WELCOME BACK FRIENDS!
Welcome back to my blog series, THE FOUR KEY PEOPLE WHEN BUILDING YOUR DREAM HOME – Part 3, The General Contractor. If you are new to my blog– a few months ago, when I announced to the world 😱 that our family was FINALLY building our dream house, I was flooded with questions about the process. I decided to start a blog series on the construction process, with the hope that I can help or inspire you! If you are also in the process of building a home, or dreaming about building a home someday, this is a series you do not want to miss. In Part 1 – I discussed the importance of the Architect/House Designer. In Part 2 – I talked about the Excavator. And here I am, already on Part 3 of this series — which means that I’m one step closer to crazy– oh yeah — and let’s not forget the real end goal– which is the completion of #thelaydenlegacy!
The days are passing quickly, and I am now officially fully submerged in the building process! What does this mean? This means that my life has been just a tiny bit STRESSFUL as I continue to grow my blogging business, as well as resume all my normal parenting and home responsibilities. I do have three kids and a husband –thankfully no animals to take care of right now! So.. yes…my head is barely above water. I’ve been told more times than I can count by my family, friends, and the internet, that building a house will probably be the biggest project of my life. They were correct! To be honest, I can’t even believe I’m half way there! It has definitely been a full time job and then some– just as I was warned before we started this process!
Needless to say, “this job” is always on my mind. I go to bed thinking about the house. I dream about it. Then I wake up worrying about what I have to do that day to accomplish the ultimate task. The only time I am NOT thinking about my new construction project is when I’m working out– and that is because all I can think about is trying to breathe as Shaun T attempts to kill me! (For those of you that don’t know who Shaun T is – he is a television fitness trainer.) I’m really trying my best to ensure our new construction project is as “right” as it can be the first time around–which is also why our project is taking way longer than it takes other people to build a home. I have poured my entire being into this house for many years now. They say hind site is 20/20, and looking back now it’s almost as if this house was destined to be blogged about. My blood, sweat, and tears- they have been in this house for years… Ahhh! I just can’t wait to see the end result. I hope it’s as gratifying as I imagine it to be. I love our 7 acre lot so much that even though people tell me I will build again, I just can’t imagine it! I mean..I guess I should never say never– but I really think this is IT. I am so blessed to have this chance in life– to even build a house– and I really want to NAIL IT!
And before I continue any further, I just want to say how thankful I am that you all have joined me for this series. I’m grateful that so many of you have come back to my blog time and time again. What was once only a pipe dream has now become a reality for me. For those of you who are reading this– and feel called in your heart to do something…take that chance! Don’t wait any longer! Life truly begins at the end of your comfort zone.
And now, without further ado- the time has finally come to talk about the main person (other than myself) responsible for this CRAZY and ENORMOUS project I dreamed in my head for years! It’s FINALLY time to talk about The Main Man… The Ringleader… The Head Honcho…. The Big Kahuna… None other than The General Contractor. I’ve been constructing this post in my head for awhile, and I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned with you! Thank you again for your love and support, and for following our journey to the completion of #thelaydenlegacy
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HOW DO YOU HIRE A GENERAL CONTRACTOR?
REMEMBER: This is YOUR money!
So YES! You actually are hiring this person to work for you!
1. DO PRELIMINARY RESEARCH!
What exactly is Preliminary Research? This is when you start exploring the new construction process… it’s the analytical review. [My husband thinks I wasn’t paying attention those THREE years when he did preliminary research for his dissertation. What he didn’t realize is that I was performing the preliminary research for our new construction! Ha!] When beginning the new construction process, you must start by getting a feel for the direction that you want to go. Start researching different builders in your area. Some ways to do this are by attending Home Shows, Parade of Homes, Facebook Business Pages, Yelp Reviews, Online Searches, and most importantly word of mouth from family, friends, and neighbors.
2. DECIDE THE ROUTE YOU WANT TO GO!
Do you want to build a production home or a custom home? I wrote all about Production vs Custom Homes in this post in case you need help distinguishing the differences between the two. Before you go any further in the building process, you 100 PERCENT need to decide if you want to go Production vs Custom. Once you’ve decided between the two, you can proceed to the next step.
3. NARROW DOWN THE GENERAL CONTRACTORS YOU ARE CONSIDERING HIRING!
I would say at this point in the process, it would be a good idea to have THREE general contractors selected who you are considering to build your home.
4. START THE INTERVIEW PROCESS WITH THE GENERAL CONTRACTORS.
Next, the interview process will begin. You will meet the General Contractor or Building company to get a feel for the direction you are heading. If you aren’t working with a large construction company – please don’t expect every self-employed general contractor to give you a detailed bid. Do you realize all the components that go into a custom house? I think all GC’s would agree that seeking an extremely detailed bid is the most annoying thing a customer can do, especially if they have no intentions of hiring the person. All general contractors, although they need continuous work, don’t have the extra hours to draft up detailed bids. Do these hard workers a favor and ditch window shopping! It is extremely hard to get an EXACT overall price for a custom home. The cost of finishes varies so much that unless you have the exact items picked out before you start the process, you won’t have an accurate total anyway!
5. HIRE THE GENERAL CONTRACTOR OF CHOICE! WOW!
YOU DID IT! You found your match and you’re ready to go all in! Enjoy the crazy ride! (Insert: Fasten your seatbelt and watching for jumping deer!)
YOU’VE HIRED THE GENERAL CONTRACTOR– NOW WHAT?
THE EIGHT THINGS YOU MUST DO & FIND OUT BEFORE YOU BREAK GROUND!
1. DID YOU OVER-ANALYZE THE BID?
What is included in the actual bid? This is where you have to get your head out of the gutter, and really hone into the process. You need to look with detail, and see the budget allotments for each category. Do you expect marble countertops, but your GC only assumed you wanted laminate? Do you want a tile shower, but your GC thought you could use a stock tub? Do you want wooden windows, but the GC allotted for vinyl? You really need to have a general feel for the finishes you want at this time because trust me — finishes can change a bid by hundreds of thousands of dollars! Ask lots of questions! Do not be afraid at this point to share your concerns!
2. DOES YOUR GENERAL CONTRACTOR USE SUBCONTRACTORS?
Does the GC subcontract certain jobs? If so, ask why. Will this save you money? Will it cost you more money? Also, be sure to ask if you are allowed to find your own subcontractors. While this is definitely more stressful, it puts the power of saving money directly in your hands. Subcontracting in new construction is something you need to think about.
3. WHAT ROLE DOES THE GENERAL CONTRACTOR PLAY IN THE PROCESS?
The term General Contractor is a very loose term. I have friends whose GC micromanaged the entire project. I have other friends who did so much of the grunt work that they earned the title GC themselves. What role will the GC take on in your project? This is the question you need answered! Are you responsible for setting up deliveries? Are you in charge of hiring the subcontractors? Are you overseeing the project? What is the crew like? Does the building crew strive for excellence in their work? I’ll never forget that I was in a house once, and I couldn’t believe the number of paint drippings everywhere… the paint subcontractor obviously took no care to the job. Sadly, I’m not even sure the homeowners realized it. I know this is a small example- but you need to be sure the crew will take pride in their work as well. There are many times in this process when the GC isn’t even on site!
4. IS THERE A WAY TO SAVE MONEY?
Money…everyone’s least favorite topic (my husband would disagree!)- he likes talking about it — I just like spending it. LOL! And the million dollar question- how can you save money with your project? Can you shop around? Can your order your lights on Amazon? Can you look for items on sale? Can you paint your own walls if you want too? If you want to try to save (and I think we ALL do)– now is the time to ask how!
5. CAN YOU DO ANY OF THE CONSTRUCTION WORK YOURSELF?
When we started the project, we were adamant about NOT doing any work ourselves. The house we currently live in has been an ongoing project since we bought it 13 years ago. It wasn’t necessarily work that “needed” to be done, but they were aesthetic jobs we wanted to do. None the less… we are tired! Well, being tired doesn’t pay the bills, and with that being said, if you are local and drive by our new construction, don’t be alarmed if you see our entire family painting or doing any other house related job. My four year old- she’s totally able to paint trim, right? Ha! Building a dream house is just that- A DREAM…. and early on my husband and I accepted FULL responsibility that we would do whatever was necessary to make it a reality.
6. HAVE YOU SEEN THE ACTUAL WORK OF THE CONTRACTOR?
Never just “take a GC’s word of the work they have done”. I know it sounds like common sense, but look at the work in person. You may not like what you see and it could be a deal breaker. Drive to the site and see for yourself if you are satisfied, and determine if the person you hired will meet your expectations.
7. WHAT IS THE BUILDING TIMEFRAME?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that all good things take time. AMAZING things take MORE time. I’ll be honest, and this may alarm some of you– but I actually don’t have a DEADLINE for this project and my GC knows that! We discussed this from the beginning. Now, with that being said, I hope we are in the house before Anna (our oldest goes to college), Ha, but the reality is, we know with our busy lifestyle, and our involvement with our kids, that this was not going to be a quick and painless process. I’m sure most of you are the EXACT OPPOSITE of us — so you need to ask upfront how long it’s probably going to take — AND THEN EXPECT 6 MONTHS LONGER. Trust me! This process takes time. There will be setbacks, lots of THEM… ones that you never in a million years would have anticipated!
8. IS THERE A GUARANTEE OR WARRANTY OF WORK?
Does the GC offer a guarantee to come back and fix issues you could be having. Is their work warrantied? What happens if you run into a major problem a year down the road? Are you stuck? This is why I feel it’s essential to hire someone who has been in business for awhile and has a good reputation. You just don’t know if you’ll need the company to come back to the job. You also don’t want to be afraid to call them– or worse yet… call on them to find out they are bankrupt or out of business.
HOW HIRING A GENERAL CONTRACTOR WAS LIKE SELECTING MY HUSBAND!
(or at least my experience with finding a husband)
Now, I’m going to throw everything I previously said out the window– because the list below truly highlights the MOST important things you need to look for when hiring a General Contractor– How do I know this? Because I found the best fitting GC for me without doing ALL of the things I mentioned above! 🤔😱😭 I told you this part now relates to finding your husband…
1. When you know– you know.
2. Go with your gut.
3. When it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.
4. Find someone you are compatible with.
5. Do they have a great personality?
6. Make sure you have aligning values.
7. Do you trust the person in regards to both small and large matters?
Now I will tell you that upon my first meeting with our GC, I knew he was the “one”. I am a believer in fate. I just knew it was meant to be. I am a Taurus by horoscope sign which means there are limited people in the world I would be able to work with on a project so large. When I met our GC, it was an instant connection. I equate finding a general contractor to my past dating life. Friends always said I was crazy when I knew before the first date that I didn’t see myself getting seriously involved. I also knew on the first date with my husband that I would marry him. I told my mom. She also said I was crazy. But I wasn’t! Because over 18 years later, Scott’s still the one. I’m sure there are other men out there I could possibly have made it work with- 🤔 just like there are other GC’s that could have built me a house 🤔. There are so many wonderful general contractors in my area….but I didn’t just want anyone.. I wanted THE ONE!
I consider myself extremely lucky because I pretty much stumbled into finding the GC I chose. And before I get too off topic, I’d just like to say that if you “believe” and your faith is stronger than your fear, what’s meant to be will find a way. Our GC had all the other qualities I was looking for- because those are important as well… but I just loved his laid back honest vibe and personality. We had immediate chemistry that made me realize he would be the person to help me build the house of my dreams.
NOW, FOR THE CRAZIEST PART…
While, my GC is fully aware that I wrote this post, I did have to explain to him about “blogging” and the internet in general. Bizarre to think, right?!? My GC is of the old order Amish and it is strictly against his religious beliefs to use the internet or even have his photo taken for that matter. He did not want me promoting his business on the internet or even stating his name. Out of respect for him and his beliefs, I’m very sorry that I am unable to share his contact information with you in this capacity. If you are local, and want more information, please feel free to send me an email at email@example.com.
Also- I know many of you are now thinking…WHY in the world would you decide to build with an AMISH CREW? I have an upcoming blog post that will highlight and honestly address all of the questions that I’ve gotten over the past year about building with the Amish. It’s a post you are not going to want to miss if you are considering going in this direction, because I definitely don’t think building with the Amish is for everyone! Amish Construction has become a somewhat controversial topic in my area, and it’s one I hope to shed some light on!
Remember, there are lots of sneak peeks on my instagram account @jessicalayden. Be sure to subscribe by email so you don’t miss a post! Links at the top of the page.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for following our journey. I am so thankful for each and every one of you! And remember, I’d love to hear from you about what you’d like to see more of! Beauty? Fashion? Recipes? Feel free to message me at anytime! firstname.lastname@example.org