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Building Your Own Home in Louisiana

by Matthew Thompson, Realtor - 318.272.0951

As Featured On Ezine Articles

What does it take to build your own home, to be your own contractor, to save money? In Louisiana an individual has the right to build their own home once per year. I've built several homes in the past, and each time was a learning experience. With this experience I have prepared for YOU a step by step guide to building a home from my point of view. This article is specifically taylored to building slab-on-grade homes in the Shreveport Bossier City area.

Owner Built Homes in Shreveport
  1. Get Real With Yourself. This article is meant to be informative and not meant to highlight building your own home as the best way to construct a home. It is your choice whether you want to build your home yourself or use a contractor. If there is one place we can say stay away from it is those owner/builder networks. They take a fee from you and in return they give you a list of people who have joined their contractor list. You will may find that the people on this list are the people that the contractors won't hire or have already fired! Are you really ready to do this? Do you have the time? Do you have the resources? There are many benefits to hiring a contractor. We can help you find and negotiate with a reputable contractor in the Shreveport area. Just call us at 318.272.0951. Contractors are constantly cultivating their workforce through the hiring and firing process. Active contractors are tuned-in to the home building industry and can save you a lot of time and money. Most banks won't loan a dime unless you have signed a contracted with a licensed contractor. That said, please enjoy the article:

  2. Choose your home. Make a decision about which will be your next home. Once you decide what to build you'll need to purchase house plans. One of my favorite places to look for house plans is W.L. Martin Home Designs . These guys have the most well constructed house plans I've ever seen, not to mention beautiful designs. Look above and check out the WL Martin home completed in 2005. If your framing crew ever complains about a WL Martin house plan, consider firing them for incompetency.

  3. Find some land. Now you have your house plans and you know what footprint your house will have the property. Shop around and find some land to build your new house on. Drive around, look in the newspaper, look on the internet. Oh yea, you could always use me to search for land in Shreveport! Find out what the restrictions are on the property. Many subdivisions have covenants (restrictions) describing what type of homes are allowed. If your house fits then great! If not, pick another house or another piece of land.

    Caution! Be on the lookout for contractors selling land requiring that you let them build the house for you. Not that there's anything wrong with this; as a matter of fact I would require people let me build the house too. However, the focus of this article is building your OWN home.

  4. Finance the land. If you don't have cash on hand find someone that will loan money for the land. If you are building the home immediately most mortgage companies have programs available. If it is months or years before you plan to build the home then contact the Louisiana Land Bank. The Louisiana Land Bank has a program for future homesites which enables them to loan money for raw land. Their rates are competitive, and their service is fast.

  5. Get your costs together. There's no skipping this step! Before you get a loan for building a home the bank will make you submit your cost estimate. I have provided a list for you which includes everything I bought for my last home project in 2005. I also provide you with names of people in the area who did a good job for me. Feel welcome to contact them and tell them I sent you. Please note that the purpose of this list is to provide you with a starting point and remind you of things that are often forgotten. You will need to edit this list to make it fit your requirements. These items are listed in the order I encountered them.

    • Land Cost - How much you pay for the land.
    • Land Clearing - You'll need to hire a good dozer man to prepare your property for your home. For this task I recommend Roy McDowell from Webster Trucking. He has a laser level on his bull dozer that puts a nice grade on your site. His phone number is 318.949.4915.
    • House Plans - How much you paid for the house plans.
    • Permits - Be sure to obtain all required permits. These can be culvert permits, parish building permits, city permits, and more.
    • Builder's Risk Insurance - Protect yourself agains fires, theft, and a host of other unfortunate circumstances. Call Bobbie Smarr for Builder's Risk Insurance at ICT Insurance Agencies 318.797.7400. Be sure to read your policy closely. Make sure theft is covered. Since this is a common claim, lots of insurance providers will conveniently disclaim theft coverage in the small print.
    • Portable Toilet service - When you gotta go, you gotta go. Keep your workers relieved at your job site.
    • Trash Disposal - You'll be generating waste all along the way so you'll need a place to get rid of it. Look in the phone book and you'll find plenty of trash disposal companies in town. (I'll pause here and take a little time to report a bad experience I had with Allied Waste Services in Shreveport. In short, they took $500 from me as a deposit, rented me a dumpster for about a month and a half, and then said I still owed them another $168.97. So if you don't want your shirt stolen off your back, steer clear of Allied Waste Services.)
    • Temporary Water Service - Contact the water service in your area and have them put a water meter in. There are several phases of construction that require water (ie. masonry).
    • House Pad - Find someone that can sell dirt and build the house pad for you. Don't go too cheap here, or you'll have a house sitting in a mud hole. For this task I recommend Roy McDowell from Webster Trucking. He has a laser level on his bull dozer that puts a nice grade on your site. His phone number is 318.949.4915.
    • Slab, Post Tension - Contact TBG, Inc. Phone number is 318.469.8448.
    • Driveway and sidewalks - Contact TBG, Inc. Phone number is 318.469.8448.
    • Temporary Electricity - Contact Bo Wilkinson at BW Electric at 318.949.8711. They have electric poles and will help you coordinate getting the temporary power on your job site.
    • Interim Loan interest - Be sure to remember this one. While it takes 3-12 months to build your home you'll be paying interim loan interest on the money you have borrowed. I like to use 5% of the final borrowed amount to estimate how much interest I'll pay over the life of the interim loan.
    • Framing & Lumber - Contact TBG, Inc. Phone number is 318.469.8448. Even if you use someone else for the construction of the slab make sure you don't miss the pleasure of working with these people in framing your house. Their speed will save you money on your interim loan interest. They work in large crews and focus on YOU until they are finished with the job.
    • tape/float/texture/paint/stain - This process involves hanging sheetrock inside your home, preparing the sheetrock for texture, texturing the sheetrock, painting the house, and staining the cabinetry. For this task I have a strong preference for Mark Villarreal at Aim To Please. His home phone number is 318.949.8871. His cell phone number is 318.458.0079. Since this step in building a home is time consuming, Aim To Please's painters work in large crews to complete your job in a shorter amount of time. This saves you money on interim loan interest.
    • Cabinets - Get your order in for cabinets at the same time you pour your slab. Doing it this way will prevent delays when it's time to install them. Randy Peters and Tim Taylor build some beautiful cabinets. Contact them at 318.272.4598.
    • Cabinet knobs - Steer clear of fancy prices here. Get the cabinet knobs and stuff on Ebay! That's what I did.
    • Countertops - Will it be formica, corian, granite, marble? Make the choice now. You need to know how much it will cost you.
    • Wood, tile, and carpet material and labor - Decide how the flooring will be laid out in your new home. For fair pricing and top notch workmanship contact BJ's Flooring at 318.371.6823.
    • Electric/ethernet/security - Nobody does my electric work except BW Electric. Give them a call at 318.949.8711.
    • Air conditioning / Heating - Don't cheap out here. Get a unit with a high seer rating and enjoy reduced electric bills. Look at the pictures above. The house completed in 2002 was 1,400 square feet with an average electric bill of $250/month. The house completed in 2005 is 4,000 square feet with an average electric bill of $160/month. If you're a little skeptical of this claim, slap yourself wake and start believing it right now! High seer air conditioning really IS that drastic of a cost savings. Contacted Accutemp Cooling and Heating, and ask for Terry. Their phone number is 318.861.2255.
    • Masonry, labor, sand, mortar, lentils - Get with Jim Thomas at 318.377.3856 or Toby Whaley at 318.218.4803. Both of these guys have an excellent reputation in this area.
    • Plumbing, plumbing fixtures, tubs, faucets, toilets - Tommy Adkins' phone number is 318.470.3490. He can provide you with a quote on your plumbing. I approve of their work, and I think you will too.
    • Trim Materials and Labor - This includes crown moulding, mantels, and anything else that might be fancy. Contact TBG, Inc. Phone number is 318.469.8448.
    • Insulation - Who else but Charles at AAA Insulators. His phone number is 318.949.3719.
    • Fireplace - Try Mike Cox at Bradley Brick. His phone number is 318.752.9933.
    • Garage doors - Whether your looking for the regular ones or the fancy insulated ones give Benny Cash a call at Overhead Door. His phone number is 318.865.7666.
    • Lighting fixtures and ceiling fans - No recommendations. Just find a place known for on-time delivery.
    • Dishwasher/stove/vent/microwave - No recommendations. Just find a place known for on-time delivery.
    • Refrigerator - No recommendations. Just find a place known for on-time delivery.
    • Exterior doors, interior doors - Contact TBG, Inc. Phone number is 318.469.8448.
    • Stairway materials and labor - Contact TBG, Inc. Phone number is 318.469.8448.
    • Windows - Contact TBG, Inc. Phone number is 318.469.8448.
    • Roofing materials and labor - No recommendations.
    • Lawn Preparation for Grass - James San Angelo and his tractor can work wonders. Cell: 318.393.4923 Home: 318.746.9985.
    • Grass, mulch and labor - Now is the best time to add a layer of compost to compliment your lawn installation. Eco Mulch & Sod can make all this happen for you. Their phone number is 318.865.5200.
    • Landscaping -Richard Matthews at Avant Garde-ner has a love for landscaping and it certainly shows. Let him help you design your landscape, and you'll feel he's as interested in your project as you are. His phone number is 318.797.7183.
    • Mirrors and shower doors - Glass Doctor can make anything your heart desires. Give them a call at 318.221.3503.
    • Blinds / Window Coverings - Randy Rhodes from Innovative Interior Designs has lots of high quality blinds you can choose from. His phone number is 318.347.5012.
    • Gutters - Harmon & Sons installed the gutters on the house completed in 2005. No matter how much of a handyman you think you are, you're not going to equal the quality of this work with stuff you bought from the store. Their phone number is 318.671.9668.
    • Appraisal Fee - Don't forget the appraisal fee. Once you finish the house the bank will want an appraisal so plan on paying one more time before you move into your house.

Wheew! Now click to Step 6 of
Building Your Own Home in Louisiana

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