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Reasons for Building Your Own Home
Probably the most popular reason for building your own home is saving money, or creating sweat equity. Depending on the new-home market that you are in and other factors that statement can true or false. Highly competitive new-home markets will cause the price of new homes to be suppressed and could end up suppressing the market price of your new home, not allowing you to realize as much equity as in other situations.
Cost overrun or underestimation is another factor that can quickly eat up any projected saving or equity that we anticipated. This occurs very frequently among those of us who take on the challenge of building our own home. Comparative shopping and doggedly staying within your budget will help to realize significant saving from building your own home.
Another reason for building your own home is the good old do-it-yourself attitude. The satisfaction that we are in control and we are getting what we paid for, or as close to it as we can get. The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that we have something to show for or effort is also a tremendous feeling.
What ever the reason, those that build their own homes follow one of three general paths, do-it-yourself, be-your-own general contractor, or hire a home builder general contractor. The amount of savings or equity you realize will to some degree be determined by the path your take.
With this method of building your own home you will be the jack of all trades, wearing the tool belt, driving the backhoe, pouring the concrete, hanging the sheet rock, pounding the nails, maybe hiring some the skilled trades that you will need a license for, assuming you do not have a license for that trade. These would include electrical, plumbing, and heating and air conditioning (HVAC).
Most individuals who go this route are those that have some or a lot of knowledge and experience in the home building business. They may hire a few helpers and the skilled trades that they do not have, and go for it. Most of these projects are relatively small however I have seen significant size homes that have been built using this method.
Should you not have an extensive amount of knowledge and experience in the construction field and have decided that this is the way you wan to go, you will need a great sense of adventure, a real burning desire, the patience of Job, and maybe the name of a good local therapists. This method of building your own home not recommended for the inexperienced or the faint of heart.
Be-your-own General Contractor
This is the route most traveled by those building their own home. With this method you are the boss, you make the decisions, you call the shots, you hire and you fire the sub contractors. You have the headaches of both the owner and the contractor. You assume the liability, you are finally responsible. The beauty of it is that aside from you spouse you answer to no one but you. Well maybe your banker, but more on this under financing. There are a couple of approaches that can be employed here depending on your comfort level, personal preference and budget; going solo, hire a home building consultant, or hire a project manager.
Going solo:- In this scenario you should have a comfort level with researching information, soliciting bids, hiring subcontractors, working with vendors and suppliers, selecting and purchasing materials and supplies, scheduling workers and staying on top of their progress. Most likely you would have had some level of exposure to the home building and or the home improvement business. If you have or have had experience of project management in other areas, a great deal of these skills can be used in this process.
Hire a home building consultant: Increasingly there are a number of businesses that will provide home building consulting or coaching services to assist you with building your own home. Many of these are former building contractors or trades people that will provide different levels of coaching or consulting services to you serving as your own general contractor (owner builder). You are still in control of the project, all contracts, permits, applicable licenses and insurance are in your name as the general contractor, they serve as a vendor providing consulting services to you.
Some of the levels of service they provide are:
- On an as-needed bases
, charged most likely by the call on a hourly basis. This arrangement may be difficult to find with some of the more prominent services. You may be able to work out such an arrangement with a retired or semi retired home builder, or a friend or acquaintance that is willing to provide this type of a service.
- A Project Consultant
. For a fee, most likely based on the size of the house, either in terms of square footage or estimated cost, they will provide varying levels of services to support your through the process of building your own home. Some will assist starting with financing and site selection all the way to the finished product. These consultants can also server as a first level of inspection for your project, a second set of experienced eyes.
- Project Manager
. Some of these businesses will offer a service where they will manage and run the project for you. They will handle the selection or recommend the selection of subcontractors, scheduling of work, and manage the project from start to finish. This of course, is at a higher fee than Project Consultant. You will still be in the roll of serving as your own general contractor, so that all contracts, permits, applicable licenses and insurance will be in our name. You will also always have the fun part of selecting all your doors, windows, fixtures and finishes. Some individuals like method of building your own home, in that they still have control over the project but it does not take up as much of their time and effort as the other arrangements.
Hire a Home Builder – General Contractor
If after giving this idea of building your own home some serious thought, you have decided that this is more of a challenge than you want to take on, but would like to have a home that is a bit more than what the track developers have to offer, then the next best thing is to hire a reputable home builder that you will work with to build the home of your dreams. This too will have its own set of challenges, but with the selection of a reputable and compatible builder, it is a doable task and still very rewarding.
The need for a reputable home builder goes without saying, but probably equally as important, is a builder that you can work well with. One that is willing to listen and try to work with you to meet your needs. Just remember like every thing else, time and effort comes with a price. Selecting such a builder will call for interviewing several builders, checking references and even visiting work sites. The appearance of a worksite speaks volumes about the builder and his workers.