Owner Builder

Below are some of the results from the "Ask George" files for Owner Builder Programs.

More Information on Owner Builder Programs can be found on the New Home Construction page.

These questions were submitted thru my contact form which can be found on the "You Can Build Your Own Home" Ask George Page.
Web Build-YourOwn-Home.com

Owner Builder Programs
Owner Builder Programs, The "Ask George" Files Owner Builder Programs
From Dave:

Hi, I read your comments on the owner assisted building programs. What actually is wrong with a program like: ? (--thanks)


Hello Dave,

I am not familiar with this program. I am sure there are programs out there that are good and will assist in building your home.

Please be careful and check their references carefully. A service like this can be very good if you don't have the time to devote to building.

Do your research and let me know how it goes. I would love to have good resource for other readers that would like to utilize a service.

All the best,

Owner Builder Programs
Owner Builder Programs, The "Ask George" Files Owner Builder Programs
From Alan:

I have a question for you if you have time to answer it.  I've contacted a company that is a 'owner/builder' type place that basically 'holds your hand' during the building process allowing you (me) to be the general contractor.  They give you a list of sub's and also get discounts on building materials.  Anyway, this guy told me that he figures it would cost around $65 or so dollars a sq. ft.  I've talked to 'build on your lot' people, Tilson for one, you may or may not be familiar with them, but they've been around for a while, and they can build me a house, a house that they have plans to, that I like, for about that same price.  My thing is, why should I have the headaches for the same price?  Any advice?


Hello Alan,

Sorry for the late response. I get a ton of email and our ISP is in Miami Florida, so we have had limited internet for several days since Wilma hit them.

I have heard of Tilson they are big here in Texas. I have no personal experience with them. I do have one piece of advice. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples. It is very hard with all the different way builders structure deals to actually know exactly what you are getting for what price.

We built our house for around the same price per square foot you are talking about. When we priced it out with builders it was anywhere from 90 to 130 per foot. The difference was the extras that we all want like granite countertops and ceramic tile etc.. We also added many electrical features and high end lights and such.

What I would do is sit down and decide exactly what you want and write it down. Take it to the builder and make sure you get it in writing, then compare. It can get really confusing with all the different levels and programs they offer to really compare what is what.

Hope this helps,

George Stevens
Owner Builder Programs
Owner Builder Programs, The "Ask George" Files Owner Builder Programs
From Bill:

Absolutely a GREAT site!

Allow me to congratulate you on the site and your home, not to mention offer profuse thank yous! I am sure to visit your site many times over as I start embarking on my own home building adventure. I do have one question. I hope you can offer an opinion. What is your thoughts on COBS HOMES? I am interested in working with them on account that they offer loans for the land AND the construction for 12 months. Plus, I will be able to hire a building supervisor too. Any thoughts would be appreciated.


Hello Bill,

Thank you for the kind words. It is always great to hear that Build Your Own Home is helping folks.

I really don't know much about Cobs Homes. I am only familiar with what I have seen in their adds.

I can offer up a suggestion though. Make certain that you get a client list with contact information from them. Not just 2 or 3 that they know are satisfied, get as many as they will offer. Contact at least 3 or 4 at random and ask them questions that are specific. Call the BBB in the city they are in and check with the county or local government for complaints also.

Generally, I find most people are far too trusting, and just believe that the builders or building services are telling the truth. Building a house is like running a business. You must make sure you get the best for your money. Don't settle for one opinion, get 3 or 4, compare, analyze and then make YOUR best decision.

Sorry if I am preaching a little here. I have seen so many people unhappy when they built their home, because they did not research who they were dealing with up front.

All the best,

George Stevens
Owner Builder Programs
Owner Builder Programs, The "Ask George" Files Owner Builder Programs
From Alan:


Any advice on where to find a cost+ type builder/general contractor?  I'm still debating on whether I want to be my general contractor or not.  If I do decide to be my g/c I might go with the builder/owner network, they charge their fees based on the livable sq. footage, ie 2000sq. ft. * 2.95=$5900 for their services.  Basically they hold your hand through the building process as well as have a list of pre-qualified and verified sub contractors.


Hello Alan,

Whatever service you consider make sure you do your homework. We studied several of the Owner Builder programs and some of them had impressive literature and websites. That in itself does not help you build your home. Get a comprehensive client list and contact then at random. Call at least three of the people of the list at random and ask questions about the builder or program.

I would ask if they had any problems with the construction of their home and how did the general contractor or Owner Builder program resolve those problems. If they tell you everything went great and there were no problems I would be suspicious. All building projects have challenges it is how you and your builder / GC deal with those problems that makes you crazy or happy. Call at least three at random from the list they provide.  

Check the Owner Builder program or GC out with the BBB and the licensing authority in the city / town / county that they are located. If they have any complaints were they resolved properly or are they still outstanding. 

Do a Google / Yahoo and a MSN search on their name and the name of their company. You will be surprised at what you can find out doing this. Many people  write in complaints to different services and they are posted on the Internet.

And last anything that sounds to good to be true usually is. On my website I talk about an Owner Builder program that promised they would come to the site every week to inspect the home construction. After a little investigation we found out there were only 2 people and a secretary that were running this outfit. They claimed to be building
100 plus houses at the time. There is no way they could get to every house and do a proper inspection every week.

Take your time and remain objective. Be careful because once you have chosen a Builder or a service you are committed to building your house with them. I don't want to sound cynical here but please be careful.

Hope this helps,

Owner Builder Programs
Owner Builder Programs, The "Ask George" Files Owner Builder Programs
From Stan:

I am not trying to play companies against each other, but I do want to ensure that my wife and I get the best deal for our family - all the way around. We do not want to line the pockets of a general contractor, but we also do not want to defeat our purpose by "over paying" a company that specializes in helping owner builders.

The following is a email I sent to American Standard Building Systems company:

I have been in contact with a couple of your competitors [Landmark Homes & Owner Builder Network]. We saw a house plan on the web site of Landmark 

Landmark estimates the cost to be about $58 per sq. ft.

Another company - Owner Builder Network - sent me the following email:

"Good morning Stan, 2500 square foot around $187,500-$207,500.
2800 square foot around $210,000-$232,400.
This price includes everything but the purchase price of the land. Out of pocket would be less than $2800.00. And you will end up with at least 20% equity in the property. Call if you have any questions."

Building a home is a major step for us, so we some serious questions that need answers - What can you do for us and why should we consider doing business with your company?

What do you think about what I did? Do you have any suggestions?


Hello Stan,

My #1 suggestion when dealing with Owner Builder programs is get it all in writing. Make sure you compare apples to apples. All of them have different programs and different ways of getting paid. Most of them supply plans, each one will have different set of plans to figure your cost per square foot. I don't think you will find one that will give you a hard dollar amount per square foot.

As I am sure you realize these companies are supplying a service to you. They are not building the house, you are. So with this in mind you need to compare what they offer.

Do they supply plans? If they do, is there a set of plans that you would like to build. Do they offer revisions of the plans to fit YOUR needs at no additional cost. How long will these revisions take (get this in writing)? If they offer custom plans how long will these take (get it in writing)? I had a buddy that waited for months to get his plans. They said it would take only a couple of weeks.

Do they supply a recommended contractor list? If they do, are these contractors licensed in their field and bonded? How long have these contractors been working for them? Are they independent contractors or do they work for the building program exclusively? How many of each trade do they have on the list? Just one or two for each trade is not good enough. These guys get busy and you could again wait for them to be available. Do they provide references for the contractors?

I would check the contractors out even if they are recommended by the company. Make sure they are legitimate craftsman in good standing in your community. More information about contractors is available on the building contractor page

Do they offer a source of financing. This is the main reason that most people use these programs. It is much easier to have someone else walk you through the process and help you. If they do offer financing is it at an attractive rate and do they offer a one time closing option. When we were shopping none of the programs offered this option. Again compare apples to apples. look at the financing package for each program. More information is available on the  home construction loan  page.

Do they offer any inspections onsite during the construction process? If they do how often do they come to your building site, and will they meet you onsite to do the inspection so you can ask them questions? Definitely get this in writing!

Are they available for consultation when you need to ask a question? Believe me you will need to ask them questions in the process. If they are is it by email, cell phone, or only during business hours? This is a major sticking point for many people. Once the companies get the fee they are hard to get on the phone to ask the hard questions. Make sure you get this defined well. You are paying for access to the knowledge of a qualified builder and if you can't get them on the phone then you aren't getting it.

Last but not least, SLOW DOWN and make a good decision. Look at as many programs as you can and compare them side by side. DON'T RUSH into a decision. Check references, get a client list that is extensive. Call as many previous clients as you can and listen to them. Check the Company out with the BBB, the local Chamber of Commerce, and the State to see if they have any outstanding complaints.

Hope this helps,

Owner Builder Programs
Owner Builder Programs, The "Ask George" Files Owner Builder Programs

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