Utah Wildlife Forum banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
11,689 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
We are just finalizing house plans and have put lots of thought and research into OB vs GC. I have heard so many stories of each including those who have fired their GC and ended up being their own and resulting in good and bad. I have heard that OBs dont save any money because they cant get the GC's discounts or get the subs to show up due to being a one-off deal.
I have a few friends in the trades to where I think I could pull it off, but I will certainly get some bids from GC's to have a benchmark as a ceiling and to know what to shoot for. I also know of other friends who have negotiated with suppliers and gotten the same pricing as they are making some serious volume purchases also. On the other hand there are authors and friends telling me I can save $30k and do it in similar time.
I think the ideal would be a hybrid arrangement to where a general can give me names and I can tell them I am working with this general to get them there and as a benefit pay them more quickly. I have the loan taken care of, so that is not an issue either way.
I would appreciate any of your opinions and experiences, clearly there is much more to this than what I have typed up, but this is a start. Thanks for the input.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,323 Posts
Building a house is an assache. There are thousands of minor decisions that have to be made, some technical, some logistical, and this is where a good GC pays for himself IMO. If you have the time and experience to run down all the permits, arrange all the inspections, ride herd on the subs, and oversee quality control then yes, you can save a little money by not hiring a GC and taking on the headaches yourself.

As a subcontractor myself, am I going to give my best price to an O/B? Nope, cuz they are generally a mess.....things I need done before I can start for the most part aren't or aren't done right. If I have a conflict in scheduling who am I going to give preference to?? Not the GC who I want to do business with again in the future.

There are also bad subs out there you would want to avoid because of either shoddy workmanship or they are outright crooks. These companies stay in business primarily through O/B who don't know any better. A good GC will know the reputations of the good subs and will avoid hiring the bad ones.

So again, unless you have the time and experience to oversee the project, a good GC will earn his pay in cost savings, an earlier completion, and quality IMHO.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
596 Posts
You can do it yourself and save a lot. I did mine and then my friend done his, we had no problem lining up subs. Order all your lumber, trusses, etc. from the same place and they gave us the same costs as a general, do the same thing with all your plumbing materials or let your plumber get the materials. Inspections were not that big of deal, in fact the inspector asked me how we were getting things done so fast. I was nervous as hell and just decided to go for it and everything worked out fine. You will be fine and glad you did it, you will save a lot. I ended up coming in about 60k less than the lowest bid I had from contractor. Go for it.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
8,501 Posts
On my house Huge, I opted for the GC to do it all. I don't have the connections or local knowledge to even attempt it. As a former sub contractor, I interviewed a few different generals to see how they do business. As a sub, I worked for some real delta bravo generals in the Salt Lake area that wouldn't pay the subs until the spec house sold. So basically they made the subs carry all the stuff on the house while they had no cash invested at all. So there was no incentive to move the house. And even then, he didn't pay his subs until 60 days after the sale of the house and we threatened to lien the house. I hated the generals that screw the subs. Generals that treat their subs well get the best work.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Huge29

·
Bjorne Lou Tsar
Joined
·
3,340 Posts
I've been my own GC before. I saved a ton. You have to be really, really organized and have everything on time and in order or things get hectic fast. The last time I built a house, I had a GC do it and I put in sweat-equity. I did all the electrical, trim, tile, painting and hardwood floor. It saved me about $25K and it was a lot less hassle.
The biggest problem I ran into is I didn't know the reputations of some of the subs and I got a couple less-than-honest ones. If I did it again, I would go with a general and do as much work myself if he'd let me.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,700 Posts
I hired one of the top GC's in the area for my home, and I built my cabin myself.

I would do OB because I had to do so much with the subs when I had a GC that I felt I was the GC. The GC was also a good friend and it cost us our friendship.

I would probably do OB if I did it again. If you already have some contacts you can also talk to other GC's and ask them who they recommend, talk to them like you are just doing one project like "Hey, I need some sheet rock done, who do you recommend"? . Or, "who do you think does the best concrete work"? Or, Who would be a good roofer, I need a roof replaced? etc.

When you hire subs or buy material you have a list of needed items and ask for a bid the same as a GC would do, they have their subs they like but they also have problem and get different subs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
156 Posts
Architect here. You're better off hiring a GC. You'll have a hard time getting good prices from subs and suppliers since they will mark-up their services since they are dealing directly with an OB and it usually requires a lot more hand holding and time. My experience is it's even worse when the owner, at some point in life, has done construction. We just finished a home in Utah where the owner used to do concrete and electrical (back in the day). Wanted to do all of that himself. Probably spent about 10-15% more in the end than if he had just used the GC's sub. It's obviously different if the owner owns or regularly does some aspect of construction.

If you have an architect and you have a CA contract with them then they will protect your interests and provide oversight on the process being sure to manage the majority of the headaches. Cots more but in the end It's worth the investment, but I'm partial!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
11,689 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for input guys. At this point, we are just about done with plans and I will submit to the city; done that many times and have the support of my draftsmen who has done it literally hundreds of time with this same county inspector. I will be submitting to a few GC's, one who I know pretty well and will see if we can do a bit of a hybrid arrangement where i do all of the arranging, give him all of the work he wants to do, gives me his list of subs and suppliers and I can hopefully do some research on additional suppliers that will save him money. Most just use the local supplier and dont ever bother with seeing what else is out there when there are usually much more econmical options for the exact same supplies. Maybe he will see that as a benefit. We will see. Getting pretty excited.
I do have neighbor friends who will handle drywall, excavation, finish carpentry. I do have positive references for a great framer who I have seen work, completely framed and sheathed a small 3 story in 42 hours, it was impressive. I am thinking of doing the PEX myself, but certainly not messing with the drain, waste and venting crap. I have done a few projects with PEX and own all of the tools to do that. Just have to decide between tankless vs tanked water heater and manabloc vs traditional trunk pipe routing.
 
  • Like
Reactions: GaryFish

·
Registered
Joined
·
650 Posts
Suggestion... I do commercial work not residential. Residential contractors get away with things that commercial contractors do not, (which in my opinion is why home builders get themselves into trouble).

1) I would hold 5% retention on all vendors until substantial completion and proof that all invoices are paid. Lien waivers are a must!!!

2) do not pay any money up front with your vendors. Payment is received after completion of work. Pay requests are monthly and after verification of percentage of work completed. If a vendor is requesting a payment up front, it is a yellow flag that he may be having financial problems.

3) As-built drawings and all close out documents are received including warranties and final lien waivers from all vendors and suppliers before releasing final payment.

4) Make sure you have a signed contract from every vendor with proof of current liability insurance and workman's compensation and a copy of their current contractors license.

5) Forgot one real important item... Change Orders are not accepted without prior approval and complete itemized backup.

These are just good business practices and will help you avoid any contractual problems. There are a few bad contractors out there just as there are a few dishonest owners. Contracts with specific expectations and requirements spelled out will avoid any questions or mis-understandings that could arise. Working on a hand shake is a poor way of doing business and a huge risk, especially with friends. I would suggest employing these practices regardless if you hire a contractor or act as the contractor yourself.

Good luck.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,700 Posts
Double check, triple check and fourple check your blueprints.

I bought the blueprints to an existing style for my cabin and I modified it some, changed it from two bedrooms upstairs to an open loft with a bathroom, these plans had to go to an architect for approval by the county, the architect gave his approval stamp and we were good to go.

Basement was poured and the main floor was put in and I went up to check on it, the framer had put in the basement stairs and when I looked at them I said, "WHOA" you put the stairs in the wrong place, and he said, "no I didn't" and I grabbed the plans and said, "look, they are off by the complete width of the stairs, he scratched his head and turned the page to the basement drawing and sure enough they were different on the basement drawing than they were on the main floor drawing and no one had caught it. I told him if he looked at the main floor the way he had the stairs that my master bedroom was huge and my living room was tiny, he had to tear out the stairs and remake them in the right spot, one good thing, I had him leave the wall in the basement and was able to make a great closet between the two walls.
 
  • Like
Reactions: GaryFish

·
Registered
Joined
·
650 Posts
Bowguy... that is where a good on site superintendent is invaluable. If you were acting as the General, you are responsible for layout. Another reason to hire a General. A good superintendent looks at all the plans, not just sections, and would have caught it. Too bad... things like that get missed frequently. I have yet to have a project that did not have a change order of some kind or another and I have been in the business since 1976 (39 years). There is no such thing as a set of plans that does not have an error.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,700 Posts
Bowguy... that is where a good on site superintendent is invaluable. If you were acting as the General, you are responsible for layout. Another reason to hire a General. A good superintendent looks at all the plans, not just sections, and would have caught it. Too bad... things like that get missed frequently. I have yet to have a project that did not have a change order of some kind or another and I have been in the business since 1976 (39 years). There is no such thing as a set of plans that does not have an error.
On the cabin I had a GC that is also a good friend, he was going to do it but had an employee fall of a roof on a house and filed workers comp, wasn't following procedure but healed up and my friend didn't fire him just sent him to training, well the same employee did the same thing and was hurt worse, the workers comp insurance went through the roof and put him out of business, I was left with all the materials on site, so I hired one of his framers that was out of work for the summer and he and I built the cabin, I subbed out the foundation, plumbing and metal roof and did the rest myself. I got an excavator from a guy that owed me money and my son dug the foundation and made the driveway.

I caught the mistake soon enough not to cause too much of a problem.

My house was built by one of the top GC's in the area and that story is a whole other thread. If I ever build again I will definitely be my own general.

Picture of stairwell after moving it.
 

Attachments

  • Like
Reactions: GaryFish and Huge29

·
Registered
Joined
·
650 Posts
"If I ever build again I will definitely be my own general."

If you have the know how and are not afraid to take on the challenge, I would whole-heartedly agree. Nothing more satisfying than building your own home. Time is the big factor and it takes a lot of dedication to work on it every free moment of the day and night. My hat is off to anyone who does it. I built my shop and office in my back yard and put on my home addition completely by myself. It was hard to spend every waking moment at work all day and then every night until well after dark and every weekend until it was completed. I too would do it again if I didn't have to work full time at the same time. Building just isn't that hard. Use common sense and you will do fine. It is the contractual (paperwork) part that can get you into trouble.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top