Author Topic: Any Owner Builders Here?  (Read 3160 times)

CatamaranSailor

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Any Owner Builders Here?
« on: December 16, 2015, 01:27:37 PM »
I am curious if anyone on the forum has ever acted as their own general contractor for a home they were building. Good experience? Bad? Would you do it again?

Rural

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Re: Any Owner Builders Here?
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2015, 05:34:20 PM »
Did, done, and no way would I do it again, but glad we did it the one time.
Hope that makes sense. It was worth it, but no more now.


I have a long rant on things to consider before taking this on somewhere on here, but we also were labor as well as GC for the few things we didn't do. Before I go digging up a link (it was several years ago), is that what you're thinking? If you're thinking more GC but others do the actual work, or most of it, that's closer to what Spork did.

CatamaranSailor

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Re: Any Owner Builders Here?
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2015, 08:56:02 PM »
Actually, my wife and I acted as our own GC a few years back and enjoyed the process (for the most part...there were some panic attacks along the way). We're thinking about doing it again, however it seems as if it's gotten a lot harder since the real estate crash. I'm interested in hearing from folks who've done it recently...within the past 3-4 years or so. There don't seem to be many...

bacchi

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Re: Any Owner Builders Here?
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2015, 11:04:51 PM »
After seeing the bids, we'll probably act as GCs (and some labor) for our project. The current markup is just nuts. I won't have a day job, which will make things a lot easier.

Rural

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Re: Any Owner Builders Here?
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2015, 01:13:33 AM »
We finished the house two and a half years ago. Honestly, the stressful part was doing most of the labor and working full time. The GC part might well have been, but we didn't hire enough out to require much coordinating.

coopdog

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Re: Any Owner Builders Here?
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2015, 05:07:27 PM »
I'm in the process of building now. My house is custom and it was hard to price in typical turn-key fashion. Everyone wanted a big risk premium for the unknowns and oddities. I ended up hiring a GC, but he's basically an overpaid supervisor and not a very good one at that. If I were to do it all over again, I would hire a true project manager (the kind who work for GC's) for about half the price. I'd rather have someone with half the experience but who is there all day than someone with a bunch of experience who may show up once a day. You turn your back on these subs and all hell breaks loose. Also if I had to do it over again, I would not build a custom home. That decision was prior to my first sips of the mustache kool-aid. Good luck.


soccerluvof4

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Re: Any Owner Builders Here?
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2015, 05:47:01 AM »
I did it quite a few times and got better at it as I went. Basically I would build a home and live in it for two years then sell but I got stung bad on the last one as I kept building larger and larger and ended up losing 10 years of work in the one house. I loved it and to this day have a lot of contractor friends because of it BUT I would not do so custom and build with the intention of staying for extended period of time. Also I was better at the design part then actually swinging the hammer but I did work side by side with almost all the contractors I worked with to A) build a good relationship B) cut the costs and C) usually at there own will since I paid them on the spot basically got alot more for the buck by there own will then had I done otherwise. It can be a great experience and alot of fun BUT if your in a time crunch and dont have a good plan then wait till you do.

Dusty Dog Ranch

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Re: Any Owner Builders Here?
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2015, 10:48:35 AM »
I ended up hiring a GC, but he's basically an overpaid supervisor and not a very good one at that.

This was our exact experience. We had to fire the guy (with the help of a lawyer), and luckily we had not signed the terrible contract that would have forced us to pay him for terrible work. We should have listened to the dog-she never liked him! I wish we had asked a lot more questions about how he would handle various problems. As it turned out, he got really whiny and then tried to blame errors on us or the subs he hired.

Once he was out of the picture, we finished the project acting as our own GC. Much smoother, albeit slower since we both have full time jobs.

icebox92

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Re: Any Owner Builders Here?
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2015, 08:22:59 AM »
We will be in the near future.  However, both my husband and I work for a large commercial general contractor (I'm a Project Manager, he is a Superintendent).  So our experience is a little different.  But, it sounds like you have done it in the past, and were successful at it.  I won't bore you with the pitfalls of doing this in general... you probably already know these.  In my opinion the two things that have changed in the industry since the market crash / when you built last are: 

1) Less competition.  Several builders went out of business.  The strong survived. Good and bad for you.  Quality should be better, prices are starting to come back up though.  This also correlates to #2 below. 
2) The market is insane right now...  Obviously this is dependent to your area, but all in all, construction is making a large comeback.  It's going to be harder to manage sub's because they will have quite a bit of work on their plates... making yours a priority to them may be difficult. 

Fishindude

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Re: Any Owner Builders Here?
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2015, 09:04:40 AM »
I build large industrial projects, so certainly understand how to get this done, but would advise most folks to hire a good, competent general contractor rather than trying to be your own GC.   A good GC will look after your best interest, make the job go smoother, faster, etc. and look after all of the little details.

Have seen and heard a lot of horror stories of folks trying to save markups on their new homes and deciding to be their own GC.   Usually results in jobs dragging out about twice as long as they should, big cost over-runs, items missed, quality issues, etc.   When it's all said and done they gripe about how all of these contractors were crooks or incompetent, when in reality their lack of knowledge and inexperience was the biggest problem.

Check references and hire a pro.

Duchess of Stratosphear

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Re: Any Owner Builders Here?
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2015, 01:17:07 PM »
I was technically the GC, but I had a good carpenter helping me. It was very stressful and exciting. I think I would totally do it again because I had to do it once to figure out what I really want in a house. I put in some sweat myself, but a lot of what I did was ordering materials and negotiating with subcontractors and paying bills, which was hard because I was working full-time. I pretty much only worked at my job and dealt with building issues for the year it took me to finish it. It was awesome and also probably took a few years off my life. Not to be entered into lightly!

kindviking

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Re: Any Owner Builders Here?
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2015, 01:49:03 PM »
I considered being an owner/builder heavily last year, but ultimately decided I didn't want to take on that work while having a full-time job. I do plan to build my own (small) house entirely (i.e., minimal subcontracting) after I reach financial independence. In short, I'd rather build when I have time to enjoy the process and do it right.