Home building in 2020

For a couple of months now Kate and I have been planning on building a house. We started off thinking we would design something from scratch with the assistance of a builder. This process has created some frustrating moments mainly because neither of us are builders, or designers. It turns out that there are a lot of considerations when building a home.

Recently we went back to the drawing board and by drawing board I mean we started looking at house plans. This has been really helpful in identifying what we like and don’t like. From that we have settled on a ski chalet type design with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a full unfinished basement, and an attached garage.

The next step we are taking is educating ourselves about home building. We ordered a number of books to read and have started watching various Youtube videos. One series of videos that I have found especially helpful is the Spec House series from Essential Craftsman.

Scott Wadsworth is the Essential Craftsman and is a builder/jack of many trades in Oregon, USA. In the Spec House series they have put together a lot of material about building a home that they plan on selling, hence a speculative house. It isn’t until the 27th video that they start talking about plans.

In that video they work with a draftsman to help them refine their initial design. Scott mentions how you can work with any draftsman as the principles are universal. That got me thinking that we should reach out to a number of drafting/designers to find one that we like best. So I have been reaching out to a number of them.

My attitude on building a home has shifted to how I work with designers on a website. I don’t have to work with a web designer who is physically close to me. In fact I haven’t met a designer in person in over 2 years. I think the reason this took so long to dawn on us is that we are novices when it comes to construction.

However we are not novices when it comes to project management. Kate especially, she used to run the ERP system for an aerospace manufacturer. What is also helping is that we are learning more about the various roles involved:

  • Designer/Drafting
  • Structural Engineer
  • Surveyor
  • Excavator
  • Builder
  • Electrician
  • Plumber
  • Drywaller
  • Stucco-er
  • Painter
  • Finishing Carpenter

Some roles can be played by the same person/contractor, but all are required to get the final product we want. First things first is we need to get a plan finalized then we start filling in the other positions. Learning the vocabulary and processes will also be important when building begins. While we aren’t looking to micro manage things we are going to keep things moving forward.


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