I just want to build my home or Cottage…
Starting the journey of building a custom home or cottage can be confusing and many times overwhelming. Many customers have a vision of what they want but are often intimidated by a task that is just overwhelming and frightening. Many simply just do not proceed because they don’t know how to start.
A typical path or progression as we often experience is-
What is the design? What is the layout? What is the style? What is the size? Many “design” shop and look at websites (like ours) or design plans to find the one they “Like”.
Next they shop the design on how much it will cost. What do you charge per square foot? This can be a dangerous point in the journey. Many ask this question with many issues unresolved and many are left vulnerable to errors in price comparisons and once the project starts the phrase “that was not included” ringing in their ears.
Many make a “building partner decision” at this point and then justify the decision with references etc. after they have fallen in love with a number.
This process can and often does lead to:
- Project overruns because the project was not fully scoped at the outset.
- Builders abandoning projects because they realize that they have misquoted and to finish would be financial ruin for them. Owners refuse to up the cash so they walk.
- Unskilled work executed and the quality substandard
- Long delays because the lack of proper scope leads to inexact project planning
We strongly believe that the process should be reversed…
Pick your building partner first.
- Get references
- Review the processes that they follow. If the builder does not have a well thought out approach that is complete and detailed, that should serve as a warning.
- Review the resources that they have at their disposal. What tasks/functions do they manage internally and externally?
- Make sure you can trust the builder. If you don’t trust your builder keep looking because at some point in the project, you will need to trust him.
Establish a budget working with your building partner who should be guiding you on questions such as:
- What can you reasonably afford to execute the project?
- What is a reasonable budget for a project of the size, style and location of the build?
- How can we bridge the gap of “what I want and what can I afford”?
- If your builder does not have a budgeting process keep looking for another builder.
Create a documentation that details the scope of the project and the parameters for all to abide by.
- Clear understanding of scope and budget must be reflected in clear documentation
- Preliminary timeline established
- Clear communication plan to manage both the workflow and decision making requirements of the project
It seems like weekly or even daily that we get calls from a distressed owner with the complaints like:
“I have a big hole in the ground and no one has been on site for three months” True story.
“My builder wants more money and he is not even half way through” (tears) True Story.
“My builder won’t finish and the work is terrible” True Story and the work was terrible.
“No one has been on site for four weeks. Can you help?” True Story
There are more but I think you get the point.
We try to help as best we can but much of the damage is done. Money wasted, time lost and tremendous stress endured. It does not need to be so.
To use the sport metaphor, if you have the right players on your team your chances of winning are greatly enhanced. Spend more time picking the right players and coach for your project early and then deal with issues of design and budget once all the players are on board.
Design and budget can be relatively easily managed but the wrong partner can be a disaster.