It is important that you fully understand what will be expected of you as you embark on the contracting of your home. It is easy to say that you want to contract the construction, but there is a lot to the process and perhaps the biggest pitfall is not knowing what will be asked of you before you start down that road. Nothing will create more worry in your process than realizing you are in way above your head only to realize it is too late to do anything about it.
1. Know your construction site. As I have mentioned in previous blog entries, knowing how your house will fit on the site is very important when contracting your own project. That is not, however, what I am talking about here. In this case, you will also need to know how the site will accept materials and subcontractors. Where can you stage material drops so that they can be easily accessible and at the same time out of the way? This will impact how and when you can order materials. How many vehicles can your site hold at once? This will limit the number of subcontractors you can have on site at one time and thus how you schedule your subcontractors. Where will the portable bathroom go? Is there a spot out of the sun? (Believe me, this is an important question!)
2. Understand your plans. Having a quality set of plans with a lot of details is very important when contracting and will help you build a safe and beautiful home. Those plans are not worth the paper they are printed on unless you know how to read them and transform the information contained within them into reality. Do you know how to read details and how to find them as they pertain to specific areas of the plans? Which part of the plans wins if there is a discrepancy: the overall descriptive pages like floor plans and elevations, the detail pages or the specifications called out within the set?
3. Estimate your costs. Most people know of the importance of estimating the cost of a construction job. After all, if you don’t price out your framing lumber or some other aspect of the job correctly, you will end up spending money you don’t have and the house may end up short in the end. That means your finish materials, the items you actually see when the house is completed, will have to be cut short or of lesser quality than you may have hoped. When you’re contracting your own place (or someone else’s) be sure to know your numbers and know how they may change during the course of construction. Do you have a back up plan? Do you have a contingency fund for your project?
4. Estimate your time. The cost of the structure may seem like an obvious thing to know in detail, but how about the length of time you plan to commit to building the house? How long will it take you and how will you know? If you have never built a home before, you are likely not going to know how long it will take to frame the first floor, etc.
Estimating your time on the job will be vital to your success. Even if you use sub contractors, you will need to be clear on how long you plan to lend to the process. This is especially important if you plan to take time off of work to build your house. Everyday you are away from a paying job is a day of income lost.