How to Be Your Own Contractor and Save Thousands on Your New House Or Renovation: While Keeping Your Day Job: With Companion CD-ROM

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If you're thinking about building or remodeling your house, you should consider hiring yourself as the contractor. You can save 10% to 35% of the project's cost and perhaps more important, you'll be able to monitor the quality of materials and workmanship, fine-tune the design, and make sure the result meets your needs. The best part is you can do this part time without picking up a hammer.

This all sounds great, what is the catch? There really is none, except you must know what you are doing! This book will provide everything you need to know to get your house or renovation completed the way you want it while saving thousands. Since your success depends on thorough preparation as well as an ability to hire and schedule subcontractors, control costs, keep work moving, and stay calm we have charted the course for you to avoid costly even illegal mistakes.

In this easy to read, comprehensive book you will learn step-by-step procedures for subcontracting and building your home or renovating while still working full time. You will learn how to choose a site, draw up construction time line and flow charts, apply for construction loans and financing, obtain essential insurance information, buy inexpensive plans, find and negotiate with subcontractors, and comply with building code, inspection, and permit requirements. Now you can be armed with the right information and save money and time.

The ins and outs of self-contracting are explained, combined with the experiences of others, and with dozens of forms and checklists at hand, you will learn all about: building materials and foundations, floors, walls, paint, windows, decks, garage doors, roofing, flashings, chimneys, plumbing: piping, fixtures, faucets, water heating and fuel storage systems, pools and equipment, wiring: main service panels, conductors, switches, receptacles, heating, air conditioning and heat pumps, ceilings, floors, railings, doors and windows, attics, walls, kitchens, and bathrooms.

In addition you will gain valuable information about: septic systems, wells, water quality testing, mold, radon testing, asbestos, termites, carbon monoxide testing, and lead testing. Included in this book are hundreds of easy-to-implement tools, contracts, forms, and checklists to help you get your project organized, and easier to manage while saving thousands!  The companion CD-ROM is included with the print version of this book; however is not available for download with the electronic version.  It may be obtained separately by contacting Atlantic Publishing Group at

Atlantic Publishing is a small, independent publishing company based in Ocala, Florida. Founded over twenty years ago in the company president’s garage, Atlantic Publishing has grown to become a renowned resource for non-fiction books. Today, over 450 titles are in print covering subjects such as small business, healthy living, management, finance, careers, and real estate. Atlantic Publishing prides itself on producing award winning, high-quality manuals that give readers up-to-date, pertinent information, real-world examples, and case studies with expert advice.  Every book has resources, contact information, and web sites of the products or companies discussed.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781601380043
  • Publisher: Atlantic Publishing Group Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/12/2008
  • Edition description: Includes CD-ROM
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 590,585
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Dedication     3
Introduction     7
Are You Ready to Tackle the Custom Home Process?     13
Plans     37
Pre-Construction Activities     57
Financing     63
Financing for Remodeling     83
Insurance     89
Find & Negotiate with Subcontractors     99
Renovating a Home     115
Comply with Building Code, Inspection, & Permit Requirements     127
Building Materials & Foundations     133
First Stages of Construction     159
Kitchens     207
Bathrooms     217
Putting on the Finishing Touches     229
Potential Dangers & How to Prevent Them     239
Potential Problems & Common Mistakes     245
Conclusion: A Final Word on Saving Money     257
Resources     261
Author Acknowledgements & Biography     265
House Building Glossary Terms     267
Index     287
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 19, 2009

    Be Your Own Contractor

    Whether you are ambitious enough to be the contractor for your entire project or just some sections this book is will hold your hand through the process. The author includes useful charts and lists to guide you through your project. Specific projects, such as kitchens and bathrooms have their own chapter making for easy reference.
    I found the most helpful chapter to be "Potential Problems & Common Mistakes." The advice given here is a huge money and time saver. The appendix is chock full of great websites and additional resources. Even if you decide not be your own contractor you will be educated and prepared to work with whomever you decide to hire.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2009

    Simplify the Remodel Process

    If you are building or remodeling a home this book is worth its weight in gold. Even if you do not want to be your own contractor, it provides the information you need to understand the building and remodel process. You will never have to rely on someone else to know what is happening.
    Everything is covered, from site selection to finishing touches. I especially liked the part describing dangers, problems, and mistakes, that might happen.
    You could easily save yourself the cost of the book with all the good advice, not to mention a lot of headaches.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2008

    The Basics of Self Contracting

    The very readable new book by Tanya Davis walks you through the basics of self contracting in terms of either renovating your current home if you are staying put or building a new one from scratch. Managing a residential construction project, especially if you're holding down a full-time job and have family responsibilities, is clearly not for everyone, so this book will help you decide whether the homebuilding process might be right for you--a highly individual decision that can only be made after careful consideration. Drawing upon her own experience and research as well as interviews with contractors and other real-estate gurus around the country, Davis authoritatively explains how to save money and time and avoid frustration when taking on a do-it-yourself project of this magnitude. According to Davis, 'Building [or remodeling] a home has become increasingly complex, but by developing a straightforward, organized way of handling each step of the process, you can easily create the structure you always dreamed of from beginning to end. You will be able to create a house that will be beautiful and functional, and bring you joy for years to come. The best part is that you will have the satisfaction of having created it yourself.' Davis says that you can save anywhere from 10 to 35 percent by hiring yourself as the contractor and even doing some of the actual labor yourself. The book covers key topics such as the seven steps to the perfect home design, pre-construction activities, financing, finding and negotiating with subcontractors, building code compliance, supplies and materials, and avoiding problems and common mistakes. Even if you are just considering some minor remodeling or weekend fix-it projects, this reader-friendly book offers helpful guidance. The book includes many checklists and sample forms (which also appear in the companion CD) to help you stay on top of your all-important scheduling and recordkeeping tasks so that you can manage material and workmanship effectively.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2008

    If You Ever Considered Doing A Home Improvement Project ¿ This Is The Book To Read!

    How To Be Your Own Contractor by Tanya R. Davis provides a helpful guide to organizing building and construction activities. There is great detail, from planning right down to decorating. She includes a timely chapter on green remodeling that many will find informative. There is also a good description of financing options for new construction and remodeling projects. The chapter on finding and negotiating with subcontractors is useful for anyone hiring an outside contractor to do work in their home or investment real estate. While she does emphasize the importance of written contracts, she did not outline the necessity of adding language to the contract, spelling out who is responsible for injuries or damage due to a subcontractor¿s negligence. In addition, she discusses briefly the importance of a subcontractor having workers compensation insurance, but neglects to discuss the importance of liability and auto insurance as well. The sample bid sheets and lists of materials prove to be useful templates to be used again and again, during any number of projects. The information on building codes and materials is eye opening, as it details important aspects most do-it-yourselfers might not think about. In addition, I found the in-depth description of the materials to be extremely useful. All in all, this book is a must have if you are planning any type of construction on your residential property.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2008

    Excellent Resource!

    ¿How to Be Your Own Contractor¿¿ This book is written for those of us who want to remodel or build our own dream home, and don¿t want to hand over all decisions to a contractor. You don¿t even need to know how to hold a hammer for this book to teach you all you need to know to make good decisions and run every aspect of your build. If you want to be involved in every stage of your project, and know why you made every decision right down the line, this is the book for you. ¿How to Be Your Own Contractor¿¿ is written with three goals in mind: ¿ Describe each major step in the building process, providing checklists and common mistakes for each ¿ Save YOU money ¿ Save YOU time It covers each goal surprisingly well in an organized and detailed fashion. This book DOES NOT address issues like steps to lay floor or drywall. It DOES cover the whole contracting process including how to manage subcontractors and materials 'managing all people and things', and how to make informed decisions and get the best deals all along the way. It provides direction on how to juggle building or remodeling with your own job and family responsibilities. This book details the best floor plans, how to choose durable materials that will save you time and money in repairs later, and how to choose thickness of walls. Chapters include 'these are just a few': ¿ Financing 'for new builds and remodeling' ¿ Insurance ¿ Find & Negotiate with Subcontractors ¿ Complying with building code, inspection, and permit requirements ¿ Potential Dangers and How to Prevent Them ¿ Potential Problems and Common Mistakes Each chapter provides a checklist of all materials, paperwork, and tasks you need to complete before getting started--a great help with some of these chapters! There is a lot of information on site safety, and accident prevention too¿very important for you and your wallet! This book gives complete details on the process, useful information, and great resources for further help. This is a very user-friendly, useful book! Highly recommended if you want to be your own contractor, even if you don¿t know anything about it going in to your project.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2008

    How to be Your Own Contractor

    With the recent popularity of TV shows such as HGTV and DIY, along comes this book that takes it to the next level. Davis writes a very thorough, well-organized `how-to¿ book that caters not only to the weekend warrior, but the serious budding contractor. What I liked most is that Davis provides a step-by-step explanation on how to tackle contracting and remodeling, while also providing a ¿heads up¿ on potential problems that may occur with the appropriate remedy. Whether you are a novice or a professional, ¿How To Be Your Own Contractor¿ should be the only book you need to navigate through your next project.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2008

    Start thinking about that dreamhouse

    Start studying and collecting designs and plans for your dream house or upgraded room. A thorough step-by-step, streamlined process that takes into account your desire to save money is available. This book makes it possible to realize what you have envisioned. Plus, it¿s not limited to its intended audience. Current homeowners and future homebuyers can also benefit. Davis starts off by encouraging you to take a reasonable approach to the process. She highlights special considerations, such as finding an appropriate lot and examining that lot for potential issues that could become extremely costly after the house is built. It reinforces effective management. It provides advice in the selection of competent subcontractors, and suggest staying privy to what is occurring throughout the building process through daily visits to the site. The book points out substantive details. For instance, it describes how the house sits on the land determines how sunlight enters a room, getting the site plan from a surveyor can help with the proper placement of the house and if you chose to have a basement, a sloped lot is better than a flat lot because it provides for better drainage. As you read along, you may be inclined to inspect the current condition and construction of your present abode, especially for people who aren¿t as cognizant of everything that goes into the development of the house they¿ve purchased. They may have been too captivated by the unobstructed views of the lake as opposed to whether the house is subject to flooding. The book is an easy read. Tips are provided in shaded boxes to help you identify cost-savings, and not lose track of your budget. Key information is reinforced at the end of the chapters. Davis is cautious of the reader¿s comprehension, and suggests further reading on the topic to help familiarize you with more technical terminology. She also advises attendance of zoning meetings and trips to your local government to review licenses and laws. The book is a great introduction as to what you can expect when taking on your housing project.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2008

    Hits the nail on the head!

    As a single, independent woman, I was very excited when I came across this book. I mean nothing beats bringing home the bacon and frying it in a pan - except designing the home that you are bringing the bacon to. This book is very helpful because it gives the average person language and ideas that are very useful and necessary to navigate through the homebuilding process. The money saving tips, checklists and appendix filled with resources for additional information were definitely an added bonus.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2008

    A reviewer

    If I was to build my own house, I would frame it out of steel and try to pick a lot on a slant upward from the street so that I can have a water-free basement. Thanks to ¿How to Be Your Own Contractor¿ by Tanya R. Davis, I now know the ins and outs of building a home and you can too. With simple understandable directions, Davis makes every step of the construction feasible for anyone with the determination to see the project through. She includes many examples of documents that familiarize the reader with exactly what they will deal with. The layout is easy to follow and flows from section to section. Each chapter is ended with a checklist, which serves as a great reminder and summary of all the important points previously covered. ¿How to Be Your Own Contractor¿ is a wonderful read for anyone with interests in the world of house building.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2008

    A reviewer

    There is nothing quite so satisfying as finally building that dream home, except perhaps being involved in process every step of the way. This book will help you do just that. While Davis doesn't walk you through the entire building process (obviously, for safety reasons, most of the work should be done by licensed professionals), she does show you how to oversee the project and eliminate the middle man, the contractor who oversees the building process. You'll find everything from choosing a lot and planning to applying for financing and obtaining permits all the way through to the final finishing touches. Special recommendations regarding finding reasonable, honest subcontractors and money-saving tips throughout the book make this book necessary for anyone new to the construction process. Davis presents potentially overwhelming information in an organized and accessible way. If you are looking to build that dream home or turn your current house into your dream home, this will be a helpful resource.

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