linda_wal

Can I get some tips to function as my own general contractor?

S W
last year

I live in the low living expense side of New England and putting together everything needed for a new home construction for $400,000. I own the land. The figure is only to build the house. The mid-grade custom stick build houses here go for 170-185 per sqft.


2000 sqft, 3 bed, 3 bath, 2 story colonial, 2 car attached garage, full basement.

The builder I'm working with agreed to hiring a site preparation contractor myself. I got the quotes from the site prep guy as follows. This is the final negotiated binding quote.

  1. Land clearing and drive-way (210') ($8500).
  2. Septic needed on site and the quote is $13000 for tank and installation.
  3. Excavate for full foundation, drain work, footing, back fill to grade for $12500


Now, I have$365,000 left with from foundation up.

  1. Will do painting myself (subtracting about $8000)
  2. My current appliances are good. Not buying new ones (builder has $5000 allowance)


I'm right at the $175/sqft after all the above considerations. If I will be my own general contractor, I can save 10-15% of the expense that is needed for the buffer. I'm already doing it for land prep and painting. I need some tips to start for other areas like plumbing and electrical (any other areas missing that I can GC?). My previous land lord used to do his own GC and is willing to help me with tips. But he is really old and hasnt done anything past 10 years.


Please let me know if there is any other thread or resources available to start prepping for it. I know it's a pain in the rear, but I'm ready to do it to save that money to get what I want.


Comments (58)

  • chelle324
    last year

    We did our own GC, but we did have to shop around for banks that would finance the project. We found a great locally owned smaller bank that was willing to believe in us, and we held up our end of the bargain as well.

    It takes someone with some construction knowledge, organizational skills, people skills, patience, and a flexible schedule to make it happen. You can't have a drop-dead finish date either, because as other posters have mentioned above, you will get bumped for other projects. Although we had the opposite happen several times, when our one-off project could be squeezed in while a bigger project ran late.

    With some skill, endless hours of sweat equity, and honestly lots of luck, you may be able to save money. We built our home for 85% of what it appraised for at closing (counting the money we had invested into the land and our cash down payment). So less than 4 years later, I have the beautiful custom home that I wanted in exactly the location I wanted, and I have a good amount of equity in the home. I can also look around my home and proudly know that we laid the floors, did the painting, installed the kitchen, and did all the finish carpentry. In the long run, we decided that we wanted to take this on not to save money, but because we loved the work as a hobby and wanted to invest in our forever home. If you are doing this only to save money, you may not be successful, and you may end up with an inferior build. Make sure you have examined your goals carefully before you start.

  • Lyndee Lee
    last year
    When you buy a GC's services, you are also buying insurance for the risks involved. A GC's profit depends on controlling schedules and costs and he will have lots of experience in that arena. As an inexperienced homeowner, you are going to expend more time and effort doing the same tasks as the GC and you will be somewhat limited in your options as some companies won't be willing to work with you. In slow times, there are more workers available and companies are more flexible with their working conditions as well as prices.

    Right now, everyone who wants to work is busy. Even when it is raining outside, there are phone calls to make, schedules to juggle and bills to pay. To get good service during boom times, you have to be a desirable customer which may mean long term work, great working conditions, higher pay, easier work, high profile projects or other desirable aspect. If your project is just another job, you will go to the bottom of the priority list.

    When you see news pieces about flight cancellations and long airport lines, you see ordinary people trying to get a ticket on overbooked flights. The very frequent flyers are getting their tickets rebooked and snagging the few seats available on priority access phone lines or by agents inside the airline lounges. The occasional flyer with a discount ticket may be waiting for quite a while to get home. The construction industry works similarly and scarce resources go to the most desirable customers
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  • dan1888
    last year
    last modified: last year

    As mentioned, do this to save money. More importantly do this to get better quality for your future home. This requires big amounts of research. Luckily YouTube is an amazing resource. When you feel confident to do work yourself you can hire someone. We did not use a builder.

  • bry911
    last year
    last modified: last year

    As someone who has done this, here is my take.

    Being an owner builder is a great way to create a small fortune in equity while doing something that you will find fulfilling, from a large fortune in liquidity and a lot of time.

    Most people find building a house with a builder exhausting and by the time they approach the end of the build are willing to accept almost any work quality just to get in their home. Multiply this tenfold for being your own G.C. In my experience significant savings rarely materialize if that was the purpose for being your own G.C.

    Now this is not to say that you can't save money being your own G.C., only that it doesn't materialize when it is your only reason. if you really have scheduling and managing skills, the ability to learn, and the enormous amount of time to dedicate to it, then you can see large non-monetary rewards and possibly some small savings. However, if your plan is to simply save 10%-15% by removing the G.C., I strongly suspect you will learn exactly what value a G.C. brings to a home build.

    --------

    So for tips, here they are...

    The most important one: No savings are created during construction. Any savings that are not created in the planning phase will not be available in the construction phase. It may seem silly to pick paint brands and chandeliers before construction starts, but that is the only path to savings.

    Trust but verify. Give your subs the benefit of the doubt but then check that you are making the right decisions on trust.

    Plan and make contingency plans daily. Yesterday's schedule was probably wrong when you made it, now that you have new facts, remake it.

    Be patient when you can and expect to pay when you can't. A customer who can work around a subcontractor's schedule is valuable, take advantage of that.

    Don't be penny wise and pound foolish. The moment you start, who is in the right or wrong ceases to matter. Your goal is to get the best house you can for a price you can afford. So always look for the best solution to a problem rather than who is at fault. Sometimes holding people responsible for their mistakes works and other times absorbing the mistake yourself is your best option.

    Good luck.

  • GreenDesigns
    last year

    Can you read blueprints and understand a framing and foundation plan? Can you look at a foundation form and see that it doesn’t match those plans? Are you going to get out there and swing that hammer to get back on schedule when some real GC calls that framing crew?


    Are all the best area subs related you you by blood and you haven’t exhausted the store of favors yet? What about local bankers. National is a no go. Are you self employed or retired and have a lot and lots of free time to spend on site? As in a year+ of 10-12 hour days, 6 days a week?


    Do you have the extra funds that it will cost you for the extended time line loan interest? What about the costs renewal of the permit when it expires? What about If code had changed, and you now have to comply with the newer code because you ran out of time under the old? What about the needed contingency funds for the inevitable mistakes that you will make? And the contingency funds for the inevitable cost overruns for the beginning dirt work? And the completely unrealistic allowances that don’t even allow you builder grade items in the cost?


    The real savings isnt from GC’ing. That generally costs the inexperienced more than hiring the GC. Those who actually save money do so by being experienced in construction and performing a lot of the work themselves. Sweat equity. Not “supervision”. But again, that takes longer, which costs you more on that front.


    What actual labor are you planning to contribute that won’t slow down the process too much? Can you lay a wood floor to NWFA requirements? Tile a bathroom to TCNA standards? Do you hold an electrical license and plan to do all of the wiring yourself? Are you a plumber and will lay out all of the supplies and DWV yourself. HVAC? Do you even know what the abbreviations stand for?


    If if you don’t have construction experience and a lot of free time, do you have a couple of years to do your research and get the right job that will have that free time by then? And will you have taken a construction management course or two by then in order to reassure the banks that you actually will complete the project? That’s the big reason that a lot of banks won’t work with homeowners as GC’s. Do you have The bigger cash investment required to offset that hesitancy?


  • PRO
    Anglophilia
    last year

    I've been my own GC for one remodel and hired a GC for the other two. One was excellent; the other was awful and had a hard time keeping her subs. The one I did myself went well, but there were problems with the highly recommended plumber (person who recommended him told me later he had once been good but his last work for her was not, and she was embarrassed to tell me after raving about this idiot).


    I would never take on a full build or a major remodel without a GC. Subs are hard to come-by and recommendations mean nothing. For reasons I cannot comprehend, people think it's "not polite" to tell anyone how awful the guy/gal was. That was what happened with the awful GC - only afterwards were these same people willing to reveal all the problems they had had with her! Thanks bunch, folks!


    Even if one hires a GC, one must be able to visit the construction site multiple times weekly. It's astounding how ALL totally ignore blueprints on a regular basis.

  • jmm1837
    last year
    I think the notion of getting "tips" to be your own GC is misplaced. You wouldn't look at a few youtube clips and then ask for tips on how to fly a plane - you'd know you'd you'd have to invest time, effort and money in getting proper training. The same with being a GC - see if there are some courses, read everything you can get your hands on, volunteer with Habitat for Humanity to get understanding of the various trades, and of scheduling. I doubt you'll actually save much money because you're going to be slower than a pro, make more mistakes, get fewer discounts from suppliers and have more trouble with subbies. I do know a few people who have done it successfully, but they had backgrounds in construction or the trades, contacts, and most of them were retired so they could had the time and didn't have to jeopardize a paying job to keep on top of things.
  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    last year

    Take very good notes and take a lot of pictures for your book.

  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Know your strengths. You are where the buck starts.

  • patriceny
    last year

    Have you ever had a new house built for you before?

    I've had 2 new homes built for me. I am fairly intelligent.....and there is no way on God's green earth I'd try to GC my own build. I was gobsmacked how much work and utter chaos is involved in building a new home.

    I can't add much to what's already said, except to say I doubt you save as much money as you think you will and it's entirely possible you'll go insane in the process.

  • Mrs Pete
    last year
    last modified: last year

    volunteer with Habitat for Humanity to get understanding of the various trades, and of scheduling.

    Excellent suggestion.

    I doubt you'll actually save much money because you're going to be slower than a pro, make more mistakes, get fewer discounts from suppliers and have more trouble with subbies.

    Yes, it'll only take a few mistakes to gobble up all your potential savings.

    Keep in mind, too, that subs don't always shoot straight with you, and without experience, it may be confusing for you. Case in point: Not long ago, we discovered that our master shower was leaking. Plumbing is not something we know, so we started calling /collecting quotes. We found that the prices were ASTRONOMICALLY HIGH for the small low-end job -- literally 3Xs the cost of a similar project we did 4-5 years ago -- we so wish the guy who did that job hadn't retired.

    Finally one person told us the truth: "I'm not interested in coming out to your house JUST to do your shower. If you want me to remodel your whole bathroom, I'm in ... but for JUST one component, it's not worth my time." Now I understand: the other places are vastly over-pricing the shower to compensate for the fact that I don't need other work done.

    Obviously this isn't a straight apples-to-apples comparison ... you're building a whole house, so you aren't in the "just one item" boat, but the point is that I didn't understand what was going on initially.

    Know your strengths. You are where the buck starts.

    And stops.

  • Jake The Wonderdog
    last year
    last modified: last year

    There are many reasons why being your own GC is a terrible idea. I've been a GC and the GC's I've known have worked hard for the money they earn.


    1. GC's do really have knowledge, skills and experience to manage a job. You shouldn't negate that.

    2. GC's have the benefit of a subcontractor base - and those subs know that they can't screw up and expect more work from the GC. You have neither.

    3. GC's carry insurance and bonding

    4. The rules are different for contracting vs retail - what is usual and customary is very different. The prices are different also. You don't want to learn that on the job when it's your house.

    5. GC's know the building code and enough of the trades that they know when something isn't right. They may not know all of the ins and outs of the NEC, for example, but when you've built a few houses you start to know the residential code for the most of the trades and can spot problems before walls get closed up. You sure can't count on inspectors for that.

    Banks are smart. There are very good reasons that banks don't want to lend money on a $400k project without a GC. You should have those same concerns. And never-mind the bank - I wouldn't want to a sub working for a homeowner/GC. And you bet I'm going to crank the price at least 10-15% because of all the problems that will result from a completely green GC.

    The way to save money is to keep control on size and finishes. Pay attention to things that can be upgraded later. Can you add landscaping later? Can you upgrade light fixtures later? Can you upgrade appliances later? Can you do basic carpet now and something nicer later. Can you add security later?


  • taconichills
    last year

    It only takes one misstep to regret not having a good GC. That one misstep could destroy your budget, house, and dream.

  • shead
    last year

    From someone who did what you're considering (to save the GC fee) and who ended up having to install all the trim, doors, and paint/caulk it all, let me just say that the process will take twice as long as you predict, will cost a lot more than you assume, will be 2000% more difficult than you can imagine, and be totally and utterly more exhausting than you can comprehend. Do not underestimate the physical and mental tolls of GC'ing this yourself. If I could go back 13 years and do it over again, DH and I would've both gotten second jobs to pay the difference.

    All the advice about getting the sub scraps is totally true. No good sub will leave their bread and butter GC for a "one and doner" homeowner. BTDT with the t-shirt to prove it.

    Please heed all the warnings on this thread.

  • kriii
    last year
    last modified: last year

    I am in the process of building. There is no way in God's green earth I would undertake this project as my own GC. I am saving money by not wasting money hiring subpar contractors and dealing with unnecessary delays. The only exception was requesting my builder hire one professional who has worked for us in the past and done stellar work. Even then I do not have to actually manage the details of this sub. My real work was taking the time finding a great builder.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    last year

    I hope you took the time to find a great architect.

  • robin0919
    last year

    IF you have the time you can save ALLOT by being your own GC. Ditto on the Habitat for Humanity experience. BUT you HAVE to get GC pricing from the subs. Most subs will give that if you ask. Subs typically charge consumers around 40-50% higher than GC's. You MUST know the sequence of building. Go around where houses are being built in your area and talk to the subs to get to know them and they know you and look at their work. Subs only get paid 'after' their work has passed inspection by the city/state. GC's on average make around 28-32% profit which I have no problem with. It will probably take you 2-3 more months to build paying interest for those months, but still save ALLOT!!



    'The builder I'm working with agreed to hiring a site preparation contractor myself. I got the quotes from the site prep guy as follows. This is the final negotiated binding quote.

    1. Land clearing and drive-way (210') ($8500).
    2. Septic needed on site and the quote is $13000 for tank and installation.
    3. Excavate for full foundation, drain work, footing, back fill to grade for $12500'


    Why are you hiring for this site contractor????? Why don't you hire your own subs at GC pricing for these?

  • jmm1837
    last year

    Robin - two questions. Where do you get that profit figure for GCs? And why would the subs give a nonGC a discount? The GC can give them more work; the one off homeowner can't.

  • millworkman
    last year
    last modified: last year

    I was going to use quotes and quote robin to call out the bs but decided that there was no need to quote the entire paragraph so this will have to suffice: complete and utter bullsh*t.

  • PRO
    Charles Ross Homes
    last year

    As the saying goes "Good judgement comes from experience, which comes from poor judgement."

    When you hire a contractor you get the value of their "experience." If you're starting out as a new contractor--whether building your own home or someone else's--you'll be paying for your education.

    All things considered, I don't thing you'll derive much savings from acting as your own general contractor; don't do it for that reason. Do it if you want the life experience of building your own home.

  • RES, architect
    last year

    Who designed the house and how complete are the construction documents?

  • Jake The Wonderdog
    last year

    Re: Robin,

    That is utter and complete nonsense. Every bit of it.

    Again there is this myth that managing a complex, several hundred thousand dollar project, requires no knowledge, skill, experience or work. As if you could gain that knowledge by hanging out at job sites (to begin with, you will be tossed off the job site right away for safety and security reasons).

    Indeed, subcontractors work at a discount from retail work for GC's - and for good reason. There's no retail marketing with the GC, there's no retail dealing with the end customer, the GC is doing the coordination and scheduling of other subs, etc. Also, a good GC will keep his subs working - he doesn't want them wandering off. And no, a subcontractor isn't going to offer you 40% off if you "just ask".



  • artemis_ma
    last year

    I actually researched doing this before building. At that time, I was working a full time plus hours professional career that often also included weekends. And my build was two hours away. Right there I heard warning bells.

    One GOOD thing that came out of this research (well, TWO): I decided NOT to do it, and second I could have some background to check on my GC and his subs when I needed to do so. I could understand to a better (not perfect) level of what it takes to make a house.

    I also wanted to paint my own home - the people who actually did it, did it better and faster than I ever could. I did stain 1/4-1/3rd of the wood for my "great-area" ceiling. While I'm glad I did that, that's where I saw I wasn't going to have the time to do the painting as well.

    Somewhere during construction, I broke my ankle. The right, driving, ankle. For four months, I was only able to get up to the construction ONCE. (It was near the holidays, and everyone I knew back down in CT was busy busy busy. Except that once.)

    Others have made the seriously valid point that you aren't going to get the best or most-frequently available subs if you are only supplying them with a one-off. In fact, on my house, once my GC let it be made known he was retiring after doing my house, HE had problems getting some of the subs in. We went through three plumbers... although at least one of those issues was due to his unneeded pig-headedness.

    Even if you aren't the GC yourself, you DO need to keep on top of things. I did have someone who was able to do limited check in on my build while I was laid up -- but even so it was posting both here and on FB that I had two people (CP and my brother) jump up and tell me he was cutting corners on my tub/shower wallboard when I posted photos after I was driving again.

    Yes, it sounded fun when I first researched doing my own GC work. I am SOOOO glad I didn't take that route. I'd still be living at my old dysfunctional home, wondering... when?




  • artemis_ma
    last year

    Summary here:

    If you need tips, you need to be involved in other builds before your own.

    I don't know how far you live from your build, but you'll need to be there EVERY DAY if you are doing it yourself.

    You need to get highly recommended subs, and to be sure they have the time. While I went with a GC, I'd already had a well digger lined up (this was before I changed plans due to a reasonable sticker shock from a half-million architectural designed place in a region of New England that does not support such a price tag) to a log home kit $300,000 home). I also already had a septic design from a local company, and the perc tests had been dug before I bought the land.

    I did manage to wrangle the town electrician in, everyone I knew in the area spoke to how anal-retentive he was and is - for an electrician, this is a PLUS. My GC did try to fire him at one point, but I stuck my foot out.

    My point here, is although any GC may or may not be ideal, GET A GC... and keep informed. Don't be "underfoot" per se, but come over often and take photos, detailed photos. My log kit company sent someone over to help and oversee the overall shell of the place, their standard practice.

    Basically, what I am saying - you will have enough real work to do on your future home without yourself being the GC. Read those books about how to be your own GC, read that book about current code regulations for your country/region. ASK questions, and cultivate friendships or at least folk who are happy to give you info as you go along. BUT please, please, if you don't already have the background, DON'T be your own GC. Some GC's may cheat... but so will many subs. Stay involved, but let someone with the expertise (vetted as much as possible) do the work.



  • Mrs Pete
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Banks are smart. There are very good reasons that banks don't want to
    lend money on a $400k project without a GC.

    Banks are money-smart. They're taking a risk on whether you'll finish your project ... and they base that risk on studies of people who've completed similar projects in the past.

    Pay attention to things that can be upgraded later.

    I'm not with you here. Installing builder-basic finishes with the idea of "upgrading" them later means you pay twice ... means construction materials go into the landfill. This is not a long-term savings choice.

    IF you have the time you can save ALLOT ... but still save ALLOT!

    You mean "a lot". Allot means to divide into portions /divvy those portions out.

    And why would the subs give a nonGC a discount? The GC can give them more work; the one off homeowner can't.

    Well, this is just common sense.

    Again there is this myth that managing a complex, several hundred thousand dollar project, requires no knowledge, skill, experience or work.

    Agree. The myth is that GCing doesn't require knowledge or skill ... just a willingness to put in sweat equity, make phone calls, do some purchasing.

    Somewhere during construction, I broke my ankle.

    Always in life, it's not the things you anticipate that actually hurt you most in the long run -- it's the things you don't see coming that jump up and bite you on the butt.

  • artemis_ma
    last year

    Anglophilia: Even if one hires a GC, one must be able to visit the construction site multiple times weekly. It's astounding how ALL totally ignore blueprints on a regular basis.

    Oh. I know.

    I think it was that one time I could access my new build while being laid up with the broken ankle. They'd framed the interior.

    They put the secondary closet in the wrong spot in the master bedroom. They'd looked at a quickly-discounted floor plan. If that had been allowed to stand, I would have had to FLOAT the BED in the middle of the room. Or block off windows with my headboard.

    I got that fixed ASAP. Since it was just framing at that point, it was easy enough, and I saw to it that this was done immediately.

  • artemis_ma
    last year

    Mrs Pete is right.

    Banks are smart. There are very good reasons that banks don't want to
    lend money on a $400k project without a GC.

    Banks are money-smart. They're taking a risk on whether you'll finish your project ... and they base that risk on studies of people who've completed similar projects in the past.

    Pay attention to things that can be upgraded later.

    I'm not with you here. Installing builder-basic finishes with the idea of "upgrading" them later means you pay twice ... means construction materials go into the landfill. This is not a long-term savings choice.

    I certainly didn't want to be doing waste down the road. I built to what I want to live with here for at least a goodly (a decade or hopefully two) number of years. Yes, this meant I spent a lot on the quartz kitchen countertops and fabrication. But I went solid surface for the bathrooms. Do balance, not waste. I had a budget for tile - you really can get nice tile for under $3.50 a square foot, and then splurge a bit for small accents.

    If you are dealing with a GC who is not just putting up pre-fab homes, you can work with him to build the best home you might afford, together. BUT let them do the work under rational oversight. He's typically (unless retiring, as I found out about mine later) going to know the best subs who will be ecstatic to work for him, if he's any good. Consider it a partnership.





  • marjen
    last year

    I had a whole long post written last night but the server was acting wacky and never saved the post. So I guess a short version. :)


    I am currently building in CT, 2900 sq ft 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath house and acting as GC. Some things to know.

    1. Banks are tough. took me over 6 weeks for them to agree to let me GC house. Had to provide lots of estimates, budgets and also prove I had the time, the cash and the knowledge to do it. Not being in the building industry (work in IT) I was lucky to say I Had done this before and was able to leverage that experience. I also have a role in IT similar to that of the responsibilities of a GC so that also helped sway them. But getting a loan with little to no experience will be nearly impossible.

    2. You won't save a ton of money. Money can and will be saved on the products you buy if you have the time and knowledge to really shop around. My framing package I sent to 6 lumber yards and had pricing range from 38k to 67k. Huge swing. Patio doors for example priced from 3300 to 5400 for the same exact model with the same features.

    Subs are not going to give you any breaks. You are a one and done for them and they will assume working with you will be more of a headache.

    3. You really need to be prepared to put in the time. I work a full time job. I do a lot of my calls and research early in the morning and evenings and weekends. You need to research and have a good idea what you want way in advance. You also need to make sure contractors have what they need when they need it or else there will be delays and they will be your fault. You also might need to pitch in to keep things moving. I spent one whole evening knocking over 1000 foundation form pins out of the foundation so water proofing could occur the next day. I also spent a long 10 day installing rigid foam and plastic in the basement floor so an inspection could take place and basement slab and framing could happen that week.

    4. You need to have at the very least a basic knowledge of how things should be done and the order they will be done. its very important when talking to contractors or reviewing bids to weed out the BSers. Also important so you know what is quality work and what is crap. I was lucky, I have already built one house, I completely gutted another and have a father who is an electrician for 40 years and also built 2 houses by himself so I have been around the process several time and have resources to rely on.


    So can it be done, yes? can it be done while working a full time job? Yes. Can you save money? in some areas maybe. But you can also get the exact house you want. Last house I built was completed in 6 months and on budget. Right now I am about 1 month in and already completed the well, basement, slab, rough excavation, underground utilities and started framing, we are on track. I am slightly above budget because I decided to go the extra mile on a couple things that would be impossible to redo later, but still tracking ok. If you meet most or all of the criteria above go for it. If not, best to hire a GC.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    last year

    "...Can I get some tips to function as my own general contractor?..."


    Have you received enough information to make a good decision?

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    last year

    "It's astounding how ALL totally ignore blueprints on a regular basis."

    Welcome to my world.

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    last year

    My girlfriend has a chance to buy a 200k house in a 400k neighborhood because the place is a wreck. It's a great flip, but even though I'm a licensed Florida Building Contractor we didn't do it because I don't have enough connections for subs.

  • remodeling1840
    last year

    As a former subcontractor I can promise you no “ contractor discount”. I don’t know you or the quality of your work. Will everything be plumb and square or does that require extra hours for my men to fix your problem? Do you pay on time? Do you order in time so we can meet your schedule? Are you accurate in your measurements? Do you understand tolerances? Is there a supervisor on site to correct problems my men might find and prevent us from working that day? How familiar are you with the building codes—all of them? But, for a certainty, I know you are not going to give me any more business, unlike my real contractors who provide my company with lots of work. Why would you deserve a discount?

  • artemis_ma
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Not sure if the OP will be back to respond, but this thread should at least give some insight to anyone else considering being their own GC without background and on-site experience. And, sub connections.

  • Dragon
    last year

    I think the OP has left the building. Keep that in mind before spending your valuable time if she authors another thread.

  • cpartist
    last year

    My girlfriend has a chance to buy a 200k house in a 400k neighborhood because the place is a wreck. It's a great flip, but even though I'm a licensed Florida Building Contractor we didn't do it because I don't have enough connections for subs.

    And lets face it Joe, 98.5% of the subs in our neck of the woods suck!

  • BT
    last year
    last modified: last year

    > As a former subcontractor I can promise you no “ contractor discount”.

    Bull.

    Message me and I will tell you how to get it. Never had a problem getting commercial rate.

    Only ONE times [drywall] told me no, told them "thank you. No problem. It is Your loss of the 10k contract".

    .

    Got a call within a day. But do NOT start under no circumstances w/o having all contractors lined up.

    My tips would be

    0) Learn proper flashing

    1) Proper drawings are essential as they serve as the contract documents.

    2) Do not backfill foundation walls until at least 15 days [read 30]

    3) Do not insulate the exterior walls or install a drywall until you observed heavy rain.

    4) Make sure that your house designer specify the flashing everywhere. You can fix just about anything but when your walls are leaking ... bad.

    5) Do NOT agree to any first price. I never paid requested price in my life. Provide your own written simple contracts. If you write 10 page contract - it will never be accepted.

    6) If you are acting as GC any complex job must be split.

    7) Verify your windows 5 times.

    8) Do not trust contractors measurements

    9) Ignore "we have been doing it this way for 20 years, you will be fine"; or "tolerances" - song and dance - like when your wall is 3" off. Everything that is off should be corrected immediately.

    10) Place big trash cans on every floor.

    11) Create your own dumpster with 4x8 OSB.

    12) You compute and buy the exact materials - and only if few cases I would allow contractor buy them.

    13) Inform the contractors NO NIGHT SITE VISITS unless authorized, NO SMOKING on site OR DELIVERIES TO A SITE of any material unless authorized. The last is absolutely critical as contractor could order extra 2000 studs or extra HVAC for himself delivered and you will get the mechanical lien from the supplier even tho you do not have an account with them.

    14) Never GC a property when you are like 50 miles away

  • shead
    last year

    @cpartist, I think that holds true for most necks of the wood these days. With the construction boom, anybody and everybody is jumping into a construction-based business and GC's/subs are desperate for labor - skilled or unskilled.

  • shead
    last year
    last modified: last year

    "Never had a problem getting commercial rate."

    And how exactly were you sure that you got the commercial rate and not just told you got it? Serious question.


    Edited to Add: Even if you do get a sub to work for you, how do you get them to come back to fix any problems? It's going to be very hard to get them to pull off a future job to come fix something for you. Why should they care if you're happy or not? They HAVE to keep their GC's happy to keep getting business. You, not so much.

  • D E
    last year
    last modified: last year

    BT and marjen, great info!!!

    what does it matter if I get commercial rate or not if my build comes in within my budget and cheaper than if I used a GC?

    BT, I guess negotiation is another skill one should possess to GC. I find negotiation straightforward but I can't assume that everyone does as well

  • D E
    last year
    last modified: last year

    "And how exactly were you sure that you got the commercial rate and not just told you got it? Serious question"


    when the quote you get from the lumberyard or sub is the same or lower than what several GC are showing on their line items, you know you are getting commercial rate

  • PRO
    Kristin Petro Interiors, Inc.
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Frankly, this discussion of "discounts" is all arbitrary. It's impossible to compare apples to apples with a large-scale construction project. Quality, warranty, availability, etc. vary wildly among contractors. Is there really value in a discount if the available contractor who is willing to offer your a pro rate for your business delivers sub par workmanship? No.

  • D E
    last year

    another thing I dont think has been mentioned-


    a house like this


    would be a lot easier to GC than one like this



    Grand Mediterranean Estate · More Info



    so KISS applies here as well

  • shead
    last year

    "when the quote you get from the lumberyard or sub is the same or lower than what several GC are showing on their line items, you know you are getting commercial rate"


    Maybe, maybe not. Same sub or just a sub in the same area of work? Like Kristin said, you may be getting a lower quality sub with less experience. That's not comparing apples to apples.


    DE, how's your house coming along?

  • D E
    last year

    "Maybe, maybe not. Same sub or just a sub in the same area of work? Like Kristin said, you may be getting a lower quality sub with less experience. That's not comparing apples to apples.

    DE, how's your house coming along?"


    there are ways to get quality work. and Ive seen even with GCs some seriously subpar work posted right here on houzz.


    my build is coming along great. How's your house coming along?

  • BT
    last year

    And how exactly were you sure that you got the commercial rate and not just told you got it? Serious question.

    (1) I know what the rates are.

    (2) When I get 360 sq ft of drywall x $.60/sq ft install = $216 based on the room scheduler that excludes windows - I know I am getting commercial rate. When I get hobby rate $14,000 job - B.S. rates - I toss it. I "love" those ,000. or 995s - tells me 100% I am dealing with the salesman. I do not let anyone on my property to bid anyway. Telling I am sorry my liability insurance will not cover.

    LOL

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    last year

    "And lets face it Joe, 98.5% of the subs in our neck of the woods suck!"


    That may or may not be true, but if it is, it's the fault of the buyers, not the sellers. Buyers are getting just exactly what they've told the marketplace they want. Three bids. Low prices.

  • shead
    last year

    @DE, waiting on final plans in order to get final bids. I’m taking my time in the planning stage in order to make the construction stage go faster (hopefully!) since we will have to move out for the work to be done. Plus GC’s and subs are in short supply here with long wait times (1 year plus) :/

  • ksc36
    last year
    last modified: last year

    I think the Op has their answer. Don't get your building advice from a site infested with design monkeys and homers...

  • jmm1837
    last year

    The OP has their answer all right. Do your homework, spend time learning about construction, understand that you're not likely to save much, if any, money, and listen to people who've done it themselves. You cannot learn the skills needed to project manage from watching YouTube. That isn't to say you can't learn the skills at all, just that it's going to require a whole lot of work to do it - work that at least some advocates for DIY home design and construction haven't bothered to do. Just watching a GC at work doesn't count: this is not a case of "monkey see, monkey do" (unless you want to live in tree).

  • shead
    last year

    "I think the Op has their answer. Don't get your building advice from a site infested with design monkeys and homers... "