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Lori in Reno, NV's Interview Answers

Previous Owner-Builder for Lori in Reno, NV at OwnerBuilderBook.com - Build Your Own Home

How much construction industry experience did you have before you owner-built?
 No experience in the industry whatsoever
 
What time of year did you start?
 March
 
Any reason you chose that time of year to start?
 We wanted to be dried in by winter.
 
What do you consider the rules of good work?
 Following common sense i.e. square, clean, and by code.
 
What were your most important tools?
 Compressor and air nailer.
 
What anguish or fear of loss did you go through? What was your worst fear during the project?
 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.
 
What help did you want but couldn't get?
 None! We were extremely lucky.
 
What do you consider the most desirable features in a custom home?
 Size of rooms and layout.
 
What owner-builder laws exist where you live?
 We have very liberal building for OBs.
 
Did you get a construction loan without a contractor?
 Yes
 
Do you have a step-up strategy?
 No
 
What do you do for a living?
 Husband - military, Wife - school teacher.
 
How much combined time did you spend planning?
 300 - 400 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?
 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.
 
Are you a good shopper?
 Super shopper
 
What suggestions do you have on finding good prices?
 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.
 
Were there any schedule items that took you a lot longer or shorter than you thought they would?
 Putting the rim joist on was our first stumbling block. But the leach lines have to be the record killing-schedule item to us.
 
Did you use a designer, architect, stock plan?
 Designer
 
The three worst things that you did?
 Rim joist. Leach lines and hiring the wrong concrete company. Keep it square!!!
 
What is a good way to get discounts on lumber?
 Not sure; we did a panelized package.
 
Any problems with the inspector? Items that caused you to fail an inspection?
 Hurricane straps on inside of sheathing not outside, nails to deep into sheathing and a failed leach line.
 
Where did you get good help and advice?
 Friends helped with building and ownerbuilderbook.com helped with advice and an occasional call to Mark Smith.
 
Did you find a wide range in the prices you were bid for different things? What are some examples?
 Concrete contractor and now I know why. We only used two other subs and their prices were comparable.
 
They say that a marriage that survives building a house will survive anything. Any comments?
 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.
 
Was there anything you traded for materials or services?
 No, but I would have if I could have.
 
Did you have any problems getting your building permit?
 No problems as an owner-builder
 
How did you find good subcontractors? Any suggestions?
 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.
 
What was the average price quoted you to build your design? Highest price?
 We didn't get a bid. We wanted to save as much as possible.
 
Did you use some type of written agreement when hiring subcontractors?
 No, just their business contract which we signed.
 
Did you hire anybody from out of town?
 No
 
Did you buy any materials from out of town?
 For one trade
 
Were there features in your home that you implemented for free or cheap because of planning?
 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.
 
Were there aspects of your home that were improved because of your owner-builder involvement?
 No I don't believe.
 
Did you incorporate anything in your design to facilitate a hobby?
 No.
 
Did you design anything special for a pet?
 Planned a doggy door, but decided coyotes and other varmints could use it too and didn't want that.
 
Were you ever lied to by a contractor? Examples?
 I wouldn't call it lying, but the concrete guy did have some good excuses.
 
What are some of the discouraging comments you have heard from others about acting as your own contractor?
 No one in our lives was negative about us building.
 
What is the worst treatment you ever got from a contractor?
 The plumber didn't show up after repeated requests and promises to be there. So he was fired.
 
Did you make some mistakes? Examples?
 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.
 
Did you run into any outrageous construction pricing?
 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.
 
What were the biggest construction bargains you found, and how did you find them?
 Paid $50 for carpet measure to secure 20% sale, then paid for carpet on Veterans Day to get another 10% off (military). We also went on Home Depot and Lowe's website and printed all the rebates and bought items based on the rebate time frame. With the insulation alone we got a $375 gift card, and if we had split the order up we could have gotten $1,500 in gift cards.
 
What was your most valuable planning/preparation activity?
 Making sure the design was just right before getting the permit. No changes were made after that.
 
Beside yourself, who in your family got involved in this project?
 Husband, two of our three sons (other son is in Navy). Daughter-in-law, son's girlfriend. And several calls to our out-of-state parents.
 
How did you find other owner-builders to network with?
 We had a friends that were building the same time we were, and ones that built the year before us, and I used ownerbuilderbook.com.
 
What websites did you find helpful when you built?
 Yours, Home Depot, and eBay.
 
Do you know of people wasting a lot of money when they built? Explain.
 Yes! Our friends that were building at the same time thought that by spending money to hire a laborer they would out-budget themselves, but they actually went over budget and schedule trying to do it all themselves.
 
Were there disappointments with your project that could have been avoided? How?
 Yes; by squaring and securing better then we did, we could have worked faster.
 
Were there things that came out right because you were involved that might have been messed up if you had used a general contractor?
 Probably not.
 
How did you mark your lot for the excavator who dug your foundation?
 With wooden stakes. We have 11.5 acres; it wouldn't matter if he was a little off.
 
Who built or installed your mailbox?
 No mail box at house. Post office had a pod and beginning of valley.
 
Did you have a good mentor who helped you accomplish this? Describe.
 No.
 
Do you know examples of people being injured trying to do their own work? Tell what happened.
 No.
 
What were major causes of delays that occurred in your construction?
 Weather, misorder on panel company side, and lack of knowledge caused misjudgment of time factors.
 
What was the average monthly cost of maintenance in the home you left to occupy your new home?
 Less than $100
 
What was the age of your previous home?
 30 - 35 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?
 Too many to count. Having husband make list before leaving.
 
How many dead days did you have where nobody did anything?
 More than 50 week days
 
How many days when only a single sub was on site?
 10 - 15 days
 
What self-work that you did would you hire out next time?
 Rim joist, floor joist, subfloor, and leach lines.
 
What are some examples of day to day problems you had to solve?
 Getting a working backhoe out to property. Making sure my husband understood why he had to do some of the things he thought were dumb.
 
Did you do any creative problem solving?
 Yes I told my husband I was going to fire him if he didn't start doing things right. I then started making him lists.
 
Have you owner-built more than once?
 Only once
 
How much management time did you and your spouse spend during the construction phase?
 500 - 600 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 install a water softener?
 Yes
 
What was your planned schedule when you started out?
 11-12 months
 
Did you have a written schedule for construction?
 Yes
 
How much would the trades you did yourself have cost in the marketplace?
 $90,000 - $110,000
 
How many trades did you do yourself?
 >8
 
Did you read The Owner-Builder Book before you built your house?
 No
 
Was your project a new house or a remodel and addition?
 New house
 
Was your project urban or rural?
 In the country
 
What's the population of the community where you built?
 300,000-350,000
 
How much calendar time from when you first did some written planning to groundbreaking?
 Two to two and a half years
 
Do you know your credit score?
 Yes
 
How many houses did you own prior to this one?
 One
 
What did you choose for wall insulation?
 Fiberglass batts
 
What is the R-value of your walls?
 >R-20
 
How many books about contracting or the trades did you read when you owner-built?
 None
 
Did you use any personal friends as subs?
 Two
 
How many houses have you built, remodeled or added on to as an owner-builder?
 One
 
How many children do you have?
 Four
 
How many children lived at home when you owner-built?
 Two
 
How many bedrooms did you include in your owner-built house?
 Three
 
How many bathrooms did you include in your owner-built house?
 2-3
 
How many air conditioning units did you include in your owner-built house?
 Two compressors
 
If stick-built, did you use 2x4 or 2x6 framing?
 2x6
 
How much combined time did you take off work when you built?
 Two weeks
 
How many tools do you own?
 $2,000 - $3,000
 
Do you have experience using spreadsheets for budgeting or scheduling?
 One time
 
Did you take pictures of the job when you owner-built?
 Used a digital camera regularly
 
Are you a coupon shopper?
 70% - 80%
 
What are your favorite shows or cable channels?
 CSI, Ghost Whisper, Close To Home, House, Criminal Minds. Before the building started I was hooked on HGTV, DIY, This Old House, and so on.
 
Do you own a truck?
 Yes
 
How many covered vehicle spaces did you provide in your owner-built house?
 Two
 
How much personal use do you make of the Internet?
 5-10 hours
 
What were the most helpful websites for your owner-builder project?
 Ownerbuilderbook.com
 
Why did you consider owner-building in the first place?
 To save money!
 
What was your original construction budget, not including land?
 $250,000 - $300,000
 
How many finished levels in your most recent owner-built house?
 One
 
Did you have contract problems?
 None at all
 
Was yours a starter, step-up, custom, or dream home?
 Dream home
 
Did you incorporate active solar panels (PV) into your home?
 No
 
What type of construction?
 Conventional framing
 
House style?
 Conventional
 
How many hours did you spend as a couple, counting planning and construction?
 > 1,000 hrs.
 
Were you working when you owner-built?
 Both working
 
Who took primary responsibility in your family for the work?
 Husband primary
 
What trades did you do yourself?
 We did all but foundation, plumbing, electrical, laying shingles.
 
How many bids did you get for each subcontracted trade, on average?
 Two
 
Did you get bids from generals?
 No
 
Did you get materials separate from labor on any of the trades?
 <20%
 
What were special features in your house?
 Designed to add mother-in-law's quarters in future if needed. Large kitchen, master bedroom and bath.
 
What are the qualifications to be a good O-B?
 Organizational skills and patience.
 
Did you get liened by anybody?
 No liens
 
What percentage of O-B's do you think get liened?
 Less than one percent
 
How much time did it take to construct?
 Ten months
 
How many trades were involved on your job?
 <5
 

Future Owner-Builder for Lori in Reno, NV at OwnerBuilderBook.com - Build Your Own Home

Will you be working when you owner-build?
 Both working
 
Will you get comparison bids from general contractors?
 Two
 
What type of construction are you planning?
 Other
 
How much do you plan to save altogether vs. appraised value?
 >50%
 
How many hours do you project spending as a couple, counting planning and construction?
 > 1,000 hrs.
 
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?
 Custom
 
What time of year will you start?
 March
 
Do you have a step-up strategy?
 No
 
How much combined time will you spend planning?
 More than 900 hours
 
How many times are you planning to do this?
 One time total
 
Are you organized?
 Very
 
Are you a good shopper?
 Super shopper
 
What is the average General Contractor estimate to build your plans?
 $175 - $200
 
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?
 $300 - $350
 
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?
 350,000-400,000
 
How many finished levels in your future owner-built house?
 One
 
Planned house style?
 Conventional
 
How much personal use do you make of the Internet?
 1-5 hours
 
How many covered vehicle spaces will you provide in your owner-built house?
 More than five
 
Do you own a truck?
 Yes
 
Will you take pictures of the job when you owner-built?
 Will use a digital camera regularly
 
Is your occupation "blue collar" or "white collar"?
 Blue collar
 
Do you have experience using spreadsheets for budgeting or scheduling?
 Ten times
 
How many tools do you own?
 $4,000 - $5,000
 
If stick-built, will you use 2x4 or 2x6 framing?
 2x6
 
How many air conditioning units will you include in your owner-built house?
 Two compressors
 
How many bathrooms are you planning on?
 1 - 2
 
How many bedrooms are you planning on?
 Four
 
How many children will be living at home when you owner-build?
 One
 
How many children do you have?
 Four
 
How many houses have you built, remodeled or added on to as an owner-builder?
 One
 
Do you plan to use any personal friends as subs?
 Two
 
How many books about contracting or the trades will you read when you owner-build?
 One
 
How much construction industry experience will you have before you owner-build?
 No experience in the industry whatsoever
 
What will be the R-value of your walls?
 >R-30
 
What will you choose for wall insulation?
 Fiberglass batts
 
How many houses have you owned prior to this one?
 1
 
Do you know your credit score?
 Yes
 
How much calendar time will there be from when you first did some written planning to groundbreaking?
 Two to two and a half years
 
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