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Chapter 13 - Before You Start

The Project Management Section covers each of the sub trades normally encountered in the various phases of construction. They appear in the order they are needed.

  1. Pre-construction.
  2. Design and lot selection.
  3. Excavation.
  4. Grade beam, foundation, and damp proofing.
  5. Backfill and lot leveling, extra fill hauled in or out.
  6. Sub-floor.
  7. Framing and Sheathing.
  8. Roofing.
  9. Doors and Windows, including overhead door.
  10. HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning).
  11. Electrical.
  12. Masonry, stucco, siding, or variations thereof.
  13. Insulation and vapor barrier.
  14. Drywall completed to painting stage.
  15. Painting, wall coverings, staining @ cleanup.
  16. Cabinets, wall units, custom shelving, china cabinets, vanities, etc.
  17. Prepare floor, install K-3 board, install lino and carpet.
  18. Finish electrical; hang light fixtures, install bathroom fixtures, and medicine cabinet with lock
  19. Install tile, caulking and touch up paint k stain.
  20. Interior doors, all trim and moldings.
  21. Change locks and move in.
  22. Landscaping, driveway, sidewalks, underground sprinklers, trees & shrubs planted, grass or turf in place.

There can be many different combinations to the above list of sub trades. Each will be scheduled at various times, but two or more trades can complete their work without interfering with each other, depending on which trades they are. Be prepared.

  • Begin by breaking down your project into "bite-size" pieces. An example of this could be your plans. Put all your ideas and plans into one file. In this way, they are all accessible when the time comes to pick out the design you want. This can be started months ahead of the starting date.

  • Some people begin by purchasing the lot first, and then watch to see what is being built around them before they choose their plan. Others pick out the plan and begin collecting such things as fixtures and specialty items months in advance. The point is to show you that you don't need to rush right into it. Allow yourself the time to think it through clearly and once you have made the final decision, you can proceed with confidence, knowing that you have given thought and consideration into what you are doing.

Wherever you start, keep track of the information in an orderly fashion. An example of your file may include separate entries for kitchen, bathrooms, fixtures, floor color and design, and a list of sub trades and their quotes. The list may seem endless, but the more you break it down, the easier it will be to move from one sub trade to the next.

At the end of the project, file this information as a valuable reference. Discard information about sub trades and suppliers who proved to be unsatisfactory.

  • The next item is to choose the lot. Pick the right home for the size and location of your lot. Make sure it fits on the property.

  • Finalize home plans and alternate designs. Make changes in design before you begin. Love what you see. Don't just settle for the first idea, but make sure what you see is what you like. You will need 12-14 copies of the blueprint. Leave them with the sub trades so they can provide you with an estimate, but be sure you get them back.

  • After you have the estimates, determine what amount of money you will need. Arrange your financing at your local bank or lending institution, possibly with a pre-approved mortgage. A pre-set amount will help you stay on budget. Apply for a construction loan which advances the funds in stages, requiring you to pay interest only on the funds as they are advanced, not the entire mortgage.

  • Select and notify the sub trades that you have chosen. Narrow down their estimates, get the quotations in writing, and signed. Ask for references and a chance to see their latest work. Let them know your construction and payment schedule. Give them a copy to keep on hand in case a dispute arises.

  • Cut costs, not corners. Once you have your estimates, start shopping around for better prices. Don't be afraid to "bargain". Compare "apples to apples", and don't downgrade unnecessarily in areas that you had set your heart on, unless you absolutely can't build it into your budget. Always keep your eyes open for new bargains while in the building stage. It feels great to get a $200.00 saving. That's money you can use for that other extra you had your eye on!

  • Keep a running record of your costs so that you know where you are with each stage of construction. Set out a budget for each phase, and stick with it. If you are unable to do so, the extra money has to come out of your own pocket. Don't add it to the mortgage, as even a small increase of 1 or 2 thousand dollars in the mortgage may mean an extra $12,000.00 in extra payments by the time you have it paid off in 25 years. Be wise!

  • Be sure the title is clear, with no liens or encumbrances. Get legal advice, and don't assume it's clear.

  • Obtain your building permit from the local Town Office or City Hall. Be sure it's approved before you turn the sod.

  • If you are going to be doing your own electrical, you will need an electrical permit from the Department of Labor. Of course, it will be subject to inspection.

  • Some people actually choose a business name, get incorporated, and run a business account. Check with your accountant in this regard to see if it is worthwhile. If you plan on building more than once, this is an avenue you should definitely pursue.

  • Get your business cards printed up. This will open a lot of doors for you.

  • Use only one bank or financial institution to write checks for your project. This eliminates problems when trying to reconcile at checks. Ask the bank to keep all the checks for you.

  • You may wish to open a "builder's account" with some of the suppliers. This will help you to keep track of your purchases and lessen the number of checks you need to issue. Pay promptly. You will establish a good credit reputation for the future!

  • Get insurance in place as soon as you have purchased your lot. Legally, you become responsible for any accidents or mishaps on your property from the moment you own it. A builder's risk insurance policy will cover most things that could go wrong during construction. Your local insurance agent will be able to advise you.

  • Check with the Workers' Compensation Board (or local equivalent) to see if the sub trades you plan to use are registered with them.

  • You will need a certain amount of tools and equipment during the construction phase. Find a good quality supplier and deal there. Some of these tools are:

    • 1. A good set of work boots with steel toes.
    • 2. Carpenter's apron.
    • 3. 25' measuring tape.
    • 4. 16 oz. framing hammer.
    • 5. 6' level.
    • 6. A square.
    • 7. 50' heavy-duty extension cord.
    • 8. A camera to take pictures of your project as it takes shape.

    Keep in mind the possibility of re-sale!

    Some people feel the need to run out and buy a truck as soon as they think about building. A truck is a definite advantage; however, you can also make do with a heavy-duty utility trailer during construction. The advantage is that you can sell it after the house is finished. For that matter, you could do the same with the truck; however, the truck requires a much greater cash outlay than a trailer does. You choose.

  • Determine whether you will make use of an on-site storage shed, If so, you need to locate it in such a manner than it will not interfere with the sub trades, or be in the way of material delivery. Use a good lock, keep proper inventory, and check it each day for security reasons.

  • Some people arrange for a portable toilet on site for themselves and their sub trades. Remember, treat them well, and they will return the favor.

    Now we are ready to begin. Everything is in place, or in the process of being put into place. So, let's call the basement sub trade and tell him to get the lot marked out and digging! We're on our way!


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