For most of my adult life I had thought about someday building my Dream Home. Several years ago I finally got chance. I had purchased a lake front lot with a small cottage on it. My initial intention was to use property “as is”, and someday raze old cottage and build a new home in its place. After a couple of weekends in musty old camp I came to conclusion that I needed to speed up my timetable.
Part of dream in building my own home was to act as General Contractor and to personally supply a great deal of sweat equity. I accomplished both of these goals, however it was not easy. There were many roadblocks and bends in road along way. In subsequent parts of this chronology, I will review my experiences in hopes that others may gain from my experiences.
Determining Home Style and Size
After making decision to raze cottage and build a new home, I had to first determine what type and size of home to build. My lot was limited in size and required careful planning to ensure that I would meet all of setbacks governed by town I lived in. Although I had these concerns, I decided to forgo Architect route. I deemed it too expensive and probably not necessary for style of home I wanted to build. Instead I picked up a handful of Home Plan magazines and surfed internet for home designs. I also picked up an inexpensive software package for designing homes and floorplans. After a week of reviewing home plans, I found one that met most of my requirements in terms of a floorplan. The footprint was smaller than I wanted, but I concluded that I could redraw floor plan accordingly using my newly purchased Home Design Software Package.
The Home Design Software package was not as simple to use as instruction manual implied, however after a couple of weeks I had a floorplan with all dimensional information.
Assuming role as General Contractor
As I had indicated earlier, one of my goals was to assume role as General Contractor on this project. I quickly learned that banks frown upon lending construction mortgages to everyday homeowners and to folks who have little professional building experience. I got around this issue by deciding not to use banks for financing. However, from what I learned later, it may have been possible for me to assume a construction mortgage if I had quit my day job and applied for loan as a “full time General Contractor”. Indeed, I would have needed to complete a full proposal to bank with all costs and subcontractors identified, but this is necessary anyways.
As General Contractor I developed a build schedule and task list. Some of top items included: Identifying subcontractors, pulling permits, and having a septic design approved.
Carefully Pick your Sub-Contractors
Identifying right subcontractors is most important task a General Contractor performs. Poor selection of subcontractors can lead to delays in schedules, cost overruns, poor workmanship and strife between various subcontractors on job. Prior to hiring subcontractors, it is important to visit their current jobsites. Review their work on existing jobsites and mingle with other subs to judge working relationship. In addition get two or three reference checks on subcontractors. If there are poor workmanship, personality issues, or references move on. Do not settle for second rate subs, even if it means slipping your schedule or costs goals, as you will more than likely suffer even larger schedule slips or higher costs by hiring wrong people.