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phdhorn

"Simple" house extension - avoid contractor?

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So my wife's and my coke and heroin/sex trafficking businesses are going really well, so we have a little extra jack for an empty-nester re-do of the crib.  One thing we want to do is to put about 20 feet or so onto our house.  Right now it's shaped like an "L" and we'd like to add a little ell on it to make a "U" as it were.  This would essentially join the house at only 2 areas - our master b.r. and the adjoining bath - essentially we want to make them about 20 feet larger (possibly squeeze another bedroom into this but not a big deal).  Mostly we want more master bed and especially bath space (larger shower more closet room, etc.).  

My question is, is it worth paying a middleman (general contractor) or negotiating my own stuff?  The upside is that it wouldn't require a ton of expertise (maybe) and I've already had experience seeing it happen (once when we built the original and 10 years later when we actually put on the first "ell").  I believe I can handle negotiating 1) excavation, 2) slab pouring, 3) rough framing and roofing, 4) extend electric, and 5) extend plumbing.  The "good" thing is that the basic plumbing is there, we would just have the plumber extend the pipes a few feet - plus we're essentially replumbing the entire house within 2 years anyway, so this won't be any extra big deal.

The question is also restated as, do I save enough $ avoiding a general contractor to matter, or am I asking for trouble.  On the surface it seems like a simpler job - no installing toilets or any "in slab" pipes, and almost everything else is merely an add-on of what's there.  If it's not too much of a savings, I'll leave the hassle to him.  I don't love getting on the phone with all of these guys but the seemingly small scope of the project seems like it'll be doable without much hassle (sure!).

Anyone ever tried to put on an extension with you running the show?  

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20 minutes ago, phdhorn said:

So my wife's and my coke and heroin/sex trafficking businesses are going really well, so we have a little extra jack for an empty-nester re-do of the crib.  One thing we want to do is to put about 20 feet or so onto our house.  Right now it's shaped like an "L" and we'd like to add a little ell on it to make a "U" as it were.  This would essentially join the house at only 2 areas - our master b.r. and the adjoining bath - essentially we want to make them about 20 feet larger (possibly squeeze another bedroom into this but not a big deal).  Mostly we want more master bed and especially bath space (larger shower more closet room, etc.).  

My question is, is it worth paying a middleman (general contractor) or negotiating my own stuff?  The upside is that it wouldn't require a ton of expertise (maybe) and I've already had experience seeing it happen (once when we built the original and 10 years later when we actually put on the first "ell").  I believe I can handle negotiating 1) excavation, 2) slab pouring, 3) rough framing and roofing, 4) extend electric, and 5) extend plumbing.  The "good" thing is that the basic plumbing is there, we would just have the plumber extend the pipes a few feet - plus we're essentially replumbing the entire house within 2 years anyway, so this won't be any extra big deal.

The question is also restated as, do I save enough $ avoiding a general contractor to matter, or am I asking for trouble.  On the surface it seems like a simpler job - no installing toilets or any "in slab" pipes, and almost everything else is merely an add-on of what's there.  If it's not too much of a savings, I'll leave the hassle to him.  I don't love getting on the phone with all of these guys but the seemingly small scope of the project seems like it'll be doable without much hassle (sure!).

Anyone ever tried to put on an extension with you running the show?  

Without questioning your bona fides, Texas law pushes residential construction contractors to a "cost plus" model.  The plus used to be 10-15%, but YMMV with pandemic, modern housing economics, etc.

I am going to guess that 10-15% is worth every penny from a hassle standpoint as well as having better access to more quality and reliable subs.

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We do cost  plus contracts all the time.

Get an architect to design, engineer to do his thing,  get your HOA architectural review comittee to review and approve your plans.

Architect will specify basic materials and allowances.  

Have architect give you 3 builder / re-modeler names and have them bid the same plans /specs / allowances schedule.

Dirt work, slab, framing/cornice, roof,  insulation, drywall, rough electrical and rough plumbing and framing lumber should all be in the same neighborhood cost-wise.

The big question mark is your allowances for refined finishes such as plumbing and light fixtures,  countertops / back splashes, appliances, flooring, etc.  Your architect should give your reasonable per square foot dollar amounts to get your budget to include modern finishes to YOUR approximate tastes; however, nobody can put an accurate dollar amount on the cost of your personal tastes until your pick what you want.

With the cost plus contract your builder is obligated to show you every invoice so you know you're not getting chingalayed into overpaying by not seeing EVERY invoice.  Of course, you can always come in under budget on allowances and put the difference  to upgrade another item  or just stay under budget.

You an also use the invoices to calculate the sales tax paid and use that for your personal tax return.  With fixed price contracts that is a difficult to do becuase you never see the acutal invoices and the builder is not obligated to produce them for you.

When can I submit a draw?

 

 

 

Edited by deadshank
Plus you have no idea what you're doing and have a paying gig you need to tend.

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Also, you may have a chance to defray some of the hard cash layout by allowing your builder and subs barter with your wife's business.

Edited by deadshank

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If you can get the right crews, properly vet the sub labor & get good work out of them, keep the trains running on time & organized as to who does what & when...

Sure.

The stories from people who think they can properly manage all of that are definitely humor inducing, that's for sure.

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15 minutes ago, ROFL BOX said:

If you can get the right crews, properly vet the sub labor & get good work out of them, keep the trains running on time & organized as to who does what & when...
Sure.
The stories from people who think they can properly manage all of that are definitely humor inducing, that's for sure.

I'm not too intimidated by the organization problem, but yeah I'd rather give it to a general.  But my biggest concern is that they would blow it up to some huge thing, and I actually believe this is relatively small scale - yeah, even pouring another slab section, etc.  Anyway, advice taken.

21 minutes ago, deadshank said:

We do cost  plus contracts all the time.

Get an architect to design, engineer to do his thing,  get your HOA architectural review comittee to review and approve your plans.

Architect will specify basic materials and allowances.  

Have architect give you 3 builder / re-modeler names and have them bid the same plans /specs / allowances schedule.

Dirt work, slab, framing/cornice, roof,  insulation, drywall, rough electrical and rough plumbing and framing lumber should all be in the same neighborhood cost-wise.

The big question mark is your allowances for refined finishes such as plumbing and light fixtures,  countertops / back splashes, appliances, flooring, etc.  Your architect should give your reasonable per square foot dollar amounts to get your budget to include modern finishes to YOUR approximate tastes; however, nobody can put an accurate dollar amount on the cost of your personal tastes until your pick what you want.

With the cost plus contract your builder is obligated to show you every invoice so you know you're not getting chingalayed into overpaying by not seeing EVERY invoice.  Of course, you can always come in under budget on allowances and put the difference  to upgrade another item  or just stay under budget.

You an also use the invoices to calculate the sales tax paid and use that for your personal tax return.  With fixed price contracts that is a difficult to do becuase you never see the acutal invoices and the builder is not obligated to produce them for you.

When can I submit a draw?

LOL, well not just yet, we just started tossing around the idea yesterday (kind of surprisingly we were both thinking the same thing separately).

Your response is interesting largely because of one thing - we have had terrible experiences with architects.  I mean, awful.  We eventually pretty much bypassed one when first building the house - our general contractor talked about a few plans he built custom and we got a few, whittled them down, and went to him with the structural changes.  Came out pretty well.  When we put the (first and current) addition on, we went through AIA and man we got a bunch of weirdo loonies who wanted to make some type of Frank Lloyd Wright shit (it's just an extension ) - we got Japanese sochi villas, underground bunker shit, and even a guy who wanted to make our house intoa  big boat (think of the admiral's crib in Mary Poppins - complete with tower and all!  I mean holy shit, really?  Now most of these people submitted their plans gratis and we simply shook our heads and laughed.  The guy we settled with cost us almost a cool grand before we decided he was going the opposite way of what we were thinking.  I think our experience was that many of these people think so in the clouds that it's hard to get them to settle on something that seems reasonable - and we saw like 4-5 people, not just one.  The wasted time and money dumping was awful. In the end we simply dismissed the guy because he got weirder and weirder - and this is all AIA certified stuff.  Sure you can blame it on the customer - "you guys must have communicated terribly" - but that's just it... we wanted an architect precisely because we needed ideas.  But we didn't need that shit; none of these people helped us, they submitted some things then said, well I don't know if I can do this or that.  Great, thanks..   We eventually settled with a contractor who had his own onboard jack of all trades - including design - and this guy did a great job.  He wasn't a full-blown architect, but man he was down to earth and we got a great design from him. 

The rest of your post is pretty "yeah, I know that" (but thanks for it anyway).  We're very familiar with allowances and stuff like that, and know how to lay out the $ for them.  So I can accept that a good architect knows good subs - but we can also get that with neighbors, we have about 3 builders within rock throwing distance of my house as it is.  

So in this case I'd be more inclined to just get a good contractor who can help with a "simple" extension to the house.  But if I for example can get a good framing sub, a lot of these guys do so many situations they can also give pointers to electric and other stuff.  For sure the biggest problems will be excavation (we're on solid limestone 1,100 feet in the hills) and slab pouring (trucks have to get to the opposite side of our structure, which could pose a problem), and framing.  But after that I think it's not hard to manage.  Perhaps I can get a general to supervise these first 3 items, and I can take the rest.  I don't know.

But I appreciate all the comments!  Trust me, I don't want to do the general contracting, but a big part of us doing the project is to get someone who can get things done without a lot of hoopla (it's "just" an extension) and economically (match materials, etc. with original structure).

Thanks for the "cost plus" advice, that helps, too.

We'd start on this probably in about a year, so we have a little time.  Thanks so far for the help!

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Getting the correct architect is key.  I don’t know what market you are in.  We are fortunate that we have several good architects in Houston that don’t get their egos or dreams in the way of drawing and specifying a simple addition.   
 

I’m sure a decent contractor knows a few that can reign it in for your needs.   
 

I hope it works out for you.  
 

Now, about your wife’s business....

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.  slab pouring (trucks have to get to the opposite side of our structure, which could pose a problem),




Do you even concrete pumper, bro?ba88e8882974498241910074dbf8cb9c.jpg

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Quote

We eventually settled with a contractor who had his own onboard jack of all trades - including design - and this guy did a great job.  He wasn't a full-blown architect, but man he was down to earth and we got a great design from him. 
 

Is this guy still around?

If not look for a design-build remodeling outfit. which sounds like what you ended up with on project 1. 

 

It's a different task than new construction.  They should have subs that are more competent at matching existing finishes.  It's not rocket surgery but, matching siding to something existing is not the same as banging out Hardieplank day in and day out.

 

 

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Hi hoping someone can help me. I’m looking for someone who can design a Japanese Sochi villa with an underground bunker, BUT that can also be towed to the lake and used as a house boat. Thanks.

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