So you’re building a new house and decide to manage the project yourself instead of going through a builder. The downside is the risk of hiring bad contractors and the time investment required to manage the project. However, the benefits are great as well. You drastically cut builder costs and can potentially build a better home designed specifically for you and your family. Here are some tips for successfully managing the construction of your new home.
Plan and prepare: Outline the entire project before you begin. Determine who will be involved in the project, estimated costs, and at what stage and time contractors will be needed. If you’re new to building you probably won’t know details of the construction process but its not complicated. Ask around and talk to people you know with more experience. Your local development office may also help you find information on how to get started.
Hire a good architect: Your first task will be to get professional blueprints developed. Don’t underestimate the importance of a good architect. Your entire house will be built according to these blueprints so take this process seriously. Good architects are generally more expensive but they are worth the extra cost and can save you trouble down the road. I’ve learnt that experienced architects pay attention to details and cover every aspect of the house so you run into less “last minute” changes or decisions to make. Seasoned architects will also give you tips to avoid costly mistakes. Keep in mind that architects have different styles so its important to speak a few of them to find someone that better suits your specific needs. And remember, don’t settle for someone just because of pricing. The amount of money you save will be minor relative to the total cost of the finished house. It’s an investment worth making.
Shop around: Before you hire a contractor for a specific trade, make sure that you “interview” a few different people. It’s important to do this for several reasons. (1)You get a range of quotes to better assess what the fair market rate is. (2)You have a better chance to find someone you think you can work with. (3)You have more flexibility in hiring someone who is available according to your schedule. (4) You have more negotiating power. (5) You learn different things from each contractor.
Don’t pay upfront: From my experience, never pay the full fee upfront. Infact, most contractors I’ve work with will arrange payments according to how much work is completed so no upfront payment is required. Pay in stages and always holdback payment until the job is 100% complete. Talk to a few different contractors and you’ll figure out a payment method that is fair for both sides.
Treat your contractors well: Bring them coffee, learn from them and most importantly pay them on time. If you expect a job to get done well and on time, then remember to return the professionalism and make timely payments as well.
Mistakes happen, don’t freak out: It’s like any other business, even the best of contractors make mistakes. The important thing is too ensure that the contractor corrects the mistake. That’s why it important to holdback payments.
Be organized: Once the project begins, its pertinent to be organized to ensure your project goes as smoothly as possible. You need to be able to juggle contractor schedules with supplier availabilities at each stage of construction while dealing with unexpected time delays. Allow yourself room for error. Talk to your suppliers and order materials a couple days in advance to ensure your contractor has what they need to do their job. Keep the lines of communication open with your suppliers and contractors. From the supplier side, you’ll need to know what lead-times are for material availability and deliveries. On the contractor side, you’ll need to find out contractor availabilities, what stage they can begin and what materials they will need. Your schedule won’t always workout as planned, but if you’re organized you can avoid lengthy delays and keep thing going at a steady pace.
Managing any project can be tough and building a house is no exception. Just remember to organize, plan and prepare. I hope these tips help. Good luck and happy building!