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1999 Owner-Builder Interview Part 1

Owner-Builders Interviewed for the The Owner-Builder Book
Interviewee Name:
1. Jim S. a former general contractor
2. Henry M.
3. Mark & Sue C.
4. Rusty T., a general contractor
5. Joe B, a lumberyard owner.
6. Bob Rice
7. Dave C.
8. Andy & Pam B., a house designer
9. Mary Jo F.
10. Steve A., an attorney
11. Jay and Shannon S., a software manager
12. Greg and Debbie C., real estate appraisers
13. Alex A., a manufacturing manager
14. Mark B., a purchasing manager
15. Gary Z., a restaurateur
16. Ernie G.

What did you build?

1. We're in construction. 2 story traditional. The least complicated angles.
2. Single level with walk-out basement, Ranch style.
3.
4. Colonial 4300 5 bedrooms
5. Contemporary. 3,500
6. Log home chalet, up on a hill with a walk-in basement 3 bedroom, 24X32 loft is a bedroom.You can sell a three bedroom very easy.
7. Two-story 3,600 sq. ft. 5 bedroom 3 1/2 bath contemporary farmhouse.
8. 2,500 sq. ft. contemporary, vinyl siding, country style, 4 bedrooms, 2 car garage
9. We are building a combination: basement is five foot down, up 21/2 feet with energrid block, steel joists, walls and ceiling Structured skin panels, neighbor did roof and walls that way. It was 95 in the shade, inside it was 75 in the and 68 in the basement. We will have R-factors 41 roof, 27 walls, 6.5 inch roof, 4.5 inch wall. We will put an elastomeric white coating on the roof. We did it on our trailer. Eventually we will do a metal roof. All the interior is steel studs, windows were single hung vinyl with low-E coating and argon gas.
10. Three story French tudor. Unfinished basement. 3,400 finished, 1200 basement.
11. Rambler, finished 1,750 total 3,500
12. Traditional two-story brick.
13. Contemporary. 2,700 sq. ft. with 500 sq. ft. garage. 3 bedroom 3 1/2 bath.
14. In Florida, single story dwelling. 1,400 then 2,900 sq. ft. Now I have a 2 story 3,400 finished.
15. On one house in Sherman Oaks 3 bedroom custom home. 2 story with a main and a lower walk-out 1,800 feet. Maybe 2,000 I also owner-built 5 apt units there,.
16.

How much time did you spend on-site?
(Average response 1,068 hours)

1. 1 1/2 hours per day and all weekend. And we are doing a lot of the work. We did our own concrete work. We did a lot of reading. And we worked at it for a living. I had a do-it-yourself equipment rental business. I look at products that lend themselves to DIY. Steam cleaners, paint sprayers, tile saws, acoustic ceiling sprayers. Bobcat skid steers. We rented them out, with an hours lesson. We would help them with sprinkler design. Wally Bruner's workshop was the pioneer, before Bob Vila.
2. Once a day to check on things, and every evening to do work ourselves.
4. 600 hours.
5. 4-6 months
6. Did it by hand, hired someone to help, contractor helped me put the four walls up. They are square on three sides. Put inch styrofoam on inside then sheetrock, and the logs are chinked. 7 face cords of wood to heat each winter. I spent $100 on wood, and we were too hot. We had to downgrade the stove. Got shell up in a week, but the inside took a long time, about three months.
7. On the average, initial stages 2-3 hours per day, during framing, some in morning an hour, and hour in afternoon, and you are doing planning for the rest of it - ten-fifteen hours a week planning next event, choices, locations, costs, approaches, when framing finished, you are working toward your four-way inspection, you are coordinating and looking towards and discussing where things are going to be placed. Total man time, 2-3 working on the house, or planning and coordination equals 20 hours times 16 = 320 hours.
8. three months to four months. June to December 5 1/2 months. 1,000 hours.
9. He's there friday-Sunday, I do the other days, he does 30 a week, I do 30 also, for 50 weeks would make 3,000 hours.
10. 1,000 hours. I did a lot of trade work on the first three, I now am going to sell this one and build a fourth. Same ward.
11. 7 months timesX15X4=420 hours
12. Couple of hours per day for 10 months. 800 hours altogether
13. 20 hours a week to check on things or do work. For a year = 1,040 hours. If I could have, I would have been out here the whole time.
14. On-site in florida three times. 10-20% of the time. In Greenville 50% of the time. You have to keep after the trades all the time. They don't show up and they do stuff wrong. Low quality. They like to work three days and take four off. Florida 3 months here 6 months. You never pay in advance, and pay less than what their draw should be. Framer. Nice guy got started. He was to get a draw every friday. After two weeks, I didn't see him for two weeks. He said, fire me if you have to. Because he was even. I cut his draw the next week, and kept a third of it. He finished on time. My bricklayer was my biggest problem. Many of them don't have workmen's comp. Don't have current card. Bricklayer no showed a lot, held me up four weeks, or just did a little bit. I fired him, very hard to find another. They got their money and got drunk. Then they wanted triple the money the next week. I gave him a third and had him sign the release of lien at my bank. It's easy to work when you have your own money. Say to them how much if I pay you if I pay in cash. I also did partials on the release of lien. They always signed.
15. I've had experience since then where I've been a participant with the builder. I think to be successful you will have to make visits frequently when each sub is there to see if functioning as intended. You have the advantage over the builder in that you can watch things more closely than he can. Maybe not full-time, but the more the better. You can avert so many disasters. You can't spend too much . Watching what is done, checking it over, and anticipating what will be needed when the next sub comes in.
16.

If a lot, did it pay off?

1. Yes we are doing it, my son and I are using it as a bonding experience. I have a construction loan, after the first $40,000 or 50,000. We'll get it done in 7.5 months.
2. Satisfaction, spotted items, changes we wanted and caught some electrical problems.
4. Yes, it came out good.
5. No. Took away from my business. But I like to things like that.
6. Did mostly myself, hired carpenters, this was about 200 miles away from my work as a longshoreman.
7. Certainly, we cut out the general fee, had more control, that's a huge advantage, picking the type of finish work you have, able to shop certain appliances, it was always up to us to get the best deal. Often for the same money we got better quality.
8. I was a carpenter for 10 years.
9. As long as you can handle it. We got some $8 labor, but you need to be there to work with them. $3,000 to put roof on, with the crane, that way they don't drop the panels. Walls we will do ourselves. Geared to DIY.
10. It did then. I was on salary then, and am now self-employed.
11. Absolutely, in money, and in features.
12. Should have even done more. There were some things that we could have called people who didn't show up, we maybe didn't get there 'til the afternoon, and the whole day was wasted. One spouse needs to commit to it being their full-time job.
13. Yes, I saved a good bit of money, and if I had spent more time I would have saved more. I had a couple of friends who helped out, but they weren't that skilled. I splurged and bought a DeWalt compound miter saw. This helped to make up the difference.
14. Greenville, yes. As much as you can. But the guys were good calibre in Florida. They liked 6 days a week down there.
15.
16.

Suggestions for controlling the job?

1. Check references, look at work done by that tradesman, ask if he showed up when he was supposed to and do what he said he would do. You find out if he has the character. Can you talk with him, would you be comfortable pointing out to him that something does not meet your expectations. You have to be prepared to be ugly. Have a chapter on that. Can you be ugly? Be clear about what you expect and hold them accountable for it. You are writing the check, you're in power. You can get rid of a trade after he starts. You have sequential payments in the agreement - performance, then payment. You can write him a check and he is done.
2. Make sure you get everything with a deadline written in. You have no hold on the contractor.
4. We do our own supervision, and we are originally carpenters. Hire a builder. If you build a big house, it costs just as much to do it yourself as to hire the contractor.
5. Have a purchase order on everything I purchased. Signed and accounted for. I want to pay the bills and know what it cost before I start.
6. Moved a trailer in, lived in it, and when done, sold it at a profit. Buy in bulk, and always watch for sales. It does pay to shop around. You need to watch as they select materials, so you get straight wood, etc.. Be there when they load it. I just put a new tub and shower unit in the bathroom. I saw it for $420. And I saw it at another store for $280. Don't be in too big a rush. Put up a garage first, and put the material you find in the garage.
7. Pre-planning. Having your plans final before you do anything, and having your cost breakdowns gone over. Talking to all your subs to get as close to your target budget as possible. It also teaches you about the process. You get educated, and discover who you want to work with.
8. Being here. You need to be there half a day every day. Something will happen when you are gone. Friends had a roof put on while they were away, the framers forgot the second floor.
9. Not much yet. We subbed the concrete, and the excavation. It's not been a problem. They get out there, do it, and leave. Since we used the guys for roof only, they didn't come out promptly. We had to put our foot down.
10. Depends on whether the owner-builder is in charge or if he has a brother who helps him. Rod helped and assumed control of his subs. Some of the ones I hired. You gotta keep track of a) specific numbers on your contracts, and what you pay, and whether with each draw you are within the parameters of your construction loan. Sometimes you are off the budget you had in mind, and if you get over, you're going to have to come up with some money elsewhere.
11. Be on site. That's the biggest. Proactive. Call the night before at the very least. If I scheduled them a month ago, I'd better call them every week.
12. One person in charge. Good spreadsheet. Know where your subs are coming in, who's going to be next so you can line it up. As soon as one is delayed, all are thrown back. You have to juggle. Talk to other people who are doing it, they can tell you about the pitfalls. It will never be perfect. Don't get overly stressed.
13. As much personal contact as possible. To actually put some schedules in. My situation was that there was no push for me to complete. The banker was Eddie Sternberg who came out once a week, and he put me under no pressure to complete. He made sure I had workman's comp in place. He gave me a builder's loan that rolls right into a permanent loan. He made me jump through hoops in the beginning, but in the end I was grateful. He made me price it like I was going to do it all with subs, although I wanted to do a lot of it myself. I do have my contractor's license, although I am just a commercial facilities manager. If you looked at the total house, they price things on a square foot basis, like rough wiring $1.50 a square foot. That would be $3,500 but I did it for under $1,000 myself. Finish electric was $1,500 after the electrician explained things to me. I shopped around for parts and supplies. My friend steered me to bargains. I put in five ceiling fans. I paid about $60 each. I had a goal of staying under $40 a foot, and in electrical I saved big, I ran all the duct work for HVAC, bought the units, and had moonlighters put them in all for $4,000. Based on friendship, they were certified, and they bought it for me. Where I lost money was there's a big mountain in the middle of the city. Excavation and footing were twice what they should have been. Decks all across the back and a bridge from the road was much more than I thought.
14. Get a signed contract on the dollar amount labor, and materials if you go that way. Have a clause "Will not exceed the quoted price" I don't sign their proposal until I write it on there. We both initial and sign. I try to have the owner or principal sign it. Upgrades are fine. They should talk to you about those whenever possible. Definitely get references on your mechanical trades. Shell can be changed, but mechanicals are inside walls and ceiling. Leaks, popped breakers, two hot rooms, one cold.
15. As you go through jobs you develop an expertise about how long it will take a sub to do his thing. Timewise and output, you need to know how long to expect. If you schedule ahead and maintain the schedule you will have better success with them Demand a lot from the subs to make it go smoothly. Lay out the schedule and get commitments from them. e.g. you can dig the basement on a day, and it's a one day job, and the next you know the footing guy can come in for a two or three day job, and then comes the foundation. You can set up a tight schedule. Although you will still have weather. My current house was three months and one week. I watched this contractor, and it was his success was based on tight scheduling.

You let the subs know when it will be ready. And then maintain the schedule.
16.

Daily duties?

1. A time line of what's happening when, and check if you're on or not. If not, how do you get it fixed? Look at quality of work, and keep the site clean. That is a major job. If you clean up too good, the trades tend to get sloppy. They are to remove their own debris. You control the disposal. We are using stress skin panels. It lends itself to a do it yourself. R-Control is the vendor. I also used the pour in place foam stuff. Diamond Snap.
2. Walk over, look at it, shoot the bull with the workers. They may have an idea. We were designed by Nordic American Homes. They put in all the energy efficiency enhancements you can. We have 2X6 walls with R-18 walls, and R-38 ceiling. We had a Bryant 90 Plus furnace. The air from combustion comes from outside.
3.
4. Line everybody up, two hours of supervision in morning, two in the afternoon to line yourself back up for the morning and securing everything for the day. If you don't have to work, and want to stand around, you can do yourself some good.
5. Make sure everybody is working, the right material is being put in and workmanship is up to par.
6. Did the work myself.
7. See above.
8. Supervise what's being done, coordinating materials on the job.
9. We're doing most ourselves.
10. I didn't do that. I went to my day job, come home, and see what had happened, noting anything that wasn't right, consult with my brother, and doing some of the work itself, like concrete, landscaping, finish carpentry, installing drains, miscellaneous.
11. Supervision, and answering questions. The general makes many decisions that effect outcome of project. Plans don't take care of it. Here's another idea from what the plans say. What do you think? Paying bills right then and there.
12. Check work done day before, see that is done right. Try to catch before goes too far. Make sure there aren't any questions. Be there in morning and before they leave. Tell them when the inspectors are coming.
13. Checking that everybody had clear direction, making sure people are showing up, I bought the materials, and making sure they were there. Making sure that things were kept clean. Meet inspectors. The first framing crew gave me a great price, and walked off halfway through because I was fussy with their work. Thankfully I was ahead of them, they were from 60 miles away. There was about $2,000 left that I could spend on others to complete and correct mistakes. They were $8,000 to dry it in. It was dirt cheap at $2.50. It would have been better to spend $3.50. They were out of their league.
14. Walk around see what progress. See proper materials are used. Like people trying to do aluminum wire rather than copper. We marked up our labor and materials at 26% when I was with and HVAC company. Labor is worth it, but not materials.
15. I've always carried a tape measure in my hand during construction. Subs can make mistakes. Check the work in terms of dimensions. Framers will leave out a window sometimes. You have got to check the work to see that is done precisely according to the blueprints. If you don't come until later it could be disastrous, requiring a big delay or change in plan. Here, the cement man forgot to enclose the front porch with a foundation wall, so that when you pour the porch over that it is tied together. Steel rod should protrude across that hole, and you fill it with dirt, and the reinforcement strengthens that against settling. We didn't have that. So it isn't properly supported. You can make that thing into a fruit room with an entrance to it from the basement.

Framers have to be watched not because they miss dimensions, but due to sloppiness. Lumber isn't always the quality you want. When the lumber is delivered you take what they deliver to you. Framers will use warped lumber where it isn't critical. If they use warped wood on doorways, you can have 3/4" variation in how straight the doorway is. If that isn't corrected, once that is done and drywalled, you can't correct that later on.

You have to stay on top of how plumb the walls are and how straight the doorways are. If you are off by even a quarter of an inch, your bifold doors may never fit right.

As you proceed through the job, you have to watch where the placement of outlets are. They will not place them precisely where the plan says. Sometimes they put them too close to a doorway, and you have to cut the plate off to get it flush. On an angle.

You have to watch details based on what you've experienced before. Placement of telephones.

Check the work of each sub to see that it is in conformance with the plans. Many changes can be made, and that's okay, but you should decide on each one. In basement, you could have a window that is drawn too close to a future wall. You can anticipate things and say, I want this moved two feet to the south, for example. Another example would have been the door in the back of my garage. It interfered with the stairs out of the kitchen. You can correct as you go. Visiting your site, and thinking about all these things to light.
16.

Sub recognition?

1. I allow them to put signage on the lot. I volunteer to act as a referral. You could do a whole book on new state of the art building materials that aid the owner-builder. I have built a steel house, a wood foundation, stress skins, post and beam, usually way out ahead of the industry. We get a lot of people who volunteer to help to learn.
2. Make referrals. If you are happy. And pay on time.
3.
4. We use the same guys all the time. We give them lots of work. We send them a schedule each time we start a job. Give them at least five days notice of when we want them to start.
5. No.
6. No
7. Bought them lunch once a week, would pass on their names to people.
8. Paid them on time.
9.
10. When they did a good job I told them, and withheld money when they didn't. Paid promptly when done.
11. I was very complimentary. I would always offer help. Contractors do this. If they are unloading lumber, I will help if I am there. There were several times when the person's bid should cover it, but there were times that unforeseen things come up that made them really not responsible for it. I would be prepared to have a couple of thousand dollars and give it out in $50 and $100 increments. Like something not explicitly shown on the plans. I would go ahead and pay the amount that it would have cost him. Greasing of palms. You throw out a hundred bucks, they will work a day for you.
12. Signs in front yard.
13. Not so much the subs. I had three or four good ones. I picked up a group of three carpenters who worked here on the weekends, and when their guy got slack. I did a lot to recognize them, with a sixpack and a check. They were very high quality carpenters.
14. I had an electrical sub who was wonderful. I passed his cards and passed around he got two jobs.
15. You need to motivate ahead of time. Create a lasting relationship. Run the job so he doesn't experience delays. He wants to get in and out speedy. Pay them immediately.
16.

Did you use a computer?

1. I have a computerized budget. I update it. Quicken is a good inexpensive tool. In keeping track of things. In once case I needed to keep track of a guy. He walked off the job, and never came back.
2. Yes, to keep track of expenses. A spreadsheet. MicroSoft Works.
3.
4. All of our job costs we have 109 different categories like plans and specs, and cleaning. Quickbooks, spreadsheet. Lotus.
5. No.
6. No. I read a few book, I had an interest in building. You learn a few terms and you can do things. Wiring wasn't that difficult.
7. No. Never did, should have used Excel, but the credit union kept my costs up to date for payout, and I used that for planning.
8. Drew house plans with one.
9. Not for this.
10. No. I didn't have one at the time. It would be much easier on a computer, WordPerfect, and Lotus.
11. Not effectively. Just a spreadsheet. Quattro Pro and WordPerfect. I sought to be very professional. I always included a word processed document with the check thanking them, complimenting, and offering to be a referral for them. And pay very quickly.
12. Cost breakdown. Floorplans with Timpview HS CAD system by a kid just out of school. We had ideas from floorplan magazines. This former student was studying to be a draftsman, and he used the system to design our floorplan. We saved a ton of money. Did blueprints on their machines there. $500 total. We went to an engineering firm for seismic. Also used a computer to figure out how we wanted the cabinetry in our kitchen, Eagle hardware. We took that layout to custom shops. In Calif. that can cost $1,500.
13. No. Not at that time, and I am backtracking to put all my stuff on it. I had Peachtree for work, but was too dumb to use it here. Now I am using Quicken.
14. No. I did my own design, my own prints. We would spend two - three months doing that.
15. No.
16.

Further information that would have helped?

2. I didn't find out I was the general until I was started. We lost our house in a fire, and only owed $2,000 on it. We went to 1,920 sq. ft. We had new siding and a remodel, and we needed to get a full settlement on that.
4.
5. No.
6. No.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11. I think looking at it today. The biggest thing was the money saved being a contractor, and not so much being a sub. Wood floors and tiling were pretty profitable.
12. We were naive and ignorant on a lot of things. Some people like to study things to death, but we don't. But if we had a knowledgeable pro, we would ask them to educate us. Admit the ignorance. Subs appreciated that, and you talk to three or four, and make educated decisions.
13. I knew the codes myself. I didn't have a complete design when I started my house. Did way too many changes along the way and having something set. I had a set of plans the developer recommended, but I didn't like, so I put it on CAD in the office. But we made mistakes like the CAD operator had the stairway off by two feet. If I was building for somebody else, I would have lost my shirt. I dug in and found out everything was off by two feet. Truss problems, room changes, ensued. Field modifications. This could get very costly. I would get a good set of plans, and check them out thoroughly.
14. Knowing more about my contractors finding out how slow they were, so I would have held back.
15. Best way to develop your techniques is to watch what's going on in the industry. Watch other projects in process. You don't have to be the boss to be on-site experience.
16.

How much did you save?
(Average response 35%)

1. Building a house will stress any marital relationship. Making choices is a strain. We put together a notebook of what it will look like before we even start. We get most of the arguing out of the way. We take pictures as we build and turn it into an album. We use the album to develop specs. I present the owners with an album of what I built for them. I will save on a $225,000 house about $60-65,000
4,700 sq. ft. ($48/sq. ft.)
2. 1,920 $125,000 up to 7 bedrooms, three baths capability. ($65/sq. ft.)
4. Nothing.
5. 10-15%
6. Selection of materials out there today is awesome. I sweated all the copper in the house. There are new things coming all the time. Cement walls in the basement. I glued the styrofoam on without furring strips. There are great glues now. Saved 50%. I spent around $20,000 in 1982. Around 900 feet.
7. I saved off the top approximately $20,000 for general contractor, but by shopping and labor, and having site control, I saved an additional $30,000. Against the valuation of $75 a foot, with me at $54, I saved $75,000 Curb appeal was the biggest thing we were after. That cost me $40,000 in loss when I sold my last one.
8. A lot. We got a loan for $98K Appraised at $135 at first.
9. Saving when done, worth $150, and do it for $100,000
10. At least the contractor's fee, between 10-20%. Built it for $182,000. Recently appraised at $326,000 with land at $50,000 Saved about $140,000.
11. I think I saved. $60,000. Built it for $100,000 The estimates were for something different. Would have come to $140,000 It appraised for $175,000.
12. We spent everything we saved by upgrading. We would have saved 20% if not for that. We could sell it for about 20% more than we spent. $70,000 in equity.
13. Saved 30%. Wound up at $40. Would be $70. $128,000 vs. $224,000 Savings of $96,000. If you build three on your own the third you'll own free and clear.
14. You can get ripped off easily. The subs are like animals. Live from week to week for beer money and their hands are rough and cut. One guy gave me a medium price on the septic. He said he would save me money on materials and he took off after he got it. Go out to projects and watch homes go up. Talk to foremen. Talk their talk. Otherwise they will start charging you for extras. Like a lady going into a repair shop with the car, and getting a snow job. Talk to salesmen, talk to electrical contractors, watch a house being built. My friend did his framing, inspections, insulation, drywall, but forgot about the insulation inspection. He had to rip drywall out and restored in places. $800 cost. A good inspector should use mechanical experts to help him.

On my last house about 20-25%. I built in Fl. at $28 and it was worth $48. 42% saving. Greenville I built $32 worth $52. Saved 40%. Eddie helped me with a half of the construction. He didn't want to give me the loan because he thought I estimated too low. I was right and he bought us steaks.
15. My feeling is that contractors, if job goes right, they make in excess of 20% profit. More if goes well.
16.

How many hours did you spend?
(Average response for planning 238 hours)

1. Probably 200 hours of planning, preinterviewing, album, home shows. And 700 hours on the house.
2. Two weeks doing the finishing ourselves. I contracted drywall, electrical, plumbing. We did all the carpentry with a handyman. $2,000 for him. We worked on it every day after work for 3 hours, and weekends for six months.
4. 600 We let a couple other jobs go by, and thus, didn't save any money.
5. 2-3 hours a day for 4-6 months.
6. One thousand hours total, It's like a profitable hobby.
7. One thousand on site, 50 hours drawing.
8.
9.
10. Not very much. Much more on my first. Maybe 1,000 on my first. Took the same amount of time to build each house.
11.1,000 on-site. 160 hours for planning. It was my second one, though. Many of the subs I had already gotten, the spreadsheets I used were from the first one.
12. Planning time was about six months. Couple of hours a day for each of us, 250 hours. Magazines, floorplans, looking at stores.
13. Probably a couple of weeks. I wasn't married. 120 hours of prep, plus my general knowledge. I felt that I had no real schedule, and as a result, lost tons of time by not anticipating. Had to spend a week doing planning for the banker. I fudged on the complete quotes he wanted. Just to get him off my back. But it wouldn't have hurt me.
14. I spent 30 hours a week times 24 = 720+ 200 during and before another 400 between us. Wife is so valuable, can run out there, see if trade or material is there.
15.
16.

Were you working when you did this?

1.Yes. It's a second job.
2. Yes.
4. Yes.
5. Yes.
6.
7. Airline pilot.
8. I was she wasn't, but I was able to take off virtually the whole time. I was paying myself a salary out of the loan. I gave myself $5,000 out of the loan.
9. Ted works in a factory as manufacturing engineer, degree in electronics. I have a plant nursery. And a hardware store job.
10. Yes.
11. Engineer, manager
12. Both full-time.
13. Yes. As a facilities manager. Could get away any time I wanted. Used the mobile to keep things running at work. Had a friend who hangs blinds, and he came over and helped me supervise.
14. Yes.
15. I was in mortgage brokerage business. I took applications from clients and placed the loans. It was commission-type work and I had time available, and spending more time than a contractor spends. I spend 25% of the time any given sub is there.
16.

Who took primary responsibility in your family for the work?

1. Husband
2. Husband
4. Husband, she works as a loan officer, does color scheme, finishes, a little on design.
5. Husband, but she hovered over the job.
6. Husband
7. Husband
8. Husband
9. Equal.
10. Husband, but wife did run around chores and most of the pone calls. I did disputes, she did admin.
11. Husband
12. Wife did pre-planning. We divided supervision.
13.
14. Equal.
15. Self.
16.

What trades did you do yourself?
(Average response 3.7)

1. Foundations, footings, framing, electrical, central vac, alarm, kitchen cabinets, we will sub out HVAC. We do ceramic tile, and exterior siding. I set two 200 amp panels. You get a better product.
2. Finish carpentry.
4. Wood flooring, outside porches, cleanup, interior wiring for stereo systems.
5. None
6. All Plumbing, electrical, carpentry, sheetrock, cement, I textured the walls, and it hid my mistakes. People think the trowel work is artistic.
7. Decking, siding, soft carpentry, grunt work, cleanup legwork and errand boy.
8. Framing, poured footings, backfilled, painted, finish carpentry, hardwood floor,
9. Framing, electric, painting, plumbing - part. Finish carpentry, hang cabinets. Install doors
10.
11. Hardwood flooring, painting, electrical, tile, finish carpentry,
12. Greg did electrical.
13. Did rough carpentry, rough and finish electrical except panel, HVAC ductwork, (that's a big savings) some flooring. Did some italian cork tile. Found it through a fellow who had some stockpiled, and did the entire upper floor. Rest was cleanup and work. No finish or painting by me. I found guys who were reasonable. Also found that you energy level depletes by the end.
14. No. Just painting, staining, landscaping. Easy trades.
15. I've always done painting. Should be skilled, but it isn't always. Now, I don't think it's a good job. Clean-up you can take on. Wiring, like telephone security, TV. Many people can do that. Landscaping. Ceramic tile. If you make your living in the business you will use that.
16.

What did you spend on the trades and what did you save?
(Average response: saved 62%)

1. Footings, I saved $650. Foundation, saved $1,400 Electrical, $2,400 Ceramic $700.
2. Finish was bid at $6,000 and not including the kitchen floor. We spent on finish less than $500. The kitchen cabinets were supplied. We bought floor tile. We saved $7,000 on finish work.
4. I saved $2,000 on those. We spent $20,000 on hard pine for the whole downstairs floor. 2,500 feet.
5.
6.
7. 1,200 sq. ft., spent $2,500 saved $2,500.
8. a half
9.
10.
11. Electric cost $2,500 saved $4,000 Painting two tone cost me $1,500 saved $3,000 Finish carpentry spent $800 saved $4,000 Tile spent $750 saved $3,500 Wood floor spent $2,000 saved $4,000
12. Spent $7,000 saved $3,000.
13. Electric $2,500 vs. $6,000 HVAC $4,000 vs. $12,000
14. Included.
15.
16.

How long did the trades take?
(Average response: about 50% of the time on-site)

1. 6 months.
2. The big problem was keeping contractors on the job. They were back and forth. Make it specified up front and in writing a certain time frame. Penalty clauses in the contract. If you have an above board contractor it will go well.
4. Five and a half months
5. Six months
6. Three months.
7. Out of 500 it took me 100.
8. 800
9.
10. 75% trade work, 25% supervision
11. 650 trade and 350 generalling.
12. Two weeks, had some helpers.
13. 50% trade work 50% other.
14. Framer 8 weeks, plumber 1.5 weeks, Electrician 4 days, Drywaller 2 days to hand 3 weeks to finish, HVAC 1.5 weeks. Brickmason 6 weeks, siding 2 days, (including gutters 4 guys) flatwork one day,
15. Dig if weather good a day. Forms for footings one day. Pour the next. Form walls one or two, pour in one day. Rough plumbing with two guys one or two days. Owner-builder can schedule and be tight four months. If you don't plan, it could be a long time. Slab work one day, basement and garage floor. Framing depending on crew size, 2-4 guys was three weeks. Many can then come on top of each other. Electrical, plumbing, heating can work on top of each other. Plumber two days. Electricians 2 of them 3-4 days. HVAC 2-3 days. All before insulators. That's a two day job. You then get four-way inspection. Drywallers take longer. There are drying times required. Hang in 3 days, finish in two weeks to three weeks. Windows go in during the framing process. Stucco they can prepare a house in one day. Brown coat in one day. Finish coat in one day. Aluminum siding takes longer 3-4 days. Roofing can go on as soon as the framers are through. Do prep work to dry it in in one day. Two guys three days. Gutter one day. Flatwork driveways and sidewalks formed in a day, poured in a day. Painting can be done with two guys in a week. Finish carpentry is less now than previously. After drywall, before painting. Two guys two days sometimes, with banister, base, doors. Two guys two days for a deck. Doors are prehung. Cabinets. They measure first, and put in after painting. One day. Carpet, after painting, before cabinets they do vinyl work in one day. Carpeting is about the last thing. Padding in one day, with tack strips. Less than a day for two guys to carpet. Finish electric one guy a half a day. We had a moonlighter plumber who did all the finish plumbing in one day. In custom house from scratch up you get into problems with guys encountering things for the first time. This house was engineered to be mass-produced. It was all planned for speed. He built it for the same price as Ryland Homes does this model, which we pirated.
16.

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