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America's Best House Plans

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Advice from a Successful Owner Builder

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We were talking to a successful owner builder friend the other day and asked if he had any advice for people thinking of managing the process of building their own dream home.  We were a little surprised by his advice and thought we would share it here so you can hopefully avoid this issue on your new project.

Get Detailed Bids from Everyone

Not only do you want to get a minimum of three bids per building activity to make sure you are getting the best price, but you also want a bid from everyone that plans to work on your project.  And when we say everyone, we mean everyone.  This would even apply to friends and family doing work for you on your new dream home.

Inefficiency = Increased Costs

Friends and family will typically do whatever it takes to help you out.  Unfortunately, they may not be the most efficient with that help.  When work is performed on your new home inefficiently, your costs go up with higher material costs, longer work durations, and re-work delays.  What kinds of inefficiency are we talking about?

  • The Day Job Gets in the Way:  Your friends typically have a day job and if they plan on doing the work themselves or if their company is really busy, they may need to find small bits of time to get the work done.  This can lead to much longer activity durations and ultimately, schedule delays.  Ask your friends to be honest with the time they can commit to your project.
  • Inadequate Skills:  Make sure the people wanting to help have the proper skills. It does you no good for them to do the work and then re-do the work again because of poor quality.  You will end up paying for material twice and the re-work will slow down your project.  Don’t forget, every day added to the schedule increases your costs for things like portable toilets, construction loan interest, liability insurance…etc.
  • High Priced:  It might be strange to ask a friend or family member for a bid, but let them know you need it for the bank. This will keep you from getting a larger than expected invoice at the end of the job.  Your uncle may have a commercial plumbing company and he says you will save money using his guys.  Unfortunately, the costs for commercial construction can be much higher and ultimately cost you more than hiring someone off the street.

It can be a huge advantage to have friends and family help you create your dream home.  This is one of the benefits of building your own home.  Just make sure you get into the details with them prior to agreeing to let them help.

Brandon Hall

Brandon Hall is the owner of America’s Best House Plans and has over 15 years of experience in the home design industry. He focuses his time on the day-to-day operations while also keeping up to date on industry news and working to perfect the customer service experience.

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