How to Work with Your Builder: Tips for a Better Experience

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Sat, Apr 28, 2018

Moving is a long, and at times, stressful process. By this point, you’ve decided to build as opposed to buy used, and hopefully, you’ve landed on a builder you trust to craft the home of your dreams. If you’re still searching for a home builder, it’s important to take your time. Interview a number of candidates, asking the same questions of each, until you find a builder you trust to deliver the quality, craftsmanship and features in the budget and timeframe you desire.

Once you’ve selected a builder, the process of constructing your home is ready to begin. It will likely be filled with unexpected turns and challenges, pleasant surprises and unavoidable delays.

Keeping the following five tips in mind will help you navigate the experience with more satisfaction and less stress.

#1 – Get on the Same Page with Your Partner

Unless you’re building your new home for just yourself, it’s important to discuss your expectations around cost, design, budget, timeframe, features and more with your partner before the build begins. You may have worked together to find your builder, but now, you must take your communication habits to a higher plane.

You’re going to be tired and worn out from long days of work and the many, many decisions you’ll have to make throughout your home build. There will be planned and unplanned trips to the construction site where you’ll be called upon to make spur-of-the-moment decisions. Discuss as much as you can ahead of time and know where you agree and disagree. Compromise and find a happy medium now, deciding who will communicate your wishes to the builder. If you’re both going to be talking with the builder, make sure you also communicate with each other so no one is in the dark.

#2 – Get Familiar with Your Supervisor

Your supervisor is the person onsite who oversees every aspect of your home build and your connection to the contractor or builder you’ve hired to construct your house. Get to know this person, as he or she will be the one to keep you up to date on the progress, costs, setbacks and decisions that need to be made regarding your home. Convey your priorities to this person regularly and repeatedly. Make sure the supervisor knows how, when and how often you prefer to be contacted. Document your conversations so you have them should any discrepancies arise.

#3 – Plan Ahead as Much as Possible

Do your homework. A builder can help you make informed decisions, but it helps to go into the process having some general knowledge of what you want — for example, the styles of windows and doors you prefer to best complement your new home. Are you looking for something contemporary, traditional or timeless? Is energy efficiency high on your priority list? Or perhaps finding a product that is low maintenance is most important to you. You can even review photos of existing styles and placements to determine your tastes and preferences, then have a specific reference to show your builder.

#4 – Know What You’ll be Charged for a Change Order

Even the best-laid plans encounter unexpected variables that require changes. No matter how hard you try to pre-plan every aspect of your build, there will be times you realize you want something different. Ask your builder ahead of time what to expect should you request a change order or variation to the building plan to which you’ve agreed. Ask how many changes are included and what additional changes will cost. Make sure you document all change requests well so that if something isn’t installed correctly (i.e., wrong color tile, fixtures or countertops) you can get it fixed without having to pay additional fees.

#5 – Consider Hiring a Designer

When you’re building a new or custom home, hiring a designer might seem like an unnecessary added expense, but it is an option worth considering. Even if you know the look, style and feel you’re shooting for, a designer specializes in matching your tastes and preferences to the ideal layout for each room of your home. A designer can help you pick out the right windows for your dining room, bedrooms and kitchen to maximize light, flow and feel. Plus, designers speak the language of construction.

Your builder can make recommendations on the type of windows that offer the best insulation and energy efficiency, for example, but a designer can direct the builder as to what finishes, woodwork or trimwork might be best. Hiring the right designer may even save you money in the end as he or she will know how to deliver the look you want, faster and with far less stress than you will experience trying to tackle the job of making all the decisions about the design of your home yourself.

While there’s much more to say about working with your home builder, by following these tips, you will be well on your way to turning the home that exists right now only on paper or in your mind, into a satisfying reality.