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Rebecca's Forum Posts: 2

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By Rebecca in Tacoma, WA on 8/24/2001


I wondered if you had any good tips for owner-building in WA state. My husband and I are just starting out in the planning stages to build a home in Redmond or Bellevue, and are looking into financing arrangements in particular. We don't own any land yet - we plan on selling our home in February and using the proceeds to close on an all-in-one land/construction/permanent loan. Have you found any banks/mortgage companies willing to work with you?

We have talked to a few places and run into some resistance towards owner-builders, particularly owner-builders who will be doing a lot of the finish work ourselves. Any other tips you had for me would be great! We don't know anyone who has owner-built, unfortunately, so are kind of heading out into strange waters on our own!

Thanks,

Rebecca
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By Aron in Bellevue, WA on 4/11/2002


Rebecca,

My wife and I are in Bellevue now. I know you left this message a while ago, but I'd sure love to get in contact with you to discuss your experience with building in this area. Right now we are in an apartment in downtown Bellevue, but would like to build in Sammamish. We are trying to follow the book pretty closely but talking to someone who has actually done it would be great. P.M us if you can.

Thanks.
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By Christopher in WA on 4/20/2002


Rebecca and others in the Pacific Northwest,

Pacific Northwest Bank (previously InterWest Bank) and Timberland Savings Bank are both banks that will work with owner-builders. I used PNB to buy my lot and I'm using them again to do my all-in-one construction/perm loan.

Good luck,

Chris

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By Mike in Woodinville, WA on 4/22/2002


That's good information. I have just started checking around and the only one I have found so far is IndyMac bank (indymac.com). IndyMac, however, requires that you have a licensed contractor involved somehow as a "site supervisor" (or some such term). How does PNB qualify you as an owner-contractor?

Thanks,

Mike
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By Christopher in WA on 4/22/2002


Mike,

I've been an apartment developer for 14 years, and that primarily is what I presented to my bank. Initially, I was going to hire a construction manager (Self-Builder Services) to run the construction of my house, but chose to do it myself with the help of a former job superintendent I've worked with who happens also to have a general contractor's license, so his license will be in the bank's "file".

Good luck,

Chris

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By Matt & Cindy in Arlington, WA on 12/15/2002


We are looking into owner-building as well north of you. We currently live in Marysville (north of Everett) but will be hopefully building near Big Lake in Mount Vernon. We have also been looking at lots in Sedro-Woolley. We have found several developments with plots already hooked up with water, sewer, gas, and electricity, and have CC&R's... with no city impact fees. The properties are all 1/3 - 1/2 acre lots. We're very excited, it's a beautiful area. The homes in these neighborhoods are incredible!

I would love to know how your project is going. We are going to try to find some owner-builders. My parents built their own home in Arlington, but that was 10 years ago. My husband has a brother who recently built their home in Stanwood.

Thanks!

Matt and Cindy

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By Todd in Sumner, WA on 5/21/2003


Hey there,

Anyone still around in Washington State:-)? I'm just getting started on my house out in Graham. Did anyone go through Timberland Savings? Here are a couple of albums of pictures of us clearing the lot: community.webshots.com/user/supwidit

Todd
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By Jeff in Puyallup, WA on 3/14/2004


Hi Todd,

We are building in Morning View Estate. Our excavation and foundation are starting next week. Keep in contact as you are so close.

Jeff and Vanessa

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By Retired on 4/13/2004


Hi Jeff.

We are starting the site prep on the north end of the east side of Whidbey Island looking at Mount Baker. We have our eagle management Plan approved, clearing and grading permit, etc. We are still determining what combination of self management and assistance from a general we will use. We would love to compare notes with others in the process.

Island County building officials don't seem too well versed on helping a member of the taxpaying public who wants to do something. They think their job is to tell you all the things you can't do unless you get someone with letters after their name to write you a letter for a fee saying it is okay. Has anyone else noticed this tendency?
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By Julius on 4/15/2004


We are out in Mason County, Alderbrook. Looking for a good sheetrocker. How is yours and are they willing to go that far? Do they know of anyone?

Thanks.
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By Mark in Redmond, WA on 5/18/2004


Jeff, Todd,

I would love to hear about your experiences and progress on your projects. I'm still in the planning phases and trying to figure out if it is feasible to build in east King Co. for under $85-$90/sq ft. I'm planning on a 3,500 sq ft Craftsman-style home and would be doing most of the finish work myself.

Thanks,

Mark

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By David in Olympia, WA on 7/3/2004


Hi Everybody,

We are in the Pre-want-to-be stage. Ya gotta start somewhere. So I thought I'd start putting my name on the message board. We are in Olympia and in the process of choosing a school district for our 4-yr.-old daughter. Hopefully we can find an area where we both like the elementary school and there are lots for sale. Any suggestions?

David and Family
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By Stacey in Greenacres, WA on 8/31/2004


Hi Fellow Washingtonians,

My husband and I are planning to build a home (no GC if possible) in Greenacres, WA (near Spokane) and I thought I'd ask for suggestions. We will hopefully close on our land in the next week, and plan to spend the next 6 months planning and lining up subs, looking for materials, etc... Anyone mind getting peppered with questions when they come up?

My first question is how did you get your floorplans? I can't find anything I like in the plans books or online (not without modifying). I've found a cute plan with pics in Builder Magazine, but can't get the construction company to call me back to see if they would sell it. I'm wondering if I should just go to a designer with this magazine and see it they could draw it, or if there are any cheaper suggestions. The magazine does have a 2"x2" floorplan of the house. Kind of old, Queen Anne-era style.

Thanks in advance,

Stacey
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By Milan in Redmond, WA on 9/2/2004


Mark,

I am also looking to build in the Redmond/Bellevue area and am in the planning stages right now. I am currently considering using the services of UBuildIt for my house. Since you are also in the planning stages, we might be able to share some of our experiences along the process. The toughest thing in the process seems to be finding a suitable piece of land to build the house.

Milan
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By Mark in Redmond, WA on 9/2/2004


Milan,

I agree, finding suitable land on the east side is a big obstacle. We are still looking. $150K is our max limit, but we would like to stay below $100K-$125K if possible. It seems every lot we look at has one drawback or another. We also have investigated using UBuildIt services. While I have confidence in their services and abilities, I question how much money they could really save me. We sat down with them and for our house their fee was nearly $40K. For $40K I could make a lot of mistakes, overpay some of my subcontractors and still save more. Plus they do most the planning work, which is half the fun.
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By Virginia in WA on 11/5/2004


We are building in Clearwood near Puyallup and east of Yelm. Does anyone know of an experienced ICF foundation stem wall contractor? Alternative materials are great; finding experienced contractors to work with them is more difficult.

You didn't mention what kind of foundation you're having installed, so I thought you might have a referral.

Thanks,

Virginia


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By Sara in Bellingham, WA on 11/20/2004


Hi All!

I, too, am building in Washington State (Bellingham area) and have a couple of things that I'd like to point out.

1. I've started working with Washington Federal Savings and they have been incredibly accommodating to me regarding the financing side of things. They do work with owner-builders, however they will only finance up to 80% of the assessed value of the proposed home (compared to up to 90% when you go with a licensed contractor or a service like UBuildIt). You might want to keep this in mind when deciding if the numbers work out. Other than that, I've found them to be professional and fast.

2. As for UBuildIt - beware. I have been working with them for the past year, and have so far spent approx. $5K on "consulting fees" with them for not much. So far, I've gone through two cycles of house design/getting bids (of which I don't get to see the details, just final numbers as they don't want to disclose who made the bids yet) and the numbers still don't add up right. I am now forced to undergo a third cycle of redesign and I am contemplating NOT going with UBuildIt for the remainder of my building process. So far, my feelings have been that UBuildIt has been taking my money but not providing enough assistance in keeping my budget down. I often have gotten better bids on my own than the numbers that UBuildIt has come up with for me (albeit with a great deal of legwork on my own). As a reference, my fees for Phase I (planning and bids) are approx $5K and my anticipated fees for Phase II (building) is approx. $16K for a 2,600 sq ft house.

Also, beware if you want to build anything that is remotely more attractive and "modern" than your typical spec. home because in my experience with UBuildIt, they are simply not equipped to deal with that. I want to build my own home because I want it to be MY home, and not something I can buy off the shelf. The comments that I've gotten in response to things like using stainless steel cable rail, or hydronic radiant heat, or finished interior concrete floors have ranged from "Oh, not that again" to "Ah, that stuff you've seen in magazines" in a derogatory tone. Frankly, I think those magazines are selling for a reason and that's to give people a sense of what is already out there.

Good luck all,

Sara

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By Retired on 11/21/2004


I apologize ahead of time if this post violates the spirit of this site but I have paid the price to have an opinion.

I posted last year while still considering the possibility of being an owner-builder. In August, we finally got the foundation poured after I fired the first general after the design stage. We let a year pass, while still considering doing all the contracting ourselves. I finally started with a second contractor and fired them after they didn't bother to exactly spot the house site on the property before bringing in the excavator at $100 an hour. The hole ended up being ten feet too large in a couple of directions and we hauled many trucks full of dirt away that should not have been hauled. 

We were fortunate enough to get a small contractor who does most of the work, hands on. The second story is going on our "lighthouse" octagon section at this moment.

Having seen the intricacies so far, it would have been a real mistake for me to have tried to do this myself. I have accomplished many things in my 65 years that few others have done, but attempting to build this house in these times would have been a serious error of judgment.

The contractor we have now is not perfect but I am happy. I am especially happy they are dealing with all the hold-downs and engineering issues instead of me.

If you have built homes before and/or are an experienced carpenter, and/or are building a rectangle house, owner-building might be fine. If you are building something more complex and have years to work on it, go for it. I decided I am better off determining to earn enough money at what I know to pay the extra cost of having someone who knows what they are doing do it.

I agree the UBuildIt concept is probably not worth it. I also agree one gets very discouraging looks whenever you try to consider something that takes some extra imagination and creativity and, possibly a little "leading edge" risk. Contractors want to do it the way they did it last time. It is easier for them. They resist anything different with a "That will cost $$$$$" statement.

Good luck whatever you decide. It is exciting.


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By Kari in Colbert, WA on 11/21/2004


Sara,

I felt the same way when we went to the local UBuildIt to consult with what their program was. When I brought out my list of 'what I want" in my house, the UBuildIt person implied that those were unrealistic finishes for our budget and we were naive. And when we told him our budget expectations and that they were firm, he didn't think we could do it and implied that we really needed their budgeting service or we'd be in way over our heads. Well we said no thanks, and so far our bids have come in right where we want them with the finishes we want. The legwork was hard in the first weeks, but things do improve if you are constantly asking people for referrals for tradesmen or dropping by construction sites. And lastly, I think modern finishes can be cheaper sometimes because they are more simple if you find the right person to do it - IMHO anyway :)

Good luck!

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By Lisa in Issaquah, WA on 11/26/2004


I'm getting ready to start my second owner-builder project in Issaquah. We're closing on our land loan in December and getting our plans finalized through The Bungalow Company. This will be my second owner-builder project. We're financing through Washington Federal Savings in Seattle. They've been really helpful, but as mentioned earlier they want 20% down for owner-builders. They have the option of using a contractor, but you can't just sneak a contractor license number in. They want financial information on whomever you use. Land prices have skyrocketed since we first built in 1998. We ended up finding an acre for $184,000. We have to pay extra for water hook-up ($9,000) and a fire sprinkler system ($8,500), because of the distance to the water main and closest fire hydrant. Hopefully, I won't get any more surprises when I apply for our permit, but the DDES seems to charge more for less all the time.

Is anyone actually building in the King County area? I'd love to hear from you regarding your own experiences, both good and bad. Also, I need some recommendations on foundation sub and a framer if you know of any. I also need a reasonably priced lumber supplier. We went through Tum-A-Lum last time, but they're out of business now.


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By Gary in Port Orchard, WA on 4/11/2005


First post.

My story: Purchased land near the Colvos passage north of Gig Harbor, WA. Three acres @ $97K. Currently an owner-occupied two-unit townhouse. I've been dragging my feet at building but have baby #2 coming in about 9 months and so I'm again motivated for a larger place.

I've really wanted to go modular but haven't had any real success. I've looked into panelized at Viceroy and Nelsons.

I'm still pretty scared of starting but know I need to. Hopefully I can find support here.

First off... What are your favorite owner-builder forums? This one seems good but not all that active.

Hi Lisa,

Have you looked into Viceroy in Fife? Supposed to be superior lumber and comes precut or panelized. It is more expensive, but is supposed to require less framing labor.

A friend of mine is in their last stages of building and I can ask him which lumber company he went through. His budget shows him finishing at around $57/sf @ 3,750 sf [not including the raw land purchase]. He's doing a little work himself but not much. He got a quote from Viceroy but decided it was cheaper to go to a more conventional lumber company.

Thanks.

Gary


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By Lisa in Issaquah, WA on 4/11/2005


Gary,

If you could ask your friend who their lumber supplier is that would be great. I'm currently waiting on bids from Dunn, Lumbermans, and TRM.

Some of my favorite owner-builder sites are: ownerbuilder.com (this is by a guy from Black Diamond), the garden web forums have all kinds of useful forums -- ths.gardenweb.com/forums. For technical advice from experts I like taunton.com's Breaktime. I'm personally disappointed in this website. Nobody in the area seems to be building, and the main focus of the site seems to be how to find cheap cabinets at outlets. Since those of us who don't live in these areas aren't going to benefit it's sort of a moot point. What I really had hoped to find was reliable and high quality supplier and contractor referrals. Product reviews of something besides Kraftmaid cabinets would be great too. It's pretty hard to plow through the forums -- nothing ever seems to come up from the searches, but I could just be going about it the wrong way.

$57 s.f. -- I'm jealous. I'm almost done getting bids on everything (even down to the gutters), and we're at $133 s.f. Our permits, fees, utility hook-ups, etc. are $40,000 alone.

I think modular is a great way to go. We lived in a modular home in Connecticut. It was a center-hall Colonial that came in four parts. It was amazing how they put it all together. It's too bad they don't do more of that out here.

Good luck on whichever direction you go. I've found that the single most important thing is to try and plan every last financial detail ahead of time -- some things will still go wrong, but hopefully there won't be any stressful financial blunders.


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By Mark in Redmond, WA on 4/11/2005


I just purchased a 3/4 acre builders lot in Monroe. I've been planning/dreaming for years, but now it's time to get serious and move forward. 

Sara, like you, we enlisted the help of UBuildIt's phase I services. So far they have been knowledgeable and helpful, but I'm hitting the same roadblock you are. Their budget "estimates" are out of the ballpark and too high in my opinion. I did a sales analysis on lots in our neighborhood that have already been built and sold by GC's and the GC's average costs were 20% less than UBuildIt's estimates. Obviously something isn't adding up. 

Lisa, I'm interested to keep tabs on how your project is going and who you eventually pick for a lumber supplier. We are probably going to target breaking ground in late summer. The "extra" costs and issues you are hitting is exactly why we aren't building in King Co.


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By Gary in Port Orchard, WA on 4/12/2005


I'll get the name of the lumber company they went through.

$40K!! Geez, must not be the same in Kitsap county, I would have heard him complaining.

BTW.. My friend built in West Port Orchard, Wa. I will be building north of Gig Harbor [Olalla].


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By Kari in Colbert, WA on 4/12/2005


See, these forums are useful! Actually, I want to say is that if you do plow through old posts, that this forum and That Home Site has been the most useful to me - but it goes both ways - post questions and answers (things you have read etc.) to get relevant topics going. I have also met another O-B through the Connections on this website and they are building locally and we have hit off and are sharing all our info - that has been really applicable and fun to experience the same issues, "be in the same boat" so to speak.

Also, Seattle has some great finds. I know that for a fact, as I grew up on Bainbridge and lived in Seattle for many years. Start posting the salvage yards and also there is Builders Second Place in North Bend (found that on craigslist.com). Start doing your research and posting, and I am certain you will get lots of info - there are a lot of O-B's in your area due to the high costs of building - look at your response already. Good luck! And there is a cabinet outlet in Portland (tax-free too) also Dewils is out of Portland too and their cabinets are fabulous and cheaper than KraftMaid. Also, Standard TV and Appliance has great deals on appliances in Portland - worth the drive for you if you were to combine the two with all the savings.


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By Gary in Port Orchard, WA on 4/12/2005


Yes, I'm pleasantly surprised to get such quick responses on a thread that seems rarely used. 

I'll relay the Oregon information to my friends who are close to done building. They haven't gotten their cabinets yet and may appreciate the tips, thanks.

The lumber company they used is Capital Lumber.

They said that the bank they went through allowed them to take cash out directly as often as they like. This has allowed them to pay their subs in cash and helps them negotiate the price down. He estimates saving about $10K by paying in cash. Evidently most lenders have you submit the bill from the sub and they provide a check.

One of my excuses has been not knowing how to determine what to build. The property should have a decent view, but I can't see through all the trees. I'd like to know my view in order to know how high and what to build. My original plan was to have an excavator clear the land. The excavator didn't want to clear the land without building a rough driveway. So now we were looking at $6,000. I've since decided to hire someone to just cut down some trees; that should be enough.

Our friends recommended their home designer, so we will be meeting with him soon.

After that, we plan on getting some GC bids and then subcontractor bids. At the same time we should start talking to the banks.

Thanks all.

Gary


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By Lisa in Issaquah, WA on 4/13/2005


Gary,

Our estimate to clear 1/2 an acre, grade the driveway, excavate for house and garage, dig a dry well (required in King County), install footing drains, then do backfill and final grade is $25,000-$30,000. We have a fair number of trees, but mostly shrubby stuff. Our first O-B house was on a flat, clear horse pasture, so I was completely shocked by how much it will cost.

Thanks for the loan info. I was set to send my budget and financial info to Timberland, but I don't like their voucher system. I think I'll look into West Sound Mortgage. I checked into First Mutual Bank already -- they want a 15% contingency built in to the budget. This would have been $60,000 for us. Shame on us if we go that far over. Some banks, like Washington Federal, will only give you a loan if you have a copy of a contractor license. If you hire an advisor with a license this works well, but our advisor works for someone else, so he's not licensed.


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By Kari in Colbert, WA on 4/13/2005


American West has an O-B loan and they loan in Western Washington. Try Dennis Reed 509.835.1222. Great loan - we love it. Posted particulars in lending section earlier. Tell him you got it off this forum - he already has had a few customers from this forum so he is familiar with it. Great guy.
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By Mark in Redmond, WA on 4/14/2005


You all have posted a lot of good O-B financing leads. Unfortunately, I've found many of them to require experienced consultants such as UBuildIt. I'm curious which ones don't require consultants. Are each of you using a consultant or a GC to help with the process or O-B'ing on your own?

We close on our land at the end of the month. We had trouble getting the land loan from IndyMac, so we ended up getting private financing from my parents until we can secure the construction loan. We are running a little late for starting this summer (still too much planning to do) so I think we are going to take our time, clear some of the lot ourselves and plan to break ground next Jan/Feb/March. Many people have told me don't start in Aug-Jan because you will have troubles drying the house out over the winter.

Last question. I'm planning on doing $50K of the work myself including int./ext. painting, finish carpentry, masonry and other misc. jobs. The banks of course will not recognize my sweat equity. Any tricks to getting budget numbers to fly with the bank but still building the most house for your money? I'm afraid of having to downscale our house $50K-$75K to make the bank happy. I've already thought of leaving a couple rooms unfinished, or ideas like delete fireplace mantles in the original spec and then add them back in during construction as my sweat equity saves money. Any thoughts?


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By Lisa in Issaquah, WA on 4/14/2005


Mark,

Have you tried Timberland Bank in Auburn? I'm going to check out a few others, but that's the one we're probably going to go with. Sweat equity is tough, because as I'm sure you know, if you were physically unable to complete the work you need to be able to hire someone to do the job. Also, the work needs to be completed quickly. I'm not sure if this would work, since I don't know what things you plan on completing yourself, but could you specify a less expensive product than you're using and then count the upgraded product as labor saved? For instance, if you plan on painting the exterior with two coats of top grade paint, but specify one coat of builder quality. 

If you've never built before, it's never a bad idea to hire an advisor. We have a friend who's going to inspect completed work. I did all my specifications and got bids on them myself. I'm going to do all the scheduling, budgeting, and paychecks, too. I just feel more comfortable with someone with construction experience checking out each contractors completed work.


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By Kari in Colbert, WA on 4/14/2005


Our in-laws are carrying a private non-recorded deed for the property - they then recorded the "official deed" as owned by us. This solved many issues - it showed the bank that we owned the land outright, helping us secure the loan easier and making our ratios 80/20 with equity to start. If my in-laws wanted we could pay them off, since at the end of the construction loan we will have enough equity to roll the land into the final loan but they don't for tax reasons and they want the interest money we pay them. Very trusting of them but we have a good relationship.

As far as how we did self-work - our total will probably be less than our loan - but they wanted it fairly close to actual costs, however they didn't look too close at some items as if they had they would know electrical and siding should cost more on a house like this - so we fudged just a little but not enough to raise flags. Our appraiser was also clueless - good for us :) 

Truthfully, I wouldn't want to schedule the budget so closely according to self-work (especially if you are doing a lot of self-work), Because if you can't qualify for a the total price for a sub's doing it - what would happen if you really did get injured and can't do it? Qualify for the larger amount, but then do the work and save loads of money - one doesn't need to spend money even if approved for it. Just my two cents.

Also, our loan did not require a supervisor.


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By Kari in Colbert, WA on 4/14/2005


My point that I didn't actually make on my other post is if your parents carry the private loan and do like my in-laws, then that can help your ratios. Then your budget discrepancies for self-work will be less of an issue and as was said above, make your spec sheet a lower grade so as to appraise out lower but not so low it won't be approved. But with your land equity that would be less of an issue since you have equity to start off with - on paper anyhow. Does this make sense, I have no idea :)!!
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By Brad in Bellevue, WA on 4/15/2005


Hi Everyone,

It good to see so much O-B activity in western Washington. We have a closing next week on our property and are looking forward to starting our first real O-B project in Bellevue (Cougar Mountain).

We get a mix of City of Bellevue, Issaquah and King County for our approvals and fees. It took six months to go through feasibility (geotech, survey, tree survey, septic, etc). But, now that all that has come up good, we can close.

Lisa, the excavation costs are what we encountered on our last house. Most of the sloped lots in the south Issaquah area seem to have rock at a very shallow depth, which can complicate things. You're lucky to be able to use a dry well. The City of Bellevue requires an engineered drainage plan. 

We are looking at ICFs and we are curious if anyone else has used them in the Seattle area?

Thanks,

Brad


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By Mark in Redmond, WA on 4/15/2005


Yes, I agree it is great to see so much activity on the forum in WA state. It encourages me to see so many others in the same boat.

I'm doing traditional stick-built. Plan M3130AS0 from architectsnw.com. It will be 3,400 sf completed. 

I have a friend in Cle Elum who is doing ICF right now. He is also a PolySteel rep. I don't have it on me, but I can dig up his contact info if you would like. He is a little out of Seattle, but can probably point you to reps, info or contractors in our area. Kari in Spokane is also doing ICF. 


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By Mark in Redmond, WA on 4/15/2005


I've looked at Timberline bank, but I don't really like their voucher system. I'm interested in investigating American West as used by Kari. 

Since I can't account for self-work, I plan to qualify for as much loan as possible and specify lower quality products in some areas. As I save money, I can substitute higher quality products back into the project. In the end any work I do will equate to money I don't need to borrow.

I'm still investigating whether to use an adviser or not. UBuildIt wants $37K for our project. As I've mentioned before, I can make a lot of mistakes for that price. Thus I'm investigating other options. The neighbor to our new lot is an O-B and is providing me with many contacts, ideas and leads that are promising. 


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By Kari in Colbert, WA on 4/15/2005


Yup, we are and so far so good with the ICF. We are using Reward Block, as they beat every other block in price that we had quoted and I am also impressed with the customer service. My husband is maybe listed as the distributor for the Spokane area (I think) - I know we went direct and they were looking for a person in this area to promote their block so I think they worked some sort of deal ( I guess I should ask him) - BuildBlock also offered us a deal, but they barely have their company together so we felt fairly unsure of that. Anyway we have taken to ICF like a duck to water so to speak. We love it.

ICF is very competitive, so there is a lot of room for dealing. Your quote price if it seems high is truthfully just a starting point for negotiating, that is what we have found. If they won't do that, go to another block - most blocks are fairly similar so there shouldn't be much "emotional" attachment to a particular block. FYI, do your own takeoff too as every distributor had a different amount and none of them were very accurate. My husband did his own ICF takeoff and it is very accurate - his was different from all the others. Also they like to upsell on all the accessories, bread and butter for them. Good luck if you do go ICF.


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By Brad in Bellevue, WA on 4/15/2005


Thanks Kari,

I'll look at Reward. Did you go to BHS? I was class of 1980?


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By David in Yelm, WA on 4/16/2005


Hello everyone.

We closed on 20 acres east of Yelm in December. I am currently stationed overseas with the Army, but move back to WA in July.

I plan to build a log cabin big enough for wife and five kids. The only way I can afford something big enough is to O-B and do some work myself. Expect this to be our final home.

Would greatly appreciate postings from those in the vicinity providing subs, info on permits, etc... Have already taken notes on lenders from earlier posts, but if any of you know specifically about financing log homes, would love to hear from you.

Is there a website that clearly outlines the steps to build (permits, etc...) in Pierce County?

Any of you building a log cabin?

Need recommendations for septic designers, septic installers, well drillers first. Also need names of engineers and/or designers to review our plans and turn them into blueprints.

Please PM me.

HELP!


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By Gary in Port Orchard, WA on 4/17/2005


My technical lead at work had Timberland build him a log cabin two years ago. They are a modular manufacturer here in Washington, and he was VERY happy with them. You might want to check them out.

Can someone tell me what ICF and Reward are?

My three acres in Olalla is due to be excavated on Tuesday.  We haven't been able to decide what and and exactly where to build on the land to maximize the view.

The excavator will be just be clearing and building a rough driveway 3/4 up the property [about 200 ft]. Once the land is cleared off we should be able to get a much better idea how to maximize our view. 

We have an easement to use our neighbor's well and drainfield. He's obviously resistant to the idea and had a lawyer write up a letter of why the easement isn't valid. Easement was issued by a developer when he owned both his and my lot. The lawyer claims it's not valid because the wife didn't sign it. This was 15 years ago. The easement was listed in my property description provided by the title company.

I plan on getting an estimate for my own septic and then giving him the option of paying for mine instead of using his. Anyone have thoughts on this?

I'm glad people got some use of the lender research I did to put together that list.

Thanks all.

Gary


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By Kari in Colbert, WA on 4/17/2005


Hi Brad - a little after you, I was class of '89. My sister Kathrina was class of '83 though. I loved the rock and I still miss it, but it has changed a lot. The whole Seattle area is huge now--at least to us country folk here in Spokane!


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By Brad in Bellevue, WA on 4/17/2005


You're right, 1989 is a little after my time. But I had brothers graduate in 1983, 1986 and 1988.

Bainbridge has changed a lot. I still go there every couple of months. We looked at building there, but it had the worst building department I have ever seen. Much worse than King County and Bellevue.

If you don't mind me asking, about how much did you pay per sq ft of wall space for the Reward block?

Have you guys installed it already?

Did you do it yourself or did you use a contractor?

Are you doing a multistory house?

Are you doing concrete floors?

Thanks,

Brad


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By Brad in Bellevue, WA on 4/17/2005


ICFs are insulated concrete forms. They are used to build a concrete reinforced home. Essentially, the walls are concrete instead of wood. You can read more about ICFs here: icfweb.com. Reward is a brand of ICFs.
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By Lisa in Issaquah, WA on 4/17/2005


Mark,

The advisor we're using is a friend with construction experience who's going to do periodic site inspections. He's also been very helpful with subcontractor referrals. We've done this before, but our first time out we used a company called Homes Now that's out of business. Their fee was $11,000, and while they weren't perfect, I know we saved money by using them, since I knew almost nothing at the time about building. If you're confident you can specify, budget, schedule, find decent subs, and recognize shoddy work, then there's no reason to hire an advisor. If, however, you think you could use some advice in a few areas then hiring someone on an "as needed" basis wouldn't hurt.

As for Timberland Bank, their voucher system is pretty much just a way of getting each sub to sign a lien waiver -- something that should be done with each sub anyway. Most banks pay a monthly draw after a first of the month inspection -- subcontractors know this.


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By Kari in Colbert, WA on 4/17/2005


We thought about moving back too, but both my husband and I like the sun more than the greenness and like farms and horses more than boats. I am an anomaly in our family as the rest of my family are very tied to the boating and marine climate of Seattle. My brothers were in some of those years you mentioned with your siblings. They were brats back then but they have matured to fine young men now :) Eyvind and Kenny Westby ring a bell?

To answer your Q's:

Our block quote was approximately $13.50 per block for the 11" straight, $16 for corners, the foundation part was for 13" form in the crawl space and that block was about $14 and $16.50 for corners. Not exactly sure what deal my husband worked out, but I think that is a good price compared to our other quotes - I think each block is 16"x48" .. Our total for everything with tax was $11,000.

We are building a 2-story 3,200 sq ft Georgian house with 4-ft crawl space - it is a very tall house - one foot shy of exceeding height code limitations, partly because our roof is 10/12 hipped roof.

We have just finished our crawl space - so far so good. Next week we will do our first floor.

We are completely doing it ourselves with a little labor help from our awesome footings guy and his friend. Part of the discount with Reward was we are kinda out on our own - no local distributor to help. But that has not been a problem for us - we have enjoyed it. Just being really careful and accurate. It is easier that we both thought it would be.

We decided not to do concrete floors because of cost. But it is a great idea. 

If you PM me I will send you our web URL that has our house plans in .pdf on it. It has our site address and phone numbers so I am hesitant just post it - we use it for those "few computer connected subs". I will be putting a construction site up soon with pics for those that might be interested.


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By Kari in Colbert, WA on 4/17/2005


I just wanted to clarify that though we are O-B'ing the whole house, really the ICF, electrical, siding, and paint/interior trim are the only other jobs we are physically doing - the rest we are subbing out. But it has been fun to start the project with our labor - you feel like you are really building your house as opposed to just managing it.
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By Mrs. Builder in N.W., WA on 4/26/2005


We are hoping to build in the next couple of years, still not sure whether King County or Snohomish County. We are planning on a Colonial. We also have looked into the ICFs; my husband was in the concrete trade. I was wondering about the difference between ICFs and stick-frame construction in case of an earthquake in our area, since there is a major fault line?

Kari, I am interested in hearing more about your project since you are building a Colonial as well. 

I am glad to see so many WA O-Bs!


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By Brad in Bellevue, WA on 4/26/2005


There are several discussions on earthquakes and ICF on the Web. I understand your concern, I had the same. Especially since we plan on using concrete floors. Most engineering for ICFs in the northwest is for seismic zone four, but Seattle is seismic zone three. So that actually makes them stronger than stick framing since it is typically seismic zone three. Also, your engineer can always upgrade the amount and size of the rebar if you are concerned.
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By Stacey in Greenacres, WA on 4/26/2005


Hi Mark,

On the subject of advisers, we found two people in our area (Spokane) who were willing to provide advice on an hourly basis. One used to be a super for a home builder and has since moved on to a totally different field (but he had a good reference from a friend of ours) and the other currently works for a builder. He is only going to review completed work for us, and do a few site checks, review bids and contracts for me to make sure I don't leave anything out. He will also look at our plans to make sure everything looks good and will offer suggestions of where we should upgrade, etc.

I feel much more comfortable just knowing I can call him if something doesn't seem right to me, and he can talk me through it or drop by our site to check it out. It will also be great knowing that my contracts are complete and protect me, and that I haven't left anything critical out like having the cabinet guys hang the cabinets (ha, ha).

I estimate I will use him about five hours or less per week which comes out to about $4,000 for an 8-month project. We are paying around $50 per hour. I will use him sparingly.

You might be able to find someone like this in your area if you ask around. We found one of the guys through a friend, and the other lives near us and I just asked if he'd be interested.


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By Mark in Redmond, WA on 4/26/2005


I would definitely encourage Snohomish over King Co. if you have the choice. The building department is easier to work with, less fees, quicker turnaround and less stringent regulations. If you are looking in King County, make sure you understand the new critical areas ordinance (CAO) rules. They changed last year and have made building in rural King Co. stricter than ever.
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By Lisa in Issaquah, WA on 4/26/2005


We're a few weeks from our permit in King County and it's going to cost us over $11,000 for the permit, plus another $11,000 to tap into the water main. Since the back 1/2 acre of our lot slopes, we also have to install silt fencing during construction in case of runoff -- this is to protect the salmon, so it's necessary but still a hassle. If you can choose Snohomish County I'd definitely go for that.
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By Lisa in Issaquah, WA on 4/27/2005


Does anyone have a recommendation for a tree removal service in King County? I'd rather not have them all chipped up if they can be used for something besides firewood.


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By Mrs. Builder in N.W., WA on 4/29/2005


Thanks Brad, and thanks for the link.

Lisa and Mark, thank you. Snohomish sounds like the easier place to build. And property is cheaper too. We are planning to buy this summer/early fall.

Has anyone attended the builder class/workshop offered at the community colleges? I was thinking of doing this. 


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By Gary in Port Orchard, WA on 3/22/2006


Hi Brad,

Can you give suggestions for finding an ICF contractor in the Gig Harbor area? Thank you.
 
Also, is this accurate for our area? I pulled the information from another post. ICF costs: "Basements cost about 8% less to put in, above ground costs about 7% more to put in."

Thank you,

Gary


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By Aaron in Spanaway, WA on 3/28/2006


Check with some of the concrete suppliers in Tacoma. My brother went to a home show in Puyallup about a month or so ago and there was an ICF distributor/builder there, I think it was Miles Sand and Gravel. I believe Astrof Concrete in Snohomish, formrentals.com does ICF. Also, try this link: icfweb.com for more ICF info. Good luck!


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By Mark in Seattle, WA on 4/19/2006


My first Washington post. Bought The Owner-Builder Book several years ago, but this is my first few days here. I generally hang out at ICFweb. I just submitted for my Mason County permit on Monday. The house is ICF, though I plan on DIY for that phase of construction. Griffen Enterprises in Anacortes is a PolySteel ICF distributor and should be able to help you locate a contractor. No affiliation, I'm not even using their product, but they've been very helpful to me and I plan on purchasing Form-A-Drain from them.

Mark


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By David in Port Orchard, WA on 5/25/2009


Gary:

Are you still in Port Orchard? We're about 25% into building a home north of Retsil off of Beach Drive. Just checking with you to see if you have a good list and bad list of subs and material suppliers you'd be willing to pass along. Thanks.

Dave


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By Xavier on 12/27/2013


Have you guys used http://www.randlessandandgravel.net before? I am thinking of hiring them, but wanted to get some outside opinions. Thanks!
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