Top critical review
Concise but "meh"
Reviewed in the United States on November 9, 2019
Things I liked:
- The book was cheap (only $3 on kindle)
- It's intentionally concise. The author notes that he didn't want to pad the book with useless filler. I respect that. The paperback version is 256 pages, but the last 1/3 of the book is a glossary, so really it's more like ~170 pages.
- The author has a very frank tone.
- He is himself a builder and he knows the business. He covers lots of interesting topics: foundation, framing, siding, roofs, window positioning, the different kinds of contracts that exist for building a custom home, what kind of build issues are considered acceptable and what should definitely be fixed, what to expects from architects / lenders / etc.,
- He is self-aware. He notes that the best kind of builder for a custom home is someone who listens well and has a lot of patience, and he is not that kind of person. He prefers to be a "spec home" builder, where he does as he pleases to build the home and then sells it.
What I didn't like:
- There are several "I told you so" anecdotes in the book, stories about homes he built where things didn't go smoothly. He gets pretty defensive. It's possible he's entirely right, but I don't love the way he blames former clients "in public" without giving them a chance to argue back. Sample quote: "To this day these folks still don't like me. I have to say there is no love lost. What a couple of dip wads."
- He goes into detail about issues that may be relevant in the regions where he works (TN) but probably less so where I live (e.g. exposed rock, storms, etc).
- Even though the book is concise, there's still some redundancy. One chapter has a very long checklist showing all the steps of building a home. But there are a few different way to build a home, so the checklist is copy-pasted a few times in the book.
- There's relatively little about how to design the home. The are a few suggestions here and there, but for the most part this book assumes that you've figured out the design of the home and you're mostly concerned with how to get it built.