Here's a short list of some owner-builder
Do's and Don'ts.
DO Get Educated
Knowledge is power. A few hours of studying can save you from paying
thousands of dollars in "builders dumb tax". Usually learned through
years of experience, your errors can be reduced by buying a book,
attending a seminar, or using some other home building assistance
program. If you aren't willing to spend hours of time studying before
taking on your project to avoid paying the "dumb tax" the next best
alternative is to work with an experienced builder.
DON'T rush to buy plans or land
The land, the plan, and your budget must work together. Land must be
evaluated for it's suitability and site improvement costs before buying.
Plans must be "ballpark estimated" before they are purchased or
completely drawn by an architect or designer.
DON'T run out of money
Make sure you have a detailed cost breakdown that includes some extra
contingency money for the unexpected items that ALWAYS creep up.
DO Check Subcontractor References
Always ask for recent references from all your major subcontractors, and
then call the customers. If someone can't or won't give you a list of
three recent happy customers, proceed at your own risk.
DON'T forget the cost of your time
When thinking about doing some of the construction work on your project,
consider the interest on your loan that is accruing during your work. If
you take an additional 30 days to do your own painting, you might save
$2000 on subcontractor costs, but cost yourself $3000 in interest.
DO get written detailed firm quotes
Get your quotes in writing and be sure you know what is and isn't
DON'T always pick the cheapest subcontractor
Most quality contractors charge about the same. Some may charge less
because of lower overhead or not being very busy, but the materials,
subcontractor and labor costs are virtually the same for everyone. Once
your project is underway, you'll appreciate reliability and quality
workmanship more than a small difference in price.
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