Home Building Answers Logo

Being An Owner Builder
The Contracting Process
The Parts of Your Home
Planning Your New Home
Funding Your Project
Developing Your Budget
Your Building Lot
Plans And Specifications
Cost Estimate
Construction Schedule
The Home Building Sequence
building an energy efficient home
resource links

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 OR she!"

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 Plan
2. Find and Purchase Your Lot
3. Prepare Your Plans and Specifications
4. Do A Cost Estimate
5. Prepare A Construction Schedule
6. Secure Needed Financing
7. Sign Contracts and Secure Permits
8. Construction - 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.

Financial Plan
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 Your Lot


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, etc.

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 organized.

Click here for more about your Plans and Specifications.

Cost Estimate
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 bids.

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.

Construction Schedule
This is a detailed schedule, showing diagrammatically the sequence of construction events.

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 time.

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 best.

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, before committing.

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 last minute.

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 process.

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 quality.

Knowing what is acceptable in materials and workmanship, and being able to get it from your suppliers and subcontractors. This is the tough part.

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 get it.

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

Return to the Home Building Answers' Home Page
from Home Contracting A Home

bottom-nav home page what does it mean to be an owner builder the contracting process the parts of a home planning the new home project funding your home building project developing a budget for your new home project developing the plans and specifications for your new home developing a cost estimate for your new home developing a construction schedule for your home building project managing the construction process finding and dealing with subcontractors finding and dealing with the materials suppliers for you new home project energy efficiency considerations for your new home links to other resources for your new home project

Click Here for the COOLest house plans on the Internet!!
home plans by The COOL house plans company


write an article link

link  to this page

Contact Us





Subs dlck here for information on Home Building Answers' national Subcontractor List write an  article link to this page