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Old 04-22-2008, 05:26 PM   #1
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New construction specifications

I'm in the process of contracting for a new home to be built. I have checked references and believe the guy can do a good job...he's licensed and insured and maintains a full time crew of 5. My problem is the proposed contract seems sketchy. There is a full set of plans but there's a lot they don't cover. For example the subfloor says 3/4" OSB and I've said 3/4" OSB T&G screwed and glued. My question, not being a building pro, is what areas like this should I "nail" down. Is there a standard of "good practice" I could reference? Or specific areas that should be covered in the contract? Thanks for any help.


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Old 04-22-2008, 05:57 PM   #2
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Maybe you should hire an experienced residential building project manager to help you oversee the build?


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Old 04-22-2008, 06:58 PM   #3
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You have plans. From those plans, you can develop specifications. The cost is not trivial, however. The alternative is to state in the contract that all work will conform and comply with XXX (where XXX is either the UBC or local codes), and that all work will be carried out in conformance with industry standards.

That will give you a basis for discussion in a legal forum, at least, but the best way to do it is develop specifications or simply pick a builder you trust and let him have at it. Construction is like making sausage; sometimes it is better to enjoy the end product and not partake in the production.
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Old 04-22-2008, 07:58 PM   #4
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Great advice thus far.

I would definately ensure that you're getting a code-compliant house, but would caution you that the code is a minimum standard, and it is easy to build a code compliant house that none of us would be happy with.

You certainly have the right, and right now the opportunity, to proactively sit down with the builder and amend the contract by adding some specifications before the job gets started...The things that are important to you. Gluing subfloor for instance, is a great idea, but certainly isn't required. I'm also a fan of little things like some subfloor adhesive in the joist hangers, which will limit sqeaks coming from the hangers. Extra rebar in the foundation, primer under paint, etc...........

Just remember that a lot of the things you may want may involve additional costs that the builder may not necessarily want to absorb. If you guys sit down and go over all these things, you can find compromise where necessary.

As for a reference of good practice, I can't think of one that will help you all that much. Your best bet is to have your own "owners representative" that is very familiar with local practices. They'll be able to tell you what works and what doesn't. This person could be a local engineer, an architect, or a 3rd party inspector that can make occasional site visits to watch out for your interests.

I would also advocate meeting with the building inspector(s) in your local jurisdiction...If they know you and you have developed a good relationship with them, your interests are likely to be protected. They should be either way, but it never hurts to contact them ahead of time. They'll also be an excellent resource for information. They'll know what kind of flashing system works best in your area. What are your lot's soils like. They can only enforce the code, but they'll probably be happy to talk to you about things that could make your house better for you.
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Old 04-23-2008, 03:59 PM   #5
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Thanks guys

Thanks for the input. The guy I'm going with has been building for 30 years and we have a good relationship. Just he seems very easy going when it comes to paperwork. For example my drawings call for a footer 20" X 10" and his quote says 18" X 8" When I pointed this out he said the smaller was all that was needed and my draftsman was being overly cautious. The plans are now being reviewed by an engineer and we'll go with what he says. Of course the plans don't spell out how much rebar, just per code. I am putting in the contract that he is responsible for code compliance. I'm sure everything will be fine, I'm just surprised that something for over $200,000 could be agreed to with so little detail Thanks again
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