Contracting Your Own Home – A Review

June 12, 2009

ContractingHome_150x195For those of you that are looking for the ultimate guide to building a house, look no further. I am so impressed by the American Home Counsel book, The Ultimate Guide to Contracting Your Own Home. It is well written and full of knowledgeable information, tips and advice. For such a small price you get a fantastic home building resource, a Money Savings Guide, and a book of very useful forms. The President of the American Home Counsel, Bill Edwards, has over 30 years of experience to back up every word. He covers everything before the purchase, from the ground up, and from the inside out.

You’ll find out what you need to get started, how to determine your budget, and how to finance your new home. People that want to build or contract their own home or act as their own general contractor generally do it because they want to save money, or be in control of the process, or both. As the cost of building a house continues to increase, who wouldn’t want to save 30 to 40 percent on home building costs? So, if you’re thinking about running the show, here’s a peak at the organization you’re going to be in charge of:

Personal Building OrganizationIn his book, Mr. Edwards provides detailed information about choosing a home design, finding the best location for building a house, creating cost estimates, how to buy building materials, and how to find the best subcontractors. The amazing thing about this book is that there are step-by-step details for how to do everything, right down to what you need to take to your lender to apply for financing.

If this is your first home building project he suggests choosing a site that is easy to build on, not one that, while it might be your dream property, is fraught with challenges and high expenses. He also advises having a backup plan in case the house isn’t finished on time. I see a lot of houses being built on vacant land in Idaho and I can tell you that not many people think about what to do if there are project delays. So, instead of getting angry, just have a plan in place. He also talks about things you can do to avoid creating your own delays (don’t wait until the last minute to decide on construction methods or paint colors, for example).

Estimating building costs is a lot easier if you have a home plan that includes material lists. The chapter on home plans and designs include the latest research in trends and designs for every room in the house, and THANK YOU for including information about environmentally friendly construction!

Take a look at the table of contents and tell me that this book isn’t worth every penny:

  1. Contracting Your Own Home
  2. Determining Your Budget
  3. Financing
  4. The Building Lot
  5. Home Plans
  6. Subcontractors & Suppliers
  7. Preliminary Preparation
  8. Site Prep & Grading
  9. Footings & Foundations
  10. Framing
  11. Mechanical Systems
  12. Exterior Finishes
  13. Interior Finishes
  14. Estimating
  15. Project Management

In addition to the book, you get complete forms ranging from a subcontractor agreement to a purchase contract for the land you buy, to cost accounting forms. The Money Savings Guide provides information about how to save money on your home building project with money saving home plans, new energy systems, tax advantages, and good old sweat equity.

Finally, I just have to say a few more things about this book. It’s well thought out, it presents the material clearly and in a concise fashion, and the format is superb. Do yourself a favor and buy this book if you are at all thinking about building your own home or acting as the general contractor. Thirty years of experience has gone into this book and it’s a winner!

Here are a few home designs to whet your appetite:

Home Designs1

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