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What Your Contractor Can't Tell You: The Essential Guide to Building and Renovating Paperback – January 1, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

This is the bestselling book of its type for good reason. It’s exactly what owners need and want to know before they start a building project. It’s frank, insightful, well sequenced and gives the reader a fascinating look into the surprising culture of the construction industry. It addresses what all owners are worried about and plenty else they should be worried about. The reader will come away a savvy consumer with foresight, prepared and focused on the right things to ensure their project is a success.

From the Author

Creating a dream home just shouldn't be a nightmare, but hiring people to design and build for you is an enormous investment and a high-risk endeavor involving decisions that will last forever. Most homeowners spend about 20% of their time on the plan and 80% of their time on a messy, traumatic, expensive construction phase, often with bad consequences. Pros spend 80% of their time on the plan and 20% on a smooth construction phase with the desired outcome. But the homeowners can't know what goes into a solid plan unless someone tells them. After years of hearing bright people tell me horror stories about their experiences I thought ‘If owners knew even a fraction of what the professionals did, they could avoid most of these problems.’ I hope you find this book illuminating and helpful. Best of luck with your project.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Shube Publishing (January 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979983800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979983801
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 7.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Amy Johnston is a Construction Manager and Owner's Representative. She grew up renovating homes with her family and went on to build and renovate several of her own. Johnston has spent the last twenty years managing the design and construction or renovation of residential homes, affordable housing projects, historic downtown restorations and commercial spaces on behalf of owners. As liaison between the parties on so many projects, she enjoys a unique perspective on the dynamics of successful design and construction.

Customer Reviews

Highly recommend this book for anyone planning to build their own home.
JABROU
I'm sure this book has saved me thousands of dollars because I now know better what to ask the contractor for during the bidding process.
Remodeler Wanting to Learn
This book is not only VERY informative; it's an easy read and easy to understand.
StayathomeMom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

165 of 165 people found the following review helpful By Boraxo on February 6, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am looking to build my own home on a nice suburban lot in an existing neighborhood (replacing a teardown) and have purchased half a dozen books from Amazon in hopes of learning how to start the process from scratch. This is by far the most informative useful book of the lot.

It contains detailed information on how to go about hiring an architect and contractor, selecting materials, etc. along with choices that will save money or upgrade your home. It explains the differences between materials and provides tips on how to make sure you get what you put in your plans. It is written for someone like myself, an ordinary joe who has zero experience in design, building or construction. But unlike the awful Dummies book, this one contains useful information and tips for avoiding problems.

If you only buy one book on building your own home this should be the one.
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179 of 185 people found the following review helpful By D. Gage Andrews on August 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
Designing and building a new home is intimidating for three reasons (1) It is something with which you are not familiar; (2) you are not likely to have many friends who have done it; and (3) it is VERY expensive. Worse, you feel responsible for every mistake made, and you know that each mistakes cost you money and time. Buying this book is NOT one of those mistakes. Instead, it is the "ounce of prevention" that will pay for itself many hundreds of times over.

Amy Johnston is a professional construction manager and owner's representative. Her wisdom focuses with framing the entire construction project in terms of a tradeoff between time, quality, and money - you can only have two of the three. We're only part way through our new house, and that rings very, very true. We clearly opted for taking a longer time - will we keep that focus as construction progresses? In any case, she gives the insights into each part of the triangle. Better yet, she is fair - she makes sure that neither you, nor anyone else, is getting cheated. Contractors, architects, bankers, inspectors, and everyone else are clearly defined in their roles - though the most important role is the home owner's, which she describes in great detail.

Every chapter is focused on another phase of the project, and her clear writing opens up the mysteries along the way. She describes who is doing what (or should be doing it), and describes what choices need to made - and what the alternatives are - before saying what her choice is.

Her points are illustrated with good references, pertinent anecdotes, and points that she labels "Insider's tips" and "pitfalls".
Read more ›
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84 of 86 people found the following review helpful By greenie227 on June 5, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is excellent for those new to building or renovating and need to know what to do and say and who to say and do it to. The author does an excellent job setting out the relationships, processes, chronologies, and thinking for dealing with other parties all the way from dreaming about doing a remodel/build to finishing it. This is exactly the book I was looking for -- not a technical manual about building, but a handy reference about my role as owner and how I can or should interact with the architect, lender, general contractor, etc. to get the home or addition I want.
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Missouri Attorney on December 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
As an attorney, I regularly see people who didn't go into contract deals as carefully as they should have. As someone about to build my own home, I read this book to make sure I was doing everything correctly since I knew enough to know that there was plenty I didn't know about contracting, building etc.

This book is fantastic! Even if you're an attorney, you need this book. It provides valuable insight into specific subjects you would never know about unless you'd done these types of projects many times. I can't recommend it highly enough!!
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Inexperienced Homebuilder on January 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
Ms. Johnston's book is an easy and enjoyable read chock full of sound advice. I purchased the book a year ago, one month before my husband and I began to interview architects for our project, building a new home 1000 miles away. After one quick read, I knew it was my "organized builder's guide for all non-builders". By using the suggestions found in the step-by-step approach we have now successfully survived the design phase, bid and builder selection process, contract negotiation, and the permitting phase. The knowledge we have gained from this book has provided us with confidence and there have been a few times already that we have impressed the industry professionals!

It pays to be prepared and Ms. Johnston's book is a very big bargain when considering renovation and new construction costs. We have miles to go before our house is complete, but along the way I expect that we'll refer to this book time and time again...
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Cortney Cahill on February 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
Amy's book is wonderful. We received it when we were about to undertake a huge three story addition. Reading this book helped us to think outside the box and ultimately opt to renovate an existing porch. We ended up doing most of the work ourselves but chose to hire out the things we don't like and are not good at (sheet rocking). This book has many helpful details that have positively impacted our renovation. Amy articulates that most standard trim on houses is too small and therefore looks bad. We took her advice and used wider trim, it makes a huge difference. Our new windows look really balanced with the wide trim. I would recommend this book to anyone undertaking renovations. I learned so much.
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What Your Contractor Can't Tell You: The Essential Guide to Building and Renovating + Get Your House Right: Architectural Elements to Use & Avoid + Designing Your Dream Home: Every Question to Ask, Every Detail to Consider, and Everything to Know Before You Build or Remodel
Price for all three: $49.08

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