Author Topic: Need suggestions to find a little house builder  (Read 38821 times)

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Offline Epiphany

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Need suggestions to find a little house builder
« on: January 20, 2005, 02:02:26 PM »
I came to the realization that I am physically unable to build my little house so I've been looking and looking, trying to find a builder who will touch a small house, with no success.  Any ideas or suggestions would be most welcome.  By small I mean about something between 336 sq ft. and 600 sq ft.  I live in the northeast Texas area.  Modular would be fine (but not a mobile home).  

Thanks.

Offline JRR

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2005, 06:44:08 AM »
I don't know if the following idea is available in your area or not:

Many years ago my sister and her husband "employed" the local high school shop instructor, along with shop students and school provided tools, to build their house.  No one was paid.  (I think refreshments were provided by owners.. sister was a very good cook.)  Of course, all materials were paid for by the owners.  The house went together a bit slower than most.

They lived in this house for 20 years or so.  And when they built their second, larger house ... they used the same method.  

Luckily both house sites were fairly close to the school grounds.

Of course, the students were learning their skills ... and only because of an attentive instructor, (aided by my brother-in-law as a "materials manager")  were both of these houses "well built".
« Last Edit: January 22, 2005, 06:48:35 AM by JRR »

Offline Ryan B

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2005, 11:21:33 AM »
Things to look for in finding a builder –

Reference from lumber yard salesperson (not big box store)
Reference from another builder
Reference from a home (owner) of similar size and or detail you would consider enjoyable
Small ad in newspaper or phonebook
Clean truck
Shirt tucked in
Business card
Willingness to discuss your project but – unwilling to give quick price
Insurance
Bonding
If you were to drive by their active job site you would find
Orderly job site
No loud radio
Neat but not too clean
Only one sub-trade on site at a time
Rough graded so site does not collect water
They might be
Single person company
One person company that works with other smaller companies
Just starting as a full fledged contractor
In between bigger jobs
Seasonally slow at this time
About ready to retire


Offline JeffnTN

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2005, 11:24:01 PM »
Ryan, are you aware that Christmas had been over for almost a full month?

That is one LONG LARGE wish list you just drew up.

Amanda_931

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2005, 09:08:59 AM »
And you can screw up with somebody with most of those things on your wish list!

Don't know what your time frame looks like, or HOW you are going to build your little house.

But if there were a "natural building" connection you could put a note on the WWAT list (willing workers in alternative technology:

http://www.greenbuilder.com/wwat/

I occasionally repond to WW's who post.  Have no idea if anything has EVER come from this particular list.

There is, however, a world-wide list called WOOF (maybe even WWOOF) the OOF being On Organic Farms that apparently really does work.  In fact I think I know where there's one not fifty miles from here, I've never met her, though.

glenn-k

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2005, 10:45:44 AM »
I think I am the only one who can meet all of the qualifications on the list except my truck is dirty and my shirt is out.???

Ryan has some good points I think though, and while our helper or builder may not meet all things on the list, he may meet several.  

The way we do it here in the hills is what the high tech folks would call networking.  In the old days it was a part of the barter system.  Get to know your neighbors or friends - you help them - they help you - for trade or money or for working out later.  They can recommend good people to you - you to them.  It doesn't take a long time.  In 3 years I have an extensive network of friends and it is continually growing.  I started meeting helpful people the first week I was here.  ;D

jonseyhay

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2005, 06:29:16 PM »
Looks like I don't make the grade

Small ad in newspaper or phonebook ……….No Phone.
Clean truck …………………………………..No truck.      
Shirt tucked in………………………………..No shirt.
Business card…………………………………No card.
Willingness to discuss your project but – unwilling to give quick price….Yep, I can talk the leg of the kitchen table.
Insurance ……………………………………..N/A
Bonding……………………………………….What's bonding
If you were to drive by their active job site, you would find
Orderly job site……………………………….Missus makes sure of that
No loud radio…………………………………Can't hear too good  (except the dinner gong)
Neat but not too clean………………………...Goes without saying
Only one sub-trade on site at a time………….Yep! Me.
Rough graded so site does not collect water…..Never rains here. (Well hardly ever)
They might be
Single person company……………………….Married person company
One person company that works with other smaller companies …My missus is 4 foot-nothing  (smaller company)
Just starting as a full-fledged contractor…….. Just finishing as a full fledged contractor
In between bigger jobs…………………………In between the start and finish of my own job.
Seasonally slow at this time……………………I'm old, I'm slow all the time!
About ready to retire……………………………Retired! Sounds good to me.
:D

Offline John Raabe

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2005, 12:42:18 PM »
Great!!! ;D

I'd hire jonseyhay in a heartbeat!

We may not get much done but it should be a lot of fun!
None of us are as smart as all of us.

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2005, 03:30:37 PM »
Jonseyhay,

I think bonding is like if you and I got a job together and worked on it a lot, then told each other a few jokes after work and had a beer together thereby getting to have a sense of caring for each other.

Thats bonding.  Hope this helps.  Glenn ;D

By the way Jonsey, if you get time tell us more about your project.  I took a peek at your site.  The raingarden sounds interesting.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2005, 03:52:14 PM by glenn-k »
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Offline jonsey/downunder

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2005, 10:47:37 AM »
OK Glenn, here is some of the thinking behind my project
When I decided to build, I looked at a whole range of building methods and indeed have incorporated some of the ideas that I came across while doing the research.  Mostly modified to suit my needs, and the building environment in this area.
Because our block of land is in the township, I didn't want to build something to far from the norm. Therefore, our house looks much like any other house in the street. This is mainly for resale value and I didn't want to scare the neighbors too much.
I have used passive solar ideas as much as possible. Mostly these can easily be incorporated into a standard house, its just a matter of observing where the sunshine is thoughout the year, and planning your windows and shade to suit. You also need good insulation; this applies to either hot or cold climates.
Some of the other things that are a little different about our home.
I have used weatherboard instead of brick. Brick is in common use here, but it retains the heat and because our soil type is highly reactive clay, most brick building will crack eventually.
I have used adjustable steel stumps as a foundation, again due to the soil type and the steel gives me some protection from termites.
There are only three internal doors, better airflow and if there is any movement in the house, we don't have a big problem with doors jamming.
The kitchen, dinningroom and lounge are all one big room. I found that when most folk visit they usually sit around the kitchen table. I couldn't see any sense in having rooms that saw little use.
The laundry is built on a waffle pod slab. I modified this a bit, mainly to save money. I will be using the same slab under my workshop. I did get into a bit of trouble with the workshop. Somehow I neglected to design a sewing room into the house plan, so I have had half my workshop confiscated, must have suffered a bit of brain fade there.
The house is not too large, just a little over a 1000sq feet; most new houses around here are nearly double that. But it does feel much bigger, I think the open plan and high ceilings give that impression.
I have kept the cost of building down by bartering, using second hand materials where possible and on some occasions none standard methods. To date I have spent about $35,000 and would expect about $50.000 to pull it up.  A home of this size would normally be in the $100,000 to $150,000 range to build in this area.

Some thoughts on the process.
I have been out of the building trade for about 20 years now and initially found the idea of building by myself quite daunting and at times frustrating. I think the key here is patience, just kick back and have fun. Enjoy the process; think what you will have in the end. (The longest journey starts with the first step) Hows that for a bit of philosophy.

John's site and this forum are a great source of information. I have found this site informative, helpful and above all friendly. And as we all know, this world could do with more of that. The ideas are sound and even if they are not exactly what you need, will often contain the germ of an idea that can be adapted to your needs. Be flexible there is always a way round a problem.

Plan, as John says in one of his essays get up early, have a few coffees and work through the tasks for the day, one step at a time. Just plod away, you will get there in the end.

Above all have fun; life's too short to be miserable. Get out there and get started, after all what else have you got to do.
Sorry if this is a bit long winded, but as you may have noticed I don't mind a yarn.
Best regards, jonesy.

PS: Don't forget to keep that beer cold, you never know, I may get over to your side of the pond sometime.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2005, 11:35:55 AM by jonseyhay »
I've got nothing on today. This is not to say I'm naked. I'm just sans........ Plans.

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2005, 06:32:57 PM »
Don't worry about being long winded, Jonesy.  John asked me to answer questions about the underground cabin and now he can't get me to shut up about anything.

If you or anyone else interested gets to my side of the pond, you can bet there will be a cold beer or whatever else you might want (within reason!).  Maybe we can toss a Goanna on the barbie (crocodile Dundee said you could eat em!} and do a little of that bonding we talked about earlier:o Have to be careful though - we'll probably talk two legs off the table.  

I have found that in making contacts and friends that it takes a good half hour or more of talking before you stumble across a good idea, bargain, common interest or deal, etc. Sometimes I listen too!   More philosophy - Never stop making deals.  Hopefully you gain a little off each one in one way or another ----and the gals just think we're slackers - heck ---we're working!

You mentioned termites- do you have the kind that build mud tubes up to the wood there?

It's a pleaasure having you on board.  Your project looks and sounds great.  Your beer is waiting.  Drop by and we'll run up to Yosemite for the day.  G'day ;D
« Last Edit: January 27, 2005, 07:07:28 PM by glenn-k »
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Bob Lawrence

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2005, 02:16:09 AM »
Glenn and Jonsey, can I join you for that beer? You guys are the greatest and I am enjoying your banter every morning.
Jonsey made a good point about the 'kitchen, dining, and lounging' room idea. Lounging?
My plans call for the same idea, one big room with no dividing walls. I'm having a hard time laying it out as I am on a lake front lot and want the entire wall facing the lake to be glass, top to bottom. That makes the layout kind of difficult. Thinking about the kitchen portion centered on the back wall with a loft above and behind it. Can't find anything in magizines on websites that come close to what I want. May even end up going to an archetect but hate doing that.
One other quick thing. I used 'hardiboard' exclusively on the exterior of my garage/shop with a metal roof. Highly recommend hardi board and suggest anyone planning to build to check it out.
And, always wanted a metal roof but didn't think I could afford it until actual construction began and the price of lumber went out of sight. then metal was actually cheaper!
Keep up the dialog guys and save one of those beers for me!!

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2005, 07:53:46 AM »
Please join us in the beer Bob.  My place.  6 AM .  But Bob, I have a stinking suspicion about Jonesy.  I think he sleeps all day.  He is upside down you know.

The original portion of my cabin is also as you and Jonesy would like.  It has been set up similar to a studio apartment for the last couple of years.  It consists of one big room with a bed in the corner -stove and recliners next to that -adjoining that is a dining area with extra built in table that folds up on one 12 inch dia support post. That joins the kitchen which overlooks the deeper part of the cabin.  There is a wood framed glass wall over the kitchen sink and kitchen stove.   This apartment area is 16' x 28' with a 5'x11' bathroom to the side.  It is dug into the mountain and has a foot and a half of dirt and horse manure (composted fortunately) over it.  My garden on the roof still has enough vegetables growing to carry me and the mrs. through to spring without going to the store.  The first year it was only 12'x16' with one wall of clear polyethelene.  I stayed in it too - even when it snowed and froze outside.  Yes, I do get offended if people don't call me crazy -or at least eccentric:o

Now if I only had some nice barbecued Goanna to go with all those veggies I'd be fully self sufficient.  Jonesy ???
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Offline jonsey/downunder

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2005, 12:02:59 PM »
No worries Bob,
You get the barbie fired up, Glenn's got the beer, as soon as I get a grip on this goanna I'll be right over. If we can find someone with the salad, spongy pud and ice cream we can all nip round to Epiphany's and knock up a cottage before lunchtime.
jonesy
I've got nothing on today. This is not to say I'm naked. I'm just sans........ Plans.

Offline Epiphany

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2005, 12:27:38 PM »
I'm wondering what that cottage would look when you three get finished....  :o) :o

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2005, 01:03:56 PM »
I have a mock up for you Epiphany.  With your approval Bob, Jonesy and I will get cracking.  Right after John finishes the plans.


Jonesy -hurry up with that goanna ;D
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Offline Okie_Bob

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2005, 04:25:10 AM »
Don't know why I didn't mention that I have a BIG Texas smoker and given enough time and beer, produce the absolute best (world famous actually) brisket! So with Glenn's veggies and Jonseys beer I think we're set to go!
Really like what I have seen from Jonseys web site and also Glenns, both have done excellent jobs.
Course I have a hard time figuring out what the heck Jonsey is talking about most of the time and I sure don't do metrics at all!
So what is 'chipboard' Jonsey? I could see it in some of your pics but couldn't tell what it was. You used it as subfloor material.
Also really like the way you did the piers with the adjustable tops for leveling...can relevel as they settle and I like that a lot!
Glenn, how bout some updated pics on your progress...really like what I've seen to date.

Offline jonsey/downunder

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2005, 05:07:22 AM »
Hi Okie Bob,
Chipboard you would probably know as particleboard, it is used for flooring, shelving and anything that requires cheap sheeting. It's not totally waterproof but the flooring stuff comes with a coating that will give it about 3 months weather protection. It can be sanded and sealed as a finished floor, looks a little like cork when finished.
Sorry about the metrics, I am old enough to remember imperial and still use it from time to time. The metric is just a lot easier to use once you get the hang of it.
jonesy
I've got nothing on today. This is not to say I'm naked. I'm just sans........ Plans.

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2005, 08:08:24 AM »
We also have OSB sheathing here - which everyone knows it as- Oriented Strand Board-it is stronger in one direction.  The odd use of it that I have seen here is a fairly high dollar restaurant used it for its complete interior finish paneling with a coat of clear finish.  I try to use only solid wood in my cabin as a protest against particle board furniture -like anybody cares besides me :o  Okay- so I have hidden a few pieces in places because I got them free, but don't tell.

Love those warped solid pine boards rather than smelling all that formaldehyde.  Enough formaldehyde and my brain would be preserved forever then the whole world would have to suffer ;D

I will try to get a current album link up as soon as I stop being lazy.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2005, 08:12:29 AM by glenn-k »
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Offline JeffnTN

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2005, 08:52:27 AM »
I really enjoyed this post.  If I am ever out that way I will join in on the bonding, grilling, beer drinking and maybe even the goanna.

Jeff

Oh yeah, I wiil help with the building also. ;)
« Last Edit: January 29, 2005, 08:53:23 AM by JeffnTN »

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2005, 05:50:28 PM »
Wouldn't think of doing it without you, Jeff.   ;D

New photos should be up now under new topic.  Glenn
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Offline Epiphany

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #21 on: February 04, 2005, 12:05:26 PM »
Anyone have any dealings with Tiny House Company or Tumbleweed?

Offline Amanda_931

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #22 on: February 04, 2005, 08:48:45 PM »
Pictures of the 8 x 12 front gable house have been a lot of places--among others the book called Tiny Houses.

You do mean these guys--it may just be the one guy.

http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/houses.htm

Around here you see small buildings--always advertised as Amish Built--being trucked to their new homes.  

If the workmanship is equivalent, buying locally would be a good deal less expensive.

Offline Epiphany

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2005, 06:31:18 AM »
That's the problem in a nutshell - no one locally will touch a small house.  One option I am exploring is having it built on a frame and shipped in.

Offline Amanda_931

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Re: Need suggestions to find a little house builde
« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2005, 02:45:04 PM »
If you can go live somewhere for a bit before making much in the way of heavy-duty committments, things will work better.

Here are some teaching stories.

I wouldn't recommend the guy who worked for me summer before last, but someone like him may be who you are looking for.

Friend living a couple of miles up the road, had a brother who was kind of down on his luck, had been living in a house he'd built on someone else's land, now the owners were planning to sell, so bye bye!  I provided a place to live, the infamous tree-house--although he did go take showers and wash clothes at his brother's.   It almost worked.

People on the other side of the highway and down the hill with--ooooh--RIVERFRONT PROPERTY--did contact some Amish builders to come build a 20x30 1 1/2 story shell building--or something like that.  Then they hired a plumber and an electrician to do what they couldn't/didn't want to build.  They insulated and put up the interior walls--it looks nice.

The shell house--outer siding, roof, but studs visible on the inside, rough staircase and floor--or subfloor--upstairs-- was astonishingly inexpensive.  Quite a lot less than their first quote for getting electricity to the site.  It wouldn't have been my choice for permanent housing, but....

I do know a couple of odd-jobs people here.  One does stuff before he goes into his 2nd shift job.  The other, with lots more experience as a carpenter, used to work with his brother who has moved out of town.  So, jobs where he doesn't have to be the contractor, can work with me as helper (I'm moderately competent if somewhat easily intimidated by the size of a job), and I get to deal with the plumber and electrician sound pretty good to him.

I thought a travel trailer would have most of the comforts of home, while not being so wonderful that I would never build.  It MAY be working.

My elderly aunt, by then long retired from her nursing job, acted as her own contractor for two houses for herself (the first with her husband), and that worked, even if by the second she was probably in early Alzheimer's.  Somewhere in the Ozarks.