How did you decide to be the GC or not?

sweet.reverieJune 23, 2012

My husband and I are nearing the start on our building project and I am going back and forth on which route to take. My husband only works 8 days/month and I stay at home with our little girls, so we have plenty of time to be there/oversee. He is very good at projects (in our old house he built a bathroom from scratch and added on a dining room nook).

We are planning to build a small, energy efficient house- about 1800 square feet, one level (we may decide to add a bonus room) with a detached garage.

He lacks a bit in the organization department, but I excel in that area. The issue is we have never built and we don't really know anyone who I feel a bit nervous to not have resources.

How did you have the decision and have you regretted it?

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First question, are you paying for the build out of pocket or getting a construction loan? If you are getting a construction loan I would check the bank's requirements first as most won't allow you to GC the build.

As an alternative I found a builder that will be setting up a hybrid model with me where he is GC'ing most of the build, but there are some items I'll be managing.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 9:14PM
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Yes, we bought the land with cash and are financing the build. The bank said an owner builder would add 1% in closing fees.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 9:35PM
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Lucky! I wish I could find a bank in my area that would allow us to do that.

If you have the time and organization skills I think it is a great idea as it can save quite a bit. Personally, I don't have any experience GC a full house build, but I did GC our home renovations and that went smoothly and saved $$$$!

I think one of the keys if you are going to GC your own build is to ensure you have really really good plans. I would NOT just buy plans online. Personally, we found an excellent designer/drafter who is known for his precise plans which really help with getting accurate bids from subs (and getting everything through permitting). It is costing us double to triple the cost of getting most online plans customized, however I think he design is going to save us money, and that his details are going to save a lot of headaches!

Also, there is a great book on the subject by Carl Heldmann - Be Your Own House Contractor: Save 25% without Lifting a Hammer who also has a site with information below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Site - Carl Heldmann - Be Your Own House Contractor: Save 25% without Lifting a Hammer

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 11:32PM
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We actually have 4 banks to choose from for construction loans and all four allow owner-builders without too much penalty. I do feel lucky to have the choices!

We trying to keep things as low cost as possible. My husbands brother is a professional painter and his dad works in concrete, so I just don't think a builder is going to be too thrilled with us!

Good tip about the plans! That really makes sense.

And I will definitely look up that book! Thanks for taking the time to respond!

How far are you into your build?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 12:48AM
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Are any of the banks national banks or banks that offer loans outside of your area?

We are in the early stages, finalizing plans now, hopefully we will submit them to the county by the end of the summer!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 11:03AM
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No they are all local, small banks. One of the reasons they don't have huge penalties for owner-builders is that come out and personally check on your project if need be, a lot of hand holding goes on.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 1:48PM
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sr..where are you in the country?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 10:12PM
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Washington State. The loan we are probably going to go with essentially a 31 year loan. We would completely close the loan and lock the rate before we even build. The loan is interest only for 12 months then converts to a fixed 30 year program (still at the same rate). You add 1% on to the closing fee if you are doing an owner-build. The other program is an interest only program with the chance to drop the rate at the completion of construction. So I am not sure which way to gamble...will rates go up in the next 9 months or so or not? I still have a lot of number crunching to do!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 11:20PM
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That's a great loan option. I'm in California and the only options we have are ARMs. The bank fees are very low, but we will have refinance at the end and that scares me as I'm terrified that interestr rates will go up as our build won't be completed until the end of 2013 or the beginning of 2014!

However, for you I wouldn't worry about it too much. The Fed has said interest rates will remain about the same through to the end of 2013 so in nine months you could gain/lose maybe .25% but nothing overall significant IMHO.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 12:47PM
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Epiarch Designs

sweet- sounds like your banks offer similar ones as to what we have. Again, all local banks and credit unions. I have several to choose from, and they are very flexible. I am not only GCing mine, but also building most of it (I did residential construction for several years prior to becoming and architect) but the bank only asks to show some sort of experience level.
I would also be interested in knowing how you plan to make it "energy efficient" and if the details are well expressed/represented in your drawings. This could be a point of contention as energy efficient details, especially with wood framed construction, can be time consuming. However most are worth every penny as you will start saving them insantly! The ONLY place in your house that has a payback, so make your shell as good as possible!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 2:08PM
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That is a good point Lzerarc. My husband is obsessed with budgeting in good materials for the shell! We do have a meeting with a couple contractors just to make sure we weigh all options.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 2:28PM
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