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Current Top-Rated Posters

Lance in Buena Vista, CO0.002

Most likely we will build an ICF home, and reading Steven from Colorado Springs, CO's entries and many others who have built ICF homes has helped us to no end with our project.
Frank in Columbia, MD

Try one of our new Construction Bargain Strategies for free. Coupon code: CBS. One strategy could save you $1,000 or $10,000 or maybe $50,000 when you build or remodel.
Owner-Builder Book News - April 2009
Mark A. Smith, Editor Vol. 8 Number 2 - April, 2009
  • Note from the Editor
  • Phoenix-Area Owner-Builder Get-Together Experience
  • Call for Moderators
  • Forum/Moderator Winners
  • Helpful Answers to Survey Questions

Note from the Editor

Myths Debunked

One major myth about owner-building your own home is that in the long run you can't save any money.

Regardless of the economy, saving money is always important, especially when it comes to homes.

"Every owner-builder that I surveyed saved something over the cost of a general contractor-built home," said Mark Smith, author of The Owner-Builder Book. "I know of several instances of 'civilian' owner-builders completing their new homes with 50% equity or more."

The price of materials and subcontractors and the time that goes into the planning and construction are factors that are going to determine the final price outcome, but Smith says that all of these things are a lot easier to undertake than one would think.

"There is always a better price to be had, usually through research and effort," said Smith.

Smith said that his first time building a home saved him 45% against contractor estimates, despite all of the mistakes, surprises and upgrades along the way.

Smith's experience with building his own home inspired him to write his own book detailing the process in hopes to help others see similar results. He hopes that the book and the resources on his site will create a place for people interested in owner-building to come together and learn from one another.

Phoenix-Area Owner-Builder Get-Togeth er Experience

The Phoenix-area get together was a success. Owner-builders united and shared in their experiences together. Special thanks go out to our moderator Justin for all of his time and effort that went into the event.

To see a video blog of the event, click here:
 Local Moderators

To see a video blog based on Justin's own project, click here:
 "Dime Saved is a Dollar Earned"

Call For Moderators

Would you be willing to help other O-Bs in your area network with each other? We are seeking Moderators for each U.S. state and Canadian province. The moderators will be responsible for holding an O-B event each year and choosing a local O-B project of the year, among other things. You will receive the Guide for Moderators, which explains how to help. Moderators are eligible for an annual Southwest Airlines trip award based on activities.

Forum/Moderator Winners
Forum Winner 2008 - David in Escondido, CA
March 11th, 2008 10 pm Eastern time - we are announcing that the 2008 Forums Winner of a grand prize round trip on Southwest Airlines is David in Escondido. David has been posting since 2004. Our annual forums winner is selected at random each year based on the number of posts, votes, blogs and interview answers made during the year. Check out David's forum posts.
We are also awarding merit prizes of $100 each for outstanding contributions to:
Additionally, we are announcing that the 2008 Moderator Winner is Phil J. He also won a round trip on Southwest Airlines. Phil has also been posting at our site since 2004.

Helpful Answers to Survey Questions

Question: Do you have other suggestions or comments for owner-builders?

Mark in Provo, UT said:
Do your homework, it's a great comfort when you build. Don't neglect thorough planning for any self-work you intend. Preconstruction interviews with subs and vendors are valuable. Network with other owner-builders. Have a healthy contingency fund in your budget. Don't let anyone tell you can't do this.

Aimee in Kalamazoo, MI said:
If you have no experience, make sure you are as well educated in the whole process as you can become before you even finalize your floor plan

Eric in Seaville, NJ said:
Figure out what the purpose of your house is. If you're going to live there a long time, price is of far less concern than quality. Don't omit things that you'll regret later. Think energy efficiency, prices never go down! Think low maintenance.

Were there aspects of your home that were improved because of your owner-builder involvement?

Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said:
Quality of construction. Most people rely on code inspectors to ensure construction quality (they wouldn't pass it if it didn't meet code mentality). After working with the code inspectors, their review is cursory at best. You would be surprised how much bad quality is covered up by sheetrock or siding.

Kathlyn in Orlando, AL said:
This house is built like a Mercedes Benz, no other home I have seen is as well-built.

What were the biggest construction bargains you found, and how did you find them?

Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said:
Always be on the lookout for bargains, wherever you are. Even during your leisure time, be looking for suppliers and subcontractors. For example, we met some friends for happy hour and it turned out one of their other friends who we had never met worked for a plumbing supplier - bingo we just got a supplier and qualified for "friends" pricing (actually the best material bid out there). We would have never asked if we weren't building. We also go to one particular bar because we like the bartender, we told him we were building and asked if he had any subcontractors or suppliers that also come in to the bar - bingo more contacts.

Roger in Petoskey, MI said: Rough framing labor found cheaper by diligent bidding. Don't be afraid to ask for the manager to get a %10 discount. Five minutes saved me $2000 on cabinets.

Karl in Reno, NV said:
Used Internet for pricing everything.

Lori in Reno, NV said:
Paid $50 for carpet measure to se cure 20% sale, then paid for carpet on Veterans day to get another 10% off (military). We also went on HD 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.

How did you find other owner-builders to network with?

Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO said:

1) I used O-B connections. I got some contacts, but mostly these were people that were planning to O-B and eventually decided not too.

2) I used my architect. He had done some plans for O-B, and referred me to them. One of my best contacts came from this source.

3) I used to work with someone who had O-B when we worked together, and had just finished O-B his second house when we were in the planning stages. I had another person I used to work with that had O-B several years prior. These two people were willing to consult on anything I needed whenever I called.

4) My HVAC tech was O-B his own house at the same time I was working on mine.

5) One of my potential ICF suppliers (who I didn't end up using) dealt with a lot of O-B. These references were critical in allowing me to learn ICF construction and ultimately my decision to use ICF.

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