Author Topic: DIY Owner/Builder/Contractor  (Read 1706 times)

babylonman

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DIY Owner/Builder/Contractor
« on: May 29, 2016, 11:34:53 PM »
I'm interested in building my own house on a piece of land in Colorado. I would serve as the builder and contractor for most aspects excluding concrete and perhaps permit running/inspections. I have experience in extensive remodels and would devote full time effort for the building period.

I'm interested in hearing from those who have served as an owner/builder, and hearing about lessons learned during the process. Anyone in this forum fit the bill?

hankscorpio84

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Re: DIY Owner/Builder/Contractor
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2016, 01:21:25 PM »
I built a house starting at the age of 19, albeit with lots of help - my dad is a carpenter and I worked for the contractor who developed the land, so borrowing tools and getting advice was a breeze.  Had multiple large home improvement stores within 15 minute drive so I was able to shop around and save money.  I also benefited greatly from having other DIY owner/builders in the area to trade work for big days like concrete pours and rolling trusses.  Another huge advantage was the area I built this house was beyond relaxed on permitting and inspections.   

I just bought land and plan to build in another area where I have none of the advantages I had before. It definitely requires patience and better planning.  If you can find a local kid that is trustworthy and will work relatively cheap to learn about the process I would take advantage of it.  There is a ton of monotonous, simple work and errand running that you are better of paying someone else $15 and hour to do. 

Whenever you estimate a cost, add at least 10%.  Stuff just comes up.  At times the cash flow is enough to make a frugal mustachian cringe, but in the end it is worth whether you plan to live in the house or sell it.  Good luck.

babylonman

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Re: DIY Owner/Builder/Contractor
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2016, 10:14:28 PM »
Thanks for the reply. How long did it take to build your first house (relative to size and style, two story or ranch?) and what do you estimate the time for your upcoming project?

How do you ensure you are meeting local codes prior to permitting? I have considered trying to find a licenced GC to serve as a consultant on code issues, although I'm not sure how many would be willing to serve in that role.

I would expect to need a full time helper to expedite the many things that are just easier done with two people.

Goldielocks

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Re: DIY Owner/Builder/Contractor
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2016, 10:19:37 PM »
Not sure what you mean by running the permits, but obtaining the permits is actually one of the easiest things for a homeowner.  Yes, they inspect more closely if the homeowner does their own work, but it is all good.

The biggest advice I have --  take time every day to track and record all of your book keeping.   
It can become a whirlwind of costs and expenses and deliveries and contractors after a while, and it is easy to miss cash flow if you don't track it patiently.

hankscorpio84

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Re: DIY Owner/Builder/Contractor
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2016, 11:21:29 PM »
I'll second what goldielocks said about book keeping.  I started a thread in the tax forum about determining cost basis on my house because I kept poor (read:none) records of expenditures, it definitely puts me in a bad spot with tax choices. 

To answer your question, the first house was a simple ranch, slab on grade, 3/2/2 1300 square feet of house and 620 of garage.  One story is nice because it allows you to do most of the work with fewer ladders and less risk of falling or dropping and destroying tools.  I diy'd in floor heat using a company called randiantec out of Vermont.  I think they're still around, the system works great, although it doesn't meet local code (will only require minor modifications to do so). 

As far as the permitting goes, I can't say I have mastered that aspect of building yet.  I have found one person at the city offices who is enthusiastic about answering my questions and finding the right forms/info, etc., so at least that's a start.  I wouldn't expect to find a GC who would want to do your permitting for you, but you may luck out and find a bored, retired contractor or city employee with all the contacts you need to push things through, just keep shaking those trees.