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scoby1978 05-23-2007 08:19 AM

To Build or Not To Build
Hi there,

As someone who has never build or even renovated, I am looking for some advice. I am a first time buyer, who would like to construct our own house. Where should I begin? Is it better to build from stone or log? How will I get an idea of how much the entire build will cost? We are thinking of a bungalow with 1000 sq. ft and have no idea how much it is likely to cost.


slickshift 05-23-2007 02:36 PM

Welcome to the forums

I think the advice would depend on what you mean by "... construct our own house"

Do you mean with your own hands?
Acting as your own General Contractor?
Or hiring a GC (or Home Builder) to build it?

scoby1978 05-24-2007 08:47 AM

To Build or Not To Build

Thankyou so much for your reply.

I have someone who would be able to dig the foundations and someone who can do the capentering, but everything else would have to be completed by contractors. I'm a bit nervous about project managing too. I'm trying to read up and get as much information as possible before deciding the best route. We are hoping to keep the costs as low as possible. Am I being ambitious with hoping to build a 4 bed bungalow for approx 120k?

slickshift 05-24-2007 01:14 PM you would be acting as GC then
That's a toughie
Not to discourage you, but I have to tell you as a contractor that's not an encouraging sign
I will often raise my rates when an H/O (Homeowner) is acting as a GC

No offense to you or anyone who has done this successfully, but it comes from too many bad experiences with people that have no idea what is involved

An H/O acting as a GC will hear every subcontractor's version of how it should be done, and each story will generally favor the specific sub's trade to get their job done as quickly and easily and cheaply (less time, less money) as possible
Unfortunately this hoses the other subs, especially if their prices were based on if a professional had scheduled them out

Not that doesn't mean that some H/Os can't do it
I'm just sayin'....
It doesn't take dealing with more than a few that don't to send subs running in the other direction, or like me, raising rates

It may seem cruel, but I have to raise my rates because of the huge chance something will not be on time, scheduled correctly, proceed correctly and on-time, or general time and money consuming PITAs involved with a non-professional acting as a GC

Especially if they say something like "the walls will be sanded and ready to paint"
I get there and "...uh, we ran out of time", or they are so poorly sanded I must sand them again

I once showed up, as scheduled, to paint the exterior trim on a house
The roofing subs, and the window replacement subs were already fighting for driveway position
(there's no way you can safely roof and window a house at the same time...never mind AND paint)
He and his wife had taken the week off, which is why we were all scheduled at the same time (?...I guess they wanted a show?)
Needless to say that messed up my morning (I left), and week (I had to scramble and reschedule for other work)

This doesn't happen with a GC
And if it does, they take care of the problem

If you want to act as GC, do it with your eyes WIDE open, and learn as much as you possibly can about GCing
I'm not sure you'll save any money by not hiring a GC
I'd think n00b mistakes and scheduling problems and subs (like me) who charge more for H/Os then GCs would take care of that
A GC takes a risk on every job, that's why they make profit, they took the risk
But if done carefully and well, I suppose acting as a GC could save some money
It certainly would be educational

120K for a 4 bed sounds low, but then a two-bed 800sq. ft. fixer upper sells for (well) over a quarter mil around these parts...if you can find one that cheap...
That figure may be reasonable in your area

scoby1978 05-25-2007 05:20 AM

To Build or Not To Build
Thank you so much for the information. A new option on an old house turned up yesterday and we're looking into that at the moment. I think that we would have to gut a lot of the property, but at least it wouldn't be as big a project as building from scratch. I may be back in the future with more queries. But for now, I would like to thank you for all your advice.

North Country 05-25-2007 09:55 PM

In reply to your log/stone build, we specialize in log-style homes with conventional framing. Log and stone are the two most expensive products to build with , but the asthetics and value are unbeatable in my opinion. Your 120k seems a bit low, more in the range of 140-150k. GC'ing your own project is certainly much more work and involvement than you think it is, my advice if you go this route, is to hire a Project Manager to run the project for you, while the rate should be lower than a GC, you will assume much of the onsite management and be paying subs and suppliers directly. Hope this helps you. Good luck with your project.

Gerry Kiernan 05-27-2007 04:39 PM

Hi Scoby
Welcome to the chatroom. Buying a used home has its pitfalls too. It would be wise to hire the services of a qualified home inspector, before you make an offer. Hopefully, he would be able to guide you with regard to necessary repairs and upgrades. He would probably be able to also put you onto contractors who could give you a really good idea as to the cost factors for the various repairs and upgrades you are wanting to do. One big advantage to buying a home, already built, is that you shouldn't have to tackle the whole job at once. Just be careful not to try and do all the work at one time. If you pace yourself remodelling a home can be both extremely satisfying, and in the long haul, quite rewarding.

Good luck with the process.


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