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Current Top-Rated Posters

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Lance in Buena Vista, CO0.002

Over the last several months I have tried to learn as much as I can about being an owner-builder from the various posts and replies of others. I have found some very detailed and helpful posts.
Marty in Boston, MA

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

Previous Owner-Builder

1.  How many finished levels in your most recent owner-built house?
2.  What finished square footage did you build?
    Less than 1,000 square feet
     
    3.13% (7/224)
    1,000 - 1,500 S.F.
     
    5.36% (12/224)
    1,500 - 2,000 S.F.
     
    13.84% (31/224)
    2,000 - 3,000 S.F.
     
    33.04% (74/224)
    3, 000 - 4,000 S.F.
     
    23.21% (52/224)
    4,000 - 5,000 S.F.
     
    8.93% (20/224)
    5,000 - 6,000 S.F.
     
    6.70% (15/224)
    More than 6,000 S.F.
     
    5.36% (12/224)
    Average: 3,108
    Click to expand...

3.  What type of construction?
4.  House style?
5.  Do you want to say anything more about your house style or construction?

    James said: Palm Beach style split plan with 12- and 10-ft. ceilings throughout.
    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: We built a circular house with a slanted flat roof. The house is cantilevered over a smaller circular concrete foundation. The house was, and is, a success.

    Susan said: Cedar siding. Cedar porches.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Do it right or not at all... (find out how to do it right, first!)
    James R. (Bucky) in Beaumont, TX said: Raised floor construction due to floodplain elevation. About 13' 7" above sea level.
    Jo-Lynn in Issaquah, WA said: We built a modified prow-front (all glass) two-story with a full basement.
    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: Craftsman style.
    David in Los Osos, CA said: HardiePlank with boxed-in eaves.
    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Modern Ranch style.
    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: Raised Bungalow design.
    Brooke in Burley, ID said: Split-level.
    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: Complex structure... required professional structural engineering to size beams/trusses... county required a second pass at the design for another $3,000. If you can find something in a plans book you like, it would save $$$.

    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: We picked an Arts and Crafts style exterior, with cedar-look shakes in the gables.
    Oleg in San Diego, CA said: ICF.
    Gabriela in Readington Twp, NJ said: Stone and stucco bring old-world charm. Large deck on rear allows entertaining.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: The house is coming along slowly. The shift in the economy really slowed down progress.

    Dorothy A. in Wimberley, TX said: Our house is the result of well over ten years of dreaming, researching, and scribbling. Our architect drew the plans from computer sketches I did. We added a bit, but the basic style is all ours.
    We bought the first lot in 2000 and were able to but the lot next to it in around 2005. We have ten acres of gently sloping hillside with woods and meadows.
    My husband is still working 200 miles away, so the main general contracting was my job. We used the Internet heavily for researching and some purchases such as toilets and light fixtures and water heater.
    Being rural with only power, telephone, and cable, means a well, or, for us a well and a rainwater harvesting system. We chose geothermal heating and cooling with a bonus of some free hot water.
    The exterior is stone with some HardiePlank. We have a metal roof with a metallic copper paint surface, and found gutters that are a very good match. The copper color goes with the stone we chose and blends with the natural stone on site the we are using in landscaping.
    Dealing with contractors worked fairly well, but I fired one plumber early on and a painter during the finish work. I also changed electricians between having the first meter set for the well and the actual house construction.
    We used wet-blown cellulose insulation that also gives some soundproofing properties. The house is very quiet overall, and all the bedrooms are surrounded by insulated walls--not just the exterior walls.
    My husband installed the low-voltage wiring system that gives us great flexibility in placing televisions, telephones, and computers.
    Our house was designed and built with growing older in mind. All but some small closet doors are three-foot doors. The master bath shower is a floor-level shower. We have only two hallway-like areas, both across the front of the house. One runs from my studio and the kitchen to the laundry room at the other end of the house--40 to 50 feet long. It is five feet wide and is a gallery for displaying art work. The other hallway-like area includes an entry leading into the fourth bedroom that is on the opposite end of the house than the other three bedrooms and into the kitchen. It is four feet wide. If a wheelchair becomes necessary, it can go into every room, including the bathrooms.
    This is truly a dream house and could be counted as a personal work of art. The landscaping is also my design and is a work in progress. Although I did a lot during the building, much remains to be completed. Workers are installing one of the flagstone walkways of the same stone we used to floor the porches, breezeway, and patio.
    But I bought more plants yesterday. Spring is around the corner.
    Dorothy

    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: I love my home. I have lived in it since 1985. We renovated in 1995 to add a second level. The neighborhood is ,or was partially developed, with horse farms located on the street and in the neighborhood. We do not live in a subdivision that is named. Most of the homes have been built in the last ten years, when the owner of the rest of the properties sold the land. Since the year 2000, I have seen the neighborhood developed into an entire subdivision, which does not have any type of community league, or organized set of guidelines you must adhere to. All new homes built have to exist on at least 1/2 acre. All are very nice homes, but not all are nice neighbors.
    My home is situated on a cove with .52 acres. There has been some question as to this acreage, because the original owners deeded part of one lot into two parcels. On initial plat, we are suppose to have .72 acres.
    We renovated in 1995. Since this time, one house has been built directly across the street on a parcel of land that extends to the Lynnhaven river in 2000. Permits are required to build anything due to wetland and environmental laws. Well, this new house was built and was level to everything surrounding, as the lot sloped to the river. Between 2003-2004, the owners built another driveway that was filled to elevate the level above the street. I did not even recognize that this had occurred until I had to pull out pictures to take to the city planning board in 2009. Consequently, all water from this drain-off has saturated my yard, and is penetrating under the foundation into the backyard. The effects were not even noticed until 2004-2005 when I began to get big crevices in my backyard, threatening the foundation of the house, and forcing the dock to detach from land. As a result, I have lost my boat dock and davit. I got a permit to rip rap the bank, not knowing at the time that the upward construction of neighbors' driveway may have been responsible. The planning board declared it a civil issue despite the fact that the other landowner raised the level of his driveway, and is now placed railroad ties in the back of his home to prevent any erosion. This definitely requires a permit. I informed the planning department, but it is being ignored. I feel there must be some personal ties between the city and the property owner for the city inspector and planning department to totally ignore this. I just had to go to the wetlands board because of a paver patio installed, without any land disturbance.
    Well, I am still working. I have to get a civil engineer to evaluate the situation, because although I repaired with rip rap, under the foundation continues to bleed into the back. Consequently, I cannot grow grass, and sand is flowing in the same pattern that my soil did when my dock was wiped out.
    I don't know what is next, but something just isn't right with this situation.

    Jere in Ray Twp., MI said: 2,150-sq. ft. two-story, four bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths w/ bath prepped in basement for future bath, three-car garage w/ finished bonus room, 9' deep daylight Superior Walls basement, Nu-Wool cellulose insulation, hardwood casement windows w/ alum. clad.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: I picked the plans I built from because the house is striking; it stands out and is very different from most new homes being built today, at least from outward appearances.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: No steel beams. We used engineered lumber so that we did not need a crane. It took about six people including myself to lift the 38-foot-long LVLs into place in the garage ceiling. But well worth the savings for a crane rental. Steel beam and LVLs specked out at about the same price. Engineered I-joists for floor joists and AdvanTech flooring were all really good materials to work with. The advantages of I-joists are well known, but one that I did not know was how much easier it is to put drywall screws into them. The first-floor ceiling of course is the bottom of the second-story floor. I-joists have about twice as wide a face than say 2x12 dimensional lumber.
    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: We're guided in large part because of the layout of the land. There's not much "flat" on this property, so where the house site is we have to work with what we've got. The hill behind the house and the relative narrowness of the lot drives us towards a more "leggy" house than normal that hugs the curve of the hill. This increases overall heat loss, and drives us towards some unconventional approaches (such as geothermal) rather than traditional "forced air" style furnaces.

    Larry in Marshalltown, IA said: Townhouse with walk-out.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: House design was two-story Colonial house reminiscent of Abraham Lincoln's Springfield, Illinois home.
    Bret in Rhome, TX said: Ranch 3/2 open concept.
    Aaron in Bonsall, CA said: We chose to build an East Coast Victorian style home in southern California which created issues in finding people with the skills to help.
    Dave in Boerne, TX said: This project involved the joining of new to old, being that an existing home built in circa 1860 was refurbished and additional square footage was added on.
    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Texas Hill Country Ranch house, 2x6, standing seam roof.

    Mike & Carolyn in Smithville, MO said: We started with our guesthouse, an 850-sq. ft. space above our detached three-car garage. Went with traditional wood framing because it is what we knew and popular in the area. We used the smaller project of the guesthouse as a starter or learning project before we started the larger main house. We learned a lot this way and when we made mistakes the impact was less (like learning to not buy sheet goods from the lumberyards... You can get them for less are the local hardware depot). We will live on site in the guesthouse while we build the main house. To make the space feel larger, we vaulted the entire ceiling and added a loft for the kids to play in. It cost more to build small, but we're glad we did it. The second living space adds value to our estate and is a great place for guests or elderly parents.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: I built and financed the construction through American Home Partners. They were good to work with and the upgrades we were able to do make it a very enjoyable home to have built and live in. It is the first house I have built using blueprints from a standardized profile like they have.

    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Tuscan.
    John in Durham, NC said: Changed a barn into a three-story house.
    Shannon in Shelbyville, TX said: Ranch.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: I build spec houses for resale. I try to get the most square footage because that is what is most important to the appraiser when you get ready to sell your house. I build four-bedroom houses that have family rooms and formal living rooms with dining rooms and breakfast rooms. I put in a wet bar and three- and four-car garages. When I do a four-car garage I use a 6/12 pitch roof so that I can have a bonus room in the area above the garage that I can finish later into separate bedrooms or guest quarters. I build wide houses (80 to 90 ft.) that fit on larger lots because people who build custom houses usually get a larger lot than they would get with a tract home. I use a lot of double French doors off every room in the back with a huge patio that runs the full length of the back of the house. I also use a see-through zero clearance fireplace that I can use in two rooms and I like a separate fireplace in the master bedroom. Always a separate shower and Jacuzzi tub in the master bath.

    Bo in Palo Alto, CA said: Craftsman home with basement in Palo Alto.
    Brian in Dexter, MI said: ICF to the roof.
    Evan in Middleville, MI said: Ranch.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: Rambler with a daylight basement. Large kitchen with solid oak cabinets and many custom touches throughout. Was a step up from a starter/builder spec. home.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: Two-story octagonal kit home.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Craftsman/Arts and Crafts: Construction: ICF basement walls, 2x6 upper two levels with cellulose insulation.

    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: This house is on a beach lot carved out of jungle on a remote island in Fiji. All materials were brought in by boat--there are no roads, no phones, no electricity or other utilities except what we have built in. Eleven workers camped out for 7 months cooking food over wood fires. Propane fridge on a pallet provided storage for food that was shipped over weekly on inter-island ferry. No power equipment other than saws and an electric drill were used. 2.6 KW Genset provided power for tile saw, skill saw, electric drill, chop saw, reciprocating saw, saber saw.
    This project required hand digging 54 holes dug 5' deep x 4' square for sinking poles to support the home. It also required hand digging over 70' of 4' deep foundation footing and 12' high concrete walls; hand bent and hacksawed rebar for the wall. The house has about 1,100 sq ft inside with veranda on four sides to provide over 3,000 sq ft under the roof. 30' high interior from floor to roof with exposed beams in main room. 8' exterior doors and all cabinetry were custom made and brought over on the ferry, offloaded into a 23' skiff and then hand carried over the beach for installation. hardwood floors, two bedrooms, two tiled bathrooms with large tiled showers, hardwood cabinetry, solar hot water and electricity, two ceiling fans in great room and one in each bedroom, screened handmade wooden louvers extend from 10" above floor level to 7' high on great room and bedroom exterior walls provide plenty of ventilation.
    Fresh water from artesian spring 1,300 meters away up the hillside gravity feeds into 1,900 gallons of storage. Inflow is controlled by modified toilet tank valve. Outflow pressure system is an auto on/off pump system powered by (220v 50Hz) inverter and battery bank that is charged by solar panels on roof. No grid is available, so we have backup 5.5KW Genset. Sewerage is an underground Australian recycling system that cleans all water to reuse it on gardens.

    John in Port Republic, MD said: Round, 15-sided home using panelized construction.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: I would encourage everyone to get an architect. The architect was able to figure out what I wanted better than I could adequately explain. You can get ideas from plan books and the Internet (among other sources) but the architect can put it together in a coherent format for you.
    It is the difference between buying a suit off-the-shelf, and buying a custom suit. When you go to donate it to charity, they are both just suits to the next person. However, while you are wearing it, the custom suit is so much nicer. Get a house that fits your lifestyle, yet is still marketable when you have to sell it. After living in my house, using it every day, for a bit over a year, all I can say is the architect was definitely worth it.
    Please note that the architect wasn't as expensive as some designers, yet he was also more expensive than others. I didn't use my architect for anything other than plans and structural details. No contract documents, no progress inspections, nothing--so in the end it wasn't much of a luxury price dealt between a custom set of plans and simply a stock set of plans.

    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: We built a big rectangle-shaped two-story stucco. Sort of a Med/Spanish style.
    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Originally framed as a garage which I converted to a 1 bedroom house. 24x24 lower level and 12x24 upper level with a barn style roof.
    Brian in South Burlington, VT said:
    3,100-sq. ft. Georgian Colonial.
    Five-car garage.

    Richard in Cnetereach, NY said: Started as a 6-room Cape. It is now a 9-room colonial.
    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Geodesic dome structure made of precast reinforced concrete and EPS insulation panels.
    Patrick in Cottage Grove, MN said: Craftsman two-story on wooded lot.
    Brian in Manvel, TX said: ICF since we live close to the coast. Hurricane-proof up to 200 mph!
    John in Bonne Terre, MO said: Our home is 1,800-sq. ft. ranch with a walk out. The home has 10 outside corners and 6 inside corners. The home is brick veneer and brick was continued down the walk out. I also built a suspended concrete deck that is 14' x 20' and that is also in brick attached to 8' foundation walls. One gable end of seven is brick with the rest in stained cedar siding. I designed the home and did the blueprints myself. We started on the home Jan 3rd and moved in Dec 4th of the same year. Foundation walls, brickwork, HVAC, roofing, taping, mudding and painting was subbed out all other work was performed by myself and a few friends. I did do the stone work on the downstairs fireplace and loved the experience. Build a home and find out who your friends are.

    Karl in Reno, NV said: Entry-level home for eventual rental.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Stuck with straight, simple wall lines for lower cost.
    Bob in Deltona, FL said: Custom blend of materials, as required in Florida.
    Matthew in Saratoga Springs, NY said: Custom Plans.
    Don in Mayfield Village, OH said: Cape Cod.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Two-story cylindrical Post and Beam and concrete block structural, earth sheltered on the north, with Cordwood masonry infilling on the exposed part. Extremely energy-efficient.
    Max in OKC, OK said: We came out on budget!
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: 2x6 exterior walls, 9-ft. ceilings, except in the basement.
    Phillip in Fayetteville, GA said: French Country design by Robert Fillmore.
    Brenda in Eustis, FL said: Walk-out basement.

    Chris in Schertz, TX said: Just got back from the San Diego, California area and in most new neighborhoods, houses were the same style, white stucco, tile roof (mostly orange/red), Southwest style with pitched roofs. Sometimes the facade needs to reflect and respect what is being built in the area. Mansionization sometimes creates a huge house on a tiny lot that dwarfs the neighboring houses. I wanted a house built of logs, but that style did not fit the neighboring houses. We chose a traditional Colonial style because we liked it, and it fit. the more traditional two-story houses in our neighborhood.

    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: We are thrilled with the results. It's too bad materials have gone up so much.
    Tom in Stroudsburg, PA said: L-shaped ranch, 6" concrete floors over full basement.
    Kari in Colbert, WA said: Three-story Colonial ICF.
    Mary in Yuma, AZ said: Santa Fe style.
    Robert in Reno, NV said: Stucco exterior with a metal roof, no or low maintenance. Radiant floor heating, possible solar application, if budget permits.
    Doug in San Francisco, CA said: Spanish/Mediterranean.
    Richard in Sequim, WA said: Construction: a combination of Post and Beam, and concrete block. Earth sheltered on the north side. Style: cylindrical.
    Lisa in Issaquah, WA said: Besides the house, we had a detached three-car garage with 900-sq. ft. of unfinished apartment above.

6.  What was your overall as-built construction budget, not including land?
    $100,000 - $200,000
     
    36.05% (84/233)
    $200,000 - $250,000
     
    17.60% (41/233)
    $250,000 - $300,000
     
    11.59% (27/233)
    $300,000 - $350,000
     
    9.87% (23/233)
    $350,000 - $400,000
     
    6.44% (15/233)
    $400,000 - $450,000
     
    7.73% (18/233)
    $450,000 - $500,000
     
    1.29% (3/233)
    $500,000 - $550,000
     
    2.58% (6/233)
    $550,000 - $600,000
     
    2.58% (6/233)
    More than $600,000
     
    4.29% (10/233)
    Average: $281,223
    Click to expand...

7.  How much did you spend in U.S. dollars per finished square foot?
    <$50/sf
     
    15.52% (27/174)
    $50-$70/sf
     
    19.54% (34/174)
    $70-$90/sf
     
    17.82% (31/174)
    $90-$110/sf
     
    23.56% (41/174)
    $110-$130/sf
     
    9.20% (16/174)
    $130-$150/sf
     
    5.75% (10/174)
    $150-$170/sf
     
    4.02% (7/174)
    $170-$190/sf
     
    2.30% (4/174)
    $190-$210/sf
     
    0.57% (1/174)
    >$210/sf
     
    1.72% (3/174)
    Average: $91
    Click to expand...

8.  What was either appraised value or street value on completion?
    <$200,000
     
    11.04% (18/163)
    $200,000-$250,000
     
    7.98% (13/163)
    $250,000-$300,000
     
    9.82% (16/163)
    $300,000-$350,000
     
    11.66% (19/163)
    $350,000-$400,000
     
    7.36% (12/163)
    $400,000-$450,000
     
    6.75% (11/163)
    $450,000-$500,000
     
    7.36% (12/163)
    $500,000-$600,000
     
    11.04% (18/163)
    $600,000-$700,000
     
    4.91% (8/163)
    >$700,000
     
    22.09% (36/163)
    Average: $484,816
    Click to expand...

9.  How much did you save altogether vs. appraised or street value?
10.  How many hours did you spend as a couple, counting planning and construction?
11.  Were you working when you owner-built?
12.  Who took primary responsibility in your family for the work?
13.  What trades did you do yourself?

    barry said: Electrical.  
    James said: Designed and developed building plans using CAD tool (hired out truss design, electrical, HVAC and plumbing. Also installed low-voltage wiring, small framing corrections, appliance install hookup, site cleanup.

    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: Framing, roofing, painting, flooring, electrical, some plumbing, cabinetry; all except rough plumbing and foundation. Drywall incl. finish, doors windows, decks. Anything else not listed here we did we only paid for foundation plumbing and some electrical.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: We did it all, including planning, formal plans, form-work, pouring concrete, trenching for underground pipes and wires, building framing, insulating, electrical wiring, plumbing, drywall and taping, painting, all cabinetry, windows, roof, doors, varnishing, floor laying, vinyl, interior trim, lighting, closets, central vacuum system, heating and air conditioning, ducting, etc.
    We did hire an excavator to dig the initial foundation hole, the septic tank hole, and we bought a prefab septic tank which the maker delivered and placed.

    Susan said: Sheetrock, tape float, tile baths, tile floors, laminate flooring, interior paint.
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: Finish carpentry, painting, decks, hardwood flooring, kitchen complete except granite, fences, landscaping.
    Jody in Mount Airy, NC said: Slab prep, waterproofing, some grading, pour footings, framing, plumbing, electrical.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Carpentry, paint, plumbing, electrical.
    Jo-Lynn in Issaquah, WA said: Assemble/hang cabinets, finish carpentry, hardwood floor, tile work, some plumbing, some electrical, landscape.
    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: Some plumbing, painting, cleaning, some carpentry.

    David in Los Osos, CA said: Everything except sheetrock.
    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Framing, some plumbing, some electrical, complete building envelope (windows, doors, exterior, roof, etc.), trim, cabinets, whatever we could do without running out of time.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Architect, interior designer, general contractor, plumbing, electrical, tiling, hardwood flooring, painting, trim, decking, landscaping.

    Jim in Williamston, NC said: Concrete carpentry, plumbing, HVAC, cabinetry, drywall, painting, siding, roofing, electrical, flooring.

    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: None, except dampproofing the basement, weeper, laying underlayment, site cleanup, and supervision.
    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: Clearing land (trees and brush). laying in radiant heat tubing (in-floor). some ICF stacking and rebar tying work (mostly on weekends). all electrical inside house. all plumbing and vent stacks inside house. building the masonry heater (not the chimney stack, though).

    Brooke in Burley, ID said: Framing, finish work, tile, rock work, installed windows and doors, preparation and painting.
    Kerry in Northvale, NJ said: Painting, tiling, doors, molding.
    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: So far... (not complete) demolition, electrical, and plumbing. Moved water utilities service. Trenched and installed underground electrical service. saved $$.
    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Structured wiring, finish carpentry, tile, wood floors, exterior and interior painting and staining.
    Gabriela in Readington Twp, NJ said: Floor installations, finish carpentry.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: Some carpentry.
    Ed in Rochester, NY said: Cleaning and minor carpentry.
    Dorothy A. in Wimberley, TX said: Other than the planning, my contribution was the general contracting, and, of course, the owner's chores like choosing colors--what a nightmare!
    My husband installed the low-voltage wiring system.

    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: I did not study a trade, but my father is a contractor in MD. I learned to do many self repairs, but was constantly at the site to make sure plans were being followed as specified by the architect, who also dropped by daily.
    Jere in Ray Twp., MI said: I did my own electrical, painting, installed cabinets, custom made the kitchen countertops, sprinkler system.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: Plumbing, electrical, painting, trim and tile.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Excavation, swimming pool, geothermal radiant heat, plumbing, insulation, drywall, stained floors, drywall, paint, cabinets, counters, trim, stonework and landscaping.
    Mike in Marion, OH said:
    1. Stone veneer on foundation.
    2. Roofing.
    3. Siding.
    4. Rough-in of electrical and finish electrical.
    5. Hardwood flooring.
    6. Slate flooring.
    7. Drywall hanging and finishing.
    8. Painting.
    9. Cabinetry.
    10. Finish trim.
    11. Front porch decking and cedar trim work.
    12. Exterior stone veneer fireplace chase.
    13. Interior fireplace stone veneer and mantel
    14. Finish grading.

    Larry in Marshalltown, IA said: Painting and finishing.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: Electrical, tile, painting, and landscaping.

    Bret in Rhome, TX said: All but slab, shingles, plumbing, and final HVAC connection.
    Matt in Highland, IL said: Electrical, hardwood flooring, cleanup/misc. general contracting jobs

    Aaron in Bonsall, CA said: Underground plumbing, siding, flooring, finish carpentry, finish electrical, finish plumbing
    Bill in Largo, FL said: Everything but the slab.
    Gregory in New Braunfels, TX said:
    1. Low-voltage wiring (Phone, Coax cables, Data-LAN)
    2. Some of the insulation (ran out of time, hired sub to complete)
    3. Some of the landscaping.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Flooring, trim, paint.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Framing, siding, painting, finish trim work and hanging doors.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Sitework: 700LF Driveway, 900LF 18" HDPE Stormwater pipe, clearing, roof framing, welding, install all doors, windows, trim, painting, staining, flooring
    Chuck in Lubbock, TX said: Phone lines, Cat-5 network, cabling for TV, some painting, 550' of 7-ft. cedar fence.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Cleanup and delivery of some materials. No actual trades.
    Dirk in Barberton, OH said: Insulation.
    Brian in Dexter, MI said: Interior finish carpentry, some electrical, some HVAC, radiant heating, design.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: Other than coordinating everything, we backfilled after the footings were poured with a skidsteer, placed tile in the kitchen and bathrooms, cleanup, and had family members who laid brick at very little labor cost.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Landscaping, finish work in basement (trim, tile, painting), numerous odd jobs (mason, electric, plumbing)
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: Plumbing and cabinet installation.
    Jennifer in Morris, IL said: House vacuum system, pre-wire surround sound, tile, painting
    John in Port Republic, MD said: Beside the contracting aspect of it, we built/raised the shell of the house, some of the interior framing, tiedowns, ran all the low-voltage wiring, audio, and video, built both decks and stairs, interior wall insulation, subflooring, installed vanities, countertops, trim and painting.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: Framing, finish electrical, finish plumbing, tilework, paint, finish flooring, trim, siding, roof.
    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: Not any.
    Bob in New Florence, PA said: Clearing ground, helped run wire, cable, phone line, painting doors, painting areas around outside, painting interior, tile, hardwood, building stairs, some minor framing.
    Ellen in Orlando, FL said: Shelves, bookcase, hanging towel bars.
    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Some framing, exterior painting, all interior finish work: electric, plumbing, trim, vinyl flooring.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: Tiling, hardwood floors, insulation, potable water, radiant heat, paint, cabinets
    Richard in Cnetereach, NY said: Computer Service.
    Evan in Middleville, MI said: Almost all of it.
    Patrick in Cottage Grove, MN said: Painting, trim, cabinet install, flooring, landscaping, networking/misc., lot clearing.
    Brian in Manvel, TX said: Electrical, plumbing, painting, trim-out, cabinet install, landscape, driveway, some tile.
    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: Insulation, we installed batts of pink and blew into the attic ourselves. The place we bought the blow-in insulation let us use their machine for free. My husband went into the attic to direct the hose and I fed in the sacks of insulation in the machine in the garage. We also installed the vapour barrier and taped all joints and nail holes. We wanted to be very sure that all holes were taped with that red tape and that the insulation was installed as well as possible.
    Painted the whole interior. Used vinyl siding so no paint was needed on the outside.
    Waterproofed the cement basement walls.
    Installed drainage tiles and many, many wheelbarrows of river rock for drainage around foundation.
    I drew the house on graph paper and the store where we purchased the supplies took that drawing and drew the blueprints.
    Made lawn from seed.
    Unfortunately, I did not find your book in time for that house, but we have it for the next one. It is a great book, full of useful information. Lots of it seems like common sense after you read it but I did not have the common sense to think of it before I read it.

    John in Bonne Terre, MO said: Lot layout and shooting grades, waterproofing foundation and drain tile. framing, plumbing, electric, hanging the Sheetrock, interior trim, exterior siding in gables, all sub-grade preparation and flatwork.
    Kathleen in TX said: ICF stack, electrical, painting, landscaping, trim carpentry.
    Lori in Reno, NV said: We did all but foundation, plumbing, electrical, laying shingles.
    Karl in Reno, NV said: Framing, plumbing, electrical, sheetrock, flooring, finish trim, painting.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Design, permits, electric, carpentry, concrete, landscaping, roofing.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Paint trim; that's it!
    Michael in Cave Creek, AZ said: Underground utilities, plumbing, electrical, framing, tile, hardwood floor, paint, landscape, swimming pool (plumbing, wiring and decking).
    Bob in Deltona, FL said: Waterproof, cleanup, landscape, driveway, superintendent.
    Don in Mayfield Village, OH said: Electric, finish carpentry, some framing, painting, design.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: All except cement finish; includes surveying the building site, all materials logistics, all construction, plumbing, and wiring (from power company transformer onward), all interior, plumbing, and finishing, including the "scratch" building of all kitchen cabinets.
    Max in OKC, OK said: Helped with painting, finishing woodwork--interior and exterior, insulation
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: Tile, painting, misc. finish work.
    Phillip in Fayetteville, GA said: Structured wiring.
    Brenda in Eustis, FL said: Central vac.

    John in Erie, CO said: ICF foundation main level, radiant heat, paint/stain, low-voltage wiring, some excavation and exterior grading work. House staking. All wood flooring, tile work, tile/tub surrounds. Faux finishes.

    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Finish carpentry, roof sheathing, Hardie siding, install fixtures, ceramic tile, laminate floor, all painting and priming.
    Kari in Colbert, WA said: All ICF/ concrete, electrical, painting (in and out), siding, some general carpentry and misc., interior trim, all hardwood flooring (1,400-sq. ft. wood, tile) all tile work, Doors and window install, fireplace install and framing, waterproofing excavation and drain tile, rough-in for water well pump, ditch digging, etc.
    Richard in Sequim, WA said: All except concrete finish work.

14.  How much did you save on the trades you did yourself?
15.  How long did your self-work trades take?
16.  How many bids did you get for each subcontracted trade, on average?
17.  Did you get bids from generals?
18.  Have you had it appraised?
19.  Was yours a starter, step-up, custom, or dream home?
20.  What's the difference in your mind between a starter, step-up, custom, or dream home?

    barry said: Starter is whatever you need to live comfortably.
    Step up is anything else.
    Custom is whenever you let yourself do what you desire, not need.
    Dream Home is what people build when money is no object.

    James said:
    Starter is basic 1-2 bedroom with 1-2 baths, 1,500 sq. ft. or less, no upgrades.
    Set-up is basic 3-4 bedroom with 2-3 baths 1,500-2,500 sq. ft., garage, minimal upgrades.
    Custom is four or more bedroom with three or more baths 2,500 - 3,500 sq. ft., nominal upgrades, some options, 3-car garage.
    Dream home is five or more bedrooms with five or more baths, greater than 3,500 sq. ft. and many upgrades and options. four- or more car garage.

    Gail in Glencoe , CA said:
    Starter is your basic young couple place--might need work.
    Step-up is just that: a step-up from starter.
    Custom is perhaps contractor spec. built with your personal touches or all your ideas.
    Dream home is that place that fulfills the dream, the look, the lot, the whole package.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said:
    A starter home is a box, or slight variation on a box, such as I helped build for a Habitat for Humanity family.
    A step-up has additional space per room, built-in garage, and some amenities, such as dishwasher and garbage disposal unit.
    A custom home has all framing and floor plans created individually for one specific client or couple.
    A dream house matches exactly the imagined perfect house of the builder or buyer. It may be idiosyncratic in nature, have cabinet heights tailored to the dweller's preference, employ full-extension drawers, have built in cabinets, and usually comes with an elevated cost tag.

    Susan said: It was my retirement home. I designed it for myself, visiting children.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Dream homes have every imaginable amenity.
    Jo-Lynn in Issaquah, WA said:
    A starter is a first-ever home.
    A step-up home is a bigger, better-appointed home than the one you're presently living in.
    A custom is a house that is built to your specs.
    Your dream home is built with everything you ever wanted or can imagine wanting.

    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: A custom home is your first build, a dream home is your second.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said:
    Starter - Small, and if possible buy as you go.
    Step-up - Better, nicer and bigger than the starter.
    Custom - Designed for you, with your needs and wants. Could be any of the stages of homes.
    Dream - Exactly what you want, with all the room and options you can dream of.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said:
    Starter = Small tract house, simple finishes.
    Step-up = A little larger house, nicer finishes.
    Custom = Nice house, large or small, well thought out with no wasted space, high end finishes.
    Dream home = Lottery: no budget, the best of everything, all your wishes answered.

    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said:
    Starter, small and cheap, decisions are made by answering the question "How much can I afford?"
    Step-up is a second home, and if you are building it yourself it is also a custom home.
    All homes you build are custom, as you are building it to suit your needs and budget. Custom as opposed to tract built homes by production builders.
    Dream home is something not everyone can achieve that has exceptional and usually expensive elements, although dreams are a relative thing.

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said:
    A starter is usually a small house, just barely big enough to say, "I own a house!"
    A step-up is something bigger. The owner usually has in mind that this is an intermediate house, perhaps purchased to accommodate kids.
    Lines blur between custom homes and dream homes. They're often the same, but a dream home will have more "flair" and extras than a custom (generally speaking).

    Brooke in Burley, ID said:
    Starter - Cheaper to get into it, first house.
    Step-up - A little nicer, the house you raise your family in.
    Custom - Anything that you build or have built that is not exactly like someone else's - including starter and step-up homes.
    Dream home - Hopefully your starter and step-up homes are all dream homes depending on what your dream is in your stage of life.

    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said:
    Starter: Something you can afford that is "yours". Primary objective, affordability.
    Step-up: Something larger than the starter, but still affordable.
    Custom: Something you "personalized" that required your personal input for a physical design element. (Paint and carpet choices don't count in my mind... must involve moving a wall or sizing a window; some structural element)
    Dream home: "Anything goes"... dangerous as costs can get out of control ;).

    Jeff in Hartland, WI said:
    A starter home is a relatively simple, low-cost home built mainly for affordability.
    A step-up home is one designed and built to be sold, with market-driven features...similar to a builder's model home.
    A custom home is designed and built to meet the needs and taste of the builder, with less regard for marketability.
    I guess a dream home is a custom home that the builder doesn't plan to move out of.

    Mike in Upstate, NY said: The custom to me is a place with some unique features. Dream home is where you will retire.
    Ed in Rochester, NY said:
    Starter: Simple box with economy finishes.
    Step-up: Box with some arch features, upgrade in finishes.
    Custom: Non-box construction, detailed features, energy efficient.
    Dream: Non-box, tons of features, all upgrades, non-standard M.E.P. equipment.

    Dorothy A. in Wimberley, TX said: A dream home is one that fulfills as many as possible of you wants as well as your needs. This requires time and money that may not be available with a starter. I see a step-up as not terribly desirable--to me. We have not built our own before, even with a contractor. We have purchased older homes.

    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said:
    Starter is ground-up construction from the very beginning.
    Step-up is bringing things up to a level comparable to what presently seems to be going on in the home market, or adding additional things attractive to potential buyers in the future.
    Custom means that I got an architect and specified the design that I desired.
    Dream home is the home I would love to have with all amenities starting from the ground level.

    Jere in Ray Twp., MI said:
    - Starter home is generally smaller, doesn't have high-end kitchens, baths, use vinyl windows to cut costs.
    - Step-up would be upgrading from the previous home.
    - Custom home would be building the home the way you want it.
    - Dream home would be taking the custom home a couple steps higher and going all out with everything.

    Jack in Trumann, AR said:
    A starter is the first O-B home in a planned succession of O-B homes with the starter being smaller and less expensive than the ultimate goal of a dream home that is paid for in full at final completion.
    A step-up is one of the successive homes on the way to a dream home.
    A custom home is a non-cookie cutter style home. Such a home will usually have a stick built roof as opposed to roof trusses and likely contain upscale features that the average home does not, such as granite countertops or marble floor tiles for example. Custom homes are generally built to order, not necessarily as just another house in a sub-division by a developer.
    A dream home is a custom home but more than that, it is the home that the owner has wished for their whole life. The owner probably expects to spend the rest of their life in the home, at least in the beginning; because dreams can change of course or be changed by circumstances.

    Faye in Marseilles, IL said:
    Starter is first home.
    Step-up is when you can afford slightly bigger than starter.
    Custom is very nice home.
    Dream home is what you could have if $ is not an issue.

    Mike in Marion, OH said:
    Starter home you plan on selling in a few years. It is smaller or has less upgrades than a custom or dream home.
    Step-up home is a home you are going from a starter into. But you still plan on selling in a relatively short time. It may have more upgrades than a starter.
    Custom home has many upgrades and unusual features. Owner is getting almost everything they want in a home. Resale is not at the forethought. Easier to resell than a Dream home.
    Dream home: You are getting everything you want within a pretty large budget. Everything is built per your plans and ideas. May not be a good thing for resale. Usually, a home you plan on paying off and living in for a very long time.

    Larry in Marshalltown, IA said: Cost and finished quality.
    Bret in Rhome, TX said: Semi custom is step-up.
    Aaron in Bonsall, CA said:
    Starter would be a modest home.
    Step-up is built with common upgrades in mind with great regard for resale.
    Custom is higher-end upgrades, some wish list items, with a regard for resale.
    Dream home is all wish list items with no regard for resale value.

    Gregory in New Braunfels, TX said: Our "custom" home has significant additional features not generally found in "starter, step-up, or production" home.
    1. Large pantry
    2. Extra large Master closet (dresser and Armoire fit in closet).
    3. 12'x16' Christmas closet (air-conditioned space).
    3. 10-ft. ceilings on 1st floor; 9-ft. ceilings on second floor.
    4. 5-6 strategically placed 3-ft.-wide doors for easy access for furniture and appliances.
    5. Deep porches with minimal direct sun exposure on most windows; over 1,300 sq. ft. of covered porch area, with 10-ft. ceilings and ceiling fans.
    6. Texas limestone veneer and standing seam metal roof.
    7. Propane tankless hot water heater.
    8. Large master bath room w/split-level sinks.
    9. Large pro-grade propane range (cooktop and oven).
    10. Large 7'x12' laundry room.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Whatever you want it to be.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said:
    A starter is economically and size tight to make later upgrades possible.
    A step-up would be a house you can live in for the long-term, or sell and move up to a more specifically customized home.
    Not much difference between custom and dream home. A custom would be a home for someone else and a dream home we would custom build to live in ourselves.

    Pat in Round Rock, TX said:
    Starter is for a first time home buyer, does not have many upgrades, less than 2,000 sq. ft. approx. $100K-$150K.
    A custom home is one that is especially designed to meet the specifications of the owner. Typically 3,000-5,000 sq. ft.
    Dream home:
    - Stone exterior with large porches.
    - Side- or rear-entry garages that fit at least 3+1/2 cars.
    - High-end kitchens with an island. full size refrigerator and freezer, two sinks and two dishwashers, onyx countertops.
    - Two living rooms and dining room.
    - Marble floors.
    - Finished attic or basement.
    - Large master suite.
    - 5 bedrooms, 5+1/2 baths.
    - Laundry room, 100 sq. ft. + walk-in closets, home office, entertainment centers.
    - Central air conditioning, zoned heating, gas heat, two-sided gas fireplaces.
    - Safe room
    - Wine cellar
    - Smooth plastered walls and 14' ceilings.
    - Media room
    - Sundeck
    - Outdoor kitchen
    - Pool
    - Tile roof
    - Multiple fireplaces
    - Bar

    Chuck in Lubbock, TX said: Price, materials, crown molding, wood flooring, custom cabinetry.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said:
    A starter is 1,100 to 1,400 sq. ft. and very few extras.
    A step-up is larger; 2,000 to 3,500 sq. ft. and has larger garage and fireplace and wet bar and more tile and marble or granite.
    Custom is similar to step-up but even more upgrades, especially in kitchen, cabinets, wood work, windows, flooring, and masonry.

    Brian in Dexter, MI said: Appraisal price, land location, house features, design.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: A few custom features such as upgraded carpet, nicer finish work especially moldings/trim, two-tone paint, real wood cabinets rather than veneers, maybe some Sheetrock extras such as plant shelves or nooks, larger living spaces.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said:
    Start is builder's grade.
    Step-up is larger version of starter.
    Custom is top-end features.
    Dream is unlimited budget.

    Roger in Petoskey, MI said:
    Starter - Minimal size, low-grade finish.
    Step-up - Larger, pre-printed design, mid-grade finish.
    Custom - Larger, custom design, higher-end finish.
    Dream - "Spare no expense."

    Ken in Orangevale, CA said:
    Starter = First home, smaller, not fancy, for two people.
    Step-up = Next home, larger, more room for family.
    Custom = Lots of room, built-ins, special features not necessarily attractive to others (pool table room, music room, home gym, etc.)
    Dream home = The one on the best lot with the best view and just exactly what I want in it. Close to the outdoors and maybe a bit impractical for many people.

    John in Port Republic, MD said:
    Starter is a house that gets you out of the apartment living and on your feet as a homeowner. House meets your present needs.
    Step-up is an improvement over what you currently have or live in.
    Custom is a home that is a cookie cutter with YOUR options added.
    Dream home is the house they will have to cart you out of!

    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said:
    Starter house - First house. Given pricing today, I doubt there are too many starter houses that are new construction.
    Step-up - Most new housing on the market. This is what you see in "Parade of Homes" type spec houses. There may be several steps, but these are all step-up houses.
    Custom - Architect-designed. You can tell an architect-designed house immediately upon walking in, they simply feel different. This is like a custom suit for the buyer, it would fit anyone else no better than an off-the-rack suit, but for the buyer it is a custom fit.
    Dream home - Most of the fancy houses you see on HGTV. These are never meant to be sold in the future, and the market prices would never reflect the workmanship or cost that goes into these. I get several magazines, things like $250K+ theater rooms, etc. seem to go in what I would call a "dream home."

    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said:
    Starter: Basic home, no frills. Step-up: A little nicer,
    Custom: More and nicer molding ,appliances, extras like tile hardwood. better doors, bigger sq. ft.
    Dream: Is the best of everything and all the convenience you want on the best land.

    Bob in New Florence, PA said:
    Starter: Home that you start out in with plans on moving up after saving money.
    Step-up: Same as a starter just suits different needs for a growing family or whatever the case may be, still less expensive and will allow for savings.
    Custom: Designing it yourself, potential for resale to build dream home.
    Dream home: End of the line, what we all work for the home that you plan on being in the rest of your days.

    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Size and price.

    Richard in Cnetereach, NY said:
    Start-up/Step-up: 5 years.
    Custom: Long term or to sale.
    Dream home: Retirement.

    Brian in Manvel, TX said:
    Starter is basic box and well-appointed but uses entry level materials.
    Custom is functional but has upgraded materials.
    Dream home is functional, fully upgraded and designed and laid out your way with your personal wants included.

    Jedda in Brighton, ON said:
    Starter home is the bare essentials, roof, walls, bottom-of-the-barrel flooring and cabinets.
    Step-up home is similar floor plan as starter, but with nicer finishes. Hardwood and tile floors, soaker tub.
    Custom home is a larger home than starter and step-up and the owner has some input into floor plan, finishes and fixtures.
    Dream home is way out of my price range.

    John in Bonne Terre, MO said:
    Starter - Basic home with minimal or no luxuries 1,200-1,400 sq. ft.
    Step-up - Upgraded by size 1,500-1,800 sq. ft. Some added features.
    Custom - 1,800 sq. ft. Wood floors, brick, oversized rooms, Whirlpool tub, tile in or around tubs all wood cabinets, in general a lot of unique features to home.
    Dream home - You name it, the home has it. Marble, exotic wood floors, theater. etc.

    Craig in Green Bay, WI said:
    Starter: First
    Step-up: Larger maybe nicer
    Custom: Your own ideas, at least in part
    Dream home: All you could ask for.

    Karl in Reno, NV said: Cost, features.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Starter is basic house, step-up is a basic with add-ons, dream is the ultimate house.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said:
    Amenities, size, and personalization.
    Starter: Small, cheap.
    Step-up: Somewhat bigger, negligible amenities.
    Custom: Personalized, upgraded amenities.
    Dream: Spare-no-expense personalization.

    Michael in Cave Creek, AZ said:
    Starter: Small square footage, economy finishes, budget appliances value to $250K.
    Step-up: Adds footage - still lots of economy finishes, above $250K, less than $400K.
    Custom: $400K to $900K lots of tile, Travertine, hardwoods, solid wooden doors, high quality kitchen, lots of square feet, pool custom landscape, high end appliances, Viking, Wolf, Sub-Zero, Jenn-Air etc.
    Dream home: Excessive customization, water features, over 4,000 sq. ft., over $1M.

    Bob in Deltona, FL said: Some dream homes have unusual items meant solely for the owner.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: This question is irrelevant, as the criteria was energy efficiency, rustic ambiance, and cost savings.
    Max in OKC, OK said: Custom - I designed it and it had a lot of nice features like central vac, intercom.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: This wasn't our dream home, mostly because of location. It was facing a very busy street. We liked everything else about it though. We have purchased a lot nearby that we hope to start building on soon.
    Phillip in Fayetteville, GA said:
    Starter home: Very simple. Only the basics. Average appointments.
    Custom: Lots of changes made to the original plans. Lots of upgrades.

    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: We have a duplex lot, so this is a garage apt. which we will rent out when we build our dream home next door.
    John in Erie, CO said: Choosing finish, design, materials based on exactly what you want, not based on what is cheap at the local outlet or sells well.

    Kari in Colbert, WA said: We do not plan to move and we basically got exactly what we have always wanted - did not compromise too much.
    Mary in Yuma, AZ said: Design and upgrades.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: Not a dream home, because it is not overly customized, so it could be sold without difficulty. A dream home is where you minimize resale considerations and build your fantasy. You're not worried about the cause. One of my pals is in that situation and built a castle-like fortress in a remote area. I thought it would be inconvenient to drive back and forth to his business. Then I found out he had a helipad and an 8-person helicopter...

    Richard in Sequim, WA said: Budget.

21.  Did you get materials separate from labor on any of the trades?
22.  What were special features in your house?

    barry said: cat 5 cables in most rooms, two separate upstairs bedrooms, one is a mother in law suite (bed bath & large finished room over oversized 2 car garage.
    popped up ceilings, 10 ft ceilings + downstairs, crown molding throughout.
    Granite kitchen counters Large Island, custom cabinets kitchen & 3 bathrooms with pull out utensil drawers etc throughout kitchen.
    20 inch porcelain tiles throughout house.  energy efficient windows, lifetime warranty.double hung.
    30 yr roof shingles. walk in pantry with 2nd refrigerator, large laundry room.
    4 bedroom 2 down, 2 up. 4 1/2 bath. ceiling fans  all bedrooms, living, study, library, porch.
    high seer ac units (2 with 5 zones.)



    James said:
    12- and 10-ft. flat ceiling throughout
    Four bedroom/four bath
    Large master bath with jetted Jacuzzi
    Tile roof
    Two A/C zones
    Multiple lighted plant shelves
    Hot water circulation system
    Rounded corners
    French pane windows throughout
    8-ft. exterior doors
    Glass transoms over interior doors
    Whole house intercom
    Three-car garage
    Fireplace
    Granite countertops
    7+1/4 in. baseboard
    9 in. four-piece built-up crown molding throughout
    In-ground pool with screen enclosure

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: Pocket doors, built-in vacuum cleaning system, circular shape, slanted flat roof, house cantilevered over foundation, hand-laid oak flooring, custom perimeter inside lighting, custom-made cabinets, geothermal heating and air conditioning, lighted and concrete-floored crawlspace under the house, individual water supply and septic system, ramp access, long, curving bank of living room windows, elevated fireplace with cantilevered hearth, Japanese tile entryway, remote control for separate garage lighting, inter-pane blinds in double-pane windows, mirror door pantry, curved kitchen base cabinets, no cabinets above countertop, liquid-applied roof, wood-burning fireplace, etc.

    Susan said: Large art room, lots of windows. Master bedroom downstairs.
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: I was a young newly-graduated poor architect at the time and the house is very modern minimalist - it has however stood the test of time, and is still very current even after 30+ years.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Geothermal, ceramic slate roof designs were well done.
    Jo-Lynn in Issaquah, WA said: Trapezoid windows on entire end to take in the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Huge wraparound deck to facilitate indoor-outdoor living in beautiful western North Carolina.
    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: Stone fireplace, custom kitchen cabinets, heated tile floors in baths, waterproof basement walls and floor, interior/exterior drain tiles, real cedar siding.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said:
    Hurricane-proof (rated to 230-mph winds)
    Termite-proof exterior, fire resistant, falling tree resistant
    R30+ insulation walls and roof
    Impact rated windows.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said:
    Custom kitchen island/dining room wet bar
    Custom entertainment center
    Exotic hardwood decking and custom railing
    Video surveillance system
    Custom vanity

    Jim in Williamston, NC said: Dual fuel heating. Dual fuel hot water. Wood cook stove.

    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: Brick and stone exterior with stucco gables. Kitchen island. Covered rear deck.
    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said:
    100% ICF construction.
    Concrete floors (Lite-Deck) between first and second floor for quiet and strength.
    Geothermal heating/cooling system.
    Solar PV power with propane generator backup.
    Two-story masonry heater/fireplace.
    Four-car garage.
    Theater room.
    Mother-in-law apartment.
    Intercom system throughout house.

    Brooke in Burley, ID said: Walk-in double shower, mudroom, covered deck, upgrades throughout.
    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: Wanted to re-use existing slab-on-grade foundation. Most trades wanted to demo entire foundation. Turns out this will cost more than if we had decided not to reuse the foundation.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: Full glass walls, post and beam lower floor, no load-bearing walls.

    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Distinct rooms in common areas, with an open feeling created by pass-throughs and wide doorways. First floor guest bedroom suite with full bath. Cumaru floors on the first floor. Arts and Crafts style trim made of cherry; custom cherry staircase with owner-designed railings. All trim was milled on site. Porcelain tile in utility areas and common bathrooms, Travertine tile in the master bath. Heavy cast iron tubs and sinks throughout. Spancrete floor in the garage that made room for a 1,000-sq. ft. workshop. Russound multi-room audio system with 10 zones plus an extra zone on the patio. Fiber cement siding and shingles. Daylight basement. Energy Star rating, with blown fiberglass insulation, heat recovery ventilation, super-efficient modulating furnace, three HVAC zones.
    Jamie in Cedar Park, TX said:
    Wine room.
    Wrapped house in radiant barrier.
    Five-zone air conditioning unit.
    Custom made cabinets.
    Over-the-top master bath and closets.
    In-law apt.
    Tankless water heaters.
    Central vac.

    Gabriela in Readington Twp, NJ said: Laundry second floor, large master walk-in, Princess bath (own bedroom/bath) two-story foyer and family, gas and wood burning fireplaces, multiple kitchen pantries, 8-ft. kitchen island.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: Back wall of glass... master bath wall of glass.
    Ed in Rochester, NY said:
    Geothermal heating/cooling
    Spray foam insulation
    High efficiency windows
    Imported wood floors
    6 spray head master shower
    Barrel vault foyer ceiling
    No standard construction items

    Dorothy A. in Wimberley, TX said: Geothermal heating and cooling, water heater with a lifetime warranty, stone-floored porches, breezeway, patio and inside gallery. Rainwater harvesting system as well and the water well. Separate garage complex with two-car garage, single attached carport, storage room and workshop. This area has additional attic storage room.

    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Added an additional 2,200 sq. ft.: Hot tub in master. Renovated kitchen with all Kohler fixtures throughout. Wide open living areas rather than lots of closed off living and dining room. They are each separate rooms, but the design does not enclose them with doors, but rather arched walk-in area. Very airy open feel.

    Jack in Trumann, AR said: I built my home for energy efficiency more than style, although we have a certain amount of that as well. Our home is very well insulated; over and above what you will find in a typical contractor-built home. We installed a zone controlled, multi-stage geothermal heat pump. I turned our master closet into a safe room/closet; we live in tornado alley. All of the water supply is done via PEX using manifolds which gives us consistent pressure throughout the house and is easy to work on and maintain. I installed a home automation system for controlling lights and security as well as other future automation initiatives. I also installed a whole-house audio system. We've got a couple of rooms with 11-foot ceilings and some nice windows and doors but I don't know that I'd call those necessarily "special" features. A product that's easy to retrofit that we installed in our new home are remote controlled ceiling fans. I particularly like these for the master bedroom and the family room, where we use the fans the most. We have some nice features in the house such as a very large kitchen with lots of granite countertop and cherry stained birch cabinets all throughout the house; but I don't know that those would be considered special features. I guess the master bath is somewhat upscale, with his and hers vanities, extra cabinet space, private toilet which is closed off from the rest of the bathroom, large walk-in shower with built-in bench and corner Jacuzzi bathtub, with tiled walls and floors throughout. The master bath is one of the rooms most females get exited about when they tour our home. The master bedroom is large but no more than I would expect in any custom home. Architecturally, our house is a nice design. It contains a lot of features on the outside that seem to be influenced by older styles (Victorian), with lots of gables and a mixture of stone, brick, siding and stucco. Inside, it contains a well laid out living space that flows from kitchen to family room to living room. The family room and kitchen are combined into one huge living space. As for styling, there are a lot of angles inside our house that make it pleasing to look at but which were hell to build.

    Faye in Marseilles, IL said:
    Indoor swimming pool.
    Geothermal radiant heat.
    Very large walk in closets throughout.
    Gourmet kitchen.
    Three fireplaces.
    Large patios on exterior.
    Spacious rooms.
    High ceilings.
    Central vacuum.

    Mike in Marion, OH said: We upgraded everything except the countertops in the kitchen. In an unlimited budget we would have granite countertops. But at the same time we are glad that we went with laminate, because there is zero maintenance.
    Nearly everything was custom to the point where it became a dream home.

    Bret in Rhome, TX said: Drain in utility, his-and-hers walk-in closets.
    Matt in Highland, IL said:
    Geothermal heating and cooling
    400-amp service
    Increased steel beams for better basement layout (no poles in future finished areas)
    Cabinet lighting above and below
    Soundproof walls
    Security system

    Aaron in Bonsall, CA said:
    High-end structured wiring
    Home theater room
    Energy efficient appliances
    Tankless water heater
    Solar electric for 90% of demand
    Plumbed for graywater separation

    Gregory in New Braunfels, TX said: See my answer on difference between starter, step-up, and custom home.
    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Geothermal, triple-paned windows, flagstone floors, reclaimed oak floors, local red cedar porches, standing seam metal roof, high-efficiency insert fireplace.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Jetted Jacuzzi tub, custom built-in gas fireplaces in living room and master suite, custom tile countertops in the bathrooms and tub surround.
    Lisa in Groveland, FL said: View for the whole length of the land from the front door. Large kitchen. Walk-through master shower. Ornate oak front doors. Stacking sliding glass doors. Eco-friendly (polyurethane in roof, pre-cast walls and low-E windows) Only one five-ton a/c unit because the house is so tight. Lots of trees, 124 in total on five acres. Pillared entryway.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said:
    - Stone exterior with large porches.
    - Side- or rear-entry garages that fit at least three cars.
    - High-end kitchens with an island. Full size refrigerator and freezer, two sinks and two dishwashers, onyx countertops.
    - Two living rooms and dining room.
    - Marble floors.
    - Finished attic or basement.
    - Large master suite.
    - Five bedrooms, five-and-a-half baths.
    - Laundry room, 100 sq. ft. + walk-in closets, home office, entertainment centers.
    - Central air conditioning, zoned heating, gas heat, two-sided gas fireplaces.
    - Safe room
    - Wine cellar
    - Smooth plastered walls and 14' ceilings
    - Media room
    - Sundeck
    - Outdoor kitchen
    - Pool
    - Tile roof
    - Multiple fireplaces
    - Bar

    Chuck in Lubbock, TX said:
    Double and triple crown molding
    Custom baseboards
    Wiring closet behind TV (with direct access to TV and 7.1 surround sound) in living area is central for all networking, cabling, security
    The man's lodge on second floor contains living area, office, bedroom, full bath, large walk-in closet

    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Fireplaces, built-in cabinets, masonry, French doors, huge garages, large attic space for future finishing for more sq. ft. Lots of tile and upgraded flooring.
    Brian in Dexter, MI said: HRV, central vac, ICF, low-voltage wiring, fireplaces, Energy Star, LEED, triple-pane windows, hilltop, lake view, engineered lot, five-car garage.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: We had a 20x20 covered deck that we used the composite decking on. It was well-lit and had a gas hookup. Upgraded carpets, banisters and railing. brick exterior, built-in nooks and archways, large jetted tub in master bath, vaulted ceilings.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said:
    - Large picture windows with unobstructed views of Lake Michigan
    - 42'x12' porch, same lake views
    - Inside and outside wood-burning fireplaces.
    - Open floor plan
    - Hardwoods in both upper floors
    - Radiant floor tile heating
    - Geothermal heating/cooling
    - Hot water recirculating pump
    - Automatic dog water/feeding station, dog door, dog wash basin

    Ken in Orangevale, CA said:
    Built house in Fiji: Solar electric and hot water.
    Views of jungle out three sides.
    Views out to the beach out three sides.
    Wraparound veranda providing shade and dry retreat from tropical showers.
    Outdoor showers and foot wash faucets at both front and rear to be used before coming onto the veranda deck.
    Custom 15' fish cleaning station with large double stainless sink and stainless drain board.
    8'x14' main entryway at the front.
    12' wide stairs up from grass onto the veranda
    Custom traditional Fijian-style Sinnett wrappings on all veranda posts and beams: magi magi.
    Custom traditional Fijian-style Sinnett wrapped cross beam of old growth coconut tree log in great room.
    All hardwood floors with epoxy finish.
    Custom 8' built-in armoires in both main bathrooms
    Unlimited views across open ocean.

    John in Port Republic, MD said: Whole house audio, soybean spray foam insulation, multiple decks, 10 walls, two-zone heat and AC.
    Panoramic 180-degree view of the Chesapeake Bay!

    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: ICF construction, all hard surface flooring on main level (bamboo and tile), custom master bath, custom cabinets throughout, five-zone HVAC, composite deck, level five sheetrock finish throughout, fiberglass windows, upgrades throughout.
    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: Porcelain tile, Brazilian walnut hardwood floors, large bedrooms, dumbwaiter, sprayed foam insulation, upgraded appliances, extra trim, upgrade lights and faucets, large closets, wire shelving, in-ground irrigation. Brick and aluminum fence, large lot, pond, pre-wired for sound, gas fireplace.
    Brian in South Burlington, VT said:
    Five-car garage
    Full radiant heat even in garages
    Custom kitchen appliances

    Evan in Middleville, MI said: Built-ins, custom master bath.
    Brian in Manvel, TX said:
    Prewired for automation, video surveillance
    Home theater
    ICF and SPF walls
    Central Vac
    Custom wrought iron front door and stair railings
    High-end flooring
    Custom lighting and fixtures
    Lots of windows
    10-12 ft. ceilings

    John in Bonne Terre, MO said: Oversized fireplace in the center of the home. 4'x6' Whirlpool tub with 6 jets and a heater two steps up to get in the tub. 42-inch halls and stairs to downstairs. 14'x15' laundry room. I wired the soffits for Christmas lights; waterproof receptacle every 40' operated by switch in hallway. 14'x20' suspended concrete deck. Solid oak cabinets. All bedrooms have ceiling fans.
    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: Insulated entire basement including under floor and ran forced air ducts down to basement floor (not in ceiling of basement). I could walk on the basement floor on the coldest winter day and my feet were warm.
    Soaker tub
    No carpet or vinyl flooring. All hardwood and tile.
    Entry to basement from garage
    Two-car garage

    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: It would take pictures to show.
    The whole house is special.

    Lori in Reno, NV said: Designed to add mother-in-law's quarters in future if needed. Large kitchen, master bedroom and bath.
    Karl in Reno, NV said: Oversize garage. Large custom patio.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: There was a inside walk bridge over a Koi pond and all recreation things were inside.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: ICF walls; 9'6" ceiling height in basement; FreeSpan in basement (no posts)
    Low heating bills! The best feature of the house is by far its energy efficiency. In addition to ICF walls from footer to eaves, we have low-E argon gas windows, a vast southern exposure to benefit from passive solar energy, and every nook and cranny in and around the house is foamed.
    Other desirable features in the house include the huge, open basement free of posts with 9'6" ceiling height - a kicka** basement as all the men say! The kitchen is large with hardwood floors and custom, Amish-crafted cherry cabinets with matching cabinetry in the master bath. The master also has a whirlpool tub and large walk-in closet. The living room has an 11' ceiling and a raised-hearth fireplace with a cultured stone surround. Oversized garage. I could go on, but that's the gist of it.

    Michael in Cave Creek, AZ said:
    Saltwater solar heated pool
    Desert landscape
    Cobblestone driveways and patios
    Observation deck
    Stained glass pantry doors
    Lots of archways and soffits
    Low-voltage lighting
    Viking Range, Jenn-Air appliances
    Solid pine doors
    Real maple floors
    Snail shower -- custom Travertine
    Double-pane windows and French doors
    Built-in vacuum

    Bob in Deltona, FL said:
    Interior and exterior balconies
    Walk-out basement
    Large rooms for office space

    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Earth sheltering to stabilize inside temperature.
    Max in OKC, OK said:
    Central vac
    Intercom
    Jenn-Air range
    Multilevel deck
    Three-car garage
    Loft
    Skylights

    Jeff in Provo, UT said:
    Shake roof.
    9' ceilings.
    All tile and hardwood floors (no carpet).
    All granite countertops.
    Two-story entry.
    Two-story family room.
    Large kitchen.
    Office.
    Two large water heaters.
    Water softener.
    Water purification system.
    Completely separate master suite.

    Phillip in Fayetteville, GA said:
    Flooring, hardwood, tile.
    Appliances, semi-pro.
    Exterior veneer.

    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Craftsman molding and trim. Custom-made windows.
    Brenda in Eustis, FL said: Central vac, security system, oversized garage, oversized deck. ceiling fans in every room, lots of down (can) lights,16x16 porcelain tile,bullnosed corners. Corian for all counter surfaces, extra storage, extra electrical (TV and cable as well) and prewired for satellite, programmable thermostats, walk-in shower, jetted tub, low-E double-pane vinyl casement windows, SS appliances (upgraded).

    John in Erie, CO said: Home automation, whole house telemetry. Super energy efficient, fireproof construction. 360-degree views. Underground 210-sq. ft. wine cellar. Radiant heat, no carpet (all tile or hickory hardwood).

    Kari in Colbert, WA said: Doors - handmade with our crest, cherry hand-laid herringbone parquet floors, custom cabinetry with granite countertops, built-in media and vacuum system, huge third-level bonus room.
    Mary in Yuma, AZ said: Open floor plan and killer kitchen. Lots of outside covered patio area: front, side, rear.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: "Secret passage" between youth bedrooms, sports court in garage, high entry and family room ceilings, wood/carpet/tile flooring combinations, dual furnaces/AC, and water heaters, custom maple cabinets, granite and stainless steel kitchen amenities, Ceiling fans most rooms, guest suite with private bath and nice views, music room/parlor, home offices with necessary utilities, pantry space, pre-wired and pre-plumbed for expansions/upgrades, oversized electrical service, whole-house vac and water filter, custom lighting, custom woodwork, nooks and hobby spaces, extra foundation drainage, home theater, multiple phone and cat-5 wiring, whole house audio, oversized vegetable garden.

    Richard in Sequim, WA said: Earth sheltering, 16-inch thick walls, cordwood masonry infilling between non-earth-sheltered timber framing, rustic open timber framing, interior walls in knotty pine, T&G.

23.  Things or approaches you invented?

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: The roof and floor framing, including stress and strain calculations, the tip-out bins under the built-in Redwood bookcases, numerous jigs and techniques to install the exterior rim bands on the slanted roof. The bands are perpendicular to the ground, not to the plane of the roof. Made jigs to help cut the cabinets. Designed the plumbing system, snf the heating and air conditioning. Used Kamm Effect mathematics to tailor the air conditioning register locations.

    Susan said: No landscaping, all natural on acreage, no lawnmowers, open half wall on staircase. Large deck.
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: Very early adoptee of Rainscreen walls, high insulation in walls offset stads to prevent thermal bridging etc.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Not unique but different: encouraging subs to do their best work, having get-togethers w/ subs networking with existing subs.

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said:
    - We taught the ICF guys a better way to stack that they were amazed they hadn't seen before.
    - The electrical guys had never heard of European Roll Shutters; we showed them the product and how to plan for them for future expansion.
    - The solar power contractor had never seen a ground-mount system built with large PVC pipe; it turned out to be extremely cost effective and quite strong.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: None that I can think of.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said:
    Custom vanity
    Custom deck railing

    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: Ha ha, oh to be so vain to think that.
    Brooke in Burley, ID said: I asked cabinet makers if they had any dented, returned, or odds-and-ends cabinets. I bought them for 50% discount and put them in my bathrooms because I didn't really have a special look I was going for. I designed the house around the deals I could find like this. I also cut out as many middle men as I could and went directly to the manufacturer when possible.
    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Using SIPS screws and plywood to brace off ICF blowouts for repour.

    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Tile on the wood stairway that fills the area between each step level. Did the same for around the wood floors rather than molding. Instead of knee wall, I insisted on railings.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: When putting up window and door trim I took a scrap piece of 1x6 and routered a quarter-inch around all four sides. When you hold the window trim up to the window jam it provides a perfect quarter-inch reveal all the way around the window or door. This saved hours of time.
    Bret in Rhome, TX said: Bracket for lifting trusses with my JD front loader.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: None that I can think of.
    Lisa in Groveland, FL said: Pre-cast 5" walls had an R7 rating upped this by double furring to create an air barrier and then added Fi-foil (Cost $600.00) this increased the walls value to R12.1 seemed a good common sense idea for little money and has helped us with the energy calcs getting them down to 4+7/8 tons so only one A/C unit was required.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: The area above the garage was a big hit (kind of like an unfinished basement).
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Took a stainless steel outdoor dog water dish which automatically refills and brought it inside by building a small area with a drain.
    Recessed area above fireplace for a flat screen TV, placed an electronic framed mirror (turns to glass with touch of button) to hide it.
    Conduits connect TV space to built in entertainment center.

    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: Water tanks use modified toilet tank valves to control inflow from Artesian mountainside spring.
    John in Port Republic, MD said: We placed the kitchen on the top floor and the living, i.e bedrooms on the 1st floor.
    Craig in Green Bay, WI said:
    Glass block wall for stair case (outside wall about 13' tall x 9' wide
    Curve-in ceiling at height changes 8'9'10' 11" etc....

    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Not sure any ideas were invented there.
    Michael in Cave Creek, AZ said: We ran a 7-day work week with part timers at nights and on the weekends and the professional sub-contractors during the weekdays.
    Bob in Deltona, FL said: Room use and house flow / for client (owner) space organizational placement.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: Kung fu project management ;-)
    Phillip in Fayetteville, GA said: Nothing original.
    Kari in Colbert, WA said: Survival, patience, endurance...just kidding.
    Mary in Yuma, AZ said: Nothing really, "borrowed" lots of ideas from custom homes.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: Filled in a gully with free composted manure from a neighboring ranch for a very productive garden. Used available rock to ensure foundation drainage at no cost. Placed blocking behind walls from lumber scraps for drapes, hand rails, door stops, even a bedroom bicycle rack. Pre-wired for unusual things like a natural gas concentrator pump for car fueling in the garage. Put a "shoeshine pad" of tile in master closet to protect carpet. Wired for an air switch in front of kitchen island cabinetry to run disposer.

24.  Super bargains you got?

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: A local appliance store was going out of business and had one Sub-Zero built-in type of refrigerator as a floor sample. We made a very low offer despite not being ready to install appliances. Our offer was accepted. It still runs well more than 24 years later.
    We bought the remnants of a large split rock pile at a bargain price. It is now the fireplace surround.
    All lumber and nails were affordably priced because we built in the depths of a recession.
    The triple pane insulating glass was a low cost factory-order that we transported from California in a rented U-Haul.
    The dining room Austrian crystal chandelier was purchased in Germany years before we built, sat a price that now seems very low.
    Montgomery Ward offered very low prices on wheeled work stands and some tools.
    Simpson Plywood Company a few miles away scarfed and bonded extra-long lengths of exterior cedar plywood at a very low cost and with very high quality.
    The clear all-heart Redwood planks used to make built-in bookcases came at a very low cost from another town an hour away.

    Susan said: Oak wook for the stairway, exterior painter (stained the cedar)
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: Too much to list - European kitchen cabinets etc.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Millshop providing mouldings for a fraction of the cost of locals
    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: 6/15/2009 -- Boulder blasting -- half-price.

    Jo-Lynn in Issaquah, WA said: Lights, ceiling fans and plumbing fixtures on eBay. Tiles from a surplus tile store. Use of previously purchased hardwood from another flooring job in our Florida house. Out-of-box gas fireplace unit.
    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: White elephant garage door deal.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Garden tub and cabinets at Habitat for Humanity's resale store for up to 80% off.

    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: Scored some great floor tile for master bathroom on closeout for $0.67/sq. ft., mud room for $0.25/sq. ft., kitchen backsplash for $0.50/sq. ft. This tile was all marked down at least 80%.
    Terry in Hayfork, CA said:
    Hardwood flooring
    Kitchen floor tile

    Jim in Williamston, NC said: Insulation.
    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: Most bargains come with a cost.
    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: Found a double oven range at half off. Fisher Paykel originally retailed for $3,899, purchased for $1,799. Other was 400 Amp service panel, retailed for $1,200, found new on E-Bay for $500 from a supplier in eastern Oregon. Well pump, purchased at E-Bay for $1,400, saved $2,000 roughly on that install by doing it myself.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: Freecycle.com and craigslist bath fixtures including vents, also lighting, kitchen cabinets, flooring, OSB, electrical wiring.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Reclaimed flooring, flag stone, limestone for exterior, masonry.
    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Not enough.
    Jamie in Cedar Park, TX said:
    Lighting
    Granite
    Carpet
    Plumbing fixtures
    Appliances

    Jack in Trumann, AR said: I didn't do a lot of bargain hunting. I did make sure I was getting competitive rates on everything but I didn't spend ours and days looking for bargains on most things. One exception is the geothermal heat pump. I knew I wanted to go with a geothermal system but had read so often about how expensive they were that I really wasn't expecting to be able to go that route. However, one of the companies I had quote my heat and air is a geothermal manufacturer; that's the only type HVAC system they install and they gave me a price that was surprisingly competitive to conventional heat and air systems. I also got a good price from my framer. But that sub screwed me a little in the end by not quite finishing the work. He mismanaged his draws and his workers and ended up going too long on the project so in the end, he quit before he was 100% finished. I later heard that he was telling people I refused to pay him but the truth is, I paid him all that we agreed on, he is just a lousy manager and as a result the framing took twice as long as it should have. However, even with the extra I was out to get someone to complete what he left undone, I still got the house framed at a bargain. The worst part of it the outcome was the extra time that was added to the entire project due to his stretching out the job.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: Home Depot became my best friend. Also sorry to say many places where going out of business so I took advantage of many of these.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Marble and tile from an overstock warehouse.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Windows, appliances, cabinets, tile, and fixtures.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: Slate for $1 per square foot. Schlage doorknobs on clearance. Drawer pulls for kitchen from eBay. Double doors for master bath and bedroom for $75 at Habitat for Humanity ReStore - compared to $180.
    Bret in Rhome, TX said: Buying drywall before needing but price had dropped, online tools and HVAC equipment, always looking for bargains online.
    Aaron in Bonsall, CA said: Cabinets where custom from China at an installed savings of 50% over the box store uninstalled price.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Zero.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Made all purchases online. 20% off all doors, 75% off on all trim/crown molding, and 50% off all appliances.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Oak double front doors with leaded side glass. Oak mantles for $200.
    Brian in Dexter, MI said: Kitchen cabinets, tile, faucets, bathroom fixtures.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: I worked for a road construction company at the time who had their own concrete division. I purchased all my concrete for cost plus delivery (about $40/yd) and they let us use a backhoe and Skid-steer only paying for the transport of the backhoe. We also used remnants on the carpet and because we chose fairly popular carpet, they held remnants in our style as they came in saving us about $2,000.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Rough framing labor is expensive in this area. I saved the single most by interviewing 6 different subcontractors and finding one that was $70,000 less than the other 5 for labor only (rough, windows/doors, siding and roofing).
    Standard nice granite counters for $35/SQ FT
    Plumbing fixtures and hardware at 75% off list price

    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: There are no super bargains on any materials in Fiji - it's all overpriced and they do not haggle on prices, but to the surprise of my building crew supervisor, I was able to negotiate a flat 10% off of retail pricing. We got a real deal on three things:
    1. Custom Fijian sinnett work called "magi magi". This is a dying art, but we were able to find a 76 year old man willing to do the job if we would also hire two apprentices for him so he could pass this craft on to future generations. The two apprentices were almost 60 yrs old, but they all three worked 5 days per week, 7 hours per day. This job cost us about $4,600 USD and a similar job on the main island at upscale resorts would have cost well over $30,000 USD. I got this deal because the old man is the village school headmaster's father. The old man did the job so cheaply I almost felt bad.
    2. I donated $200 USD to the school as a fundraiser and let 20 villagers hand dig the 54 4' x5' holes for the posts that support the house. The old man liked this help for his son's school and that influenced his bid for the magi magi work.
    3. I held another $200 fundraiser for the village church and that got me 53 people with shovels to dig holes for water tanks and sewerage tanks. It took them two days for only $200.
    4. I got a good deal on labor because my job supervisor hired locals as fill-in labor when he didn't need skilled labor to dig holes, carry logs, hand mix concrete, etc.

    John in Port Republic, MD said: Windows, tub, and restaurant stove.
    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: Countertops, drywall, cabinets all were dis.10% for cash.
    Ellen in Orlando, FL said: Plumbing fixtures, drywall, inside trim.
    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Foundation, windows, flooring.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: I work for a huge construction company. Our company allows us to use all the assets and pricing discounts the company gets. We do 10 million dollars worth of business with our lumber wholesaler alone. I saved around 10-30% on all materials.
    John in Bonne Terre, MO said: The front door was a builders reject. Therma-Tru stainable fiberglass door, Two leaded sidelites. I paid $600 for a $2,200 door that needed one sidelite replaced for $200.
    Karl in Reno, NV said: Appliances, fixtures.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Don't remember any that stick out.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Got good deals on many things, but probably nothing that I'd consider a "super" bargain.
    Michael in Cave Creek, AZ said: Full trailer of solid maple flooring imported from Canada. Brick pavers direct from manufacturer.
    Bob in Deltona, FL said: Framing. Truss / Joist.
    Brenda in Eustis, FL said: Corian counter off eBay for $300, Moen Extensa ss kitchen faucet off eBay for $85, Kitchenaid wall oven regular almost $3,600, purchased for $1,647.

    Jeff in Provo, UT said: I was able to buy windows from a warehouse that they were closing for $50 each!
    Phillip in Fayetteville, GA said: Flooring material, fixtures, and appliances.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Lighting fixtures from garage sales which I had rewired. Added character.
    Kari in Colbert, WA said: Good bargains, none super though.
    Mary in Yuma, AZ said: Free dirt.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: Free things from helpful subs like boxes of unused bathroom tile, and a window well for creating crawl space access. Some trades were very competitive prices but we had to wait for them to become available. Parts for custom stair railings were closeouts. Got "demo house" discounts on cabinetry and decking with discounts and free upgrades. Beat builders prices on wiring supplies, carpet, wood flooring, and tile. Used a combination of boneyard and "store special" prices for granite countertops. Piggybacked on large contractor lumber pricing. Was able to do double upgrades on lighting fixtures by shopping and getting distributor price matches. Piggybacked on a friends account with unusually low prices for plumbing supplies at supply house, Upgraded as a result.

25.  Ways to save money?

    barry said: Find the guy that is actually doing the work, not some guy with a sign on the door of his 70K pickup.  You have to look for that, or you will be screwed constantly.
    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: We did all the work as previously stated. We lived in a local duplex that we owned and thus had low cost housing. while we built. We ate lunches usually at fast food restaurants. We did all the painting, wall mudding and taping, etc.

    Susan said: Shop around.
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: Do the work yourself if you have the skills. Hire the best. Use the best materials. Shop for the best deals directly from manufacturers reps if possible - being an architect has certain advantages for direct access.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Finish fast. Financing can kill the project.
    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: Doing a lot of work ourselves (site clearing, electrical, plumbing, painting, insulation in roof/attic area).

    Jo-Lynn in Issaquah, WA said: Comparison shopping on internet vs. local stores.
    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: Shop around for good suppliers that will extend contractor pricing to you. Try to leverage your sub's connections with suppliers. Pay cash for things. Work with trusted subs that will do work on the side. Shop online. Think ahead. Planning ahead can save money because you don't have to make rushed decisions or purchases.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Buy when you see deals and store, buy used, don't change your mind.

    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: Shop your suppliers relentlessly. Don't be afraid to ask suppliers to lower prices if you find a supplier with a lower price on one item.
    If you were to purchase your house, it would be roughly 35-40% labor, 35-40% materials, and 20-30% overhead and profit. OHP is your for the taking, but it takes a significant time investment on your part. If you just take this, you will save considerable money. However, you can also cut into materials pretty heavily. It takes a certain amount of time to build your house, labor is not something there is significant cost savings on.
    Please note that labor costs do not equate to installed costs. I hired some union contractors, and I know they were making real wages compared to other workers I could have hired to do the same job. However their productivity was also higher, and in many cases the union subcontractors were the lowest installed price. This is a reflection of productivity and not hourly wage rates.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Do as much as you can yourself - clean-up the job site too.

    Jim in Williamston, NC said: Hard work.

    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: Plenty.
    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: Still looking for ways to save money.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: Freecycle and Craigslist.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Hiring the right subs with the correct skill sets, even at a premium to get the job done one time and correctly. Not doing work that I'm not qualified for or have the time to do right the first time.
    Doing things yourself that take too long will delay everyone else and cost you interest on your loan.
    Biggest thing, don't touch the tools unless you're highly qualified.

    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Don't use a general. If you can find the time, take on labor-intensive tasks. But realize that the labor-intensive tasks take much more time than the scheduling and expediting.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: As Mark says in his book, you can save money by doing some of the trades yourself but you have to be careful not to cause delays or your savings will be wasted in additional interest paid on the construction loan. Also, no doubt about it, you can save money by bargain hunting. But you have to be willing to accept materials that might not be your first choice in order to do that. For instance, I wanted more slate tile than I ended up using. Instead, I settled for a slate colored tile for most of the rooms in the house that was on clearance at a large cost difference. Real slate is expensive by the way. Like I tell my children, there's a tradeoff one way or the other in everything you do. Another way to save money would be to finish as quickly as possible. That's one strategy that seemed to elude me the whole project. I had at least three subs that I thought were going to knock their jobs out quickly but after the work started, they really dragged their feet. I really felt like firing them but it's hard to get a new sub to come in and pick up where another left off if you do that so I rode them as I could to get them to get it done but that didn't seem to help at all. In hindsight, I think I like the idea of offering bonuses for early or timely completion; I think that would've helped in my case.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: Try to do it yourself.... Saves a lot over the long run.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Did not cut many corners. When buying overstock materials, I had to make sure there was enough to cover the areas being built, because the same material may not be there if you need more
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: DIY geothermal , labor management , bargain shopping
    Mike in Marion, OH said: Shop way before you break ground! You know you are going to need certain things regardless. The downfall is you may buy things you don't end up needing. But if they are good enough bargains they are resellable on eBay, garage sales, etc.
    Bret in Rhome, TX said: Internet, do it yourself!!!
    Aaron in Bonsall, CA said: Make sure to keep timing in mind. In selecting framing contractors we chose the cheapest, he also took 8 months longer to complete than what the most expensive had quoted. With the carrying costs I would have saved by using the more expensive framers
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Do some things yourself even if you have to take the time to learn.

    Pat in Round Rock, TX said:
    Make subs itemize proposals.
    Purchase your own material.
    Buy a book, watch a video and do-it-yourself. (not mechanical, electrical or plumbing; sub it out so you have warranties).
    Since time is money, make sure you have plenty of time to self preform whatever trades you take on.

    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Buying roofing tile yourself and hiring a roofer to install save 30%.
    Brian in Dexter, MI said: Bargain shopping, negotiating with trades.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: Plan research. We didn't know much about construction when we started and had our foundation sub make some critical errors, which weren't caught until our first inspection that was after the framing was complete! They hadn't stepped the foundation down correctly (had to adjust lumber) and had not poured the footing at the correct depth per code (was to be 18" under frost level and was higher and couldn't be buried deeper due to it being a daylight basement). It was a very small town and the building inspector passed us anyway since it had been framed already. don't know if that was good or bad though.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said:
    Draft your own specifications/ materials lists and disseminate them to get as many offers as possible.
    Know what items are worth so you can spot deals when they are available.
    Offer cash.
    Be efficient, visit the job daily and take care of problems while they are small.

    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: Supervise this kind of work crew every day. If I could have been there every day, I think I would have saved at least $10,000 in wasted materials, $20,000 in overpriced materials, and maybe $20,000 in wasted labor time. The job was over 5,000 miles from my residence, so it was impossible to be there enough of the time.
    John in Port Republic, MD said: Shop around for prices, even with contractors.
    You save money by doing the job right and with good materials.
    Check the model numbers on AC units with your contract!
    Check model # and horsepower on well pump. In fact, be there when they install it.
    Make sure your house, well and septic are all on the lot where the plot plan says they are supposed to be.
    put a good roof on.

    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: Pay cash, buy materials, pay labor, be the general.
    Ellen in Orlando, FL said: Look for sale items and store them.
    Always ask for a discount.

    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Shopped a variety of providers, all bids quoted from the same spec sheet, true sweat equity.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: Do your homework and plan everything out. Ask questions from subs. i.e. how would you do something for your house, etc.
    Brian in Manvel, TX said: eBay coupons to Home Depot or Lowe's.
    John in Bonne Terre, MO said: I bought my doorslabs 6-panel pine and built my own jambs.
    Craig in Green Bay, WI said:
    Paid cash for some things.
    Did a lot of planning up front.
    Had only one small change order on whole project (a lot of changes on paper first).
    Be my own general.

    Karl in Reno, NV said: Research.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Buy in bulk and buy from the manufacturers.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Network with everyone you know. It's not what you know, it's who you know! We used networking connections to get better prices on many trades.
    Michael in Cave Creek, AZ said: Build in an area that does not have an onerous permitting authority.
    Buy extra land, split it and sell the pieces you don't need.
    Hire experienced tradesmen who want to earn extra $$$ on the weekends.
    Supply all of the materials to your crews -- shop around to get the materials.
    Ask everyone for a discount.

    Bob in Deltona, FL said:
    Management review.
    But only What you want, not an estimate.
    Shop sale materials and fixtures
    Design intent.

    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Start with seed capital, pat as you go, avoid mortgage.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: Ask. Almost anything that you buy for your house is negotiable.
    Phillip in Fayetteville, GA said: Shop, shop, and then shop some ,more.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Nothing unusual.
    Kari in Colbert, WA said: Labor labor, and time to shop bargains. research local outlets and reseller builder supplies - many do not advertise.
    Mary in Yuma, AZ said: Go the extra mile, literally, for big ticket items, lumber, doors windows, etc. I am in a small town and it is worth renting the truck to go to Phoenix or San Diego (three hours either way) than buy locally. Now we have a Home Depot so the next venture may be different.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: The plumber would have charged me more than twice what I paid when I bought all fixtures separately from him. Designed out things we didn't need like a dedicated dining room to get more utility for less money. Asked subs for their suggestions before and during job. Utilized personal funds before drawing down line of credit. Shopped for fees, interest and terms for the financing. Shopped out of town vendors in some cases, and asked locals if they could price match. If not, we got free delivery from the more distant places. Got interest-free credit from some vendors like carpet and appliances. Ganged up excavator work to reduce number of trips to site. Bought slag instead of pea gravel for concrete underlayment because of nearby steel mill savings.

26.  What are the qualifications to be a good O-B?

    barry said: You better have plenty of time to watch what is going on,and to find subs.  You need to be organised and have a good plan, and stick to it.  Keep a tight hold on your money till the job is OVER!
    James said: Intimate knowledge of building plans. Good understanding of construction process. Ability to work with different personality types. Ability to clearly describe expectations.

    Susan said: Planning and patience.
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: Knowledge and skill, but primarily management experience leveraging the knowledge and skills.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Being a good parent - subs tend to act like kids.
    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said:
    - Hard work.
    - Hard work.
    - Hard work.
    - Having a wad of spare cash on hand to handle emergencies doesn't hurt either.

    Jo-Lynn in Issaquah, WA said: Knowing your limitations and having the smarts/humility to know when to ask for help. Project management skills are key.
    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: Need to understand project management and finance. Should also be able to evaluate work quality of the subs.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Be naïve. You need to be to get started, otherwise you'd never get going!

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Must have a good sense of construction and the various trades.

    Jim in Williamston, NC said: Perseverance-planning.
    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: Clear thinking, Problem-solving abilities, level-headed, calm and fair.
    Brooke in Burley, ID said: Determination, patience, thinking outside the box, optimism, flexibility.
    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: Patience. Good record keeping. planning planning. Patience.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: Patience and a sense of humor and a willingness to spend time learning before you do it.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Make time to do the planning, supervision, understand the trades and relationships of each job to the other.
    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Planning ability.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: I don't know that I was a good O-B so I'm not sure my opinion should hold much weight. But I guess I'd say lots of planning, patience and common sense. You also need to be able to get along with people and be tactful because subs can screw you over pretty easily if you make them mad. Obviously, you need to be well organized too. No doubt you can get the job done without these attributes but you're probably going to have a hard time of it and your personal relationships are likely to suffer.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: Be able to handle pressure. Muti taks is a major deal and have a cell phone and computer all the time.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Keep your eyes wide open, doe the research and understand exactly what those architectural plans mean in plain English. Pay attention, close attention to details not matter how small.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said:
    Be willing and able to do tons of research.
    Be able to make quick decisions and be willing to compromise.
    Be ready to roll up your sleeves and work.
    Know what you want and what you can live without.
    Negotiation skills.

    Mike in Marion, OH said: The ability to read. Educate yourself on the terms of the trade. And a good work ethic.
    Jamie in Cedar Park, TX said: Time, knowledge and ability to negotiate.

    Bret in Rhome, TX said: Persistence, cash flow, able to visualize the finished product.
    Gregory in New Braunfels, TX said:
    1. Attention to detail.
    2. Be extremely well versed on "The Plan" end-to-end.
    3. Stay ahead of the project, always anticipating (looking ahead) for the next step to ensure all components and phase will fit as planned.
    4. Understand the work enough to be prepared to challenge Subs for better efficiency and lower cost.

    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Organization, perseverence, and good communication with spouse. I build she decorates, picks colors, designs window treatment and landscaping
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said:
    Proper
    Planning
    Prevents
    Poor
    Performance!

    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: The sub contractors can make or break you. Get subs that are low priced but have a large enough fleet to show up when you need them. Be very clear on exactly what the sub will supply and do for the money that you have agreed to. You must be at the job site at least once per day and you must schedule about two weeks out.
    Brian in Dexter, MI said: Patience, project management, bargain shopping.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: Willingness to learn and ask questions, tons of questions. It helps to know what you want when it comes to cosmetic features and have agreements made with your significant other prior to the start of construction to avoid unnecessary fights (there are plenty that will come up in other areas). Have as many bids as you can prior to starting construction and add at least 10-20% extra for changes you may make along the way. Everyone goes at least a little over budget.

    Roger in Petoskey, MI said:
    Good communication skills.
    Have to be little anal.

    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: I am glad I know how to do most of the work and that I am a good negotiator. Patience is definitely a virtue. Being organized is a requirement, and having an understanding partner (my wife) was a critical part of success.
    John in Port Republic, MD said:
    Commitment.
    Dedication.
    Make a decision.
    Be organized.
    Do your homework before you build.
    I think that the 1,000 hours is too little time to get things planned before you build. Planning is the key to success. we lived with our floor plan for two years and still made changes!
    Run it like a business.
    Keep good records and a calendar.
    If your spouse is involved, both be on the same page.
    And most of all, be willing to compromise. Things happen and changes do occur.

    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: Good organization. You hire and subcontract what you don't know. If you don't know anything about residential construction, you hire an independent inspector. This is no different than hiring an excavator, framer, electrician, HVAC tech, plumber, or any other trade. If you can keep it all organized, communication between the trades, you will save money.
    Problem-solving skills. When problems happen, most people ask why and who is to blame, and therefore who should pay for it. This takes time and is counterproductive, you should be looking for solutions first. You can sort out who pays for it later, you need a solution today.
    For example, what happens when your plumbing supply warehouse (who you were just getting ready to put in your order) burns completely to the ground? They are no longer interested in new orders, in fact will not accept them, which means you need a new supplier, and fast because your plumber is coming next week.

    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: A little building trade knowledge, a lot of management skill.

    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Patience, organization and attention to detail, knowing what you want and the ability to communicate it to subs, flexible time schedule.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: Lots of vacation time!!!
    Understand the building process before you break ground.
    CONTRACTS!!!!!

    Brian in Manvel, TX said: Patience.
    Don't sweat the small stuff- if it's not in concrete, it can be changed.
    Some building knowledge would go a long way in not getting shafted by a trade.

    John in Bonne Terre, MO said: Get lots and lots of information. Take your time and make decisions based on your needs and desires. Shop hard.
    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: You have to be able to force yourself to do the work even after it stops being fun.

    Craig in Green Bay, WI said:
    PLAN PLAN PLAN PLAN
    STUDY STUDY STUDY (Your info was the best I've found; thanks.)
    Plan some more.
    Using your tools helped (contracts spread sheets etc...).
    Study planning timelines.

    Lori in Reno, NV said: Organizational skills and patience.

    Karl in Reno, NV said: Detailist, not generalist.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Knowledge of the trades you plan on doing your self and then have basic knowledge of what you sub out.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Motivated, well-organized, enjoy building process, assertive, good communicator.

    Bob in Deltona, FL said: Research. Know what you want. Have the time to invest.

    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Common sense and an engineering background.
    Max in OKC, OK said: Be able to require quality work or have someone who can - wife manages well unless needed to be firm, then husband had to step in - persistent as a bulldog.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: Planning and more planning.
    Phillip in Fayetteville, GA said: Passion and attention to details.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said:
    Organized, disciplined.
    Backbone.
    Careful. Don't proceed until you understand.

    Kari in Colbert, WA said: Good with money and a lot of persistence and self discipline.
    Mary in Yuma, AZ said: Patience. Willingness to put the time in to planning and organization. Ability to deal with the subs who are often a pain in the @$$ without aggravating them to the point that you go to the bottom of the list. Be confrontational without being a jerk.
    Most important, be able to pay the subs in a timely manner. Of course, when you are satisfied with their performance.

    Mark in Provo, UT said: Resourceful and organized. Able to communicate. Plan ahead. Attention to details. Presence at job site during construction.

    Richard in Sequim, WA said: Systems engineering background ("hands-on" engineer).

27.  Did you have contract problems?
28.  Did you get liened by anybody?
29.  What percentage of O-B's do you think get liened?
30.  How much time did it take to construct?
31.  How many trades were involved on your job?
32.  What time of year did you start?
33.  Any reason you chose that time of year to start?

    James said: None. Plans were finalized in March.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: I began building as soon as I arrived after leaving paid employment. It was all carefully planned.

    Susan said: Not too hot, not too cold.

    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Availability of crews.
    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: That's when the construction loan finally came through--blame the banks.

    Jo-Lynn in Issaquah, WA said: First possible start after procuring land and getting approval from homeowner's association.
    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: We sold our existing house and then quickly rushed to start building our new house. Originally I wanted to start in the spring, but we had to push up our start date because we moved into a rental property. If I did this again I would start in the spring to avoid construction during the winter months. The quality of work from the subs is better when the weather is nice.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: That's when we decided we were ready...

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Just how the schedule fell.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Waited for the snow and rain to let up.

    Brooke in Burley, ID said: We found some land in April and it was a whirlwind until we broke land in July. I would start earlier if I could do it again.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: The rainy season in California was over.

    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Former house sold in August, so we built in September. In Wisconsin, I'd say the best time to start building is around early- to mid-August.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: It's when I thought I had enough cash saved to start. I didn't have any bank help.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Plans complete, and we had to move out anyway. The weather stays pretty mild here.
    Jere in Ray Twp., MI said: I would have started sooner, but the building department required a survey since there is a protected floodplain in the back of the property and the floodplain maps were not established in my area.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: That's shortly after my annual manager's bonus from work which I used a good portion of as working capital.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: My husband was laid off at the time.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: All about the Ohio weather! We broke ground as soon as it stopped raining and the ground dried up. We were very lucky with a dry summer to get it under roof and sided. Home was completely dried in by fall. All interior work occurred over the winter into spring.
    Bret in Rhome, TX said: Financials.
    Aaron in Bonsall, CA said: It took us six months to get permits.

    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Financing came through.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Wanted to start in May, blame it on the bank.
    Chuck in Lubbock, TX said: Easier to find subs outside of summer months.

    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: In California or Arizona it is good almost year-round. You just can't work when it rains unless the shell is enclosed.
    Brian in Dexter, MI said: That's when it finally started, we were shooting for march but had to wait for financing and permits.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: There was a building moratorium in our area, and once it was lifted, the city planning dept. was overrun with plans to review/approve. We started as soon as our plans were approved by the city and our construction loan was completed.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Closed in by Christmas and done by summer.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Wanted to start in the summer (dry and warm) and this was as early as I could get it going.
    John in Port Republic, MD said: No, the house and the land was ready to go. Spring is a great time to start, only if it doesn't rain!
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: July is historically the driest month of the year. When we built, we had one of the wettest Julys on record. We excavated the beginning of July, and didn't get footers poured until August. Wet, wet, wet.
    Ellen in Orlando, FL said: We just happen to get the land and then started building.
    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: The weather here starts to get warm that time of the year.

    Evan in Middleville, MI said: Closed up by winter.

    John in Bonne Terre, MO said: Weather broke and loans were in place. Just ready to get started.
    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: No; it was when I was ready.

    Karl in Reno, NV said: Temperature.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: It is the time of year where the daylight starts to be longer.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Intended to start at beginning of May so house would be close to rough-in when I got out of work for the summer. Uncontrollable delays pushed us into mid-June. Wanted to have house framed by the time I got out of work for the summer. Didn't happen.

    Lori in Reno, NV said: We wanted to be dried in by winter.
    Bob in Deltona, FL said: Got permit.
    Danny in Sparta, IL said: It was when the builder was available. Had hoped to start in April.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Cool weather is a great climate to pour concrete in the Pacific Northwest.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: We were ready to go and had finally found a piece of land.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: That is when we had everything ready. We started planning in January.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Dry weather.
    John in Erie, CO said: Good scheduling with day job.

    Kari in Colbert, WA said: It was convenient.
    Mary in Yuma, AZ said: Wanted to be complete before the summer heat.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: Off-season for savings and sub availability.

    Richard in Sequim, WA said: Mild winter, good time to pour concrete.

34.  What do you consider the rules of good work?

    barry said: When it is done the way I want it.
    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: Safety, sufficient tools, knowledge of what one is about to do, written plans and drawings as needed, commitment to excellence, patience, and good health.

    Susan said: Don't know how to answer this. I'd guess the finished job has no regrets.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Following plans.
    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said:
    1. Show up on time.
    2. Show up with your tools and supplies.
    3. Work carefully--don't try to hide a mistake, FIX IT.
    4. Clean up your mess before you leave.

    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: Attention to detail.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Do it right, even if you have to redo it.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Right crew for the job.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Do it right the first time.

    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: Clean as you go, dont be in a hurry.
    Brooke in Burley, ID said: Good communication from the beginning, doing what you ask of them, finishing on schedule, quality workmanship.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: Planning, and a clean and safe work site.

    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Work that meets my requirements, is done on time, and on budget. Delays are acceptable for most tasks, as long as I know in advance.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: Honesty is key. Progress you can see.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Attention to details and honesty about what you know, don't know, and are unsure of.
    Jere in Ray Twp., MI said: I consider good work going above and beyond code requirements. Passing code would be like passing high school with a D-... it is a bare minimum.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: Honesty, doing what you say you'll do. Quality work, do your best at everything you do and if you're not up to the task, hire someone who is. Timeliness, get the job done as quickly as possible without slacking on quality. Be willing to stand by your work if a problem is found later.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Planning and organization . Focus and understanding scope of work . Clean up after yourself! Know when you are over your head and ask for help.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: Building it to last.
    Bret in Rhome, TX said: Better than what I saw in track homes.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Quality of work that I would be willing to live in
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said:
    Proper
    Planning
    Prevents
    Poor
    Performance!

    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Pass inspection by the city inspector or come back with in 24 hours for corrections.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Exact fit and finish. no corners cut at all.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said:
    Show up when you say you will.
    Work as if it was your own house.
    Clean up after yourself.
    Stick to your price (even if you underestimated).

    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: Properly planned deliveries of materials to keep work flowing without delays.
    Properly planned tasks to eliminate wasted time.
    Having the right tools for the job available when needed.

    John in Port Republic, MD said: Neat, clean truck. you think I am kidding?
    the condition and appearance of the contractors truck reflects the work they do.

    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said:
    1) Consider the trades following your work, and make sure you consider their needs in the service you are providing today.
    2) Quality of work. I wanted the trades to do the same quality of work that they would do on their own houses.
    3) Don't hide defects behind Sheetrock or other finish materials.

    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: Come on time, when you say, and do the work.
    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: I usually have one of my Site Supervisor's stop by every once in a while and check the subs work.
    Brian in Manvel, TX said: Show up on time. Do it right. Clean up.
    John in Bonne Terre, MO said: Careful planning. PPPPP. Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: Do the work as quickly as you can while doing a thorough, professional looking job. Getting it done correctly is more important than quickly but at the same time do not waste time.
    It is not necessary to fell like doing a job it is only necessary to do it.

    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: Do what you said you're going to do in the time you stated. Keep communication open if anything changes or there are problems.

    Karl in Reno, NV said: Planning!
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Do what you say you are going to do and when you say you are going to do it.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Pride in one's work! Pride in quality, pride in your reputation among others in the industry; prompt communication; integrity. Dedication to a single project through its completion before moving on, prompt communication, integrity.

    Lori in Reno, NV said: Following common sense i.e. square, clean, and by code.
    Bob in Deltona, FL said: Time, talent, clean, cost.

    Jullie in Logan, UT said: Don't give up.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said:
    1. Know what the end result must be.
    2. Delegate if you can't do it yourself.
    3. Don't lose sight of the goal while you are in the middle of details.

    Max in OKC, OK said: Do unto others as you have them do unto you.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: Done professionally, on time, and as stated.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: Quality.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Define clearly what you will and won't do. Do it right, if a problem arises, work with others to determine whose fault it is. That person fixes it on his dime. If a circumstance that is no one's fault, determine a price that's fair to everyone.
    If you can't do something, admit it.

    John in Erie, CO said: Neat finish, matches specifications plans, and contracts, done using best known methods.

    Kari in Colbert, WA said: I liked subs who were honest in their quote, did a good job and cared about it and showed up on time and their final bill was what they quoted.
    Mary in Yuma, AZ said: Do what you said you would do. Show up when you are supposed to.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: Good materials, well-joined, clean, thorough with attention to detail and quality. Work that lasts, potentially beyond my lifetime. Work that requires zero subsequent maintenance.

    Richard in Sequim, WA said: Plumb, square, and level.

35.  What were your most important tools?

    barry said: Patience.
    James said: Tape measure, level.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: A Sears Roebuck radial arm saw, a Milwaukee circular saw, my Estwing steel-handled hammer, a pneumatic nailing gun, measuring tapes, levels, work stands, power drills, and a rented drywall lift used to install ceiling drywall. Power sanders, owned and rented, a rented concrete vibrator, soil compactors, rented trenching machines, paint brushes were also essential.

    Susan said: Too many to list....tile laying tools, tape float tools, table miter saw, painting tools, basic hammers, screwdrivers, tape measures, utility lights, etc.
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: Good subs.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Money.
    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said:
    As of 10/24/09:
    Chipper
    Chainsaw
    Gator ATV
    Pickup truck
    Pickup truck winch.

    Jo-Lynn in Issaquah, WA said: Computer, telephone and file box with all pertinent job documentation contained within it.
    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: Paint brush and miter saw.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Time to think about design and how to build.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: A phone.
    Terry in Hayfork, CA said:
    The Internet.
    Friends in the construction industry.

    Jim in Williamston, NC said: Pay as I went--no loans.

    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: Calculator, pencil.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: A Sawzall!
    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Since I milled all my trim on site, the table saw, planer, and molder were probably the most used tools. I burned out one planer, and had to make major repairs on my table saw. For finish carpentry, the most-used tool was the miter saw. I used a Makita, because I already owned it, but I'd probably buy a Bosch today. Air compressor and cordless nailers are critical, as are a cordless drill and impulse driver.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: Nail gun and compressor.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: My architect.
    Jere in Ray Twp., MI said:
    - Truck
    - Cell phone
    - Checkbook credit card haha

    Jack in Trumann, AR said: Skil saw, miter saw, tile saw, hammer, Paslode framing nail gun (cordless), Paslode finish nailer (cordless), Dewalt cordless drill, DeWalt high torque drill (for mixing Thinset and grout), regular power drill for drilling holes in studs and top plates, levels, squares, angle finders and various electrical tools (10 tools in one electrical screwdriver, wire cutters, wire strippers, Romex stripper, pliers, drywall saw or keyhole saw, PEX cutters and crimpers, circuit tester, leather driver gloves; I went through a 30 pair bag of gloves, tile tools; trowel, float, mixer, etc, my paint sprayer knocked days off of our workload, shovel, ladders of various lengths and last but definitely not least, my John Deere utility tractor.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Air compressor, drill, miter saw and table saw .
    Mike in Marion, OH said: RotoZip or Dremel tool. I used this on everything. Anytime you need to cut a circle, this is a lifesaver. The biggest use was cutting all the boxes and can lights in the drywall. The drywall blades they sell with them don't cut through the plastic boxes. You just keep pressure against the box and literally zip right around it.
    12" compound miter saw. I used it to nearly death. I found one on clearance at Lowe's for $129. Don't waste your money on a 10".
    DeWalt framing nailer. I hired a framer on a bid. One might think why do you need a framing nailer? Well, I used it a lot.
    18-volt cordless drills. I bought Black and Decker ones whenever I saw them on sale. I ended up with three. It sounds crazy, but when you have people helping you there is a huge need for multiple batteries and drills.
    22-ounce hammer and a 16-ounce hammer. 22-ounce has a rough face for beating the nail to death. 16-ounce has a smooth face for finish work inside.
    Klein wire splicers. They have a pair of splicers that takes the plastic jacket off of 12-2 and 14-2 flawlessly. They aren't cheap at about $25, but they save that in time.
    Drywall screw guns. I found a Makita at the pawn shop for $25. Then I found a DeWalt on clearance for $75. Then I found a Senco automatic screw gun at the pawn shop for $75. The manual screw guns were great when putting down decking on the porch and for concrete backerboard screws under the slate floors.

    Larry in Marshalltown, IA said: Cell phone.
    Bret in Rhome, TX said: Willingness and persistence to learn.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Multi-use nail gun, and large compound miter saw,
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said:
    Miller Bobcat Welder.
    DeWalt cordless combo set.
    Airless painter.
    Hitachi framing nail gun.
    Large air compressor.
    6-ft., 8-ft. , 10-ft. step ladders and 32-ft. extention ladder.

    Chuck in Lubbock, TX said: Microsoft Project cell phone.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Pickup truck and a mobile phone and a calendar.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: Telephone car! We checked the site every day to see what had been done.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Every sub had tools that were crucial to their trade. Almost too many to list. Couldn't have excavated with a shovel. Rough framing would have taken twice as long without nail guns. I cannot imagine pouring concrete in the ICF walls without a pump truck. How about well drilling with a horse, instead of the current rigs.
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: Shovels and saws and a good Genset to run the saws. The veranda deck would have been a disaster without the chop saw. The lot clearing would have take much longer without a chainsaw.
    John in Port Republic, MD said: Phone, files, pager, camera, people skills, nail gun, level and pencil.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. This showed my estimates, material costs incurred to date, estimates of material costs, basically my whole project. This allowed me to know what I needed to buy, when I needed to buy it (allowing me to act quickly when coming across material closeouts for example).
    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: The bank.
    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: My day timer, schedule calendar and calculator.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said:
    EXCEL
    Microsoft Money
    All my engineer friends (HVAC, Plumbing, Site work, etc.)

    Evan in Middleville, MI said:
    DeWalt 12" compound miter box.
    Plans ....detailed plans.

    Brian in Manvel, TX said: Phone and checkbook.
    John in Bonne Terre, MO said: Sawzall, Circular saw, generator, work lights,
    Jedda in Brighton, ON said:
    Wheelbarrow and shovel for moving river rock.
    Trowel and float for laying tile.
    Hammer for laying hardwood floor.
    Painting equipment.

    Craig in Green Bay, WI said:
    Follow up and being on site a lot.
    Buy lunch and cookies from time to time didn't hurt.

    Karl in Reno, NV said: My mind!
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Computer and cordless tools and of course the fully-equipped RV.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Cell phone. :-)
    Lori in Reno, NV said: Compressor and air nailer.
    Bob in Deltona, FL said: 27 years of drafting engineering.
    Jullie in Logan, UT said: Nail gun.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said:
    1. Radial arm saw
    2. Circular saw.
    3. Cement mixer
    4. Compound miter saw

    Max in OKC, OK said: Parents.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: Microsoft project helped me keep a neat and tidy list of tasks for each and every day, and also very important was the phone. I could get a lot done just by making phone calls in the morning.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: My cell phone was extremely important to keep track of subs.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Nothing in particular.
    John in Erie, CO said:
    Tape measure, level, cell phone.
    Hydraulic bender/cutter was handy for ICF rebar.

    Kari in Colbert, WA said: Cordless drill, chop saw, table saw and miter saw and lots of extension cords. zip ties for ICF and such.
    Mary in Yuma, AZ said: My real estate and commercial development background.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: Plans, budget, schedule, features list. Broom and shop vac. telephone, and computer tracking. Extra fasteners saved people runs to the store many times.

    Richard in Sequim, WA said:
    Skil 77 saw.
    Radial arm saw.
    Levels.
    Framing hammer.
    Computer for spreadsheets.
    Inspectors: they were most helpful;

36.  What anguish or fear of loss did you go through? What was your worst fear during the project?

    barry said: The absolute worst was at near the beginning, after the slab was poured, and we realized that the "architect" had messed up badly on the plans and we were going to have 7 ft ceilings upstairs!.  Plans had to be redrawn (by someone else) and corrected etc.
    This caused a delay of months in the building, with interest running etc.  It was a very expensive mistake. 
    Then I had to get rid of the first framer I hired (recommended by OBN guy). That cost me extra to keep him happy when I fired him about a week into the job, on the advice of a inspector I hired.
    There were lots of problems.  Wife was working and living at or near build site, I was still living 150 miles away except on weekends.  
    I would NOT recommend this to anyone who was not living at or very near the site, and really not anyone who had a regular job.  Things would have been much easier had I been able to be at the job site all or most of the time.  
    Running out of money was the worst.  

    James said: Discovering an error in the building plans after construction started.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: The worst anguish was when one of us pinched a finger badly in a newly installed garage door. Both finger and door survived. My worst fear came in late fall when I worried that we would not get the roof weatherproofed before the fall rains came. We beat the rains by less than 24 hours.

    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: Interest rates had spiked at the time and fear of running out of money.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Trying to sell it in a bad economy.
    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: As of 10/24/09: That we'd never get this thing started.
    Jo-Lynn in Issaquah, WA said: No fears -- just hopeful optimism!
    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: That I would not get my final occupancy permit. The township I built in always seemed very confused.
    I was always worried about when I should pour concrete. The weather was always causing delays.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Worried about theft and break-ins, worst fear was we would miss an inspection deadline and have to re-permit the whole thing.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Getting subs to complete jobs well and on time/budget.
    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: My only fear was that I wouldn't get my permit signed off without getting an extension. I really didn't have any problems along the way.

    Jim in Williamston, NC said: Bad weather.

    Brooke in Burley, ID said: Being taken advantage of by a contractor, not staying on schedule, not meeting the budget.
    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: Currently fear of losing my job, and/or fear of not being able to complete the project.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: The fear of never finishing.

    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: The worst fear was realized: going over budget.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: My anguish was always running to a lumber supply place.
    My biggest fear is just like most. Running out of capital. Still my fear.

    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Completion of the project on time. We were paying mortgage and rent. Contractors not showing up on days when there was no excuse.
    Jere in Ray Twp., MI said: Worst fear was interest rates for my end mortgage would go up before I refi.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: My very worst fear was that I was getting in over my head cost-wise. I wanted to end up with less than a $1,000/mo house payment but I knew I wouldn't be able to do that and I was worried that it was going to be me than I could afford and I'd end up having to seal it after putting all that hard work into it. Of course that didn't happen but that was about the only thing that bothered me. I kind of started out with unrealistic goals as to where my budget would be. I think they were more like dreams because I really didn't think I could come in under the amount I had in mind. Turns out I went way over what I had hoped to do it for but it came in at a realistic number that I'm happy with and can afford.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: No fear.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: Getting mortally wounded falling off the roof.
    Jamie in Cedar Park, TX said: Money, stress, and fights.
    Larry in Marshalltown, IA said: Going over budget.
    Bret in Rhome, TX said: That I wouldn't get it finished.
    Gregory in New Braunfels, TX said: The fear that some unknown or unplanned large expense would appear with no budget to cover it.

    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Not getting done what I was doing to get sub-contractors in on time.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: The ICF contractor put me 14.5 weeks behind schedule.
    Every sub wants more money than whats on their proposal because the cost of material keeps going up.
    Weather delays.

    Chuck in Lubbock, TX said: Theft of materials.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Passing city inspections. They want to find something wrong every time to validate their job.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: We had a few problems with subcontractors, mainly the foundation/footing crew. When we were told it was done incorrectly we feared we would have to disassemble the finished framing in order to correct the problem. The main fears were about going over budget as our costs varied so much from what the bids we had from a GC, some were higher and some lower, but worried we'd be too far over to afford the home when it came to an end, and that we'd have major problems (like with the foundation) with other contractors as well. We feared that our lack of experience and knowledge would cost us this house and all the hard work we put into it.
    It all worked out great though. We even had about $5,000 left in our budget (not the budget we wanted to hit, but the one the construction lender put in place with $20K extra to cover overruns).
    I was pregnant at the same time, so I think it was probably more stressful for me than it would have been otherwise.

    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Biggest fear was fire for some reason. Not sure why. Money, too.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: I cannot say one fear stands out. Most of my anxiety occurred before starting at all because this was my first build and was pretty large/expensive.
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: The worst fear was that the job wouldn't be completed at all. Initially we had a contractor who was to do the job. He absconded with about $8,000 USD we stupidly paid up front to cover the beginning materials and labor. He never paid the laborers and they threatened to take off back to the main island with the tools (I had to furnish all tools) and the materials that were on the job site. I ended up as the O-B with a good crew supervisor only after a lot of talking and convincing to keep the crew. Two of them left with some of my stuff and have never been seen since. The original contractor spent the money and I will never get any of it back. My supervisor tells me that he has since gone to the contractor's home and gotten some revenge by beating the man up pretty badly. They do things differently in Fiji.
    John in Port Republic, MD said: If we were ever going finish. A lot goes into a house.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: That it wouldn't get done.
    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: I feared everything, but i just kept moving forward until it was finished.
    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Not finishing before I had to renew my rental agreement for another year.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: We had to have our septic in place and passing inspection within 30 days. We got it done but it was a lot of work.
    Evan in Middleville, MI said: Completion time.

    Brian in Manvel, TX said:
    No fears really, I build houses for a living.
    One concern was rain before getting dried in. ICF walls take a lot longer to get up than frame walls.

    John in Bonne Terre, MO said: I was overwhelmed once or twice of the enormity of the project.
    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: We built in a fairly isolated location so I was afraid that someone would steal the items we had sitting out on the lot.
    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: None.

    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Didn't really have any fears or anguish during the project.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Going over budget.
    Lori in Reno, NV said: Our biggest fear was going over budget. We anguished over the loss of time due to one thing or another. We didn't have many subs, so it was our own misjudgement that caused the anguish.

    Bob in Deltona, FL said: OSHA.
    Jullie in Logan, UT said: Rain.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Risk to marriage. Fortunately, we were both stubborn enough to survive.
    Max in OKC, OK said: Someone getting hurt.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: There were so many up's and down's with the budget. Some things were much higher and others were much lower when all was said and done. I worried that my budget was going to be messed up.

    Jeff in Provo, UT said: Going over-budget and/or not finishing.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: We weren't fearful enough. We took everyone at his word and got cheated.
    Kari in Colbert, WA said:
    Cost overruns, but also fear of screwing up so that it was irreparable - especially in the ICF part - lots of concrete!
    My daughter fell from our stairs and broke her wrist - that was my worst day.

    Mary in Yuma, AZ said: None during construction. My only fear was that my kitchen wouldn't work out as I envisioned. It was an unusual design.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: It was a new experience, and I was unprepared for the emotional roller coaster it represented. I was afraid that the city would red flag the project when our setbacks turned out to be too small. No one realized that the lot was much smaller than the plat map indicated, due to neighbor encroachment. I often felt alone and demoralized with no real network of other owner-builders for support.

    Richard in Sequim, WA said: Stress on marriage.

37.  What help did you want but couldn't get?

    barry said: Experienced help with the construction process, inspectors who knew what was correct.
    People who knew what they were doing!

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: We didn't want any help to build our house. Doing it ourselves was a key objective from the start.

    Susan said: Affordable landscaping.
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: I ended up doing a lot of the work myself because of the economic climate - I planned on doing a lot less initially.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Good carpenters.
    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: Very little help in finishing things up prior to the move; had to do most of it myself.
    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: Help dealing with the township would have been nice. Everyone that I spoke with at village hall had a different answer anytime I asked a question. Or they would respond with minimal or no useful information.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Decent foundation guy to complete work.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Trying to get the satellite guys to show up. After 3 months I told them to forget it.

    Jim in Williamston, NC said: Any.
    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: None, but I suspect people would appreciate a qualified consultant to call when they are stumped or need a site visit to make proper decisions.
    Brooke in Burley, ID said: Our cement guys to come back and finish our driveway and walkways.
    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: The end of the project was the toughest. I wanted to find someone to coat my foundation insulation with stucco. I couldn't find anyone, including my mason, who was willing to do it. I did it myself with acrylic stucco coating acquired from a local home improvement store.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: More capital.

    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: The city inspectors and planning dept.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: None I guess. I'm not the type to want or ask for help. It would have been nice if our family had pitched in more here and there but I'm not overly disappointed that they didn't; I'm used to going it alone. My dad who has always been a big help over the years is disabled nowadays and doesn't get around as well as he used to but he probably helped more than anyone else in the family and without my asking for it. My brother helped every time I asked, which is all I can expect. I only called for his help a couple of times and he bent over backwards for me and worked just as hard as I did. He's always been that way and I'm grateful to have such a good brother. Other than that, we didn't get much outside help. My father and brother-in-law helped hang a few doors but that's about it other than when we moved. Most of the family pitched in when we moved and we had a lot of help that day. I had considered renting a U-Haul for moving day but we had plenty of trucks between us all to get everything moved in one day. Unpacking everything was a different story.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: None.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: A flat 10% off at Lowe's. I even knew the store manager personally. Everyone I asked swore they did away with the contractor discount.
    As far as help with the trades, I did not get much help on the electrical. Part of that was my own fault. I am really picky about it, so I did it myself.

    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Everyone helps when they get paid.

    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: I wanted to know who I could trust and what was considered a good price on each trade.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Taking some of the workload off of me in terms of calls and decision making.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Friends in the business or subcontractors were pretty much able to help with all my issues.
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: A decent plumber. I had to do it myself because their attempts at plumbing were dismal. I will be redoing some of the tile to repair lousy grout work too.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: You may have to be resourceful, but everything you need is out there.
    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Central heat and air.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: Scheduling help. Ordering lumber so there was no slowdown with the subs was difficult at times.
    Evan in Middleville, MI said: Drywall finishing from a friend.
    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: Your book.
    Karl in Reno, NV said: Plumbing.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Got all the help I wanted.
    Lori in Reno, NV said: None! We were extremely lucky.
    Bob in Deltona, FL said: Day laborers.
    Jullie in Logan, UT said: More framing help.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: We really needed someone to pour our driveway and stairs to the front door. I constantly tried to get someone for it for five weeks. Finally we got a break, but only about three weeks before we closed.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: Small tasks when I needed someone immediately to do something. I ended up doing many of these things myself. Next time I might contract out a temp agency.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Someone to get the inspector to pass framing inspection.
    Kari in Colbert, WA said: Had trouble finding good siders and carpenters. Not many friends helped - but we did have a few good ones.

    Mary in Yuma, AZ said: None really, so many resources online.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: I often got tired of contractor pressure and intimidation. The idea that they knew everything and I, solitary rookie owner-builder knew nothing. They often argued for what made things easier and cheaper for them, and there was no one defending my interests.

38.  What do you consider the most desirable features in a custom home?

    James said: Large, full-featured master bath.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: That it bring joy and contentment to the owners. All else is secondary.

    Susan said: It's yours, how you want it.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Good detail work and good quality products used.
    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said:
    1. ICF construction.
    2. Motorized roll shutter windows.
    3. Large garage.

    Jo-Lynn in Issaquah, WA said: The most desirable features are the ones that make your life easiest and address any challenges you or loved ones might have. For us, my husband's accessibility is the biggest issue so we've designed in flat access, 3' wide doorways, roll-in shower, bracing for future transport equipment to be ceiling mounted and, the biggie, an elevator. Of course, the pretty finishes are what interest a future buyer so you can't forget the stone counters, quality wood cabinets and hardwood flooring.
    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: You name it, anything you want you can have.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Things that fit your lifestyle.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Energy performance.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said:
    Large kitchen
    Unique light fixtures
    Nice finishes
    Vaulted ceilings
    It shouldn't look like something you bought at Home Depot

    Jim in Williamston, NC said: Energy efficiency.

    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: Quality of workmanship and materials.
    Brooke in Burley, ID said: Kitchen, bathrooms, master bedrooms, natural light.
    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: A great location. Layout that accommodates the needs of the family and includes plenty of storage.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: The family room with the huge glass wall.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Great design, sturdy building, quality material.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: Comfort.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Space.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: Anything that adds convenience or practicality and longevity. For us it was a second-floor laundry room and the custom kitchen. Also it is in the finishes like hardwood flooring and slate.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Curb appeal and quality flowing use of space.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Entrance, kitchen and baths.
    Chuck in Lubbock, TX said: Excellent texture job, painting and trim work.
    Paying attention to small details.

    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Windows, kitchen appliances, and custom cabinets and finish trim.
    Brian in Dexter, MI said: Location.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: The ones you can see. Cosmetic finishes and finish work is where it is all at. Good flow to the floor plan and rooms that are larger than those only big enough to fit a twin size bed but not walk around the perimeter of the bed.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Custom cabinetry, radiant heat, built-ins, great kitchen.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Maximizing spaces we use daily. Minimizing spaces we don't use. Taking advantage of the properties features (views, slopes and privacy). Built-ins to serve my family.
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: Comfort.
    John in Port Republic, MD said: Options that are yours.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: Does it fit your lifestyle?
    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: Large rooms, hardwood floor, being built just right for you.
    Ellen in Orlando, FL said: The fact that you did it the way you wanted it.
    Brian in South Burlington, VT said:
    Warm floors; I love radiant heat.
    Land location.
    9' ceilings.

    Evan in Middleville, MI said: Baths and Kitchens.
    Brian in Manvel, TX said:
    Large rooms
    Quiet
    Open and divided floor plan
    Automation
    Custom desinged one of a kind fixtures
    Unique built-ins
    Utilization of all spaces

    Jedda in Brighton, ON said:
    Tile and hardwood floor
    Soaker tub
    Extra insulation
    High ceilings

    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: The process of building it.
    Was our design.
    It looks great we love it.

    Karl in Reno, NV said: Curb appeal, spaciousness, home offices, home theater, workout room, in-law quarters.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: The space to do what you want to do.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Hard to say - I can only speak for myself. I think some necessaries are: Wow! factor in kitchen; Whirlpool bathtub; more than two baths; fireplace; architectural detail; sufficiently wired for technology; energy efficiency.

    Lori in Reno, NV said: Size of rooms and layout.
    Bob in Deltona, FL said: Meet the needs of the client for occupancy and have resale ability.
    Jullie in Logan, UT said: ?
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Not a question for me. This is too personal.
    Max in OKC, OK said: Large closets.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: Beautiful cabinets and crown molding, upgrade on the countertops (granite, Silestone, etc.), tile or wood floors, custom tile entry, a well-lit home with plenty of windows and natural sunlight, custom paint job (two- or three-tone paint, maybe some faux finishing on the walls in select rooms, something more than all white), good lighting and plumbing fixtures, a floor plan/design made specifically for yourself with your own desires being taken into account for, by no means a "cookie cutter" home.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said:
    - Big spaces
    - Natural materials
    - Location, location, location.

    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Longevity, high quality structure. The cosmetic things can easily be replaced, but the bones are expensive to fix.
    John in Erie, CO said: Location, efficiency, maintenance inside/outside (low maint). Fireplaces, tubs, showers. Floor plan with details to match the owner.

    Kari in Colbert, WA said: Overall feeling of cohesiveness - a very nice kitchen and main living area and wood or nice tile floors.
    Mary in Yuma, AZ said: Outside patios and open living/kitchen area.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: I like space and variety of spaces in a custom home. Superior insulation for quiet and comfort. Advanced heating and cooling systems and energy efficient design for low cost operations. Curb appeal, convenience and utility.

39.  What features in your house save operating costs?

    barry said: High Seer zoned hvac system, high efficiency windows, tech shield in attic, good insulation throughout, 
    James said: Two high A/C zones. Double pane windows and doors.
    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: Full-pack insulation, circular exterior shape, high efficiency geothermal heat and air conditioning, all ducting is within the air-conditioned space of the house, triple pane and double pane windows throughout, and very careful sealing of all potential air leaks, plumbing, and vent ducts.

    Susan said: Heat pump, ceiling fans, efficiency rated items.
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: Rainscreen. tight construction, high insulation values. quality of fixtures and materials - overall attention to life cycle costing
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Geothermal heat; R35 wall insulation (combo of in wall and three to four inches of EPS insulation)
    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said:
    - ICF construction provides excellent insulation.
    - Radiant heat everywhere provides controllable, area-specific heat control.
    - Large wood fireplace allows me to utilize natural sources for heat in the winter.

    Jo-Lynn in Issaquah, WA said: High efficiency heat pump, on-demand natural gas tankless hot water heater, double paned windows, upgraded insulation.
    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Super insulation, well and septic system instead of city water and sewer.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Geothermal, windows, insulation.
    Terry in Hayfork, CA said:
    High density insulation
    Wood burning stove

    Jim in Williamston, NC said: Dual fuel.

    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: High efficiency furnace, HWT, Good insulation and Vapor barrier, attention to air tightness.
    Brooke in Burley, ID said: High efficiency heat pump.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: Passive solar, great insulation.

    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: High efficiency furnace, sealing air leaks prior to insulating (around top bottom plates, rim joists, etc.), great stuff around all windows & doors. Porcelain and stone tile save on maintenance costs, as does the fiber cement siding.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: Tankless water heaters and I am hoping to install solar panels.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Electricity monitor that energy saves. Good windows and doors.
    Jere in Ray Twp., MI said:
    - 90 plus furnace
    - high efficiency water heater
    - Nu-Wool cellulose insulation
    - tyvek house wrap
    - energy star windows by Hurd w/ low E argon gas filled
    - Therma-Tru insulated doors
    - Superior walls precast insulated concrete foundation

    Jack in Trumann, AR said: The extra insulation, cellulose mostly. The Ts and corners in the framing were constructed in such a way as to allow the most insulation to be blown into the walls. The geothermal heat pump is an extremely efficient system for climate control which is supposed to save a lot of money over the years. It also heats our water at an effective cost. We installed all fluorescent lighting and energy efficient ceiling fans. I also installed very energy efficient, Marathon, water heaters. The windows are very energy efficient as well. Most people don't think of a crawlspace as an energy efficient feature but that is one of the main reasons I chose to build on a crawlspace as opposed to a slab; so I could insulate my foundation. I did so by building it without vents and by installing a vapor barrier on the ground underneath the house and sealing and insulating the walls of the crawlspace with spray foam. Another reason for the crawlspace was to run the air ducts under the floor where the house has the most stable temperature year around. I also used solar board panels for the roof decking to keep heat in the house in winter and out in summer. We caulked and sealed every nook and cranny in the framing before closing the house up to make it air tight and more efficient (this is one of the cheapest yet effective things you can do in a new house during construction). And lastly, I chose to use ridge vents and continuously vented soffit for venting the attic which is supposed to be the most efficient method.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Geothermal radiant heat and tankless pool heater
    Mike in Marion, OH said:
    Two geothermal furnaces zoned first floor/basement and second floor/master suite
    Nu-Wool blown-in cellulose insulation in 2x6 exterior walls
    Vinyl windows with low-E coating
    New Energy Star appliances
    Regency wood burning fireplace in living room for free winter heating of that space
    Insulation on outside of basement walls

    Larry in Marshalltown, IA said: Lots of insulation and efficient furnaces.
    Matt in Highland, IL said: Geothermal heating and cooling with hot water assist.

    Aaron in Bonsall, CA said:
    Tankless water heater
    2x6 construction with higher effficiency insulation
    16 seer ac
    94% HVAC

    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Good insulation.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said:
    ICF walls
    Open and closed cell spray foam insulation
    Gas Reni tankless water heaters
    Gas range

    Chuck in Lubbock, TX said: Spray-in foam insulation on all exterior walls and below roof deck.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Radiant barrier is the best invention in years. Then foam insulation.
    Brian in Dexter, MI said: Energy efficient construction: ICF walls, R49 insulation, triple pane windows, 16 Seer AC, 95% efficient furnaces, radiant heat, HRV connected to bath fans, high efficiency water heater.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: We did put in a 90% efficient furnace, and plan to do a more efficient system and a tankless hotwater heater in our next one. We also went slightly above code for insullation and put in programable thermostats. We will probably do multi-zone heat controlls on our heat/cool system in the next one as well.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Radiant heat, solar.
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said:
    Solar power vs. a Genset. There's no grid. Generator fuel is roughly $8 USD per gallon, so no way would I want a generator for power.
    Solar hot water saves battery power.
    Next time, I'd use gravity feed for the water instead of the pump.

    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Cellulose insulation in upper two floors. ICF basement. Geothermal heat pump with reduced electricity rates. Double-paned, low e windows. Radiant floor heated basement. Lots of natural light.
    John in Port Republic, MD said: Insulation, windows and doors.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: ICF construction, R-50 insulation in the roof, passive solar, fiber-cement siding, energy efficient HVAC, fiberglass windows and doors, composite deck.
    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: Sprayed foam, high e windows and efficent heat/air.
    Ellen in Orlando, FL said:
    Heat-resistant insulation in attic
    Foam spray in block
    3-m film for windows

    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Small water heater, no central air conditioning, extra insulation.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said:
    Radiant heat
    Lots of insulation
    94% efficient Buderus Boiler

    Evan in Middleville, MI said: High-efficiency appliances
    Brian in Manvel, TX said:
    ICF walls
    Vinyl Low E Argon windows
    SPF insulation

    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: Extra insulation.
    Craig in Green Bay, WI said:
    Foam insulation and batt (extra)
    Good windows & doors

    Karl in Reno, NV said: Wood stove, insulation, evaporative cooler.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Solar panels, auto environmental services.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Windows; extra attic insulation; ICF walls; all Energy Star appliances except freezer; low energy use recessed lighting; argon gas windows/sliding door; ceiling fans; exploited southern exposure of windows.
    Jullie in Logan, UT said: 8-foot ceilings.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said:
    1. Earth sheltering
    2. High thermal mass

    Max in OKC, OK said:
    Good insulation
    Bedrooms below grade

    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: A better HVAC system, blown-in insulation for a higher R-value, good appliances that are energy star rated.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said:
    - Extra insulation
    - 2x6 exterior walls

    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Icynene.
    John in Erie, CO said: Extreme energy efficiency, on demand hot water, pre-plumb for solar. Radiant heat, high efficiency boiler, passive solar design with south exposure shading. ICF exterior walls, spray foam sealed attic. Detailing on windows/doors.

    Kari in Colbert, WA said: ICF - we hope it helps - we shall see.
    Mary in Yuma, AZ said: Insulation upgrades. Tankless hot water. Insulated garage door. Upgraded windows, etc.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: Large windows for winter solar gain. 2x6 framing for R-19 in walls, R-57 blown-in in attic. Electronic thermostats and dual furnaces and air conditioners. Low-E dual-paned argon-filled vinyl windows. Operable windows at low and high points and in opposing positions for natural ventilation. Zoning through closing areas of the house when not in use. Lighting choices for low light or high light uses. Selective use of compact fluorescent lights. Low-energy appliances and high efficiency heating and cooling. Insulated garage doors and no garage windows. Two-sided natural gas sealed fireplace which can make one or two main rooms toasty in winter. Ceiling fans for room-specific inexpensive cooling. Rotary vents in roof.

40.  What features add the most value to your home - rate them.

    James said:
    In ground pool
    High ceilings
    Three-car garage
    Tile roof

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said:
    1. Building with ICF -- A fantastic choice, well worth the money even though there were FAR too many hassles with the concrete crews. Build with the thickest walls you can too.
    2. The solar power system -- If you're building off-grid, your only better choice is if you happen to live next to a lively river from which you can generate hydro-electricity. Otherwise, solar is danged hard to beat.
    3. The radiant heat system -- Clean, quiet, no drafts or cold spots. It just works....can't ask for more than that.
    4. Lots of windows -- Often something folks looking for every bit of efficiency they can possibly get, I wanted a house that had a lot of light during the daylight hours. I sometimes think I have too many windows now, since I don't have a lot of long wall space upon which to put larger pictures and such! (It's a nice problem to have.)
    5. Upgraded insulation -- Besides the R-value provided by the ICF walls I spent some extra $$$ on insulation in the attic. This isn't as big a deal as with any houses due to the radiant heat, but the extra padding up there keeps down noise and helps keep any "added" heat generated by appliances, people, etc. in the living areas where it belongs. Can't go wrong with more insulation.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: The size and shape of the house matches our wants exactly thus the house has added value because we need not sell it to find a better place.

    Susan said:
    1. Open area
    2. Bedroom downstairs
    3. Driveway around entire house

    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Geothermal, good detail work.

    Jo-Lynn in Issaquah, WA said:
    1- Elevator
    2- Hardwood throughout
    3- Universal design/accessibility features

    Mike in Bonham, TX said:
    Layout, design
    Geothermals/energy efficiency
    Finish, look

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said:
    1.) Metal roof
    2.) Concrete siding
    3.) Fire rated decking
    4.) 2x6 exterior walls
    5.) High-density insulation
    6.) Dual-glazed, insulated windows
    7.) Santos mahogany 5" wide hand-scraped hardwood flooring
    8.) Travertine bathroom
    9.) Mud room/laundry room

    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: Every home is different.

    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Location is first. After that, anything that adds square footage. We added a 1,000-sq. ft. workshop beneath the garage, and framed out the basement for later finishing. The choice of materials adds value, but not a lot.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Location, upkeep, landscaping, design of the home, Kohler fixtures
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: Extra bedrooms, bonus space, formal dining room and living room, walk-in shower and Jacuzzi, three-car garage and two-acre lot.

    Faye in Marseilles, IL said:
    Square footage - 1
    Geo heat - 2
    Radiant heat - 3

    Mike in Marion, OH said:
    1- Custom kitchen
    2- Hardwood flooring and slate
    3- Geothermal furnaces
    4- Overkill electrical service
    5- 2x6 framing and blown-in insulation
    6- Wood-burning fireplace.

    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Quality cabinetry, grand curb appeal
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said:
    Energy efficiency 10:10
    Luxury finishes 9:10
    Overall Square footage 10:10

    Chuck in Lubbock, TX said:
    1. large master bedroom/bath/closets
    2. Hardwood floors
    3. custom maple cabinets
    4. 10-ft. ceilings
    5. upscale plumbing fixtures
    6. oversize three-car garage (park a crew cab pickup still have room to walk behind and in front)

    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Square footage is the most important.
    Brian in Dexter, MI said:
    Land - highest - 10
    Curb appeal - 9
    Interior finishes - 8
    Number of bedrooms and bathrooms - 7
    Functional Plan layout - 6
    In-law suite - 5
    Energy efficient construction - 4
    Finished basement - 3
    Extra large garage - 2

    Dayna in Riverton, UT said:
    1- Custom kitchen--quality cabinets, granite slab counter tops, upgraded appliances
    2- Master suite--Vaulted ceilings, mountain view from window, spacious bathroom w/jetted tub, nice faucets light fixtures
    3- Brick exterior--great curb appeal, the slope of the house to the daylight basement makes the home look larger than it really is.
    4- Large garage
    5- Hardwood floors
    6- Eye catching light fixtures throughout
    7- Open spindle railing with wood banister wrought iron spindles
    8- Craftsman style molding two-tone paint

    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: radiant, solar, custom Kitchen and cabinetry, 2 laundry rooms
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said:
    1. View outside from any angle from any room.
    2. Open air feeling inside
    3. Large veranda
    4. Low louvers letting breeze flow air across floor in the tropics was a great idea.

    Roger in Petoskey, MI said:
    1. Huge lake view, with private protected land between the house and the lake.
    2. High end interior finishes (granite and hardwoods everywhere, tile radiant heat, oil rubbed bronze hardware, apron farm house sink, built in shelves, iron spindles)
    3. Low maintenance exterior (cultured stone walk out basement, cement fiber shingle and lap siding with 30 yr prestain, azek trim, 30yr shingle, hidden vent vinyl soffit, trex deck, glass railing)
    4. Large 1 acre lot, 1/2 landscaped with natural boulder retaining walls, the other 1/2 natural land.
    5. Neighborhood has restrictions.
    6. 2 Wood buring fireplaces.
    7. Large porch.

    John in Port Republic, MD said:
    1. House itself. it is round and gives a 360-degree view with little effort.
    2. decks on 1st and 2nd floor
    3. Waterfront view

    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said:
    1. Hardwood floors, tile.
    2. Insulation
    3. Trim
    4. Dumbwaiter
    5. Fireplace

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said:
    Five-car garage
    Land view is amazing (10 acres)
    Custom Kitchen and hardwood floors through out the house.

    Evan in Middleville, MI said:
    Built-ins
    Trim work
    Pella windows
    Cement board siding

    Brian in Manvel, TX said:
    1. ICF walls for windspeed strength
    2. SPF insulation for energy efficiency

    Jedda in Brighton, ON said:
    Granite kitchen counter
    Tile and hardwood floors
    Soaker tub with air jets

    Craig in Green Bay, WI said:
    All brick
    Tile showers
    Granite countertops
    Cherry cabinets
    Fireplaces: two gas, one wood
    The general layout

    Karl in Reno, NV said: Kitchen, master bedroom. Master bathroom

    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said:
    Features that add value to homes
    That depends on who the home is built for. everybody thinks something different adds value

    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: In this order (based on our preference) - energy efficiency; custom, cherry kitchen; hardwood floors; fireplace; large basement recreation room (future potential); 3rd bay in garage; large lot; whirlpool bathtub; large, open concept floor plan

    Jullie in Logan, UT said:
    1- Daylight basement
    2- Covered deck off dining
    3- Very large shower

    Richard in Malabar, FL said: None - subjective question
    Max in OKC, OK said:
    1 - Multilevel Deck
    2 - Jenn Aire Cooktop
    3 - Convection Oven
    4 - Intercom
    5 - Spa Tub

    Karlie in Ogden, UT said:
    1- A fully integrated wiring system with the abilities for an alarm system and whole house sound
    2- Rustic Maple cabinetry and crown moulding throughout kitchen and baths
    3- Custom tile entry and tile throughout kitchen, dining, hall, laundry and baths
    4- 6 x 17 front porch
    5- Extra large garage with high ceilings for storage

    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said:
    Looks, street appeal
    Steel framing
    Icynene
    Interior looks, wood trim, ceramic floors (these can be easily changed so they aren't so valuable).

    John in Erie, CO said:
    Location
    Efficiency/quietness (ICF)
    Finishes (granite, wood, tile)
    Design/layout
    Radiant heat

    Kari in Colbert, WA said: Wood floors, granite countertops, large square footage, custom cabinetry, nice lighting, woodwork, nice master suite.
    Mary in Yuma, AZ said:
    1. Granite counters throughout
    2. Upgraded tile etc. in bathrooms/showers
    3. Insulation
    4. Floor plan good for retirement home.

    Mark in Provo, UT said:
    Out of ten:
    Custom kitchen 9
    Deluxe master bath and jetted tub 8
    Timeless colonial design 8
    High ceilings 8
    Upgraded utilities 8
    Custom woodwork and stair rail 8
    2x6 framing and upgraded insulation 8
    Four baths 8
    Wood flooring 8
    Custom blinds 7
    Home theater 7
    Large windows/mountain views 7
    Walk-in closets 7
    Ceiling fans 7
    Upgraded plumbing fixtures 7
    Ample cabinet space 7
    Guest suite 6
    Three-tone paint 6
    Whole house vac 6
    Whole house water filtration 6
    In-ground sprinkler system 6
    Maintenance-free deck 5
    Recessed lighting 5
    Beautiful grass 5
    Wide entry walk and drive 5
    Oversized garage/sports court 5
    Neo-angle showers 5
    Sunny breakfast nook 5
    Two tubs 4
    Upgraded vinyl windows 4
    Oversized electrical panels 4
    Whole house audio 4
    Hot/cold water in garage 4
    Extra closets and nooks 4
    Bedside light controls and dimmers 4
    Large contoured planting beds and berms 4
    Powder room 4
    Recessed exterior house downlighting 4
    Available home office or dining room 4
    Outdoor lighting and extra spigots 3
    Cat-5 and telephone arrays 3
    Pre-wire for alarm system 3
    Upgraded garage doors and openers 3
    Dormer in guest suite 3
    25-year architectural shingles 3
    Extra outlets and Christmas light circuit 3
    No-maintenance vinyl exterior 3
    Pre-wiring for upgrades 2
    Wireless networking 2
    Dual fuel provision for stove and clothes dryer 2
    Cable/Satellite hookups 2
    Electronic doorbell 2
    Upgraded door hardware and doorstops 2
    Ice and water shield and drip roof edges 2
    Seamless rainguttering 2

41.  What owner-builder laws exist where you live?
42.  Did you get a construction loan without a contractor?
43.  Do you have a step-up strategy?
44.  What do you do for a living?
45.  How much combined time did you spend planning?
46.  How many times are you planning to do this?
47.  Are you organized?
48.  What suggestions do you have for O-B's to get organized?

    James said: Pre-plan the entire process. Think about backup plans for major steps that are not well defined.

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said:
    1. Keep a great notebook of ideas.
    2. Go to every Home and Garden show you can.
    3. Tour houses in a local Parade of Homes. Note things you like, things you hate.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: Use a file cabinet and make files for different categories of work, such as plumbing, floor plans, etc. List all the trades whose work you intend to do and learn the basics. Draw plans early and keep modifying them until you cannot think of further improvements. Buy land far in advance so that you can learn your future building site. Read, read, and read some more. Take notes.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Start using a BIG binder with tabs for each phase of construction and another one for each room of the house that you can put your wish lists in and pictures of what you like.

    Susan said: A realistic spreadsheet for every phase including the budget.
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: Mental discipline - or get someone to monitor you. Most disorganized people will not change their modus operandi hence the change of attitude and mental discipline.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Organize by trades.
    Jo-Lynn in Issaquah, WA said: Make sure to have PDFs of your entire plan set (including your site plan) in your possession.
    Use email to communicate with everyone you ask for a bid so you have a paper trail.
    You can start with a binder with tabs to organize each trade's bids but realize that you'll likely want to move on to a file box that can hold a ton more while still being portable -- it will be your office in a box that keeps you organized and on-track.
    I found it most efficient to organize my file box in the order tasks occurred/trades were needed. So administrative stuff first (GC-related, construction loan docs, envelope for receipts, etc.), then excavation and foundation. Then plumbing, framing, electrical and so on.
    When I was getting to the final total number for the project, everything was easy to figure out because I kept all incoming bid information in a spreadsheet.
    Once you have a good bid for whatever material or material/labor, make sure every other bid you get is apples to apples. Carefully review each subsequent bid and if you find it doesn't break down things in a way that you can really compare it, request a breakdown that will specifically allow you to do so. If a vendor won't comply, I just wouldn't deal with them, period. It probably means that there's profit padding in there that they don't want you to see and that isn't going to be good for you and your family. Walk away and go on to the next, more communicative and flexible vendor.

    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: Buy a laptop computer and big box for all the papers that you will collect.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Spend a LOT of time thinking and going over things in your mind. Write lists of stuff to do, stuff to get done this week, stuff for the month, stuff to get done if it rains and you can't do what you planned...

    Brooke in Burley, ID said: Get organized or don't attempt OB.
    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: Notebooks are great, but I also use the computer. Excel is your friend.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said:
    Keep a file with all contact info.
    Multiple copies of blueprints.
    Tools organized and kept in order.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Everything on a computer spreadsheet, line-items, contractors, estimates, bids, key contacts.

    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Put everything in a plan. Keep the plan up to date. Put everything on a budget. Keep the budget up to date. Track everything you spend. Compare actual expenditures against the budget and against reimbursements from the bank. Budget for everything, and get a loan to cover everything in the budget--if you decide to do your own work, then you won't spend that money. But if you run out of time, you're covered with enough in the budget to pay for help. Use a punch list -- and keep it up to date.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: Laptop and a planner.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Find the time even though you may think you don't have it. Saves money in the end. Keep good records and file accordingly.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: Research, do a lot of it up front so you know what to expect and plan your project based on what you learn. Periodically, write your thoughts down, you'll remember things that you tend to forget that way. Use Excel to manage your checking account; if you're not computer savvy, you can do it on paper but keep your building expenses completely separate from your personal expenses. Before going to the store to pick up materials, make a detailed list of what you're going to get while you're there. Periodically, make a list of things that are left to be finished and then try to chip away at the list. Try to use a consistent method for everything you do so that you do it the same way every time and you keep track of what you do. I started out trying to keep track of my hours worked and on what but when you're in the middle of everything, that gets hard to keep up to date. I tried to do a detailed budget up front before starting, but there are so many unknowns at that point that it's very hard to be accurate. I ended up using rough estimates for the main trades and I found it to be pretty close. Keep a close watch on miscellaneous expenses; those trips to Lowe's and Home Depot add up before you know it and if you use a credit card for such purchases, you can get a shock at the end of the month.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Utilize your computer and keep paperwork in files.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: Put together a project book with bids and pictures from magazines for ideas.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Communicate if you have a spouse who is involved any at all. Keep a designated folder/binder of information. Return calls when necessary.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Have standard bid and contract packages which include all required paper work. i.e. billing instructions, change order instructions, W-9, insurance requirements etc. Make all subs return every required document prior to start of any work or material drop. Get a filling cabinet! Get everything in writing, absolutely NO verbal agreements!
    Chuck in Lubbock, TX said: Use Microsoft Project for planning religiously and adjust the schedule as you go along.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Get the Microsoft Project program.
    Brian in Dexter, MI said: Use Microsoft Excel or some other electronic format.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said:
    Be sure to start from day one. If you don't it will pile up too quickly.
    Spreadsheets in Excel will save your life and sanity.
    Keep computer files and paper files in one place.
    Use a P.O. system to track purchase of materials, especially if you will be making more than one purchase from one vendor. It will make it much easier to track what they are billing you for when you receive several bills from one vendor each month.
    Have a timeline chart and tape it to the wall if needed. Make sure you know what is needed next and what kind of lead time suppliers and contractors need and schedule them appropriately. If they need three weeks lead time make sure you give it to them three weeks before you need them. Then check in about three days prior to the day they are to start work and then again one day before to ensure they show up and there isn't any miscommunication causing costly delays and aftershocks that affect other subs.

    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Written schedules, budget lists, phone contact list for all subs and suppliers.
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said:
    Use checklists.
    Share and refine checklists with whoever will be living in the house with you.
    Treat getting and staying organized as an integral part of the job - every day.

    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Use the computer to create your lists. That way the can be changed easily and emailed if possible.
    Get some file boxes so you can take your documents with you and find them. Keep names and numbers well organized.

    John in Port Republic, MD said: Get a planner.
    Get a computer for research.
    Get a separate file cabinet for OB'ing with separate files for subs/trades.
    Know what the next step is.

    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: It is a headache at first, but this will pay you pack better than any other part of the job.
    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: Read a lot; talk to those who have done it.
    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Use a day timer, schedule calendar and computer.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: Use a computer for all the aspects of the build.
    Excel for budgeting.
    Microsoft Money for keeping track of the budget.
    Buy a cheap scanner so you can scan in all invoice, checks, bids, etc.

    Evan in Middleville, MI said: Better not take it from me...
    Brian in Manvel, TX said:
    Get a good file system.
    Don't get more than 2-3 bids. You'll go nuts.
    Talk to some professionals when possible to get info on timetables and order of construction. There are some things that must go before another trade that may not be obvious. (like countertops before tile backsplash but floor tile goes before countertops) Common sense would have all the tile done at once.

    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: Follow the guidelines in The Owner-Builder Book. I've recommended it to lots of people.
    Craig in Green Bay, WI said:
    Plan out the project first.
    Set up file system.
    Use a calendar (I use a palm and my computer database with names etc...).
    Plan Plan
    Plan your work and work your plan.
    Set time for review and updating on a daily and weekly bases.
    Get everything in writing.

    Karl in Reno, NV said: Just do it!
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: A checklist and put it in computer database so you can check to see what you need and what you have.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Spreadsheet; keep all paperwork together; carry a notebook while out - when you have a break, stop at book store and take notes while reading. Leave notebook in car during planning; every whim, suggestion, reference, etc. goes in on subtitled pages (electrical; flooring, etc).
    Lori in Reno, NV said: Make and keep a good filing system. Each aspect of building in its own file. If you get a loan keep copies of receipts and file by dates you requested the draw.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Use PC, get familiar with Excel, use spreadsheet for budgeting, quotes.
    Max in OKC, OK said: Keep a BIG notebook with all papers in it.
    Use e-mail for all possible business and save copies.

    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: The computer is a great tool. I put everything on Microsoft Project and each morning I would take a look at it to see what I needed to do for the day. I would start my day off with any necessary phone calls and then work my way down the list. Each night I would sit down for 5-10 minutes and type in what I needed to do the next day.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: Write down everything and get everything in writing.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Buy the book.
    Kari in Colbert, WA said: Not living in a trailer - just kidding. Try to maintain an office somewhere so as to keep all your records together and write expenses in a notebook every time you spend!
    Mary in Yuma, AZ said: Keep a book with all your planning info, business cards of trades referred to you,and make up a file box for clipping from magazines or brochures. Separate bank account or Quicken account for every penny you spend. Keep a large calendar to track appointments and trades, etc.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: The main tools of an owner-builder are a written budget, written schedule, and written features or specifications. A computer spreadsheet works very well for the budget and schedule. On the budget, You can list side by side bids on any trade, including line item details and contact information. The spreadsheet works great because you can do totals and averages and capture lots of detail. The spreadsheet keeps you organized. The same for schedule. For features, any text file works well.

49.  Are you a good shopper?
50.  What suggestions do you have on finding good prices?

    barry said: Talk to your subs, or haunt the lowes/home depot for sales, special orders not picked up etc.  BUT make sure all these things you buy will fit first!
    James said: Negotiate with everyone. Ask what can you do to get the price down, e.g., pick up material, prep and clean-up work.

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: None really; they were all over the map every time we went to look at things. Sometimes we lucked into good finds (like outdoor lights for the apartment area), sometimes we were lucky to find one of something.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: Patronize several supplier stores until you get a feel for which one most often offers good prices and good quality. After that, save your shopping time for the things your regular supplier does not have available.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Use the Internet.
    Susan said: Visit every place that carries what you are looking for. Use the Web.
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: Be interested in everything building and construction related - network with others in construction. Negotiate every price - always ask for a deal - no one will offer you a deal.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Ask subs what they think of a particular price for something.
    Jo-Lynn in Issaquah, WA said:
    - Look at local big box stores to decide what you like. Record model numbers, finish information and local price.
    - Google or Bing search for the model numbers you want and see how low you can get that model number product for.
    - Check bbb.org for any reviews of websites you're thinking of doing business with.
    - Google "reviews [website name]" to find out what others are saying about a particular online store you're considering doing business with
    - If you're buying a fair amount of stuff from a single place, ask for contractor or bulk pricing. Most will be willing to do something for you.
    - If you aren't ordering a volume high enough to get you a custom discount, be sure to check out rebate sites like BigCrumbs or Ebates to see if you can get a rebate on your purchase. These are free to register with and pay out promptly per their guidelines. Start your shopping session through one of these sites and, when checking out, don't forget to put in a discount code.
    - When ordering on-line always check to see if discount coupons/codes are available for that site. Google/Bing "discount promo code [website]" and then run through a bunch of the results to see how big a discount you can snag!

    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: Go online.
    Leverage your subcontractor's relationships.
    Use custom cabinets.
    Open contractor accounts where you can, pretend you are a business.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Craigslist, eBay, Habitat for Humanity store, yard sales, garbage day, landfill (for paint and mulch, and some other stuff).
    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: Take photos (iPhone or camera phone) of prices of appliances as you shop. Keep these photos with you. When you see something that is a good price... double-check with your photos. Found my $2,000 savings on a double oven this way.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: Freecycle.com and Craigslist.
    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Talk to anyone/everyone else who has built. Use a network.
    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Start a business. Get accounts with distributors, rather than buying from retailers. Big box store prices are usually not the lowest.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: Shop around.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: Always check the Internet. Good deals and free shipping. Also no tax.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Internet, and shop around for sites that have a physical location should there be a problem. Internet saves time on footwork.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Google.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: Shop early to save big. If you need it next Tuesday, it is not going to be on sale. Know what you like and look for it well in advance of needing it.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: Don't think of the first price you see as a best price. Force yourself to get three prices on everything. Know the ballpark price before the fact through telephone interviews of subs and vendors and networking with other owner-builders and knowledgeable local people.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Shop, compare, make calls.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Get plenty of bids, put the subs in a pricing war with each other. Make sure they know exactly what you want them to price. Guessing drive the price up.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Craigslist has a list of subs, also kudzu.com. Drive around new construction and talk to the subs on site and they will all know a handful of trades they would recommend.
    Brian in Dexter, MI said: eBay, Craigslist, Kraftmaid warehouse, and clearance items at Home Depot/Lowe's.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: Search everywhere for prices, in town, ask contractors, Internet. When you think you have found a killer deal, spend a few more hours looking until you find a better deal still.
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: Know what you want and what you need. They aren't always the same thing. Shop for closeouts and overruns. Always ask for a discount. Get a discount and be loyal to your supplier for deeper discounts. Pay your bills on time - all the time.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Make your own specifications and material lists so you can compare apples to apples and shop around. Get as many price estimates as you can BEFORE you build.
    John in Port Republic, MD said: Compare prices on the Internet with local stores. Shop on eBay if you know what you want. Free shipping and no sales tax is a great bonus, plus they deliver it to your door. Network with other O-B's.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: Always be looking. You never know when you will come across closeout items. However you need to know what your needs are. Closeout tile at a great price is no good if you don't have someplace to install it. This is where your spreadsheet comes in; you can keep track of what you need to purchase.
    Be flexible. We were going to use sheet flooring in our mud room, until we found tile at a great price. Tile was cheaper than vinyl, so we upgraded. The tile was on closeout. Why not upgrade when it saves you money?
    Be relentless. Let's use lumber for example. If you do your own quantity takeoffs, you can fax this to every lumberyard in town. Just call them and ask if you fax a material list are they interested in putting prices down. Getting new customers is difficult; having one fall into your lap is a dream for these suppliers. And since your material list is already itemized, all they have to do is go to their computer and fill in prices and fax it back to you. You can get 10 bids in a couple of hours' time. If you are looking to save the last dollar, you can take your lowest bid to Home Depot and ask them to price match minus 10%, and combine this with a 10% off coupon you purchased via the Internet (just type "Home Depot Coupons" into ebay.com), and now you are saving some real money. Personally, I think H-D lumber is junk compared to what a real yard will get you, and I like to keep everyone on equal footing. But if I were trying to save that last dime I would have used H-D more.
    Don't limit yourself to local suppliers. The Internet opens up a whole world of supplies that can be shipped. While you wouldn't want to order cable or wiring over the Internet (much easier to get locally for probably equal cost), you can order all of your faucets and finish plumbing, light fixtures, etc. on-line.

    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Check out as many vendors as possible. Watch for sales. Check with other people in the trades for references.
    Brian in Manvel, TX said: Stay away from big box (Home Depot/Lowe's).
    Go through a neighborhood and look for delivery trucks. Buy your stuff there too.
    Tell them you are a contractor and ask for special pricing.

    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: Home Depot.
    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: Know what to buy first. If it seems too low of a price, find out why and double-check it.
    Lori in Reno, NV said: Home Depot has great sales through the year. I also watched their website and bought each item when it was a great buy even if we were not at the point of needing the item.
    Karl in Reno, NV said: Use the Internet!
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Check with all the suppliers and if you can, check with wholesalers and the manufacturers.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Keep looking until you reach a level of satisfaction that fits the budget.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: I mostly found that I had to just get people to give me a bid, and get several of them before I would make a decision. The difference in bids for the exact same specifications can be amazing. Also, it's good to shop early. If you're in a last minute rush for things, often you won't get the best price. I also liked shopping for some things online, like my lighting fixtures. I found better prices online for my bathroom fixture and garage lights than I did at any local store.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: Ask for them. Almost anyone can get "contractor pricing" if they ask.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Know what you want first. Make folders with pictures from magazines. When you see something very unique, buy and store it. If it can be bought just anywhere, wait til you need it.
    Kari in Colbert, WA said: Research.
    Mary in Yuma, AZ said: Call locally, then go out of town and check prices. Even Home Depot will differ from location to location.

51.  Would you be willing to upload to us a copy of your budget?
52.  Would you be willing to upload to us a copy of your schedule?
53.  Were there any schedule items that took you a lot longer or shorter than you thought they would?

    barry said: Yes, the electrical.  I would not do it again.
    James said: Tile roof, and painting.

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: It took several months to get the construction loan together.
    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: The cabinetry work took a surprisingly long time even though I had no firm preconceptions as to time requirements.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: The framing was much faster than I anticipated.
    Insulation was much faster than I thought it would take also.

    Susan said: Shorter, the pier beam foundation and the framing.
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: I found a lot of subs had severe drinking/drug problems - drywallers/tapers were notorious.
    Material and supplies were on time but labor was not.

    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Selling.
    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: Siding took forever, painting did too. Flooring and drywall were quick. Framing took much longer due to the weather.
    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Getting the framing done took longer than I thought.
    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Finish-out took a lot longer.
    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: Things generally take longer than one would think.
    Brooke in Burley, ID said: Plumbing - getting the guy to stick around and finish was a little frustrating. Prepping for painting took twice as long as I expected.
    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: Building design took a year longer than expected. Planning approval from the county took seven months longer than expected. VERY GLAD I wasn't paying construction loan interest during that period "whew!!". If I had it to do over again, I would select an architect/structural engineer team with a PROVEN track record in the jurisdiction we were working in. This might have limited the creativity... so you take the good with the bad.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: The whole house.
    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: The weather delayed us whenever it could. I underestimated the effort necessary for just about everything I did myself.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: Demolition took 7 weeks longer than I thought.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Trying to correct problems caused by building going on around me.
    Jere in Ray Twp., MI said: The electrical took me a lot longer than I expected. I was working at my old job full-time and the new job part-time... plus building a house. I got distracted during the summer because on the weekends I wanted to go boating instead of working on the house.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: Framing and drywall were the two trades that killed my project. The framer took nearly twice as long to frame out the house as it should have taken, and the drywall subs took three times too long for their part. Needless to say, I was very disappointed in both. I'm proud of the finished product though.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Siding.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: Electrical took a lot longer - I basically did it on my own.
    Finish trim took a lot longer because of caulking it all and painting it twice.
    We flew through the hardwood flooring and the kitchen install.

    Matt in Highland, IL said: Roof took longer. We have a gable with brick sitting on the roof of the gable. That little area of house held up my whole project inside because we could not drywall until that area was sealed off with the roof. The roofers had to wait for the masons to finish it.
    Aaron in Bonsall, CA said: Framing went way over.
    Rough plumbing went over, as our plumber got sick and never came back.

    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Framing took longer. Trusses took longer because a girder truss was built wrong.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: ICF Wall contractor said he needed 12 days and it ended up taking 78 days.
    Framing ran two weeks longer due to weather delays.
    Stucco took an additional week, but did not affect the critical path.
    Masonry, hanging drywall, and painting went very fast.

    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Framing took a lot longer. Tile took longer, but was sooo worth it.
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: On this house nothing was done on time. It was all done on an hourly labor basis. That's the way they work in Fiji. "Island time" has a new meaning there. The rains, the shipping of materials, and the labor problems were tremendous. This was all managed long distance; it involved getting things done by phone once a week and by visiting 10 times over 7 months.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: I wasted one week between drywall and finish because the hardwood floors had to adjust to the environment and I had so much, I couldn't find room for it in the house until the drywallers were nearly done.
    John in Port Republic, MD said: Closing up the walls. Plumbing and electric trades took longer than expected.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: ICF. It took longer to get the shell than it should have, the weather really impacted this part of the project.
    Roofing. I did this myself to save money. Next time I pay to get it done. It took me an inordinate amount of time and ultimately didn't save me anything. Nothing on a roof is lightweight, it is heavy labor. You save nothing by doing this yourself. Other trades have higher skill, and therefore make more money and offer better return on time investment for you to undertake.

    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Between dried-in building to starting the interior finish work. (I was medically unable to do any work due to back injury and subsequent surgery: 7 months).
    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: PEX tubing in the ceilings took two weeks longer than expected. I used 7/8" PEX instead of 1/2". I will use 1/2" on future projects.
    Brian in Manvel, TX said: Custom stair railing said 16 weeks, but took 10 months.
    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: We did not have a schedule for the last house that we O-B'ed, but thanks to you we will have one for the next house.
    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: The whole project went faster than I thought. We started Aug. 15th, and moved in Dec. 1st. I shut down the site for two weeks in Sept. when we were on vacation (except for basement floor pour).
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: The wiring went much faster than I thought and the plumbing took a bit longer than I thought.
    Lori in Reno, NV said: Putting the rim joist on was our first stumbling block. But the leach lines have to be the record killing-schedule item to us.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Finding Florida subcontractors with a good work ethic was a real challenge; they all too often say that they will respond with a quote for services (concrete, plumbing, electrical), and never do. I have created a Florida Subcontractors BLACKLIST, as a result.
    Max in OKC, OK said: Staircase.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: The final concrete pour (driveway, stairs) took me at least four weeks longer than I expected. Apparently mid-July is not a good time to try and get someone to do that! On the other hand, I was expecting our framing crew to take close to two weeks to finish our project. They were done in less than a week and their work was impressive.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: Trusses took much longer than expected because they brought out the wrong ones three times. That put us about one month behind schedule.
    Roofing additionally took much longer than I expected.

    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Steel framing. The city was unfamiliar and flunked us five times. I finally had to go to the head of the building dept. to get moving.
    John in Erie, CO said: Excavation was much longer, most everything else was close.
    Rain slowed us significantly, one+ month lost due to rain.

    Kari in Colbert, WA said: It all took longer - mostly as we were in a building boom and subs were booked and always late for their scheduled job, so lots of bump-outs. Floors took longer than thought too. That was our DIY trade.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: The DIY items were incredibly long. We were not experienced in the trades we undertook, although we knew something about each of them. Our slowest tradesman was the siding guy, but it didn't hold anything else up. Insulation was unbelievably fast.

54.  Did you use a designer, architect, stock plan?
55.  What are the three best things you did?

    barry said: Found an excellent (expensive) Framer the 2nd time around.
    Found a good mason who did very good work at a fair price.
    Concentrated on doing a good job insulating, and creating an energy efficient house for
    Central Texas.

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said:
    1. I'm glad we oversized the solar array. This has proven to be a smart move despite admonitions from various online folks that I was "wasting money" and a general disgruntled "but it doesn't need to be that big" from Solar LeRoy. Let's be clear--they're all absolutely correct that one usually doesn't need a system quite this large, but I was thinking down the road and looking at power usage a few years hence. It's the natural tendency of people to use more electricity over time as they buy new things, and of course appliances age and get less efficient over time. The batteries are still a bit of a concern as I've noted before--I'm still not sure that having 24 of them is really quite enough storage given our loads and my projections as to what we'll do over the winter. Getting a backup generator will alleviate this (we're talking about what we'll get now) quite a bit, of course. Next year I plan to expand out the system to 42 panels (giving me approximately 9.6 kW of generating power) and possibly upping the storage to at least 36 batteries. Of course doing that means I'll have to build a new solar shed, as the current one simply won't hold all that hardware... but that's all part of evolving Tanglewood.
    2. I'm glad I did all the coax and Ethernet wiring myself. This is already proving to be a real benefit to have full-speed hardwired Internet access throughout the house, and since I properly labeled everything as I went, I know what's what and where it all goes. It was a relatively simple task that the electricians wanted a ridiculous amount of money for, and doing it myself ensured it was both "done right" and helped me save some money. We did good here.
    3. I'm glad I left room for the rooftop deck. Even though it's only a roof right now and I won't be installing the actual decking for a couple of years, this area is going to work out great. It's a large and spacious area with plenty of room for BBQ areas, benches and tables, trellises and planters that will be very inviting. Tying it into the computer room deck will be a special touch as well. I can't imagine what it would have cost to have the construction folks do the work, and given some of the other work I've stumbled across in the far corners of the house I frankly wouldn't have trusted it much. Plus there won't be any bears getting into the BBQ grill--a huge plus!

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: I had, and have, a wonderful, intelligent, hard working spouse of great patience. Learned the technical aspects of all that we did before we did it. Bought land and saved sufficient money before we started.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Vaulted ceiling
    Solid granite countertops
    High-end light fixtures
    The very best thing that I did was probably taking the time to plan everything and really think it through, to the point of future expansion.

    Susan said:
    The design
    Stained the divided-lite windows.
    Ordered custom double-hung windows.

    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Good attention to detail. Got good subs. Fixed all problems (didn't hide them).

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Trust in God. Marry the right girl. Involve the kids.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Had a good designer who understood what I wanted and got good plans to bid/build from.
    Sited the house to take advantage of natural features on the property.
    Dealt with a local bank that knew the area and my project.

    Brooke in Burley, ID said: We went to an area with lots of new construction and toured construction sites to find a plan we liked. Then we contacted the builder to get the building cost - that let us know our budget was in the ballpark for that size of home. Then we contacted the general's drafting guy and made some small modifications to the plans and purchased them.
    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: So far? Getting planning approval before tearing down the old structure. Getting water/power moved prior to demo. (We will have utilities during construction)... Beyond this... don't know.
    Jeff in Hartland, WI said:
    1. We got the project done on schedule
    2. Scheduling and expediting was a piece of cake. I'm glad I didn't pay someone $40K to $60K to do it for me.
    3. The quality of the house compares with others in the area that are much more expensive.

    Mike in Upstate, NY said:
    Purchased my own supplies.
    Hired who I wanted for each job.
    Took a break when things got crazy.

    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said:
    Got an architect.
    Bothered to keep myself knowledgeable.
    Learned not to be afraid to speak up and pursue whatever measures that can be taken to remedy legally any issues.

    Jack in Trumann, AR said: First and foremost, the best decision I made was to insulate the house thoroughly. That decision has paid off in heating and cooling bills, but it also paid off recently when an ice storm came through our area and knocked out everyone's power. We're all electric, and most people I know who are also all electric were telling how cold their houses were and how they'd do almost anything to get heat in the house. Mine on the other hand stayed in the 60s without running any heat at all. It was very comfortable.
    The second thing I did that I'm proud of was installing the geothermal heat pump. It keeps our house more comfortable than any house I've ever been in and it's very efficient and cost effective.
    Probably the third best thing I did was to build over a crawlspace. Doing so has made the house more flexible than I would have thought. I can add plumbing anytime and just about anywhere I like. I can run electrical cable down there if needed to get power and other cable to places where I can't get to from the attic. I could use it for storage of certain things, but haven't yet. And I was able to run my air ducts in an environment that is fairly stable year around, unlike the attic where temperatures are almost always extreme. It was a good call.

    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Research, auctions, cabinet shopping.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: Did as many trades myself as I could. But if it would save a lot of time or I was not competent at it, I would sub it out.
    Electrical, roofing, siding, drywall, flooring and trim work - saved the most doing these myself. Next best would be painting.

    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Placing the house on the lot to maintain the best view. Hardwood floors, which was a new thing for me. Designing and building custom mantels for the fireplaces.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: I bought the AutoCAD plans from an Architect and redesigned the house to fit our needs without changing any architectural features. I made my wife's closet about 120 sq. ft., added a safe room/wine cellar, made the third garage door 12' wide and 28' deep to fit a four-door 1-ton truck, added the 400-sq. ft. outdoor kitchen and 400-sq. ft. Sundeck, 620-sq. ft. game room/media room.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: French doors, attic, garage, see-thru fireplace, step-down living room, Jacuzzi tub.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: Kept a tight schedule. Our financing costs were almost half of what our friends were. We built in four months, they were almost a year for the same size home in the same town, many of the same subs.
    Asked everyone we knew who had done any home improvement or construction for suppliers and contractors/subs they were happy with.
    Walked through tons of model homes picking out exactly what we wanted for cosmetic finishes. Also asked many people what they would change about their homes if they could so we knew exactly what we wanted. FYI, people always responded with "more closets and larger garage". We did the extra closets and passed on the larger garage. Regretted not doing a larger garage, but are planning on it this next round.

    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Radiant, superior walls, and custom cabinetry.
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said:
    1. Let the architect provide elevations and floor plan.
    2. I did the rest of the design.
    3. Negotiated materials and labor costs.

    Roger in Petoskey, MI said:
    1. Came up with my own lists of specs and materials.
    2. Got multiple bids.
    3. Showed up daily to identify the inevitable problems.

    John in Port Republic, MD said:
    Built the house and finished it.
    Have lived in the house and love the floor plan. It works very well and we love it.
    Decks, we built them and they look great!

    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said:
    1) O-B myself.
    2) Hire an architect - Greg was fantastic.
    3) ICF construction. This so much nicer than stick-framed. You don't understand until you walk in one of these. They are so much more substantial. It is like closing the door on a Ford Escort and comparing it to closing the door on a BMW 7-series.

    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: Foam insulation, large rooms, hardwood floors.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said:
    Built front entry steps of brick.
    Wired entire house with help from brother-in-law.
    Ran all the radiant heat by myself.

    Evan in Middleville, MI said:
    Designed my own plan.
    Framed it myself.
    Plumbed it myself.

    Brian in Manvel, TX said:
    Not waste money on a GC.
    Run a very tight schedule. Trades were asked when they would finish, and given 1-2 days cushion.
    Expect the worst and plan for the best.

    Jedda in Brighton, ON said:
    Shopped around.
    Small amount of self-work.
    Drew our own plan.

    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: Use all brick.
    Foam insulation.
    Didn't cut corners to save a dollar.

    Karl in Reno, NV said:
    1. Start
    2. Everything else
    3. Finish.

    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Organization and wiring layouts.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Deciding to owner-build; using our framer; upgrading to ICF.
    Max in OKC, OK said:
    Multilevel house
    Kitchen - lots of cabinets
    Loft

    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: Learned how to better communicate with the contractors and let them know what I wanted and expected, learned to be better organized, became better at being creative when the budget needed adjustments.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Picked a plan we loved, and products we loved.
    Took the challenge.
    Kept working after we were cheated.

    John in Erie, CO said: ICF walls and radiant heat.
    Good design.

    Kari in Colbert, WA said: DIY electrical, painting, and trimwork.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: Elaine had a good eye for a livable design with good curb appeal.
    Our written budget kept us within our means.
    Extensive planning allowed us to work in lots of neat features for a bargain price.

56.  The three worst things that you did?

    barry said: Poor planning by letting a friend do the plans, instead of a professional thus creating the entire slab fiasco.
    Giving 10K away to the OBN guy to do essentially nothing.
    Getting into it to begin with.


    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said:
    1. I wish we hadn't let the crews cut down as many trees as we did. This is more on me than anybody else, to be fair. Early on in the process I think that Builder Dale and Colleen were still figuring out exactly where the house was going to be and how they'd be able to access it for backfill work and the like, and as a result there were a lot of trees on their initial "hit list" that they wanted to cut down to make room for the heavy equipment. I countered that I was building in the middle of a forest for a reason, and I didn't want Tanglewood sitting in the middle of a big open space... it needed to be nestled among the trees. Colleen and I had some good arguments about some of the cut list candidates though I believe (she might disagree) that I eventually let them take down most of the ones they wanted. There were of course a few that in retrospect they didn't need to cut down after all (including a nice aspen clump at the edge of the backyard), and a large pine very close to the house deck that I insisted had to be kept, much to the consternation of the BuildBlock crew. There was also one near the entrance to the driveway that was the subject of a HUGE argument, and I absolutely insisted that it could not be taken down no matter how tricky it made turning around for some of the construction crews. I won the argument, and even better the crews steered well clear of the tree in question--they didn't even touch it.
    2. I wish we hadn't used laminate flooring. At least in the bulk of the house, anyway. In the store I swear it looked like the perfect solution and it was certainly cheaper than going with engineered hardwoods, which was good for the construction budget. But once in place, I found I was less than thrilled with it. I think it looks sharp in the rooms where it's installed, but when I walk on it I can't help but think it just feels "cheap" or "hollow"--definitely not "solid" like I thought it would and what Tanglewood deserved. I can of course fix this over time, but it's an annoying finding if nothing else.
    3. I wish we'd been better able to supervise the crews. They frankly took advantage of me building in a recession to "stretch out" the job so they could continue getting paid, and some of the work they did was sub-standard by any reasonable measure. I can fix it, of course, but I wish we'd been better able to keep an eye on them....this is primarily on our builder, really.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: One of us caught a finger in the garage door.
    The code permitted 3/4" plywood floor did not impress us with its rigidity so we elected to add a second layer of plywood.
    We ordered sufficient white paint for the interior only to find out that the paint store had made the wrong color in the last five gallon can. The store was unable to match the originally purchased color on its second effort, so we repainted the entire living room ceiling to get a perfect and consistent color.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Not seeing examples of the roofer's previous jobs. Some of his cuts were sloppy, and I didn't like how he painted some flashing.
    I did so much of the work myself that I injured my arm. Between drilling holes for running electrical wires, cutting and threading the gas pipe, tiling and mixing mortar by hand, installing a nail-down hardwood floor, painting the entire house both inside and out and other things, I tore a tendon and also a ligament in my elbow for overuse of my arm, since I'm not used to doing that type of work on a daily basis. Ended up having five hrs. of surgery and had 6" of tendon removed from my wrist to replace the damaged section in my elbow. Took three months to recover.
    The last worst thing I did was starting to rush when it came to selecting out kitchen cabinets and listening to the cabinet person who was helping me, instead of going with what I had originally planned.

    Susan said:
    Should have gotten more bids.
    I don't like painting, especially the woodwork.
    I broke some tiles.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Not sure there were any.
    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Relied on subs for recommendations for other subs.Drinking buddies just doesn't cut it.
    Tried to do too much of the finish work myself
    Underestimated certain costs by ignoring some of the bids I was getting. I was convinced I knew better than the pros.

    Brooke in Burley, ID said: Were a little soft on timeline expectations with some of the contractors - should have been a little more specific.
    Didn't check if one of our roofers had disability insurance, and found out later that he didn't.
    Took on a lot of work ourselves and burned out a little towards the end.

    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: Spent too much money off budget before we *had* a budget. Lost probably $10K or more through "leakage" and creeping elegance.
    Jeff in Hartland, WI said:
    1. We assumed from the start that we would do a number of tasks ourselves, and didn't budget for the labor necessary to perform those tasks. When the end of the project came around, we regretted it because we had to pay for help off budget.
    2. I missed a couple things from the budget. For example, I forgot to budget for stair materials--which would have cost $11,000 if I had bought them from a distributor. Milling them on site was much less expensive, but cost me several weeks of time.
    3. We budgeted as much as we could afford--with no room for budget overages.

    Mike in Upstate, NY said: Overspent on luxury items.

    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Trusting the BBB. Pursuing a lawsuit that cost more than the claim that was won for it. Moving to this area.
    Jere in Ray Twp., MI said:
    Doing the electrical and taking way too long.
    Using a family friend to do the ceramic tile, trim, and carpet installation.
    Trying to work a full-time job, plus a new part-time job while building the house.

    Jack in Trumann, AR said: I accidentally placed the house a little too close to the road. I had meant for it to be 50 feet off the road, but when the foundation guys laid it out, they put it at 40 feet. It's no closer than many houses I see around or even our old house, but because of the size and height of the house, it gives the impression of being too close. For instance, it's impossible to get a straight-on photo of the house and get it all in the frame; you have to go across the street into the neighbor's yard and he has too many trees out front to make for a clear shot.
    Hire the guy I hired for framing and roofing. He talks a good talk, but he turned out to be something of a lowlife.
    Hire the guy I hired for the Sheetrock job. He had done a lot of work for me around the place, and did a good job so I let him take on the Sheetrock. Well, he did a lousy, sloppy job of hanging it, so I ended up firing him before he started on the finish part and the finisher I hired had to do a lot of fix-up work to get the Sheetrock back into shape. On top of that, both subs took way too long to get their respective jobs done.

    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Hired Superior Walls to do foundation. Hired septic installer.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: I messed up a couple things during framing, but no worse probably than if I wasn't on the job site to begin with. I was on the job site every day during framing. The framer would see what was on the print and confirm that is what I wanted. I changed a couple things, like the placement of a couple windows, but I also caught what would have been more noticeable mistakes. So it all evened out. Also, the print did not specify what size the framing should be for my sub fascia. So one day the framer says to me, "What size lumber do you want for your sub fascia framing?" I said "I don't know, 2x4's I guess." Well, it should have been 2x6's. I think I am the only one bothered by this.
    Aaron in Bonsall, CA said: Counting on friends and family to help.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said:
    It took too long.
    Insulation.
    not completing the backyard sooner.

    Pat in Round Rock, TX said:
    ICF walls
    ICF walls
    ICF walls

    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Small bedrooms.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said:
    Paid subs too much too early.
    Didn't do enough research on basics of construction.
    Spent 15% of our total cost on a deck!!! It appeared we would be under budget at one point, so we decided to add a covered deck off the kitchen without having bids done prior to construction of it (the house had already been almost completely framed and we didn't have time to wait for a bid if we were going to add trusses). We just made changes as if the sky was the limit, not realizing what the expense would be (almost $20K!!!).

    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Ordered windows wrong. Started well/septic too late. Ordered light fixtures too late.
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said:
    1. Paid a contractor some upfront money.
    2. Failed to fully realize how costly some materials are over there - blew the budget on tile.
    3. Let my wife talk me into burying the water tanks, which required a water pressure pump vs. gravity feed.

    Roger in Petoskey, MI said:
    1. A couple small jobs I gave away without detailed spec. lists and contracts. It made it harder to settle disagreements.
    2. Tried to do too much self-work. Lifted a very heavy boulder.
    3. Paid one sub too early: "See ya later."

    John in Port Republic, MD said:
    Building took 21 months.
    I wasn't on site when the well was drilled.
    I let contractors paint the interior.

    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said:
    1) Tried to do too much work myself. Next time I hire more subcontractors, and focus on what I do best, which is organization, screening subcontractors, shopping, and inspection.
    2) I had one subcontractor I didn't check out completely as I was in a hurry. This one caused me problems, and took me more time to fix that it would have taken to check him out.

    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: Forgot to include cost of front steps. Got a bad trim guy. Did not watch my money close enough.
    Brian in South Burlington, VT said:
    Not realizing that weather plays a big part in the schedule.
    Not having very detailed contracts.
    Not realizing that you are going to go over budget a little.

    Evan in Middleville, MI said: My own drywall.
    Fiddled around a lot on the job site.

    Brian in Manvel, TX said: Bought stuff too early because it was on sale and had to store it in garage.
    Rushed to get the house ready by Christmas and had to shortcut a few things like painting rooms different colors. Had to last-minute spray them one color before carpet went in. Now have to tape off and repaint the wall colors in some rooms.
    Tried to do too much myself and it slowed me down.

    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: No budget spreadsheet.
    No schedule spreadsheet.
    No written contracts.

    Karl in Reno, NV said:
    1. Didn't start soon enough.
    2. Took too long.
    3. Didn't finish early enough.

    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Staring too early in the morning some days.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Using the plumber we did. Waiting too long to install the well. Not starting earlier in the year.
    Lori in Reno, NV said: Rim joist. Leach lines and hiring the wrong concrete company. Keep it square!!!
    Max in OKC, OK said: Concrete perimeter basement walls were too short and had to cut all interior walls down.
    Plumber needed a 6' wall to get the plumbing down from an upstairs bathroom. We should have made the whole wall 6' instead of just 3'.
    Didn't wait for quality framers we had contracted with.

    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: Painting the house. In the summer heat it was horrible, and I will never do it again!
    I didn't have a reference for the stucco guys I used, and just pulled them out of the phonebook. They took a long time and they left their equipment all over our lot for two weeks after they finished.
    I should have started looking for someone to pour our driveway and steps earlier than the last 7 weeks before we closed. In the middle of summer it's incredibly hard to get someone to even give you a bid for it. By waiting so long to get it done, it put our porch railing guys off and they ended up charging me an additional $200 to get the rail in only two days before our closing date.

    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Too trusting. We paid people based on their draw, and when the money ran out before the work, they wouldn't finish. Next time, we will hold a higher retainage.
    John in Erie, CO said: RotoZipping extra plastic from window bucks, nearly lost my finger.
    Never measure your own trusses, I got lucky that mine worked.

    Kari in Colbert, WA said: ICF, siding and flooring - turned out fine, but hated the process! Long and hard work!
    Mark in Provo, UT said: Relied on free help from friends that didn't materialize. This caused us to DIY some things that took much longer to learn and perform. Took on too many things in the last stages of construction resulting in a traffic jam of delay and doing the most visible elements of the house with rapidly declining funds. Hiring carpenters by the hour and paying them before completion.

57.  What is a good way to get discounts on lumber?

    barry said: ask different suppliers to bid.


    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: No idea; never got any.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: We got, as I remember, a ten percent discount after I advised the store manager that we were building a house.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Get multiple prices. Let them know that you're getting multiple bids and that you're going with the lowest bidder, including delivery.

    Susan said: Don't really know, cash helps with the price.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Use different yards and let them know you're shopping.
    Jo-Lynn in Issaquah, WA said: Send your plan PDFs via email to several local lumberyards and ask for bids on all materials they sell. Once you have the material take-off lists, you can compare to the local big-box store to make sure the prices are better than what you can get just walking in off the street to Home Depot or Lowe's. Compare the resulting take-offs to assure they're the same, and if they're not, request information from the company who DID quote any additional material so you can understand what it's for. Use the better bid to request a price review by bids at higher prices. Once they know they're competing, you'll likely get better prices either across the board or on specific items.
    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: Get several bids and compare the cost of the plywood, studs and the larger 2x12" pieces that make up a good percentage of the lumber costs. See if you can negotiate a deal with the supplier that your framing sub typically uses.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Look on Craigslist for extras. Use Lowe's 10% off coupons.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Get turn-key framing package bids from various suppliers. Be sure they understand that they will be bidding for an entire job.

    Brooke in Burley, ID said: Compare bids?
    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: I used a local sawmill for hardwood trim.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: By from wholesalers or from lumber salvage companies.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: Buy in bulk.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Volume, and mismatching colors of the same type of wood when it does not make a difference.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Negotiate with local lumberyards.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: Competitor price matching minus 10%.
    Matt in Highland, IL said: Get competitor bids. We saved almost $7,000 by getting a bid from a lumberyard outside our area. They were not the typical competition, and our lumberyard was surprised at their pricing. They matched to keep my framer's business because they did not want him to utilize a new company that was cheaper and risk losing his business.

    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Shop and compare, set up an account with a good supplier, pay bills on-time.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Some lumber companies wholesale to the public.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Shop with your previous bid.
    Brian in Dexter, MI said: Get panelized walls, trusses, and lumber in a guaranteed package.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: Ask for the contractor's discount, and if the supplier also sells other things such as doors, windows, hardware for bathrooms etc. have them bid those items as well. We got a package deal that covered about 70% of all our supplies from a lumber company that saved us about $15K from having this same company bid a lumber package and having another supplier furnish windows towel bars etc.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Shop several places, but compare quality and delivery schedules. Price isn't everything!
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: Buy in bulk with a good plan for what you'll need and allow plenty of time for the supplier to get the goods to you. If he has to rush, you'll pay more.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Buy at the end of winter. Buy in bulk. Negotiate. Shop around.
    John in Port Republic, MD said: Bid, bid, bid.
    Winter is the best time around here to buy lumber. Buy it and store it.

    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: Ask and you shall receive. Do your own takeoffs, that way you can fax your lumber needs to every lumber supplier in the yellow pages. And since they are all preparing bids based on the same material list, you can compare apples-to-apples when the bids come back.
    I received a 15% discount on lumber just because I prepaid my whole order. I did this right after the first hurricane hit Florida (2004) anticipating a spike in material costs. Three hurricanes later, it appeared to be a good strategy that all my lumber had been paid for, not to mention the additional 15% discount.
    If you want to take advantage of the big box, Home Depot has a price match guarantee. Take in your lowest lumber bid (it will be less than Home Depot's price), they will price match minus 10%. Then whip out one of your handy coupons good for 10% off (type Home Depot coupon into www.ebay.com, you should always have a couple in your pocket), and you just reduced your lumber cost by 20%. I don't like Home Depot lumber, and I don't like them using their buying power to sell at a loss to put local suppliers out of business, but if you want to get your lumber at bottom dollar this is the way.

    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Shop as many providers as possible, negotiate.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: I use my company's buying power.
    Brian in Manvel, TX said: Get a takeoff done and take it two-three lumberyards for pricing.
    Make them match lowest priced one if they want it all.

    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: I saved 5% by paying before the 10th of each month.

    Karl in Reno, NV said: Research prices, offer cash!
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Buy in bulk and from the distributor or manufacturer.
    Lori in Reno, NV said: Not sure; we did a panelized package.
    David in Lowell, AR said: If you have a good takeoff from your framer, take it to Home Depot and let them bid it. Then, take it to Lowe's and have them comp it + 10% off. On top of that, you can get an additional 10% off using coupons that are very available.
    If you have a lumberyard that did a good takeoff, buy from them. They will usually treat you right. If they aren't, however, have the big box comp it. Personally, I will stick with my lumberyard because they have really treated me right and most of their prices are lower than the big boxes anyway.

    Richard in Malabar, FL said: I don't know.
    Max in OKC, OK said: Don't know.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: Well, we tried the Home Depot route, and it did save us some money, but not enough to make it worth the hassle for the next time.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: I got bids from a few of the local lumber warehouses and compared them.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Don't know.
    John in Erie, CO said: Shop around to keep your main lumber guy honest. Quit wasting your time at Home Depot/Lowe's.

    Kari in Colbert, WA said: Shop and talk your lumber guy down.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: Getting multiple bids is important. I think it is worthwhile to check prices in remote cities. You could buy under the account of someone with a better discount than you can get.

58.  What is a good way to get discounts on cabinets?

    barry said: same way.
    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: No idea; never got any.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: Build your own. You can do a better job, a better fitting job, and have more drawer space than if you buy commercially made units.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Don't go to the big box stores.

    Susan said: Visit used building supply companies, there was one close to me.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Use wholesalers.

    Jo-Lynn in Issaquah, WA said: I couldn't find the quality I wanted locally at a price I was willing to pay, so I went online to cliqstudios.com. Solid wood cabinets, dovetail full-extension drawers, lifetime warranty... hard to beat!
    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: Amish custom cabinets were cheaper than Home Depot cabinets.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Habitat for Humanity re-store.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Shop and compare. I was surprised. My local custom shop had better quality and better prices than the big box stores with their press-board carcass cabinets.

    Brooke in Burley, ID said: Returned or dented ones (in small quantity).
    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: We used a local cabinetmaker. Will probably go to a big box next time.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: Craigslist... Great source.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Have them built by a cabinetmaker.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: I'm sure you can shop around and get seconds if you are okay with such, but I just shopped around for the best price with the best reputation. Everybody loves our cabinets. They were very competitive but I wouldn't say they were a bargain. Compared to store-bought name brands like they sell at Lowe's and Home Depot, they were probably a bargain, though. Before going that route, I'd have custom cabinets priced. But be sure to ask around and get someone with a good reputation.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Kraftmaid outlet Lordstown Ohio.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: Lowe's has a great deal where you get back up to $750 in gift cards right now. Kraftmaid outlet in northern Ohio. IKEA. I didn't use any of these. We dealt with Carter Lumber for most materials and they gave us a good deal overall.
    Matt in Highland, IL said: Lowe's and Home Depot. You can get their upper-end cabinets, which are just as good quality as cabinet shops and much cheaper. Lowe's will pay the tax on anything they install, too. Good way to save some money or help pay for the install.

    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Shop and install yourself.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: You get what you pay for, don't go cheap where it counts i.e. kitchens and baths.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: I had them custom built from a cabinetmaker.
    Brian in Dexter, MI said: Kraftmaid outlet.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: Shop around. We found an unbelievable deal on solid oak cabinets that beat the veneer faced cabinets built in China that are sold by many of the home improvement stores. They were a small company that doesn't advertise because the word of mouth advertising is so good. Look for small companies that may be listed in the phone book and visit them in person to get an idea of quality and price. You may be surprised.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Go custom with small companies. I used an Amish company near Lancaster PA, saved 65%!!!
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: Know what you want and be reasonable when you ask for a discount. Know what the job is worth by checking around for prices. I bought with no cabinet hardware other than hinges - saved money installing handles and pulls myself.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Shopped around using a common brand (Kraftmaid) and a single final design. We pitted Lowe's against Home Depot to get an additional 10% off the entire order.
    John in Port Republic, MD said: Shop where you live, find out what you like, and look for discounts at box stores or network with other OBs.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: A friend of mine recommended custom cabinets. Who would think custom cabinets are cheaper than off-the-shelf stuff from the big box store? Certainly not me. However in my locale, custom cabinets are cheaper than Kraftmaid from Home Depot. When you consider the quality, it is a no-brainer to go with the custom materials.
    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: Pay cash.
    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Check on discontinued styles, ask about returned orders.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: Companies buying power again.
    Brian in Manvel, TX said: Wait for a sale or go direct online.
    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: Shop, shop, shop.

    Karl in Reno, NV said: Research prices, offer cash!
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Buy in bulk from the manufacturer/wholesale.
    David in Lowell, AR said: Shop around. Unfortunately, we had our hearts set on Knotty Alder which is more expensive than a lot of them and not as available. Our bids so far are within a couple hundred dollars of each other.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Keep looking until you find what you like and can afford.
    Max in OKC, OK said: Don't know.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: We went to the guy who did my aunt's cabinets. We mentioned she sent us to him and he gave us a really good price. He has been awesome to work with the whole time.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Direct buy.
    John in Erie, CO said: Can't help you there, they are all expensive!

    Kari in Colbert, WA said: Lots of comp. shopping.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: Our forums talk about the Kraftmaid cabinet outlet. Many readers have bought Ikea cabinets and assembled them themselves. We got a good deal from a vendor who was new in the business, and the manufacturer sweetened it when we offered to be a demo site for the product.

59.  Any problems with the inspector? Items that caused you to fail an inspection?

    barry said: None with me.
    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: There was one problem with wiring up the ground wires at the solar. Solar LeRoy didn't do it the way the inspector wanted. I'm pretty sure the inspector had learned a way and he wasn't going to listen to other approaches, so we had to rip it out and wire it up the way he wanted.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: We had no problems with the inspectors. They were strict, diligent, and fair. A newly-appointed building department head did attempt to make us apply for a second building permit. He had misread the code and the state building department fully backed us.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Not a single issue with the inspector.

    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Sloppy sub work actually liked my attention to detail and made suggestions how to prevent the subs from getting sloppy.
    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: We left out a couple of 2x12's that had to be added. Make sure you build to what is in the plans or be ready to get a letter from the architect. The inspector is there to cover his own.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Inspectors were great! Had one find a problem on rebar placement that would have cost me some real time and money to correct if she hadn't seen it.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: At the time, no inspections were required other than % completed by the bank.

    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: Treat the inspector as a member of the team. Consider the fact that he helps you to build a better home by pointing out deficiencies. Appreciate his knowledge and expertise.
    Brooke in Burley, ID said: Our inspector was GREAT and really cheered us on.
    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Inspector was great. So far, the only thing he mentioned was some missing blocking under point loads during the framing inspection. His first question to me on the final inspection was "How is your stress level?" Like I said, the inspector was great.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: So far so good.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: The inspector passes things or ignores those things such as deck railings that are too wide. Did not fail inspections, but it sure is hard when the inspector has a friend who happens to be your neighbor.
    Jere in Ray Twp., MI said: The building inspector was great! The only thing he wanted me to do was put up railing on the front porch because the grade was too low and build steps w/ a handrail coming out the rear garage service door. I had a few truck loads of fill dirt delivered and I built up the grade around the front porch and behind the garage. Problem solved.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: Nope, all inspections passed with no problems.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: No. Only health department inspections in my area.
    Aaron in Bonsall, CA said: We had the same inspector all the way through with the exception of drywall. That inspector brought a screwdriver with him and had a problem with the length of the drywall screws in the garage.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: No problems, no fails.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Mostly just on MEP issues, just make sure your sub is on site for all inspections.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Fireblocking, foundation straps, needed extra sheer panel.
    Brian in Dexter, MI said: They will nitpick if you are not there. I passed almost everyone I was present for.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: No, the inspector was very lax, maybe too much so. I still haven't decided if having him pass us on a footing that was not 18" under frost level (per code) was good or bad. It saved us some stress & money, but I'm not sure if that will cause any long-term problems.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Dumb little stuff. Get on their good side early because they can make or break a project.
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: No.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Missed one lateral row of bracing in the trusses (two different truss designs on job).
    Uplift connectors missing from deck posts (a new building requirement).

    John in Port Republic, MD said: Inspectors here were great. we failed the rough and it was for fireblocking. He explained what needed to be done and we got it done. Passed!
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: We had one problem with our first inspection (footers). The inspector failed us in the afternoon before the pour (pump, several concrete trucks already scheduled) for about 10 minutes worth of rework. The inspector wouldn't stick around, and said he would be back the next morning. The concrete pump shows up early the next morning, still no inspector. The first truck gets there, still no inspector. I call the inspector, he has conveniently "forgot" the inspection since it wasn't on his schedule, finally gets there and is very upset that the first concrete truck left the batch plant before I called for an inspection, I should have to wait 24 hours notice as it applies to every GC calling for an inspection. I have a concrete pump, one concrete truck on-site, and another that has left the batch plant, delay is not an option.
    The inspector identifies that since I used an architect, I could get the architect to do all of the inspections for me. I asked if they were willing to pay my architect's time and mileage, of course the answer is no. I then ask if an engineer is sufficient to do inspections (in Missouri, PEs are not delineated by field of expertise). He said yes, I ask him to leave the site as I don't require his services any further, nor do I need his signature on the inspection form. This was the last time we had any problems, he did all of the required inspections.

    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: I only had two re-inspection. One for the foundation and one for electric.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: We don't have inspections in Vermont. The only inspection I had was for the septic system. That's it.
    Evan in Middleville, MI said: Only a few minor items.
    Brian in Manvel, TX said: No insp. required in my area.
    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: Passed all inspections. We loved the inspector. The inspector actually saved us money by telling us that we did not need Tyvek because we were using foam board with tape. The only negative I have to say about the inspector is that he would not call us so that we could be sure to be at the house for the inspections. He would just drop by when he was in the area.
    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: Some electric wall plates and temp steps coming from garage, and that was about it.

    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: No problem with codes followed code book and notes for the city.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: All inspectors were very good to us. Forgot 8" of galvanized pipe above water heater (had CPVC). Plumbing inspector came back again without even charging us! Banister at stairs too loose.
    Lori in Reno, NV said: Hurricane straps on inside of sheathing not outside, nails to deep into sheathing and a failed leach line.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Inspectors have been great.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: We had a pretty easygoing inspector. If there was something he didn't like he would tell me on the spot and just have us fix it as soon as possible.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: For the most part, the inspector should be a friend to the owner-builder. Because I am a programmer, there are a lot of things that I don't know about construction. I tried to be friendly with the inspector and asked him to help me.

    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Yes, he was unfamiliar with steel framing.
    John in Erie, CO said: Electrical inspector was from the state; he was picky. Preparing for final move-in, the electrical inspector failed a final electrical inspection for some minor items. When he came back for re-inspection, the wireless broadband guy had installed the Internet connection, and the electrical inspector wanted the wireless guy's ground rod tied to the house ground rod, on the other side of the house. We had to do a lot of trenching.
    The county/building inspector was great!

    Kari in Colbert, WA said: Not really.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: We were red flagged early on boundaries causing us grief and delay. If we had met the inspector in advance and reviewed things with him, problems could have been worked out in advance. We did a lot of catch up communications after we broke ground.

60.  Where did you get good help and advice?

    barry said: Mainly from my framer.  
    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: All over the place really, much of it here.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: All help and ideas came from reading and from our mutual discussions and planning. Occasional unsolicited expert advice was invariably inappropriate or poorly conceived. As example was the contract foundation maker who came uninvited and volunteered that he could build the foundation but that it would have to be an octagon rather than a true circle. We rejected such attempts by others to do our work.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: I started with the local hardware store.
    I also found a local custom builder who had a lot of contacts.

    Susan said: My family.
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: Other architects.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Subs. they're always willing to help.
    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: My architect was the best resource, my framing sub was also very helpful and helped me out a couple of times when there were some critical problems.

    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Internet, friends, thinking about how to do things.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Local builder, lumberyard.

    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: From subs who became friends, and our building inspector.

    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: My framer was fantastic. He gave me referrals to a number of good subs and suppliers (finish carpenter, foundation guy, concrete guy, windows, lumber).
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: Just went and asked questions from the pros.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Online, personal time spent that it may take to find it, and this site.
    Jere in Ray Twp., MI said: My step-dad. He was a turn-key home builder for over seventeen years.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: I read several books, The Owner-Builder Book, Contracting Your Home, Black and Decker books (Complete Guide to Wiring and Complete Guide to Plumbing) and Residential Framing: A Homebuilder's Construction Guide. I also read tons of stuff on the web. I find the message boards to be some of the better places for information because you can usually get ideas on how to do something from several viewpoints. All in all, I think I read eight books and spent hours on top of hours researching stuff on the web. I read the books relevant to each trade before starting that trade. And I researched things throughout the project and still to this day as I sometimes second guess my decisions or to research an issue that has cropped up with the house; luckily those are few and far between.
    My dad is also a resource, but I'm careful to always research any advice he offers independently because I've found over the years that though he thinks he knows everything, he really doesn't. Still, as he had worked for a lumber shed locally, he was a good resource for subs.
    When it comes to individuals, I find that everyone has an opinion and none of them are necessarily correct. You can get a lot of bad advice from individual people you know and meet. Always be sure to do your own research before taking such advice to heart. People tend to do things the way they've always done them and they are quick to scoff at anything new that may be better so my advice is research, research and then research some more. The more opinions you get, the more likely it is that one will rise above the many and take shape as the best way to do whatever it is you need to do.

    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Online.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: The Owner-Builder Book, of course! The Internet. People in the trades. Honestly, the lumberyards have two kinds of people. People who have actually done construction and know what they are doing, and people who don't. You can pick up pretty quick whom you get good advice from.
    Matt in Highland, IL said: Previous owner-builders in the Midwest.

    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Lumbermans/Probuild.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Friends and family.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Best friend was a general contractor.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: A friend that was also building at the same time using a GC, from coworkers who had built homes in the past, subs, suppliers, anyone who was willing to give advise was generally sincere and their advice helpful.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Subs and my dad.
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: From the job supervisor.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Friends in the business. Subs that I trusted. Don't be afraid to ask or pretend to know it all. Many subs love to talk.
    John in Port Republic, MD said: This web site, Gardenweb website, Internet, friends and contractors.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said:
    1) Other O-B network I set up
    2) Trades and subcontractors
    3) I forged ahead without guidance, simply asking why?
    4) We must have read literally hundreds of books. You can figure out which ones are valuable, and which ones are fluff. When I was starting framing, I purchased a good framing book that was invaluable. Use the library, it is pretty easy to browse over the shelves of construction books and figure out which ones have new information, and which ones are rehashing the same old information. Check out the relevant books only. The really good books, you want to buy. We ended up only purchasing a handful of books (The Owner-Builder Book was the second one we purchased).
    5) If you have a question about code requirements on something you are doing, call you code compliance office. They knew me on a first-name basis. They knew my phone number and my fax machine, and were always happy to fax the relevant portion of the code I was looking for.

    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: From friend who builds houses.
    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: I had several friends in the building trades, books and magazines, TV shows.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: Engineer friends.
    Evan in Middleville, MI said: Neighbor - licensed builder.
    Brian in Manvel, TX said: Vendors I bought from.
    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: Nova Scotia Power had a class for O-B's and had tapes that could be borrowed free of charge.
    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: Your books
    Went to a lot of job sites before I started
    Study a lot (books, online and asked questions)

    Karl in Reno, NV said: Associates.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Many places and many people.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Big home improvement stores were actually very helpful. A lot of learning went on by picking their brains in each department - I may have gotten more out of them as a woman than a guy would've.
    Lori in Reno, NV said: Friends helped with building and ownerbuilderbook.com helped with advice and an occasional call to Mark Smith.
    David in Lowell, AR said:
    www.ownerbuilderbook.com
    Several other books
    Going to construction sites constantly during all phases to see things first hand
    Ask until you understand
    Find a builder -- buy him lunch
    Talk to subs -- they can recommend a lot of features, cost savings, and good suppliers
    Talk to suppliers -- they know subs.

    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Nearby owner-builders.
    Max in OKC, OK said: Parents.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: From my parents and three sets of aunts and uncles who had all owned-built their own homes, one of which was in the last stages of building his when we started. He gave us a lot of good/current references for subs.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: From the inspector, from Mark Smith, and from a few generals that were building in the area.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: My husband is a civil engineer. He already knew what to do, we just had trouble getting the inspector to pass and the installer to do it.
    John in Erie, CO said: Cheated! Hired a consultant, had experienced family members.

    Kari in Colbert, WA said: Friends and Owner-builder Connections - plus other subs.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: I developed a network late in the game. An old friend turned out to be an independent inspector. A relative who was a building technologist looked things over once toward the end. A couple of subs became good friends and turned us on to good deals. Most of the subs offered suggestions for improving the work. Our pre-construction interviews with subs and vendors were a valuable source of ideas.

61.  What did you find to be the top five biggest expenses in the budget? How much, and how to cut back?

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said:
    General contractor.
    ICF/concrete crews.
    Electricians.
    Plumbers.
    Framing folks.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: We didn't keep track, but lumber and plywood would have been two major expenses. The liquid roofing chemicals were expensive in the high quality that we selected. The geothermal heating system together with the specialized air duct boards came at a high price. The second most expensive equipment was the refrigerator.
    We cut costs by buying when things were on sale, as with the refrigerator, by buying in bulk, and by arranging directly with the manufacturer to have the custom insulated glass panels made. We bought nails in fifty-pound boxes.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said:
    1.) Solid granite countertops
    2.) Hand-scraped hardwood flooring
    3.) Exotic hardwood decking
    4.) Cedar ceiling
    5.) Electrical
    I don't remember how much any of these items cost.
    To cut back try the following:
    1.) Use granite tiles and install yourself.
    2.) Use a non-hand-scraped flooring, preferably on sale.
    3.) Use cedar or redwood
    4.) Use drywall and have it textured and paint a warm color, maybe to match an accent wall.
    5.) Drill all the wire run holes yourself. Install all your own boxes for outlets, switches and lights and can lights too. Run your own speaker wires and also cable TV and satellite and HDMI cables and Ethernet cables too.

    Susan said:
    Recessed lighting, went with lighted ceiling fams
    Slab foundation, went with pier and beam
    Appliances, found refurbished washer/dryer
    Flooring, went with carpet upstairs and laminate Downstairs
    Connecting to the city water....no cutting back unless I drilled a well.

    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: Consultants - surveyor, lawyer, geotechnical, structural engineer.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Financing cost me as much as the house.
    Rob in Downers Grove, IL said: Concrete, excavation, lumber, framing, siding.
    Build a smaller house and don't use expensive siding and trim materials.

    Brian in Dome-ville, central, FL said: Septic, well, and fill. No real easy way to cut back on those, saved by doing a lot of the other stuff myself.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said:
    AC
    Framing
    Stonework
    Kitchen
    Finishout

    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: So far, Windows and French doors were the biggest single budget item. We have replaced several French doors with casement windows. Still more cost cutting may need to be done.
    Jeff in Hartland, WI said:
    1. Foundation
    2. Lumber
    3. Plumbing and HVAC
    4. Framing.
    5. Cabinets

    Mike in Upstate, NY said:
    Excavation was my biggest expense.
    Getting dumpsters was also major
    I don't know how you can cut back on this.

    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Lighting, landscaping, plumbing. Did not cut back.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: My top five largest expenses where cabinets and countertops, heat and air, foundation, framing and maybe the brick work. The first four were the largest though. These items probably make up close to or more than 50% of the cost of my home.
    How can you cut back? Well obviously, bricks are an option, not a requirement. But other veneers were close in cost. I might have been able to select a wood veneer of some sort at a lower cost and did the work myself to save but I wouldn't trust myself to get it right and I wanted the house to look good, not shoddy. I could have bought cheap, do-it-yourself cabinets and stained them myself to save money but the quality wouldn't come close to matching what I have now. Instead of granite counter tops, you can select laminate which is very durable and a percentage of the cost of granite. I considered doing this myself to save money and it would have saved a few thousand dollars but I don't think I would have ever been happy with it. I would have regretted not going with granite for as long as I had the laminate, I'm sure. As for the brick work, I'm not sure I could have saved any money anywhere. I got a good price on the brick and a good price to lay it. I guess if you could find a bargain on brick you could save but that is probably about the only way. The only reason this is one of my biggest expenses is that we have a lot of brick on our house. The same goes for the framing, I got standard prices on the lumber and I got a better than standard price on labor but the house is good sized and a lot of money went into it. I could have saved a few thousand on the foundation by going with a slab instead of a crawlspace, but that's not what I wanted.

    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: HVAC - diy'ed it.
    Lumber and framing - shopped around.
    Cabinets - kraftmaid outlet.

    Mike in Marion, OH said: Geothermal was by far the most expensive. $32,000. I could have done it cheaper, but we went with what we felt like was the best equipment and best installer in our area.
    Kitchen cabinets. Had to go with our lumberyard, because they had easy credit terms with 60-day billing and they have a quality product. $10,000. If I had the time, I could have saved money on them.

    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said:
    Framing: build smaller.
    Countertop: use formica or tile.
    Shop and compare pricing for everything.

    Pat in Round Rock, TX said:
    ICF Walls $52K
    Steel prices (rebar for the slab) $8K
    Concrete $85/YD
    Roof Tile $28K
    Electrical Plumbing (copper prices)
    We cut back in other areas by purchasing materials direct:
    Onyx stone slabs direct from Pakistan
    Cantera and Travertine tile, column, fireplaces, other architectural stone direct from quarry in Mexico.
    Install doors, windows, trim and wood flooring yourself.

    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Roofing, framing, foundation concrete.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said:
    Framing/lumber $88,000
    Radiant $56,000
    Plumbing and fixtures $42,000
    Superior Walls $30,000
    Windows $27,000

    Ken in Orangevale, CA said:
    1. Tile was too costly by 40%.
    2. Freight to get materials over to the island was 20% more than first budgeted.
    3. Devaluation of the US dollar vs. the Fiji dollar killed us. The Fiji dollar rose from 48 US cents to 62 US cents in 6 months.
    4 & 5. Materials, labor, freight, and food went up with the devaluation of the dollar. We paid for laborers' food because they were stranded on a remote beach during construction. Everything had to be freighted to the site.

    Roger in Petoskey, MI said:
    1. Rough labor, $70K to dry in. Multiple bids
    2. Foundation, $30K. Multiple bids
    3. Mechanical and Plumbing $23K each. Multiple bids. Separate materials
    4. Electrical $19K. Multiple bids. Separate materials
    5. Cultured stone labor $12K. Same as above

    John in Port Republic, MD said:
    HVAC- 21,000
    Panelized house: 76,000
    foundation: 15000
    We switched from a poured foundation to a prefab foundation and it saved us 14,000.
    The house was what it is...package price. we bought it with some great incentives which saved us a lot of money.
    the HVAC is a two-zone system and we waited for rebates to kick in.

    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said:
    1) Concrete - it is what is is. I needed a lot, I just bought what I needed.
    2) Trusses - I could have used stick framing for the floors and roof. However trusses are far superior to 2x10 joists for so many reasons, and I like truss roof framing for accuracy and consistency, not to mention the truss suppliers get much nicer lumber than we do on the street. Again the price was what it was, you don't get to save money here.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said:
    Excavation $50,000
    Framing labor $35,000
    Cabinets $22000

    Evan in Middleville, MI said:
    Electrical Fixtures
    Lumber - Katrina
    Tools - Specialty

    Brian in Manvel, TX said: Polysteel ICF- 50,000 could use stickframe
    Slab30,000-less slab,less concrete if stick frame, ICF requires stronger slab= $$
    Front door-12,000- could have gone with wood instead of custom iron
    Stair rails-16,000 could have gone with half walls or wooden balusters
    Stucco 30,000 could have bricked or Hardi trimmed for less

    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: Labour, kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, flooring.
    The only way that I know of to cut back is to shop around and do what labour you can yourself.

    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: The only cut back was infloor heat. We didn't do.

    Karl in Reno, NV said: Cabinets, appliances, lumber, fixtures - research, offer cash.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said:
    Big items
    Lumber,electric, plumbing
    Don't have to cut back; extra margin takes care of price changes.

    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: ICF blocks - couldn't have cut back; already got a 20% discount as it was.
    David in Lowell, AR said: One of my largest expenses is the foundation related work. We found that we will be able to save quite a bit by contracting out each portion of the foundation work. For example, we hired an excavator, concrete finisher, mason, etc.
    Windows are another big cost. We got bids from quite a few companies. Anderson was about $26k, American Dream was about $21k, and so on. We ran across a local manufacturer. They have a very low u-factor and the best warranty -- at the lowest price. We're going to be able to get all of our windows for $5k + tax.
    HVAC is another big expense. We got bids ranging from $17k to $26k initially. We shopped and received a few more bids. We got a Rheem bid for about $8k. We decided to take the Rheem bid, but upgrade to 16 SEER heat pumps for about $12k total. This leaves us enough money to install radiant floor heat. Awesome. :o)
    Granite counters are another huge expense. We were able to get a builder discount that cut the cost nearly in half. If you're brave and creative, buy slabs and have somebody cut and finish them for you. I didn't want to risk it.

    Richard in Malabar, FL said:
    1. Initial slab/floor cement
    2. Plumbing
    3. Air Conditioning
    4. Electrical
    5. Concrete Block masonry
    Get at least three bids, and stay with the larger outfits. The smaller ones may not show up.

    Max in OKC, OK said:
    Lumber
    Concrete
    Roof
    Cabinets

    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: Concrete had to be the worst, coming in at almost $27,000. My husband was able to get the concrete at a discount through the place he works and otherwise it could have easily cost us another couple thousand dollars or more.
    Lumber for the project was almost $15,000. We tried using the big box store for discounted lumber, but it was such a hassle. I think if you were going to build several homes, that it would benefit you to have a good relationship with a reputable lumber company. Maybe that would save you on your other homes.
    Cabinets were next at almost $9,000. We were sent to the cabinet guy by an aunt and by mentioning her name, he gave us a great deal.
    Electrical came in at around $6,500. This one would have been easy to cut back on if the electrician could have just done without a few things, but since he is the homeowner and just had to have whole-house sound, an alarm system, and all the bells and whistles, we made sure to budget for it.

    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Shell is the most expensive. Get competitive bids. In Florida you have to take what you can get or do it yourself. No one is hungry.
    John in Erie, CO said: ICF walls, use poured foundation?
    Structural steel - use a simpler floor plan with few beams.
    Stucco - build smaller house or mix exterior coverings with another material that is cheaper.
    Roofing - we used a commercial EPDM single-ply continuous membrane, could have saved building a different architectural style with a traditional asphalt/shingle roof.

    Mark in Provo, UT said:
    Lumber 13%
    Framing 7%
    Cabinets 7%
    HVAC 6%
    Plumbing 5%
    We did well on lumber, but might have been more efficient with optimum value engineered framing.
    Framing was a bargain.
    Cabinets were probably okay for so many of them.
    HVAC - we could have bought the components separately from labor, especially now with Internet vendors gaining recognition.
    Plumbing - we could have bought more materials separately and bid the job flat price rather than paid hourly.

62.  Did you find a wide range in the prices you were bid for different things? What are some examples?

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: Mostly the solar. Estimates there ranged from ~$25K to over $90K....It was ridiculous.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: Prices seemed usually within a narrow range except when an item was on sale. The Pella windows came at a relatively low price from one specific store.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said:
    Framing: $11k - $23k - $45k - $68k
    Roofing: $8k - $10.5k

    Susan said: No, all were only about a hundred dollars up or down.
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: Cabinets - high end European manufacturers were up six times the price of Ikea.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Electrical work.

    Brian in Dome-ville, central, FL said:
    Plumbing rough in: $5,300, $4,000 and $2,500
    Electrical rough in: $3,400, $1,800, and $1,200

    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: Lumber was one. We had several glue-lam beams, and the pricing varied due to the economy. Lumber is much cheaper now than it was when we started planning.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: A huge range in the foundation bid: $18,000 to $53,000.

    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Prices for our driveway and patio ranged from $13k to $25k. The price for stamped concrete was totally ridiculous.
    Jere in Ray Twp., MI said: Not really. With my step-dad's guidance and being able to use the sub-contractors that he used when he was a turnkey home builder, everything came in where expected.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: Most of the things I got bids on came in at around the same price. There were some wide margins between masons for laying the brick and the framing quotes were very different. The one I accepted came it at $18k while another was at $32k. There was nearly $30k difference between the two geothermal installers in this area and a large difference between the quotes of conventional systems as well. Most everything else came in at competitive prices.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Geothermal radiant heat - bid $80k cost $22k.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: Geothermal. Very wide range. But there are quality issues and service issues involved which cloud the decision.
    Framing bid: from $23,000 to $45,000.
    Flooring. Many options and price ranges.
    Electrical and plumbing fixtures. Wow, you can buy a Moen faucet for $69, or a Moen faucet for $1,000.

    Jeff in Provo, UT said:
    Drywall from $10,000 to $25,000
    Cabinets from $10,000 to $25,000.

    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Finish trim prices between two different contractors about a $1,000 difference and I supplied the material for both. Ended up doing it myself.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said:
    Cabinets: $26,000-$66,000
    Framing labor: $30,500-$48,000
    Trim Material: $10,800-$29,000

    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: Not really.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said:
    Huge variations in almost all the labor bids:
    Rough framing/Dry in: $70K - 150K
    Mechanical: $22K - 45K
    Foundation/Flat work: 30K -45K
    Less variation for materials (10%)

    John in Port Republic, MD said: HVAC- $21,000 for one contractor and $12,000 for another.
    Plumbing: $9,800 for one and $16,000 for another.
    Electric: $8,700 for one and $14,000 for another.

    Brian in Manvel, TX said:
    Yes
    Lumber package
    84 lumber was 280,000
    Home Depot was 34,000

    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: Biggest was in labor cost. the biggest was 30% (masons).

    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Don't use bids for items.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said:
    Tile shower pan prep - $200 - $1,200
    Tile floor/tub deck - $1,900 - $3,800<
    Cabinets - $8,200 - $14,000
    Prime/paint - $2,500 - $6,800
    Most other bids were fairly comparable to one another.

    Lori in Reno, NV said: Concrete contractor and now I know why. We only used two other subs and their prices were comparable.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Biggest example: site clearing, which ranged from $3,500 to $8,500.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said:
    Yes
    Lumber: $16,100, $18,000, $11,500
    Cabinets: $11,900, $16,500, $8,900

    John in Erie, CO said: Stucco varied from $32K to $55K for the house.
    Electrical, varied from $11K to $34K
    ICF walls, ~$56K (DIY) vs. $120K

    Mark in Provo, UT said: Yes, some of the subs come in high and try to make you think that everybody charges what they are asking. One was the stair rail carpenter. He told me that labor to do our custom rails and balusters would be $2,500 and parts would be estimated at an equal amount. He said that was the standard formula. I bought my own parts at $1,250 and found a guy who was happy to do it for $850. So, $2,100 on an otherwise $5,000 job.
    This was true to some extent in every category. I think it helps to network with other O-B's who will give you a feel for the prices they found.

63.  Did you get a bad surprise on property taxes?
64.  Were utility costs in the new house a surprise?
65.  They say that a marriage that survives building a house will survive anything. Any comments?

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: No comment.... Sadly, we divorced prior to construction. :-(

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: Like all such comments, it is an overstatement. I suspect that some marriages have survived building a house only to flounder on unrelated issues. Our marriage is happy, and remained happy during building.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: This is soooooo true. You won't do anything that takes more cooperation from both of you than designing and building a house together and trying to enjoy the entire process. However, it only works if you both put in the same effort.

    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: Lack of money does not help, especially when building a house.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: True. Keep extended family away as they are a source of trouble in any big project.
    Brian in Dome-ville, central, FL said: Pick a good wife in the first place.
    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Listen to each other and agree on what areas of the home over which you or your spouse have the final say. Give, give, give, on both sides.

    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: I am interested in the stories here....
    Brooke in Burley, ID said: Yes!! It's hard to be kind to each other when you get that exhausted!
    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: We are still in progress. Not sure.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: Boy if I had the time, I would have a lot to say.
    Best thing is recognize each other's strengths and weakness and say "I am so sorry" when it's needed.

    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Make sure you both know how much work is involved. Be sure both spouses agree on all choices. Make snap decisions, but make sure they are communicated.
    Mike in Upstate, NY said: I'll let you know.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Well, my husband wasn't involved so I guess my marriage was saved.
    Jere in Ray Twp., MI said: Well, since I met my girlfriend around the time I started construction in the summer of 2002, this really does't apply for me. However, we have been married for 1+1/2 years now with a beautiful 10 month old boy! She is hounding me to build a deck, landscaping, finish painting the trim and windows.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: Well, my wife can be very impatient and high-strung about some things. Consequently, I didn't involve her in much of the day-to-day details of building the house. But I more or less left the decoration decisions up to her, such as paint colors, door styles, window colors, final decision on siding color, carpet, etc. Luckily, for most of that sort of stuff, we generally agree so there were no battles there. I felt like the project went along pretty well until near the end when she began to get impatient to wrap it up and began starting arguments and pressuring me about setting move in dates and such. At that point, we did have some very heated arguments but when I look back on them, they were 100% about nothing. It was just stress rearing it's ugly head. I was working full time and spending every waking hour at the house trying to finish it up and consequently, I was in no mood for being pushed and had a hair trigger temper around that time. But it all worked out. We've been together for 20 years and it would take more than that to break us up.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: True.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: Communication is key to most things in life, and it is so much easier to communicate when there are fewer people involved. My wife and I have similar plans and dreams, which helped tremendously. The only thing that was challenging was the lack of time we saw each other during construction. Inevitably, one spouse is making most of the decisions and the other can live with that or complain about it. Ultimately, you need one person to be in charge. If there is a power struggle in your marriage before you build, it is going to surface. We were blessed with this project. More sweat than blood or tears. Our marriage is stronger than ever as we were focused on a combined goal. We had an agreement that we would not fight about the lack of time spent together or the money involved to get it done.
    My opinion is that building it yourself you make all the decisions. That is absolute control with just yourself and your spouse. With a builder involved and his subs and their subs you lose control, which means you gain stress about unknowns and mess-ups. When I mess something up, I fix it. I don't have to call someone and leave them a hostile message. If I have a sub mess up, they hear it from me unfiltered by a general contractor.

    Matt in Highland, IL said: It survived! :-)

    Aaron in Bonsall, CA said: Absolutely true!!
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: We have built five and have been married 13 years. I think communication and sharing the outcome means a lot. I have said it many times to different people who ask that, and we both agree, "We design, I build, she picks landscaping and finish paint colors. Everything else we decide together".
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: My wife and I got married and started the house in the same year and we are very happy.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: The one who stays at home feels like the one on the job site is always gone.
    Evan in Middleville, MI said: True...mine didn't.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: So true. Try to lay out your expectations (such as duties, amount of involvement, etc.) for yourself and spouse prior to construction and have them do the same. Where the lists don't match, talk about what is different and why.
    Also, walk through model homes and try to agree on cosmetic finishes prior to beginning construction. We didn't do it the first build and there were major issues. I had one thing in mind, and he another. I didn't know he would care so much. This time we have a plan and have agreed on everything imaginable prior. Now we'll have the usual tension over budget and schedule and exhaustion to deal with.

    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Add in having your first baby a week later and I would have to agree!
    Barbara in Wilton, NH said: We survived, but we weren't married either :-)

    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Definitely a true statement.
    John in Port Republic, MD said: True...
    Building a house is also a commitment. Your marriage is a commitment. If you want it to work, you will prevail.

    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: I agree. This will certainly strain a partnership.
    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: I am single.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: That is very true. It was very stressful at times. Didn't seem like there was enough hours in a day.
    Brian in Manvel, TX said: Tell the wife to stay away until Sheetrock is up.
    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: We had a great time building the house and enjoyed most of it. It actually brought us closer together.
    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: The building won't change the marriage, but it could put a light on what is already there?
    Have fun.
    We had everything planned out. (She pick and I both picked out things)
    We all have strengths and weaknesses. Learn to work each other strengths and hire out the weaknesses
    Again have fun.
    If you can't hire a general to do it for you.

    Karl in Reno, NV said: Not married at the time.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: If you can work together before then building is just another project.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Have a laid-back spouse; we had no difficulty at all.
    Lori in Reno, NV said: We only had words three times, but I can see how a weak marriage can be broken over building a house. We made a promise not to let building take over our life.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: It's a definite challenge. I'm one of the lucky ones.
    Max in OKC, OK said: Very true.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: Building a house is definitely stressful. Good communication and some relaxation time every now and then is key to a successful owner-builder and a happy partnership.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: We had our disagreements, but I think that most things went well.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: If you are willing to be patient it can be a strengthening thing.
    John in Erie, CO said: It's a very stressful experience, but having a plan and communicating will solve almost everything.

    Mark in Provo, UT said: Not with owner-building. I think its an issue of "control". As a couple, you feel powerless with the big contractor and architect. With owner-building, you feel in control from an early point and settle many things before you ever break ground. If anything, you feel proud of what you have done together and you have increased respect for your hardworking spouse. There are stresses, absolutely, and most of them reflect weaknesses in your preparation.

66.  Was there anything you traded for materials or services?

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: I traded some drafting for some excavation work.

    Susan said: Room for help with Sheetrock.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Only money.
    Brian in Dome-ville, central, FL said: Beer.
    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Web site design for some services.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: No bartering.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: A tractor and a Lincoln navigator.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: Just money.
    Evan in Middleville, MI said: Pez collection.....don't ask.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: Not the first time, but this one we have an excavator and will be trading labor/equipment for labor on our project.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Traded an estate plan with my Realtor for handling all of the paperwork on my old house.
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: I repaired two outboard motors on boats for the gravel/broken coral used for concrete.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: No trades.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: I tried to trade my suppliers names and contact information for discounts on services. For example, one tile layer couldn't believe the price I was paying for tile, because it was cheaper than his cost at his supplier (go figure, he shops one place and I shop every place?). Anyway I tried to get him to discount his installation costs and at the end of the job I would show him my invoices on tile, and give him my contact information at the shop, and he would more than make the difference on his next job. He wasn't interested, and still would never believe what I paid for tile. I ended up with a different tile layer, one that really didn't care what I paid for tile as he came out of the commercial side of the business and rarely did residential work.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Nope. Just paid for the help I hired.
    Lori in Reno, NV said: No, but I would have if I could have.
    Dan in ATLANTA, GA said: Time.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: Straight-across trade of electrical work in return for Soffit and Fascia.

    Mark in Provo, UT said: I needed help with electrical work because the electrical plans got too big for our budget. A retired general contractor agreed to help me, and also offered his signature on loan papers so the bank would have a GC on record. For this I offered to help him on his current project. I showed up and did whatever was needed and learned a lot. He never did get around to helping with the electric.

67.  Did you have any problems getting your building permit?
68.  How did you find good subcontractors? Any suggestions?

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: Beats me....I was unhappy with virtually all of mine.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: We did not use any subcontractors other than the backhoe operator we hired to excavate the foundation hole, and the septic tank supplier who excavated the necessary hole to receive the concrete septic tank. The backhoe owner and operator was a neighbor in town.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Got referrals and compared prices and listened to others who had experience with them.

    Susan said: Mostly word of mouth, ref. from neighbors.
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: Very difficult - the good ones are always employed and are never available when you need them. I never got calls from the good ones and had to settle for the average ones. The market conditions dictate who you will be able to secure, especially if you are a one time employer. Even with my contacts with large general contractors and subs, I had to dig deep to get good subs. Only exception was the plumber - a newly accredited German immigrant who was exceptional - the work was meticulous even though it was going to be hidden.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: The Blue Book networking with subs.
    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Friends of friends.
    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Ask other owners, suppliers.

    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: Interested in people's experiences on this topic as well.
    Brooke in Burley, ID said: I was surprised how far people would travel for work. Some of my cheaper bids came from out-of-towners
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said:
    Great subs:
    Rick Dietrich foundation (he's an all-around guy)
    Curtis Jasper plumbing.
    Both in San Andreas, CA area.

    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Most through referrals from other contractors. A couple (drywall, insulation, mason, and landscaping) through cold calls from ambitious subs who stopped by.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Recommendations from others whose homes have stood the test over time.
    Jere in Ray Twp., MI said: I used many of the subcontractors that my stepdad recommended when he was a builder. I would suggest talking with people that you know or are building near you to see who they used.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: I picked up cards at the lumberyards and asked for names if I was having trouble finding a sub for a particular trade. My dad was a good resource because having worked for close to 20 years at a lumberyard, he knew most of the subs in certain trades. I drove around town and visited houses under construction weekly and asked for names where I was impressed with someone's work. I talked to other builders a few times. I grew up with one such builder and he was a good resource for a couple of trades. I knew another guy who was building at the same time and he was a good resource with both subs and as someone who could share his experiences as he went along. He was a few months ahead of me in his project.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Asked around for recommendations.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: Word of mouth. Ask the material suppliers. They know good subs. Ask the previous sub what sub they recommend for the next step in the building process. For example, drywallers know good framers. And framers know good drywallers.
    Aaron in Bonsall, CA said: Got many good recommendations from the building department and fire department inspectors.
    carrie in graham, WA said: Places on the Internet like ServiceMagic.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Ask the material suppliers; some contractors will be helpful, but usually not as much as supply places or other owner builders.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Qualify each one; ask them how long they have been in business, how many employees, list of references from recent jobs.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: At a job site that they are working.
    Evan in Middleville, MI said: Didn't use any.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: Some weren't so good. Ask for references and call each one of them. Make sure there is one from the last job that sub did and a few others from the past year or two. Ask the references if they would allow you to come see the work they did. Also ask the sub if you can visit a job site a few days after they had been there to get an idea for workmanship. Ask the references about what they paid the sub and if they were on time, on schedule, and how satisfied they were at the end.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Talked to three other OB's and then added people I knew had great reputations.
    Barbara in Wilton, NH said: Bidclerk.com
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: It took a year because they are just slow.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Word of mouth from a couple other owner-builders. Then I spoke with those subs and got more recommendations.
    John in Port Republic, MD said:
    Word of mouth from other OB's
    network and work the internet. Check local construction sites for trades.

    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: Through friend. Watch homes being built in your area.
    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Talked to friends in the building trades for subs they would work with or thought highly of. Always check with references.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: The company I work for does $130,000,000 in construction business. I have a lot of subs available to me.
    Brian in Manvel, TX said:
    Am a GC so I used my guys. But I got them from production builders previously.
    Production builders are cheap so trades are always looking for more work.

    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: Referred from friends.
    Karl in Reno, NV said: Word of mouth.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: The subs I hired I already knew.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: We used a lot of Amish craftsmen as they are very honest and hardworking. Their quality of work is outstanding, and I would use them again. Also, don't open the yellow pages. Use referrals only.
    Lori in Reno, NV said: Just called around got suggestions from other people in the trades. When I got bids and then checked the BBB and Nevada contractors board. We only used three subs everything else we did with friends and a few labors now and again.
    Dan in ATLANTA, GA said: Word of mouth.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: Ask generals and others that have built recently.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Here in Florida, it is a monumental challenge, and I still haven't figured out how to deal with it.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: Talked to family who had recently owner-built and got suggestions from them. Most of the references worked out very well.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Referrals and luck.
    John in Erie, CO said: Cheated some here. Consultant, and my own footwork.

    Mark in Provo, UT said: I started calling names off the subcontractor list in the printed Parade of Homes program. We found houses we liked or features we liked and called the responsible subs and interviewed them over the phone. If we had somebody who wanted to talk, we asked for their advice for other subtrades. Also met people at the Home and Garden show at the local expo center. By following them up and their leads we had enough to get a decent sampling of bids. The interviews helped us to see good chemistry, and checking references gave us more confidence about some of them.

69.  What was the average price quoted you to build your design? Highest price?
70.  Did you use some type of written agreement when hiring subcontractors?

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: The builder took care of that.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: The septic tank supplier quoted a price, which we accepted. The excavator worked on an hourly basis, which we agreed to in advance.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Nope.
    Susan said: They usually supplied an agreement.
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: Yes - standard Canadian construction documents - I wanted to make sure that these documents would stand up in a court of law. I would always advise O-B's to use tried and tested contract documents. Do not invent your own - they will have little chance in court and will be interpreted by the courts in ways you never intended.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Trades, yes. Carpenters, no.
    Brian in Dome-ville, central, FL said: Yes, every time.
    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Yes.
    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: I suggest you do. Even if it is a signed quote agreement.
    Jeff in Provo, UT said: Yes. I had a very tight contract with late penalties. It worked well for everyone that we had sign it. The one or two contractors we didn't have sign it were the ones that gave us problems.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: Yes.
    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Yes. For most subcontractors, I insisted on a formal contract. Most said they hadn't signed a contract in ten years.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Not only written, but legally endorsed.
    Jere in Ray Twp., MI said: No... I used contractors that my step-dad has used for many years. Otherwise I would have.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: Yes. I used the contracts I found on the Owner-Builder Book website and some from another book I had and modified them to fit my needs.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Yes.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: Yes, on pretty much all subs I hired. Some were very simple and some were very specific. HVAC, concrete work, and framer were the most specific. Septic install was almost a handshake. He wrote on a bid quote "1,500-gallon tank, 900 feet of leach field, and curtain tile, $6,300. And that is exactly what he charged me. None of my subs I hired came in a penny higher than the contract stated.
    carrie in graham, WA said: Yes.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Written bid contract sheets.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Always have a subcontract agreement stating the scope of work and terms.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Yes you can buy software with contracts at www.builderbooks.com.
    Dayna in Riverton, UT said: The first time we let the subs supply us with a contract, this time we will use our own and use theirs as and addendum to the contract we supply. Our states payment policy (depending on length to finish work) basically maximum of 90% paid upon completion, remaining 10% paid after next building inspection.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: A few, not not too many.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Yes. I used a brief contract that basically said if they abandoned the job I could fire them. It also listed the price and payment schedule. The contract also said to refer to the designs and specifications (which I created for each sub) which contained most of the details.
    John in Port Republic, MD said: Yes, standard contract that worked for both of us.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: Only once. Most subcontractors were hired without formal agreements.
    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: They gave quote, I payed in three draws or more also got their insurance.
    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Yes.
    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: Subcontracts usually.
    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: We only used their quotes.
    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: Yes, for your CD.

    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Nope.
    Lori in Reno, NV said: No, just their business contract which we signed.
    Dan in ATLANTA, GA said: Yes.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Yes.
    Max in OKC, OK said: Yes.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: No, most of the time we did not write up or sign any contracts. Fortunately for us it worked out pretty well.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Their standard contracts.
    John in Erie, CO said: Everything in writing. My own contract usually, sometimes theirs.

    Mark in Provo, UT said: Usually, no. They would have a bid form estimating the job, and we would write a few things on it like estimated time to complete, price not to exceed, who was responsible for cleanup, etc., and have both of us initial it. When we had a "winner" whom we trusted, we occasionally did it on a handshake. We were also on-site every day, which helps to remove any surprises and misunderstandings. I think good relationships are the most important assurance.

71.  Would you be willing to upload or email us a copy of your agreement?
72.  Did you hire anybody from out of town?
73.  Did you buy any materials from out of town?
74.  Were there features in your home that you implemented for free or cheap because of planning?

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: The biggest thing was the extension to the driveway that allows me to drive back "behind" the house....it wasn't in the plan, came about by accident when the excavation crews dumped dirt in this area. I liked it so much I had them leave it there and used gravel for the house infill (which made for a better fill anyway).

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: Yes. The superb capacity of the cabinets and drawers resulted from detailed planning, full-extension slides, and French style drawer fronts and drawer bottoms.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: We have no wasted space because we don't have any hallways. Every available space is usable square footage. Planning is everything, and changes are much easier to do on paper than in the field.

    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Tray ceilings, chair rails, panels, site work
    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Generator backup connection, upgraded Cat 6 computer network cabling throughout the house, home stereo system.
    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Staircase, flooring

    Brooke in Burley, ID said: The electrical guys went over my plans with me and gave me great suggestions that I am happy we implemented - all free advice.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Installing more square feet upstairs instead of vaulting the entire upstairs area above the den.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: I did my plumbing, electrical, tile and painting for the cost of materials only because I did all the work myself.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Stonework, cabinets, geothermal radiant heat.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: Front door was a great deal. Found one at what is basically a flea market. Brand new it only cost us $250. If we had to buy it from a lumberyard, it would have been at least $1,000. Our pulls for kitchen cabinets came from eBay and Lowe's on clearance. We bought these almost a year and a half before we needed them.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Made the master bath larger by putting a linen closet in the hall by the main bath and putting a vanity in its place.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Added 620SF media room in attic, added the safe room/wine cellar, made the landing at the stairs 2' larger.
    Evan in Middleville, MI said: Above cabinet lighting, pilliars and nice trim work inside. Careful well thought out design.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Granite guy gave me a piece to put in my laundry room, he was going to through it out and I had bought several things from him already. Added a bump out recess for my dog bowls. Everyone loves that feature and it cost me $40.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Finish plumbing fixtures and door hardware due to a friends discount, but I had to order months in advance.
    Many of the self-work I saved time and money by performing while the same subcontractor was at the house. They often gave advice and let me borrow a crucial tool for free.

    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: Tile, we purchased a ton of tile on closeout for next to nothing, at least 80% off. We weren't even ready to shop for tile yet, didn't have a place to store it, but tripped across it just looking for ideas. We decided it would work, quickly calculated how much we might need, and then said forget it we will take the whole pallet because we didn't want to end up short. Excess tile (after keeping enough for some repairs down the road) got donated to Habitat for Humanity.
    In a kitchen, I hate how those big refrigerators stick out past your cabinetry. Why not inset them into the wall, this is a minor difference in how you frame the wall behind the refrigerator, and not it sits flush. You won't mistake them for a Sub-Zero built-in, but the look is so much cleaner and more upscale at no additional cost. It is small things like this that cause you to smile when you look at other people's houses and then think of your own.

    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: Inclosing a porch to a sun room while framing.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Yep.
    Lori in Reno, NV said: No, but I wish I had known our truss peaks were going to be 10 feet tall I would have had an open truss system to have an unfinish loft to use for storage.
    Dan in ATLANTA, GA said: Yes.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Earth sheltering.
    John in Erie, CO said: Passive solar design. Storage.

    Mark in Provo, UT said: We located a fireplace between the master bedroom and the family room. For a little extra money we got a double-sided fireplace.
    By providing lots of inexpensive prewire, we were able to convert two spaces into offices later at no cost with all the necessary hookups for computing, printing, telephone, and TV.
    Our indoor basketball court came by choosing a type of truss at no extra cost over the garage that permitted a high ceiling.
    We planned for a wide bridge above the 2-story family room that easily accommodated a quilting frame and makes a neat place to quilt while enjoying mountain views out the big family room windows. By prewiring the space, it also houses a computer game station.
    We placed heating vents under the master tub and shower bench that prewarm the tub and shower in the winter.
    We grabbed storage spaces under the eaves and stairway and set them up inexpensively with closet systems for useful storage. The crawlspace we spent a little extra on to get an extra foot of height, and then wired for good lighting to make excellent storage.
    Instead of a plant shelf above the front door, we chose to avoid dust gathering by enclosing the space which now forms a "secret passage" between youth bedrooms upstairs. When little ones visit, they seem to make a beeline for the secret passage.
    By turning the 18-foot family room wall into French doors and large windows, we made the space into a respectable solar collector that saves heating costs in winter.
    To fill in a gully on the back of the property, we arranged for the local ranch to dispose of a dozen loads of their composted manure that filled out the land. By allowing for a "garden circuit" in the sprinkler plan, we got a "free" super productive garden space that cuts down on manicured lawn space.
    By opting for center-meet closet doors, we got quasi walk-in closets in each youth bedroom.
    In the planning phase we made allowance for future upgrades which have since been implemented in part. We prewired and braced for up to a four hundred pound chandelier in the entry. We allowed for either gas or electric fuel for washer/dryer, and kitchen stove. We stubbed in for whole house vac, water filtration, and water softening. Stub-in for gas barbecue on deck. As amenities became available at prices much lower than we encountered during building, we retrofitted most of these at "lower than otherwise" costs.

75.  Were there aspects of your home that were improved because of your owner-builder involvement?

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: I did all the radiant heat layout and connections, every bit of it. I shudder to think of what I'd have gotten if I'd left it to the crews; I am absolutely certain I would not have been happy with the results.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: Yes. We gained quality, speed, and effective communications by being, all at the same time, the planner, builder, and home owner.
    Terry in Hayfork, CA said:
    - Custom fit nooks for TV, security system, phone and computer server.
    - Attic access ladders where YOU want, not where the contractor wants.
    - Extra blocking added to floor areas where heavy items will be to eliminate any sagging.
    - Rear access panel for home theater equipment thru bedroom closet.
    - Extra deep stair treads (18") are so much more comfortable to walk on rather than the standard 11" tread.

    Susan said: Windows and doors especially.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Overall better execution.
    Brian in Dome-ville, central, FL said: Everything was done right the first time.
    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Most of it. The mechanicals, materials, design, finish.

    Brooke in Burley, ID said: I can't imagine turning over all these decisions to a contractor now. I was surprised how many upgrades from "stock" we made throughout the house without adding large costs. We even came in under budget with all our upgrades
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: It wouldn't have been built at all if we hadn't done it.

    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: We're getting exactly what we want because we are directing things. The questions go to us, not to a general contractor.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Absolutely. Take a good look at those plans that look like a foreign language. You may just not like what is in them. Have someone break it down for you in language you understand
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: Sure. Probably most of my upgrades came as a result of building myself. I doubt very seriously I would have ended up with as energy efficient home as I've built had it not been for my deep involvement. Also, I probably wouldn't have as sound a house because I opted for floor trusses over floor joists and I opted for top quality materials at every turn.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Most everything.
    Mike in Marion, OH said: I truly believe that almost every aspect is improved because of owner-builder involvement.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Window placement/addition, kitchen layout with addition of built in desk,
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Quality control.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: More decisions on materials.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Quality of materials for sure.
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: Yes. The plumbing works. The kitchen was flipped to the opposite side of the great room, offering a better view from the kitchen window. I extended the roof overhang by a foot to offer a place to run a clothesline out of the rain on the veranda.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: I saved tons of $$ which I spent on upgrades.
    John in Port Republic, MD said: Yes because you could make changes before it got expensive to do so.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: Quality of construction. Most people rely on code inspectors to ensure construction quality (they wouldn't pass it if it didn't meet code mentality). After working with the code inspectors, their review is cursory at best. You would be surprised how much bad quality is covered up by Sheetrock or siding.
    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: It was just built better, it was built just for me. it was insulated better
    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Insulation.
    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: Being able to make a decision on-site I think helped with the schedule.
    Brian in Manvel, TX said: Locations of doors, switches, plugs.
    Jedda in Brighton, ON said: The house was very well insulated.
    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: Because I was on site almost everyday and purchase lunch from time to time I think the guys watch things a little closer.
    One I treated them well and they knew I had good oversite of the project.

    Karl in Reno, NV said: Value.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Yes; the design.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Floor plan; floor joists; staircase; mantle.
    Lori in Reno, NV said: No I don't believe.
    Dan in ATLANTA, GA said: Yes.
    Max in OKC, OK said: Central vac.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: This house is built like a Mercedes Benz, no other home I have seen is as well-built.
    John in Erie, CO said: Attention to detail on finish, flooring, etc. Energy efficiency.

    Mark in Provo, UT said: When on site, we saw ways to upgrade quality. Subs shared their ideas with us. The excavator suggested we fill in around the foundation with rocks. There were a million around the Riverbottoms property. So we tossed them in the excavation during idle moments, making the foundation well-drained and the lawn base soft and pleasant.
    The framers showed us corners that would be empty voids after sheathing, and suggested we stuff them with insulation.
    The siding guys became such good buddies that we shared meals and talked frequently. They had ideas for finishing bathrooms and kitchens. We decided to go with tile in the bathrooms rather than cultured marble for a distinctive look. Then the siding guy offered boxes of unused tile from another project at no charge.
    We asked numerous subtrades for their suggestions during preconstruction interviews. Lots of good ideas came from that, and some indications as to trades we should handle ourselves to get more for less. Because all the sophistication we wanted in electrical wiring were costly upgrades, we did it ourselves and overwired the house and provided for future growth in electrical load.
    We talked over ways to improve the framing with the crew on site, and they helped us to do extra blocking in the walls and extra fasteners in the flooring to make the house tighter and stronger.
    Many times material vendors suggested low-cost upgrades that improve performance. We were able to give consideration to each component in the house and discover better ways to implement them. Once we knew the desirable upgrades we'd like, we kept our antennas up for sales and closeouts. This is how we got granite countertops rather than tile or solid surface.
    There were kneewalls in the original design in the sides of the staircase and on the balcony. We noted sightlines through the original framing and realized that mountain views and daylight could be blocked by the walls. We changed the design on the fly and replaced kneewalls with balusters and stair rail for a big improvement.

    Jeff in Provo, UT said: We were able to get a cold storage area for free because the sub doing the foundations suggested it.

76.  Did you incorporate anything in your design to facilitate a hobby?

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: The computer room is at the top of the third floor tower.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: Only the bookcases. Reading is one of my indoor hobbies.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Not in this phase, but the future phase will.

    Susan said: Art room.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: High basement and octagonal room for theater and wine cellar.
    Brooke in Burley, ID said: We have a hobby farm and tried to add some functional designs based on extra dirt and chores.
    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: I'm a pilot. The house was purchased with an airplane hangar. We added a third floor "control tower".
    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Workshop under the three-car garage.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Yes, my own private room.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: Yes. I love to read and I made sure that I had light in appropriate places to facilitate reading while watching TV without putting a glare on the TV. My wife and I both are musicians as well and we made sure that we had plenty of room to setup our instruments and practice without worry of them getting damaged or being in the way. We play in a small band and we made sure that we had a place for the whole band to practice at our house. That has worked out great too. Lastly, I'm an amateur radio operator and I setup the loft in our house so that I could run my radio and computer gear efficiently.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Indoor swimming pool, gourmet kitchen.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Oversize garage.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Building a barn for my hobbies.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Garage for four cars for dads.
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: A fish cleaning station and a room devoted to hang drying scuba gear. Outdoor showers to wash off after a swim in the ocean.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: A large work shop. Large garage. Huge yard with bonfire pit. Very dog friendly home.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: I am a homebrewer. I have an extra staircase to get homebrewing materials (ie. 55 lb. bags of grain) directly from the garage into the basement. I also have a brewing area.
    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: Yes. I built a 5 car garage because I have a racecar.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Building is my hobby.
    John in Erie, CO said: Wine cellar, bike maintenance room. "Mad Science tinkering lab". Oversized garage.

    Mark in Provo, UT said: The custom kitchen facilitated a cooking and canning hobby. An extra pantry and more cabinets allow for canning and food storage.
    One room, the parlor, doubles as a music room with a piano and trumpet and a custom music stand.
    The guest suite houses several pieces of exercise equipment and is set up for TV watching with private earphones for individualized watching.
    The garage doubles as a sports court for basketball.
    We really enjoy beds for flowers and vegetables and a permanent raspberry patch. Custom sprinkler circuits meet the different needs of annual and perennial plantings and rosebeds.
    The whole-house audio system supports a listening hobby.
    One bedroom has multiple closet spaces that house a big fabric collection and machines for sewing and quilting.
    Another bedroom has appropriate space for food and emergency preparedness storage.
    Reading spaces are provided in public areas and in bedrooms with direct lighting and seating. Another space on the bridge is a cozy spot for reading.
    Work and storage spaces around the house made it work for a home office.

    Jeff in Provo, UT said: A separate office.

77.  Did you design anything special for a pet?
78.  Were you ever lied to by a contractor? Examples?

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: Probably more times than I know. To be fair some weren't "lies" as much as "hadn't thought it through very well." Some that I do know about:
    - "We wired it up right.....there must be some problem with the pump."
    - "I need more ICF blocks; there's not enough here to finish the job."
    - "We'll get that Temp-Cast fireplace ordered in plenty of time for construction, don't worry."
    - "We'll follow your electrical layout to the letter."
    - "Don't worry about that roof; it won't ever leak."
    - "We won't damage a single tree during construction, you have my word on it."

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Nope.
    Susan said: Don't think so.
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: Often - always related to "no-shows".
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Bad work excuses, not showing up for work, stolen equipment.
    Brian in Dome-ville, central, FL said:
    "Sure, no problem."
    "I'll see you tomorrow."
    "It will take two weeks max."

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Not lied to, but optimistically underbid.

    Fred in Kingston, Ontario said: Haha, buyer beware,
    Brooke in Burley, ID said: we were shocked how many promises they made like, "I'll be there tomorrow," or "this will be under warranty."
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: Just the supplier of the house, Topsider. Our website worldtrippers.com chronicles all of the misinformation and mis-shipped or mis-built items they provided.

    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: No, I was there too much observing for him to lie.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: Oh I was lied to plenty, mostly about how good they were. Some of those guys really brag themselves up if you let them talk. The framer, who is the epitome of a red neck and whom I don't peg as having a great IQ, actually told me that he invented the framing calculator program and sent it to Texas Instruments and that all framing calculators use his program. In almost the same breath he'd ask me easy computer questions about his home PC. I'm a trained programmer and worked as a professional computer programmer for several years before moving into management so I got a kick out of that one. He also lied about adding proper supports in the attic and about never leaving a job unfinished; he left mine unfinished and I doubt that was the first time.
    I had another lie to me about how experienced he was with drywall. It took him six weeks to hang my drywall and if I'd gone with my gut and hired a drywall professional, it would likely have taken no more than two weeks.
    Other than that, most of them were honest.

    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Superior walls - about everything.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: ICF Contractor told me he would be finished in 12 days and it took 78 days.
    Most of them say they are going to start one day and don't show up or call.

    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Yes, said they would be there and did not show or call.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: No, I can honestly say all of my subs were great. I did however pick each on my their reputation, and not by price.
    Ken in Orangevale, CA said: Yes. The first guy was a flat-out crook who spent our money and promised to repay us but who refuses. It's more difficult and expensive to take him to court, so we we're out about $8,000 USD.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said:
    "I'll be there Monday."
    No major issues though.

    John in Port Republic, MD said: Yes. Well driller. he stated that I told him to put the well in the place that he did.
    I had a meeting with him before he drilled, gave him a plat plan slowing the location of the well and placed a stake painted orange with the words 'well here".

    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: I will be there tomorrow.
    Did I quote that?
    I need this progress payment to pay my supplier. Calling the supplier a couple of weeks later to get a lien release because they wan't another progress payment, hey that supplier didn't get paid after all, what did you do with the progress payment?

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: Hahaha Of course! That's why you have very detailed contracts.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Yeah. their pricing and their available time to build.
    Lori in Reno, NV said: I wouldn't call it lying, but the concrete guy did have some good excuses.
    Dan in ATLANTA, GA said: Yes, about times they were going to show up, about cost to do the job, about their experience, about how good of a job they gave me.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Not yet.
    Max in OKC, OK said: Just time frames.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: Yes.
    Railing guy knew we needed rail fast and told me because we were in a hurry that the price would be $44 a foot for a total of 34 feet (about $1,500). He called me back the next morning telling me it would actually be $1,975!!! In a matter of hours he jacked his price up by another $14 a foot. When I told him I couldn't afford him and that I was going to use my second choice whose price was $1,600 dollars he immediately offered to lower his price by a couple hundred bucks! I guess he figured I had no one else with a solid bid and that this was his opportunity to take advantage of the situation.

    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Yes - our framing contractor was a super liar.
    He agreed to build the house for a certain fee, and gave us a draw schedule. In our inexperience, we didn't realize that the draws were ahead of the work until we didn't have enough money held back to coerce him. Rather than finish the job, he walked away. My husband finished the framing. Fortunately, the part that needed a crane and more than one person was done. So we got the framing done for the money we budgeted, we just had to do a lot of it ourselves.
    All our other subs were honest.

    John in Erie, CO said: "Be there next Monday..." Lie.

    Mark in Provo, UT said: One of my friends has been postponing building because he sees contractors as "congenital liars."
    The first kind of lie I encountered was "You can't build your own house".
    "It'll cost you more", "The quality will suffer", "It will take you much longer."
    The next was what a thing would cost. They lead you to believe that the only way to do a thing is the expensive way. An example of this was what it would cost to build our deck. The estimates were loaded up with overhead and profit. When I hired people by the hour to build the deck, I was able to upgrade to maintenance-free materials and still come in at less than half the estimate.
    Another kind of lie is how long it would take to do a thing, and when they would start. I was amazed that a contractor would say, "I'll be there Tuesday" and you didn't see him for a month. When you did see him, it was, "I'll be there Wednesday," and you didn't see him for another month.
    Another kind was that the only way to do a thing or solve a problem was the way that would convenience them, not you. One guy got tired of listening to this from subs, so he checked in advance with the technical director of the trade association. When the sub told him that an inconvenient thing "couldn't be done", he pushed the memory dial on his cell phone, got the technical director on the line, and said, "Here, you want to talk to your trade association?"
    Some tradespeople were incapable of telling a lie. Some seemed uncomfortable ever telling the truth.

    Jeff in Provo, UT said: Excuses when they didn't show up as stipulated or for why they were late delivering.

79.  What are some of the discouraging comments you have heard from others about acting as your own contractor?

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: None. People who knew us believed that we could and would do it.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: None really.

    Susan said: Too stressful.
    Ike in Edmonton, Alberta said: You just cannot relax - the buck stops here, so expect to solve and fix every problem - As O-B, this what you are being paid for.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: If it were so great why isn't everyone doing it?
    Mike in Bonham, TX said: The frustration of trying to deal with subs when you don't have the knowledge or confidence to address technical issues.

    Brooke in Burley, ID said: Meeting your budget or timeline.
    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: UBuildIt claims you can't get their 10% pricing discount for materials.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said:
    "Why would you do this?"
    "How long has this taken you?"
    "How long has Topsider been designing houses?"

    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: The same comment came up again and again: subs won't show up if they have work from a contractor that they do regular business with. We didn't see this at all (but then again, we built in the middle of the mortgage crisis, so few contractors were actually doing any building).
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: None, but I should have just been the contractor.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: The only one I guess I ever heard of was from a young couple at church. They evidently had serious problem with their subs and they now say they'll never do it again. They say next time they'll just buy a pre-built home. But I'd guess that they weren't really prepared for what they were getting into when they started and that's the real reason for their disappointment.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Just that O-B's don't have the experience to build a home properly.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Takes too long, it's too much headache.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: You'll never rest until it's finished.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Yes, the subs try to take advantage of a non-professional. More money upfront.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Just the usual. Can't save any money, and won't get the same quality. None of which are true.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Yes. A local architect and contractor (both of whom I grew up with their kids) were very discouraging. Classic comments like "would you come to me if you needed a neurosurgery" and "it just doesn't work, you end up spending more".
    John in Port Republic, MD said:
    Are you crazy?
    You ever going to finish you house?
    You might as well give up.
    That house is going to fall down.

    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said:
    1) O-B don't save any money
    2) O-B get worse quality
    3) O-B just think they save money and get better quality

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said:
    Too much work!
    Subs not showing up.
    Not knowledgeable enough with building trades.

    Jedda in Brighton, ON said:
    Too much work
    Don't know enough about the codes

    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: I really don't listen to that stuff.

    Karl in Reno, NV said: Won't be done right!
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Yeah.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Inspector warned us before we even applied for our permit that he's seen many owner-builders not end up saving any money because of their lack of experience.
    Lori in Reno, NV said: No one in our lives was negative about us building.
    Dan in ATLANTA, GA said: That I need to spend the money to hire a real contractor.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Don't do it if you want to keep your sanity. Since my friends have always called me crazy, it's not a big deal.
    Max in OKC, OK said: No time.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: None really, just the one about your marriage being able to survive it all.
    Mark in Provo, UT said:
    "Nobody will work for you."
    "You couldn't handle it."
    "You'll lose money."
    "You won't build quality."
    "It's high risk."
    "It's not legal around here."
    "Your neighbors won't appreciate it."
    "You'll hurt yourself."

    Jeff in Provo, UT said: Most people say that you can't get the same discounts that they get or that subs don't care about working for you as much as they care about working for a general.
    I found both of these excuses to be nothing more than that.

80.  What is the worst treatment you ever got from a contractor?

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: The framers got into a fight with the builder towards the end of the project. I can see where their work got pretty shoddy after that happened; I've had to rip out half of it and do it right.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: None. The excavator and the septic tank maker/installer each did fine work.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Got into a pretty heated discussion with the head contractor's apprentice when going over the final punch list. After arguing with him, I decided to go straight to the top and talk to the head contractor. He had no issues with my punch list and it was all taken care of in a two-week period.

    Susan said: The electrician wanted more plugs and they put out cigarettes on the sub-flooring.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Not showing up and stealing equipment. One site guy dumped his truck of site garbage in my driveway and was caught by the neighbors and police.
    Brian in Dome-ville, central, FL said: Really didn't have any problems, if they showed up.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Walking off of the job after only one day and not returning calls or addressing the problems. I finally had to find out where he lived and go to his house to find out what happened.
    Basically, he didn't like the frame job and refused to complete the trim work.

    Brooke in Burley, ID said: Our siding was installed terribly and warped within a few months. After one year of nagging, we finally got the warranty claim complete. The contractor took the money from the siding company and ended up doing something with drugs. We never got our siding or money or fixed siding, and the contractor is now in jail with no promise of warranty down the road.
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: Just bad treatment from Topsider.

    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: There was mutual respect.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: All of them treated me with respect but one didn't finish his work and another did a shoddy job of his. The closest I came to an argument with one was the one who did the shoddy job at hanging my drywall. He called later after I fired him from doing the finish work on the drywall and insinuated that I did him wrong. He never came out and said it flat out but he kept hinting at it while I had him on the phone. So, I set the record straight by telling him that the reason I didn't let him do the finishing work was because he did a shoddy job of hanging the drywall and that he took three times as long to get it done as it should have taken which in turn cost me money in the way of interest fees. After I spoke plainly to him about my feelings on the subject, he changed his tone; he never accepted responsibility for his poor work but he quit trying to accuse me of cheating him. By the way, I had initially promised him the finish job but he never gave me a firm quote and we never signed a contract on it. So though it did cause me some consternation about taking the job away from him after promising it, I didn't actually cheat him out of anything. In fact, I feel like I was cheated, not him. But I am a man of my word and going back on my promise was a hard thing to do and it took me a while to finally make the decision to do so. I was just too concerned about the finished quality to allow him to do it after that. Plus, I saw some of his "finished" handiwork later and I know it was the right decision now; he is not a finisher. Or a hanger for that matter.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Tried to jack up the price after a verbal agreement
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Poor workmanship concrete opening for garage door; the wrong size had to be cut out.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Plumber didn't pay is supplier after his first draw and stole $2K worth of water heaters.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Did not show for two weeks.
    Evan in Middleville, MI said: Horrible drywall finish
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Appliance guys. Spent $25,000 on kitchen alone, and they sent two kids to try to install them. I sent them back and requested more qualified guys. Ended up in a screaming match with the company owner's son. Typical DADCo! Daddy starts company and kid somehow thinks that makes him an owner.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: My foundation guy rushed the final payment. I neglected to subtract about $900 for a stucco type job he was supposed to perform on the ICF block because he convinced me he could put up cultured stone for cheap. I never got a bid on the cultured stone from him, nor did I ever get a call back.
    John in Port Republic, MD said: Well driller. Put the well in the wrong spot.
    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: A no-show/no-call.
    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: Foundation contractor tried to charge me for extra concrete because of his mistake. Would have raised the foundation price by 30%.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: Not showing up. Called the plumber the night before to verify he would be there and then he never showed up. Waited three days then used a different sub.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Don't deal other contractors on my projects.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Just not returning phone calls (HVAC).
    Lori in Reno, NV said: The plumber didn't show up after repeated requests and promises to be there. So he was fired.
    Dan in ATLANTA, GA said: Cursed out and threatened.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: No response.
    Max in OKC, OK said: Wouldn't answer calls.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: I tried getting a bid for paint from one and he kept putting me off. Finally after about two weeks of trying, he told me he lost it and that he didn't really like to do residential painting anyway and why couldn't I just go to Home Depot to get a price.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Our framing contractor wasted a lot of time and front loaded the draw schedule and then walked away.
    John in Erie, CO said: Stucco guy kept putting off the final bit of work,

    Mark in Provo, UT said: My carpenters who told me they would finish in a week or two and I would save by paying hourly. They were still there after two months when I finally fired them. Then it was a year in dispute after they liened the house. When I finally got the money back out of legal escrow, the title company said, "Most people in this situation never see their money again."

    Jeff in Provo, UT said: Cabinets. Our cabinet contractor kept playing with us, telling us they would be finished by such and such a date. We ended up with beautiful cabinets; he lost a lot of money, and we lost a lot of time.

81.  Did you have any embarassing moments building?

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: Nope.
    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: Having to add a second plywood layer on the floor after finding out that the code provided unimpressive floor rigidity.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Going to the hardware store three times to complete a water softener installation is a bit embarrassing.

    Susan said: Don't recall any.
    Brian in Dome-ville, FL said: Not putting a screen around the toilet, and having a contractor walk in on me right after I told him I was using it, and knock first...

    Brooke in Burley, ID said: It's not really easy for a lady to go to the bathroom when she is on site.
    Ross in Hillsboro, OR said: Every day. ;-)
    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: When the foundation bids came in, the whole valley was laughing at us because of the way it was designed by Topsider: "You could launch a rocket off the thing."

    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Yes, My elderly neighbor needed to drive past a truck that was blocking her so that she could use the bathroom. I was not there, but I wish I had been.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: I don't guess I was ever embarassed about anything but I did feel foolish over my choices for the framer and the drywall subs. But only after they didn't work out like I expected.
    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Almost had a temporary braced wall almost blow over and a contractor working next door came and brought my nail gun to me so I didn't have to let go of the wall.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: When the ICF Contractor didn't brace the walls properly and the entire house fell down, costing $16K in damaged material.
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: Forgot to call for an inspection.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Ordered the windows wrong. One of my first jobs and it cost me $1,100 right from the beginning.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said:
    1. I built my own boulder retaining walls (three large 4 ft. tall and 30 ft. long). Two of them washed out with the rain... twice.
    2. I installed my own Micor material for the fireplace hearth. I didn't use enough blocking so my tile guy stepped right through it.
    3. I rinsed my mortar bucket out in a utility sink. What a great drain plug mortar makes.

    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: When I discovered that the bucket of nails I was picking up had been used as a toilet.
    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: Not really.
    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: Not really.

    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Yeah there were moments but it had nothing to do with building.
    Dan in ATLANTA, GA said: Yes.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: Yes, when I realized that I could have cut rebar with a circular saw with a proper blade instead of a hacksaw.
    Karlie in Ogden, UT said: When we did the painting I was covered from head to toe in it everyday as I left the house.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: I found it embarrassing to trust a scoundrel and be at the job site waiting for them, sometimes for days when they had no intention of showing up. By extension, when I told a sub that we'd be ready for them at a certain date, and they made arrangements to handle it, and I was not ready, I was embarrassed.
    There was one sub I wanted to pay in a timely manner, but the bank wouldn't go out to inspect progress and release funds. This sub deserved to be paid for outstanding performance, and I had to make him and his new crew wait for funds.

    Jeff in Provo, UT said: Maybe walking out of the house covered from head to toe in primer...

82.  Did you make some mistakes? Examples?

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: No big ones.....

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: Yes. If we bent a nail, we pulled it out and installed it correctly. I can't think of other mistakes, but I must have dropped tools, gotten paint on clothing, etc.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Cabinets ended up too close to some door trim. Should have moved the door over 2 inches.

    Susan said: One, should have had ceiling fans put in every room. had to add them slowly over the years.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Not checking foundation work.
    Brian in Dome-ville, central, FL said: Mis-measured about 1,000 cuts on wood.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Choice of subs, especially the roofing contractor.
    Moving into the house before it was fully complete.

    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: See our website for our "redo" entries.

    Jeff in Hartland, WI said: Didn't pay attention to the insulation quote. Learned the day before the contractor was scheduled to start that he didn't handle the insulation I wanted.
    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: None that have presented themselves yet.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: Sure, I put the house a little close to the road. I hired a guy to do the shingles who obviously wasn't a roofer and I had to fire him. I should have hired a professional drywall crew to hang and finish my walls and ceilings but I didn't and it cost me two months extra in building time. The guy I hired to frame never finished the job; I'd call him a mistake although for the most part he worked out. The same guy ended up laying shingles on the house too and he left me with several leaks which I had to pay extra to fix.
    I screwed up ordering tile. I bought the main color tile we used throughout the house and the store only had about half what I needed in stock so they shipped what they had and ordered the rest. Well, they didn't mention to me that the second shipment might not match the first. But that's what happened. Not only was the color not as robust in the second batch, it was a completely different size, about a quarter inch difference both ways, width and height. Luckily, the store was able to find enough of the first lot to finish what I had already started and I was able to use the other in closets and the laundry room where the difference isn't noticeable. Also, while laying tile in the boys' bath, I underestimated the quantity and ran out. I actually had almost enough to finish it but I'd have come up short by two or three tiles. So rather than wait on the lumber yard to order more, I found a color that looked good when mixed with the original and made the tub/shower surround a two toned color. Turns out, everybody likes that and most think I did it on purpose.
    I made some minor mistakes when running the drain pipes under the house. They likely would have worked but I replaced them anyway, just to be safe; I hate plumbing problems. On the other hand, after my experience in plumbing my own house, I'm probably now more equipped to handle plumbing problems, should they arise in the future.
    I'm sure I made more but I can't think of any right now.

    Brock in Walla Walla, WA said: Didn't put screws in a couple of seems in the floor in high traffic area
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Decided to use ICF Walls, hopefully it will pay off in the utility bills.
    Use a 12-mo. schedule instead of a 9-mo., residential subs are not near as fast as commercial subs that I am used to working with.

    Evan in Middleville, MI said: Heh, who doesn't....that's why it's called "rough" framing.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Windows, accidentally deleted septic from my budget which put me $9,700 over.Waited too long to have the well drilled, could have saved a lot of aggravation.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: I misread the gutter guy's quote. I thought the first price was gutter only and the second price was gutter and Helmont. The second price was so good I ordered the gutter plus Helmont, only to find the second price was only for the Helmont (extra $2,500).
    John in Port Republic, MD said: Yes, cleared too much land beyond the Limits of disturbance and were fined by the county.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said:
    Yes:
    1) Coordination between subcontractors. For example, I thought my plumber and HVAC tech were going to get into it one day because my HVAC tech wanted to put an air return where the plumber wanted to run some tubing. I resolved this easy enough simply by being on-site, but it was clear these two subcontractors had never worked together before.
    2) Hiring a low-bid subcontractor without fully checking references, I was in a hurry. Of all of the subcontractors I hired, I took a short-cut on this one. This was the one subcontractor I had problems with, had to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, threatened a mechanic's lien, and generally was the one I wouldn't hire again.
    3) When I ordered my roof trusses, they came in the wrong pitch. The problem was the wrong pitch was shown on the plans, a mistake the architect made. The truss designer has a 3-D tool that would have caught this mistake easily prior to ordering, but they don't use it because all of the information necessary was on the paper plans. This cost an extra $3K to put scabs on the trusses to give them more pitch, but would have been easily avoidable.

    Ray in Richmond Hill, GA said: Forgot to figure cost of bricks and labor for front entrance.
    Penn in Pittsboro, NC said: A few framing mistakes that led to a lower clearance into the stairs than code requires.

    Brian in South Burlington, VT said:
    Not budgeting enough for Outside Trim.
    Not budgeting enough for copper wire. Prices really went up.

    Brian in Manvel, TX said: Yes, should have built more closets.
    Craig in Green Bay, WI said: I wish I would have put better sound installation between our main and lower level
    Added one foot to our formal dining and my office. Garage three feet wider.

    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Yeah. Cutting lumber, wiring, basic mistakes; nothing big.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Forgot to plan for water heater vent; couple of doors hinged on the wrong side (thankfully, they're in negligible locations); should've planned for better placement of master bath light switches; I'm sure there's more...
    Lori in Reno, NV said: Of course we did. Number one mistake, hiring the wrong concrete guy. He is great with the flat work, but boy did we have problems due to mis-measurement of the footings/stem wall. Putting the hurricane straps on the wrong side of the sheathing. Not securing the trusses real good before a wind storm.
    Dan in ATLANTA, GA said: Yes, cut the power main to the rest of the houses in the neighborhood stopping all contractors from being able to work.
    Max in OKC, OK said: Hired wrong framer.
    Kathlyn in Orlando, FL said: Too trusting. Next time we will hold more retainage.
    We did not need retainage on any sub but one. But he made our lives miserable

    John in Erie, CO said: Hindsight is always 20:20. Should have fired framers and gotten new ones to speed schedule. Should have made garage even larger.

    Mark in Provo, UT said: I probably derived motivation to write The Owner-Builder Book from my mistakes. There were plenty. Most were avoidable with planning. We planned too thinly, and had to make up for the lack during the construction phase when "time is money" and some things aren't reversible.
    The first biggie was that we had a house design with a three-car garage, and it didn't fit the lot. The city plat map showed we had plenty of room, but we didn't think of running a tape on the land to see what actual measurements were. Since we were the last to move into the neighborhood, others had squeezed our boundaries down by placing their fences and walls generously. This meant a loss of one car bay, and we were still too close to the other guy's fence. The inspector red-flagged us.
    I worked out a deal with one neighbor, and snipped off his chain-link fence and rolled it back out of the way. Then we could continue.
    I didn't have a sketch of the garage as it would look after we decided to incorporate a sports court into the space. The decision was made on the fly on the suggestion of our bright framer. So when the concrete guys poured the garage stairs, they headed right down into playing space. This could have been avoided by turning the stairs and making a landing.
    I didn't have a backup sub for the finish carpenter I chose. He was a friend of the family who was down on his luck. I thought it would give him more to do if I had him install the custom cabinets I bought. He didn't have a clue how to do it, and spun his wheels. Several mistakes were made in configuring the cabinets, necessitating purchase of additional components, and the shop that provided them had no responsibility at all.
    I should have used the cabinet vendor as the installer, and had a backup for the carpenter when he turned sour. As it was, he brought in a relative to "help" him, and they "retired" on my job, where I had made the mistake of agreeing to hourly wages.
    There were many other small things, adding up to construction delays and extra costs. In the end, we saved so much money on the house, we had to wonder, how much more would we have saved, and how much better would have been our product if we planned more thoroughly in the beginning.

    Jeff in Provo, UT said: I didn't think to add windows wells to the budget. That was the first $1,000 I spent over budget.

83.  Did you run into any outrageous construction pricing?

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said:
    Concrete and electrical work cost WAY too much.
    Plumbing was actually pretty reasonable.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: No, not on the materials that we bought.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: The framing of the house was the biggest variable in pricing, from $28k to $65k for the same thing. The higher number came from a custom builder, so I wasn't too surprised.

    Susan said: Don't think so.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: All the time.
    Brian in Dome-ville, central, FL said: Not really.

    Mike in Bonham, TX said: Yes, turn-key bids.

    Gail in Glencoe , CA said: $53,000 for a foundation (that the designer assured us would be no more that $10,000).

    Jack in Trumann, AR said: I was lucky. Most materials were at a multi-year low when I started and I feel like I got good pricing on most if not all materials. The one material that was overly expensive for me was concrete and I used a lot of it. It was at an all time high during my project. Copper prices were on the rise, so my wiring was more than it would of been just a year earlier, but I managed to get mine all purchased before the prices went through the roof. I bought my Romex at something like $50/250 ft roll and before I finished with the house it was around $80/roll. It's gone back down now though.
    As for quotes: one of the contractors who bid on building my house was about $100,000.00 higher than the other guy; I thought that was outrageous. And the one of the guys who bid on my heat and air bid over $45,000.00 for the job and I got it done for less that $18,000.00. I had a mason bid $150 more per thousand for laying my brick over two bids I already had in hand. And when I told him I'd have to go with the lower bid, he kept trying to talk me into going with him instead without really changing his price much. I found that hilarious. He even called me a few days later and offered to come down $50/thousand. I kind of laughed on the phone and said, "Friend, you're still not even close to the other two bids I have. I'd be stupid to use you." He never called again after that.

    Faye in Marseilles, IL said: Geothermal radiant heat bid was four times what the actual cost was.
    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Steel, concrete, Sheetrock, copper, Romex.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Most things were good due to the poor building envirnment, but stone work was way more than I thought it would be, as was the radiant heat.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Rough labor for $70,000 more than I ended up paying!!!
    John in Port Republic, MD said: Sheetrocking and painting of the interior.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: Yes. Some of my high bids were triple or more what I ended up paying, and often this was not selecting the low bid. These contractors must be extremely busy, or not busy at all but want to make just as much money as the busy ones?
    Brian in South Burlington, VT said: Just with a framer I first interviewed. He came in at $60,000. I ended up using a out of town guy and he did it for $35,000. Found out later that the first framer has been sued multiple times.
    Brian in Manvel, TX said: Yes, copper wire.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Yeah, but we went elsewhere.
    Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said: Drywall bids range: $9,000 - $18,000
    Lori in Reno, NV said: In the summer the drywall was $15 a sheet. when we bought it in November it was $11 a sheet. And the concrete was $100 and that is why we went with the middle bid.
    Dan in ATLANTA, GA said: Sure.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: Yes, when I needed to replace the carpenter on short notice, the guys I found belatedly offered amazing prices. When I finally found a good guy, he was a third of what the carpenters were quoting me.
    The plumber offered me fixtures at prices that were double what I wound up paying for the same items.
    Corian countertop, out of a boneyard, and quoted by a friend was $10,000 for materials. We found granite for a third as much.

    Jeff in Provo, UT said: When we told people were we were building, prices went up. The are is fairly well-to-do. So we just started telling them the city instead of the exact area.

84.  Were there little luxuries you were able to implement at little or no cost?

    Steven in Colorado Springs, CO said: Can't think of anything that wasn't planned.

    Marvin in McConoughey, OR said: Yes. the built-in spice shelves in the kitchen, optimal air conditioning duct design, and plenty of drawers.

    Terry in Hayfork, CA said: Positioning of windows. Visit your site often and pay attention to where your windows will be and what you'll be seeing when looking out of them. Its a lot easier to move a window on paper than in the field after it's already installed.

    Susan said: A nice laundry room and a shelf on the back of the downstairs tub.
    Frank in Bridgewater, NJ said: Steam shower; extra baths in basement; extra room fully plumbed over garage.
    Brian in Dome-ville, central, FL said: Added propane runs to the water heater and dryer area for little.

    LTanya in Virginia Beach, VA said: Yes, an additional small deck off of my bedroom.
    Jack in Trumann, AR said: Depends on your definition of cost. I got some fine tile work done in my house for no cost other than materials but I about broke my back doing it. Same with everything else I did.
    Faye in Marseilles, IL said:
    - Vaulted ceilings
    - Recirculating hot water
    - Dual dishwashers
    - Stained concrete floors

    Pat in Round Rock, TX said: Not really
    Steve in Anthem, AZ said: All had some extra cost.
    Eric in Seaville, NJ said: Pasta pot filler. Granite for bar was half the price I expected because he had extra from another job.
    Roger in Petoskey, MI said:
    1. Low-maintenance siding (painting wood and trim would have cost almost the same as pre-stained cement fiber board)
    2. Well thought out space.

    John in Port Republic, MD said: Whirlpool tub, home theater room, radiant heating in basement floor.
    Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said: Our footers were poured wrong, leading to a loss of 6" in our entry and a gain of 6" in our master bathroom. We could have re-poured them, but we ended up redesigning the master bathroom and came up with a much better flow and design, incorporating a bigger shower. My footing subcontractor was satisfied as he didn't have to re-pour the footer in this area, everything worked out. I don't notice the 6" we lost in the entry, but the extra 6" in the master bath is really nice.
    Another thing we did because we have clear span (no interior walls), when we framed the main floor we didn't use the plans. We just threw down plates, laid it out how we thought, adjusted some. We made the kitchen larger, the mud room smaller, adjusted a couple of closets. Once we had everything about where we wanted it, we squared it all up and put up the interior walls. Most of the adjustments were relatively minor, but it was nice to have the flexibility prior to building walls.
    In the kitchen, we built the wall behind the refrigerator with a little cubby, so the refrigerator front is flush to the cabinets (most modern refrigerators sit out from the cabinets). No one will mistake this for a Sub-Zero built-in, but it is a nice touch that I have never seen incorporated into any houses in this area. Additional cost is basically zero.
    There are a lot of little things that can be done that don't add cost to the house. Some things to consider include switched outlets in the soffits if you like to have Christmas lights, putting conduit under driveways and patios to accomodate future outside lighting and power or sprinkler systems. Write down everything about your existing house that provides a sense of frustration for a period of six months, no matter how trivial, and you can incorporate solutions to most of these in your new construction job, most for almost no additional cost.

    Brian in Manvel, TX said: Yes: second staircase in kitchen.
    Definitely Dreaming in Hampton, VA said: Yeah; there always are.
    Dan in ATLANTA, GA said: Yes.
    Richard in Malabar, FL said: None. Luxury was not a criterion.
    Mark in Provo, UT said: One luxury that O-B's can ensure is good insulation. We chose 2x6 framing and made sure the insulation job was thorough. The house wrap adds to the "tightness" and low utility bills of the house, and we did it ourselves for $100-$200 in an afternoon.
    We put bedside controls for fans and reading lights in the bedrooms. Also a heat lamp over the tub in the master bath. Courtesy lights on the stairs, sound insulation between certain rooms. Though a trade deal with a neighbor we had 8" of topsoil hauled in over our entire yard. We can shove a garden fork or shovel into the ground at any point, and it sinks in smoothly, a rare luxury in a stony riverbottom area.
    Strategically placed windows give us delightful views. We managed a pantry under the stairs, and little closets under the eaves. A good deal on c