The remodel is underway, blocked, smoothed, and ready to pour slab. I must confess I’ve done next to nothing on this remodel. My wife has done literally 95% of it. It was always enjoyable during the builder interview process to see it start with certain questions directed toward me from the builders. Usually within 15 minutes it became obvious that I knew nothing that was going on and from there on it was her they focused on.
I am fully on board with this remodel, but I told my wife what I see when I’ve handled lawsuits between builders and homeowners and how we should avoid it. The main thing that causes problems is failure to fully plan pre-construction. Even on a $300,000 home people are just getting a very basic construction plan that’s not really sited to the property or based on an assessment of where the house should be located. It’s just something they like. That’s not enough – you have to have an undersanding of how your site lays and what your soil is.
The next problem is they haven’t really decided where they want things. From where specifically the kitchen island will go, to where the plugs will go. To know this you have to really study your plans, have an idea of how you’re going to decorate, and know the furniture placement. This matters because change orders are costly. Your builder has an idea how he/she is going to do it based on their experience, but if you haven’t gone over every detail of YOUR vision, then you’re going to be making midstream changes. Midstream changes are expensive, and many people don’t take the time to understand the cost. They may not appreciate how much it costs to move a light switch from one wall to the next, and the builder may just follow their instructions and do it without getting in depth with them on cost.
The final thing I see is that people haven’t truly priced things. The contract has allowances for cabinets, windows, porches, etc. While you can’t know everything, if you haven’t really looked at the cost of those things, you simply have no idea if that allowance is sufficient. Even shower heads, faucets and lighting – those things add up quickly. You cannot go wrong in building or remodeling a house by really putting the time in up front.
And it takes a lot of time. My wife thought about this for the bulk of the day, every day, for at least three months. She toured home stores and looked online at every type of fixture, every type of window, every type of door. She spent a lot of time with the architect considering how she wants to use the house, and the architect asked a lot of very good questions about how we live and want to live that allowed her to plan the flow of the house.
Those things are a must do on a new house or a significant remodel if you don’t want to be sitting in my office wondering how your project got over budget and convinced the builder screwed you. And if you’re a builder, you want to make sure that if your customer is not doing their homework, that you’re spending the time to walk them in detail through it. If you’re not, you’re only asking for trouble when the bill comes due.
And for goodness sake, WRITE OUT YOUR CHANGE ORDERS. Do not change from the plans based on a conversation. Write out the changes, have both sides sign off. Otherwise, it’s a swearing contest in court. And there’s no telling who the judge or jury believes.
Back to mine though, prelim work has been exhaustively done, and the new construction part of it is underway. As I said, if it doesn’t rain all week next week, we’re looking at a slab pour the first of the week. One other thing – when you first block, pour and then frame, it looks waaayyy too small. You wonder how you’re going to make it all fit and why you didn’t build it larger. It looks that way even on monster houses, though. Even knowing that, I was a little taken aback as I walked around inside the blocks. But at the end of the day the new part is nearly 1000 square feet. I grew up in a house that was a total of 1000 square feet with 2 brothers, I have to remind myself, and it was plenty large.