Acting as your own general contractor is the single biggest money-saver related to home building. According to home renovation expert Lee Wallender, contractors charge 15% to 25% of the total price for building your house. So, you can save at least $30,000 on a $200,000 job by contributing your time as sweat equity and not hiring a contractor. But, good contractors earn their fee and taking on the contractor role can lead to costly mistakes if you are unprepared.
For example, as the contractor, you carry the burden of potential liabilities, many of which can be serious. Contractors have an established list of sub-contractors (subs) and contacts that can smooth the permit/inspection process. Further, a contractor’s hard-won experience with scheduling is invaluable in minimizing or eliminating downtime. Unless you are one, it is best to hire a fully licensed, insured and bonded professional contractor.
Whether you hire a contractor or do it yourself, you should be aware of what to expect during the home building process. Here are the basics.
Site Plans and Preparation
Before construction begins, engineers develop and submit the house plans to the municipal authorities for review and to obtain the required permits. Where necessary, professionals perform site tests to check the water table, the soil and the bearing capacity of the ground.
Footings and Foundation
Next, the lot is cleared, surveyed and staked out. Then, a hole is excavated and the footings (concrete slabs to support the foundation walls) are formed and poured. The foundation walls are erected and the foundation is insulated and damp-proofed.
Exterior walls, interior partitions and the roof are assembled. Frames are built on the floor and lifted into place. Roof trusses are installed and roofing is completed. Windows and doors are installed. The builder’s aim here is to “lock-up” as soon as possible to protect from weather damage.
The basement floor is installed. Electrical and plumbing services are roughed in and ductwork is installed. Your municipality will require structural, electrical and plumbing inspections to ensure compliance with local building codes.
Interior and Exterior Work
For the next several weeks, a great deal of work occurs, much of it at the same time, so scheduling is key to ensure smooth progress. The exterior walls and roof are insulated. Heating and cooling systems are installed. Flooring, fixtures and cabinets are installed, paint is applied and interior doors are hung. At every stage, interim or final municipal inspections are required.
Final Steps and Handover
Now your builder completes the final touches and the clean up. You will be asked to do a walk-through of your home with the builder. On the date of possession, you will be handed the keys and the home is yours.
To contact Shellstar Homes for more information on the building process click here.