Horizon General Contractors:
- Where do I start when I have the resources and I’m ready to build my dream house?
The best place to start off is by finding a location where you want to live. Then begin assembling your team. This could include an architect, a contractor and an interior designer. They’ll help you package your design and cost.
- I don’t know anything about building, and the process seems so complicated. What’s a simple breakdown of the way the work will unfold?
First, you commit to your design and build team. Second, you begin designing the house and pricing it. Third, you make yourself available for the decisions that are time sensitive. Going forward, a good rule to live by is, “expect the unexpected.” And because of that it’s very important that you build trust with the team through their actions. Understand that there will be times when things appear to go fast, like during demolition, wood framing, drywall, while at other times things will appear to be moving very slowly, often during excavation, foundation and installation of all piping systems. Another important thing to think about as you’re heading into the project is to make sure you have the funds plus a financial cushion. You may want to enhance the design as you go. Finally, be a part of the magic in a thoughtful, respectful yet fairly demanding way. This means if you have specific design demands, stick to them and have your design team accommodate you.
- You’ve mentioned “time sensitive decisions,” can you elaborate on what you mean by that?
In order to keep the job on schedule it’s critical to make decisions on the things with the longest ordering time; those are windows, doors and cabinets. Close behind are visual finishes such as tile choices and flooring types. What I like to tell my clients is this…“choose early, move in early”.
- How do I find a great contractor, one who’ll be honest with me and not rip me off?
Ask your architect, your interior designer, your city building department and/or your friends who have had good experiences. When you drive by a job site that looks clean, organized, full of activity and has similar architecture to your design, stop and talk to the supervisor or contractor. Finally, get references- at least 10!
- How do I deal with the chaos while my new home is being built?
Chaos only comes through inattention, unclear expectations, delayed decision making and unreasonable demands. This means that it’s important for you to be involved, or to delegate decision making to a representative, who could be either your architect or interior designer.
- When the building is finally complete and my home is turned over to me, how do I know that when I walk into my new home it’s really completely done?
Your first step is a final approval from the building department. If you have had a fair exchange and a good relationship with your contractor, he or she will have details to complete after you get official approval. One thing you can do is ask your architect and interior designer to create a “punch list” for the contractor to complete. This list will include anything that professionals see as not 100% complete. It could mean a missing screw, a paint drip, a dripping faucet or a non-working light switch. In addition to your punch list, a great idea is to always do a walk through with your contractor when he says your project is complete. During this walk through, try everything: doors, windows, drawers, showers, lights, air conditioning—everything! You have a statutory one-year guarantee so the risk is minimized if your contractor has a substantial business, a good reputation, has used licensed and insured subcontractors, and you have had a good working relationship.
- What’s the best piece of advice you can give a person who is new to the custom home building process?
I’d have to say to remember that this is an organic process, one that depends on human beings in order to complete the house the way you want—the way that makes you happy to live in the home you’ve built for many, many years to come.