Building Your Dream Home from Scratch — Part 2
What went right?
You may remember my past blog about my first-time effort at building a custom home in a remote area of New Mexico. My article focused on “what I did wrong” on my home build and words of advice to the public. Today, I focus on the completion of the home and share “what went right.”Three items that went right on our home build were vision, talent, and budget. Some I could control, some I couldn't.
Knowing what you want is half the battle in life. This is especially true in designing/building a house. How many bedrooms, and baths, and what size of patio/deck do you want? The ideal square footage of the home goes a long way in creating the space you desire. You can always change the scale of the home to fit a financial budget but knowing the basics is a priority one. Having an idea of materials to be used (quartz vs marble countertops, concrete floors vs wood floors, high-end appliances or standard) is a starting point. Do you want a laundry room, library, kids' room, patio, or deck? Don’t forget about the outside and include your landscaping vision (lawn vs drought tolerant, lawn vs pool, deck vs patio). Make sure to write down your ideas before you share them with the building team (architect and general contractor) who will design and build your dream home. You can only remember so much, and many choices must be made. On our build, since we had remodeled our California home ten years prior, we knew the New Mexico home was going to have concrete floors, quartz countertops, wrap-around windows, and a large outdoor deck for viewing.
This is the team who will design and build your home. They include the architect, general contractor, and interior designer as well as all the subcontractors. Finding them is like finding your next brain surgeon. Don’t find them in the phone book; find them by referral only. Consult with friends, neighbors, and local real estate agents when hunting for your design team. For our build, a local architect found our architect. A local general contractor referred us to our general contractor and our general contractor suggested we use our architect when it came to interior design questions. Ask your team for a list of completed jobs with past client names and phone numbers you can call for reference. Ask the architect and general contractor how much experience they have: have they built five homes or fifty? Go look at a few of their past client homes and chat with the homeowner about budgets, timelines, and the quality of their contractor's work. On our build, we were graced by a young architect with an excellent sense of design and a well-experienced general contractor
This is the most important item and the area you have the least control over. Material prices like lumber, concrete, and copper, as well as material shortages, are beyond your control. Remain flexible and be ready to compromise. Accepting a lower quality choice (marble vs quartz or standard appliances instead of high-end) is a way to complete the job within your budget. The item most out of your control is timing. Missed deliveries, absent contractors, and weather all contribute to delaying the completion of your project. Accept it, plan on it, and push on because you can’t control it. One idea is to add a penalty clause to your general contractor contract for each day, week, or month of a delay from the stated completion date. Our project was 95% completed on the inside before the snow started. This delayed the completion of our home by two months. Consider reviewing your timeline and budget monthly with your general contractor. Our general contractor used the Co-Construct app which tracked completion dates, budget, and expected deadlines. This app was useful for all parties to keep our project organized and on time.
I fly out next week to New Mexico to meet our dream build team for a final walk-through and to pick up the keys to our new home. Expect to see some pictures of our new home this summer on the KWB blog.
~ Robert Bullock