I Generalled My Own Home in 1978-79


  • You asked for experiences being one's own GC in building your home.

    Here's my story:

    I generaled my own home in 1978-79. I built a 2,800 sq. ft. log home kit at 6,000' elevation in SE Idaho. I broke ground in mid-August and moved in to the daylight basement the following June - the rest of the house in August.

    1. I had to go to my 7th concrete bid before I could get someone to do the work on a timely basis.
    2. I had an electrician who argued with the plans (and me) the whole time that he was on the job (usually from about 10 AM until 2 PM)
    3. I spent the entire winter running the snow blower to keep the drive open for access for the subs.
    4. I did a lot of the work myself in addition to the management, etc.
    5. I had to get three roofers on the job before it finally got done.
    6. I probably didn't save a dime for my time spent.

    We are now planning a new home. My wife insists that we hire a GC. I can make more money selling commercial real estate during the time spent building the home than the GC will cost. Sure, I won't have the satisfaction that I had before, but I'll probably end up with a nicer home built quicker and for less money!

    Glen R. Fotre, CCIM, RECS, Designated Broker

    George's Comment:

    Glen, Thanks for your story.

    Item #1 in your list is a good example of the types of problems that need to be overcome by people who want to act as their own general contractor. I like to think of this issue from the sub-contractor's point of view:

    "Joe", a good quality concrete sub-contractor is very busy. He has a good list of GCs who use his company for their work. When one of his regular GC clients calls and wants a bid on a new foundation, Joe wastes no time in responding to the call. Joe knows from past experience that the plans for this house will be of good quality. He knows that the site will be ready for his work when he shows up with his crew. He knows that he will be paid on time and he knows that if he continues to do a good job for this long term client more work will come his way.

    There is little doubt that Joe will do everything possible to be of service to his long term client. He may even be willing to work on weekends and postpone vacations to meet his the needs of his regular clients.

    "Joe" gets a call from "Glen". He does not know Glen, does not know if Glen knows anything about construction, does not know if Glen's plans are clear and complete...

    "Joe" is a busy guy. His buddies want to go Elk hunting and Joe wants to join them...

    Well, you get the idea.