Building a home with a contractor -- is it possible?

A few remarks: 1 - Only the person doing the remodel can assess how much their hourly cost is. It can range from $20 to $100. I do my math thinking about how much I would pay the sub to do the job and if I could do it with the same quality level. In many cases my answer is "yes" but I am handy and a technical (engineering) background. Does my job hourly rate is higher or lower? That would be comparing apples and oranges. I have to think how much I am spending to have the job done and if I can do it myself in a decent amount of time with a decent quality.
2 - "Sweat Equity" - that is a major if one wants to increase the value of his/her home without spending more than the home is worth. And belive me, many people do that mistake. In many cases we have to do the job ourselves not only because of budget constraints but also to not throw money away. Unless the latter is not an issue. In my case it is.
3 - A good architect will produce very good drawings that will require minimum corrections. In my case she came to my house a couple times and we took all measures. After that we just exchanged e-mails where she sent me the drawing for me to check or I sent her photos to clarify some doubts. Does it work for everyone? Yes if you can read drawings and your architect is good and flexible. Actually, she even made some changes we asked after the demolition and framing started (due to some surprises that any old house has) without gauging the cost. After framing is done there's no more need for the architect since it's just plumbing, insulation, electrical and drywalls...
4 - One example of savings. The average bid for the electrical was $5k. I did everything myself, even adding a lot more more stuff, for around $2k in material and about five weekends of labor. The change orders would likely have brought the job to $6 or 7k. Installation passed inspection with only one remark where I had to change one junction box that was too small for the volume of wires and add one extra outlet because of code distances. Was it worth the weekends my wife and I did not go out (and spent more money in movies, etc? You bet. When I add the other stuff such as the GC costs and other things I did myself the savings go easily to the mid-five figures. I simply could not afford it.
5 - I am not saying this is for everyone. The person has to dedicate him/herself to it as a second (or primary) job. Not everyone will find it gratifying. In my case it is. I like doing/fixing stuff around the house and most of all, saving a lot of money in the process.
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