DIYing Your House…What We’ve Learned So Far

Hey guys,

This is Mike for a guest post on how the general contracting of our house is going so far. I wrote a while ago about what I thought we could expect and now I came to revisit and let you all know how it’s actually going since we’ve started.


While we are not really that close to finishing the project up, I do feel like I have a pretty good handle now on what to expect going forward. We have hired 4 subs so far (excavation, foundation/concrete, plumbing, and now framing along with the lumber company). The main thing that I’ve done personally so far is make about 8,000 phone calls. We were pretty lucky in that most of the people we have worked with so far have come on recommendations from either my good friend ( who is an actual general contractor), Jessie’s uncle ( who also is a professional and built about 1000 houses), or other friends who have used the subs for one of their jobs.

framers in basement

Trying to get started was the hardest part, because of the weather. We hurried up and tried to finalize our loan and get started before Thanksgiving, and did, but the weather came early this year and never let up. So we waited….which did give us some time to finalize contractors and get other bids. So general contracting so far has been about calling each area, tracking down bids, and then trying to get them to show up when you need them. So far, we have gotten lucky to get people lined up pretty well. They have all showed up on time and ready to work, which has been great to see. I think going forward, keeping the different areas coming without too much down time in between will be my challenge. After framing, a few different things can be going at different times, like roofing and the garage door man won’t be getting in each other’s way. Brick can be going on while the inside is being done with HVAC, plumbing, and electrical. Coordinating with the gas, electric, and water company has turned into you are pretty much on their schedule, which hasn’t been too bad so far.

garage concrete

Hiring people who are professionals in their area is a big help. I have asked them a lot of questions about what usually works best in their experience and then cross check that with my friend and uncle to make sure they are telling me the right thing. I have a general knowledge of these areas and between the subs, our friend/family, and the internet :), figure out what we want to do.  We go back to the job site almost daily now to check progress, measure and make sure it matches the plans, and answer questions from the subs and it’s been fun to see the progress happening. I have heard stories of framers not putting in doors and windows that were on the plans so we definitely want to catch that before we get down the line and its too late. Everything I’ve double checked so far has been right on though, like to the inch. So I think we have some good crews.

mike and molly in finished basement

Things are going smooth now and we even have hopes of getting out of our apartment by the end of our lease! We will see how the next few months go but so far, so good.

I will probably write one more of these bad boys when it is all done, but so far, it is doable if you have some time during the day to check for deals and talk on the phone.  I have already learned a lot about some of the areas that I’ve never dealt with and if we ever did this again, would be way more prepared. It really comes down to time and a willingness to try. You won’t know everything but can definitely learn with a lot of questions and searching for the answer. It’s out there.

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