Considering Building Your Own Home?
Ok, so you have some construction experience but not a residential contractor's license. Should you even consider building your own home? Let's walk through some of the steps involved, and help you make a decision on this.
You probably already have your lot purchased or selected, whether you hire a General Contractor or decide to be your own contractor. You will want to get familiar with your county Planning and Development Department. They are the ones who will need to approve your building your own home. It may depend on the state you live in, but in some areas of the country you will be permitted to build yourself, as long as this will be your primary residence, your name is on the property deed, and you do not plan on selling it or renting the house for a specified time period. This is also where you will be pulling your permits for the various phases of construction.
You will need your house plan in hand to get started. Your first step is going to be getting a mortgage approved by a mortgage company.
Next, and one of the most important steps is getting approval for a bank construction loan. This can be difficult for someone without a contractor's license. They will first require information on your mortgage approval, want to see your house plans to estimate costs, and you will have to show them the confidence you have in yourself on being able to follow through on this project to completion.
Now you've got your mortgage approval, you've got your construction loan approved, it's time to get to work. Your construction loan draws will be based on completion of the various phases of construction.
Depending on your construction skills, and what you feel you will have time to do yourself, the rest of the work comes under the heading, sub-contractors.
These are the guys you are going to depend on to meet your projected goals.
You may have carpentry skills, electrical skills, plumbing skills, but if you are not proficient in these, you may not meet your time schedule.
You may have a 6 month construction loan, so you cannot take 8 months to complete the entire project. If you find you are falling behind, you will need to be hiring more sub-contractors to stay on schedule.
Your best bet for hiring sub-contractors is word of mouth. Ask around in the business for good referrals. When you call a sub-contractor, find out where there are currently working, go check out the quality of their work. If this is to your satisfaction, get them lined up for when they will be needed. The biggest problem you are going to have is being ready for the next subcontractor to come in and start working, and they don't show up for three or four days. What you are going to find out is they have commitments with General Contractors they are obligated to work with as well. So to them, you are just fill-in work, when their real work slacks off. So get used to it, and hope you've allowed enough time to complete the project.
Clearing the land will be the first step. You will need to hire someone with a bulldozer to get this accomplished. You may find you will be needing a lot of fill dirt to get the elevation where you want it. By now you will have decided which trees on the lot you want to be saved, and mark them with a ribbon.
A temporary power pole will be needed installed at the lot for power tools and equipment. If your lot has a drainage ditch running down the side of the road, you are going to need a culvert, for heavy equipment to be able to drive onto the lot.
Next will be your concrete sub-contractor, for your footings and foundation. Not likely you will be doing this yourself. Here's where you can save some cost by digging for the footings yourself. Also an important thing to keep in mind, any time you have a sub-contractor on the job working, you should make sure you are right there with them.
If they can save costs and time by pouring a footing, and leaving out the re-bar, you will not know this after the fact. You are the contractor, you are responsible. Each step of the way you will be calling for inspectors to come out for their approval. If there are any problems they see, they will let you know. But these inspectors don't have x-ray vision. It's up to you to know what's underneath what you can see.
This is a good time to point out the importance of taking photos of the progress. You will have a permanent record of the various construction phases, in case of any problems down the road. Let's say after construction is completed, you want to make some alterations, add some additional lighting, or go in to the walls for any reason. Taking a large number of photos of the open framing after wiring, and before the insulation and wallboard goes up will be most helpful in deciding where you can cut and drill, without hitting wires or ductwork.
If you are doing the framing, or hiring a carpenter, you will have to determine if you want pre-fab trusses built and delivered to the site, or have the roof stick-built. If you are hiring a carpenter, they can help you make a decision on this.
For the electrical, if you are a licensed electrician, no problem. If you have electrical experience, you will have an idea if you can do it yourself. Some counties may require a homeowner to take an exam in order to qualify to wire their own house. Be certain of exactly what is allowed before you go pulling permits. This applies to your plumbing and heating/air conditioning as well.
Insulation is certainly something you can do yourself. Just get used to being itchy for a few days.
Unless you've got experience in the sheetrock business, hire a drywall expert. They will have the entire house finished before you figure out how to smooth out a joint.
Heating and air-conditioning, maybe you can do some of this yourself. If you've done the framing yourself, you should be able to run in the ductwork in the overhead, if that's where it will be going. Then you can hire an HVAC company to install the equipment.
Whatever you exterior is going to be, brickwork, lap siding, stucco, vinyl siding, you will want to be there during progress. It could be difficult getting the installer to come back out after completion, to redo poor work.
You will probably do the windows and doors installation yourself. Here is where you can put some of your saved money into better quality products, such as Pella or Anderson windows. Finish trim and painting will be within your capability, as well as hanging lighting fixtures, if you took on the electrical.
By the time you get down to installing the roofing materials, you are probably out of time, and will need to hire a roofer. Again, make sure you are on the job site, and satisfied with the quality of work.
The last project on your list will be landscaping, laying sod, planting trees, shrubbery and flowers, coming down to the wire.
Your final goal here is getting your occupancy permit, so you can start moving in.
Upon final completion of construction, your construction loan will be paid off by your mortgage company.
There is nothing as rewarding as being able to say, "Yes I did build that".