Often owners feel they can save a lot of money if they general contract the build of their new log home themselves, instead of hiring a general contractor. When a general contractor provides a bid for a full turnkey, the only things the owner has to worry about is choosing finish materials and moving in when the home is done. It is easy to feel the builder must be getting a lot extra for just ‘managing’ the job site and the workers. Instead let me share with you some drawbacks and very real problems we have seen on job sites when the owners take on the role of general contractor for log homes when they really do not have the experience to do so.
If an owner is acting as their own general contactor they are taking on the responsibility for all of the coordinating of the project. That doesn’t sound too bad… How hard can that be? A few phone calls, a little extra leg work to keep track of the job as it progresses… right? But what about the inevitable gaps that fall between one subcontractor to the next?
Yes, these gaps or spaces between contractors are part of what you are paying a general contractor to take care of if you hire one. There is usually a long list of ‘little things’ that come up as you are building a log home. If you have no building experience and no carpentry skills these seemingly little things can consume your funds, time, and patience.
On one job site we worked on several years ago the owners hired their own excavator and cement contractor to install the basement. That all seemed fine, but the owners did not tell the concrete man they wanted sono tubes poured for the support posts of the covered porch. The owners did not even realize they were needed until the log home builder was stacking the logs and he had nowhere to attach the vertical porch posts. The owner instead had to hire an excavator to bring an auger to drill the holes for the cement pillars, pour the pillars, and attach the brackets to the top of them.
In another instance the owners bought all the wrong kind of light fixtures for recessed lighting. The fixtures the owners selected were not rated for insulation to be placed up against them. The electrician simply installed all of the light fixtures in the cathedral ceiling that the owners had supplied, never mentioning this problem. When the electric inspector came he failed the log home because of the lights. What was the owner supposed to do now? He had already paid the electrician. Instead he had to pay the electrician to come back, take down all 20 can lights he had originally purchased, and replace them with new fixtures. In the end it cost the homeowner several thousand dollars more and it put the over all job behind schedule.
When you hire a general contractor you are partially hiring him for his knowledge. He has been down the road before, start to finish. He has made mistakes, learned from other situations, and has all of this expertise for you to draw from. So don’t sell your general contactor short. He may be your very best investment throughout the build of your new log home. Log homes are very different from building a conventional house, especially if you have no construction background to fall back on. If you still desire to general contract your own home consider hiring an experienced log home builder as a consultant to visit the job site periodically to help you make your decisions and keep the build on track.