It’s wonderful to think that while you’re building your custom home in Dallas, your ideal location of course, everything will go absolutely smooth. There will be no miscommunications, there will be no setbacks, there will be no unforeseen costs, and you’ll have a beautiful home in the end. While that holds true in an ideal world, it’s certainly not the case in reality. Having built custom homes in the Dallas area for several years, we’ve come to learn that there are certain issues that can arise which will cause tension between the home builder and the buyer. Because we know what topics can cause problems, we’ve learned how to properly address these topics right out of the gate to prevent misunderstandings that can snowball into arguments. If you’re wanting to build a custom home, be sure to follow the guidelines below to make your home building process as stress-free and smooth as possible.
SCENARIO: Homeowner believes the punch-out/walk-through list was not completed.
At the end of the project, the homeowner and the builder will do a walk-through to ensure that all tasks were completed to the homeowner’s satisfaction, and as projected at the beginning of the project. Be sure that both parties sign off on the completion of the punch-out list so you’re both in agreement that the project was completed. As a homeowner, do not continually add to the list of to-do items, as it will give you the perception that the to-do list is never completed, and it will frustrate the builder. Instead, agree on a list at the beginning of the project. If you find that you’d like to make some modifications further down the road, start a new list so you can see what was initially agreed upon, and what was added later. This will keep the project in perspective for both the homeowner and the builder.
SCENARIO: The homeowner is upset that add-ons will cost more.
Initially a quote is given that will give a pretty close approximation to the total cost of the project. However, when items are added on, the homeowner must understand that the costs were not included in the original quote. These materials cost additional funds, and of course there is a cost for labor. While adding on features to your ideal home is something you definitely should do, be certain that both you and your builder are clear on what the add-on will be, what the projected costs are, and always get this information in writing.
SCENARIO: The homeowner doesn’t believe their home is “perfect”.
You’re paying a lot of money for your custom home, and you want it to be absolutely perfect. No one can argue with that sentiment. The problem is that builders are imperfect creatures and things can get lost in communication. Perhaps that shower tile is a shade lighter than you wanted. To avoid these types of issues, it’s important to keep open and clear communication, and inquire if anything doesn’t seem realistic in the builder’s eyes.
SCENARIO: The homeowner would like more changes, but the builder has concerns about receiving payment. The homeowner feels that the builder is not clear and concise in their estimates of the additional work, and the estimate wasn’t given in a timely manner.
Again, this goes back to agreeing to everything in writing prior to beginning any work. If additions/changes are requested, both homeowner and builder should sign off on the projected task. In addition, the homeowner should offer to pay for the costs for the change upfront rather than at the end of the project. This will ensure peace of mind for both parties.
SCENARIO: The homeowner believes the builder isn’t paying attention to their concerns or suggestions.
In the home building business, it is imperative to have open channels for communication. Without communication, frustration and anger is sure to ensue. Instead, schedule regular meetings to discuss the progress of the project and any suggestions/concerns you may have. This will ensure you have a venue to voice your opinion, and it won’t make the builder feel you are interrupting the project at unexpected intervals.
SCENARIO: The homeowner goes straight to the subcontractor for a task rather than the builder.
This undermines the builder and can cause confusion, potentially making the life of the project longer. All requests should go directly to the builder.
SCENARIO: The homeowner talks to everyone but the builder about the status of the project.
This obviously causes the builder to be disjointed from the project as well as your plan for the home. Talk directly to the builder about all aspects of the project.
SCENARIO: The homeowner undermines the builder.
If you do not trust your builder, the project will never be a happy one, or one that you can call successful. That is why it is so important to choose the right builder before starting your project. If you interview your builders properly, you should be happy with the choice you have made. Defer to their expertise and don’t constantly second-guess everything they do. If you have a legitimate concern that the builder may not know what the best plan-of-action is for a piece of your project, by all means vocalize it; however, don’t do this every step of the way. Pick your battles wisely and ask yourself if you’re second-guessing because you’re wanting to control the project or because you have a legitimate concern.