We’re back again with a mini-series dealing with new construction. Already we have discussed which professionals you need to hire and the cost of new construction. Today we are going to delve into another question that is either on your mind or you have asked outright:
“How long is this going to take?”
Lori, let’s start with you.
- How large is the house?
- Is it completely custom? Will your contractor need to special order materials?
- How many workers will be working on your home each day?
- Is your lot prepared and ready to go?
- How long does it normally take to get permits and inspections in your area?
- Weather: if it’s clear and sunny, obviously things will go much quicker than if it is raining every day.
The time frame can range from 3 months to over a year. The most important thing is to find a general contractor who you trust and who communicates with you every step of the way. Before you begin this process, it is a good idea to know what to expect. Will there be delays? Yes, probably. How will you know what is happening and what do you do about it?
The key again, is your relationship with your general contractor. He/she is in charge of the many people that will come in and out of your home on a daily basis. It will be so tempting to ask the subcontractors what is happening while you are there visiting your home during construction. Don’t do it. Keep the line of communication open with your general contractor and be honest. If you think something seems to be taking a long time; ask. There is usually a good answer and it may be that it is taking a few days longer to get an inspection or materials that have been delayed. Once you know what is happening, you will feel much less anxious about the process.
The goal is to keep the lines of communication open. Also remember that this can be a stressful process. Be patient, be open and be honest.
Rick Bunzel, principal inspector at Pacific Crest Inspections in Anacortes, Washington, says that your relationship with your general contractor is like a marriage. You may not agree all the time, but you’re in this together.
Thanks Lori! She brought up a couple of very important factors that I will talk about as well a little later. Now let’s turn it over to Whitney.
It isn’t easy predicting how long the construction process will be. We as designers want it to be as streamlined as possible, but it never ends up that way. Problems are inevitable. There will be many different people working on your job, but it’s important to make sure when problems do arise, you contact your designer and don’t make decisions without him/her. So, the length of the construction process depends on the scope of the project and how many problems may pop up during the project. For example, if after knocking down walls your contractor finds out there are mold issues, this will need to be taken care of before the next step is started.
Thanks Whitney! Both you and Lori brought up communication and solving problems. I would also like to add to that.
In Wyoming, an average home (1800 sq. ft. to 5000 sq. ft.) takes about six months, if you can catch some of the short summer weather. That’s a little different than when we were in Colorado. My husband built homes that were small, starter homes that were build in 90 days. The difference? Here, every home is a custom home. In Colorado, you could customize your home a little bit, but you had to select from a limited choice palette put together by the large home company. That makes a big difference!
Let’s talk about communication next.
If I am brought onto a job with a contractor, I instruct clients to take all of their concerns to one place. I prefer that “one place” to be me.
Your designer is your advocate and front line person. They’re making the decision with you, and are an extension of you. The difference is they usually have a working relationship with the contractor and even subcontractors, so they know interpersonal relationships that need to happen to make everyone perform at optimal levels.
If you talk to the contractor or other tradesman without the designer knowing about it, information is most likely going to get lost. The contractor will take your instructions and run with them. The designer won’t know it happened and have to go to the contractor and to you to sort out what happened. If it was a decision that was made in the heat of the moment, it might throw the whole project out of balance. We’ll have to halt the project, get everyone on the same page again, and possibly work through (at best) irritate; (at worst) livid, tradesman.
Every designer and project is different, so find out what your team likes, and keep the communication open with one person only. They should know this from the beginning, and when they do, they’ll take care of the rest.
There will be problems that come up. It’s inevitable, as Whitney stated. I could give you two instances where natural disasters affected our jobs in Wyoming. One was when a volcano exploded in Europe and made air travel unsafe. We couldn’t get leathers to a plant on the east coast, and ended up waiting months and months for a custom couch. Another time, the famous tornado in Joplin took out a shingle factory, so supplies were limited and we had to wait for a specific shingle. You never know what will happen!
Just remember, there’s no such thing as a design emergency. That goes for new construction too. Keep smiling, communicating, and we’ll all get through it!
Do you have a crazy construction incidence that happened on your job? Share with us in the comments. Then check in again next week. We’ll be discussing which decisions you need to make on your home first. The answers might surprise you!