When buying a shell you will need to consider all the finishing steps in the home building process that the contractor will not be doing. The first step is to read the literature carefully and discuss with the contractor what steps are not included in the price of your shell. Then you must consider which jobs are left and which of those must be done by other contractors. Discuss these with your home builder or contractor and offer him the option of being responsible for hiring subcontractors for those jobs.
Finishing Steps in the Home Building Process: Foundation
The foundation may not be included in your shell. If this is the case your home builder must still be involved in the specifications for installing the foundation. Usually a home builder will be glad to help or even handle the subcontractors who build the foundation for a fee. Some shells offer a slab foundation, with the opportunity to upgrade to a crawlspace or basement for an increased cost. It is vital to discuss the foundation with the contractor, whether or not he included the foundation in the shell price.
Find out exactly what is included in your shell or kit. Then find out which of the other tasks you’ll need help with that the contractor is willing to do for a fee. Compare his price with a few subcontractors to decide who will be doing each job.
Shells and kits vary a lot in what they include. Some log kits only include the logs, and you must buy the doors, windows, and roof. Most log panel kits do not include insulation or drywall. Concrete insulated panels include the interior and exterior walls as well as the insulation in one piece. The roof can also be constructed of the same material in most cases, but not all. Some stick built shells include insulation and drywall, while others do not. Most shells include the doors and windows, but it is important to ask. Some shells include interior walls while others may not. A few shell builders will even be responsible for the plumbing and electrical if you ask them.
All electrical work must be done by a licensed electrician, whether you hire him or the contractor does is a matter of comparing costs. Most plumbing will also require an experienced plumber. You will need to discuss rough plumbing and wiring with your plumber and electrician before the foundation is placed in order to co-ordinate the work with foundation construction.
Hanging drywall is a simple, if somewhat awkward process. It should be done once the exterior sheathing is in place, and insulation is in the walls. To hang drywall, simply place 4 by 8 sheets on the wall and nail or screw them to the framing studs using flat headed nails or drywall screws. A bit of drywall putty should be smeared over the nail or screw to cover it, and along seams between the panels as well to create a smooth wall. Use a bit of sandpaper to smooth it more once the putty is dry. Start at one corner of the room, and panel the room with the dry wall. You will have to cut the drywall to fit around doors and to the exact length at the corner, using a small reciprocating saw, and a special drywall blade. You can get advice on the exact tools to buy at your local home improvement store. Afterwards you will need to apply crown and baseboard moldings, and do some cosmetic carpentry to frame the windows and doors. Use your creativity when selecting and installing moldings.
Before planning to lay your own carpets, be aware that many floor covering companies offer free or low cost installation. Take advantage of these services for at least one room and watch, to see exactly how to do this job in the other rooms. It is best to have a professional install carpets and other floor coverings in the great room and kitchen. Large rooms can be very tricky. You can probably handle the floor coverings in the bedrooms and bath. You may be able to save money by purchasing carpet remnants for small rooms, and closets. Remember that you will probably want padding under your carpet. Laying large vinyl floor tile is really simple. Ceramic tile is a little harder but not that bad. Be sure to read the instructions, and watch a few videos on the process.
It’s not hard to install stock cabinets. Sometimes they have to be assembled, but other times they come already built. When placing cabinets, you will need a level. It is very important to make sure that your floor is completely level before you start. If not you will need to use shims, small sliver like pieces of wood, underneath the cabinet to make it perfectly level. If the floor is not perfectly level don’t be angry with your contractor, unless it is off by a lot. It’s typical for floors to not be level enough to install cabinets without using shims. If it’s off to the point a couple of 1/8th inch shims won’t level it, then you might have reason to call your contractor. Once the cabinets are in place, install the toe moldings, and apply the countertops. The procedure for installing countertops varies considerably by material. Be sure to watch a few instructional videos and read some instructional manuals before selecting and applying countertops.
Painting is a really simple process which anyone can learn to do. Selecting paint can be disappointing though, if you forget that the color will look darker on the wall than it does on the swatch. In general if it looks like a pastel on the swatch it will be quite dark. If you want a pastel, it should be barely there on the swatch. Also remember when picking a bold color, that if you choose to change it in the future, you will need to use a thick primer, and perhaps more than one coat to cover the old color. If you use this common sense rule of thumb it won’t be a problem. When you get ready to paint, cover any floor coverings that have been installed with a plastic drop cloth, and put newspapers around the edges of the floor next to the wall. Tape off window glass and any other part of the wall you do not want painted. Apply paint smoothly and go over any runs before it dries. Keep the paint to a thin application on woodwork and moldings, or stain them. You may want to paint the moldings a different color or use a stain or wash.
Overall the process of finishing a shell can be fun and educational. Don’t rush, take your time and ignore projected times for completing these kinds of jobs. You are not a professional so it will take you a bit longer. It is better to learn the process, and then use your ingenuity and creativity to make each project special than to get in a hurry and do something you didn’t mean to do. Just take it easy. Put on some music and let the work flow naturally. The finishing steps in the home building process are best taken slowly and one at a time.