Building Your Own Home For Dummies
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Making the decision to build your own home leads to a search for a contractor. To find the right person to oversee the building of your home, touch on the following topics with each contractor you interview. The contractor's responses can help you determine whether you'll work well together.

  • References: Ask for the addresses of all the houses the contractor has built and ask several owners how satisfied they were with the contractor. If the current owner isn't the original homeowner, find out how the house is holding up after years of use. The older the house, the better to see the quality of construction.

  • Previous experiences: Ask what the contractor's worst building experience was and whether the owner was responsible. Try to assess whether the contractor takes responsibility for problems or simply defers blame.

  • Your involvement in the construction: If you're interested, ask whether the contractor minds you helping with the labor.

  • Cash flow: Ask how the contractor prefers disbursing payments to subs and suppliers (for example, who will sign the checks).

  • Communication: Ask how the contractor prefers keeping the lines of communication open — via phone, e-mail, physical meetings — and how often she'll check in.

  • Decision making: Ask whether he wants you to be involved in every decision or whether he's comfortable making decisions when you're unavailable.

  • Team spirit: Ask what steps the contractor takes to keep the workers, neighbors, and inspectors happy on the project.

  • Pet peeves: Ask for a list of ten things that bother her most about customers.

  • Hypothetically speaking: Ask what the contractor's first steps would be if he took over a project that was three months behind schedule. Also ask how he would handle a project that was 25 percent over budget.

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Kevin Daum has 22 years of experience in the real estate and mortgage industry. He is founder and CEO of Stratford Financial Services, and is the leading expert in custom home financing. Daum has financed more than 800 custom homes and has published numerous articles on construction financing,mortgage education, and entrepreneurship.

Janice Brewster served as editor of Log Home Living magazine for five years.  Brewster has been involved in the custom home industry for more than 10 years.

Peter Economy is Associate Editor for the Drucker Foundation's award-winning magazine Leader to Leader and a featured expert for He's the coauthor of the books Leadership Ensemble: Lessons in Collaborative Management from the World's Only Conductorless Orchestra, Strategic Tools for Social Entrepreneurs: Enhancing the Performance of Your Enterprising Nonprofit, and many others, including Consulting For Dummies, Home-Based Business For Dummies, and Raising Capital For Dummies.

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