We are thinking of adding a Den to our house. It is about 200sq. And we'd
like to get permit for this addition. At the same time, we want to save some
money by being the general contractor for ourselves.
Without much knowledge of home improvement projects, we are seeking advice
on where we should start, what the best way is to proceed, and what kind of
difficulties we are going to run into. Any information or suggestion is
If it can help, we live in Cupertino, CA at San Francisco bay area.
I started my 12 x 20 addition in June as the general contractor, which means
you hire others to do each phase of the work.
I am lucky to have a good friend who drew up the plans (couldn't find an
architect who wanted to do such a small job but learned lots talking to
them), did the framing, roofing, and thought out all the small details I
wouldn't have thought of. He also brought in a couple of other guys who
could help with framing and had worked on construction projects.
I began by getting lots of books from the library, surfing the internet, and
asking lots of questions of any one who would talk to me. The
building/permit people were very informative and helpful. By the way, I saw
several plans drawn by architects rejected while I was waiting my turn for
review of my plans.
I got 3 estimates for everything: foundation, electrical, etc. The research
I did helped to ask questions of the bidders and in deciding if I was
getting good work at a fair price. I added to each contract that the work
must pass city inspection (the electric didn't the first time). I kept
everything in a big notebook along with a calendar where I kept track of
phone calls, inspections, hours worked, etc. I also keep expense records and
pay outs there.
It took a lot of time to find the right windows, door, shingles, siding,
etc, and to haul them or arrange for delivery at the right time. I recently
retired so all the delays caused by heavy rains, vacations, re-inspection,
etc. didn't bother me too much. The guys doing the general building are
working on weekends and evenings so the work has gone more slowly than it
If I had been working, the delays would have been extremely frustrating. I
had time to make the phone calls and be here for inspections. For example
the electric lines coming into the house had to be moved. After we passed
the city inspection for the meter, mast, and service panel moving (as the
elec. company engineer told me we needed to do), I called our local elec.
company every day for a solid month to string the new wires from the house
to the pole so we could complete the roofing. When I finally complained to
the Public Utilities Commission, the workers were here within 2 hours.
I would do your research, get lots of estimates, decide what you can do
yourself, and don't rule out using one contractor to do the organizing for
you. I wanted to do some of the work myself and some of it was hard
(cleaning up construction debris, shingles, etc and throwing them in a
dumpster), but insulation, for example, was easy.
One reason I did my addition my way was the shoddy job a company did on a 3
seasons room on a neighbor's house. I don't want mushrooms growing on my
I have had fun doing this and there is lots yet to do. I have heard horror
stories of divorces over remodeling. Fortunately, my husband has plenty of
patience and has pitched in when he can.
I also kept the workers supplied with plenty of water, coffee, and
sandwiches. I appreciated their work and enjoyed talking with them.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.