Being your own general contractor
The DIY'er . . . so, you want to be your own general contractor?
I applaud anyone that wants to undertake being his or her own general contractor for either home building or renovation. You just have to keep some things in mind before you go down this road.
To take on this arduous task you must be hands-on, have ample time, and be very well organized. The time you invest will far exceed the money you may save.
However, the most important task is doing your research and learning before you start actual construction. Think of it as follows. Let’s say your budget is $500,000 for building your home. Well, what if you were not building and had $500k to invest. Would you simply place it under your mattress or place it in your savings account earning ˝% interest? Probably not. You probably would consult financial advisors, investment bankers, CPA's, and trusted friends and others for some sage advice on what to do with the money.
So why on earth would you try to build your own home without doing thorough research on: design, energy performance, trade selection, product selection, safety, financing, legal issues, building code issues, and so on?
It can all be done, but protect your “investment”. Forge ahead only with the proper research. Realize that you have a lot of learning to do to get even close to what the industry professionals know.
You will save some money (maybe 8-12% of your budget) by being your own GC. But (and a BIG but) your time must be considered “worthless” because you cannot place a value on it. Why? Think of it this way. You must commit to spending about 4 hours a day on building issues. Designing the home can take several months, construction may take 5-9 months, making product selections, reviewing & selecting trades, learning how to make the home highly energy efficient,… will take many days… I think you get the point. By the time you do the math, you’ll see that your time has a disappointingly low value.
But again, it can be done and can be fun. And it can help you get that “little extra” in the home that you may otherwise not have been able to afford. Just make sure you don’t under-estimate the amount of time you must invest.