Taking The Headache Out Of The Home Building Process

Posted on | November 3, 2014 | No Comments

Building a house can be both exciting as well as stressful. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a veteran home builder provided homeowners who are building with guidelines and valuable insight into the building process? Raleigh builder Jeffrey Swain, of J.P. Swain Company, is doing exactly that today. As our guest blogger, Jeffrey is sharing with North Carolina Design how to take the headache out of new home construction.

Images Courtesy of J.P. Swain Company ©

Have A Plan
If you don’t have a plan, how can you know where you’re going? It’s essential to have given thought to plan where do you want to live. First, you have to find a lot or a place that you want to live. You want it to be in the area that you want to get nested – in the area where your kids go to school, that’s also a fair commute to your work.

Do Your Research
Prior to contacting an architect or a builder, invest the time in going online and doing your research. This will aid you in defining what it is your want from the home you will be living in for years. There are architectural resources online where you can go and look at plans and pictures and gather ideas. From here, you’ll develop a good sense of the way you want to live. Doing this research prior to contacting a builder or architect definitely saves a lot of time and effort and money.

Putting Your Research Into Action
Once you have gathered information, there’s one of two ways that things can go. If you don’t have a builder yet, you might next make contact with an architect or residential designer. In the first meeting you’ll say, ‘Here’s our lot and here are our ideas. We want these components oriented this way and this is our budget.’ Through that conversation, and some follow ups, there will be honest discussion about what you want to spend and what you need to spend. A good architect or residential designer can come up with a square footage plan that works for you. The builder then joins the discussion at this point.

The second way that things can go after gathering information is that you select the builder next. After conversations with the builder, the architect or residential designer then joins the team. All those ideas that you spent time gathering are immensely helpful to both the builder and designer. Together you all hammer out a house that fits your needs and your budget.

Specify The Cost & Sign The Contract
Once the space has been designed, the builder can take the plan and value engineer it, specifying the cost of the home. Again, the more research that you have done on interior and exterior finishes, as well as appliance packages, and other details – the better. A builder worth his salt will have an interior designer work with you on all the material selections throughout the home to further define the cost. The exact price of the house can now be pinpointed. Excitement grows as the contract is signed and construction begins on the house.

The Building Process
From here, the building process begins. I encourage my clients to go through their home whenever they want to, obviously being careful because it is a construction site. Communication is essential, which is why holding regular weekly meetings, on site, with your builder are a very good idea. If there are two owners, both of you should make a point of attending these meetings, walking the house with your builder, making note of progress and any issues that concern you. Building a home is a collaborative process. When you see something that concerns you, immediately bring it to your builder’s attention.

Building In Contingencies
I get asked about padding your budget for unexpected items. Again, if you did your research, not too many of these things come up. Generally it happens when you see something new at someone else’s house, online, or perhaps when visiting a Parade of Homes entry. A contingency budget of five to ten percent should cover unexpected items. The more planning you do, the lower that percentage is going to be.

The Punch List
Some people ask when do you do a punch list. I hold a home orientation meeting at the end of the build where together we walk through the house and I tell my clients how the house operates and explain the features of the home. It gives me an opportunity as a builder to re-sell the house and detail the value of it. If we find something that is wrong, then we mark it down, so we can fix it. I do encourage my clients to regularly spend time in the house so that this punch list is minimized.

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