a reason. For example, the unit costs for wall framing aren't based on two-ft of wall area, they are based on linear feet of studs. Although highly accurate, this may be more detail than most people need for budget purposes. They have another book -- Means Residential Square Foot Costs, which gives summary unit costs based on house type. I haven't bought this second book, but I would imagine the accuracy is commensurate with the reduced level of detail.

Both books are available from the online booksellers for ~$28 each, and I noticed that our local Barnes & Noble stocks them too. Be sure to look for the latest edition, because for some reason they still have the older edition also.

You can view sample pages from the books at RSMeans.com. Just do a search for keyword "residential."


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By Brandon in Lafayette, LA on 2/13/2006


Robert,

My name is Brandon and have been on this site for a few years. My wife and I own 3/4 acre in the Maurice area. Our time frame is about another two years. We are going back and forth on plans and are taking our time.

Have you seen the price of materials lately? I'm afraid by the time we are ready to build it'll still be high. But we are taking our time and doing it the right way. I'm planning on doing the flooring myself, painting, siding, electric, HVAC, and insulation. I have a contractor who is a friend of a friend who does good work and is willing to let me take on whatever I want. I hope that we can communicate and share ideas. I'd love to see your construction and would be willing to barter help, I have experience with siding, flooring, etc. Keep in touch.


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By Richard in Valparaiso, IN on 2/24/2006


Make sure you get the HVAC and duct design correct. Do the design and sizing before the prints are finished so you can make sure everything fits. Proper air distribution is critical with the advanced equipment on today's market.
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By Rolanda in New Orleans, LA on 3/27/2006


Penny, I totally agree that it's nice to meet others in the area. I will be closing on my lot in Covington on April 3rd. I initially met with Custom Plans in Mandeville, but I may give Design Tech a call tomorrow. I have plans, but they will have to be modified. I was thinking that one other way save money is to go to the subs as a "group." They may be more interested in discounting their services if they could get two or more jobs in the same area. We could possibly benefit from subs having multiple jobs going on at once on "right after each other."
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By Rolanda in New Orleans, LA on 3/27/2006


Hey Joshua,

I'm just starting in Covington. Does your cabinet guy work on the North Shore? I would love to have the vendor names.

Rolanda

 


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By Jason in Baton Rouge, LA on 4/23/2007


Anyone from Louisiana still check this forum? I will be starting my first owner-builder house in the next few months and I am looking for information/guidance. 

Thanks,

Jason


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By Scott in Baton Rouge, LA on 5/8/2007


Hi, Jason.

I'm right at a year out from my project; just began the planning stage. Will be talking to lenders in June to get financing information and to get an idea of how much I can finance.

I'm hoping some of the veterans on this forum are still around and willing to share their experiences and sub/supplier recommendations and criticisms.

I plan to stay in touch, so I'll pass along any good tidbits as they come up. Good luck on your project!

Scott


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By Heather in Baton Rouge, LA on 5/8/2007


Jason and/or Scott,

We completed our O-B about two years ago. I can pass along our list of subs if you would like (through a private message).

Heather


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By Scott in Baton Rouge, LA on 5/8/2007


Thanks, Heather. I would most certainly appreciate that... or an email, since I can't figure out where I access my private messages at the moment.  :)

By the way, I did send you one earlier, but don't know how to check for a response.

Scott


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By Jason in Baton Rouge, LA on 5/8/2007


Heather, you've got mail!
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By Jason in Baton Rouge, LA on 5/8/2007


Scott,

Where are you building? I am in Prairieville, just south of Baton Rouge. It sounds like I am just a little ahead of you. I am still in the planning phase as well, and hope to break ground in July.

Jason


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By Scott in Baton Rouge, LA on 5/9/2007


Jason,

We'll be building just west of Baton Rouge in a small farming village called Rosedale (Grosse Tete exit). My wife's family owns property there, so it's a huge plus for us. The drive to my job at LSU is only 15 minutes.

We just toured the Parade of Homes last weekend and fell in love with a house in Lexington Estates but the builder won't come off the plans, so I'm not sure yet what we'll do as far as a floor plan. We really like the style of house coming up in those neighborhoods (Lexington, University Club, etc.).

We're basically still in the exploratory/planning stage now to determine whether this is something we really want to take on. I'm glad I started planning this far out, because I'm a stickler for detail and can already see that I will definitely need the time to devote to each trade detail. So far, I've read two books and rented a few videos. Also started compiling a scrapbook of features and notes on our wish list and a list of local subs that I've picked up from here and there. Heather was kind enough to share her list of "team members" on her build so that was a big help as well.

I'll probably do as some on this site have done, and try to get a higher estimate on labor and materials (maybe even from Home Depot, etc.) for the bank, and then re-bid to my list of subs and suppliers closer to groundbreaking. I've heard that it can be difficult to get bids from subs if they have no assurances of an actual impending build; not to mention the bids are only good for 90 days in most cases anyway.


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By Jason in Baton Rouge, LA on 5/9/2007


Scott, which builder? John McPherson? We saw that as as well and like the inside a lot. We are building a more traditional house with a large wraparound front porch with columns/heart pine flooring/old cypress cabinets/brick floors in the kitchen/exposed beams/etc.

I have just finished my plans, so I have already talked to several builders and will let them bid on it in the next few days. In the meantime, I will start getting my own bids from subs/etc. and once I get a little more info, I will make a decision.

Good luck and let's keep in touch! PM me anytime.

Jason


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By Jason in Baton Rouge, LA on 5/9/2007


Oh, I forgot to tell you. If it is McPherson, I have a friend who knows him, so I might be able to find out who he uses for his plans...

Jason


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By Scott in Baton Rouge, LA on 5/9/2007


Sounds beautiful Jason; good luck. Keep us posted on your progress. I'd be interested to see how responsive the generals and subs will be to your bid requests.

I will definitely keep in touch; sounds like we may be able to do a lot of idea-swapping over the next few months.


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By Steven in Laplace, LA on 10/1/2007



Jason... My wife and I are getting our plans together now and hope to be in a position to break ground in December. How's your project coming along?

We've done a lot of research on the Web and read a few books, but we're always looking for more information prior to getting into the build.

Steve


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By Scott in Baton Rouge, LA on 12/20/2007


Hi guys,

It's been a while since I've been on here. Since I last posted, plans changed and we decided to buy and renovate a home near LSU. Plans changed again a few months ago when we found out we're pregnant. To save on child care we are once again planning to build on family land so the family can help out. However, I haven't done anything towards planning for an O-B home (because I had abandoned the idea of building new) and now doubt I have time to get it together. The baby is due in June, the land will be cleared in January and I still haven't found plans that I like.

I'm still very interested in hearing about your progress though.  How are things going and what stages are you all at?


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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 1/7/2008


Hi everyone! I 've been working on house plans for about a year now, and I hope to start actually building sometime in the fall.

I am curious about your experiences with financing. Were any of you able to get a construction loan through a local bank as an owner-builder? Did it take a lot of persuasion? What did you already have when you went to the bank, in other words, finished plans, site manager, etc?

I plan to do the majority of the work myself, only hiring out the things I can't or don't know how to do. This forum looks like a great place to share knowledge and contacts.

How is everybody coming along?

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By Sid in Iowa, LA on 12/4/2008


Penny,

I've just opened a new thread on this site because I couldn't figure out how to post. Imagine that the little button at the bottom of each post wonder what that's for.

If you would like to do things by e-mail I would love to produce the drawing that you needed changed. I do this stuff just for fun when it's raining and when I'm by myself or with someone. I've done about 20 floor plans in the last two years. Some for myself some for my brother some for my nephew and several for my wife. LOL 

But seriously just let me know.

Sid and Fran


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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 12/6/2008


Hi Sid, Fran, and Penny - good to know there are some Louisiana people still around the forum. I'm scheduled to close on my lot/construction loan on Friday. I will be starting to build very soon here in Baton Rouge. Sid do you know a good engineer?



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By Heather in Baton Rouge, LA on 12/8/2008


We have been in our house about three years, I do have a list of contractors we used. If you are interested, please respond to this post and include your email address.

Good luck to all of you! It is a LOT of hard work and it takes a lot of communication, but in the end it is well worth it.

Heather


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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 12/9/2008


Heather, I sent you a private message with my email address. It would be great if you could send that info on to me, thanks!

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By Sid in Iowa, LA on 12/11/2008


Jelly,

Do you know if anyone here has used something like this: durisolbuild.com? The home that is on the drawing board is another passive solar design. I say another because 23 years ago, we built on the south side of Lake Charles. While that house was very efficient (utilities of about $45 a month) I know now that it lacked enough thermal mass to do the job that I wanted. The foam ICF forms place the mass between the layers of insulation, not very efficient.

Our new home will face south on a east-west axis and have lots of glass on the south side, with scored and polished concrete floors. We will use hydronic-type floor heat for the days of not enough sun and during the summer will circulate cool water to help with that need. We will have a small pond in the backyard that will be the result of need for some fill dirt where the house will be and we will use it as a heat sink.

All of this will take time, though. We have bought a small home in town and will try and make progress as cash comes available. Some of this can start now like the pond and the privacy fence around the lot. We have city water and sewer but will drill a well for landscaping and other raw water needs. We hope to grow Koi fish in the pond also.

So much to do, so little time ($).

Sid


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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 12/11/2008


Sid, yes I am familiar with those forms. Rastra is another composite ICF. I don't know of any of those homes in the area, but I do know there was a physician here in Baton Rouge that built a house with regular polystyrene ICF forms recently. You're right, the regular foam ones do isolate the interior from the thermal mass. I'm not sure however that the composite ICF forms (like Durisol) have enough insulative value, and you have to be more careful about keeping water away from them. I still have ICF on the table for my project, but it's not looking like it will win out.

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By Steven in Laplace, LA on 4/19/2009


Jelly... 

My wife and I are building an ICF house in Reserve. We're currently waiting for the construction loan to close, but have our plans together. If you're looking for a general idea on footings, our foundation plans call for 24" high by 16" wide footings under the ICF walls (will be 6" walls) and 24" high by 12" wide for all inner beams.

I believe the standard beams for footings are 24" tall by 12" wide. I can send you the name of the engineer that I used if you are interested. Let me know.

Steve and Roxanne


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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 4/19/2009


Steve, thank you for the input. I have since got the details worked out with my footings.

I'm glad to hear you're going with ICF. I think Louisiana really needs a lot more energy conscious and hurricane resistant construction. The building industry here is so conservative in their methods - it's as if people like us are pioneers!

I'm still looking for plumbing, electrical, and HVAC subs, as well as foundation contractors - if you have heard from some good ones who are forward thinking and energy conscious please send me a PM.  I'll be glad to share with you the good subs I have found as well.

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By Paul in Sorento, LA on 6/26/2009


Hello Everyone,

I'm hoping there are experienced owner-builders from the local LA area still around. My wife and I are planning to build and we're looking for experiences and contacts to good contractors in the area. Many thanks in advance.

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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 6/27/2009


Welcome to the forum Paul.

I've got my lot cleared and the dirt work finished. And I am getting close to pouring the slab. I have been going through the review process with the permitting office for the past three weeks. They finally got back to me, and they just have a few notes for my architect to address. Hopefully I'll get my building permit in another week or two.

A crew from St. Amant pulled out all my trees and did the dirt work, they also placed 50 feet of concrete culvert pipe. They are really good, and charge a fair price. Let me know if you have anything like that that you need done. I can also recommend a foundation contractor -- I am going with a post tensioned slab.

What kind of construction are you considering?



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By Greg in Madisonville, LA on 6/28/2009


Hello Jelly,

I have a Lot in Madisonville, LA and am currently working on plans. Can you send me the contact for the subs that cleared and hauled dirt on your lot?

Greg


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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 6/29/2009


Greg, I am going to try to send you a note through the private message system here on the forum. If you don't receive it, please let me know here and I can get the contact info to you another way.



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By Heather in Baton Rouge, LA on 6/30/2009


We finished our house in August 2005, but I have a list of all the subs we used. I will be happy to email them to you. Private message me your email address and I will pass them along.
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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 7/31/2009


If your owner-builder experience has been anything like mine, then one of the greatest challenges was (or is) to find a plumber who does not think he is a god or wants to charge an amount equal to your child's entire college education!

Well, my fellow Louisianians, I have found the elusive honest master plumber with 30 years experience AND very fair prices. He is good, he is fast, and he shows up on time. I wish I could get this guy a hundred new customers. If you need someone for the rough-in or for the whole job, send me a private message and I will be more than happy to get you in touch with him.

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By Greg in Madisonville, LA on 8/1/2009


Great info. I will contact you.

Regarding insurance, do we need to have workman’s comp insurance? Any subcontractor will be required to have it to work on my project.

 


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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 8/2/2009


Greg, my bank only required a builder's risk policy to be in place. I'm not sure about the workman's comp issue. That sounds like a good question for someone with more experience. Perhaps you could post it in one of the main forums?

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By Heather in Baton Rouge, LA on 8/3/2009


We were only required to have Builder's Risk. However, they STRESSED that your subs MUST have their own workman's comp policy. In fact, they recommended that you get a copy of their insurance before allowing them to start. 

The Builder's Risk will not cover anyone getting hurt on your property, it only covers damage to the structure/home. If someone were to injure themselves on your property and they didn't have insurance, then you can be personally sued for their medical expenses.


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By Keith in Dickerson, LA on 9/11/2009


Hi Jelly,

I am new to the forum. This is my first post. I am planning on building in Lake Charles. We are bidding on a lot now. What bank did you use for your O-B financing? Do they offer any land/O-B combo loan packages? Your help is appreciated!

Keith


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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 9/11/2009


Hi Keith,

Welcome to the forum. This is a great place to exchange ideas and ask all kinds of questions.

I got my loan with Fidelity Homestead, which is out of New Orleans but has a branch here in Baton Rouge, too. I'm not sure whether they are in Lake Charles. We got a construction loan with them which included the purchase of the lot. For a construction loan, though, they are going to want at least preliminary drawings of the house and an estimated construction budget sheet.

If you aren't that far along yet, another way to do it is to get a lot loan just to secure the land. Then you can move into the construction loan later when all that is in order.

American Gateway Bank is another local bank I talked to who were open to owner builder projects. There wasn't any real difference which made the decision. We just sort of got things rolling with Fidelity and ended up going with them.



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By Heidi in New Orleans, LA on 12/6/2009


Hi Jelly,


My name is Heidi. I haven't posted in almost two years! We are finally ready to build in Orleans Parish. Lower Coast Algiers on the river.

I've been reading your posts regarding SIPs. The company that I really liked a couple of years ago is Premium Steel in Roanoke, VA. Loved the guys we met with. Very knowledgeable and fair. You've been talking about "true SIPs". Now, I'm wondering if I should look into something else. I'm including this link to the page explaining their wall system. Would you mind taking a look at this, and explaining to me why you prefer the SIPs that you used? I really appreciate any advice you'll share. We will be going to the bank in January to get a loan. I already have stamped plans.  HOWEVER... I have made a few changes. Two yrs. is a long time to wait.

Take care,

Heidi

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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 12/6/2009


Yes, Heidi, two years is a long time to wait. I'm in the middle of my build and it seems like I am always waiting on someone or something. But you are getting very close to embarking on your adventure!

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that the Premium Steel system is good quality and well built. If you liked them and their product, and got a good price, then I wouldn't let anything that a construction nerd like myself said steer you away from your choice.

The Premium Steel system looks essentially like steel framing with the insulation already attached in the form of an EPS panel. The structure is provided by the framing that is within the panel. It's sort of like traditional framing with a twist. Nothing wrong with that at all, but there are a few advantages that SIPs have over them.

In a "true SIP" panel, the structure is provided by the combination of an adhered or laminated rigid foam and stressed skin. The panels all work together to form a unit which functions like an exoskeleton of an insect. This is what is referred to in building technology as a structural insulated panel (SIP). It is inherently stronger than traditional framing.

SIPs do not require the use of trusses for the roof, since the roof panels are structural on their own. Another advantage is that SIPs create a continuous unbroken insulation layer, isolating the interior from the exterior and eliminating "thermal bridging. "

Thermal bridging is where the framing members are in contact with the outside temperatures, and allow the heat (or cold) to be transferred like a bridge to the inside. This is an issue in lumber-framed homes as well, but it is even more an issue with steel framing since metal is such a good conductor of hot and cold. Therefore, normally a steel-framed building needs to have an insulation layer placed on the outside of the framing members, not just in between them.

It may be a good idea to get some bids on other systems, keeping in mind how much is actually included in each one when you compare costs. Of course steel has it's advantages in Louisiana, so if you look into SIPs I would highly recommend you consider metal ones.

Sorry if that was a bit wordy! I hope I answered your questions. Feel free to ask more.

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By Heidi in New Orleans, LA on 12/7/2009


Not wordy at all. Thanks for the feedback. I looked at the Metecno-Aluma Shield site. Very interesting. The panels look considerably thinner than the panels from Premium Steel (5 1/2" thick). We will be using HardiePlank on the exterior of our house. By screwing this into the Metecno wall panel, will we ruin the integrity of the panels? Would we still sheath the panels in plywood? This is a very different product.

My other concern is subs. Will they moan and groan over product like this? I'm not clear on how to run the utilities through the panels? Will you please let me know who you ended up buying the panels from?

Thanks again,

Heidi

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By Mike in Dulac, LA on 12/7/2009


Owner-builder cost estimating: I did my cost estimate the hard way - line by line. This involves taking off materials from the drawings and looking up cost on HomeDepot.com or Lowes.com.

Often subcontractors will offer simple pricing like plumbing $X/hole (a hole is a single plumbing fixture; sink, water closet, bath). You may want to talk to some of them. If they no not offer simple pricing, then you need to ask them about how big a crew and approximate hourly cost for the crew. Then ask them how long it takes to do an X sq. foot house.

I have attached my cost estimate for you to have an idea of how to do it. Mine was simplified, as I am using pre-built 8' panels and trusses for fixed prices. These are assembled in place and that is where the cost estimating comes in.

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By Heidi in New Orleans, LA on 12/7/2009


Thanks Mike. Not sure if this was meant for me, but I am curious as to how to do the cost estimate. I pretty much did mine line by line three yrs. ago. I had a contractor price it out in 2005. OUCH! I will pore over your info with enthusiasm! 


Heidi

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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 12/7/2009


Heidi, the Metecno-Aluma Shield panels are made with a polyiso foam, which is denser than EPS, so they can be thinner. EPS is the white foam that Premium Steel uses - EPS stands for expanded polystyrene, which is sort of like a white-foam coffee cup. Both foams are good. The polyiso panels I'm using are four inches thick and achieve an R-30 insulative value, but they make them in various thicknesses (6 inches, 8 inches, et cetera).

I did go with Metecno-Aluma Shield, which has since been bought by Kingspan. If I had to do it over again, I would go with a different metal SIP company (mostly because of the regional reseller and price, not because of the panel itself). If you want to look further into metal SIPs I would recommend southernsips.com

The ones at Southernsips are really the same thing as the panels I'm using (simply a metal-skinned SIP), but they use EPS foam and are therefore thicker (6 inches for walls and roof). They do have an easier tongue and groove joint (it can be flipped either way so it doesn't matter how the panel is oriented) which would make assembling them a little bit easier.

Putting HardiePanel or HardiePlank on a metal-skinned SIP is no problem at all. You can screw directly to the metal skin without causing any issues, because you're not going through both sides of the skin. This is how they are normally finished when using Hardie products. You can also stucco them, brick them, anything you want to side with you can do it.

No plywood is needed, no extra sheathing is needed at all for metal SIPs. The skin is like sheathing and housewrap all in one. Is plywood sheathing required with Premium Steel? I wondered about that specifically when I looked at the system.

Subs are going to moan and groan with any system which is not typical 2x4 lumber whether it has wiring chases built in or not. With metal SIPs the inside of the SIP walls are normally furred out (thin strips of wood or metal attached to the inside of the wall) to create a space for wiring behind the drywall. This also helps to isolate the interior and make your house quieter. It's recommended that you not place any plumbing in exterior walls, but if your plan calls for it then you can fur out the space with thicker furring strips to accommodate the plumbing. Of course interior partition walls are just framed out as traditional cavity walls, either metal or lumber.

If you like the idea of metal SIPs after looking into them, I can give you specific recommendations about who to buy from and who to get bids from.

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By Heidi in New Orleans, LA on 12/7/2009


You are a wealth of information!  Love it!

I actually looked up Southernsips.com by accident last night, while looking for Metecno. Back when I gathered all of our prices, including the pricing from Premium Steel, my husband was less involved in the specifics. Now that we are REALLY planning on building soon, I'd like him to physically see the difference between the Premium panel (we both saw this one) and the SIP's with a full steel panel. Stephen is in Baton Rouge every once in awhile for business, if it is possible I'd love for him to see your project. Perhaps we can trade info via private message. We would like to go to the bank in January. Rates are so good right now.

I would also really appreciate any helpful hints you have regarding subs. You've been so helpful thus far. Have you considered consulting on projects using SIP's and other non-traditional building materials?

Thanks again,

Heidi

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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 12/8/2009


You're both more than welcome to take a look at my project. I'll send you a private message. If you don't receive it, then let me know here.

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By Bob in Baton Rouge, LA on 12/8/2009


Hi folks, I am new to the forum. We have started building our home in Baton Rouge with SIP panels. It is a three-story home with 6 1/2 inch and 4 1/2 inch walls with 10 1/4 inch roof panels. The panels are foam with OSB glued on interior and exterior. Building is very strong. We are putting up the roof panels now, if the rain ever quits. You are welcome to come and look at the structure. Also if you need any info I will be happy to provide.
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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 12/8/2009


Bob, welcome to the forum. I would love to come by and see your project. Send me a private message and let me know where you are.

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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 12/8/2009


Heidi, I sent the webmaster an email, maybe he can clear up our private messaging problems.
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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 12/8/2009


private messaging UPDATE:

Check your spam mail folder. If you can't find the PM there, then you can send one to me with your email and I can get back to you. I always seem to get the private messages that are sent to me.

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By Heidi in New Orleans, LA on 12/9/2009


Jelly,


I sent you a PM yesterday. Please see that it got through. If not, I changed my email address on this site. Now, I believe everything will come through.  

Thanks,

Heidi

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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 12/9/2009


Heidi, unfortunately no, it didn't come through, and I checked my spam folder too. I'll send you another one.
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By Philip in Duson, LA on 12/10/2009


We built our house in 2002-2003 using SIPs.

pryland.com/sips

We went with OSB-skinned SIPs. One of the big advantages to these is there is NO thermal transfer. The only break in the Styrofoam is at the corners where 2x's are used to join the panels at the intersection. Our system used OSB splines for joining panels in line along a wall.

Very pleased. With 3,200 s.f., all electric and a ton of kids, we were averaging $110-$120 on utilities.

We did document our construction process with pictures and a blog. Currently in the process of moving everything to a new server, so check back in a week as I finish the move.


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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 12/10/2009


Due to recent difficulties with the private messaging system, I am trying an easier way for anyone to contact me directly. I have set up an email address specifically for my participation here as moderator of the Louisiana segment of the ownerbuilderbook forum.

If you need further information, a subcontractor's contact info, or just want to take a discussion off on a tangent, send me an email at the following address. It is written this way to prevent automated spam messages. Simply replace the words "at" and "dot" with the appropriate symbols the way you would normally write an email address:

Louisianamod at gmail dot com

I hope this clears up some of our contact issues...

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By Mykele in New Orleans, LA on 1/21/2010


Hello, my name is Mykele. My husband and I are moving to the New Orleans area sometime this year. We are still in the early stages of planning and figuring out what we can afford. After living in Houston for five years, we have been shocked by the increase in housing prices in Louisiana (we lived in Metairie for 8 years).

We are looking at Luling, Ponchatoula, and Mandeville as possible locations. If anyone has experience in these areas from construction to simply living there, we would find it greatly helpful.


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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 1/22/2010


Hi Mykele, welcome to the forum.

A year and a half ago I moved back to Louisiana after being gone for 15 years. I too was shocked at the dramatic increase in the cost of living, as well as real estate and construction prices. A low cost of living used to be the attractive trade-off to live in a place which had other problems.

Well that perk is now gone. This condition was one of the factors that helped me decide to build on my own.

To be sure though, real estate in more rural areas will go for less. Which metro area would you need to be closest to, or does that matter at all?

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By Mykele in New Orleans, LA on 1/22/2010


My husband's job is in St. Rose, so being close to that would be nice, but is not the final deciding factor in where we choose. Flood plains and hurricane evacuation is another consideration, although I know enough about the area to know that with the right storm all of the areas fall under that worry. From just driving around, I really like the north shore, all the trees and the potential to be somewhat isolated from your neighbors. The next time we go to New Orleans, we are going to stay in Ponchatoula instead of Kenner just to try out the drive.  ; )
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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 1/23/2010


St. Rose is in St. Charles parish, which I have heard actually has a very good public school system (sort of rare in Louisiana).

St. Tammany parish schools are supposed to be good, too. But getting from the North Shore to St. Rose for work does not sound like a fun commute!

Wherever you build, I would urge you to consider hurricane-resistant construction, such as ICF or steel SIPs. Neither one is really any more expensive on the bottom line than traditional 2x4 construction.

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By Mykele in New Orleans, LA on 1/23/2010


I have been looking at both of those but I'm a little unsure about the wiring and the plumbing. We are hoping to do as much of our own wiring as possible and I'm not sure how much harder it is to make/use the channels.
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By Mykele in New Orleans, LA on 1/24/2010


Habitat for Humanity ReStores. I had never heard of these before I starting reading on this site. I found that there are something like 7 of them within a hour or so drive from New Orleans. Has anyone else shopped at one of these stores? I would love to hear about anyone's experiences.
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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 1/24/2010


Wiring seems to be the biggest fear keeping people from considering SIPs or ICF, which is unfortunate because this fear is totally unnecessary. What little effort it takes to adapt to the different way of wiring is nothing to be concerned about.

I'm a do-it-yourselfer, too, and I'm taking on the wiring myself. I'm using steel SIPs, so rather than making channels in the panel, what is normally done is to fur out the walls. This just means to place thin strips of either metal or wood to create a space behind the drywall where the wiring is run.

SIPs, which are made of OSB, often have a channel in the foam for wiring, but this is not a problem. If you do consider SIPs I would recommend that you look into steel SIPs. As you know Louisiana has intense termite problems, as well as flooding and hurricanes. Steel is the much better choice for panel skin.

When wiring with ICF construction, one simply makes a groove in the foam with a hot knife or even the end of a chainsaw. The wiring fits into this groove. Not hard for a do-it-yourselfer.

With either method, you will have plenty of support from your manufacturer's rep, as well as other do-it-yourselfers here on the ownerbuilderbook website.

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By Scott in Lacombe, LA on 2/6/2010


I am new here, and this is my first post. These forums are a tremendous resource as my wife and I are about to plunge into our first owner-build in Lacombe.

We are going to be building a modest 1,100 sf passive-solar ranch-style home using am-cor prefabricated steel-stud system--framing panels secured to footing then slab poured to embed studs and the entire structure is unified with a ferrocement skin as exterior substrate.

We should be receiving our final plan set from our architect in the next week or so, and I would like to connect with O-B's to find out about your experiences with St. Tammany permitting process, as that will be our next step.

I would also be very receptive and appreciative for any personal referrals/experiences for subs for plumbing and electrical and HVAC drywall and foundation.


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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 2/6/2010


Scott, welcome to the forum. Please keep us posted on your project because it is an interesting new method. Glad to see you're considering passive solar.

Send me a P.M. and I can get you contact info for a great plumber and a post-tension concrete guy.

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By TIM in NEW ORLEANS, LA on 3/2/2010


Hello Everyone,

My wife and I were in the process of deciding whether or not to owner-build. We are going to build in New Orleans. The final plans are just about done. I would value and appreciate any advice, input, wisdom, or whatever that anyone could provide about the process to help us make the final decision. In particular, I am looking for someone who has recently gone through the process in my area.

Thanks,

Tim


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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 3/2/2010


Welcome to the forum, Tim. I am currently building in Baton Rouge, so while it's not New Orleans, at least there are probably similar issues.

I would urge you to at least consider building either with ICF or steel SIPs. When you consider the many problems facing housing in Louisiana (intense termites, flooding, hurricanes) it doesn't make sense to continue to build with outdated methods when you can build with better technology for roughly the same price, and end up with a house which looks just as traditional as you want (or don't want).

One thing I can say right off the top - whatever you budgeted for subcontractor "X" it isn't enough!   :)

But go ahead and give us some more specific questions and we'll be happy to give it a shot.

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By John in New Orleans, LA on 4/15/2010


Tim or anyone: Is there a problem getting a building permit when you are acting as your own general contractor? I hear that if you go over $75,000 in total cost, you have to have a residential builders license. Can't a fellow build his own castle anymore?

Help,

John


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By Scott in Lacombe, LA on 4/15/2010


John,

I just got my bldg. permit in St. Tammany a week ago as an owner-builder. You have to sign a notarized affidavit that exempts you from licensure if you affirm this is the only owner-build you have done in the last year and a half (or some time frame).

They should provide you the proper form at the parish.

 

-scott


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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 4/15/2010


John, it is the same in East Baton Rouge Parish. One simply has to sign a hold-harmless agreement. So yes, a man CAN build his castle!

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By Greg in Madisonville, LA on 4/15/2010


I am building in St. Tammany Parish now, and what you all have mentioned is correct. The only permits you cannot pull yourself are electrical and plumbing. However, if you do not have gas, you can pull the plumbing yourself. So, if you have gas, you will need to have a licensed plumber to pull the permits. You will also have a licensed electrician for the electrical.
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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 4/15/2010


Here in East Baton Rouge I was able to pull all permits as a homeowner (with the exception of AC, but I didn't try that one yet). Plumbing and electrical were no problem. I don't have gas, though, so that may have been why they let me pull the plumbing.
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By John in New Orleans, LA on 4/16/2010


Thanks for the good news. I thought that was the case, but I wasn't sure. I will keep you advised on my progress.
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By John in New Orleans, LA on 4/27/2010


I'm looking at using SIP panels for my exterior walls and building very energy efficient. Anybody doing this in Louisiana?
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By Jelly in Baton Rouge, LA on 4/27/2010


I'm building my own home with steel SIPs.

Contractors in Louisiana are VERY reluctant to use inherently energy-efficient building methods. They would rather continue to try to modify traditional 2x4 framing with such things as energy-heel trusses and spray foam, but it's a losing battle.

Unfortunately, it often takes an owner-builder to think outside the box and utilize the newer technologies that are being taken advantage of in other parts of the country, such as ICF or SIPs.

I applaud you for considering SIPs, but since you are in New Orleans, I think you really need to consider using steel SIPs as opposed to OSB SIPs. The two big reasons: termites, and floods. There are other reasons, but those two are the most compelling for someone building in Louisiana.

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