Your own General Contractor

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BradJ
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Your own General Contractor

Post by BradJ » Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:43 pm

Anyone here ever built their own home? Do you truly save 25%?

Scrapr
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by Scrapr » Sun Apr 22, 2018 12:57 am

I acted as my own GC on my first house....and it's still standing!

GC that work full time don't make 25% on a home.

or as Mrs Scrapr would ask me. Why do you ask? :?:

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FrugalInvestor
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by FrugalInvestor » Sun Apr 22, 2018 1:19 am

BradJ wrote:
Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:43 pm
Anyone here ever built their own home? Do you truly save 25%?
Following is an article explaining construction margins......

https://businessecon.org/2015/05/margin ... struction/

From the article....
I’ve been asked to identify the average margins in the construction industry. Honestly, there is no such thing. I tried and after several hours of research I couldn’t even get one of the types of contractors to have consistency in their numbers.
I acted as my own general on a home many years ago. I didn't save anything (probably spent more) but got exactly what I wanted and likely better quality than I would have gotten taking another route....but that didn't translate into a higher selling price. I never took that approach again.
IGNORE the noise! | Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify. - Henry David Thoreau

denovo
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by denovo » Sun Apr 22, 2018 1:43 am

BradJ wrote:
Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:43 pm
Anyone here ever built their own home? Do you truly save 25%?
If you have no experience in construction please don't do this. Picking up stuff at Home Depot is not "experience". You will not save money. It will cost you more. If you want me to go into detail, let me know.
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

GCD
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by GCD » Sun Apr 22, 2018 8:44 pm

denovo wrote:
Sun Apr 22, 2018 1:43 am
BradJ wrote:
Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:43 pm
Anyone here ever built their own home? Do you truly save 25%?
If you have no experience in construction please don't do this. Picking up stuff at Home Depot is not "experience". You will not save money. It will cost you more. If you want me to go into detail, let me know.
I'd tend to agree with this. At least insofar as being your own GC. Aside from pure skill, a GC has relationships with subs and the subs have an expectation of future work from the GC. Don't discount the impact of the power a GC wields over his subs. The GC often has deals with suppliers to get a discount that you won't get because you aren't building 10-1000 houses a year.

I kinda sorta built my own home. Worked with an architect to design it and used a GC. I was on site about every other day. I know for a fact I got a much better quality build than if I went with a spec home, but it didn't end up saving me money.

I fell into a trap that I suspect many people who build their own home do, GC involved or not. That is that I always paid a little more for a higher quality component. For instance, just a little better sump pump, a slightly over built well pump, extra good air filtering system, an extra couple hundred sq feet on the driveway to give you more turning space, etc. These things are nice to have and your house just runs smooth in way that you aren't even aware of if you've only lived in spec houses. The problem is buyers almost universally only care about finish work, not the fact that your house is more solidly built in an invisible way. So you never get your money back for all the slightly better components you used in the build.

Spec houses are built on the cheap. Contractors take every shortcut they can and use the lowest quality pipes, paint, wood, etc. that they can get away with. It will pain you to conciously choose the cheapest of everything, but if you don't all the extra money will be wasted when it comes time to sell because those things just don't make it into the appraisal.

When I went to sell, the appraisers all gave a huge amount of weight to comps. Of course this is rational, but my highly detailed list of all the upgrades I put into the house just didn't matter. Yeah, its a nice furnace, but the house 1 mile away with the exact same square footage has a furnace too. So quality really didn't make it into the final appraisal.

tibbitts
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by tibbitts » Sun Apr 22, 2018 9:01 pm

BradJ wrote:
Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:43 pm
Anyone here ever built their own home? Do you truly save 25%?
Why do you think you would save vs. spend more? I would assume you would spend more.

afan
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by afan » Mon Apr 23, 2018 4:38 am

I had a neighbor whose brothers were contractors. They build his house for him. But they did it the way they did all their other houses. They used leftover supplies from other projects, used the cheapest, as opposed to the best , subcontractors. They had long halts in the process when they had more important things going on. The house looked flashy but had lots of problems due to shoddy work. He got what he paaif for.

For improvements on our home we finally found a contractor whose niche is doing high quality work. Yes, things look nice, but they don't look at you like you are crazy when you bring up the things GCD is talking about. Often the initial plan was very high quality, so there was not that much to improve upon.

I hover over the work and when we were using other contractors we would head off all sorts of slipshod practices.

Unless you have a lot of experience with residential construction you have little chance of even identifying good subs, let alone getting them to treat your job as a priority.
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama

forgeblast
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by forgeblast » Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:47 am

Aside from pure skill, a GC has relationships with subs and the subs have an expectation of future work from the GC

So true!! plus the subs will know the codes better. We opened a wall found 3 buried junction boxes all hot. Electrician sub came up the next day even though he had other places he was working because of our GC.

staythecourse
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by staythecourse » Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:15 am

We built a custom built home with a builder and can say unless you are not working and have 100% of time to devout AND don't have a construction background I would say don't do it. It was VERY time consuming making probably 10% of the total decisions that were needed to build a house. Then you have the issue of the subs. Construction is not a job for the meek A LOT of times you have to crack whips. The problem is it is not just about cracking a whip as the sub just may not show up to work. The reason GC are able to do it is because they get constant business from the GC so they can not afford to lose ALL their business in the future.

Trust me even with a reasonable GC we had I would say the construction industry is the most disorganized group of folks I have EVER seen. I would never sign up willingly to do this. Now if you have an industry background then maybe.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

Glockenspiel
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by Glockenspiel » Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:23 am

I generally agree that you should not take this on unless you have pretty extensive residential construction experience. If you do have that experience, you'll probably spend more for on quality materials because in your head you don't "want that cheap crap". This likely won't translate into a higher selling price.

If you have a lot of construction experience and you have your full-time dedicated to this project, and want to live in this house forever, you could do it, and be happy with the result.

pshonore
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by pshonore » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:10 am

Glockenspiel wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:23 am
I generally agree that you should not take this on unless you have pretty extensive residential construction experience. If you do have that experience, you'll probably spend more for on quality materials because in your head you don't "want that cheap crap". This likely won't translate into a higher selling price.

If you have a lot of construction experience and you have your full-time dedicated to this project, and want to live in this house forever, you could do it, and be happy with the result.
What is "cheap crap"?? A lot of what goes into a new house is generic. Framing lumber, plywood sheathing, roofing, electrical wire, copper pipe (or pex), sheetrock, etc. Now things like cabinets, windows, flooring, tile, siding, lighting and plumbing fixtures, HVAC, interior trim and millwork certainly vary and you can go basic or spend a lot, but those usually translate into a higher selling price because its out in the open. Most builders will give you a spec book and you can take that or upgrade for additional cost.

Certainly agree that you should be very familiar with new construction, code, local custom, etc. and have a lot of time to oversee things.

marcopolo
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by marcopolo » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:27 am

We are in the process of going through this right now, getting bids from GCs, as well as pricing materials and getting bids from subs to evaluate being our own GC.

The pricing from the GC are done as follows. The price all the material and sub costs, then 10% for GC to supervise the work, and 10% on top of that for builder's profit. So, a total of 21% on top of all the material and sub costs.

What we have seen so far is that the material costs are about the same as what the GCs are listing, most suppliers will extend contractor pricing to owner-builders. But, the pricing we are getting directly from the subs is usually more than what the GCs are showing for the same scope of work. Now, these are not necessarily the same subs, because we have found that many subs will not work with owner-builders, they get plenty of work from GCs, and don't want the headache of working directly with the owner. This added cost would probably be about 5-10%.

There will also be additional costs associated with insurance and bonding, etc. that is included in the pricing from the GC.

There will also be schedule hits, and possibly some costs associated with scheduling subs when needed. As a one-off owner-builder, you will be a low priority for most subs.

Where you can get bigger savings is if you are willing and able to do some of the work yourself. Just be careful, if you get friends/acquaintances to help with any of it, you really should get insurance and Workman's Comp to cover them in case of any injuries.

We have always wanted to be involved in building our own home, so we are still a little undecided, but are leaning towards using a GC, but try to be on-site frequently (without getting in the way too much).

I would be interested to hear your thought process, experiences, and what you eventually decide.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

renue74
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by renue74 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:37 am

I'll play the other side of the fence.

Sure...do it, if you want to find all the details of residential homebuilding. The building code is public, you can find subs and you can research just like anybody else.

I just did a huge remodel of a 85 year old house. Took it down to the studs, took the exterior sheathing off, new plumbing and electrical.

I had to work with the city to get permits, found my own subs and did a ton of work myself.

You know when you watch "The Property Brothers" on HGTV and they always tell the homeowner, "well, we've got to put a structural beam in and it's going to run $2000." In real life, I had to go to 84 Lumber Company and get 4 LVL beams custom cut for $300 and I slid them into the attic myself on a Saturday.

I sourced $3/plank Hardie shingles on craigslist and bought $2 sq/ft leftover marble from other projects and installed shingles and laid tile myself. It all takes time.

But be prepared for the whole project to take a lot longer than expected because subs are super busy these days and you will be the low man on the to-do list because you're not repeat business.

And you probably won't save a lot versus what you put into it with time.

It's a learning experience.

GCD
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by GCD » Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:31 am

pshonore wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:10 am
Glockenspiel wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:23 am
you'll probably spend more for on quality materials because in your head you don't "want that cheap crap". This likely won't translate into a higher selling price.
What is "cheap crap"?? A lot of what goes into a new house is generic. Framing lumber, plywood sheathing, roofing, electrical wire, copper pipe (or pex), sheetrock, etc. Now things like cabinets, windows, flooring, tile, siding, lighting and plumbing fixtures, HVAC, interior trim and millwork certainly vary and you can go basic or spend a lot, but those usually translate into a higher selling price because its out in the open. Most builders will give you a spec book and you can take that or upgrade for additional cost.
I dunno about that. There's different grades of everything.

Plywood? Do you want quality American made or that cheap Chinese stuff that was toxic?
http://www.toxictrailers.org/2008/01/ch ... gh-in.html

Roofing? It looks like Lowe's stocks shingles from $30-70ish a bundle. Do you want slate or asphalt shingles? What about a copper roof? All of these are choices with regard to price, quality and longevity.

I'm curious what the basis is for the bolded statement. Are you involved in real estate? My personal, and admittedly very narrow, experience was that this is not true. A realtor may pitch "Trane HVAC system!!!!", but the appraiser is just gonna go "meh". But I could be off because I'm saying that based on the houses I've built, bought and sold in my life, not any broad industry experience.

GCD
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by GCD » Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:38 am

marcopolo wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:27 am
We are in the process of going through this right now, getting bids from GCs, as well as pricing materials and getting bids from subs to evaluate being our own GC.

The pricing from the GC are done as follows. The price all the material and sub costs, then 10% for GC to supervise the work, and 10% on top of that for builder's profit. So, a total of 21% on top of all the material and sub costs.
I found comparing GC prices to be frustrating. I tried to get an apples to apples comparison by picking out everything first and then asking for bids. But all the GCs worked with different suppliers. Even for lumber some went with Lowe's, some Home Depot, and some other random lumberyards. Doors, windows, etc were all different companies. So I might pick out a Pella window I wanted and a GC would say "well, I have a contact at Anderson and I can get you this kinda sorta comparable window for not quite the same price..." If I stuck with the Pella window the GC with the Pella contact could get it for cheaper than the one with the Anderson contact. Multiply that times all the components of the house. Ugh.

BradJ
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by BradJ » Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:47 am

First off, let me thank everyone for their time and insight. As far as my construction knowledge, I know enough to make me dangerous, as they say. I am still on the fence about what is the right decision, I actually think all will be well whatever route I take. My wife renovated a home last year with the " best contractor" in the area, and heard nothing but great things about his work and professionalism...............you can guess what that amounted to. Two head to head arguments later, and some questionable workmanship, I have nothing nice to say about GCs.

Hogan773
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by Hogan773 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:16 am

I am (very slightly) considering whether it makes sense to buy a teardown and build our own home in another thread

Let's say I get plans done up with an architect, then get bids from GCs and choose one (I have no experience so would never want to act as my own GC)

What is likelihood of changes to cost as we go, or on a new home can you generally stick with their estimate (vs on a remodel where they "find stuff" that was unexpected)

How much time does it take to make all the decisions about finishes, etc? That is one of my fears. I guess it depends how much latitude you want to give them vs how much you want to research and select every faucet and towel rod and shape of crown molding etc.

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hand
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by hand » Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:29 am

pshonore wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:10 am
What is "cheap crap"?? A lot of what goes into a new house is generic. Framing lumber, plywood sheathing, roofing, electrical wire, copper pipe (or pex), sheetrock, etc. Now things like cabinets, windows, flooring, tile, siding, lighting and plumbing fixtures, HVAC, interior trim and millwork certainly vary and you can go basic or spend a lot, but those usually translate into a higher selling price because its out in the open. Most builders will give you a spec book and you can take that or upgrade for additional cost.

Certainly agree that you should be very familiar with new construction, code, local custom, etc. and have a lot of time to oversee things.
My experience is that there is a fundamental difference between houses built to be sold and houses built to be owned / lived in.

Clearly it is in the interest of production builders (and their marketing teams) to convince buyers that houses are made of commodity materials and to standard code and only differentiated by finishes price and location.

Houses however are more than a pile of commodity materials. Ignoring for a moment the differing grades and thicknesses of key materials like lumber, insulation, drywall and fasteners, installation care and approach and quantities of materials used also matter. Want to live in a house with code minimum insulation, or one with effective air sealing and "extra" insulation? What about wiring, even if the wire itself is a commodity, do you want code minimum or a thoughtfully laid out wiring plan with extra outlets / capacity where cost effective to do so? Unfortunately buyers of houses typically don't value the extra quality and as such, production builders don't typically provide.

pshonore
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by pshonore » Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:38 am

GCD wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:31 am
pshonore wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:10 am
Glockenspiel wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:23 am
you'll probably spend more for on quality materials because in your head you don't "want that cheap crap". This likely won't translate into a higher selling price.
What is "cheap crap"?? A lot of what goes into a new house is generic. Framing lumber, plywood sheathing, roofing, electrical wire, copper pipe (or pex), sheetrock, etc. Now things like cabinets, windows, flooring, tile, siding, lighting and plumbing fixtures, HVAC, interior trim and millwork certainly vary and you can go basic or spend a lot, but those usually translate into a higher selling price because its out in the open. Most builders will give you a spec book and you can take that or upgrade for additional cost.
I dunno about that. There's different grades of everything.

Plywood? Do you want quality American made or that cheap Chinese stuff that was toxic?
http://www.toxictrailers.org/2008/01/ch ... gh-in.html

Roofing? It looks like Lowe's stocks shingles from $30-70ish a bundle. Do you want slate or asphalt shingles? What about a copper roof? All of these are choices with regard to price, quality and longevity.

I'm curious what the basis is for the bolded statement. Are you involved in real estate? My personal, and admittedly very narrow, experience was that this is not true. A realtor may pitch "Trane HVAC system!!!!", but the appraiser is just gonna go "meh". But I could be off because I'm saying that based on the houses I've built, bought and sold in my life, not any broad industry experience.
You can SEE good hardwood floors compared to cheap laminates/carpet, custom cabinets vs cheap particle board (and most cabinets are made of plywood or similar except face and door frames), same with good windows - Andersen, etc compared to cheap vinyl, solid stained trim vs finger jointed, solid six panel doors vs luan/plastic, cedar clapboards/Hardie vs vinyl siding. Kohler plumbing vs HD store stuff, cased openings vs plain old sheetrock, nine foot ceilings, boilers not so much though - All those contribute to a quality grade which should part of any appraisal.

rgs92
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by rgs92 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:50 am

As a slightly tangential question, if I am fixing up my house that needs quite a number of small-to-moderate repairs/upgrades (floors, painting, plater-patches, door straitening, a few new windows, air leaks, patches in various places, some plumbing work like faucets and maybe a new vanity),
how would I find a good general contractor to manage all this?

Will I pay an arm and a leg? I'm OK with, say, 35% over what I would do with direct hires.

renue74
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by renue74 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:59 pm

rgs92 wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:50 am
As a slightly tangential question, if I am fixing up my house that needs quite a number of small-to-moderate repairs/upgrades (floors, painting, plater-patches, door straitening, a few new windows, air leaks, patches in various places, some plumbing work like faucets and maybe a new vanity),
how would I find a good general contractor to manage all this?

Will I pay an arm and a leg? I'm OK with, say, 35% over what I would do with direct hires.
Find a handyman to do your list. Get him to quote all the things at once. Maybe your friends/coworkers have referrals to good handymen. Go to Nextdoor and find somebody.

Most GCs in my area don't like dealing with that type of work. They want largish projects.

denovo
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by denovo » Mon Apr 23, 2018 1:07 pm

BradJ wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:47 am
As far as my construction knowledge, I know enough to make me dangerous, as they say.
Want to elaborate on what experience you have?
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

CurlyDave
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by CurlyDave » Mon Apr 23, 2018 1:39 pm

I have built my own home twice.

The first time I did it with materials mostly from Home Depot and helpers I hired, but I did most of the work.

This is not the way to do it although it has advantages. As others have said, you put a lot more quality in, but most people don't notice it, but since I lived there for 20+ years, the quality mattered to me. I don't think I saved a lot, butt he flexible schedule was worth a lot to me at the time.

I put that home up for sale and the real estate agent burned it down with candles.

So I got to build it again, on the same foundation.

The second time I did it right. Architect for plans, and when you get the plans he will produce a "bill of materials" essentially a list of (almost) everything you will need to build the house including quantities. Email that list to major lumberyards near you and even some not too near -- I ended up with one 50 miles away -- and get bids. The way this works in reality is that they look at the quantities and determine what kind of a discount you are going to get, so even if you end up changing significantly from the bill of materials you still get the same pricing. I sent out 12 bids and got 10 or 11 responses. Just pretend you are one of the big contractors and they will treat you like one. Your money spends just the same as anyone else's.

Distance is not really an issue, they deliver at no charge. Just call them up and tell them what you need a day or two ahead of time and they send a truck out with the capability of offloading onto the ground. The prices and quality beat the stuffing out of Home Depot this way.

I did pretty well financially because I could hire experienced labor at reasonable rates during a construction downturn. And, because I was willing to shop around for various things. For instance, I found a cut rate place that sold overstocked granite and marble countertops. By going there and spending an afternoon looking around at what they had on sale, I was able to get coordinating countertops for the kitchen, an island and two bathrooms at a very good price. A contractor would have spent 30 minutes getting matching countertops at a premium price just to save time. And to boot, I made a side deal for two of the guys there to come out and install the countertops on a Saturday. Everyone who looked at the house loved the result. It looked custom-designed but was also $15-20k less expensive.

Subcontractors were not a big problem. I think the thing that made it work out was that I did it during a construction downturn and everyone was hungry for work. If I had had to compete with big general contractors the subs would not have returned my phone calls.

But, I had experience and I had done smaller remodels on rentals myself also. So they could work with me and I knew a lot of the language of contracting.

GCD
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by GCD » Mon Apr 23, 2018 3:29 pm

renue74 wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:59 pm
rgs92 wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:50 am
As a slightly tangential question, if I am fixing up my house that needs quite a number of small-to-moderate repairs/upgrades (floors, painting, plater-patches, door straitening, a few new windows, air leaks, patches in various places, some plumbing work like faucets and maybe a new vanity),
how would I find a good general contractor to manage all this?

Will I pay an arm and a leg? I'm OK with, say, 35% over what I would do with direct hires.
Find a handyman to do your list. Get him to quote all the things at once. Maybe your friends/coworkers have referrals to good handymen. Go to Nextdoor and find somebody.

Most GCs in my area don't like dealing with that type of work. They want largish projects.
Depends on how nice a job you want done. I have a 500Kish house in Northern Virginia. I wanted to finish the basement. The house is the crap spec house discussed above. A high speed, well-regarded GC wanted 70K to do a really nice job on the basement. I hired a handyman to do it for 30K. He subbed out the plumbing and electrical and did everything else. By no means is he really a GC. Just a full-time handyman type who had an electrician and a plumber for a friend.

The quality is meh, but the house is meh. I didn't want to overspend on the basement when I was unimpressed with the house.

cashmoney
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by cashmoney » Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:08 pm

staythecourse wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:15 am
We built a custom built home with a builder and can say unless you are not working and have 100% of time to devout AND don't have a construction background I would say don't do it. It was VERY time consuming making probably 10% of the total decisions that were needed to build a house. Then you have the issue of the subs. Construction is not a job for the meek A LOT of times you have to crack whips. The problem is it is not just about cracking a whip as the sub just may not show up to work. The reason GC are able to do it is because they get constant business from the GC so they can not afford to lose ALL their business in the future.

Trust me even with a reasonable GC we had I would say the construction industry is the most disorganized group of folks I have EVER seen. I would never sign up willingly to do this. Now if you have an industry background then maybe.

Good luck.


My brother in law is a GC in Florida.He is doing well building spec residential town homes but says the biggest challenge is to find subs to do the work.almost all the framers,painters,sheet rock subs etc. available are Mexican so he has had to learn to speak some Spanish .He says subs pull no shows on him all the time if something better comes along that day or week for them.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by WhyNotUs » Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:25 pm

You might save 10% or so by acting as your own GC, after paying Builders Risk, spending a good deal of time, and finding a really good construction supervisor who is willing to really be the GC without the liability or pay.

Another way forward is to study online how to read drawings so that you can really understand the building and thus minimize change orders, you can spend time ahead of the project selecting material in advance of when they need ordered to keep the critical path on schedule, you can do a little construction cleanup as it is a great way to observe details on how well your home is being buttoned up, and right sizing your home for your uses and the market. It is not uncommon to find 10% more room in a house than needed in my opinion. You could also look over lien waivers and be present at inspections if you want to know what is happening and represent your interests.

Sounds like you had a bad experience with a previous GC, I am confident that you know your side of that issue, is there anything that you or your wife need to learn from that experience before you start again? It is hard, but a post-project meeting to debrief might help you learn more about your strengths and weaknesses as a client.

My strengths are that I am good at helping keep a project on schedule/budget, can visualize the building from plans, and am decisive. My weaknesses are that I can be penny-wise and pound foolish in my first reaction to upgrades and I am can be impatient when schedules change due to things out of anyone's control. Knowing this about myself helps me be a better client. I have acted as my own GC but would not do that again. I now know some great GCs and what I can do to get a good product at a fair price.
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX

staythecourse
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by staythecourse » Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:31 pm

cashmoney wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:08 pm
staythecourse wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:15 am
We built a custom built home with a builder and can say unless you are not working and have 100% of time to devout AND don't have a construction background I would say don't do it. It was VERY time consuming making probably 10% of the total decisions that were needed to build a house. Then you have the issue of the subs. Construction is not a job for the meek A LOT of times you have to crack whips. The problem is it is not just about cracking a whip as the sub just may not show up to work. The reason GC are able to do it is because they get constant business from the GC so they can not afford to lose ALL their business in the future.

Trust me even with a reasonable GC we had I would say the construction industry is the most disorganized group of folks I have EVER seen. I would never sign up willingly to do this. Now if you have an industry background then maybe.

Good luck.
My brother in law is a GC in Florida.He is doing well building spec residential town homes but says the biggest challenge is to find subs to do the work.almost all the framers,painters,sheet rock subs etc. available are Mexican so he has had to learn to speak some Spanish .He says subs pull no shows on him all the time if something better comes along that day or week for them.
That is the problem. When we built the subs were exceptionally nice and decently hard working, but I can bet if we were in a position without a GC behind us and we pushed too hard they just wouldn't show up the next day. Then trying to find another respected sub to take over another subs potential mess is not going to happen. My experience is the same culture hooks up with the same to build. Some inherent trust. The irish use irish guys, the polish use polish, etc...

My guess is if you ask ANY GC they will say their biggest headache is finding good subs who fit into their price modeling. That is the reason you see even the GC be at the mercy of the subs.

Good luck.
Last edited by staythecourse on Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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momvesting
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by momvesting » Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:32 pm

I acted as my own GC and did quite a bit of DIY work myself when we finished our basement a few years ago. I know for certain that we saved a substantial amount of money, but there is one big downside, and that is time. Fortunately, I knew this going in and I was finishing a basement when we had no immediate need for the space so delays were not a problem. We were also cash flowing the whole thing, so I wasn’t paying interest during the delays. When it was over, DH and I decided that overall it was a good experience and well worth it but that if we ever built a house or remodeled a kitchen we would hire a GC to get it done faster.

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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by RetiredCSProf » Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:27 pm

I hired a licensed GC to remodel two bathrooms in my 30-year old spec home. He falsely claimed that features of my home did not meet the residential code and he enlarged the scope of the project to ten times my original intent. During the remodel, he flagrantly ignored state construction laws, e.g., he hired an unlicensed plumber and electrician as "subcontractors" (a criminal offense in California).

If I had to do it over again, I would have my lawyer review the contract before I sign it. No, wait, I don't think I would every hire a GC again.

rgs92
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by rgs92 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:33 pm

Thanks renue74 for the advice. Best to you.

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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by Helo80 » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:41 pm

If you have to ask, you probably should not do it.

Sure, you can maybe arrange to paint your own walls, or do your flooring. But, making sure everything is to code and is structurally sound and safe, it's not something to cheap out on.

I'm not sure how home insurance would work if you build your own home, and then it falls apart or collapses. Maybe that's what the property inspector is for? To back up your claims that you built a good home? IDK.... I have a feeling if you did your own electrical work and the thing burned down, the insurance company would not want to pay for that.

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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by LadyGeek » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:42 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (home).
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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by unclescrooge » Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:50 pm

pshonore wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:10 am
Glockenspiel wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:23 am
I generally agree that you should not take this on unless you have pretty extensive residential construction experience. If you do have that experience, you'll probably spend more for on quality materials because in your head you don't "want that cheap crap". This likely won't translate into a higher selling price.

If you have a lot of construction experience and you have your full-time dedicated to this project, and want to live in this house forever, you could do it, and be happy with the result.
What is "cheap crap"?? A lot of what goes into a new house is generic. Framing lumber, plywood sheathing, roofing, electrical wire, copper pipe (or pex), sheetrock, etc. Now things like cabinets, windows, flooring, tile, siding, lighting and plumbing fixtures, HVAC, interior trim and millwork certainly vary and you can go basic or spend a lot, but those usually translate into a higher selling price because its out in the open. Most builders will give you a spec book and you can take that or upgrade for additional cost.

Certainly agree that you should be very familiar with new construction, code, local custom, etc. and have a lot of time to oversee things.
There is a right way to do something, and an easy way. Most subs take the easy way. Unless you've built a home and watched them you wouldn't know.

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Re: Your own General Contractor

Post by GCD » Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:34 am

Helo80 wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:41 pm
I have a feeling if you did your own electrical work and the thing burned down, the insurance company would not want to pay for that.
If it passes inspection what could they use to justify not paying? I guess the insurance company could sue you just like they might sue any other contractor. Might get interesting.

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