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Brian in Dome-ville, FL's Interview Answers

Previous Owner-Builder for Brian in Dome-ville, FL at OwnerBuilderBook.com - Build Your Own Home

Would you be willing to help another owner-builder?
 Yes, I would respond to emails.
 
Are you a coupon shopper?
 10% - 20% of the time
 
Were utility costs in the new house a surprise?
 Less than I expected
 
They say that a marriage that survives building a house will survive anything. Any comments?
 Pick a good wife in the first place.
 
Was there anything you traded for materials or services?
 Beer.
 
Did you have any problems getting your building permit?
 No problems as an owner-builder
 
How did you find good subcontractors? Any suggestions?
 Friends of friends.
 
What was the average price quoted you to build your design? Highest price?
 None.
 
Did you use some type of written agreement when hiring subcontractors?
 Yes, every time.
 
Did you hire anybody from out of town?
 Two trades
 
Did you buy any materials from out of town?
 For three trades
 
How much construction industry experience did you have before you owner-built?
 No experience in the industry whatsoever
 
How many children lived at home when you owner-built?
 Three
 
Did you read The Owner-Builder Book before you built your house?
 Yes
 
House style?
 Other
 
Was your project a new house or a remodel and addition?
 New house
 
How much would the trades you did yourself have cost in the marketplace?
 $50,000 - $70,000
 
How much calendar time from when you first did some written planning to groundbreaking?
 One and a half to two years
 
Did you install a water softener?
 No
 
Are you a good shopper?
 Good shopper
 
What percentage of O-B's do you think get liened?
 1% - 5%
 
Was yours a starter, step-up, custom, or dream home?
 Starter
 
Did you get liened by anybody?
 No liens
 
How long did your self-work trades take?
 700 - 800 hours
 
Have you had it appraised?
 No
 
How many bids did you get for each subcontracted trade, on average?
 Three
 
Was your project urban or rural?
 In the country
 
How many trades were involved on your job?
 5 - 10
 
Do you have experience using spreadsheets for budgeting or scheduling?
 One time
 
Who took primary responsibility in your family for the work?
 Husband primary
 
How many hours did you spend as a couple, counting planning and construction?
 700 - 800 hrs.
 
How much more activity was there at end of project than in the middle?
 20%
 
How many finished levels in your most recent owner-built house?
 Two
 
What was your planned schedule when you started out?
 >12 months
 
Did you have contract problems?
 None at all
 
How many houses did you own prior to this one?
 Two
 
How much did you save on the trades you did yourself?
 $50,000 - $70,000
 
Were you working when you owner-built?
 Both working
 
How many times are you planning to do this?
 Two
 
What did you choose for wall insulation?
 Rigid Foam Boards
 
How many children do you have?
 Three
 
Did you use a computer?
 Yes - extensively
 
Did you get a bad surprise on property taxes?
 Yes - it was more than I expected
 
What was the average monthly cost of maintenance in the home you left to occupy your new home?
 $100 - $200
 
If stick-built, did you use 2x4 or 2x6 framing?
 It wasn't stick-built.
 
How many houses have you built, remodeled or added on to as an owner-builder?
 One
 
Did you get materials separate from labor on any of the trades?
 50% - 60%
 
What was your original construction budget, not including land?
 $100,000 - $200,000
 
How many covered vehicle spaces did you provide in your owner-built house?
 Three
 
How much did you save altogether vs. appraised or street value?
 35% - 40%
 
How many air conditioning units did you include in your owner-built house?
 All window or wall units
 
How many days when only a single sub was on site?
 More than 50 days
 
Did you get a construction loan without a contractor?
 Built with own funds
 
Did you get bids from generals?
 No
 
Do you own a truck?
 No
 
Do you have a step-up strategy?
 No
 
Did you have a written schedule for construction?
 Yes
 
Did you use any personal friends as subs?
 None
 
What time of year did you start?
 March
 
What type of construction?
 Other
 
If you had a general contractor estimate, how much did you save vs. average estimate?
 25-30%
 
How much combined time did you spend planning?
 More than 900 hours
 
Were there features in your home that you implemented for free or cheap because of planning?
 Generator backup connection, upgraded Cat 6 computer network cabling throughout the house, home stereo system.
 
Were there aspects of your home that were improved because of your owner-builder involvement?
 Everything was done right the first time.
 
How much time did it take to construct?
 More than ten months
 
What is the R-value of your walls?
 >R-30
 
Have you owner-built more than once?
 Only once
 
Did you use a designer, architect, stock plan?
 Designed My Own
 
How many bathrooms did you include in your owner-built house?
 1 - 2
 
How many trades did you do yourself?
 6
 
How many dead days did you have where nobody did anything?
 More than 50 week days
 
If you used a contracting consultant or O-B program, what did it cost?
 Didn't use one
 
How many bedrooms did you include in your owner-built house?
 Two
 
Apples to apples, what utility savings did you get in your new house vs. old?
 40%-45%
 
How much management time did you and your spouse spend during the construction phase?
 500 - 600 hours
 
How many books about contracting or the trades did you read when you owner-built?
 More than eight books
 
Do you know your credit score?
 Yes
 
How much personal use do you make of the Internet?
 > 25 hours a week
 
Did you take pictures of the job when you owner-built?
 Even took video
 
Did you incorporate active solar panels (PV) into your home?
 No
 
Did you use a contracting consultant or an owner-builder program?
 No
 
What was the age of your previous home?
 25 - 30 yrs.
 
Are you organized?
 Pretty organized
 
How many tools do you own?
 $3,000 - $4,000
 
How much combined time did you take off work when you built?
 Eight weeks
 
What's the population of the community where you built?
 <50,000
 
If ever you move from your O-B house, how long will you have lived in it?
 We'll never move
 
What were the impact fees for you to build?
 $0
 
How did your final appraisal compare with your preconstruction appraisal for the lender?
 Final was 30% more
 
What did the plans for your project cost?
 $500 - $1,000
 
What design strategies did you use to keep your house up to date?
 My house is completely different and modern, a concrete geodesic dome. It's never going to be "dated". Inside I went with neutral colors, and open space.
 
Would you be willing to upload or email us photos of your project?
 http://ownerbuilderbook.com/files/interviews/I5Q140U8085.jpg
 
What were the benefits of your time on site?
 Kept thing going in the direction we wanted, made sure the work was done right.
 
Suggestions for controlling the job?
 Be on site!
 
Daily duties?
 Same as a general contractor. Our project went much slower than the average, but we did a lot of the work ourselves.
 
Sub recognition?
 In our weblog.
 
Do you have other suggestions or comments for owner-builders?
 Don't give up and figure everything will take two to three times longer than you think.
 
What are your favorite shows or cable channels?
 Comedies
 
What were the most helpful websites for your owner-builder project?
 This one and several of the vendor's websites.
 
Why did you consider owner-building in the first place?
 As a family project, to show the kids how to do things, and to save money.
 
Do you want to say anything more about your house style or construction?
 Geodesic dome structure made of precast reinforced concrete and EPS insulation panels.
 
What was the initial interest rate on your mortgage?
 No mortgage
 
What was the interest rate on your construction loan?
 1-2%
 
What year did you get your certificate of occupancy?
 2010
 
What trades did you do yourself?
 Framing, some plumbing, some electrical, complete building envelope (windows, doors, exterior, roof, etc.), trim, cabinets, whatever we could do without running out of time.
 
What's the difference in your mind between a starter, step-up, custom, or dream home?
 
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.
 
What were special features in your house?
 
Hurricane-proof (rated to 230-mph winds)
Termite-proof exterior, fire resistant, falling tree resistant
R30+ insulation walls and roof
Impact rated windows.
 
Things or approaches you invented?
 None that I can think of.
 
Super bargains you got?
 Garden tub and cabinets at Habitat for Humanity's resale store for up to 80% off.
 
Ways to save money?
 Buy when you see deals and store, buy used, don't change your mind.
 
What are the qualifications to be a good O-B?
 Be na├»ve. You need to be to get started, otherwise you'd never get going!
 
Any reason you chose that time of year to start?
 That's when we decided we were ready...
 
What do you consider the rules of good work?
 Do it right, even if you have to redo it.
 
What were your most important tools?
 Time to think about design and how to build.
 
What anguish or fear of loss did you go through? What was your worst fear during the project?
 Worried about theft and break-ins, worst fear was we would miss an inspection deadline and have to re-permit the whole thing.
 
What help did you want but couldn't get?
 None.
 
What do you consider the most desirable features in a custom home?
 Things that fit your lifestyle.
 
What features in your house save operating costs?
 Super insulation, well and septic system instead of city water and sewer.
 
What owner-builder laws exist where you live?
 In FL, you can do all trades as long as you don't sell the house for at least a year.
 
What do you do for a living?
 Electronics technician.
 
What suggestions do you have for O-B's to get organized?
 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...
 
What suggestions do you have on finding good prices?
 Craigslist, eBay, Habitat for Humanity store, yard sales, garbage day, landfill (for paint and mulch, and some other stuff).
 
Were there any schedule items that took you a lot longer or shorter than you thought they would?
 Getting the framing done took longer than I thought.
 
What are the three best things you did?
 Trust in God. Marry the right girl. Involve the kids.
 
The three worst things that you did?
 Not sure there were any.
 
What is a good way to get discounts on lumber?
 Look on Craigslist for extras. Use Lowe's 10% off coupons.
 
What is a good way to get discounts on cabinets?
 Habitat for Humanity re-store.
 
Any problems with the inspector? Items that caused you to fail an inspection?
 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.
 
Where did you get good help and advice?
 Internet, friends, thinking about how to do things.
 
What did you find to be the top five biggest expenses in the budget? How much, and how to cut back?
 Septic, well, and fill. No real easy way to cut back on those, saved by doing a lot of the other stuff myself.
 
Did you find a wide range in the prices you were bid for different things? What are some examples?
 
Plumbing rough in: $5,300, $4,000 and $2,500
Electrical rough in: $3,400, $1,800, and $1,200
 
How big was your punch list? How much time did it take you to finish it out?
 Still working on it.
 
Did you design anything special for a pet?
 Ramp next to stairs for them to use.
 
Were you ever lied to by a contractor? Examples?
 
"Sure, no problem."
"I'll see you tomorrow."
"It will take two weeks max."
 
What are some of the discouraging comments you have heard from others about acting as your own contractor?
 None.
 
What is the worst treatment you ever got from a contractor?
 Really didn't have any problems, if they showed up.
 
Did you have any embarassing moments building?
 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...
 
Did you make some mistakes? Examples?
 Mis-measured about 1,000 cuts on wood.
 
Did you run into any outrageous construction pricing?
 Not really.
 
Were there little luxuries you were able to implement at little or no cost?
 Added propane runs to the water heater and dryer area for little.
 
What were the biggest construction bargains you found, and how did you find them?
 Habitat for Humanity, dozens of small items, Jacuzzi brand garden tub for $125, full set of NEW cabinets for $200...
 
What was your most valuable planning/preparation activity?
 Think about how things go together before doing it.
 
Beside yourself, who in your family got involved in this project?
 The whole family.
 
How did you find other owner-builders to network with?
 This site, mostly.
 
What websites did you find helpful when you built?
 Too many to list.
 
Do you know of people wasting a lot of money when they built? Explain.
 No.
 
Were there disappointments with your project that could have been avoided? How?
 I was disappointed it took so long, and the oldest kid moved out and on his own before it was finished.
 
Were there things that came out right because you were involved that might have been messed up if you had used a general contractor?
 Unknown.
 
How did you mark your lot for the excavator who dug your foundation?
 We used fill, and I marked the area with PVC pipes.
 
Who built or installed your mailbox?
 Still don't have one.
 
Are there planning steps that you would suggest that might not be in The Owner-Builder Book?
 Investigate your area and location extensively. Talk with your future neighbors, go in local businesses, see what you're getting into.
 
Are there interview questions for subs that you would suggest that might not be in The Owner-Builder Book?
 No.
 
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.
 Thank goodness no serious injuries.
 
What were major causes of delays that occurred in your construction?
 Lack of time off work.
 
How many trips to the hardware store or other suppliers did you have to make during your project? What could have cut that down?
 I would make lists and stop on the way to the site at Lowe's or Home Depot, get all materials and usually did not need to go back.
 
What self-work that you did would you hire out next time?
 None.
 
What are some examples of day to day problems you had to solve?
 Since I was building a non-traditional house, the only person I could ask questions of was the dome house manufacturer, and sometimes he was clueless.
 
Did you do any creative problem solving?
 Yes.
 
What print publications do you read regularly?
 None.
 

Future Owner-Builder for Brian in Dome-ville, FL at OwnerBuilderBook.com - Build Your Own Home

How many hours do you project spending as a couple, counting planning and construction?
 > 1,000 hrs.
 
What type of construction are you planning?
 Other
 
How many finished levels in your future owner-built house?
 Two
 
Planned house style?
 Other
 
How much do you plan to save altogether vs. appraised value?
 35% - 40%
 
Will you be working when you owner-build?
 Both working
 
Who will take primary responsibility in your family for the work?
 Husband primary
 
Will your project be a starter, step-up, custom, or dream home?
 Starter
 
Will you get comparison bids from general contractors?
 No
 
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?
 April
 
Do you have a step-up strategy?
 No
 
How much combined time will you spend planning?
 400 - 500 hours
 
How many times are you planning to do this?
 Two
 
Are you organized?
 Not very
 
Are you a good shopper?
 Super shopper
 
What is the average monthly maintenance cost of the house you'll be leaving?
 $200 - $300
 
What is the average monthly utility cost in your current home?
 $400 - $450
 
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?
 Six to 12 months
 
Do you know your credit score?
 No
 
How many houses have you owned prior to this one?
 2
 
Is your occupation "blue collar" or "white collar"?
 White collar
 
What will you choose for wall insulation?
 Rigid Foam Boards
 
What will be the R-value of your walls?
 >R-30
 
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?
 Two
 
How many houses have you built, remodeled or added on to as an owner-builder?
 None
 
How many children do you have?
 Three
 
How many children will be living at home when you owner-build?
 Three
 
How many bedrooms are you planning on?
 Two
 
How many bathrooms are you planning on?
 1 - 2
 
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?
 It won't be stick-built.
 
How many tools do you own?
 $1,000 - $2,000
 
Do you have experience using spreadsheets for budgeting or scheduling?
 One time
 
Will you take pictures of the job when you owner-built?
 Will even take video
 
Do you own a truck?
 No
 
How many covered vehicle spaces will you provide in your owner-built house?
 Three
 
How much personal use do you make of the Internet?
 10-15 hours
 
What are the most helpful websites for your owner-builder project?
 This one.
 
Why are you considering owner-building?
 Because I want to save money and build as a family project.
 
What is the average General Contractor estimate to build your plans?
 $100 - $125
 
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