How To Be Your Own Asheville General Contractor

asheville contractorWe often get asked, can I be my own contractor? The answer yes, ou are allowed to be your own general contractor, and even do the work yourself, if it’s your own home. You may be required to take a test to do your own mechanical, plumbing, electric and heating. You can build a house and you are required to use it for your own use and allowed to do this on a yearly basis.

With the current tax laws you may want to do it every two years.

Below are the details about what you need to know if you choose to be your own Asheville General Contractor.


Workman’s compensation

If you hire any subcontractor, friend or anyone to work on your home, you will need a current certificate of insurance to prove that all employees are covered by workman’s Compensation. If you do not have this, you will be responsible for reporting and paying the workman’s compensation premium on your policy. .


You need liability insurance for a several reasons. The most important, a child in the neighborhood gets hurt on your job. Make sure you put up signs to say keep out, etc. In addition,  if your subcontractors are not covered by their own policy you are required to pay it on yours.

Note: it is a common practice to deduct the cost of the insurance from their fee if they are uninsured; however, if you like their work you may decide to pay the insurance.

Builders risk

This policy covers any damage by fire or theft. If you’re obtaining financing it is required by the lender.


Getting Started

No home can be built successfully unless it combines four basic essentials:

1)   Design Completed

2)   Budget completed

3)   Supplier Contacts

4)   Subcontractor Contacts

Buying land or you already have land

What utilities does it have? If it needs a septic system and or a well you have to go to the Dept. of Health to get permission to do it and you will have to locate where the house will go. Hopefully you did this before you bought the land.

What kind of access does the land have? Will you  have rock outcroppings, swamp, water problems, can trucks get it?

Look at the houses around you is it in the same ballpark as the house you want to build. It is not wise to be the most expensive house in the area unless it’s a special situation.

Understand the laws of the land prior to purchasing. Are there building restrictions, city restrictions, flood plain, homeowners association deed restrictions, square feet requirements, material requirements, set back requirements?

Building supply stores

If you don't have the cash, you will need to takeout credit applications from local supply houses. Service is king, price is second. Questions in choosing your building supply source:

What kind of trucks do they have, boom, 4x4 etc.?

What is delivery schedule?

How attentive is the salesman?

Do they carry most things?

Where are the stores located?

Some of the more popular ones are Builders First Source, 84 Lumber, ProBuild and of course Lowe’s and Home Depot. Most can provide a majority of the building materials from block to shingles.

Foundation Materials

CEMEX is the only game in town. They are located at 90 Meadow Rd, Asheville, NC 28801. (828) 253-9383


Southern Concrete. Visit their website here.


Hipps Stone of Asheville.

How do I get subcontractors?

Go out to job sites get the names of several subcontractors. Ask for referrals. When you get in front of a subcontractor, ask about their prices, insurance policies, how many employees, and what their schedule looks like? I find the best subs are the ones where the owner is on the job.

Get several names and references, call the references. Look at the work, is it clean, safe, good equipment?

Other resources, internet and the local Home Builders Association at 254-8677


What does your bank require? Most want a licensed general contractor involved, so be sure to clarify this with your loan before you start the process.

Make an application for a permit.

Department of Environmental Health(Septic Permits) 250-5016

City of Asheville Building Permit office 259-5656

Buncombe County Building Permit office 250-5360

There are other permits necessary if you are building in the city limits: grading permit, driveway permit, sewer assessment and water department assessment. The city building permit office will allow you to submit for everything through their office.

Site Preparation

This is probably the hardest part. It would help to have a site plan and get some help with it. Be willing to pay for it if you have to. Take the time to get the house positioned properly on the land. Consider rock, power lines, siltfence, streams, ponds,  steepness of grades, finish floor levels, and your driveway. You may want to use a surveyor to set house location and elevations.

Put in your driveway, gravel and mud mat. Be considerate of your mud and erosion. Be a good neighbor and keep a clean site and sweep the roads if necessary.

Temporary Power and Water

Your plumber and electrician will do this.


Footings are the second hardest thing. If you don’t know what you’re doing get help and sub contract this out to someone who does.

Don’t start footings until you are sure everything else is OK.

Watch the weather and set up your concrete ahead of time. Get your termite treatment and get your inspection.

Do not dig footings on a Friday because it will inevitably rain over the weekend and they will fill up with water. Questions to ask:

What kind of concrete do I use? Strength?

Do you need a pump?

Do you have everything there: steel, shovels rakes, etc.?

Ask the concrete pump driver where he is going to start what is the best approach.


Have a contract with your mason as to what he will do for what cost so much per block corners, etc. Will he make sure foundation is level and how will he do that? There is more to it than just laying block. You will need steel, lentils, mortar,  sand, &  water.  Ask your salesman for help so you can get everything there you need.

TIP: Always order a little more sand and mortar than what is required.

Pour your cells according to the codes. Waterproofing and tile drains according to the codes.

Get gravel and concrete for basement and garage slab.  Make sure you damp soil when filling in a garage. Is there an inspection needed?

I always like to wait a little bit and let the mortar dry and set then backfill not all the way because you have to watch out for the weight of the dirt.  Also get the area cleared a little bit to make room for construction.

Lumber Materials and Framing(It’s going to get easier)

Have a contract with the framing contractor as to what he will do and the costs involved. Always ask questions like stairs, decks, mistakes in plan, foundation out of square, basement walls framed, tar paper on roof. Who pays for crane and power nails?

Ask your framing contractor to figure what you need. Don’t buy 2x4s from one place then plywood from the next and never buy second lumber. Give him free range to order, as he needs it.

Roof and floor trusses should be set up way ahead of time. The Lumberyard can help with this.


If you use wood sheathing you have to use  R-15 in walls. Now they are requiring an Insulation worksheet compliance sheet


It is important to get someone good. When it comes to taping and sanding, you want it to look good. Ask you contractor who will be responsible for clean up and disposal of this mess!

Hardwood flooring and tile

This should be done before the trim carpenter comes in. If you are using white grout cover well or wait to put grout in. If you are using pre-finished flooring make sure you cover well.

Trim carpenter

A lot of trim options doors casing and base.


Don’t even think of doing this yourself unless you’re a professional. This is the most important job in the outcome of the final product


Most common are vinyl, cedar, brick, stone and Cement fiberboard. Unless you are proficient at installing siding hire a siding sub contractor to do this function.


You can either do this yourself or sub it out. The lender is going to want a basic amount of landscaping complete.


I hit rock. Dirt is not good. It’s not turning out right.

I’m in over my head, what do I do?

Get help right away. Stop work and don’t be afraid to ask for help. That may be the hardest thing you have to do.


Make sure you clear all trees before building the house, it costs so much more later on.

Clean Job site often.

Return left over items quickly.

Use a lot of gravel and straw to protect the dirt and mud from coming inside

Use straw to protect the outside stucco from stain.

Put doors up with locks as soon as possible, tell all subs where key is.

When it comes to the final selection of materials make sure they are with the Value of the house. Don’t buy a $30,000 kitchen in a $100,000 house.

Keep track of costs materials plan for future expenses.  Follow your budget.

If you are looking for an Asheville General Contractor, call Tim Alexander at HomeSource Builders. He is happy to answer questions about your project or steer you in the right direction. 828.252.1022.