Want to bring in your home-building
project on time and close to budget? Here are some tips from
1. Shop where the pros shop.
Professional supply houses will usually offer better prices.
The only glitch: They may not want to deal with nonprofessionals.
If you shop home centers, skip the retail side and head for
the contractors' desk.
2. Factor in the cost of your time.
As a general contractor, you "stand to spend an
awful lot of time managing the project," says Don Sever,
general manager for Sever Construction LLC.
3. Use licensed subcontractors.
Find out who does the licensing in your area (usually the
state), and make sure the subs are licensed, says Sever.
4. Think flat fee only.
Get subcontractors' estimates in writing, based on the entire
job, not a per-hour fee. "I want to know when [they]
pull out of here, what it's going to cost me," says Carl
Heldmann, author of Be
Your Own House Contractor.
5. Match your subcontractor's
style to your schedule. Are your hiring small companies
where the owner can be reached when you get home at night,
asks R. Dodge Woodson, the builder who wrote Build
Your Dream Home for Less, or large corporations whose
offices might close at 4:30?
6. Protect your interests.
Have a lawyer read the contracts before you sign for work
7. Verify your subcontractor's
insurance. Have your subcontractor's insurance company
fax or send proof of insurance directly to you, says Woodson.
One scam to beware: A contractor pays a partial premium to
get an insurance letter, which he uses even after his policy
is canceled for nonpayment. If insurance companies are dealing
directly with you, they will know to contact you if the policy
is canceled, he says.
8. Don't stockpile.
Keep a minimum of materials on the site, says Woodson.
"Basically, you are ordering what you need when you need
9. Think ahead.
Calculate links to services like utilities, cable, water and
sewer or septic, before you begin building.
10. Verify all inspections.
Don't take someone's word for it that the inspection is done,
says Woodson. "Get a copy of the slip filled out and
11. Pay subcontractors
with lien waivers. You can get these simple forms from
your bank or attorney, says Woodson. It shows you've paid
your bill in full and prevents a subcontractor from claiming
otherwise and putting a lien on your home, he explains.
12. Insure the site.
Have an insurance policy to cover the house while it's under
construction, as well as any uninstalled supplies at the site,
-- Compiled by Dana