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Ross in Hillsboro, OR's Interview Answers

Previous Owner-Builder for Ross in Hillsboro, OR at OwnerBuilderBook.com - Build Your Own Home

What did the plans for your project cost?
 >$6,000
 
Did you use a contracting consultant or an owner-builder program?
 No
 
Who took primary responsibility in your family for the work?
 Both equally
 
How many houses have you built, remodeled or added on to as an owner-builder?
 Three
 
Do you have experience using spreadsheets for budgeting or scheduling?
 More than 500 times
 
Have you owner-built more than once?
 Only once
 
Would you be willing to help another owner-builder?
 Yes, I would meet with a nearby O-B
 
Are you a good shopper?
 Good shopper
 
If you used a contracting consultant or O-B program, what did it cost?
 Didn't use one
 
How many bathrooms did you include in your owner-built house?
 2-3
 
How many finished levels in your most recent owner-built house?
 Three
 
What type of construction?
 Conventional framing
 
House style?
 Contemporary
 
Do you want to say anything more about your house style or construction?
 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 $$$.
 
Were you working when you owner-built?
 Both working
 
What trades did you do yourself?
 So far... (not complete) demolition, electrical, and plumbing. Moved water utilities service. Trenched and installed underground electrical service. saved $$.
 
How much did you save on the trades you did yourself?
 $10,000 - $30,000
 
How long did your self-work trades take?
 <100 person-hours
 
How many bids did you get for each subcontracted trade, on average?
 Three
 
Did you get bids from generals?
 More than three
 
Have you had it appraised?
 No
 
Was yours a starter, step-up, custom, or dream home?
 Dream home
 
What's the difference in your mind between a starter, step-up, custom, or dream home?
 
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 ;).
 
What were special features in your house?
 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.
 
Super bargains you got?
 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.
 
Ways to save money?
 Still looking for ways to save money.
 
What are the qualifications to be a good O-B?
 Patience. Good record keeping. planning planning. Patience.
 
What anguish or fear of loss did you go through? What was your worst fear during the project?
 Currently fear of losing my job, and/or fear of not being able to complete the project.
 
Do you have a step-up strategy?
 No
 
What do you do for a living?
 I am an Applications Engineer for a company that makes test equipment for computer/memory chips.
 
How much combined time did you spend planning?
 100 - 200 hours
 
How many times are you planning to do this?
 One time total
 
Are you organized?
 Pretty organized
 
What suggestions do you have for O-B's to get organized?
 Notebooks are great, but I also use the computer. Excel is your friend.
 
What suggestions do you have on finding good prices?
 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.
 
Were there any schedule items that took you a lot longer or shorter than you thought they would?
 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.
 
Did you use a designer, architect, stock plan?
 Architect
 
What are the three best things you did?
 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.
 
The three worst things that you did?
 Spent too much money off budget before we *had* a budget. Lost probably $10K or more through "leakage" and creeping elegance.
 
What did you find to be the top five biggest expenses in the budget? How much, and how to cut back?
 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.
 
Did you find a wide range in the prices you were bid for different things? What are some examples?
 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.
 
They say that a marriage that survives building a house will survive anything. Any comments?
 We are still in progress. Not sure.
 
Did you have any problems getting your building permit?
 Other
 
What was the average price quoted you to build your design? Highest price?
 I'd say average $450K-$550K highest was $1Million??? Ouch.
 
Did you incorporate anything in your design to facilitate a hobby?
 I'm a pilot. The house was purchased with an airplane hangar. We added a third floor "control tower".
 
What are some of the discouraging comments you have heard from others about acting as your own contractor?
 UBuildIt claims you can't get their 10% pricing discount for materials.
 
Did you have any embarassing moments building?
 Every day. ;-)
 
What was the average monthly cost of maintenance in the home you left to occupy your new home?
 $200 - $300
 
What was the age of your previous home?
 20 - 25 yrs.
 
How many trips to the hardware store or other suppliers did you have to make during your project? What could have cut that down?
 Planning! Many trips for plumbing/electrical prior to the demolition could have been avoided if I had drawn a schematic of what I was doing and listed full materials... would have saved several trips to the hardware store.
 
Did you use a computer?
 Yes - even brought laptop or PDA to jobsite
 
Did you install a water softener?
 I stubbed in for one
 
What was your planned schedule when you started out?
 >12 months
 
How many trades did you do yourself?
 2
 
Did you read The Owner-Builder Book before you built your house?
 Yes
 
Was your project a new house or a remodel and addition?
 Remodel and addition
 
Was your project urban or rural?
 In the country
 
What's the population of the community where you built?
 50,000-100,000
 
How much calendar time from when you first did some written planning to groundbreaking?
 Three and a half to four years
 
Do you know your credit score?
 Yes
 
How many houses did you own prior to this one?
 Three
 
What did you choose for wall insulation?
 Icynene (or like) foam
 
What is the R-value of your walls?
 >R-20
 
How much construction industry experience did you have before you owner-built?
 No experience in the industry whatsoever
 
How many books about contracting or the trades did you read when you owner-built?
 More than eight books
 
How many children do you have?
 Four
 
How many children lived at home when you owner-built?
 One
 
How many bedrooms did you include in your owner-built house?
 Three
 
How many air conditioning units did you include in your owner-built house?
 One compressor
 
If stick-built, did you use 2x4 or 2x6 framing?
 2x6
 
How many tools do you own?
 $2,000 - $3,000
 
Did you take pictures of the job when you owner-built?
 Even took video
 
Are you a coupon shopper?
 10% - 20% of the time
 
Do you own a truck?
 Yes
 
How many covered vehicle spaces did you provide in your owner-built house?
 Three
 
How much personal use do you make of the Internet?
 > 25 hours a week
 
Why did you consider owner-building in the first place?
 Cost savings and personal enjoyment.
 
What was your original construction budget, not including land?
 $250,000 - $300,000
 
What were the impact fees for you to build?
 <$10,000
 
If ever you move from your O-B house, how long will you have lived in it?
 10 -15 years
 
What print publications do you read regularly?
 
Time
Fine Homebuilding Magazine
AOPA Pilot
 

Future Owner-Builder for Ross in Hillsboro, OR at OwnerBuilderBook.com - Build Your Own Home

What will be the R-value of your walls?
 >R-20
 
How many finished levels in your future owner-built house?
 Three
 
Planned house style?
 Contemporary
 
How much do you plan to save altogether vs. appraised value?
 20% - 25%
 
How many hours do you project spending as a couple, counting planning and construction?
 600 - 700 hrs.
 
Will you be working when you owner-build?
 Both working
 
Who will take primary responsibility in your family for the work?
 Both equally
 
Will your project be a starter, step-up, custom, or dream home?
 Dream home
 
Will you get comparison bids from general contractors?
 More than three
 
What percentage of the time do you think O-B's get liened by subs or vendors?
 1% - 5%
 
What time of year will you start?
 September
 
Do you have a step-up strategy?
 No
 
How much combined time will you spend planning?
 700 - 800 hours
 
How many times are you planning to do this?
 One time total
 
Are you organized?
 Pretty organized
 
Are you a good shopper?
 Good shopper
 
What is the average General Contractor estimate to build your plans?
 $250 - $275
 
What is the average monthly maintenance cost of the house you'll be leaving?
 $100 - $200
 
What is the average monthly utility cost in your current home?
 $150 - $200
 
Will you incorporate active solar panels (PV) into your home?
 Yes
 
Will you build in town or in the country?
 Rural
 
What's the population of the community where you will build?
 50,000-100,000
 
How much calendar time will there be from when you first did some written planning to groundbreaking?
 Three to three and a half years
 
Do you know your credit score?
 Yes
 
How many houses have you owned prior to this one?
 Three
 
What will you choose for wall insulation?
 Icynene (or like) foam
 
How much construction industry experience will you have before you owner-build?
 No experience in the industry whatsoever
 
How many books about contracting or the trades will you read when you owner-build?
 More than eight books
 
Do you plan to use any personal friends as subs?
 None
 
How many houses have you built, remodeled or added on to as an owner-builder?
 Two
 
How many children do you have?
 Four
 
How many children will be living at home when you owner-build?
 One
 
How many bedrooms are you planning on?
 Three
 
How many bathrooms are you planning on?
 2-3
 
How many air conditioning units will you include in your owner-built house?
 One compressor
 
If stick-built, will you use 2x4 or 2x6 framing?
 2x6
 
How many tools do you own?
 $2,000 - $3,000
 
Do you have experience using spreadsheets for budgeting or scheduling?
 More than 500 times
 
Is your occupation "blue collar" or "white collar"?
 White collar
 
Will you take pictures of the job when you owner-built?
 Will even take video
 
Do you own a truck?
 Yes
 
How many covered vehicle spaces will you provide in your owner-built house?
 Three
 
How much personal use do you make of the Internet?
 > 25 hours a week
 
What are the most helpful websites for your owner-builder project?
 
www.ebay.com -- Water Well Pumps
www.anderson.com -- Windows (can see what's available)
www.doorson-line.com -- Garage doors (Clopay has one too)
www.terrylove.com -- Toilet reviews, plumbing forums
 
Why are you considering owner-building?
 Cost primarily. (Also I love to work with my hands)
 
What type of construction are you planning?
 Conventional
 
What print publications do you read regularly?
 
USA Today
Oregonian
AOPA Pilot
Taunton Press "Fine Home Building" magazine
 
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