General Mom

Mom-of-5, building a home in California, step by step, with Faith and Feistiness ~ by General Mom Contractor

Month: November, 2012

Business meeting at McDonald’s is a first!

How on earth do I meet with contractors to go over plans and bids with five kids? McDonald’s Playplace! I am totally laughing with you too! Why didn’t I think of that sooner? No babysitter, no one pulling on my shirt asking me a question for an hour. Sheer meeting bliss! Thank heaven it was a very nice framer who was already hard of hearing from years of pneumatic nail guns preventing him from flinching at 5 kids squealing with delight in the play set. I told you this would be an adventure!

What is a framer? Framers put the sticks/lumber together to frame your structure. They are key players in building a straight, non-sloping floors and a roof that won’t sag kind of player. So important that your budget needs to be prepared to pay for quality work which is solely based on square footage. They charge a dollar amount per square foot not including the lumber. Add a percentage that a General Contractor will charge on top if you aren’t GC’ing yourself. Thus I am…General Mom. That will save 10-30% depending on who you talk to. Hey if you have the money and can pay to have someone manage the whole project for you great! You would hire someone to do a “turnkey” house for you which is ready to move in with the turn of a key. I actually enjoy sourcing subcontractors, interviewing and managing the process and it really isn’t that hard.

So how to find a framer? Start by going to your local lumber company/yard and ask for one of the sales managers to refer you to two or three carpenter/framers who have accounts that are good. They know who is good and fair priced. Just call them up and say they were referred by the local lumber yard and want to discuss your project. If you have elevations and floor plans, they look at the square footage and multiply their needed dollar amount. Anywhere from $15-24 per square foot depending on area of the U.S., skill and complexity of work. I mentioned corners and angles in my earlier posts during the design phase…those add up with carpentry bids through finish work and concrete too.



Rebuilding your home

So many on the East Coast will have a huge burden of how to rebuild their homes after Hurricane Sandy.  My heart really goes out to them and I want to take a quick break from our new home construction project to offer rebuilding experience encouragement.

We have had experience rebuilding and remodeling our first home after a severe hail storm in Illinois.  We had to call the insurance company and file a claim and an adjustor came out to assess the loss.  We had complete loss on our asphalt roof and siding!

The insurance agency had me get three quotes from a roofing vendor and a siding vendor.  I started with the local phone book, Yelp, and Angie’s list.  Let me tell you the bids were all over the board in terms of cost.  So we laid the bids out (we did this last month for the new house) on the counter, circled what was uniquely described as a “service or material spec” that the other bid didn’t have.  For example, if one bid says “complete tear off of roofing” and another one doesn’t, that means one vendor will rip all roofing off and the other ones may go right over the old stuff.  Big difference!  There could be your cost difference.  You want the complete tear off by the way to avoid future leaks.  You then need to decide on materials to use.  For the roofing example, you can get estimates on nicer material like the architectural roofing to see where the bids come in and in many cases will be what the insurance company agrees to pay or you may want to pay a little more for the nicer materials.

Now call your top vendors and ask them about the items listed on other bids and if that is included and just not on the contract.  Make sure to write it in and they need to sign it also for it to be binding.  No verbal agreements.

For all you checklisters, here’s a checklist to ensure your insurance company sends a catastrophe team to make an inspection and then gets you payment as quickly as possible.

1. First, call your local agent, call the insurance company’s 800-line, use the company’s mobile app, or go to its website.

2. When it is safe, make temporary repairs to prevent more damage. That includes tarping or covering a roof or hole in the ceiling, covering broken windows with plywood or plastic, or securing any loose objects.

3. Save receipts for supplies. Reimbursements are possible.

4. Take photos or video for your own records, but real assessment occurs when agency representatives visit the site. Even if the house isn’t there anymore, a company representative still has to confirm all damage visually.

5. Make a list of potential property loss. Take a total home inventory.

6. Stay organized. Keep an active, open file of all paperwork.  Keep names and phone numbers of all insurance agency personnel.

7. There is no standard waiting time for a catastrophe team member to contact you about the claim.

8. Most homeowner and renter insurance policies provide alternative residence stipends, usually a percentage of your total policy cost. Policy holders can normally choose from hotels or apartments, depending on their needs.

9. Checks can take from one to three months or more, depending on the complexity of the damage and number of claims on the insurance coverage.

Storms like Hurricane Sandy remind homeowners of the need for insurance. But those without insurance should call the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which in cases of disaster, can provide assistance or loans.

The insurance route is only one recourse. One potential solution is to borrow against the cost of the land to rebuild the home.

Stay strong everyone.  You can do and if God brought you to it, He will get you through it!

“All things are possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23

Multitasking during the process

This cartoon made me laugh since it is my reality most days (in addition of three more cartoon kids).  Yet I have to  prepare, strategize and not loose my mind during this process.  How do I accomplish any of this? All by God’s grace and peace that transcends all understanding.  It’s a miracle really that I even can get dressed, homeschool and build this house!

We are currently dissecting the house plans and moving forward with finalized plans.  We submitted the site plan with the house footprint to the Civil Engineer and he is working on the grading and drainage plan.  We have a bunch of details (detailed house plans, grading and drainage plans, structural plans, energy plans) to get through in the next few weeks and I am not good at waiting.  Not good.  I expect deliverables like yesterday.  I am a little Steve Jobs like that.  Super high expectations because time is money and if I can multitask with the cartoon in mind then people I pay should be AMAZING while sitting at a clean office desk with no legos to step on and hot coffee in hand.  Jealous at times of those clean office days of mine and a paycheck and a thank you for hard work.  So far we are surrounding ourselves with amazing talent that are producing high level work in a timely manner.  But the clock keeps on ticking and you have to stay on top of that clock!