It’s no secret that building your dream home CAN be stressful. Let’s face it… we all have that friend who experienced a horrific homebuild. Some of the stories we’ve heard are enough to make anyone want to bury their head in the sand and forget the whole idea. That said, while homebuilding can be stressful- it doesn’t HAVE to be.
In anything, a team is only as strong as it’s weakest link. So you need to think long & hard about your design/build team and make sure that they are not your weak link. You’re the client & you don’t build homes for a living. YOU should be the weak link! You cannot compromise when it comes to hiring your builder….
Are they organized or is their truck piled with papers and files on the floor?
Are they taking notes on their burger wrapper? Do they respond to your questions in a timely manner or do they wait until you’re ready to file a missing person’s report before getting back to you?
And. most importantly, are they stressed out and out-of-control? If they are, it’s likely that your build will be too! Your experience will only be as great as the people that you trust to manage it. This is the single most important choice you will make throughout the entire build.
Before buying into this myth, you have to ask yourself WHY you want to build a custom home. Really, WHY? Building a custom home means expressing all of your ideas, dreams and passions and watching them literally grow into the absolute perfect home for you! If that doesn’t excite you, then you may be better suited to buy resale and be on with it. Building a custom home will take anywhere from 4-7 months in Atlantic Canada depending on a few variables. Consider how long you’ve spent planning and thinking about your dream house… for some of people (*cough* me *cough*), planning started when they were just a kid! A custom home is more than just a house… it’s already a home- before it’s even started. Isn’t that worth a few months of your time?
Ahh, yes. The classic over-budget myth. Last month, we wrote a post titled 4 Signs That Your New Build Will Go Over Budget
because we know that it IS possible to stay on budget. In fact, there are builders out there who do not go over budget at all- the trick is finding them. Builders who stay on budget accurately price the house in the first place. They ask you questions about specific items in the home (Think: doorknobs vs. levers) & they “get” your vision. If you’re thinking “Four Seasons” and your builder is thinking “Holiday Inn”, you will go over budget. That’s why it’s a MUST that you and your builder/designer are on the same page from Day 1.
Closing is important. After all, who wants to show up with a moving truck and find their new home unfinished? Delayed moves, extra costs, stress and safety are just some of the possible outcomes of not finishing the new home on time. That said, closing a new home on time does not require the Delorean… The requirements to closing on time include “fancy” things like a scheduling system for tradespeople, an experienced project manager who can solve problems on the spot and an organized, clear communication system. Not sure if you’re builder has these systems in place? Then ask for references! Past clients are often more than eager to share their experience with you (good or bad).
What else have you heard about home building? Let us know- we LIVE to show people that bad practice in our industry doesn’t have to be the norm! Comment below or tweet us @martellhomes.
Nobody wants their new home build to go over budget.
You hire a builder, they quote you a price, they build the house, final bill comes in… Notwithstanding new items that you chose to add or upgrade along the way, the final cost should be the same as the contract price.
Should be. A home-builder, after all, does this for a living. You, the client, have likely never priced a home in your life and you’re trusting your builder to do it for you- accurately and without surprises.
But we’ve all heard the stories. You have that friend, cousin, workmate that built a house and ended up paying way more than they were quoted. This happens all of the time and it shouldn’t… going over budget is avoidable and should be a focus of any solid home builder worth working with.
If you’re about to get into a contract with a builder, make sure that you look for the following signs to ensure that your home will cost what you’re builder says that it will.
You’ve done your homework & met with multiple builders. You’ve probably narrowed it down to 3 or 4 builders that you like/trust and had them price the home. So where did the pricing come in?
I’m going to let you in on an industry secret… if the builders priced the exact same quality of materials and finishes, their prices should be extremely close. Extremely. After all, they’re sourcing material and labor from the same region.
If you’re finding that one builder is significantly cheaper than the others, chances are very good that they are planning on using cheaper materials. There’s nothing wrong with that, you think, until you find out that your kitchen allowance will not cover that “painted, cabinets-to-the-ceiling” dream you’ve been coveting on Houzz.
You’re planning 10 foot ceilings, a double-sided fireplace and custom woodwork throughout. Is your builder thinking 8 foot ceilings, non-existent fireplace and mini-baseboards? Communication is key and it is impossible for the builder to price something that you’ve never discussed.
Prior to pricing your plan, your builder should be asking you extremely detailed questions about the finish that you want in the home. If they don’t include these items when pricing upfront, these items will become upgrades and will drive you over budget in no-time at all.
Maybe they told you that you will get a more custom experience because you’re 1 of 3 projects… Perhaps, the owner of the company himself will be able to be on the job-site every day… Heck, he may even do the finish work himself! Great…. or, is it?
First, there’s buying power… Obviously, Wal*Mart buys better than Joe’s Convenience. Shocker. Similarly, home-builders are rewarded by vendors based on volume. The builder who builds 3 homes a year is simply not getting the same pricing as the builder who builds 50.
Next comes the issue of limited experience. 20 years of home-building experience, building 3 homes/year = 60 homes built. 10 years experience at 50 homes/year= 500 homes built. The builder that is more active is much more likely to be current on trends and customer wants (aka. more likely to know that you want an open-concept floor plan instead of the halls & walls of yesteryear).
Whether your builder is a relative stranger or your second cousin, you need to get a detailed list of what’s included in a quoted price. This is not negotiable. Not requiring this level of detail of your builder is giving up too much control and allows the builder to decide what is (or isn’t) included on whim.
Having a detailed list of inclusions creates accountability. Always ensure that the inclusions are added to your contract, making them part of a legally binding document.
If your home builder is demonstrating these signs, talk to him about budget & share your concerns. Cross-reference your wishlist with the pricing specs. Ask for past references and find out what their experience was like. Only when your builder demonstrates to you that these items are taken care of, should you move forward with a contract.
If you have any questions about staying on budget throughout your build, shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be happy to help out!