Timeline for Self Contracting?

TammyTEJuly 5, 2013

I am hoping to do our own self contracting for our build. Is there a timeline for who to contact when? How far in advance to get quotes and get on their books and such?

We already have quotes and dates for the well, septic, electric, barn, fill for the barn.

We have not gotten quotes for:

plumbing (husband might do)
electric (husband might do)
wall/ceiling finish work
flooring (husband might do)
cabinets (I would think those need ordered in advance but how far?)
windows (we have some..would this be part of framing or separate?)
HVAC (When is this usually done? After framing before finishwork?)

anything huge I am missing?

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We are doing our own contracting, but we are sharing part of the work with the guy who is putting together our house for us - he is acting as site foreman, and will call the subs when he is ready for them. We're doing a log house, so our log home builder will do the scheduling. But maybe one of your main subs would do that - it'd cost you some, but not as much as if he were the actual GC.

Anyhow - have you found someone to do the foundation? Painting? Where are you getting your doors? Does your dh have enough training to know your local codes for plumbing and electrical? My dh studied electrical engineering in college, but he says he doesn't know enough to do more than *install* light fixtures, etc.

As GCs, you'll have to handle the building permits - time consuming and a real pain unless you live in a county where permitting is really easy. Our county is a moderate pain (Snohomish County, north of Seattle); dh and I both spent a fair amount of time chasing down answers to questions from the county about our building. Or maybe you already have the permit?

As far as when to get the quotes - we had to get them before we submitted paperwork for our loan, but we are allowed to change the subs/quotes along the way. I used Angie's List for some of the subs; some of them came to me via word of mouth. Don't forget that some of them will need to do site visits with you/your dh.

I've done the work with the subs so far; dh is handling most of the paperwork/financial stuff. It has been a huge job even though as I said, our site foreman will handle most of the scheduling issues (I will have to call the vendors for appliances, etc to schedule delivery). I don't think I could do this if I were working outside the home. Much of this GC stuff amounts to a full time job.

Oh - I don't know what kind of property you have - size, I mean. But our foreman asked that we not have septic installed until the end of the building process. That way the construction guys can drive anywhere they want on our property without having to avoid the septic field.

This post was edited by gladys1924 on Fri, Jul 5, 13 at 16:39

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 4:35PM
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Gotta figure out doors.

We will have cash and a land loan so we don't need all that for the loan. Our county is easy for permits and codes. I know people I can check with for the details.

Dh is confident with the electrical and plumbing. It's just a matter of time. Will it be worth it for him to do it, iykwim.

I have a good list of people to get bids from for the things I listed. They come highly recommended, so that's good.

So should I go ahead and get all quotes now and then notify them once things get started to get on their schedule? I just don't want to drag it out and hold things up because I have to wait for weeks after calling each person for a date.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 4:40PM
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We got our doors from a local door company. The place has great doors, but they cost $500 each to have them finished. So guess what I'm doing this summer? :-) That's *22* doors!

Since you aren't dealing with a bank loan, then you can probably do what you want about quotes. In some cases, yes, you need to get on their schedule as soon as possible, then you can get shoved back until you are ready for their work. We did that for our custom kitchen cabinets...Our original site prep guy didn't have time for us when we needed him, but we had a back up company ready, which has actually worked out well.

I think it's worth getting the quotes all lined up as soon as you can - that's out of the way. One less thing to do.

The rest of it - at one construction web site I visited, they told me to bring in the first company - site prep - and then that company would tell you when to call the next sub, and so on. That has worked well with what we've done so far - site prep and foundation. Once our foreman starts (next week), he'll take over, but we'll still be on call for his questions.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 4:53PM
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Thanks! I haven't seen anyone around here called "site prep". Who would do that type of work? Could it be an excavator? We have a guy doing that getting things ready for the barn and such. He has cleared trees and will clear some more for us soon. He's also handling our septic.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 4:57PM
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Every property is different, but our site prep involved clearing and leveling the site. Getting it down to dirt - we already had a building site, but it wasn't perfectly level or clear. He removed trees, created our new driveway (fun watching the trees come down the first day!). I think the guy you already have is doing that job for you.

By the way - I got a copy of the county approved construction drawings laminated. It cost a bit, but they've held up really well as the foundation crew has been using them all over the property in the rain, etc.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 5:06PM
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Oh good idea on laminating!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 5:09PM
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The first place to start is your bank. You've got to meet their requirements first. Many will require more $$ down, or some type of training course in order for you to self GC.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 5:11PM
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I think the OP said they are using a loan for the land and cash for the actual building, so the bank won't be an issue.

At any rate, not all banks require training or extra money. Ours only required that one of us - in this case, my dh - have basic project management experience. His experience in the US Navy qualified him. Not a difficult requirement.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 5:15PM
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Yes, an excavator can do site prep and can dig the foundation if he has the correct equipment.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 6:35PM
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We are GCing our build. We got quotes 5months out or more for: excavating (driveway, clearing area, water line, basement dig, septic), basement concrete work (walls, floor etc), framing, lumber, plumbing materials, electrical materials, roofing, HVAC, drywall, flooring, siding, rough estimate on paint. Once to that point we decided it was feasible to build. We are running our own plumbing, electrical, siding, flooring, decking, painting, trim and all finish work.
Biggest Mis-calculation we have had was the basement walls. We were going to have concrete block for the unfinished basement, back filled with rock. But after visiting building inspector for permit we realized we would only be able to backfill 6' of the 9' wall and with our wrap around porch that would create way too many steps. So we upgraded to solid poured 10" walls to be able to backfill higher.
So far all our estimates/quotes are ending up being right on. Knowing the numbers all up front has been great. Also each subcontractor told us exactly when they wanted to be called, and most have been checking in ahead of time to see where we are or have come out to make sure they/we are ready.
In order:
excavator for water line, driveway and basement hole,
Concrete guys for placing rock and setting frames for footer then walls and floor
Framer to start first floor
Excavator to backfill
Framer going up
Concrete guys to pour porch post supports
Framer continued until done
Then windows/doors by framer (could have gone in earlier but were not in yet)
Excavator to dig and run water line/septic
Insulator visited to confirm his quote
Hvac visited to confirm his quote
Drywaller visited to confirm quote
Plumbing being installed
Electrical started need to be finished
We are here...
Siding in progress
At this point calling inspectors
Next HVAC/insulation/drywall installed
Call energy company for blower door test

Hope this makes sense!


    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 7:40PM
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Thank you Jen. That is perfect!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 9:47PM
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Tammy, make 'sure' you are getting GC pricing and NOT consumer pricing. The diff. is usually anywhere from 30-50%.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 10:38PM
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Thanks Robin - How would I do that? Do I just tell the people I am getting quotes from that I want GC pricing? Most of the sub contractors I think will give me the same price they would a GC just because it's a small town and I know most of them in some way and I know of others that have used their services.

But are you talking about things like doors, windows, cabinets and such?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 11:00PM
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30-50% less for GC pricing? I think that is a bit off, robin.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 9:15AM
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We are also owner builders, but hire subs for most jobs except GC work. We were able to set up contractor accounts at a few places. The mostly frequently used supplier was the lumberyard. A friend who is a contractor and orders for a house builder looked over our pricing from the lumberyard and confirmed that the prices were in fact the same as builder prices. Not all places were as accommodating with the contractor prices, but we did get lower prices from the roofing supplier and brickyard so far. We also got a decent discount at the plumbing supply, but not as low as a regular builder would get.

We only booked subs a handful at a time as our build has stretched out so long that the quotes we got in advance would have had to be redone closer to build time. However, it depends on how much time you have to devote to the project as you may be able to move along with your build at a much faster rate.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 9:51AM
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Thank you Carol that is good information.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 11:19AM
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Never order any cabinetry or other built ins until the drywall is up. There are so many things that can change and being 1" off can mean you eat some expensive stuff big time. You can certainly get an estimate and ballpark figures from plans, but not anything final. What usually happens is that the cabinets and many other interior details that happen towards the end of the build end up getting short shrift because of the cost overruns on the other stuff, and you end up with not enough money for the quality level that would match the rest of the home's details.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 11:50AM
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livewire- Thank you. I have been wondering how it worked for the kitchen design. As long as I have the basic design in mind I don't have to have it nailed down perfectly in the actual house plans then? The floorplan designer hasn't gotten the details exact on the cabinets but I know what I would like. ;-)

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 12:44PM
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livewire-so exactly when do you get a KD involved in the build timeline? Do they start right away when you have dimensions but do not order until drywall is up to accommodate those 1"+ adjustments?

Sorry tammyte-not trying to hi-jack - you asked a great question!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 5:20PM
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No problem Autumn - That's a good question too. My understanding is design the kitchen now but don't order until the drywall is up. Then you can work with accurate measurements like you said.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 5:31PM
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I missed this somehow earlier. Millwork. Yep, that what it is in this area and most areas I've heard about. This is for labor. 99.9% of O/B have NO idea what the prices 'should' be(what GC's pay) and the subs KNOW this and charge allot more. And if you ask GC's what they pay, they won't tell you.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 10:19PM
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