Residential building is a complex and difficult business
with jobs in various locations, each with different personalities, equipment, codes,
designs, costs, timing, and requirements. Doctors, lawyers, and
engineers go to school for years. Builders, for the most part, learn on their
own. Here is a broad overview of what is required to become a successful
builder, after trade skills are acquired: marketing/sales, accounting/record
communication/writing, customer/employee/subcontractor relations,
computers/software, trucks/equipment, tools/materials, quality control/customer service,
schedule/job management, general management, estimating/bidding, and
The Elements of Building was written specifically to help young builders and tradesmen to navigate and succeeded in the residential construction industry.
EOB is available at Amazon.com and on the Garrett Wade website.
Estimating is not hard but doing it well requires certain things: undisturbed blocks of time, thoughtful organization of the process, attention to detail, knowledge of the site and the construction method, good job documents, and time to study them thoroughly. EOB, estimating section
You are never too young, your business too small, or your assets too modest to learn about and use financial planning. The sooner you start the better. Financial advisers range from the individual working out of their home to multinational corporations. Choose an adviser with good references, a long track record, and reasonable fees. Whomever you choose, remain intimately aware of the finances they control for you. EOB, Financial Planning
When deciding if an issue should be taken to court, negotiated, arbitrated, or let go, ask your lawyer to analyze the legal options, break the strategy into stages, estimate the cost for each, give an opinion about the likelihood of success, and outline what he believes is the best course of action. Although this process will not provide a perfect road map, nor are legal issues the only ones to be taken into account, it will provide some basis on which to make a judgment. EOB, Lawyers Notes
Contractually require subs to obtain, pay for, and comply with all permits and inspections. And require each sub to meet their trade’s inspector on-site if someone must be present. If you or a foreman are going to be there, you might do the sub a favor and meet the inspector, but as standard procedure the trade is responsible for meeting inspectors and taking care of any issues that arise from the inspection. From EOB, Subcontractor Section, Contract Notes
Do not slow or stop marketing in anticipation of winning a job. Projects fall through for a thousand reasons and often at the last minute. If marketing has been slowed or abandoned, the damage from the loss of that job will be even worse. Further, if you become entirely dependent on a specific job, you may agree to unfavorable contract terms because you can’t afford to lose the work. If marketing brings in too much work, tighten your qualifications or explain that you cannot take on more work at that time. This is a much better problem to have then struggling to find work at the last minute. EOB, Builder Notes: Business Strategies