Author Topic: What was your mistake during your build?  (Read 2071 times)

Jon Bon

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 233
  • Location: Midwest
What was your mistake during your build?
« on: April 18, 2017, 10:36:28 AM »
So I am going to build a garage. I have commissioned the architect, money is available, got my code book, and starting to line up subs. I am going to act as the GC. Concrete work I am 100% subbing out, the rest im hoping to do a lot of DIY and asking folks who have done it before to get me started (correctly) on specific jobs.

For those of you who have had houses/garages/structures built, what would you have done differently if you had to do it all over again?
What was your big mistake that slowed you down for weeks?
What would you have changed in your build to make it more useful once it was already completed?

My biggest thing is I want to avoid any snafus with the city as well as make sure it fits the site correctly and flows well with the house.

Your thoughts are much appreciated!

-JB


FI4good

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 133
  • Age: 43
  • Location: the north UK
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2017, 04:20:34 PM »
Lay extra conduits, waste pipe and plumbing in the foundations so its there for future for a toilet , bathroom , shower room, washing machine . You might not ever need them or connect them but it's easier putting them in now than later and only cheap.

If you're laying a concrete foundation it might be worth installing a floor safe .

Power sockets on the ceiling or joists above your head are handy for power tools or portable lighting .

If there is any conceivable way of this garage being incorporated into the house in the future it might be worth making sure the walls and foundations are built strong enough to support an upstairs .

Monkey Uncle

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1060
  • Location: West-by-god-Virginia
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2017, 04:38:30 AM »
DW and I put an addition on our first house about 18 years ago.  Two huge mistakes:

1) Finding a contractor we thought we trusted, and then going with a cost-plus contract instead of fixed price.  Of course he went way over budget and neglected to add up the costs until the end of the job.  May not be a big issue for you since it sounds like you are going to be your own general contractor and do much of the work yourself.

2) Doing the addition in the first place.  We would have come out much better cost-wise if we had just moved to a bigger house that met our needs.  But we loved our location and didn't want to move.  Then we ended up leaving a few years later due to a job change.  No way to even come close to recouping the cost of the addition in that scenario.
"Take this job and shove it" - David Allan Coe

Rightflyer

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 275
  • Location: Herefordshire
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2017, 05:04:09 AM »
1) Spend a lot of time laying it out. Even if the garage is solely for the purpose of parking cars now think long and hard what it might be used for in the future.
Storage is one example. Where do your ladders hang? Garden implements? Shop tools? etc etc.
2) Put in at least one 20A outlet in each wall with each in a separate breaker.
3) +1 to the overhead outlets
4) +1 to the roughed in bathroom etc
5) Consider roughing in in-floor heating. No need to hook it up now but it could be the single best thing you ever did.
6) Design the floor plane to slope towards the garage doors. Very important in snow areas.
7) Seal the concrete floor as soon as it is cured.
8) Don't cheap out on the garage doors.
9) Make the person-door a 36 inch if possible. You'll appreciate this when trying to get bulky items in and out.
10) If you live in northern climes, be sure to be able to access the garage directly from the house (assuming it is attached.)

I'm sure there is more but that is all I can think of before my second cup of tea.

Good Luck.
Six is having problems adjusting to his clone status.

MightyAl

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 125
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2017, 05:13:34 AM »
It all depends on what you want to do.  I am a gearhead and wrencher so I have an additional 200 amp panel in my garage.  At some point I will have a compressor and welder and who knows what else, maybe even a lift.  In floor radiant heat would have been awesome too but I bought mine already built.

FindingFI

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 47
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2017, 05:18:52 AM »
This.  We didn't and now when the snow melts off the cars it pools in the center of the floor and stays there until we mop it away.  Rookie mistake on our part.

6) Design the floor plane to slope towards the garage doors. Very important in snow areas.

Jon Bon

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 233
  • Location: Midwest
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2017, 05:40:15 AM »
Thanks guys you are all awesome!

Some of these I had thought of some I had not. I am definitely going to rough in Plumbing, and run 4 20 amp circuits to the garage.

I added a sketch that the architect sent me.

Just a little more info for you all. It pretty much has to be a detached garage and it needs to be a 1 car. A 2 car would really cut into our yard as well as taking down a mature tree that my spouse really wants to keep. My neighborhood frowns on "dwelling" space above the garage but it will at minimum be a badass workshop and storage area for myself.

I really appreciate the comments.

Nobody has and code horror stories? Like you built the garage and the city said well it needs to be 2 inches to the left.....NO GARAGE FOR YOU


Rightflyer

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 275
  • Location: Herefordshire
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2017, 05:52:43 AM »
Nobody has and code horror stories? Like you built the garage and the city said well it needs to be 2 inches to the left.....NO GARAGE FOR YOU

Get a copy of the zoning by-laws.
Follow them to the letter. i.e. if it says 3 feet clearance to the lotline make sure whether or not that includes eaves.
Then follow it scrupulously.
Be prepared to defend what you did.

In my own experience, if you get the building officials involved early on they are usually helpful.
Six is having problems adjusting to his clone status.

Fishindude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1522
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2017, 06:48:44 AM »
I think you are making a big mistake trying to be the GC if you are not currently a professional builder.
It's well worth the small mark up a competent GC will put on top of sub prices to have him handle everything.
Hook up with a builder that can handle everything; design, permits, codes, all sub-trades, etc.

Don't try to go cheap.  Hire the premium priced guy with good reputation for doing what he says he is going to do, paying his bills and getting things done on time.

Your time would be much better served at your day to day job, rather than being bothered by a bunch of construction decisions and constant phone calls from subs & suppliers.

Laura33

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1533
  • Location: Mid-Atlantic
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2017, 06:59:57 AM »
It's funny, I was going to say "know your building codes," and then I saw your request for code horror stories.  We avoided those problems by making 100% sure we were within code, and getting an affirmative ok from the county on any questions that were close. 

E.g., our county frowns on living space over the garage.  So I changed the plans to eliminate the upstairs entirely, even for storage (we didn't actually need the storage, we have a 3rd floor in the house).  We also had significant setback requirements and different requirements for attached and detached garages; our house required a detached garage so it didn't look like a big square boil out of character with the house, but the code said we couldn't put a detached garage where we wanted to.  So our contractor came up the idea of attaching the garage to the house with a covered pergola, and the county agreed.  And now that's actually my favorite part -- I love finally being able to bring groceries in during the rain/snow without getting soaked.

Note that we managed these complexities by hiring a GC and letting him run that process and just making it 100% clear to him that proper permitting was a big deal (i.e., we are not the people who are asking him to skirt the requirements to save a buck).  If you are trying to be your own GC, you need to learn your codes inside and out and spend a lot of time with the guys at the building department to make sure you know what permits are required, what inspections are required, etc. 

More practical advice:  be careful with all the bells and whistles.  Our first attempt at the dream garage resulted in a quote for $135K!!  Our architect was more than happy to add all the cool stuff we wanted (roof deck!), but when we started talking to the builder, it was clear what all that stuff was going to cost. 

OTOH, additional space is cheap, so make it oversized as much as you can reasonably fit in your space, with the oversized garage door -- some modern SUVs can't fit into normal sized garages, and even if you don't have one, that could be a turnoff to the next owner.  We went 24'x24' for a two-car, and I love the space that gives us to maneuver around the cars and store stuff and wish we had even more so we could fit the damn bikes in.

And speaking of storage:  if you do not finish the interior of the garage, the open stud bays are *awesome* for storage.  Get some hanging hooks and bungie cords and hook-and-eye things, and you can fit brooms/mops/rakes, golf clubs, those fold-up chairs you take to all the kids' games, etc.

Finally, I would re-think the idea of the second floor being really usable shop space.  I can't imagine toting tools and equipment and supplies up and down the stairs.  It sounds like you don't have much choice, but one alternative may be to increase the depth or width by 3' or so to fit in a workbench and work area along that entire side; then you can just pull the car out when you need more space.
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

Papa bear

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 531
  • Location: Ohio
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2017, 08:30:58 AM »
I think you are making a big mistake trying to be the GC if you are not currently a professional builder.
It's well worth the small mark up a competent GC will put on top of sub prices to have him handle everything.
Hook up with a builder that can handle everything; design, permits, codes, all sub-trades, etc.

Don't try to go cheap.  Hire the premium priced guy with good reputation for doing what he says he is going to do, paying his bills and getting things done on time.

Your time would be much better served at your day to day job, rather than being bothered by a bunch of construction decisions and constant phone calls from subs & suppliers.

I agree with you of someone doesn't have any experience or hasn't built anything themselves.

However, I've been trying to talk him into 100% DIYing this himself. 

1) he has construction experience (some professionally) and other experience having remodeled multiple houses
2) some of the subs he is looking to work with are good with working with homeowners
3) He probably has a few good friends (cough cough) that will want to come over and help him out that have built similar
4) JB is FIRE and has nothing to do. No opportunity cost missed here

My advice, tear out the "mature" tree and build a usable garage. I'll even help you convince the boss. You're on you own with the city and zoning though.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2799
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2017, 09:45:25 AM »
My sister is building a house now. Her mistake was assuming that once she got the permit, she was fine. Instead the neighborhood association, which doesn't demand to see plans ahead of time, sued her to stop construction. She is a sophisticated negotiator and they're building again, but that threw a huge wrench in things.

(This was in Houston, so not in a place known for ridiculous layers of rules.)

Jon Bon

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 233
  • Location: Midwest
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2017, 11:03:21 AM »
My sister is building a house now. Her mistake was assuming that once she got the permit, she was fine. Instead the neighborhood association, which doesn't demand to see plans ahead of time, sued her to stop construction. She is a sophisticated negotiator and they're building again, but that threw a huge wrench in things.

(This was in Houston, so not in a place known for ridiculous layers of rules.)

So do you mean like an HOA? We dont have one of those. FWIW my "City" is a tiny little town inside of a much larger city. So in theory it will be easier working with a 3 person building department than a massive bureaucracy.



Thanks so much for the responses. A little more background on my plan.


I would rate myself an "accomplished handy man" but no not a professional builder. I do property management and have remodeled a few houses. To respond to Fishindude and others Yes this is probably not the most cost effective way to build my garage, and it is most definitely not the most time effective way to build it.

 Also I did talk to a builder about doing a renovation on my main home. The quote he delivered to me was insane. What he stated I would be better off completely tearing down the home and rebuilding. I'd pull out my own teeth before I'd  pay that guy his quote. I just think lots of guys are bidding up their work right now because they can.

I really want to learn more about the code, so I can leverage this if I do a major home renovation or addition. I am using this as a on the job learning type experience that will hopefully pay dividends when I do a flip/renno/etc

Landlady

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 250
  • Location: WA
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2017, 02:52:58 PM »
If you live in a snowy area of the Midwest pay close attention to designing your roofline. You don't want glacial amounts of snow dumping over your entrance for example. I see many mistakes in my neighbor's houses like this. One guy's roofline sheds snow onto his deck, then he has to shovel it off his deck to his driveway below. Then he has to shovel it again so he can park his car in his garage. What a mess.

Slinky

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 103
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Wisconsin
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2017, 04:09:22 PM »
Thanks guys you are all awesome!

Some of these I had thought of some I had not. I am definitely going to rough in Plumbing, and run 4 20 amp circuits to the garage.

I added a sketch that the architect sent me.

Just a little more info for you all. It pretty much has to be a detached garage and it needs to be a 1 car. A 2 car would really cut into our yard as well as taking down a mature tree that my spouse really wants to keep. My neighborhood frowns on "dwelling" space above the garage but it will at minimum be a badass workshop and storage area for myself.

I really appreciate the comments.

Nobody has and code horror stories? Like you built the garage and the city said well it needs to be 2 inches to the left.....NO GARAGE FOR YOU

I've got building code/city ordinance horror stories, but we were restoring a preexisting structure from 1835 so most of it doesn't really apply to new construction. In addition to the building code, don't forget to review your local ordinances, which is where you'll run into the 2 inches to the left issue. We particularly liked when the city tried to tell us the building was too close to the road. It was also too tall. I'm sorry, my building predates both your road AND your ordinances. Also, there is a clause in your ordinances very specifically allowing exactly what we want to do.

Otherwise the only other lesson I'll pass on is that city inspectors apparently object to anything not absolutely modern standard. If you have to alter anything from standard, be prepared that they may object and require you to get it drawn up and signed off on by a structural engineer or appropriate authority. Make life easy and configure your building to accommodate typical building dimensions. We ended up having to box out the joists around the chimney, which absolutely had to be a certain width and then had to pay a structural engineer about $400 to tell us how many nails to use before they'd sign off on the final inspection.

CptCool

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 142
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2017, 02:57:23 PM »
You might want to think about adding in outlets for electric cars, even though you likely don't have one now - it may be the norm a decade or two down the road

The_Pretender

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 10
  • Location: Midwest
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2017, 04:00:38 PM »
instead of running lines from your main house panel, I would look to have a small panel in the garage.  If you run too many tools on 1 line, it is easier to flip the breaker while you're in the garage and not have to go into the house.

Rightflyer

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 275
  • Location: Herefordshire
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2017, 05:49:05 AM »
instead of running lines from your main house panel, I would look to have a small panel in the garage.  If you run too many tools on 1 line, it is easier to flip the breaker while you're in the garage and not have to go into the house.

Yes, for sure. Given that the OP is building a detached garage they'll want a sub-panel.
Six is having problems adjusting to his clone status.

Laura33

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1533
  • Location: Mid-Atlantic
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2017, 05:51:56 AM »
You might want to think about adding in outlets for electric cars, even though you likely don't have one now - it may be the norm a decade or two down the road

This is a good point -- I should have mentioned this.  We don't need it now, but we made sure to run conduit while the ground was all dug up and basically get everything set up so that we could basically slip the charging system in if we decide on a plug-in in a few years.
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

MntnFIRE

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: What was your mistake during your build?
« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2017, 01:20:04 PM »
We have neighbors who acted as their own general contractor in building their whole house, which obviously is more complicated than a garage. There was some sort of problem related to the waste line running under the garage slab to connect to the municipal sewer. The line was done by one contractor and the slab by another. Something was wrong and the two subcontractors each blamed the other. In the end, the neighbors had to pay to take up the slab and pay again for both the waste installation and the slab re-installation. This cost more than the overhead they would have paid a general contractor. I don't remember the details of what went wrong but make sure all required inspections are done between subcontractors. Also, document (take pictures, etc.) of the job when one subcontractor finishes before another begins.

When we built we had a similar problem - two subcontractors had to tear up and redo the work because one had screwed up the other. Our GC took care of it so we did not pay anything more and the job stayed on schedule.