How to start with construction of my dream house?

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Forum topic by noelagatnola posted 03-17-2009 10:33 AM 1323 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 3533 days

03-17-2009 10:33 AM

I was wondering if anyone knows of a good resource to find contractors? I have been looking online and all I have seen are sites where you have to describe the job then wait to get called from a contractor or if I find a directory type of site there is a limited number of contractors in my area, but I know there are many more. I am trying to build my first house and I was planning on hiring all the contractors so I need a good resource to find them. Something with reviews and article would also be very beneficial, please let me know if anyone knows of a good place to look.

14 replies so far

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4069 days

#1 posted 03-17-2009 12:16 PM

Unless your in the trades and know many different tradesmen I kinda doubt you save much money by hiring all the subtrades yourself. It sounds like you want to be the “General Contractor” so this is my 2 cents.

I give a much bigger discount to the contractor then I would the end customer for a few reasons. I have “history” with the generals. At least the guys I deal with are on the job site everyday, they are familier with “all” trades, I dont have to chase my cheque (very important) and they are organized in that they already know the sequence of what gets done when and they KNOW that they are only as good as the trades they use so in general… get good sub trades.

make sure they are licensed
make sure they have liability insurance
make sure the have workmen’s compensation insurance or an equall
get references and physically check out there references by going to previous customers.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2823 posts in 3613 days

#2 posted 03-17-2009 01:18 PM

Even though you’ll undoubtedly get some good advice here might I suggest you also register and ask this question on homerefurbers. It’s listed as a sister site at the bottom of this page. I’ll bet there are a lot of contractors there. There are certainly a lot of people contracting.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View interpim's profile


1170 posts in 3634 days

#3 posted 03-17-2009 02:19 PM

My father is a licensed general contractor… he has hired someone else the past 3 houses he has built.

-- San Diego, CA

View dalec's profile


612 posts in 4064 days

#4 posted 03-17-2009 02:32 PM

Here’s my two cents:

Things like Angie’s list may be helpful.

Hiring the right general contractor or sub contractors can make things go well. Hiring the wrong one(s) can be a nightmare.

Best wishes regardless of how you proceed.


View CharlieM1958's profile


16278 posts in 4394 days

#5 posted 03-17-2009 02:48 PM

I agree with Roman. Hiring the subcontractors yourself can save you a lot of money IF you have some connections and IF you know a lot about the process of homebuilding. Otherwise, hiring a general contractor is money well spent.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4069 days

#6 posted 03-17-2009 03:22 PM

I think references are priceless and I dont mean calling by phone or a web search. I mean hardcore walking and driving to physically look at and listen to, the previous customer, and physically look at their work. I would check out as many references in person, as possible, and you will get a feel for what you might be getting into.

It must be tough moving around a country, from city to city, or country to country, and with every move, you dont know a soul and then do a renovation. You get advice from work peers or neighbors and they give it all with good intent but cities can be big and theres a lot of movement of trades so who can you you trust….?

I’m lucky I guess as I lived in my neck of the woods my whole life….so far and around here, the word of shitty work travels faster then a hungry cougar on a crippled chicken. Doing a half job, an incomplete job, an eye sore is just a recipe for life long unemployement and a very quick demise. Knowing others in the trades, like electricians, painters, trim carpenters, the last thing they want to do, is take on new clients. I liken it to becomeing a new patient at an established medical practitoner when your a certified hypocondriac… have to know some one, who knows some one, to even get a meeting. Might sound odd but around here its true and thats why I’m trying to imagine how difficult it must be to just pack up and move across the country.

No offence to anyone, but the really, really good GC’s here that do a good job in the genral contracting of custom homes, additions and renovations of custom homes….....dont advertise, at least not in the yellow pages,..........nor do a lot of their trades. There are lots of “Mom and Pop” operators that are probably impossible to find.

Heres another wierd one. The really good residential contractors, wont let your front yard look like an election platform with advertising banners everywhere. ...............not thats theres anything wrong with hanging a shingle if you need work because I sure would…..try.

Good Luck

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4490 days

#7 posted 03-17-2009 04:11 PM

Ask your local cabinet maker. They might know a few good contractors. Talk to some trades men who work with theses folks. I know many contractors who are just out for a buck, but can give you a list of references a mile high. I also know this old guy who only does one job a year. Which he show up at every day. Every tradesman on his job is top notch. Framers will tell you the lumber today is why you can’t have straight, square, and level. Let me tell you on his jobs they are straight, square and level. Which means my cabinets get to go in straight, square, and level. The really strange thing is he charges just as much as anyone else. It might seem like more, because he uses quality material, but that extra 10% is the difference between craftsmanship and crap. Lowest bid equals crap.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4300 days

#8 posted 03-17-2009 05:15 PM

I’ve gotten suckered into the online thing for mortgages, roofing and car buying, the “enter some information and we’ll have a person contact you” is almost always “we’ll send your contact information to 4 or 5 different sellers who may or may not match up with the job you need”, and it’s always been pretty close to worthless. If you’re looking for folks online, stick to web sites with a portfolio that have all their contact info up-front.

I haven’t had a house built for me, so I can’t speak to your particular situation in regards to hiring subcontractors, but I’ll post a counter argument to the “hire a general contractor” theme: after hiring a few licensed/bonded/insured/whatever folks for various jobs around our house I’d be leery of using a contractor to manage them; there’s already enough issues trying to make sure that well recommended people are doing work that’s up-to-snuff and best practices, rather than “just good enough to slip under the building inspector’s radar”, that I’d hate to have yet another layer of communication in the way. In fact, part of my planning for the next permit I’m gonna go pull involves personally reworking a good bit of the electrical that got put in; happy to have a contractor deal with PG&E, but there are a number of places where the electrician stuffed conduit fuller than I’m happy with, or made other decisions that make future work on the electrical system more difficult. Yeah, the inspector passed it, and it’s better than what was there, but I’m gonna live in this house for a few decades…

If you don’t know enough to have higher standards a general contractor is probably a good idea, but if you do, you’ll end up doing rework yourself later. Which might be part of what these other folks are saying: ignorance can be bliss.

I think the best way to find people is to get recommendations from others in the business, and take your gut feel at least as strongly as those recommendations. And I totally agree with Dennis on the “Lowest bid equals crap”, but make sure that the guys who are charging more tell you why.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4069 days

#9 posted 03-17-2009 05:51 PM

Dan Lyke, ....................I couldnt agree more with your counter arguement. One of my brothers works for a GC who can talk the walk but cant walk the talk and he’s really good at talking, an awesome salesman and also comes with references. My brother needs to feed his kin, has bills to pay and his job is to go in after the job is done, and fix a mess. The stories about the communication that goes on with brother, his boss, the client, the trades, sounds always like the perfect storm, nightmarish and yet the GC is busy so its a steady paycheque, and when he’s finally done the job looks good.

its like a game of craps, dice.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3534 days

#10 posted 03-18-2009 01:31 AM

I would also suggest that you take some time and go to a couple of local lumber yards and ask them for some opinions. They will certainly be able to tell you which contractors to avoid because the guys tat are looking to take advantage of you have already atken advantage of the lumber yard. I have gotten some very good referrals from businesses that supply materials to contractors over the years.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View DustyD's profile


1 post in 3532 days

#11 posted 03-18-2009 05:29 AM

Good resource to find contractors In my area we have a Builders ssociation which gives you information on many area builders, If thats not an option a full service lumber yard would be able to assist you in finding a builder.
Don’t try to General it yourself , Two things I have learned Start with a Good plan and let the professionals do there job the savings are not as much as you think. It’s more then you think to keep things on pace and and in the correct order. And when the home is up for inspection all code issues fall on the general. And you will find some Subs don’t respond as fast as you need.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4275 days

#12 posted 03-18-2009 06:03 AM

I am a contractor and I know that many of my subs will not work for anyone other than a professional contractor. It is a rare thing that a homeowner can effectively coordinated the job skillfully.

For building a house you have to be there full time or everyone will give you sloppy seconds on their time, and when one is behind it puts others behind and everyone gets frustrated.

The cost of a contractor may seem high, but it is difficult for people to understand the amount ofresponsibility and liability that they take on and what that costs.

There are plenty of bad contractors but the good news is that there actually are a lot of guys out there that take great pride in what they do. I know of other contractors in my area that have a great reputation and that I respect. I am certain that your area will be the same.

The lumber yards are a good place to ask about a contractor. They service the contractors with product and know them personally.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View wdbutcher71's profile


38 posts in 3602 days

#13 posted 03-19-2009 06:56 AM

I agree with the hire a general crowd on this one. And like has been stated talk to you local resources,i.e. lumber yards, cabinet shops or any supply house. Don’t bother asking around the Home Depot or the like as most of the staff started last Tuesday and know nothing about construction.

A word of warning, pick someone with references and get a hard bid price or even better a contract. Pay a percentage up front but hold enough back to keep the general motivated. If the general comes back looking for more money before the job is thru that is a huge red flag. Most contractors are honest hard working folk, but those out to make a buck and nothing else can screw up you project super fast.

-- Matthew M. Central Washington

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3569 days

#14 posted 03-19-2009 01:17 PM

Word of mouth…’s the best way to find a contractor and references about his work
Avoid those “Servimagic” type places online, thats gambling!!!

MAKE sure to check his Licence first with the Contractors Board of your state, as well as Liability Insurrance and Workers Comp.

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

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