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Jeff in Provo, UT's Interview Answers

Previous Owner-Builder for Jeff in Provo, UT at OwnerBuilderBook.com - Build Your Own Home



How many finished levels in your most recent owner-built house?
 Two
 
What type of construction?
 Conventional framing
 
House style?
 Two-story
 
Were you working when you owner-built?
 Both working
 
Who took primary responsibility in your family for the work?
 Both equally
 
What trades did you do yourself?
 Tile, painting, misc. finish work.
 
How many bids did you get for each subcontracted trade, on average?
 Three
 
Did you get bids from generals?
 Two
 
Have you had it appraised?
 Yes
 
Was yours a starter, step-up, custom, or dream home?
 Custom
 
Did you get materials separate from labor on any of the trades?
 70% - 80%
 
Super bargains you got?
 I was able to buy windows from a warehouse that they were closing for $50 each!
 
Did you have contract problems?
 One
 
Did you get liened by anybody?
 One
 
What percentage of O-B's do you think get liened?
 35% - 40%
 
How much time did it take to construct?
 Nine months
 
What time of year did you start?
 May
 
What were your most important tools?
 My cell phone was extremely important to keep track of subs.
 
Did you use a designer, architect, stock plan?
 Stock Plan
 
Were there any schedule items that took you a lot longer or shorter than you thought they would?
 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.
 
Did you get a construction loan without a contractor?
 Yes
 
Do you have a step-up strategy?
 Yes
 
What do you do for a living?
 I'm a computer programmer; my wife is an academic assistant.
 
How much combined time did you spend planning?
 400 - 500 hours
 
How many times are you planning to do this?
 Two
 
Are you organized?
 Pretty organized
 
What suggestions do you have for O-B's to get organized?
 Write down everything and get everything in writing.
 
Are you a good shopper?
 Good shopper
 
What suggestions do you have on finding good prices?
 Ask for them. Almost anyone can get "contractor pricing" if they ask.
 
How much did you save altogether vs. appraised or street value?
 25% - 30%
 
What is a good way to get discounts on lumber?
 I got bids from a few of the local lumber warehouses and compared them.
 
Any problems with the inspector? Items that caused you to fail an inspection?
 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.
 
Where did you get good help and advice?
 From the inspector, from Mark Smith, and from a few generals that were building in the area.
 
Did you find a wide range in the prices you were bid for different things? What are some examples?
 
Drywall from $10,000 to $25,000
Cabinets from $10,000 to $25,000.
 
Did you get a bad surprise on property taxes?
 No - I expected the tax assessment I got
 
Were utility costs in the new house a surprise?
 About what I expected
 
They say that a marriage that survives building a house will survive anything. Any comments?
 We had our disagreements, but I think that most things went well.
 
Did you have any problems getting your building permit?
 No problems as an owner-builder
 
How did you find good subcontractors? Any suggestions?
 Ask generals and others that have built recently.
 
What was the average price quoted you to build your design? Highest price?
 No one was below $400,000 and that was not including the lot.
 
Did you use some type of written agreement when hiring subcontractors?
 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.
 
Were there aspects of your home that were improved because of your owner-builder involvement?
 We were able to get a cold storage area for free because the sub doing the foundations suggested it.
 
Did you hire anybody from out of town?
 No
 
Did you buy any materials from out of town?
 No
 
Were you ever lied to by a contractor? Examples?
 Excuses when they didn't show up as stipulated or for why they were late delivering.
 
Did you make some mistakes? Examples?
 I didn't think to add windows wells to the budget. That was the first $1,000 I spent over budget.
 
Beside yourself, who in your family got involved in this project?
 My wife; she cut and laid tile, helped with painting, choose all of the colors and finish materials.
 
How long did your self-work trades take?
 300 - 400 hours
 
Do you want to say anything more about your house style or construction?
 2x6 exterior walls, 9-ft. ceilings, except in the basement.
 
What's the difference in your mind between a starter, step-up, custom, or dream home?
 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.
 
What were special features in your house?
 
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.
 
Ways to save money?
 Ask. Almost anything that you buy for your house is negotiable.
 
What are the qualifications to be a good O-B?
 Planning and more planning.
 
How many trades were involved on your job?
 10 - 15
 
Any reason you chose that time of year to start?
 That is when we had everything ready. We started planning in January.
 
What anguish or fear of loss did you go through? What was your worst fear during the project?
 Going over-budget and/or not finishing.
 
What help did you want but couldn't get?
 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.
 
What do you consider the most desirable features in a custom home?
 
- Big spaces
- Natural materials
- Location, location, location.
 
What features in your house save operating costs?
 
- Extra insulation
- 2x6 exterior walls
 
Did you incorporate anything in your design to facilitate a hobby?
 A separate office.
 
Did you design anything special for a pet?
 Nope.
 
What are some of the discouraging comments you have heard from others about acting as your own contractor?
 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.
 
What is the worst treatment you ever got from a contractor?
 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.
 
Did you have any embarassing moments building?
 Maybe walking out of the house covered from head to toe in primer...
 
Did you run into any outrageous construction pricing?
 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.
 
Have you owner-built more than once?
 Twice
 
How much management time did you and your spouse spend during the construction phase?
 700 - 800 hours
 
Did you use a computer?
 Yes - some
 
Would you be willing to help another owner-builder?
 Yes, I would respond to emails.
 
Did you incorporate active solar panels (PV) into your home?
 No
 
How many dead days did you have where nobody did anything?
 15 - 20 week days
 
What was the average monthly cost of maintenance in the home you left to occupy your new home?
 Less than $100
 
Did you have a written schedule for construction?
 Yes
 
Did you read The Owner-Builder Book before you built your house?
 Yes
 
How many trades did you do yourself?
 4
 
How much more activity was there at end of project than in the middle?
 30%
 
Did you install a water softener?
 Yes
 
What was your planned schedule when you started out?
 8-9 months
 
If you had a general contractor estimate, how much did you save vs. average estimate?
 35-40%
 
How much would the trades you did yourself have cost in the marketplace?
 $10,000 - $30,000
 
Was your project a new house or a remodel and addition?
 New house
 
Was your project urban or rural?
 In the city
 
How many hours did you spend as a couple, counting planning and construction?
 600 - 700 hrs.
 
How much did you save on the trades you did yourself?
 $30,000 - $50,000
 
Things or approaches you invented?
 Kung fu project management ;-)
 
What do you consider the rules of good work?
 Quality.
 
How many houses did you own prior to this one?
 One
 
How much calendar time from when you first did some written planning to groundbreaking?
 <Six months
 
What was the age of your previous home?
 1 - 5 yrs.
 
Did you take pictures of the job when you owner-built?
 A few pictures
 
How many days when only a single sub was on site?
 25 - 30 days
 
Was there anything you traded for materials or services?
 No.
 
Why did you consider owner-building in the first place?
 Better home for less money.
 
If you used a contracting consultant or O-B program, what did it cost?
 Didn't use one
 
Did you use a contracting consultant or an owner-builder program?
 No
 
What were the most helpful websites for your owner-builder project?
 
- OwnerBuilderBook.com
- Google.com
 
How much personal use do you make of the Internet?
 20-25 hours
 
How many covered vehicle spaces did you provide in your owner-built house?
 Two
 
Do you own a truck?
 Yes
 
What are your favorite shows or cable channels?
 
- SciFi - Battlestar Galatica
- Fox - 24, Prison Break, House, The Chronicles of Sarah Connor
CBS - Jericho
 
Are you a coupon shopper?
 I use a coupon < 10% of the time I grocery shop.
 
Do you have experience using spreadsheets for budgeting or scheduling?
 More than 500 times
 
How many tools do you own?
 $1,000 - $2,000
 
How much combined time did you take off work when you built?
 Three weeks
 
If stick-built, did you use 2x4 or 2x6 framing?
 2x6
 
How many air conditioning units did you include in your owner-built house?
 Two compressors
 
How many bathrooms did you include in your owner-built house?
 3-4
 
How many bedrooms did you include in your owner-built house?
 Four
 
How many children lived at home when you owner-built?
 None
 
How many children do you have?
 Two
 
How many houses have you built, remodeled or added on to as an owner-builder?
 One
 
Did you use any personal friends as subs?
 None
 
How many books about contracting or the trades did you read when you owner-built?
 One
 
How much construction industry experience did you have before you owner-built?
 1-2 years
 
Do you know your credit score?
 Yes
 
If ever you move from your O-B house, how long will you have lived in it?
 < 5 years
 
Apples to apples, what utility savings did you get in your new house vs. old?
 <10%
 
What is the R-value of your walls?
 R-18
 
What did the plans for your project cost?
 $1,000 - $1,500
 
What was your original construction budget, not including land?
 $250,000 - $300,000
 
What did you choose for wall insulation?
 Fiberglass batts
 
How did your final appraisal compare with your preconstruction appraisal for the lender?
 Final appraisal was 10% more
 
What's the population of the community where you built?
 100,000-150,000
 
What year did you get your certificate of occupancy?
 <2001
 
What were the impact fees for you to build?
 <$10,000
 
What was the initial interest rate on your mortgage?
 4-5%
 

Future Owner-Builder for Jeff in Provo, UT at OwnerBuilderBook.com - Build Your Own Home



Who will take primary responsibility in your family for the work?
 Both equally
 
What percentage of the time do you think O-B's get liened by subs or vendors?
 5% - 10%
 
What time of year will you start?
 Jan-Feb
 
How many times are you planning to do this?
 Three
 
Are you organized?
 Very
 
Are you a good shopper?
 Good shopper
 
What is the average monthly utility cost in your current home?
 $100 - $150
 
Planned house style?
 Two-story
 
Will your project be a starter, step-up, custom, or dream home?
 Custom
 
What is the average General Contractor estimate to build your plans?
 $150 - $175
 
Will you be working when you owner-build?
 Both working
 
What type of construction are you planning?
 ICF
 
Will you build in town or in the country?
 Rural
 
How much do you plan to save altogether vs. appraised value?
 30% - 35%
 
Do you have a step-up strategy?
 Yes
 
How many finished levels in your future owner-built house?
 Three
 
Do you know your credit score?
 Yes
 
What's the population of the community where you will build?
 100,000-150,000
 
How many bedrooms are you planning on?
 Six
 
How many bathrooms are you planning on?
 4-5
 
How many covered vehicle spaces will you provide in your owner-built house?
 Three
 
How many air conditioning units will you include in your owner-built house?
 Two compressors
 
Will you get comparison bids from general contractors?
 Three
 
How many houses have you built, remodeled or added on to as an owner-builder?
 One
 
How many children do you have?
 Two
 
How much personal use do you make of the Internet?
 > 25 hours a week
 
Do you own a truck?
 No
 
Will you incorporate active solar panels (PV) into your home?
 No
 
Do you have experience using spreadsheets for budgeting or scheduling?
 More than 500 times
 
Will you take pictures of the job when you owner-built?
 Will even take video
 
How many children will be living at home when you owner-build?
 Two
 
How much construction industry experience will you have before you owner-build?
 No experience in the industry whatsoever
 
Do you plan to use any personal friends as subs?
 None
 
How many books about contracting or the trades will you read when you owner-build?
 One
 
If stick-built, will you use 2x4 or 2x6 framing?
 2x6
 
What will be the R-value of your walls?
 R-19
 
How much calendar time will there be from when you first did some written planning to groundbreaking?
 One to one and a half years
 
Is your occupation "blue collar" or "white collar"?
 White collar
 
What will you choose for wall insulation?
 Icynene (or like) foam
 
How many tools do you own?
 $2,000 - $3,000
 
How many hours do you project spending as a couple, counting planning and construction?
 > 1,000 hrs.
 
What is the average monthly maintenance cost of the house you'll be leaving?
 $300 - $400
 
How much combined time will you spend planning?
 More than 900 hours
 
How many houses have you owned prior to this one?
 Two
 
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