We are looking to build a 3000 sq ft home in Fl. 4-5 bedrooms 3 baths.
We are looking at some of the owner builder programs. Does anyone have
any advice on cost and how to go about hiring subs, making sure work
is done right?
About how much would a project like this cost?
Thanks in advance.
Plenty of help here, but you have provided way too little info
for an informative answer. With the info you provided, I
would give you a range of $85 to $300 per square foot. If you
get really crazy, it could go up to $500 a square foot. How
many gold fixtures are you going to use? Did you want
imported Italian marble on just the floors or will you want it
on the ceiling domes as well?
Single story or three story? On a flat lot or a 45 degree
slope? Completely self contained and off the power grid or
did you want electric service from the power company?
You get the picture.
Okay to be more specific--
One story home on almost 10 acres, with a well and septic, completely
flat cleared land. Just a basic house I guess, nothing out of the
We want quality, energy efficient, but no marble :)
Maybe pergo or some type of laminate, tile, nice but not over the top,
affordability is important, which is why I am asking.
How do I go about planning a good project without going way over
budget. We want a nice house and heard horror stories from hiring the
wrong GC, so were considering taking it on ourselves. I am wondering
are the questions I should be asking and how do I go about finding
Does this answer questions? If I need more specifics please ask, as I
don't know the answer without the question
On Jan 2, 6:08 pm, " firstname.lastname@example.org"
You can't fight all the battles alone. Get some professional help to
plan and execute. Consider hiring a qualified architect (see if he has
his diplomas on the wall) and plan on being his Gofer and let him
settle the arguments with the contractors, subs, etc. Unless you've
been in the trades you don't have the knowledge or contacts to find
the top talent. Take your time, interview and inspect, chat with
anyone connected with the trades, and expect that any budget you think
is fair will be off by 30%. Whatever, good luck.
On Jan 2, 6:08 pm, " email@example.com"
Taryn, I really can't say what building costs are in Florida. Where I
live, a basic new house runs 150 a square foot, but that is here in
the frozen north. Prices in Florida SHOULD be lower, but I don't
With all due respect, I think you are over your head in trying to be
your own general. You really need to have a pretty good understanding
of the building process to serve as your own general and your question
leads me to believe that you're not there. Some homeowners have
successfully contracted their own homes, but I bet they started out
with a better than average knowledge of the process. You have to know
quite a bit about every trade to effectively coordinate them, for
example: How high do you want to set your house? Where will you
bring the utilities in at? What if the framer complains that the slab
is out of square? What if the plumber runs a vent in the only spot for
an HVAC duct? Oops, you forgot the thermo wire. Was that the
electrician's responsibility or the HVAC guys? Are there enough
screws in the sheetrock? Who scrapes the floor after the tapers? Do
finish floors go in before or after setting doors? Yes it has been
done, but it will be a lot of mental anguish. These are just sample
questions. Many subs have tunnel vision, and they will always try to
do what is easiest for them. The GC is the one with the big picture.
Think of it...instead of finding one good GC, you will have to find a
good concrete guy, excavator, framer, electrician, etc. etc. They are
all used to working for contractors, not homeowners, so you will be at
the bottom of their priority lists. I do this for a living, and
running the subs can definitely be the most frustrating part of the
job if you get the wrong ones. And not only should you know what each
sub does, you should know what they charge. It's all pretty
overwhelming for an amateur.
I would focus instead on finding a good contractor. Ask around--word
of mouth is the way to go. Good contractors are out there, and the
good ones don't advertise in the yellow pages.
I tend to agree with Marson. Unless you have had some experience with other
houses or additions you may be in over your head. Of course it depends on
your circumstances as well. If you are retired and have a load of time on
your hands and you have two or three years to build, then you can brush up
on your construction knowledge. If you are working full time and are not
living near the site, it would be best to find a good general contractor
that you can work with.
The important thing is to have good plans as well as good specifications to
go with the plans. You should have all the details worked out BEFORE you
begin. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked to wire a kitchen
without a kitchen detail. So my work comes to a halt as does the plumber's
until the owners figure out where the sink and stove are going to go and
what kind of appliances they will be installing. If you want undercabinet
lights I would need to know before the wall gets covered up; Not after the
cabinets are installed. I recently wired a detached garage with an upstairs
apartment. I had to wait six weeks after we signed the contract because the
owner did not choose a roofing material ahead of time. I went one day to
try and get a head start and it started to rain inside and outside. I had
to stop my work because I couldn't let the wiring get wet. When the roof
was on I went back to do my work.
First get an architect to draw the plans for your dream house. Ponder it
for a few weeks and make notes about changes and additions. Then go back to
the architect and have him or her incorporate your changes into the
drawings. Keep doing this until you have a clear picture and very specific
drawings. Then make up a list of specifications such as all kitchen lights
to be such and such brand and model number. Have specifications for each
room down to the last detail such as what type of outlets you want
installed. Next hire a kitchen designer to draw your dream kitchen. Make
sure to have specifications and locations for all major appliances. Don't
forget utility closets for the furnace and water heater or will you have a
basement? If you are retired you may not want to have too many stairs.
When you have all of these plans and specifications finished and refined to
perfection make up five copies of each and give them out to five different
contractors for pricing. This way you can compare apples to apples when the
contractors come back with their estimates.
Do you have any experience with rural living? Rural homes tend to be
smaller and more spread out. A 2500 SF house, a 2000 SF detached
garage/shop, another 1500 SF barn for hay and livestock and another shed
(fairly near the shop) for equipment storage. An RV pad with a full
hookup will be a big attraction when you sell the place. Just don't
dump an RV holding tank into a septic tank. You will overload the
system. In Florida, you can probably pass on the greenhouse, but a
couple of large cold frames would be nice if someone in the family has a
green thumb. Don't put all your money into a house, when other
buildings will do you more good.
To develop maximum value, you need to plan the estate. Setting is
crucial in the country. You need to integrate the buildings with the
landscaping and fencing. Don't forget garbage and recycling. Plunk an
unmodified urban house down in a rural setting and it will take a lot of
work to keep it from looking like a junk yard. Drive around and look
for really attractive country places to get some ideas of what is
For email, replace firstnamelastinitial
with my first name and last initial.
Probably between $100 to $200 per square foot.
My advice is to not hire the wrong GC. Hire the right one.
Ask for references and then call them. There is a reason us
GCs are making big bucks (Bwaaaahaaaahaaaa!).
Seriously, you can't imagine the problems that you will face
on a daily basis as your own GC. To make the right decisions,
you need to know the answer and it is not something that you
will probably know without having experience. I have 35 years
of it and I still get hit with questions that I have to
It is good to have a GC. They will pull their hair out and
let you keep yours.
I just finished a small remodel job. The owner wanted to do
some of the work and I did the rest. When we were done, she
told me that she will never again do anything other than call
me. She said that she never realized how much work went into
a simple remodel job and she NEVER WANTS TO GO THROUGH THAT
AGAIN! That job was only 2 months long.
Everything I did flowed smoothly while everything she did was
a disaster. Now, she had her share of bad luck and sorry
subs, but it can happen with good luck and good subs if you
don't know what you are doing. You especially need to know
how to talk to subs. They aren't your children but they often
need to be sweet talked, or yelled at. It just depends. If
you yell when you should be talking sweet or vice versa, it
can be bad. Very bad. Lawyers bad. You don't want that.
Find a good GC and you can sleep at night while he stays up
and does the planning for tomorrow.
Well said Robert. I forgot all about the need to know how to deal
with people. I worked for a woman one time who brought in her own
electricians for some reason. The first day, she sets up this big
digital clock so she can track their every minute. Needless to say,
it didn't go real well.
On Wed, 2 Jan 2008 10:55:21 -0800 (PST), " firstname.lastname@example.org"
My first advice is if you really have no buiilding experience, you
will end up in a nightmare.
It is going to be very hard to figure out who the good trades are and
who the slugs are if you don't have contacts in the industry. It is
also hard for a novice to figure out when they are bullshitting you.
Of course hiring a general contractor can be a crap shoot too but it
is only one roll of the dice verses a roll for each trade you hire.
One bad trade can turn a fairly smooth project into that nightmare I
was talking about if you don't get him out of there quickly.
The good news is there are a lot of trades out of work right now, the
bad news is the best ones are still working somewhere.
1) Building is (not to be rude) nuts. I would say the same thing if
you were trying to set your hair on fire. The housing bubble means
that thre will be tons of houses in FL available at low low prices.
FL is the worst housing market on earth. In 2008-2009 it will be a
bloodbath of reposessions, fire sales, etc.
"Over the next five years, the futures contracts are pointing to
losses of around 35 per cent in some areas, such as Florida,
California and Las Vegas. There is a good chance that this housing
recession will go on for years." - Robert Shiller
Links about prices:
2) For God's sake avoid Mr. Build and other craptastic methods. If
you want to save money, wait til the bubble bursts even more and
stroll in and buy what you want. If you still want to build - and
you'll be one of the few doing this - contractors and trades in FL
will be desperate for work.
The going rate is between $75 and $750 per square foot. Dirt work and
landscaping extra. Pool extra. To find the exact cost, keep track. At the
end, divide the amount spent by the square footage, and you will have a per
square foot price.
How much that figure is depends on your management, organizational, and
professional skill level.
Pretty much... depending upon what you know.
If you feel a need to inquire here, you might add 50%.
If you don't know what you're doing, I think it's best to buy an
existing home. If you want the education, build as much of it as you
can yourself, and be prepared to pay, perhaps dearly, for tuition.
If you're 25, that education might be worth it. If you're 55, cut 20
years off your life expectancy, and go ahead and die upon occupancy.
The savings in assisted living fess will please your heirs.
I've built one home, remodeled two TOTALLY, and am adding a 1,000 sf casita
to my present house.
It ain't rocket surgery. It is a lot of work. Each project has its own
peculiarities. Things can and do go wrong.
It's just a poor place to immerse one's self. In particular, the size and
scope of the project the OP describes.
He intones that he has little or no experience with subs. If that's the
case, then he'll be eaten alive.
It is impossible to learn it all on one project. On my first, I studied it
all for about a year, and then went forth. It went pretty well. The others
varied. Point is, if someone is intelligent, does a lot of preparatory
study, and manages and supervises people well, things should go okay. That
is not to say some things turn into a nightmare, but in my experience,
unless you go into high end granite work, complicated plumbing, out of the
ordinary loads that require engineering, complicated roof structures, or
other costly alternatives, the standard construction can be reasonably
predictable. It's just when you get into specialties that it can go crazy.
There's a million details to keep straight and all at once. Ordering.
Payroll. Quality control. Exhibiting a presence so the subs know you are
at least watching what's going on. Calling them on bluffs, overruns,
add-ons, and bullshit. Working out change orders on paper. And then
there's the financial aspect, whether you're doing an OC construction loan
and have to have everything inspected and verified, or you're working out of
pocket and it works a little more fluidly. Flow charts, projection spread
sheets, graphs, and all kinds of stuff can be done in advance, and that's
good. Then there's the reality line that is penciled in as it goes.
After having done it, I would never have a general do the total job, but use
a general for the major part, and handle some of the subs myself. Most
contractors are okay with this unless they are involved in high end houses
and want to make all the money. And those are the ones that will cost an
arm and a leg. Everything will be fine in the end except a big hole in your
On my casita, I have saved money on almost every aspect by shopping subs,
and getting good referrals. Only had one doofus on the drywall and ran him
off after three hours. I'm doing a portion of the work myself, and saving
even more. I buy all materials, except for the framing, trusses, stucco,
hvac, rough plumbing and slab. So, if you know how to do stuff, you can do
more yourself and know when someone's jerking your chain.
A lot of it depends, too, on how much time you can take off. A lot of
people can't take off long enough to build a house. So they have to pay
someone to do it.
In this current market, I think I'd just buy a ready built one. I'm sure
there's lots of NEW houses in that area which would be a better investment
than risking a lot on a first time project of this proportion.
On Jan 2, 1:55 pm, " email@example.com"
I think if you have no experience in building, or have familly /
friends who are in the trade, then I would avoid trying to do it. I
built a home in New York from the ground up, including blasting rock
with dynamite. However I had a very good General contractor and an
The most risk on a build is the site. I.E. no one knows what is under
the land. Will it support the weight of the house? Is it swampy? In my
case I had to blast, and no one knew the cost of the excavation /
foundation. Once the foundation is in, the rest of the house pircing
can be predicted pretty accurately.
From your E-mails it looks like you already have a site. Maybe it is
familly land or are you thinking of buying it. If you need to buy the
land, bring along an expert. Can something really be built there?
If you already have the land, I think your next step is to hire a good
architect. A good one will know the cost of a build, and be able to
advise you. My Architect charged about $US 100 per hour. So if you are
at the exploration stage, you need to keep a tight rein on his work
hours. All you need is to see how much you need to spend to see if you
can afford what you want and what is possible. This should be no more
than maybe one site visit, and maybe another 3 hours or so work. At
the end he should be able to sit down with you, and tell you where you
Costs are really difficult to predict, but in general I would say
whatever you think + 30%. I would also say about $US 250 a square foot
is a "Nicely Equiped" house in car buying parlance. On top of the 250
per sq foot, I would add additional money for basics: Well, Sewage,
Electricity, Driverway. My land was very rocky so I had a $US 100,000
charge for all the blasting and rock work, so do not get caught out on
the basic infrastucture costs.
Good luck and I hope you achive your dream. Note that houses around
you are cheap due to the property crash. However I would also say,
construction costs are also cheap. Material costs are lower,
construction peoples prices are lower. Also less lag time in trying to
get a good carpenter etc.
Warmest regards, Mike.
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