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Old 03-10-2009, 03:55 AM   #1
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How to start with construction of my dream house

I was wondering if anyone knows of a good resource to find contractors? I have been looking online and all I have seen are sites where you have to describe the job then wait to get called from a contractor or if I find a directory type of site there is a limited number of contractors in my area, but I know there are many more. I am trying to build my first house and I was planning on hiring all the contractors so I need a good resource to find them. Something with reviews and article would also be very beneficial, please let me know if anyone knows of a good place to look.
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Old 03-10-2009, 06:33 AM   #2
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Where are you located? I'm an Architect located in Berkshire County in Massachusetts and I don't believe I've ever seen a list of contractor with reviews. No list other then the phone book. Things around here usually happen from word of mouth.
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Old 03-13-2009, 09:12 PM   #3
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If you're planning to act as your own general contractor (which is what you seem to be describing), I hope you have a strong construction background.
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Old 03-27-2009, 05:43 PM   #4
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Recently finished a project such as you describe, also helped a neighbor over a 3 year period to build a 'dream house'.
Many people who have done it will say... don't do it. Having said that here is my advice.
Add 2 years to your time frame, and add %30 to your budget.
Try and find a Community college that provides courses on doing what you propose. You need to have a deep knowledge of the process top to bottom. Even if you are not going to do any of the work. you need to know what is going on.
Your local building inspector can be a good resource. Code is king and they can help. I doubt they will recommend contractors but they do/should watch the process.
If your house is a "unique" design search for similar homes and check with owners. If it is not unique, check with manufactured home companies. There is not much you can want in a home that they can't produce, but the manufacturer and the finish builder must be researched. They can provide any level of quality you could desire. Check with other customers of any builders.
Low bids don't work. Get a contract and have a lawyer review it.
Even honest contractors go out of business or worse.
Find a retired builder with a good reputation and get him or her a lawn chair, umbrella and megaphone. Put them on site and pay them to supervise.

Wish I could be more encouraging.
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Old 03-27-2009, 06:56 PM   #5
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It sounds like you want to be the general contractor and hire sub contractors. While I'm no expert, I have built two houses. The problem with dealing with subs is their first loyalty is to their usual Gen contractors, so you will play 2nd, 3rd or probably 4th in their priority. If you arenot famillar with the term "I'll be there first thing Monday morning" you will soon learn what it means. Many have a tendency to get the work started and leave it until they have some slack time between their regular contractor work. And trying to get another sub to come in and finish their work is almost nil. So be prepared. Also, if the cabinets do not fit right, it is the cement contractors fault. The cement guy will tell you its the framing contractors fault and etc. There are some benefits to using a turn-key contractor. But plan to spend more on a custom built house than a spec house. They know they have you when you get started.

On the other hand if you have some building skills (I didn't with my first house) go to contruction sites and watch the framers and pick out one and ask him if he is interested in working after work and/or weekends at 1 1/2 time or double his current pay. Well worth it. They know how to square the framing, set trusses, and anchor it all together. Also, for each phase of the contruction, go to a housing project and look at how they set the tub, shower, do the electrical and phone outlets and etc. A good framer can help you do most of the stuff. Go to the federal documents in Pueblo Colorado and get the publication on how to build a frame house. Just some thoughts s/Toby
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Old 03-27-2009, 07:35 PM   #6
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I was in A/E design for 24 years and followed that with building 2 houses hiring all subs.
If you don't know all the resi building codes almost by heart, and you are also looking for construction subs by looking at lists, this house had better be a 'hobby' and not your final 'dream home.'
Nothing wrong with a hobby like this, it is better then most any other for someone who wants to be hands-on with a real building accomplishment,
but you need to choose subs by their own individual strengths not just the price they initially quote you.

sounds like a real adventure though, good luck and take pics !
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Old 03-29-2009, 12:25 PM   #7
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We went the dream home route and built 98% of it ourselves. It was quite a task and took 10 years. Now our dream home has wheels and we never have time to get tired of the scenery or the neighbors. Good luck in your endevor.
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Old 03-29-2009, 12:50 PM   #8
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A few years back we had a custom home built when I retired and relocated here to the mountains of NC. Best money I ever spent was what I paid to have a General Contractor handle the entire construction.

Although I have a pretty decent knowledge of the construction process and was on site almost every day of the process, the contractor earned his money and then some because he knew which subs to use for the various processes, kept the process flowing, handled all the snafus that inevitably will crop up, and was responsible for all the permitting and inspections as required by codes and laws. We had no problems with the contractual part of the process, when the house was dried in we paid 1/3, when ready for drywall we paid the second 1/3, and after we had the Certificate of Occupancy from the county we paid the final 1/3. All extras were agreed on beforehand and were added to the final payment.

I always thought it'd be really cool to be my own general contractor but I'm really glad I didn't try it. We ended up with a nice, well constructed custom house that's built tight, strong, meets all codes, and will last my lifetime and beyond.

Good luck with your project, there's lots of guys who do their own with no regrets.
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:46 AM   #9
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In our 'other life' we owned rental property and when we wanted any work done I used the Local Home Depot Design Build Department and did the supervision myself.
They would sit with us, do the design for new bath room or rebuild the kitchen, even rebuilt stairs and installed all windows in a three story apartment house, or whatever project we wanted done. The Computer guy would send out the measurer, then use the computer to pump in the sizes, layout what we wanted, where, drew up the prints, material lists and introduce us to the guy who was wanting to do the job.
We worked out an agreement, had it approved by our attorney, signed sealed and away we go!
Perhaps you could do the same with your lumber yard or builders supply house in your area. They certainly know who the nail benders are. Good Luck.
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:49 PM   #10
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In the Houston area, there is a compalny called "Be Your Own Builder". They charge a fee and teach you as you go about the various subs and scuh. They also have a list of preferrd and qualified subs. They also provide the standard contract form and help evaluate the subs if needed. Might see if there is a program near you that works like this.

We have built 3 houses from the ground up and it is not a processs for the faint of heart or the unqualified. Seems for every good contractor out there, thereare 6 that are in business to fleece the customer.

All I can say is to find a good builder and let him take care of it. Have a good attorney go over the contracts before you sign them, make sure the builder is licensed, insured and bonded. You should also hire a good inspector that works for you to make sure that everything is proper before you pay any trades or contractor.

Even with me inspecting, and the 3rd party inspector, we still had the contractors trying to slip by with minimal and substandard work. It is a full time job to stay on top of the subs.

Ken
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