Saturday, May 31, 2014

To Contract or Not to Contract Out....

As an extreme penny pincher, the idea of building our house completely on our own--or at least doing our own contracting, was oh-so-tempting; however, a few items on the "Con" list of that idea eventually allowed getting a general contractor to win out... Some of those things were:
  • The contractor would do all of the coordinating and that work load/headache would be off our plates.
  • I felt the subcontracted jobs (Concrete, leveling, electric, plumbing, etc, etc.... the list goes on and on) would be much more responsive to and timely with a contractor they worked with regularly--and in turn brought them regular business--than to a random young couple who didn't know what they were doing. 
  • We had a builder/contractor who was UNBELIEVABLY flexible in the way we wanted to approach building. He'd do as much as we wanted him to and let us do any part of it we chose. We could tell him WHO we wanted to do a certain job if we had a preference. We would pay as we went along--and he'd turn all of the actual invoices over to us to see the individual expenses. (Although we only had to write a check to him and he took care of the individual payments.)
  • Ummm... We'd just had a baby... Yeah that was a big one.
Mingus talking with our GC.
I'm so glad we went with the decision we did... Although I am tracking exactly how all of the money is being spent. (Thanks to having every invoice and receipt.) Yes there are costs for the management of a GC, but my goodness, the payoffs are worth it!
  • I'm glad I'm not having to call around about everything. With the winter being as cold as it was, we had some major delays...and I'm sure I would have had a heck of a time getting them to pour the foundation on a Saturday--when the occasion finally arose when it was warm enough to pour concrete. But you better bet they did pour on a Saturday thanks to the GC. 
  • It's not just the headache/work of doing the coordinating. I honestly don't know how I could have had time. We'd probably barely be getting the house under roof if it'd been left up to us. Mingus works all day and has projects like his bees, bunnies, the garden (and on and on) when he is home. Me? Well, when I'm not keeping up with an infant/now 7 month old... I'm trying to keep the house is some sort of order AND get in the work-from-home jobs I'm trying to manage in order to keep our income where it needs to be.
  • I hate making decisions! Just picking out paints and stains is hard enough--and there are so many detail decisions... Adding on top of that having to choose WHO was doing each job? I'd be second guessing myself the entire time--not to mention being torn between going with the "cheaper" option and the higher quality option... I trust our GC completely to send us teams that he would be comfortable with building his own house.
  • I don't feel like I HAVE to be present for every project taking place. Someone else is making sure these guys find their way out here... Someone else deals with making sure the long tractor trailers can make it across our tiny bridges. Aaaannnnd...a big one....
  • Someone else calls people back when they did something wrong. That's a good thing, because sometimes I can be too nice. Even though I'm paying these people money... AND this is the house I'm going to be in forever... AND changing things AS they build is a thousand times easier (and less expensive) than going back later to make changes... I still feel bad when I ask for a change on work that was already done or realize they did something differently than I requested. Half the time I find out it's an easy fix/change... 
Although contracting, we have chosen to take on certain jobs on our own--which I must say has really only been possible thanks to (Mingus's) family and friends. Most of the time I end up doing about 10% of the work--if that--because DL has my hands full. The things we have done ourselves include:
Exterior staining with the help of Mingus's parents. A MUCH easier job
to accomplish thanks to being able to use the GC's scaffolding.

  • Sub-contracting our in-floor Pex for heated concrete.
  • Locating, choosing and buying our outdoor wood furnace.
  • Buying the metal for our roof
  • Buying our windows and exterior doors
  • Buying the chimney pipe for the indoor wood stove.
  • Buying the paints, primers, stains, etc.
  • Staining the wood exterior.
  • Concrete staining (WHAT a project... more on that to come) 
We also plan to do all of the interior priming and painting as well as hanging the doors and putting up trim.   
We toyed with the idea of laying the in-ground pex ourselves, but I'm glad we
simply bough the pex and then sought out someone with experience.

In the end, I feel the expertise and efficiency has been well worth the money spent on not self-contracting. Another point I should make is, perhaps if either or both of us had any experience in home construction I would have leaned toward doing it ourselves, but we don't. Neither of us have ever even owned a home, so we are definitely noobs at every aspect. But with drywall ready to go up... I'd say we are quite pleased (and very excited!) about where things are at this point!
Friends taking in sunset with Mingus after a long day of cleaning--and
re-cleaning the concrete in preparation for staining.