Can I Be an Owner/Builder for my Timber Frame House?

Are you wondering, Can I be an owner/builder for my timber frame house? ?– Owner builders are people that enjoy a challenge and want to build their own timber frame house, either by contracting out the work or doing it all themselves.  Most are also looking to save some money on contractor fees and gain control of the building process.

Most owner builders act as their own contractor.  Some code offices require a licensed contractor be on the permit.  If you are not a contractor and this is the case, you may need to make friends with a contractor that is willing to put their name on your permit.

Can I Be an Owner/BuilderLicensed contractors play several roles in the construction of the house.  First, they hire subcontractors and act as the “go-between” between the subs and the owner, and between the subs themselves.  They make sure that there is a logical scheduling of the various subcontractors. Contractors also have their own framing and general carpentry crews that they are used to dealing with.  By acting as the contractor, you will need to find your own crews and orchestrate the scheduling of everyone.  You will also need to make sure that all the supplies needed are on site for the workers to help prevent costly delays.  That brings me to another responsibility of the contractor.

Hired contractors also do all, or most, of the purchasing of supplies and materials. Because of the sales volume that they provide to various stores, contractors can usually get reduced prices or special payment plans.  This is definitely a factor to consider if saving money is your primary goal. While you will generally pay a contractor 10-15% of the cost of the total job, you may not be able to achieve savings on materials like they can. Some stores will give owner/builders the contractor rate, so it is always worth asking for.

Last, another major responsibility of the contractor is to deal with the local code office and obtain the varying permits,  and fulfill the requirements that are needed to stay in compliance.  As the owner builder, you are responsible for arranging all of the permitting for well, septic, etc… and for making sure the plans and actual construction are in compliance with building regulations.  If you are not familiar with the code requirements to begin with, this task alone can be very daunting and time consuming.

So…can you be an owner/builder of your timber frame house kit? Only you and your family can answer that question.  It is a time consuming and mentally demanding project; but, chances are, if you decide to tackle building your own house, you will have a sense of ownership and pride at the end that you would not have otherwise. In the end, you must decide whether the control and potential savings are worth the large amount of time involved.

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2 Responses to Can I Be an Owner/Builder for my Timber Frame House?

  1. Thom Stanton September 23, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    Great info, Brice. The owner/builder opportunity has allure, and all who start a project have the best intentions. I’m sure many would agree that having a contractor on call, especially in the early days, will ensure you get over the highest hurdles and establish a solid bond for back-up assistance should you run out of time, energy, or patience. Thanks — as always — for sharing your timber framing knowledge!

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