Construction Time: Checking into Reality

While most Hansen Buildings clients are looking to construct their own buildings, a fair number don’t want to do the dirty work themselves. They are looking for a builder who can at least construct the building shell for them.

I haven’t been a building contractor personally in over a decade. Over the past few years I’ve helped to construct a few pole buildings for relatives. These include a 24’x24’ 2 car garage for my wife’s sister, a 36’ x 48’ shop for her brother and a nifty 24’ x 30’ garage with a 20’ x 24’ mother-in-law apartment for her oldest son in Tennessee.

Another construction opportunity recently presented itself as oldest son’s father-in-law (also in Tennessee) needed a new garage. Steve’s solution was a 30’ x 30’ pole barn with 12’ sidewalls. Other features included two 12’ x 9’ overhead doors, a four foot wide entry door, six windows and 12 inch enclosed overhangs. All things considered, a pretty straightforward building.

Back to the subject at hand….clients frequently want to know either how long the construction time will be to construct their new building themselves, or how much a builder would charge them to build for them.

In the case of Steve’s garage, oldest son Jake had the posts set before we arrived. The dirt is always the uncontrollable variable, or in this case – the rain was. The building site has soil which can conservatively be described as being 110% clay. Every once in awhile it rains in Tennessee. Like a lot. The period immediately prior to construction beginning was a prime example of a deluge. It was so muddy, Jake ended up walking around barefoot, in order to remain upright while he staked out the hole locations!

For the most part, myself and two others with “none” to “limited building experience” put the building up in 5-1/2 days. In upcoming blogs, I will prove how the construction time could have been reduced. “Yes, Virginia, we made some goofs.”  They could have been avoided, but nothing which was not correctable.

This building was worth about $11,000. In advance, I would have predicted construction time at about 183 hours. My prediction came pretty darn close – basically about a person hour for every $60 of building cost. When I was running my own building crews, it would not have been unusual for an experienced three person crew to have put a building like this up in three days.

In my mind, if a builder is hired, it would be plenty fair to charge about 50% of the cost of the materials for labor – about $5500. Now the three of us would have been more than happy to have split $5500 for our week of construction time. When I hear of builders wanting to charge way more than this, I have to scratch my head wondering how they can justify.

To share in the joys of this building – check in next week!

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