Building your own home

I didn’t think this quite fit the format of a “factual question” so I decided to post this here instead of in General Questions. If I was mistaken I’m sure a hard working mod will be happy to move it to the appropriate forum.

I’m seriously considering being the general contractor for my own home (primarily for cost saving reasons, I hear you can consistently save 15% - 20% off the price of the home). However, I don’t really have any construction experience to speak of nor do I anticipate that changing in the near future. I’m planning on reading all of the books I can get my hands on within the next few years, talking with a few people I know (one is a HVAC guy who does a lot of contract work, a second has worked for a large construction company for 13 years, a third has built homes for a couple of years), and doing research about local zoning and environmental laws. I realize that there are permits which need to be filled out, inspections which need to be made, and insurance purchased (in case there is an accident during the construction of the house and the subcontractor doesn’t have workers comp.) as well as a host of other issues (house build order, materials purchasing, getting financing, etc.).

I wanted to post this thread to get some info from Dopers who have worked as their own general contractor or who know of someone who has. How big of a job is general contract work for your own home construction for the educated layman? What kind of time commitment is typical on a day to day basis? What was your experience while building the house? Do you have any advice?

Well the house I live in was built by the fella who used to own it and he made a right hash of it, no damp proof course [so teh walls are all mouldy], the floors are uneven concrete that’s had carpet thrown down on them, the place freezes in winter and bakes in summer, the electrical wiring is a death trap, you have to go through the kitchen to get to the bedrooms … total disaster area, I wouldn’t advise anyone to try building their own house unless they actually are a builder by trade, or an architect at least …

You can be yourown builder…but ut takes a lot of work (and is NOT for the fainhearted). First ,you have to have a house plan (by a certified architect, and get approval from the town).Then, you have to hire:
-a foundation guy
-a framing arpenter
-an electrician
-a plumber
-a drywaller
-a finish carpenter 9for the interior)
-a roofer
-plus painters,landscapers, etc.
So,being your own builder is a big job…and you have to schedule allof these subcontractors In the RIGHT sequence 9obviously you can’t have the drywaller seal upthe walls before the electrician wires the house!
As I say, it is a big job, but you CAB save 20-30% of the toatl cost of the house!
Just be sure you know what you are gettingin to, and you dealwith honest tradesmen!

I’ve got a book somewhere that talks about this very thing. I can’t remember the title, but when I find it, I’ll either post it or send you an email. As I recall, it was very well-written and aimed at someone who wasn’t a pro but who wanted to be their own contractor. It addressed planning, scheduling, budget, permits - the whole shebang. If you don’t hear from me by next week, please send me an email to remind me - if you’re interested.

Wish I could be more helpful right now, but I’m at work getting ready to go out of town and I won’t be home again till Monday.

Whoa - found it among my old amazon orders: *How to Plan, Subcontract and Build Your Dream House by Warren V. Jaeger *

We’re going to be building a house within the next year or so, and this has been a great guide.

Mr. S built most of our house himself, as in with his own two hands, along with his dad while he was still alive, and it’s still a work in progress. Then again, we live out in the sticks and I think the zoning/codes/etc. isn’t or wasn’t as strict out here. They hired out for the foundation, the roof, well, and septic.

I’ll be the first to say it’s no palace (for example, we’re still putting siding on – the barnboards go on whenever Mr. S has time to climb up and tear a few off the old barn), but it’s very comfortable and has some interesting features, and we get a lot of compliments on it. It’s cool in the summer with no A/C (ceiling fans) and warm in the winter (with a boost from the new woodstove). We have enlarged the original bathroom, have converted a tiny junk room into my nice office where I am typing this, and are currently reframing the roof structure in the attic to create a studio and new bedroom. And Mr. S knows what’s inside every wall, which is very nice when we want to make a change.

So Lobelia’s experience is not necessarily universal . . .