Western North Carolina
A few themes come up again and again on a custom home building project. We have arranged them here into a short and useful checklist. Each item can help you avoid headaches during the process of building a custom home.
1) Timing. Time is money – and sticking to budget means sticking to schedule. The first question you should be asking the general contractor is how long he thinks the project will take. It is standard practice to provide start and stop dates that account for some weather delays. Also, don’t forget to ask what else your custom home builder is working on; if the builder is spread too thin your project may not get the attention it deserves.
2) Experience and Expertise. How long has the general contractor been building custom homes? Does he have a portfolio he can share with you, and references? Do they specialize in high-end custom homes? Additionally, if you’re building in an area like Western North Carolina you may need someone whose expertise lies in building on challenging lots – our mountains are beautiful, but they don’t always make it easy. You don’t want to find out, after the fact, that your general contractor does not have experience with complex foundations.
3) Supervision. Who, exactly, will be managing the construction of your custom home? It’s preferable to have a Project Manager – or one central point-person – managing the work, resources, and subcontractors. We all know the old adage about too many cooks in the kitchen spoiling the broth. Mistakes can be costly, particularly if they’re not caught until later in the construction process.
4) Collaboration and Communication. Do you already have an architect, or are you looking for one? Is this something the general contractor can help you with? You, the architect, and the builder all need to work well together. And communication is key. To travel from concept to concrete reality, you must all speak the same language. Further, you must speak it frequently – via email, phone, and regularly scheduled, face-to-face meetings.
5) Budgeting. Your home is a big investment, and the general contractor should be qualified for the job. You need to set your budget, and your builder needs to stick to it. Once a final budget is agreed upon, what’s the next step? Also, what does your contract include? Ideally, it should include delivery dates and other essential details. Further, (since he’ll be in charge of the purse strings) what is the builder’s financial experience, if any? Look for a general contractor who will use the industry standard AIA (American Institute of Architects) contract. It includes delivery dates and other essential details.
Use this checklist to narrow your list of builders who have the expertise and experience to help you build your custom home.
We are looking for stories about custom home building – both the glory and the misadventures. If you have a good story about your experience building a custom home, consider emailing us or leaving it in a comment.