Investing in the home of your dreams can be a complicated proposition. You need to decide whether you want to purchase an existing home or if you want to build your own home to ensure that it is exactly what you dream of. There are many factors to consider when making this decision including the cost of the venture and the value once it is completed. If you choose to build your own home you need to be prepared for the many challenges ahead. While the final outcome can be well worth the effort, there is work to be done and you should prepare yourself.
Getting Started Toward Your Dream Home
The process of building a home means making a significant number of decisions. You will need to decide if you want to work with a builder to have your home created or if you want to work with an architect to design your home and then several contractors for specific parts of the job. Hiring a builder could be the easier route, but might be less cost effective. The first step in building your own home is to decide on the plan.
You can meet with an architect to create your home plans or you can purchase home plans created in advance. The decision will be greatly affected by how specialized your home will be. If you find a good set of plans that fit all of your needs you can then hire contractors for the job. These can be purchased online or through a home plan company in your area. You can also find some nice home plans at your local contractor supply outlet. Most of these designs are set up for you with few alterations available, but some of them do allow you to make minor adjustments. A contractor can help you make these adjustments.
Choosing a Contractor Type
The first step is deciding if you want to hire a general contractor to oversee the project or if you want to hire individual contractors for specific needs such as building your kitchen, framing the house, handling the electrical work and the plumbing work. Hiring the right contractor to help you with the build can seem like an overwhelming task. There are many contractors to choose from and you want to be sure you choose one that is professional, well reputed, reliable, and is good at their job. Make sure you take some time to research your contractor and ensure that you have the right one for the task.
Obtain Written Bids
Meet with the contractor to talk over what your expectations are. You may even want to meet with several contractors before making your decision. If you already have the plans for the home you will want to bring them to the meeting. Let the contractor look over them and give you feedback regarding the process. The professional should provide you with their license information, insurance information and a written estimate or bid for the job. All of these should be considered carefully before you make your decision.
Managing the Job Yourself
If you choose to do some of the work yourself and hire out the areas that you are unsure of such as the electrical work, cabinetry and plumbing, you will want to be sure you keep track of the schedule yourself. In many cases you will need some parts of the job completed before the next steps such as completing some of the electrical or plumbing before the floors or walls can be finished. Make sure you have a good handle of the schedule so that you are not losing money by slowing the job down.
When you choose to do the building yourself you will find it helpful to consult with a contractor on many aspects of the build. Keeping a solid list of the tasks you need to complete in the order you need to do them in can be a big help. From time to time you may find that it is helpful to talk to a contractor regarding how to handle parts of the build. It may be less expensive to pay a contractor as a consultant on occasion such as to look over the plans and help you organize your build from the start.
General Contractor Contribution
If you choose a general contractor you will be able to rely on them to oversee the organization of the job as well as making sure that everyone stays within the budget. The general contractor will work with the subcontractors such as the electrician, plumber, roofer, kitchen and bath contractor and so on. He or she can make some of the basic decisions to move the job forward and can bring bigger decisions to your attention. This professional will be managing the job for you and handling everything from building permits to landscapers.
The following is a list of some of the responsibilities of a general contractor:
- Hiring the subcontractors for the work
- Handling payments to subcontractors
- Managing the purchase of materials
- Managing the permits as well as inspections for the project
- Reading and interpreting the specs and plans for the project
- Managing problems that might arise during the build
- Meeting with the owners to discuss issues and decisions to be made
- Keeping the job on schedule and on budget
Selecting the Right Contractor
It is vital that the contractor you select for the role of general contractor has the experience necessary to complete the job. In some cases the architect you are working with can refer you to professionals for the job. You still want to meet with each of them and make an informed decision. Be sure that they have experience as a general contractor or have overseen large projects with multiple contractors and workers on board. They should be able to handle tight deadlines and budgets. There are several questions you can ask to determine their eligibility:
- Have they worked with other jobs similar in size and type?
- Will they be on-site throughout the construction?
- Are they able to manage many professionals at the same time?
- Do they have experience hiring sub-contractors for such a job?
- What experience do they have staying within a budget and on schedule?
- What do they charge for the work?
- How will they communicate problems and status regarding the job?
- At what point will they decide a problem or decision needs to escalate to the owner?
- What makes them the best general contractor for the job?
- What do they estimate for a budget and a timeline for the job?
Contact Previous Clients
It could be beneficial to contact past clients of potential general contractors. Asking the right questions can provide you with some excellent information to use in making your decision. Some of the questions might ask could include:
- Did the job turn out well, on time and within budget?
- Was the contractor able to communicate with you well regarding the progress of the job?
- Did the contractor bring problems to your attention when necessary?
- Was the contractor able to handle smaller problems as they occurred without your assistance?
- Was the contractor on site on a regular basis to deal with the ongoing project?
- Did the quality of the build meet your needs?
- Can the professional be trusted with the money for the job and the quality of work to be completed?
When hiring a general contractor remember that you have to be able to trust them. This person will be your eyes and ears on the job and they will be responsible with your funding of the project. You should make your expectations clear from the start and ensure that they will provide you with regular status reports. Tell them the point at which you expect to be consulted when it comes to decisions and problems to be solved. This will eliminate any confusion and allow you to get the information you need, when you need it.
Building your own home is an excellent way to get exactly what you want within the budget that you set. Doing the job yourself can be time consuming and overwhelming. Even if you decide to do the building yourself, consulting with a contractor could save you time and money. Hiring a general contractor is the easiest way to ensure the work is done in a timely fashion, within budget and at the quality that you expect. They are able to streamline the process and reduce the amount of time and stress you need to put into getting your dream home built. In addition, a contractor will have the experience to see potential problems with budget, timelines and quality before they become a huge expense. Take time to meet with a contractor to go over all of your options before you make any decisions. You may find that they can set you in the right direction to attaining your dream home.