If you dream about designing and building your own home to your specifications, first read “Building Your Own Home for Dummies” by Kevin Daum, Janice Brewster and Peter Economy. This new book explains virtually all the details involved in developing your residence, with heavy emphasis placed on the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Normally, I don’t like real estate books written by a “committee” of several authors, but this book turned out quite well. The co-authors, especially Daum and Brewster, don’t hesitate to express their feelings and advice. Daum is a home construction finance expert so he emphasized the construction finance insider details.
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The book’s theme is building a home on your lot. It presumes you already own the lot because it doesn’t go into much detail about what makes a good lot for home construction.
The emphasis is on taking a dream home from idea to design to construction to completion. The book explains the complete process. It recommends hiring a general contractor and then consulting that contractor every day during construction to keep the pressure on and resolve any problems that might arise.
As a longtime remodeler of older homes, I concur with the advice of the authors to keep in daily contact with the general contractor. But before hiring the contractor, the authors explain how to find the best available contractor and even what to do if problems develop with that individual.
This book should only be read a few chapters at a time so the content can be thoroughly digested. Surprisingly, some of the best content chapters come at the end of the book. The book’s organization could have been better, but virtually all the home construction essentials are included.
The primary reason I say some of the best chapters are toward the end is that those chapters emphasize the home construction mistakes to avoid. To illustrate, Chapter 20 explains how to handle potential problems such as running out of construction loan cash, cost over-runs, not getting along with the contractor, and even the contractor walking off the job.
But the book is not superficial “fluff” about house construction. It goes into considerable depth about the important home construction steps and how to know what is going on. Of course, the book presumes a competent architect designed the house, based on the owner’s instructions. Occasionally, the authors get a bit too detailed but just skip those sections.
Chapter topics include “Getting Started: The 411 on Custom Home Building”; “All You Need is Dough: Financing Your Custom Home”; “Hammers and Nails: The Construction Process”; and “All the After Stuff.”
The basic idea of the book is know what you want in your new home to be built on your lot, hire an architect to design a home implementing your ideas, obtain the necessary local building permits, hire a general contractor, and then watch that contractor every day to prevent problems. On my scale of one to 10, this superb new book rates a solid 10.
“Building Your Own Home For Dummies,” by Kevin Daum, Janice Brewster and Peter Economy (Wiley Publishing, Hoboken, NJ), 2005, $19.99, 348 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries and www.amazon.com.
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