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Q: Brian & Jennifer B. / Pittsburgh, Pa. Asks:  My wife and I are planning on buying a new home this summer. We have been told to hire a Building Inspector prior to signing the purchase contract for the home. Is this a wise decision?

A: AHG Writes Back: Brian, first and foremost, CONGRATULATIONS!!!! You and Jennifer will soon experience the most awesome feeling in the world, second only to the birth of a new born baby… but I digress.

I think the person you meant to refer to is “A Home Inspector”, rather than a Building Inspector. The building inspector comes later in the home ownership process. (Check out AHG chapter on “Building Inspectors”, Pg 33)

The Home Inspector is a MUST HAVE when investing your money into a new or used home.  These men and women are there to protect you and your investment from hidden dangers and anomalies that are not obviously seen by the average home buyer. The content of this guide also applies to interviewing Home Inspectors too.

Best Wishes Brian and Jennifer.  Send us a photo of your new purchase. We’ll happily post it next to your question.


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Q: Shawna  L. / Canton, Oh. Asks:  My husband Mark thinks that we could save us several thousands of dollars if he and his buddy builds our addition. I’m not so sure that he and his buddy have the patience or know-how to build the addition. Neither of them have a background in carpentry or any building trade.

Is it possible that they can watch YouTube or read books and get the proper information needed to build our addition?

A: AHG Writes Back: Shawna, I think it could be fun to take on such a challenge. Don’t be afraid to become part of the process, Shawna. You might just enjoy the experience. Plus, you all would have such awesome bragging rights.  I know how I feel when I finish even the simplest of projects. My esteem soars and I beam with pride.  Try it out, you can always call for backup should it become tiresome.

Primary Note: If you or your family is short tempered or gives up easily, do yourself a favor… Hire A Qualified Contractor.

Here are just a few notable concerns, but not limited to…  (Check out AHG chapter on “Can I Be My Own General Contractor”, Pg 23)

  1. Do you have a definite time line in which you want or need the addition to be completed by?
  2. One of the first things you might want to do is to see if there is a local contractor who would act as a mentor to you and your husband. Each week, or upon your request, he would stop by to inspect your work and guide you along on upcoming tasks.
  3. Go to as well as several other How-To homeowner sites. Participate in online Homeowner bulletin boards and maybe invest into a book or two pertaining to building additions.
  4. Find a contractor, electrician, plumber, mason and a few other tradesmen to also act as mentors with your project.
  5. Make sure to check with your municipality and local building inspector to find out any limitations or ordinances specific to your project before you even begin to break ground or buy materials.
  6. Make sure you understand the “Timeline Effect”. What a contractor can do in one month might take you three months or more to do the same.
  7. MISTAKES WILL BE MADE.  Determine your plan on how to deal with all the mistakes that will happen and make a pact between all of you that no name calling or fisticuffs become any part of your work ethic.  Take a break, even from each other, as need be. Even the pros make mistakes. It’s how you manage anger and your ability to undo the mistake then redo it properly that counts.
  8. Will the cost of investing into all the tools or renting them cut into your savings by doing yourself?  How much will you actually save after buying tools, and renting equipment, and paying your husband’s buddy for his time. Do all the math before jumping into your project.
  9. Have a trained architect create or render your project drawings. Ask her to educate you on the basics of reading the prints. Learn the lingo, it will be fun.
  10. How will this process effect; Your family,  children, pets, your day job, weekends, vacation time, family obligations, etc.  Lastly; DO YOU HAVE HOMEOWNERS AND HEALTH INSURANCE IN PLACE.
  11. Do Not Bore Your Friends and Family with every detailed nuance of your quest. They don’t really want to hear all the nuances. Create a blog or a facebook page. Post your photos and written experiences there.  Allow everyone to visit the blog on their own time, if they so desire.

As with anything that you have never done before, there is a learning curve. Be patient.  Have fun and enjoy the process! These are just eleven of the many concerns one should think hard about before entering into such a large Do-It-Yourself project

The BIGGEST investment that will be required of you is YOUR TIME, then your money!

I hope this offered a glimpse of what will be asked of you should you take on such a fun project.

HAVE FUN.. and send us a link to your projects facebook or blog pages.

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