Getting Started
Tasks and Players
General Contractors
Design-Build Contractors

Choose the members of your building team carefully as this is the single most important step in your building project. You can have the best plans, specs, and contract documents, but the people you hire will determine the fate of your project, good or bad. Think of your key people – especially your designer and contractor – as business partners. You will working closely with them with a lot of back-and-forth and give-and-take. Make sure you hire competent people that you can trust.

Remember, however, that you are the team leader. As the person paying for this project, the person with the vision, and the person who will live with the results, no one cares as much about your project as you do. You can delegate as much responsibility as you want to others, but you cannot delegate leadership of the project and expect things to come out the way you want. It’s not impossible, just pretty unlikely.

As the owner, you make the ultimate decisions around the design, what materials to use, how much you want to spend, whom to hire to help, and under what type of contract. You can either make these decisions yourself, consciously delegate them to others, or leave them to others by default. Don’t give this control to others and still expect to get the design and workmanship you want at favorable price, and with limited risk. In fact, if you don’t take charge of the project,  you’re likely to get quite the opposite: a high price, high risk, and mediocre workmanship – not exactly the job you had in mind.


Some owners have the time, interest, and talent to handle nearly every aspect of a project on their own. But most will want to collaborate with or delegate to others at least some aspects of the project.  This section will help to decide what to do yourself, what to delegate, how to choose your team members, and how to get everyone working cooperatively read more


This  section  provides a brief description of the main tasks required to plan and complete a significant construction project,  and who typically performs them. However, jobs can be organized a lot of different ways, with different people performing different functions. For example, an architect can also be the general contractor. A general contractor can work for you as a construction manager.  read more


Many people are surprised to hear that the vast majority of single family homes are not designed by architects.  So who designs them? Owners, builders, developers, engineers, and house designers who are not architects. Also, different parts of the design process may be handled by different people  read more


It’s a common misconception that when you hire an architect to design a house, he or she turns over the design to you and your builder, and their work is done. This is one option, but an architect can also see a project through from concept to move-in, if hired by the client to do so. Architects offer a variety of services and you can save a lot of money by hiring them only for the services you need read more


Most medium and large construction jobs are handled by a general contractor or GC. The general contractor may be called a builder, building contractor, remodeling contractor, etc. What makes him a “general” contractor is that he enters into a contract with the owner to complete a project and takes full responsibility to get the job done for the bid price read more


Most residential contractors do a little designing here and there, usually in conjunction with the homeowner, who may bring sketches, photos, and tear-outs from magazines or plan books. Technically, these contractors are providing a design-build service, but do not call themselves design-builders and are not charging separately for the design work read more


While this role was originally developed for use on large commercial projects, it is now used occasionally on single-family residential projects. There are a number of variations, but on small jobs (not the Trump Tower) the essence of the job is this: the construction manager oversees the project for the owner and is paid an hourly or flat fee to make sure things go as planned on the job site  read more


There are numerous books and websites that tell you how easy it is to save thousands of dollars by being your own contractor, also called an owner-builder. The ones I’ve looked at exaggerate the savings and minimize the time commitment required, the difficulties, and the risks. There are owner-builder success stories and owner-builder nightmares. Before going too far down this path, take a hard look at what is required to succeed at this and a clear-eyed view of the potential savings. Then decide if it’s worth it read more



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