Building on Your Land: Can I have my own contractors do some of the work?

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So you're thinking about having a custom home built on your land and hiring a builder to do it, but you have a brother-in-law in the heat and air business who will give you a good deal on your heat and air. Can you hire the builder to do everything else but have your brother-in-law install the air conditioner and furnace?

You can… if you're building on your land, you're providing the financing, and you understand all the implications of doing so. But there are some key things to consider if you go this route.

Is it really cheaper?

It's tempting to think that the deal you get from someone you know will always be better than the deal you get from someone you don't. But nine times out of ten, your builder is using a contractor he knows and has a long-standing relationship with. That contractor's deal with the builder is likely as good as, or even better than, the deal your friend or relative is promising.

Ask for a proposal that details in writing the scope of work and payment terms and then ask your builder to compare it to what he's getting. Keep in mind that whoever installs your systems needs to have liability and worker's compensation insurance. Maybe your deal is better, but maybe it's not. Sometimes a great deal means cutting corners, and you probably want your air conditioner and furnace to be fully warrantied and compliant with current code.

How might it affect the timeline?

The home building process is carefully planned out to complete your home by a specific target date. Sometimes unavoidable things delay the process, like weeks of rain or ice. But if your heat and air person has three jobs lined up and loses a crew member, your install could fall behind schedule, which could put your house behind schedule.

Will you remember that it was your brother-in-law or friend who caused the scheduling delay? And then what happens when you see that person at a family event and things are awkward because you're unhappy with the timeline or quality of work?

Who will you call when there's a problem?

If you get an on-the-side deal from a friend or relative, will they provide excellent customer service when something goes wrong? Or will your needs take a back seat to customers who paid full price? Most people think a friend or relative would never do that to them, but it happens.

What happens if the installation guy steps through the ceiling and leaves a big hole? Will the contracted company reimburse you for the extra cost to fix the hole? If your builder's contractor steps through the ceiling (and he might), it's the builder's problem, not yours. And a builder deals with those kinds of small problems every day, which means he can handle it with a five-minute phone call. You might stress about it for an entire week.

I didn't make up these scenarios. I've seen all of them happen in real life, and I owe it to you to share my experiences so you can make an informed decision about using your own contractor.

For more in-depth information on building a custom home on your land, download our free guide:

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