July 7, 2014

Home purchase - Real EstateOne of the most challenging things about building your own home, even for professional builders, is staying on top of the details. Each phase of construction brings its own issues, so watching everything closely is your best defense against losing control of the job. If one or two things are left undone before the next subcontractor comes to the jobsite, then you often end up with a bottle neck effect. The following are some of the more important things to stay on top of during each phase of construction.

Pre-construction.  First and foremost, get everything in writing! A good subcontractors agreement goes a long way towards buttoning down the details.  Even with your best efforts, there will still be things left unclear or unsaid, but having something to go by from the start is your best defense.  Further make certain you have all your permits in place and all your insurance purchased.  Post the building permit and any other required documentation on the jobsite in plain view. Neglecting to post the permit can hold you up when inspection time comes.

Site preparation, grading and foundations.  While you might think that there is not much detail to be concerned with here, there are a few things to make sure of before the grading contractor leaves the jobsite.  For one, make sure that the grader has made provisions for water drainage from around the site.  This does not have to be your permanent drainage plans, but you don’t want standing water around the building site during construction. Also, make sure that the grader has made it easy for material delivery trucks to access the jobsite and drop materials in a convenient place.

Framing.  This phase of construction is ripe for the occurrence of items being overlooked, left undone or done wrong.  The more complicated the job (such as framing) the greater the risk for problems. It is very frustrating to have paid the framer his final draw and then discover that a door opening was put in wrong or that no one planned for the HVAC duct work and consequently the trunk line did not get furred down. Of course your issues will depend on your situation.  If you’ve found a good, reliable subcontractor, he will come back to remedy the problem, but usually there will be a time delay (he may have started a new job and will have to fit you in) and sometimes there will be a question about whose fault it was and if you will have to pay extra for the change.

Siding and roofing.  While these jobs are not quite as complicated as framing, they can still pose problems. If a roof is poorly installed, the outcome could be a lifetime of leaks.  Further, water intrusion can create can start a snowball effect with potential rot, etc. Knowing what to look for with a roofer is critical. Same goes for siding.

Mechanical systems. Again, hiring quality, reliable contractors for these important elements of your home is a must. You are leaving important decisions in the hands of these people.  Your utility bills and comfort are at stake. So be sure to check these people out carefully.

Interior Trim. There’s sometimes a tendency to leave off a missing piece of trim if you run out of material.  In fact, it’s a very common occurrence.  The result is that the painter comes and goes without painting it.  then, if you can get the trim carpenter to come back for a couple small pieces, you’ll probably have to pay him for it although it would have been included if done the first time around. Then you still have the issue with getting the painter to come back.

The moral of the story is to make sure to stay on top of your construction job. It will save you time and money in the long run.

Bill Edwards

President, American Home Counsel