Is it true that most counties in the State of Texas do not require a General Contractor to pull permits to build a home?
Answer: While most counties do not require to submit application for permits to build homes, some cities in Texas do require.
Is it true that General Contractors do not need a License to build homes?
Answer: It is unfortunate that the State of Texas does not require a General Contractor to have a license to build a structure in the State of Texas.
What is the preferred PSI concrete to use on a home?
Answer: While most General Contractors use from 3000-3500 PSI , BW Construction and Custom Homes LLC uses 4000 PSI concrete on all concrete purchases and they test the concrete coming out of the trucks to ensure it is 4000 PSI. They also perform a stress test on their foundations along with performing a 28 day hammer test.
Why does BW Construction and Custom Homes LLC require so many inspections?
Answer: BW Construction and Custom Homes LLC is a third generation True General Contractor and understand that foundations and the actual structure has the integrity to last and is the most greatest fundamental importance to ensure that every home they build withstands that very statement. We feel the homeowner would want their windows inspected to ensure that the correct amount of screws were used per code to hold his windows in place. We feel the homeowner would want their roof decking to be inspected for nail-off to ensure their roof has the integrity of being nailed down properly per code and sealed to prevent leaks, and the list goes on.
What is a Cost-Plus?
Answer: A true cost-plus is a General Contractor that solicits his/her and other vendors to perform a take-off of materials and labor for a particular new home. Typically the General Contractor will gather at a minimum two bids per sub-contractor/trade and compare. With guidance from the General Contractor, they will help the Homeowners decide who has the best pricing and who performs the best, however cheapest pricing is not always best. ( you get what you pay for ) A cost plus enables the homeowners to purchase and engage at the General Contractors costing level. The Homeowner actually sees the General Contractors pricing with massive savings to chose the Cost-Plus Route! This practice has certainly disappeared and BW Construction and Custom Homes LLC still maintains this tradition and will continue to maintain this tradition to infinity and beyond. Please note that costs-plus typically is 14-15% over costs of goods, averaging up to 40 to even 50% savings from standard levels of pricing.
What are some questions should Homeowners ask the General Contractor?
Answer: 1. We recommend asking the General Contractor if they have adequate amount of insurance coverage's and typically they should be 1-2 million General Liability with a 3 million dollar aggregate and the sub-contractors have at least a 1 million dollar general liability coverage and must provide proof/copies and maintain that GL coverage throughout the build.
2. We recommend asking the General Contractor will they show you the actual quotes/bids from the vendors coming from the vendors proforma quotes/bids and not from the General Contractors bid sheet.
3. We recommend asking the General Contractor how many inspections do they require per home build and it should be at least 25 certified inspections from a certified inspector and building under the uniform 2018 IBC building code and 2020 NEC Codes.
4. We recommend asking the General Contractor to show you the Civil Engineering and Structural drawings of their homes to include roofing/decking, wind-shear, bearing walls and sub pre-concrete footers structure on their homes. We also recommend inspecting yourself and get a copy of each inspection performed.
5. We recommend asking the General Contractor do they build their homes to meet 115 MPH wind speeds and to show you the certifications , structural and inspection reports.
6. We recommend asking the General Contractor do they use 4000 PSI concrete and why not if they don't, and ask if they perform a 28 day hammer test and ask do they test their concrete for proper mix and finally ask if they do foundation/slab 3 and 7 day stress tests if doing a post tension slab.
7. We recommend asking the General Contractor to provide you the down-forces and uplifts of their home roofing structure plans certified by a structural engineer. Typically the certifying entity is Alpine engineering. This will ensure the homeowner will have a stamped certified set of Blue Prints performed by a registered structural and civil engineer.
8. We recommend asking the General Contractor do they use any Finger Joint Lumber in their homes and why do they use it. Your home needs the super structure of full lumber due to its integrity and strength. Using Finger Joint Lumber drastically reduces this and is a possible structural hazard. Have the General Contractor show you proof if they use Finger Joint Lumber verses full material, the differences and ask will they certify their statement in writing and give you a copy that the finger joint material is acceptable for your structure-most times this cannot be done.
9. We recommend asking the General Contractor are all their Walls, Ceilings and Roof Rafters placed on 16 inch on centers and if not, ask why do they not do this and ask for a structural Engineers report from their structural Engineer the reasons they don't. ( they should always provide the uplifts and down forces and if they don't, I would be concerned).
10. We recommend asking the General Contractor do they use true 13/32 on the outside walls ( sheathing) and true 13/32 on the roof decking. Typically most are using 7/16 and is a dis-service to the homeowner thus why you can see on many homes the outline of the plywood decking (4x8) on the roofs plus typically there has not been a nail off inspection done to ensure the decking is actually nailed off per code to the joists and last typically the roof joists are placed at 24 inch on center which is another issue unless you have a certified stamped Structural Engineer report stating that 24 inch on center will suffice with a specified lumber (rafter) dimension/size and you want to see what roof decking size they also recommend using. If any roof rafter lumber has to be spliced to increase length, ask for the Structural Engineers letter stating how to properly splice two boards together for a roof rafter.
These questions and many many more are a vital importance to the homeowner and it ensures your General Contractor knows what he or she is doing. Most we have seen do not follow all our practices/procedures. We sleep good at night knowing we have a structure that meets and exceeds all codes and is built per code and per the engineer of record. ( your asking for trouble if not )