Do's and Don'ts of New Home Construction

Do's and Don'ts of New Home Construction

By Jordan Montarbo

So you've decided to pull the trigger on building your dream home, which is typically very exciting yet incredibly nerve racking all at the same time.  Maybe you've had a vision in your mind for quite some time or you've found inspiration from multiple different projects that you'd like to piece together and make your own. 

Taking the new construction journey and building the perfect home for you and your family can seem overwhelming.  What is the process? How do I prioritize? Where do I start? How do we keep from overspending? Where do we find a credible general contractor? The list of questions and uncertainties can go on and on.  Here's some Do's and Don'ts that will shine some light and help to seamlessly guide you through your check off list.


DO establish a budget and don't deviate from it.

Building your dream home almost always costs more than most people anticipate.  Establishing what you can afford and identifying a specific budget that will hold you accountable are absolutely necessary for success.  Getting an estimate for labor is the easier part but the variable always lies in the materials depending on how extravagent your taste is.  Talk with your contractor about how high or low end you plan on going with your material selections and request allowances for those items in your bid.  If you want to spend more in one area then you need to spend less in another, this will hold you accountable so you stay on track with the budget.


DON'T forget the details, COMMUNICATE!!

Our company motto is "measure twice, cut once".  MAKE SURE to communicate all of your specific details with your contractor, over communication is absolutely preferred over assumption to assure a smooth seamless project.  Assuming the contractor knows what you want without specifically communicating it leads to mistakes, unnecessary fixes and extras that can be costly.  


DO request an itemized bid by line item.

When getting multiple bids from contractors, make sure to request that the bid be itemized by line item to give you the full scope of work being performed.  It's not uncommon for contractors to throw a number at a project that's very vague and lacking detail.  The homeowner assumes that everything is included in that price and is later very upset as they continue dumping unexpected money into different stages of their project.  


DON'T convince yourself you can save money by building the house on your own.

This has to be one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make by selling themselves they can save money if they do it on their own.  Unfortunately, it's not uncommon to hear about a homeowner who spent money trying to do the project on their own and realized they were in way over their head.  Inevitably they end up hiring a contractor anyway who has to fix mistakes that leave you more stressed and paying more in the end.  You wouldn't change the motor on your car unless you were a mechanic so don't build your own home unless you're a contractor. 


DO your due diligence and select an elite general contractor.

There's simply no substitute for experience and lessons learned in efficiency that you'll find with a seasoned contractor.  Do your research and get recommendations from credible professionals, you might find that one contractor in particular comes highly recommended more than others.  Look at the projects they've already done, check out their references and read the reviews written by previous clients.


DON'T chase fantasies and build significantly larger than what you need.

Financially you may be able to afford a much larger home than you need but look at the ongoing costs well after the initial investment of building the home is complete.  Consider what it will take to maintain such a large home as well as the heating and cooling costs each year for square footage that's not being used.  Is it worth the extra expenses?


DO work with a loan officer to solidify where you stand prior to signing contracts.

It makes no sense to get excited about what you think you can afford, only to have your bubble burst when you're qualified for a smaller dollar amount than you anticipated.  There's also a difference between what you're qualified for and how much of that you actually want to spend.  Take the time to get preapproved, figure out how much of that you'd like to spend and then make plans within those financial parameters.


DON'T overlook the importance of time frame.

Building your first new home construction project is a big task that requires a lot of planning.  Make sure to talk with your contractor to get a more accurate time frame that your project will be completed within.  This will help you to carefully plan the potential sale of your existing home and/or living accomodations for the time being.


DO take advantage of walk through opportunities to monitor progress.

Walking the project with your contractor regularly is a great way to track each stage of the project as subcontractors are coming and going.  It's also a great way to recap with your contractor and go over any questions, concerns or suggestions you might have.  When you see your home tangibly coming together you might notice minor changes you'd like to make that are simple and may not come with additional cost.  Consistently walking your home will give your contractor the opportunity to communicate these minor tweaks to the subcontractor prior to them starting their portion of the work.