A post I wrote awhile ago about building a house. The house is finished. The blog lesson still applies.
Sorry about being late but had to meet a framer to talk about this new house. Nothing like pulling up to work site in 103 degree Texas weather feeling like an idiot, or a complete fraud, or both. But with plans in hand I slid out of the truck and went looking for John Hughes, the frame guy. For those not in the know, the framer frames the house. Easy so far.
John had his head stuck in the back of a truck trying to get a balky compressor to compress. He was sweating and so was I. One of his guys saw me, nudged John and said something. Probably "Hey, the idiot that thinks he can build his own house is here."
Suddenly I felt like the Roaming Gnome. "Would you chaps feel like framing a little cottage for the missus and me. You would? Oh, goody." Actually I mumbled my way through an introduction which wasn't necessary since I had done that over the phone earlier. John was eyeing the plans I had rolled up in my hand. Yep, just like in the Chevy commercials--unrolled the plans and put them on the hood where they promptly blew off. Grabbed some tools to hold them down and John looked. And looked. And looked. And I tried to keep my mouth shut but the Roaming Gnome busted out again. "It's a frightfully simple plan, old chap. Nothing to it." John kept looking.
Looked at the front outside elevation, then the back outside elevation, then the first floor floor plan then the second floor floor plan. Finally he said, "What's the pitch?" I wasn't sure what I had to pitch when I realized he meant the roof pitch. "8 in 12, I think." "No, he said, looks lie 12 in 12. Pretty steep." I was pretty proud of myself for just remembering what pitch meant--8 in 12 means that the if you walk off 12 feet, the roof would be 8 feet over your head at that point. A 12 in 12 means walk 12 feet, the roof would be 12 feet over your head. Conversely a 6 in 12 means a less steep roof and so on.
"What about trusses?" I don't know, what about them? Seems there is a large space for the living room and the dining room. John likes plywood trusses, not web trusses. He explains the difference and the cost can't be that much more so fine with me.
"You want the house wrapped?" he asked. "Wrapped?" I almost said when I realized he meant weatherproofed with the white stuff that is 'wrapped' around the house. I could tell he didn't think much of the stuff but I thought and muttered, "Lots of people doing it." "We do it better, paper don't keep out nothing." Seems he foams the plywood with insulation and I had to agree that foam seemed more substantial than 'paper.' He also uses reflective barriers on the roof plywood so thought he was pretty much up on the energy saving side of the business.
That's about it. He looks around and rubs his chin, takes off his baseball cap, wipes his brow and proclaims, " I get about $4 a square." I almost said "Square what?" but figured it out. So we did the numbers. Total slab space is 3,918 square feet so that times $4 is $15,672. Good, bad, I don't know but I have a number. And that is progress.
The book says get three estimates and I have calls into other guys. But so far John is ahead on points.
The moral of the story. I believe we, we being over educated office folk, all have deep seated fears of guys that build things. Because we can't, or think we can't, do it. Plus we might get screwed and we don't know what we are doing. I always have to force myself to look at it the other way around--hey, he's the guy that has to make a living doing this stuff. I'm a paying customer. I should get service.
Make's sense but we don't think that way. Well, I have to if I'm going to get this house for what I want to get it for. So forge ahead. And as usual the aniticipation far exceeded the actual event--John seems like a pretty nice guy.