Building a new custom home? Being a homeowner during the building process can be stressful, but here are a few simple tips to get you through the process!
1. Never Purchase Materials Yourself
When you hire professionals such as a contractor, an architect, or an interior designer, certain things should be left up to them. One big mistake first-time builders make is purchasing materials themselves instead of letting the professionals do it. This increases the chance of something going wrong like getting the wrong color, not getting enough, or ordering too much. Plus, this also opens up the homeowner to liability. If something does go wrong when picking up or selecting the materials, such as ordering the wrong cabinet color, the homeowner is at fault and has to eat the costs of replacement. It’s best to let the pros do the ordering, not only are the chances of mistakes less, homeowners are also protected if there is an error.
2. Get Everything in Writing
This is a major mistake people make. Every little small change, everything the contractor promises to do, should be written down. This reduces the risk of things not getting done, things not getting done on time, or mistakes being done. Let’s say for example the homeowner and contractor agree to move the window over six inches but once the drywall is up the window hasn’t been moved. If it’s not in writing, the cost of moving it will fall on the homeowner. Always be safe and get every little detail written down.
3. Make Sure You Understand the Contract
A contract is legally binding, so it’s a good idea to fully understand what’s in it before signing. Ask questions to clarify anything you’re unsure of. Get all the small details included in it, from timeline, budget, cancellation, and whose doing what. If you’re a first-time homeowner or this is your first build, it might even be smart to have a real estate lawyer look it over. If anything goes wrong, the contract will be the first place everyone will turn to, so make sure you have a good grasp of what’s in it.
4. Nail Down the Budget and Payment Schedule
Building a custom home is expensive, so setting a budget and figuring out the payment schedule and process is important. Most home builders require a portion upfront, with additional payments at prearranged times. Payments could happen at certain stages in the building process, at preselected dates, or when specific materials are ordered. It all depends on the builder, so nail it down before you sign the contract. Don’t forget to think about things like insurance too!
5. Document Any Issues
Issues are bound to come up in the building process. Whether it’s a delivery delay or miscommunication, potential problems will arise. Homeowners should be sure to take pictures and document anything they notice. A picture is worth a thousand words and if there are issues between you and the builder you’ll have proof instead of fighting a “he said-she said” battle.
6. Good Communication and Professional Attitudes Go a Long Way
Look, we understand that building a home is a stressful process for the homeowners. And when things go wrong with your home it can lead to heightened emotions. But often homeowners have unrealistic expectations or don’t fully understand how things work, and instead of communicating or asking questions they lash out. So if you have an urgent question feel free to send an email, but if it’s after work hours don’t expect a reply right away. If you are wondering why something isn’t done or are concerned with how it’s being done, simply ask and any good builder will explain. Jumping to conclusions, slinging accusations, and having unreasonable expectations just create a hostile work environment for everyone.