You’ve been dreaming about a custom home for years. Now, you’re finally ready to build it on a piece of real estate that provides a level of privacy and autonomy you can’t find in your average subdivision. It’s hugely exciting and more than a little daunting. Building a quality custom home is a big project and obviously requires a substantial commitment both in terms of time and finances.
Franchise-based companies like UBuildIt promise customers huge cost savings, which can be attractive to owner-builders looking to realize their dreams within a reasonable budget.
But is using a UBuildIt consultant instead of a more traditional Oklahoma builder the best option for you? Take a moment to answer the questions below to help you determine which is the right way to go for you and your family.
The primary way UBuildIt promises to save its customers money is by helping them be their own general contractor. In this scenario, you’d be 100% responsible for all aspects and oversight of an extensive, long-term and complex project.
Do you feel you have the basic skill set to take on this important job that would otherwise fall to a traditional custom home builder?
UBuildIt promises to connect you with a set of trusted contractors and suppliers with great rates and skill levels. That said, it’s highly likely that you won’t have access to the wholesale deals and special subcontractor relationships of a general contractor, so it becomes doubly important that your negotiation skills be sharp. You’ll also need to be savvy about material grade levels to ensure a quality build at the best price.
Similarly, UBuildIt connects its customers with banks and lenders that specialize in construction loans and eventually mortgage loans. However, you’ll have to secure financing. Do you have a close relationship with your bank? Are you connected with a reputable credit repair service provider should you need one? You’ll need access to these kinds of strategic partnerships if you’re going to negotiate a fair deal.
You, as the homeowner and builder, will have to make the final decision from the pool of suppliers, contractors, and lenders UBuildIt offers. How will you know if the supplier will really meet deadlines? How can you be sure another contractor is actually a specialist in the type of counters you wanted installed? You will have to do your homework— one more task to put on your already heaping plate.
To actually save money being your own general contractor, having a solid background in finance, accounting and budgeting is key.
You’ll need to create reasonable budgets and do the analysis to determine your financial position during any given phase of the project. You’ll need to detect unstated financial assumptions and suss out whether a subcontractor’s progress billing invoice is accurate. These are just a few of the tasks that will fall on your shoulders.
General contractors oversee the entire construction process, so your project management skills will get a vigorous workout. If you’re doing it yourself to save money, this is key. A poorly-managed construction process will result in surprises and delays that translate into big bucks.
To be an effective general contractor, you’ve got to be comfortable planning, monitoring, controlling, and executing every stage of the construction process. This is true regardless of the size of the project if you hope to keep it on schedule and within budget.
As the project manager you must be an excellent communicator. It will be your job to effectively convey the overall vision to your subcontractors and suppliers, as well as the goals, responsibilities and performance expectations you have for each of them.
Since you’ll be coordinating all subcontractors and their activities, you must maintain open lines of communication. Often, contractors need an answer while they're on the job. They want a response within minutes, or they'll pull off the job and move elsewhere. Can you be available during construction to answer questions on a moment's notice?
Often, a general contractor acts as a buffer between subcontractors and the owner-builder.
When you work without one, be prepared to deal directly with things like the inevitable conflicting stories about which contractor made the error that could cost you thousands of dollars.
UBuildIt promises you’ll spend no more than 8 hours per week supervising the construction process. But what if your custom build is more complex than the average design? What if you’re having trouble getting the proper permits to build? What if you accidentally order the wrong hardware throwing off your schedule by weeks?
When determining whether you’ll actually save money using UBuildIt consultants, you have to ask yourself what your time is worth. Their 8 hour-per-week estimate seems suspiciously small, given all the moving parts and potential glitches any construction project presents— even if the design isn’t particularly complex. A misinterpretation of the design or misunderstanding between you and one of UBuildIt’s consultants will lead to delays in work, costing you time and frustration. It’s got a much bigger impact on you than it will have on them.
If you have the right skills and your project doesn’t present any significant challenges or surprises, using a company like UBuildIt could be a good fit. Understand, you may not get much in the way of guidance, depending on the franchise consultant’s experience level and commitment to customer service (reviews are wildly uneven).
If, however, you’re more interested in achieving your ultimate goals rather than managing the entire process, we’d love to talk with you about being your partner every step of the way, as we build your quality custom home in the Oklahoma City metro area.
A home builder for 18 years, Tim is the "son" in Turner & Son Homes. He is the CEO of the company and partners with his dad, Ben, who has been building since 1964.
The current home on our property has been in existence for over 80 years. We love our property, and made our decision to build our new house there. Turner and Son was the first company we considered and we didn't have to look any further.
The Wells family
March 9, 2016