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Home Improvements, Family Improvements: The Owner Builder Way

Jul 15, 2008
Are you considering making some improvements to your home? A newly improved home means an upgraded environment for your family.

Depending on the size and scope of the project, you may want to be an owner builder, overseeing the process yourself and managing the sub-contractors yourself without hiring a general contractor.

This process is known as owner builder construction. Or, in this case, it would be owner builder renovation.

Being an owner builder simply means that you are managing the project without paying the costs of a GC.

In fact, many owner builders around the country take on a full construction project for their new homes, getting owner builder construction financing and hiring the full range of sub-contractors to range from blueprint design all the way through to final landscaping.

Whether building an entire home, or simply improving the home that you currently live in, the owner builder process is the same. You have to hire an manage your sub-contractors to be a successful owner builder.

As the general contractor on your project, you will be responsible for locating and hiring the sub-contractors necessary to successfully complete your home. The more prepared and educated you are, the more successful you will be in locating the best subs for your job.

A word of caution: do not shop for subs on price alone. Don't get caught up in insisting that you must save every penny on every item in order to be a successful owner builder. You will save plenty - do not skimp on quality sub-contractors.

That said; do not just hire the most expensive subs, either. To be successful and find the right combination of price and quality you must be prepared and educated. Your good planning will make all the difference in the world.

It is a good practice to have all of your material and labor specifications in writing prior to soliciting bids from potential sub-contractors. After all, if owner builders don't know or understand what they want in their home, how are they going to get accurate and honest bids from sub-contractors?

Standardized bid forms are readily available online. As an owner builder, your goal is to make sure that you always get apples to
apples bids for each job in your project.

How many bids you seek is up to you, but a minimum of three is always recommended for owner builders. When you get three bids, you will often see something interesting: two of the three will be similar and one will be completely out of line with the other two.

This happens so often, that it is no longer a curiosity, but a fact. If an owner builder only gets a bid from the one who is out of line, he or she would never know it.

Take your time, be prepared and be very clear what you want. This will save you considerable time and money in the long run. That is the whole point of owner builder construction. Or, owner builder renovations.

Building or improving a home is a great way to upgrade your environment for your family. The owner builder process is a great way to save money and build equity while doing it.
About the Author
Chris Esposito specializes in owner builder construction loans. Visit Owner Builder 101 to find out how you can save money by overseeing the construction of your family's dream home. Go to www.OwnerBuilder101.com, or call Owner Builder 101 at (877) 876-3688.
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