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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
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Home Building Answers' Online Course

Successful Home Contracting

Here's what you will find in each of the seventeen,
FREE, downloadable Lessons

Lesson One

Welcome to the Course! How Much Home Can You Afford?

After a brief welcome, Lesson One reviews the benefits of the course and introduces you to the
master outline the course follows. Then you learn how to determine how much home you can afford to build and how to develop a budget for your project.


Overview of the Process

In Lesson Two you will get you first taste of the overall process of home building. First we'll examine the contracting process - the actual steps involved it making your dream a reality.

As a matter of basic understanding, we include a discussion of the various elements of your home. Finally we will take you through the construction sequence, so that, from the very beginning, you will have a basic understanding of how it will all come together.


Finding and Purchasing Your Lot

In this lesson you’ll discover how to go about finding and evaluating lots. You’ll learn a unique yet simple method of statistically comparing lots to help you decide which one is best for you.

You’ll find a discussion of the questions you should ask and where to find the answers when choosing a lot. You’ll discover the different personality types of lot owners you may encounter.

Then you’ll look at several methods of financing the lot and all the terms and conditions which will govern your Purchase Agreement.


Planning…Putting Your Plans and Specifications Together

Lesson Four is the beginning of a five-lesson series on developing your Plans and Specifications.

This is your first of three journeys through the home - from footing to clean-up. You’ll do it again in lessons Ten and Eleven when you develop your cost estimate, and finally in Lessons Thirteen through Seventeen, when you’ll learn about the actual construction of your home. Lesson Four examines exactly what should be included in your Plans and Specifications, how you can get them prepared, and what they should cost.


Basic Planning Decisions… and Choices Concerning the Structural Elements of Your Home

Lesson Five examines some Basic Decisions you’ll need to make before getting into the nitty gritty of all the details to be included in your Plans and Specifications - decisions like the style, orientation, and shape of your home. Like how your home reflects your own life style.

How will it relate to the lot and the surrounding area? How will it reflect your personal values about such issues as energy conservation? Then you’ll find a convenient way of grouping all of the elements of a home - a way of bringing order to what at first may seem complex.

Finally you will examine all of the Structural Systems of the home to discover what choices you have in this area of your home’s design


Planning Choices Concerning the Mechanical Systems
of Your Home

This lesson continues your first look at all of the elements in the home. Here you’ll examine the Mechanical Systems - the Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC (heating, ventilating, air conditioning) systems.

You’ll discover what actually makes up the parts of each system and the choices you will be able to make in developing the plans for your own home.


Planning Choices Concerning the ‘Enclosure’ of Your Home…Wall Materials, Roofing, Windows and Doors, Etc.

In Lesson Seven you will look at what we call the Skin or Enclosure of the home. Here we will examine interior and exterior wall coverings like siding, sheet rock, brick, stucco, and so forth.

Also you will find a rather detailed discussion of windows and doors - their types, designs, styles, and uses in different situations. The last section deals with the roof of your home, including the roofing materials and the flashing, which keeps the rain from coming in


Planning Choices Concerning Trim, Finishes, Equipment, and Outdoor Choices for Your Home

Lesson Eight completes your first tour of the home, and winds up the section dealing with design choices you can make in developing the plans and specifications. Here you will examine Trim and Finish choices, as well as items of Equipment (appliances, hardware, cabinets, etc.).

Finally we’ll take a look at your Outdoor Choices - things like decks and patios.


Planning the Construction Schedule of Your Home

Lesson Nine covers the other major category of the physical (as opposed to the financial) planning your home - what we call Project Scheduling.

Here is where you will learn the sequence of events in the actual construction process. How the construction activities fit together sequentially. What activities are dependent on which others. Which activities can be going on at the same time.

And how long should it all take. All of this is pulled together into two scheduling tools - the CPM (critical path method) and the Bar Chart. You can choose which method best suits your own needs.


Starting the Financial Planning of Your Home
…Subcontractor Costs

Lessons Ten and Eleven cover an extremely important part of your planning - the Financial Plan!

This lesson introduces you to the concepts involved in developing a detailed Cost Estimate, and proceeds with the first section of the Estimate - Labor or Subcontractor Costs.

You’ll learn what subcontractors you will need, how to find them, and how to get the information you need. Here, as elsewhere in this course, we have tried to make your understanding easier, by developing a system that groups the costs into four or five areas which are easy to grasp and retain.


Completing the Financial Planning of Your Home … Materials Costs and Cash Flow Planning

Lesson Eleven completes your tour of the Cost Estimate with a detailed discussion of Materials Costs. You’ll not only see what materials are required, but you’ll discover where to find them.

You’ll see what all is involved in a price quote and find out how to establish accounts with the materials suppliers. Then you will find out how to record all this cost information in the Cost Estimate Forms we have developed especially for this course.

You’ll use this information later in controlling the costs of your job. Finally, you will learn how to estimate the cash you will need to have on hand in the section on Cash Flow Projections.


Finding and Getting Financing; Controlling
Construction Costs

This lesson begins the final major section of the course. We have finished planning, and now it’s time for construction! The first step is Financial.

You’ll learn where to look for construction and permanent Funding, and what you need to take with you when you go to the bank. We proceed with the next major financial concern you’ll have during construction - Cost Control. You’ll discover concrete steps you can take to control both Materials Costs and Labor Costs. Finally you will learn how to keep detailed records of your expenditures in Job Cost Accounting. Here you will learn to use the simple and convenient Cost Accounting Forms.


Superintending the Construction of Your Home … Getting Your Permits and Temporary Utilities

These last five lessons cover superintending the actual construction of the home. These lessons take you step-by-step through the entire process, describing in detail what you should be looking at and what you should be looking for when you are in the field.

This lesson takes you through a detailed discussion of
Scheduling Materials and Subs, of proper procedures for Purchasing, and for the techniques of working with Subcontractors.

You’ll take a detailed look at Quality Control - you won’t get perfection, but how good should it be? A whole portfolio of Subcontractor Forms has been included to help you deal with these tradesmen. Then you’ll learn how to deal with Inspectors of all kinds - municipal, federal, and bank.

Finally we’ll begin the construction process itself with instructions on getting the proper
Permits and getting Temporary Utilities to the job site.


Clearing and Grading, Installing the Utilities, Footings, Foundations, and Slab in Your New Home

Lesson Fourteen continues the trek through the construction of your home with a close look at
Clearing the construction site, Laying Out the home and installing the Footings. The Utilities are brought to the site or installed (in the case of a septic tank). Then the Foundation and Slab are discussed.


Framing Your Home; Installing the Roof, Siding, and Chimney; Masonry Wall Construction

This lesson continues the construction process with the Framing, the Roofing, the installation of the exterior Doors and Windows, and with the Siding and other Exterior Treatments.

It is concluded with an examination of Masonry Construction (as used in Florida and elsewhere), and a discussion of Fireplaces (masonry and prefab) and Chimneys.


Superintending the Construction … from Electricals, Plumbing, and HVAC Through Floor Coverings

Lesson Sixteen takes you through superintending the installation of the rough and finish Plumbing, Electricals, and HVAC. Then you’ll proceed to the installation of the Insulation, Drywall, and the Interior Doors and Trim.

Finally we cover the installation of all the Hardware, Equipment, Floor Coverings, and specialty items, like the Cabinets and Glass.


Completion of Construction and Final Inspections

Lesson Seventeen wraps it all up. Here we cover superintending the Exterior Work like Landscaping, Walks, Drives, and Patios, and other specialty items that were not covered to this point, like Gutters and Garage Doors.

Then you will learn how to do a “Punch Out” using the special form we have developed for this purpose. This is followed by the Final Inspections by the inspecting agencies and turning on the electricity.


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