Home Construction and Remodeling Tips

Home Construction and Remodeling Planning Tips

Home Construction and Hitting Your Budget

Building your dream house is a great joy and lifelong achievement.  Building your dream house on budget is usually just a dream and rarely an achievement  Everyday people call us to order stair parts for their dream house and the first words are “we are already over budget so can you save us some money?”  I’m thinking to myself, “Of course they are over budget, they are contacting us for stair parts after the house is well on its way to construction.  ”

Its Your Dream… not the Contractors

The job of your contractor or builder is to to fulfill a contract.  Your job is to get all of the details of your dream house out of your head and onto paper so that that a dollar number can be attached to your dreams.  Your dreams are probably more expensive than you think so it is a good idea to quantify the dreams so that they can be built affordable.  Builders make money by building houses and it is the last draw where they see their profit.  Therefore, the builder is generally motivated to get the house done and the last draw paid.  You are motivated to get your dream built and move into it.  Make sure the haste on both of your parts doesn’t translate to extra cost.

No Allowances

The rest of this paragraph is targeted to the person who is building a custom house that is being designed and built to their taste.  If your builder is drawing the plans from scratch for you and you want what you want, not what others want for you, then read on.  DO NOT start building with an allowance for cabinetry, plumbing, appliances, flooring and stair parts.  Your builder will tell you that he has put in generous allowances and he is right, they are generous by his standards.  You don’t want generous allowances, you want your dream quantified to be sure you can afford it.  A friend just finished building his dream house and ended up 20% over budget and his builder assured him that there were generous allowances for everything.  Before building get firm contracts on every piece of hardware, door knob, shower head, stair baluster, door stop, door bell, outlet cover, bath hook, floor vent, paint, light bulb, concrete stamp, mail box doggie door, bush, plant and grass.

Dollars are in the Details

Where there is mystery, there is margin.  If you can eliminate the mystery from the home building process, then you can understand the margins and be sure that your builder is making a fair profit and you are on budget.  My area of expertise is in stair parts.  The three dimensional aspect of stairs brings a lot of mystery to people and contractors usually allow a number for stairways.  A large custom stairs has lots of custom pieces.  It is not uncommon for a custom stairway to have $1000 in hardware such as special screws (you don’t want it to squeak do you?), handrail brackets, adhesives and connectors.  Don’t overlook these details.  If you overlook the handrail brackets and fasteners, then two things will happen.  One option is you will get billed for them at the end of the job and you’ll be frustrated.  The other option is worse, the contractor won’t use the right hardware an you will have separating handrails, squeaky treads and loose hardware.

Plan to Succeed

Take your time in house planning and meet with every person in the trades that will be building your house to be sure that they can produce a sketch or drawing for you and itemize every little thing so that you get exactly what you want.  If a trades person is frustrated by your insistence upon specifying every detail, then image how frustrated you will be when the building process starts and the tradesman is installing the wrong things.  Enjoy the planning process and let it feel like it is something that you can enjoy.  If you enjoy the planning, then the building will be a breeze.


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