The Owner as General Contractor

Basically, I think general contractors earn their money. General contracting is hard work, and you need lots of time to be able to do a good job. It was important to me that everybody I hired to work on the project was totally aligned with our goals and ideals. If a tradesperson wasn't supportive, I didn't want them on the project. You have to find people whose attitudes match your own. If any crews are resentful or aren't getting along with you, it can make it unpleasant to be at the building site. But you can't stay away; it's your house! So a good working relationship is a must. Right from the quoting process, you can tell if you're dealing with someone who's going to be thrilled to be involved. You can tell by the questions they ask and their language and attitude. It's not just the price to be watching for. We have a friend who is Cree, and he taught us that you leave your energy in anything you do. So make sure you like a person's energy before you hire them, because they're going to leave it behind in your house. The guys who did our post and beam frame always gave us updates and let us know their needs and schedules. You need that kind of relationship or you could really screw up. When it works, it's very exciting.

I had prior knowledge of other building types, having self-contracted a conventional home. But that didn't prepare me for the specifics of putting up the bales. I'd read a book and seen a video, but had no hands-on experience. As a result, I missed entire aspects of the process. Quilting the stucco mesh was a process I didn't even have in my schedule, and it took as much time as raising the bales. If you have the time to do it yourself and learn as you go, that's fine. But if you have a tight schedule, it's good to have someone knowledgeable to oversee the bale raising process, even if you're using volunteers. I also wasn't prepared for how much time it would take to call and arrange volunteers. Phoning and asking for help is not something I'm good at, and it was hard to do.

There is always the problem of running out of money. Don't forget to add in taxes when doing your budgeting! That extra percentage makes a big difference. Wood prices can change, too. Wood went up almost 40 percent ^

professional requires of the other. Keep the meeting short and focused, and be sure everybody leaves with what they need to know.

If you are incorporating nonstandard materials in your project, be sure everybody knows what materials are to be used, where they can be sourced, and how they function in the building. Otherwise, most professionals will price, source, and buy materials based on their own experience and habits.

Building professionals usually work on a first-come,first-served basis;make sure you book your work early. In areas with harsh winters, building projects are crammed into a short, fran tic season, so trying to hire somebody mid-season can be difficult and frustrating.

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