Building a home is not an easy task. A custom home, like an individually crafted golf club, is custom fitted to its owners. The style, perhaps influenced by your favorite architectural details, reflects your personal taste. Thoughtful features, such as a temperature controlled wine cellar or a state-of-the-art home theater, are included to satisfy your interests, not someone else’s. Your home should be a testament to the life you’ve created – without regard for the whims of the market.
Your builder should be involved in every phase of the home-building process – from the first sketch to the final touch-ups and beyond. Make sure you have a good rapport with your chosen builder. You should know who to contact with questions and concerns.
Finding a good builder is essential. It must be someone you can work with, talk to, and someone that listens to what you want. Ask questions, lots of questions. Ask around to see what others say about builders. Ask your friends, and have them ask their friends. Listen carefully to the good and the bad. You need to feel that you are all part of the same team. I have heard too many times of people meeting with a builder at the initial meeting and never seeing him (or her) again. You should be in constant contact with your builder.
“The best thing I hear from a client is, “It is so nice to call and have you, the owner of the company, answer the phone. I don’t want to talk to assistants and receptionists. When I have a question, I want it answered. I am spending a lot of money and I feel that I should be given the attention that I expect,” says Lou DiRisio, President of DiRisio Builders. For a client to know that their concerns are being addressed helps the process go much smoother.
Understanding and learning about building can help a new homeowner feel at ease. One of the main reasons people shy away from new construction is a lack of knowledge. Let’s walk through the process:
There are 3 basic concepts to building: design, construction, completion
Start by capturing your best inspirations, then refine and articulate your goals. In early meetings with a chosen builder, you should focus largely on your wants and needs. This is where you should be discussing architectural form and design elements, the surrounding environment and the unique elements of your home site. After initial consultations, conceptual designs are put to paper to bring them dimension and life. You should have a ballpark figure of what it all will cost. Based on this initial budget – and with your acknowledgment to proceed – the architect produces a preliminary design of your desired floor plan and elevation renderings. With this you can expect a more detailed budget. The decisions and selections you make will help in refining the preliminary design into a final design. A final cost is determined when all design decisions, allowances and selections are finalized and the detailed architectural drawings are completed.
The dynamic building phase has been reached. The building phase can and will take a number of months, from dig to close. There will be numerous steps along the way, from digging the basement to putting on the roof. Check with your builder about their policy for homeowner visits to the site. They may only want you to be there when there are others around due to liability issues. It is during this time you will be making your selections. A good builder will have a calendar and schedule for you to follow, along with suggested vendors to use.
This is when it all comes together. You have picked all of your paint, your carpets and your floors, your cabinets and lights,and you know your closing date. Before closing, you will do a final walk-thru with the builder to create a ‘punch list’ of anything that still needs completion.
Then it’s move in! And hopefully that builder will be available to take any calls after you have unpacked. There will be questions or maybe an issue that you would like to discuss. When you are asking others about recommended builders, be sure to ask about follow-up too.