Contracting A Home
... the Big Picture
Want to contract a home? You need to
understand the steps involved in the contracting process!
Throughout this site, we are assuming that you
want to be the Owner Builder. If
you are planning on hiring a general contractor, just substitute "he" or "the
builder" where we have said "you."
Incidentally, we're not going to take the time
or space to be politically correct and indicate both genders at
every opportunity. On this site, "he" means "he
The Big Picture!
The modern homebuilder (contractor) controls
much more than just the construction (building) of the home. When
contracting your own home,
you'll need to have a firm grasp of the residential contracting
process - the Big Picture. So, in a very abbreviated form, here
is the whole process.
It is included here so that, as you move through
the site, you will be able to plug the details into the proper
slots as they are revealed. In other words, you’ll get the
general picture here. Follow the site links to get the details.
The elements or steps involved in contracting
your own home are presented here in essentially the same order
you will encounter them when you build your own home.
|1. Do A Financial
|2. Find and Purchase
|3. Prepare Your
Plans and Specifications
|4. Do A Cost Estimate
|5. Prepare A Construction
|6. Secure Needed
|7. Sign Contracts
and Secure Permits
- Build It!
|9. Inspect It
|10. Move In!
Pretty simple, huh? Well, you know what they
say ... the devil is in the details!
So here's a brief
look at each of these areas to get you started.
The Financial Plan is the foundation of successfully contracting a home (assuming your financial resources, like most of us, are limited).
We once had a seminar student who started every question with, "If
cost was no issue, what would you recommend ... ?"
But I digress! Ideally you should start with
a budget - before you purchase a
lot or have your plans prepared. This will help you achieve the
best balance between land costs and construction costs and insure
that the plans you develop are within your means.
We realize, of course, that many people come
to these pages with lot and plans in hand. If this is your situation,
the second part of the financial plan, the Cost
Estimate, will become your Budget.
In fact, the Cost Estimate always becomes the
Budget once it is completed, since it represents the actual projected
costs of every element to be included in your home - item by item!
Click here for more developing your Budget.
Finding and Purchasing
Most of our students over the years have already committed to a lot before
getting down to the serious business of contracting a home - plans, budgeting,
If that's you, not to worry! You're in the majority.
And since one in ten homes built in the U.S. each year are owner
built, it must tend to work out OK.
Financially, most people instinctively know
about how much home they want, or can afford to build. They find
a lot they like, in an area they think fits them, and they go
for it. Usually it works out just fine.
But as you are discovering - WE
BELIEVE IN PLANNING! Sorry to shout. But we think it's
important. So we advocate making your choice of a place to build
your new home a part of the home contracting process.
Click here for more your Building Lot.
Plans and Specifications
These are your working documents. They show and tell how the home is to be
built. Make your decisions here, not as you are building.
Lots of decisions to make before you even start
to think about your plans. How big? Style - Cape Cod? Contemporary?
Ranch? Split? Two-Story?
Can you "read" a set of plans? We'll
show you how.
What elements need to be in your plans? What's
required by your building department?
Lots to think about! Understanding and controlling
the home contracting process demands that you get organized. That's
what Home Building Answers.com is all about . . . getting you
Click here for more about your Plans and Specifications.
A key part of the home contracting process, the Cost Estimate is where a detailed
list is made of all the materials needed to contract a home, as well as
the labor (subcontractors) needed to put it all together.
As the Owner Builder (general contractor) you
will be talking with suppliers and subcontractors to get their
prices. We'll tell you how to find subcontractors and get their
You'll also find all the forms you'll need for
dealing with subcontractors and for organizing your cost estimate.
Click here for more developing your Cost Estimate.
This is a detailed schedule, showing diagrammatically the sequence of construction
It not only shows how the activities relate
to each other sequentially (one after the other), it shows how
activities overlap - two or more activities going on at the same
The duration of each activity is also shown.
This is a great tool for scheduling subcontractors and materials
delivery. We'll show you two ways to do this - the Critical
Path Method and the Bar Chart. You can use whichever one you like the
If you haven't secured your financing, take
your Construction Schedule along. It demonstrates to your lender
that you have thought the process through thoroughly and understand
the home contracting process intimately.
Of course we'll provide the forms you need to
build your own Construction Schedule. And you'll find links to
third-party software that is available.
Click here for more about developing a Construction Schedule.
If you haven't gotten a firm commitment for your construction and permanent
financing, now is the time to do it - after your lot is purchased and your
plans and specifications are complete.
This is one of those areas in the home contracting
process that is not cast in stone. Many people get a firm commitment
right up front - when they meet with their lender to pre-qualify
(part of the budgeting process).
Some will just find out how much they will qualify
for and wait until they are ready with plans and budget in hand,
A lot depends on what interests rates are doing.
Are they trending upwards? You'll want to tie down a firm commitment
as soon as possible!
Are they steady or moving down? Wait until the
Bottom line - talk to your lender.
What are your construction and permanent loan
options? What do you need to take with you when applying for your
loan. What "formulas" will the lender use to qualify
you for the loan? Should you "shop" for your financing?
Click here for more about securing the funds you need for your project.
Contracts and Permits
With lot, plans, and financing in place, its time to begin construction -
here's what you have been waiting for! The culmination of the home contracting
The first step is to execute contracts with
the Subcontractors you
have decided to use and secure the required building permits.
Click here for a look at our Subcontractor Agreement.
Click here for more on permits.
During the construction of your home, you (the general contractor) will be
the conductor, the director, the boss!
This is where you must understand
the Home Contracting Process!
Click here for more on Construction Management
Here are the areas you will control.
Scheduling - Getting
subcontractors and materials to the job site at the right time.
Purchasing - Finding
and ordering the materials as needed.
Cost Control -
Minimizing waste and theft, keeping up with expenditures (cost
accounting), financial administration (paying the bills). We have
the forms you'll need.
Cost Accounting -
Keeping up with what has been spent and keeping to the budget.
Or at least knowing when you are going over . . . your decision.
Need we say? We got the form!
Managing The Construction -
Getting subcontractors started, answering questions, resolving
problems, calling for inspections, inspecting for accuracy and
Knowing what is
acceptable in materials and workmanship, and being able
to get it from your suppliers and subcontractors. This is the
You have to be strong
here. There's a lot of B.S. in home building. You have
to know what's acceptable and be willing to go to the mat to
Of course we can't cover every possible situation
you may find yourself in. This site prepares you for the general
task of home building - of being the Owner Builder. You'll find
much of what you need here on the Home Building Answers web site. We'll
act as a pointer whenever possible.
OK. You have an overview understanding of the contracting
process (as opposed to the construction
process - which we'll cover later). The links from this
page will take you to more detailed information on the various
parts of this process.
Next step: making
sure you understand about all the Parts of
your new home. You'll need a good handle on these. They're what
you'll be putting together in the actual construction phase of contracting a home.
Ready? Click here to
move on to Parts of Your New Home!
For additional insight to the Contracting Process,
see Lesson Two of our online course
Successful Home Contracting.
to the Home Building Answers' Home Page
from Home Contracting A Home
home plans by The COOL house plans company