Save money when building, renovating real estate

If you are thinking about building a house or renovatingyour current home, first read “Be Your Own House Contractor, FifthEdition” by longtime home builder Carl Heldmann. This very valuable newbook explains, according to the author, how to shave at least 25 percent offconstruction costs of a new house. More important, it goes into great detail ofwhat is involved with being your own home contractor.

Having been involved with renovating many houses and alwayshiring a remodeling contractor, I closely related to Heldmann’s explanations ofhow to build a new house to save money or renovate an existing house withouthiring a general contractor. The author explains how a general contractor’s jobseems almost easy (which it really isn’t) and virtually anyone can save bybeing his/her own general contractor.

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A unique aspect of this new book is Heldmann refers readersto his Web site for additional resources to make the home construction processalmost simple. He compares today’s procedures with those available 35 years agowhen he built his first house and then built many more. “You won’t believehow easy it is to save money and get the house you want,” Heldmann says.

An especially enjoyable advantage of this book is the authorsimplifies the home construction process into bite-size pieces that any readercan understand. He doesn’t go into great detail, but just enough for the readerto know if becoming a do-it-yourself contractor is right.

Even if the reader decides to hire a general contractor tobuild a new home or remodel an existing one, Heldmann explains how to keepcosts down and to understand the home-building process.

Will this book make the reader capable of building his/herown home without a general contractor? Possibly.

But more likely, it alerts readers to what is involved andif they need to learn more before going ahead, such as by reading more advancedhome construction books or taking courses at local owner-builder centers.

Heavy emphasis is placed on construction financing, withfewer details about arranging home-improvement financing, which is generallyeasier to obtain. Heldmann encourages do-it-yourself home builders to arrangeconstruction loans by comparing several sources, especially community banks.Although it used to be virtually impossible to obtain a home construction loanwithout having a general contractor, the author says banks have become much moreliberal in recent years.

Chapter topics include “Be Your Own General Contractorand Save”; “Where to Start”; “Cost Estimating”;”Financing”; “Further Preparations”;”Subcontractors”; “Suppliers”; “Building theHouse”; and “Add On, Remodel, or Tear Down and Start fromScratch.”

This longtime best-seller home construction book is evenbetter in its latest edition, which includes the author’s Internet Web siteresources. Readers might conclude, as I did, that being their own contractor isnot for them even if they can save 25 percent. However, reading this book mademe a much better consumer when dealing with general contractors. On my scale ofone to 10, this outstanding, easy-to-understand book rates a solid 10.

“Be Your Own House Contractor, Fifth Edition,” byCarl Heldmann (Storey Publishing, North Adams, MA), 2006, $16.95, 101 pagesplus Appendix; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores,public libraries and

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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