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Estimating my own home's remodel

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  • Estimating my own home's remodel

    Hi Everyone,

    I recently bought a 980 square foot single level house. My wife and I will live there, no kids yet. I am a general contractor in the SF Bay Area. I want to add the following to the house:

    1. Addition on the back approximately 15 feet out and 40 feet wide. Property is relatively flat.
    2. Gut and redo kitchen
    3. Gut and redo bathroom.
    4. Add master bath within addition.
    5. Add 1/2 bath near kitchen
    6. Add washer/dryer area
    7. Tie in roof
    8. Exterior finishes
    9. And a ton more stuff I am not thinking of yet!!

    Basically, if I was doing this for a client, I would define the scope, and price it out accordingly. Also, I am real clear on my contracts what I am not doing, aka "exclusions". But working for myself, I really need to think of everything I can and then bite off the project in chunks. I think the costs (especially labor) are a lot lower for my labor and also my mark up on subs. My subs might even give me a break too!

    My question to all you that have worked on your own did you do it? And how did you budget for it? I want to do something, but I don't want to tackle to much, cuz I do not think I can work on my paying client's houses and still make my own home finished in a year or less.


  • #2
    Re: Estimating my own home's remodel

    I suggest you price it out the same as you would for a customer 'cause when you're doing the work yourself you won't be able to work for someone else. although you'll save with "sweat equity" there will be other costs like reduced income.
    Also consider the stress this will put on your marriage!
    This reply is from a contractor who's been remodeling his own home for 22 years.
    Last edited by Mark G; 11-18-2012, 12:55 AM. Reason: It needed editing


    • #3
      Re: Estimating my own home's remodel

      I agree with Mark - you just have to be honest with yourself with how fast you will progress...

      We started out with a small place (600 FT2) we built in a summer and we are now adding on another 1500' (really building the house). The saving grace for us is that the two areas are still separate - ie we are not living in a mess; which is a good thing b/c we were unexpectedly slowed with starting a new business.

      My best advice is to keep an area undisturbed for everyone's sanity.. :)
      “Racism is man's gravest threat to man - the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.”
      Abraham J. Heschel (Jewish theologian and philosopher, 1907-1972)


      • #4
        Re: Estimating my own home's remodel

        Don't kid yourself about the cost of remodeling your own home. It's not different than working for a client.

        I started to remodel my home a year after I purchased it and nothing was getting done to completion. I'd start something and never finish it. I saw the writing on the wall and knew I needed to approach my project no different than a real paying project if I wanted to get it done within a reasonable amount of time and get it done right.

        We moved out for three months, and I gutted an 1800sq ft house including building an addition and new shop/garage. I didn't finish in 3 months, but got enough done to move back in and live normally while the rest was being completed. I had one full time guy 5 days a week, 1 part time on weekends plus the few subs I brought in.

        Just because you're working for a nickel an hour doesn't mean people you bring in will. Plus, you're off the market and not making any money on paying projects.


        • #5
          Re: Estimating my own home's remodel

          Everything I have heard about CA and permits alludes to a serious time period to actually get a permit? Now, if this is true, your time-frame will need to reflect when you really think it will be done, once started!
          Take Care



          • #6
            Re: Estimating my own home's remodel

            I've built my own houses several times, and every time I think I'll get better deals from my subs, and I'll donate my own time, etc. This simply doesn't end up being the case in my opinion. Unless you would have the extra money to spend on your house, you won't have the extra time either (at least not without getting paid for it). "Time is money" applies here pretty well. And your subs and suppliers won't want to pay for it either. In my experience, the only real discounts you may get (if any) will be eaten up by all the little extra stuff you will most likely want to add to your own house.


            • #7
              Re: Estimating my own home's remodel

              I've built two houses for us, done one gut job remodel/addition and am now working on another. The whole house projects went pretty smoothly and were on budget. The gut job remodel number one went over budget pretty badly. What seems to happen is my wife and I get the "might as wells". And the subs are all encouraging it with lines like, "Oh you've got to have this. You'll regret not doing this later". And you buy into it. So, be careful.


              • #8
                Re: Estimating my own home's remodel

                I can only speak from remodeling my own house. What I thought we were going to do and what ended up being done were much different. My wife hates all the mess and dust and such so my goals are always to get all things in place and tear into it. About half way thru my wife asks things like while the wall is opened up could we recess a cabinet here, move the switch over or install a 3 way. Those type of things. Plus I can find myself thinking this is my house, I am going to take a hour nap since I plan on working late tonight. Trouble is for me is if I do not plan the days just like I was working for a customer and the customer is my checkbook.


                • #9
                  Re: Estimating my own home's remodel

                  Remodeling is an ongoing series of discovering what you cant afford to do.


                  • #10
                    Re: Estimating my own home's remodel

                    Andrew thats why I have built myself 6 homes so far.


                    • #11
                      Re: Estimating my own home's remodel

                      Some good points here already but since you asked.

                      As a general contractor who's not in a pine box yet you probably have a more than fair dose of optimism about what you can accomplish in a normal day much less the "long days I can put in on my own place". Try really hard to be realistic about that. For one thing, don't forget the neighbors/ noise disruption factor. They don't just live next to your client for three months, they live next to you, for years. They might not like the "long days" and you will (if your smart) pay attention to them.
                      All the benefits of being the contractor can be negated and then some by not being very honest with yourself about time and money.
                      Be careful with your subs and "deals", the old phrase "you get what you pay for" applies all the same, maybe even more. Better to just pay the usual and get the TLC on your project than try pinching pennies sometimes.

                      What DaveNorthup says about one undisrupted space is good advise, if you have to delay moving in, do it.

                      It can be very rewarding, but in general I found it more stressful than clients jobs and definitely not much savings if you count lost opportunity costs. Than again if your a perfectionist and like doing everything just once who else is ganna build your place?

                      Lots of Luck


                      • #12
                        Re: Estimating my own home's remodel

                        Thanks everyone for all the great advice.

                        Basically, I am gonna make a scope and then price it out as a regular job.

                        I can probably separate most of the house from the construction during the project, which my wife will like.

                        I think I will sub out as much as possible(meaning money that I can afford to pay) My overall cost should be less than a client, and I just need to make sure my paying jobs are priority so I can afford to actually do this. I am gonna "cheap out" a little on the finishes, because those can be re-done. My main objective is getting the addition completed and if I change out faucets, counters later,then so be it.

                        Speaking of money, I am getting dizzy adding up the numbers, but glad in a way that I am being realistic about the whole thing.

                        Got a bit of news last week that my wife is pregnant, so I have until mid-August to get it started, paid for and finished!

                        This complicates things and makes dust isolation a bit more important....

                        One other question, how did you all finance it? I am looking to add a 15-foot by 40-foot addition.



                        • #13
                          Re: Estimating my own home's remodel

                          Congratulations to you and your wife!


                          • #14
                            Re: Estimating my own home's remodel

                            Can you get permits that fast in SF? Seibert is always talking about how difficult it is there.


                            • #15
                              Re: Estimating my own home's remodel

                              I agree with Mark also
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