Building your own luxurious custom home is (without a doubt) a challenge. With a big and important project such as this, you might want to make sure that everything is planned carefully, including anticipating common construction mistakes. After all, we are talking about one of the most significant investments we can make during our lifetime.
Building your own custom home is not an easy feat. It requires a great deal of your time and patience (aside from monetary investments). Nevertheless, you came up with a decision to build your own home, with a few rough sketches or even an idea of how your house should look. While it is indeed rewarding and breathtaking to see, most especially when you can already see the progress of your home construction, its drawbacks are often uncontrollable. These drawbacks may be caused by the mistakes you have made during the planning and construction phases.
These mistakes usually hurt our pockets if they are not being anticipated as early as possible. These can also affect our schedule. Here in Toronto, prices of construction materials are never stable, and the time to start building our homes also varies depending on the seasons. Cost and schedule are the bloodlines of the construction project; that is why you need to align these with your goals and objectives as much as possible.
Drawbacks can result in unnecessary expenses, and frequently, these expenses are unaccounted for and usually not included in the cost estimation. Additionally, these mistakes can also result in delays in construction operations. Therefore, with a vast and significant investment such as this, you must watch out for these common mistakes in building your new home.
1. COMPROMISING YOUR LOCATION BASED ON LOW COSTS
Do not be tempted to buy a lot just because it is cheap. While it is actually good to buy land at a lower cost, it does not always mean good quality. So often, properties with lower prices have the word “but” affixed to it. It means that there is always a stain that is attached to it. So be wary of low prices.
The location is an essential aspect in the realization of your dream home. A good location can provide you security, efficiency (in terms of medical and calamity supports), security from flood zones, safety from earthquake zones, and a nice neighborhood.
HOW TO AVOID
If you are looking to buy land to build your house, be sure to investigate the history of flooding, earthquakes, and crime in the area. This helps you to negotiate a better deal with the sellers. Always prioritize your safety and convenience. Access to public roads, community buildings such as markets, malls, and pharmacies must be considered. Additionally, your proximity to police stations, fire stations, and hospitals may mean that you are safe and your life is secured during emergencies.
Proximity to sewer lines, gas lines, water supply, and driveway must also be considered since then can mean added value to construction costs. If the lots you have assessed meet all the requirements, you can negotiate the price and choose the most affordable.
You can also consider buying a detached home. In Toronto, buying detached homes for its lot has become a widespread practice for homeowners. It is much easier and can provide a good deal for you in terms of location and costs.
2. HASTILY CHOOSING A HOME BUILDER.
Do not settle for the first home builder that you meet. Custom home builders are vital in the realization of your dream home. Do not be hasty in choosing the home builder that can work for you. Never fall into the trap of choosing your home builder for the sole basis of their price quotation or offer. A lower price does not always equate to a good deal. Many fall into this trap, and in most cases, some work scopes are actually not included in the original quotation. Construction mistakes are costly; that is why we should choose the right custom home builders for the job.
Homebuilders are the craftsmen of our homes. Through them, we can be assured that our dream custom homes can be realized. That is why we should never compromise the quality of our homes for a few coins that we can save.
HOW TO AVOID
Do not put cost before quality. Always go for the one with years of experience in the industry. There is no other good marketing technique for home builders than showing their profile and portfolio. Never hesitate to ask for the previous projects that they have completed.
It always pays to ask for referrals or base your decisions on customer reviews. A satisfied customer is a good indicator. Online platforms such as Google Business, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Facebook, etc., are valuable tools to investigate for their credentials. Reach out to past customers and ask about their performance and the quality of their work.
Ask for their business profile, including financial statements (if appliable). These can actually help you determine their capability and capacity to build your home.
After carefully weighing their credentials, you can finally ask for their quotation for the project. You can now choose the best home builder at the most affordable price. Money matters, but only when the home builder is the right one for the job. Do not be afraid to negotiate the terms, but do not push the deal to the edge of the cliff as it might reflect on the quality of their work.
3. DISAGREEMENT ABOUT THE INCLUSIONS OF THE SCOPE OF WORKS
Homebuilders and homeowners are often confused about what scope of works are included in the custom home construction. This falls down to not reviewing the contract properly. It could often lead to additional costs for items that you previously thought are included but are not.
For example, you might think that landscaping and fencing are part of the scope, but the home builder says otherwise. The way to settle it is to go back and review the contracts and specifications. Everything in there is being laid out provisions by provisions, which can help both of you determine who’s at fault.
While it is essential that you want to realize your preferences, it all boils down to what portions are the responsibilities of the home builders. You cannot force the home builder to work for something not included in their scope. This is the same way that the home builder cannot refuse to work for something that falls within his accountability and responsibility.
HOW TO AVOID
It is advised to lay down the provisions on the paper accordingly. Then, do a joint meeting with the home builder before signing the contract and starting the construction phase of your homes. In this meeting, you will lay down all the provisions that you want to be included in the contract and, one by one, go through the list for the contractor to agree or disagree.
It should be noted that the detailed scope of works should be based on the detailed quotation that is submitted by the home builder during the bidding or proposal stage. This way, you have the list of the items needed to be included in the contract. It also helps you add any additional items you want or need and even the items they missed in his quotation.
Contract provisions must always include:
- Detailed scope of works. The detailed work scope must include the material requirements, labor requirements, and equipment provisions needed for each activity starting from the foundation up to the roof.
- Schedule that defines starting date and finishing dates for each activity. It is best recommended to ask for a PERT/CPM chart, Gantt Chart, or Bar Chart of the schedule. It should reflect the duration of each activity, the dates of start and finish, and the overall time required for the whole project to be finished. This can help you monitor the daily progress of your projects and see to it that the home builders are able to meet the objectives and expectations.
- Cost requirement and projections. Of course, the project’s overall cost is included in the contract, but it is vital to include projections just in case there are things that will happen that are out of control. These projections are often reflected as Overhead, Contingencies, and Miscellaneous (OCM) costs.
- Provisions for time extensions caused by delays attributed to force majeure. Delays are often costly; that is why it is imperative that accountability is being defined in the contract. In most cases, force majeure is often waived and automatically adds time extension on the project schedule without charging penalties to the home builders.
- Who should shoulder the expenses for delays and unexpected additional costs?
- Penalties. How much penalty cost must be charged? For most home builder companies, the common practice is a tenth of one percent of the total price per day. It is given by the formula:
Penalty Cost per Day = 1/10 * 1% * Project Cost
It is always advisable to maintain good communication with the home builders during the planning and construction phase. All scope of works included in the contract must be agreed upon by both parties before signing the contract.
4. NOT PLANNING AHEAD FOR OVERHEAD AND CONTINGENCIES
No matter how perfectly laid your plans are, there is no assurance that things will always go smoothly. This is where the phrase “Expect the unexpected!” applies to. It is never a hassle to plan for instances where complications might take place during the construction phase. These are the following unexpected things that might occur:
- Typhoons, earthquakes, and other ‘acts of God’
- Activities that are not finished on the planned/projected date
- Additional works
- Work suspension
Being optimistic about your home construction is a good practice as it promotes good vibes. But it is never wrong to anticipate for bad things to happen. This practice can actually help us prepare for the worst to come.
HOW TO AVOID
First, you need to include in your contracts (as mentioned in item #3) who will be responsible for the following drawbacks. This is to define whether your home builder is accounted for it or not. In some cases, home builders include the Overhead, Contingencies, and Miscellaneous (OCM) costs in their quotations to cope with the unexpected occurrences mentioned above.
5. FORGETTING TO REVIEW THE PLANS BEFORE STARTING THE CONSTRUCTION PHASE.
Sometimes, due to the rush of excitement or too many things you focus on during the planning phase, you may forget to review the plans before approving them. Although home builders are experienced in coming up with the most suitable and efficient design for your dream custom homes, it may not reflect what you want the design to look like. The design may not also cater to your needs and wants.
HOW TO AVOID
It is vital to have a table discussion with the architect and designers before approving the plans. Ensure that you communicate your desired aesthetics, amenities, house design, and floor areas to the architect before the plan will be drawn. Ideally, the architect will propose to you their rough sketches for you to choose from. Then, after careful checking and review of the proposals, you may select the best option for you.
Do not hesitate to make your preferences known to the designers. The last thing you want to happen is to regret not communicating your ideas and being left with no choice but to go with the flow.
These are some of the aspects you need to discuss with the designers.”
- Home orientations – this pertains to where the front yard should be facing, where the landscaping should be, where the front door should be designed, etc.
- Lighting and ventilation – natural light and artificial light should be designed to fit your daily needs. Ventilation from doors and windows and artificial ones need to be included in the planning phase.
- Heating and cooling – in Toronto, where we experience hot and cold seasons, we should regulate the temperature based on our seasonal requirements.
- Floor areas for the rooms – habitable zones of rooms should be well enough and designed based on your requirements without compromising accessibility and circulation.
- Doors and windows – this is attributed to sizes, materials, types, and dimensions
- Positioning of living spaces, kitchen, bathroom, etc.
If you have reviewed the plans, let them know if there are any items that you want to revise or change. Make sure everything is well set before starting the construction phase.
6. SKIPPING TIMELY INSPECTIONS.
Mistakes can be minimized (if not prevented.) However, trying to repair your errors is costly – which means added cost for you. With too many things in your hands, you can easily fall into the trap of trusting your contractor too much. This could make you complacent with regular inspections on the progress of your home.
While trust is good, it will ever be a mistake to exercise control and caution during your home construction. Routine inspections ensure that workflows during the construction phase are done according to the standards, codes, and specifications reflected in the plans. It also keeps your home construction on time and on budget.
HOW TO AVOID
You can opt for a third-party inspector if you cannot find the time. But if you can, then it will be best for your project. Knowing the mistakes beforehand can help you prevent incurring additional costs. Schedule a timely inspection weekly or monthly. This regulates the home builders to do their work scope based on the signed contracts and based on the plans. It aligns your objectives and preferences, thus aligns the actual work into the plans. Any deviation from the plans done by the home builder without the owner’s consent may be prevented and called out because of inspections.
It is also vital that you perform a punch listing with the home builder at the end of the project. This ensures that the home that they have turned over to you is of the utmost quality. Any defects, minor issues, construction errors, and items needed to be repaired will be included in the punch list. The list will then become the basis for the home builder in doing the repair and rectification works.
7. MISSING OUT DETAILS WITH THE HOME BUILDERS.
For instance, the home builder hires a subcontractor for your project, and you did not know about it; who are you going to hold accountable for mistakes, delays, and faults? This is what happens when you miss out on specific details with the home builders.
HOW TO AVOID
Maintain good communication with the home builder. A good home builder is always open to being called anytime during business hours for clarifications and queries. Poor communication leads to misunderstandings and confusion, which will, in turn, cause delays and errors in the construction. Therefore, you should lay down what you expect from the home builder.
8. AVOID MAKING TOO MANY CHANGES DURING THE CONSTRUCTION PHASE
Design changes during the construction phase can be too costly. It can also cause confusion with the home builders. Additionally, your building structure’s structural integrity might be affected by changes that are not including during the planning phase.
HOW TO AVOID
Look ahead and lay down everything that you want and need to be included for your custom home. Good planning will always yield good results. If you have laid every preference you have, the architect or designers can now reflect these items in the final plan.
As much as possible, minimize too many changes. While it is unprecedented and expected that we might want to change a few things there, it is advisable to always keep these minimal.
The homebuilders have a cost requirement and time constraint to follow. Therefore, you might not want them to charge you for these changes unless you are willing to pay extra just to have your preferred changes be done.
We need to avoid any more mistakes, but these eight are the major ones we need to address beforehand. The success of your construction stage lies in the success of the planning and design phase. Nothing beats a man with a plan. While experience is the best teacher, most first-time homeowners lack the knowledge about where to start and how to start turning their dream custom homes into a reality. Frequently, they fall into the trap of choosing lower prices and lower costs over quality, and it was a mistake that was so common that it needs to be straightened out once and for all.
While planning is essential for the design phase, choosing the right home builder for your homes is vital for the construction phase. With many years of experience in the construction industry, we ensure the utmost quality of our finished buildings and guarantee our clients’ satisfaction. The right home builder can turn your dreams into a reality. Comprised of the best teams of highly experienced professionals and masters of their fields, we ensure that the supreme quality is prioritized.
Call us now!