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6ballsisall
02-06-2006, 10:30 AM
The wife and I are contemplating building our own house (ok not building it ourselves persay) but having one built. I helped my father build their 4,500 sq ft. "cabin" :rolleyes: from start to finish and finished my own basement so I have some knowledge of the process. What I wanted to get some advice on is:

A. If you had one built would you do it again?
B. Did you "assist" with some of the construction to keep the cost down and if so was it beneficial in the end?
C. What questions would you ask builders to determine if they are the right builder for your needs?
D. If you are building lakefront what other things do you need to take into consideration that you wouldn't with a non lake front house?
E. I have heard the horror stories of custom homes going 75k over budget. How do you make sure you stick to the plan and that things go relatively within the budget guidelines?

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!

Stritt
02-06-2006, 10:33 AM
My piece of advice has nothing to do with the questions you asked....After building 2 homes with my wife.....Make sure you both agree on budget, options and all before starting..I will tell you the second home which was a custom 4500 Sq ft tested our marriage in ways we never thought about....I wish you the best of luck!

Workin' 4 Toys
02-06-2006, 10:40 AM
The wife and I are contemplating building our own house (ok not building it ourselves persay) but having one built. I helped my father build their 4,500 sq ft. "cabin" :rolleyes: from start to finish and finished my own basement so I have some knowledge of the process. What I wanted to get some advice on is:

A. If you had one built would you do it again?
B. Did you "assist" with some of the construction to keep the cost down and if so was it beneficial in the end?
C. What questions would you ask builders to determine if they are the right builder for your needs?
D. If you are building lakefront what other things do you need to take into consideration that you wouldn't with a non lake front house?
E. I have heard the horror stories of custom homes going 75k over budget. How do you make sure you stick to the plan and that things go relatively within the budget guidelines?

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!
To make sure I am clear, you are hiring an independent General Contractor to do the whole job?
Do you have the land? Owned?
Or are you having a house built in a "development" project?

6ballsisall
02-06-2006, 10:46 AM
To make sure I am clear, you are hiring an independent General Contractor to do the whole job?
Do you have the land? Owned?
Or are you having a house built in a "development" project?

Good questions. We would be building in the same development we are in now but on the lake. The lot is improved and is a gentle sloped lot (unlike lots of the lake lots up here) I am contemplating hiring a GA or possibly being the GA myself since I know what I am doing. The challenge is I can't be there all day during the build so I don't know if I can be a GA or not. I could however be there in the mornings and after work and if need be an emergency visit during the day sometimes.
We dont own the land yet. We are trying to put all the pieces together to see if we can even pull this project/idea off

LakePirate
02-06-2006, 10:51 AM
Having built several houses with my parents and grandparents it is a good way to build some instant equity. When you see the people who go upside down in building they have made decisions along the way that were not smart (know this from experience). Fixtures both lighting and plumbing can get you in a world of hurt in a hurry. We put a roof on one house that was like a 40 year roof and all this special detail the manufacturer came out to show the roofing crew how to install it, well 5 years later and many trips to the top of a 12x12 pitch roof on a metal extension ladder in the rain and lightning with blackjack and shingles later we bought a new roof. Trim work is another area of high cost. You are going to need a sub-contractor to find reliable framing crews, plumbers, trim guys, cornice guys, sheetrockers, electricians, hvac and so on and so forth. We were lucky as we did all the electrical and hvac ourselves as we had family in the field and at this point can do it on our own. But considering the field you are in I am sure that you know a couple of builders who might be willing to loan out their framing crew to you. I would recommend checking with the builder and his schedule. As I am sure you know they get overextended from time to time and you get put on the back burner. Let me know if you have any specific questions or concerns.

Mag_Red
02-06-2006, 11:12 AM
Jeff there is a service I hear advertised locally that will assist you in the building process. Can't remember their name off hand....It'll come to me...but unless you are in contact with subs all day long, as I am, I wouldn't reccommend being your own GC ( general contractor)

6ballsisall
02-06-2006, 11:14 AM
Jeff there is a service I hear advertised locally that will assist you in the building process. Can't remember their name off hand....It'll come to me...but unless you are in contact with subs all day long, as I am, I wouldn't reccommend being your own GC ( general contractor)

Good info Mag. I think I know which one you are talking about. U-Build-it?

We are talking with these folks today @ 2. They are a good customer of mine and build a quality piece.

www.bardenhomes.com

Know any painting company that would treat me right? :D

Leroy
02-06-2006, 11:17 AM
Built twice, would do it again. Both were great and profitable ventures. We used a builder. GOOD LUCK!

The wife and I are contemplating building our own house (ok not building it ourselves persay) but having one built. I helped my father build their 4,500 sq ft. "cabin" :rolleyes: from start to finish and finished my own basement so I have some knowledge of the process. What I wanted to get some advice on is:

A. If you had one built would you do it again? YES
B. Did you "assist" with some of the construction to keep the cost down and if so was it beneficial in the end? NO, did leave a room unfinished ove the garage and finished myself, will never do that again. Drywall guys are cheap enough.
C. What questions would you ask builders to determine if they are the right builder for your needs? We had a whole interview process, how long have they been around, how many homes do they build each year, is the builders goals consistent with what you want built, do you sense BS when you talk to him, talk to people that he has built for recently. This will be your biggest decision, think about the process.
D. If you are building lakefront what other things do you need to take into consideration that you wouldn't with a non lake front house? N/A
E. I have heard the horror stories of custom homes going 75k over budget. How do you make sure you stick to the plan and that things go relatively within the budget guidelines? Have a contract and that is that. Any changes you initiate will cost you then. Find out from other people if they went over budget with this builder. We went over around 5% on each house, all initiated by us. There are regular dispersements of cash depending on what is done in the construction loan, generally ~5 milestones. For $500k house around $100k at each payment and there is little room for errors or for a 75k error to add up.

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!

lakes Rick
02-06-2006, 11:32 AM
I built both of my homes, one when I was 22 and the other at 42..

I was the General on both of them.. Why pay someone else to HIRE other people?? I also did most of the grunt work to save on some bucks...

As said above, have a conversation with the little wife and let her know you will not be doing ANYTHING but house building for the next year plus... That mean weekends will be totally devoted to building your home.. AND make sure her butt is going to be packing lumber, cleaning up, or just bringing you lunch, hence, being part of this TEAM effort.........

Not sure if your area is different than mine, but most people were real helpful about recommending different subs to work for me, and being that I grew up here, I know a fair amount of people...

Some of the work I was capable of doing, like sheetrock and insulation, I hired out because it is so time consuming and such crummy work. ( Itch for days after getting around insulation). My buddy is an electrician and I paid him by the hour to help me, and during the week ( yes your evenings too) I would finish up with his directions. I roofed the place, as that is what I did in High school... You will probably have the dig, foundation, and the framing done by pros.. After that you can kind of pick and choose what you want to do.... Remember that certain stages have to come first.. Wiring can bend around plumbing, but it does not work the other way..

Remember to check on Codes... Another aspect is upgrading on the codes. Maybe 1/2" plywood is required, you might want to up it to 5/8".. Remember it is going to be YOUR home.. MOST contractors I deal with want to save a buck and put it in THEIR pocket.. Remember it is NOT their home...

It all depends on how much you have to spend or how much you want to save.. The inspectors will make sure your subs do a good job, that is what we pay them for.. DO NOT pay for any thing until it is done or pay for any labor in FULL until it is done and done right AND after the inspector looks at it.. You might not see your sub again.. If they want a draw, during a long process like framing, that is permissable in my book...

My loaning bank, gave me a quote form, with all of the types of quotes I needed.. Spend some time getting quotes from different people (some are hungrier than others) and add 15% to the final number..

Remember anything different than standard ( Doors, cabinets, handles, fancy electrical switches,) triple or quadruple the figure..

MAKE SURE you and your wife want the same things in your home BEFORE you start the build...

Last home went SO MUCH EASIER, wife was an EX, and it was MY bachelor pad I was building, so I made all the decisions....

ITs alot of work but not as bad as it seems, it will just consume your life for a year or so.... Hope this helps...

Mag_Red
02-06-2006, 11:40 AM
Good info Mag. I think I know which one you are talking about. U-Build-it?

We are talking with these folks today @ 2. They are a good customer of mine and build a quality piece.

www.bardenhomes.com

Know any painting company that would treat me right? :DYaeh...I might have a line on a good painting sub ;) I might be able to help you get some subs also. A lot of the guys I work with do work on the side.

Diesel
02-06-2006, 11:41 AM
Nothing ground breaking, but since I am in the process of doing a sprinkler system at my house be sure and put a few 4" PVC pipes under the driveway and sidewalks.................. :mad:

lakes Rick
02-06-2006, 11:47 AM
Nothing ground breaking, but since I am in the process of doing a sprinkler system at my house be sure and put a few 4" PVC pipes under the driveway and sidewalks.................. :mad:


You need to write down EVERYTHING you think about doing.. Go to some tour of homes.. I got alot of ideas there, and I also found out how poor I was.. As said above in Diesels comments, you will not remember everything so write it down as it comes to you..

My electrician installed a switched outlet under my eaves for christmas lights.. Switch is in my closet due to its unique feature.. One click and all my christmas lights..

If your house is large, a return line run by a small pump, will give you instant hot water.. UNLESS you use the instant water type of tanks..

The ideas can be endless....

6ballsisall
02-06-2006, 11:47 AM
Yaeh...I might have a line on a good painting sub ;) I might be able to help you get some subs also. A lot of the guys I work with do work on the side.

Right on! Be careful I might take you up on all of that!

SkiDog
02-06-2006, 12:02 PM
Just my 2 cents. I have been building houses and commerical projects for some 20 years now. My advice is to you; hire a QUALIFIED general contractor! Call you local Chamber of Commerce, local Homebuilders assc. or visit professional building supply stores. ( not Home Depot )
Any of these places can and will steer you in the right direction. Be sure and ask the G.C. if he has workers comp. and gereral liability insurance. That is the most important question in qualifing a G.C. If they HAVE it, then chances are good that you can trust them to build your project. Another thing, and I can't stress this enough to
clients who contract with me, DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!!!!!!!!! Know what you want in this house BEFORE its time to install it! There is nothing more frustrating than to get to a stage in the construction process, and not have what you need, or a decision made in order to proceed to the next step. This alone can cost homebuilders a fortune in fees and interest. Know what you want in the house WAY before its needed!
Plumbing, lighting fixtures, paint colors, brick or stucco colors, where you electrical outlets, ect. And by all means, DO NOT skimp on DIRT!
You can't come back and add it later! Make sure of your garage floor height, and slope your driveway up to it. I could go on and on, but I hope you get the picture. Also, if I can answer ANY questions, just let me know, I will be glad to help!

ski_king
02-06-2006, 12:04 PM
I was my own General Contractor and would do it again. I also did about 50% of the work myself.
The key is having the time to manage it and being able to get good people working for you. The masonary contractors was the toughest one for me. He did great on the foundation and stone work, but when it came tiem to get him to come back and put up the chimney and fireplace, he had gotten a contract with a big home builder and could seem time to fit me (the small guy) in.

Edit: Like skidog said above be sure get a copy of all contractors insurance policy. They should have no problem with that. In the end I got a out of work friend to finish my chimney (and did a fantastic job) but I had to pick up a workers comp policy for him.

Maristar210
02-06-2006, 12:17 PM
I agree with most statements here. Whether or not to be your own GC depends upon two things. 1st, Are you willing to allow this to become your life for the next year and greatly influence your career life assuming you are not retired and 2nd are you qualified to be your own GC? Do you know the codes? what to look for in a sub? If you question any of these statements then you want someone to build you a house and you do not want to be your own GC.

The only other thing I have seen is BE SPECIFIC in your contracts and agreements. What a sub considers "standard material" is usually crap that you will not want. Make them all tell you what they are going to furnish in terms of materials specifically otherwise you will have linoleum, formica, cheap *** carpet shiiityyy trim, crap fixtures, faucets and on and on and on.

most of all GOOD LUCK

Steve

6ballsisall
02-06-2006, 12:36 PM
All good advice and I appreciate it! Talking with the builder and the lender at 2. Wanted to get some insight as to the lending process. Those that have done it and had an existing residences that they planned to sell when the new one was done how did the lender factor that into the equation?

erkoehler
02-06-2006, 12:41 PM
All good advice and I appreciate it! Talking with the builder and the lender at 2. Wanted to get some insight as to the lending process. Those that have done it and had an existing residences that they planned to sell when the new one was done how did the lender factor that into the equation?


You could always sell the boat for extra $$$$ since you won't be using for a year or two :eek:

6ballsisall
02-06-2006, 12:44 PM
You could always sell the boat for extra $$$$ since you won't be using for a year or two :eek:


Erk, you should be banned for using that type of tone on this board :eek: :D

ski_king
02-06-2006, 12:53 PM
The 2 summers I spent building the house and being my own GC, only had the boat in the water one weekend each........... maybe hiring a GC might be a good idea afterall.

Leroy
02-06-2006, 12:57 PM
If you're not selling the MC, then....


You normally need construction loan and then your final loan that takes over at closing. It works best to have both at the same institute. On our second one that bank allowed us to lock at any time during the construction, which was a blessing because it was a period of rising rates and I didn't want to wait 9 months to know my mortgage.
Look for the best rate and useful to have at least a branch local.

Cloaked
02-06-2006, 01:59 PM
What is your time worth to you Jeff? It's a dedicated and relentless timeframe to which you'll have to commit.

I'd suggest a general contractor (GC) with exclusions and allowances, i.e. an exclusion may be that Bob be able to provide you the painting services needed, but have the GC work it with his schedule.

Otherwise, I'd let the GC do his thAng and you do yErs! You'll have less grey hairs in the future.

djhuff
02-06-2006, 02:18 PM
If you know what you are doing, and have experience scheduling construction projects, you should be able to do everything by yourself with minimal work days disrupted. I did my house in 4 months (didn't lose much lake time).

If you have any reservations though, I would hire someone, or go through a U-Build-It type place. It's not hard to build a house, but it's also not hard to royally screw it up.

About the wife thing, can't help there. When we built, she was busy planning our wedding and left ALL of the house decisions to me.

Workin' 4 Toys
02-06-2006, 03:18 PM
I have no idea what you do for a living, but I'd say if you GC it yourself, you are going to obligate yourself ALOT more than you already think you would have to. I think I would suggest you hire out the GC and obligate yourself to do some other work on it. (Leave the painting to the experts....;) )

rodltg2
02-06-2006, 04:17 PM
we are the gc on our new builging, its a full time job. i think were saving some but gaining a big headache. plus gc's already have established relationships with other contractors and get a better price.

SkiDog
02-06-2006, 04:30 PM
Its a funny thing, but asprin doesn't cure those kind of headaches, does it? :rant: :rant: :rant:

rodltg2
02-06-2006, 04:41 PM
no but buwweiser has helped

bfinley
02-06-2006, 04:58 PM
I have GC'd the construction of two duplexes in the last 5 years, and I'm building a house this summer that I will be the GC on. I, like you had some exposure to construction, and thought I knew a lot - I now know that wasn't true. I've learned that in order to really save money by being the GC, you have to know your subs and do a lot of the work yourself. I typically do the electrical, trim carpentry, and roof myself. The rest of the work has been done by people I know that are in the trades and working for cash. If you try to get bids for work from businesses that know you are GCing for the first time, they are going to jack up their rates becasue they know it's going to be a headache and you won't be prepared.

It can cause a lot of headaches, and you need to have a job that is flexible so you can get to the job site when necessary, but I've been able to save 25-30% on construction costs by doing it this way. Also, after the first project, each subsequent one has been a bit easier.

Let me know if you have any questions.

lakes Rick
02-06-2006, 06:05 PM
About the wife thing, can't help there. When we built, she was busy planning our wedding and left ALL of the house decisions to me.

Sounds like she had her priorities straight!!!!!

lakes Rick
02-06-2006, 06:08 PM
What is your time worth to you Jeff? It's a dedicated and relentless timeframe to which you'll have to commit.



How many times have I heard this one??

I have always wondered what my time is worth while watching Monday night football?? Thousands of dollars per hour trust me, I just can't ge anyone to pay me that..

If money is no object, by all means, let a General do all of it and let the headache be their's...

Personally I don't get paid on Weekends and putting that time towards my home paid off big for me..

stumbledog
02-06-2006, 06:22 PM
When we built the home we are in now, we used a mortgage product that was called a "future advance" mortgage. The lender paid off my mortgage on the home we were living in, and the builder took his draws up to the full loan value. It was interest only until the house was complete and I sold my existing home (time limits apply).

We basically ended up with an interest only loan on two homes at the end. It would have been perfect if the first house would have sold wen we wanted it, not 5 months after our new house was complete.

6ballsisall
02-06-2006, 06:28 PM
Loaded question

Is there a decent estimate one can use to figure the cost of a basement poured? (walk out basement) I was trying to see if there was a safe # to use for preliminary #'s prior to talking with excavators and contractors.

Mag_Red
02-06-2006, 07:14 PM
Jeff that's pretty dependant on size of the foundation. Impossible!

6ballsisall
02-06-2006, 08:00 PM
Jeff that's pretty dependant on size of the foundation. Impossible!


I know but I had to ask :)

Trying to get a rough estimate in my head to make sure financially we can build what we want and not have to settle to much.

Thanks for everyones replies and advice so far. Keep it comin!!

6ballsisall
02-06-2006, 08:04 PM
Jeff that's pretty dependant on size of the foundation. Impossible!


For what it's worth, the foot print of the main floor is 1562 sq ft. Think I am just going to build the 2 car side load garage it was spec'd with and build me a carriage house next year. :headbang:

Here is a pic of the lot taken from near the water's edge (back lot line) up at the cul de sac. Per the survey that should be 183' up to where my wife is standing.

erkoehler
02-06-2006, 08:07 PM
So, JR, I am confused, is this part of the lake that I was on, or a different one?

tex
02-06-2006, 08:10 PM
This helped us alot...Find people to walk the house during construction. You look at it every day and will need someone else that has not to notice some stuff that you miss. No matter how close you try to look...you will miss some major things. I had a neighbor point out the front of our house was twisted...I almost chit my pants! I looked at every day and I used to frame and missed it!

6ballsisall
02-06-2006, 08:13 PM
So, JR, I am confused, is this part of the lake that I was on, or a different one?


This is a back cove. I don't have the dough to live on the main channel (25 year old homes going for 1 million + :rolleyes: )

It's one of 3 lots left for sale on the water, figuring this could be a good investment with the right house on it. I have looked at all the "competition" homes for sale. It's either you buy what I'll build for 425k or buy a nasty 25 year old home for 389k and drop 50-65k to update it to 2006. This lot isn't the most "ideal" waterfront as the water is only about 3-4' deep. If we buy it first thing I'll do is dredge this cove so it's deeper.

Here is a pic, they drop the lake 6' in the winter so people can work on the docks and seawalls so come summer it's water front. This whole cove is no wake zone for about 2/3 nautical mile.

Gotta love that guy who let his toon' lay rested on the ground :rolleyes:

erkoehler
02-06-2006, 08:16 PM
I was alittle worried when I saw the pic, and hadn't read the description.....I was thinking wow, he's paying "waterfront" prices for a CREEK!!!!

Are you able to put a lift in that section? Looks kind of narrow..... :huh:

6ballsisall
02-06-2006, 08:18 PM
I was alittle worried when I saw the pic, and hadn't read the description.....I was thinking wow, he's paying "waterfront" prices for a CREEK!!!!

Are you able to put a lift in that section? Looks kind of narrow..... :huh:


Lift yes. I plan to cut into the lot and kind of make a drive in slip with a seawal around it and put a lift in. You can't have a covered slip on this lake (which sucks) but I'll have a nice docking point. What does everyone think about those plastic floating docks? Are they good? Prices?

erkoehler
02-06-2006, 08:21 PM
Lift yes. I plan to cut into the lot and kind of make a drive in slip with a seawal around it and put a lift in. You can't have a covered slip on this lake (which sucks) but I'll have a nice docking point. What does everyone think about those plastic floating docks? Are they good? Prices?


Why not make a permanent dock that can just be left in? Not need to worry about floating if you will never have to take it out since the water is gone when the ice might come.

However, does the level fluctuate from year to year or throughout the summer?

Leroy
02-06-2006, 08:22 PM
What I also hear is you will not in general get the best subs because they generally want to go with a contractor that can offer steady work. The good ones get steady work, the not so good get pick up jobs. Also not all, but many of these subs are some tough people with unusual situations.


If you are in the business you can also apply the BS filter quicker and make sure they do what they should do at the right pace.


The last example for not doing it yourself is that framing for instance, your sub may or may not know what to do in all framing situations like a seasoned builder will, there are codes, architectural plans, and what works!

JEREMY79
02-06-2006, 08:23 PM
Jeff is this for sure yet?

6ballsisall
02-06-2006, 08:24 PM
Why not make a permanent dock that can just be left in? Not need to worry about floating if you will never have to take it out since the water is gone when the ice might come.

However, does the level fluctuate from year to year or throughout the summer?


Some fluctuation in the summer. In dry years it can be down a foot or two. I have friends that live on the lake and use an inflatable lift for their Tige'. Their lot is in about 2 1/2' of water. I thought the black plastic floating lifts seemed nice and no maintenence.

6ballsisall
02-06-2006, 08:25 PM
Jeff is this for sure yet?

Nope. Still some steps left in the process

erkoehler
02-06-2006, 08:28 PM
This is a back cove. I don't have the dough to live on the main channel (25 year old homes going for 1 million + :rolleyes: )

It's one of 3 lots left for sale on the water, figuring this could be a good investment with the right house on it. I have looked at all the "competition" homes for sale. It's either you buy what I'll build for 425k or buy a nasty 25 year old home for 389k and drop 50-65k to update it to 2006. This lot isn't the most "ideal" waterfront as the water is only about 3-4' deep. If we buy it first thing I'll do is dredge this cove so it's deeper.

Here is a pic, they drop the lake 6' in the winter so people can work on the docks and seawalls so come summer it's water front. This whole cove is no wake zone for about 2/3 nautical mile.

Gotta love that guy who let his toon' lay rested on the ground :rolleyes:

How wide is the channel? Would you have a dock that went straight out into the channel, or do they all run parallel to the shoreline?

6ballsisall
02-06-2006, 08:38 PM
How wide is the channel? Would you have a dock that went straight out into the channel, or do they all run parallel to the shoreline?

You can't have a dock anywhere on the lake that extends more than 8' from the uniterupted waters edge. You can park parallel

jlf
02-07-2006, 09:03 AM
When we built our house we were the GC, would do it again. We did as much of the work ourselves as we could. We did hire a contracter to do the framing for two reasons, one the bank required we hire one for the loan and two we both worked full time it would've taken us years to frame the house by ourselves. We also hired someone to do the concrete work, heating/AC and plumbing. We stared doing the sheetrock work ourselves then that job sucks so in the end we hired someone to finish it up. It did consume our lives for six months or so. Do dicuss with wife what you want, building our house was the toughest thing we ever did. It was lots of late nights and very early mornings. We both worked fulltime, then spent many hours on the house afterwards. Get the wife involved if you do it yourself, she can stain wood, make the runs to hardware store, clean up, help hold those things that need more than two hands, etc. You have to set a budget and stick to it. It is easy to get off track and fast. If there is something you want to do but aren't sure you can afford it now, but you'll do it later, plan ahead to make sure you can still do whatever it is. Keep this in mind it might just be cheaper to do it now, cut somewhere else if money is the issue. For instance, we really wanted heated floors in the garage, didn't think we could afford it at the time of the build, well now it's too late and finding a heating method for the garage is costing just as much as if we would've just done the heated floors. Another example, we didn't finish the basement, we built a house bigger than we needed already so we didn't need the basement space, now we are doing it and the cost of materials have gone up alot, might have been cheaper to do it at the time. Plan ahead and expect unexpected costs. There will be some no matter how well you plan and even if you hire a GC or not. Check with insurance company before you do too much work yourself to make sure you will be insured if something should happen. We did our own electical, I checked with the insurance company to make sure if our home burnt down due to electrical fire that we were still covered since we are not liscened electricians. We were as long as the inspector signed off on the work. Another thing check with the city codes, if we'd built in the city next to ours we couldn't have done the work ourselves, that town requires that the work be done by contractors that are certified with the city, so you are only able to hire people the city has certified with them, not whomever you want.

Best of Luck, We'd love to build lake front. We were on a waiting list for some property coming for sale by us, but we got the development plat and the lots are so small it is rediculous, our lake is tiny and they want $175,000 for a lot less than a 1/3 of an acre. We couldn't put our current house on the lot because the lot is too small and our house isn't huge now.

Mag_Red
02-07-2006, 09:17 AM
Rough guess on foundation based on the sq ft..........$20,000

Ric
02-07-2006, 10:36 AM
Late chiming in here but Jeff, a buddy of mine did this a few years back and while he knew construction, he was not a pro. It took over a year to finish the house and he fought EVERYBODY involved. Just be ready for one big headache that can potentially save you 20% (maybe less). my twocents! (their place is absolutely the way they wanted it and it is super super nice)
I've had two homes built by contractors and they were headache enough without my being 100% involved.

Kevin 89MC
02-07-2006, 11:14 AM
Regarding the floating plastic lifts, I looked into that awhile ago, IIRC it was like $15,000 for a ski boat. Too much for me!
Regarding construction, I agree with most everything said so far. I work for a commercial general contractor, so I deal with subs every day. You need to find out which ones are the good ones, and don't just go by price. We have 1 or 2 go out of business every few years, and I think it's more common in the residential field. I have not built my own house, but I have done extensive remodeling projects, and helped on many more. It can save you considerable money, but things can cost you more than they should if you don't have a good handle on things. Good points about insurance and city/county regulations. I do think you really have to know and like construction, to even think about GC'ing a house. If you don't, using a GC will be hard enough. If you do decide to do it, there appears to be a whole bunch of help available here. If I ever get around to finding some land to build a cabin, I'll be posting here for sure!
Good luck!