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  • Writer's pictureCDH

Surprises for First Time Home Builders

Updated: Jan 7, 2023

Some of our residential clients are building a home in South Florida from the ground up for the first time. Like anything worth doing, creating a space that is uniquely functional to the needs of the individual comes with a relatively steep learning curve. Most people are not involved in, let alone are experts in, the nuts and bolts of the construction industry. We asked our Founder and President, Cole D. Haynes, what the most common surprises for first time home builders are so you know what to prepare for and how to work around each factor.

Prepare for: Long lead times Home owners are shocked when they first discover items are not available immediately after they are ordered. For example, elevators typically take six months to get delivered and appliances can take up to a year. Certain items are easier to procure than others, and pieces that are mass produced are delivered much quicker than those that are custom. This can apply to everything in a home: Doors, millwork, bathroom accessories, exterior glazing, flooring, etc.
Work around it Buying locally produced items can reduce lead times significantly. It is imperative to the health of a project to procure all long lead time items early on and to have all necessary items purchased within the first third of a project.
Prepare for: Most surprises originate in the design and planning phase If the feasibility and completeness of a set of plans is not wholly vetted well before the start of a project, there tends to be a cost and schedule impact, not to mention aggravation. A good example of this potential setback is something as basic as window treatments, which are often not specified in detail in the drawings, thus are not accounted for in the project constructability, budget or desired final aesthetic. This oversight then creates a potential change order, which leads to extra cost, time, and avoidable frustration. Additionally, understanding aesthetics within your space planning when based on drawings can be difficult for most clients to visualize in detail.
Work around it: Scaled mock ups are an important tool for home owners to visualize and make decisions regarding their space.
Prepare for: The impact of changes to momentum and price Even seemingly small changes can have a significant financial and scheduling impact on a project. What may appear to be a minor change on the surface may tack on several weeks of delays depending on lead times and availability of labor. European millwork packages for closets take an average of 12-16 weeks to be delivered once shop drawings are completed. Shop drawings typically take about 4 weeks to complete. This means that changing the closet millwork package causes at least a 4 month delay!
Work around it: It is important to make the right decisions early on. One of the benefits of hiring an owner’s representative to advise the owner of the specific consequences to every change order. Your representative should be guiding you to ensure that your first decision is likely to be your final decision. Prepare for: The decision making process is challenging The owners decision making process is usually more challenging than anticipated. There are many decisions that come with building a home and those decisions become stressful if the right team is not in place to guide the owner towards success. Similar to the effects of change orders, delays in making decisions often impact the timeline of a project. Work around it: Scheduling decision deadlines is a powerful tool to keep a project on track. Additionally, a knowledgeable representative should present their clients with the best possible choices for the project.

Although the above mentioned surprises are common, they are not unavoidable. A good representative will eliminate much of the uncertainty that accompanies home building, especially when brought in during the pre-construction phase of a project.
If you are considering building or remodeling your home, you are at the right place! We help our clients avoid common pitfalls in each phase: Pre-construction, construction and post-construction. If you want to ensure your next project is kept on budget, on time and on quality, email to set up your initial consultation.

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