Subcontractors: Front End
Licensed and Insured!!!
It is absolutely crucial that all the subcontractors that bid on your project produce licenses and insurances. The owner builder will take on the liabilities that uninsured subcontractors bring with them. The best trade partners are those that have got their administrative house in order and have superior knowledge. Don't even consider a trade contractor that isn't insured and don't assume they are. Demand proof of insurance and licenses before payment or work commences.
The owner builder will need a licensed surveyor to conduct the lot survey. A surveyor will identify any lot abnormalities and will verify property lines and finished floor elevations.
The excavator will initiate the construction phase of the homebuilding project. They will level the building pad and dig trenches as required. Excavators charge between $50.00 and $85.00 an hour. Be sure they don't dilly-dally while on your jobsite.
Your excavation contractor will often also offer septic sytems evaluation and installation. However, getting multiple bids on each phase of construction may lead you to hiring a separate contractor for septic. Not all projects require septic. You will only need a septic system if you are unable to tie into local sewer from your property. Consider this additional cost when purchasing your property. It is can substantially reduce the hassle and cost of your building project if you can avoid installing a septic system.
Foundation or Concrete Contractor
This subcontractor lays the groundwork for your structure. Shop around and get good references. Speak with local builders to find out what concrete companies have the best reputation for excellence and timeliness. The foundation subcontractor will be in charge of your concrete slab.
The framing contractor is the primary subcontractor on the owner builder's project. They must be knowledgeable and professional. Consult with your framer if you have questions about the construction process. They often are not only framers but licensed general contractors as well. The importance of framing makes them the most critical of all subcontractors
This contractor is putting the armour on your house. Check the roofer's references carefully. It is better to go with an established company that costs more than a new subcontractor that is less expensive. There is more risk involved with the latter. Construction is a business that many enter into and few succeed. Odds are that a new company will not be in business in a few years. If your contractor is out of business and you have warranty issues, you may have difficulty getting service.
Clear written warranties are essential. Roofing workmanship is waranteed seperately from material warranties.
In the Southwest, stucco is what we build. Stucco contractors are often swamped with work and are late starting and finishing their portion of your project. Research before awarding bids. If you have to pay an extra $300.00 to hire a company with a reputation of prompt work, it's worth it.
HVAC or Mechanical Contractor
As you can see, every contractor has a vital role in the success of your homebuilding project. Each phase of construction has special challenges. The plumber has several key jobs; they run the gas lines in the home, the wastelines in the home and underneath the slab to the street, and all the water lines and fixtures. This subcontractor is on the site or in the house in every major phase of construction. We suggest going with a larger, well established company. Plumbing warranty issues are not uncommon because there are so many areas that can fail.
The electrical contractor lays out and runs your wiring. When interviewing for this subcontractor position, include questions about newer materials and techniques. Find out what costs are involved in making the layout more easy to follow and alter. Remember, there is a high likelihood you will be adding outlets and moving electrical throughout the build. What are the expected change order costs?
Fire Protection/ Sprinkler
Many municipalities require the installation of fire sprinklers in new construction. This is a subject that should be clarified at the local building department. The fire protection contractor will have both front end roughs and inspections as well as trim out and fire final toward the end of construction. Check out our page on local building departments.
Insulation is the last item finished in the front end phase of homebuilding. It is also very critical to insuring a high performing, energy efficient building. Several different insulation technologies that have emerged in recent years. Consider hiring an insulation contractor that offers options for your choosing. Batt insulation has been the standard for many years but is quickly being replaced by treated blown in cellulose. Ask your contractor about additional types of insulation, foam sealing of the home and differences in cost. Some larger insulation companies also do garage doors and fireplaces. Inquire about additional bids.