Becoming an educated homeowner
How do you select the person that will build one of your largest and most personal investments to date? The more you can familiarize yourself with the bidding process, different styles of builders, and company structures, the better you will be at finding the right fit for your project. Take some time to learn how the residential construction business operates so you can ask the right questions to prospective builders.
In our experience, each client has a different level of construction and renovation experience, as well as a different level of desired involvement. We strive to build a relationship that helps guide us in determining which decisions each client wants input on. Some clients will want to pick the tile and let us take from there. Others want some input on the layout. Meanwhile, others will want to locate each individual tile so that the grain and color of each piece is where they want it. Ask yourself what type of client you will be, and make sure that you work with a builder who can accommodate your needs. By paying close attention to the questions that are asked early on, we learn about the unique needs and concerns of each client.
Evaluating Pricing from Multiple Bids
Custom home construction and renovation is unique in the sense that the client is asked to select a builder for a project that is often not fully designed and therefore cannot be completely and accurately priced. Too often, homeowners experience construction nightmares as a result of picking a contractor based on the lower price. Sure, it makes sense to go with the cheaper option in some cases. For example, if you’re buying a new couch and two furniture stores have the same model for drastically different prices, paying less is the obvious choice.
Comparing apples to apples
When it comes to home construction projects, it is much more difficult to obtain completely comparable costs. Early pricing is often based on an incomplete set of plans, and each builder needs to make numerous assumptions when putting together a price. In addition, every construction company calculates their bids differently. With that said, the client is forced to select a builder based on a price that may not represent the true final cost or scope of the project. Homeowners can often be lured in by an aggressive estimate that is made on assumptions that will not hold true through construction.
Remember, a disciplined and experienced contractor should be able to anticipate, before construction, and even before final design, where the cost is likely to go.
To truly understand each bid, it is essential to dissect all of your offers. A good first step is to eliminate any outliers that seem far too good to be true. Ask each builder to break down their bids into individual sections (e.g. electrical, tile, plumbing). Categorizing each bid will enable you to see exactly how much each part of the project will cost, helping you better understand how the contractor reached his final price.
Staying on Budget
There are three common reasons why construction projects run over budget. Understanding these causes and having a plan to anticipate them is key to staying on budget.
Choosing the Right Partner
You have a lot to think about when deciding on a contractor. Our advice is to pick someone you trust and can work with comfortably. You will work with this individual very closely, often daily, for several weeks or months. As such, it is important make sure that your personalities are going to mesh and that you can picture working together for an extended period of time. Even if he has some good-looking projects in his portfolio, you have to realize that every home construction project is different. The finished product is one thing, but how painful was it to get there? In other words, a few nice pictures do not automatically guarantee a great builder/homeowner relationship. When considering a potential contractor, remember that you are the hiring manager. If the builder really wants this project, he needs to earn your trust first. With that said, it’s OK to be skeptical and ask tough questions about his past work. Don’t just ask what has gone right––push him to tell you about previous struggles and how he has handled adversity. You also want to partner with someone who is easy to get along with. If you don’t connect well with that person, continue searching until you find a better fit.
Ready to bring your dream project to life?