Every building project seems to have a fairly standard evolution. A lot depends upon the personality of the people involved, from the owners, designers, engineers, general contractor and the various subcontractors. It never fails that one or more of these parties will be in conflict at some point during the eight or so months it takes to go from a bare dirt lot to a finished house.
It is really very understandable that there is the potential for problems. First and foremost, every custom home is a prototype, never been built before. The lack of requirements from the building department and others leaves much of the decision making up to the contractors. The owners always have high expectations about what they will get for their money and the contractors want to spend as little as possible hoping to be able to keep a larger portion of the agreed price as profit.
Wait a minute, this is sounding way to glum. Let me talk about the positive side of building a home. The first thing most people think is that they will save money or will have some equity when the project is finished and most often that is true. Many, if not most, people will have around 20% equity if they manage the project carefully. Money may be what motivates most people, but the satisfaction of having been part of each and every component and task is the real reward in my opinion. Not saying you have to strap on tool bags, but you are still the field general and you are the one who gets the credit for the finished home. Your new home is going to be around for hundreds of years. Think about that, all the birthday parties and holidays that will be celebrated within your creation by children and people you don’t even know. Building a home is second only to having children for leaving your mark on the World.
Ok, back to the difficult stuff. When the project starts, you have all the tasks in front of you necessary to build the house and all the money allotted to accomplish it. So on one side is all the work and materials you will need and on the other side is the stack of money. As you complete projects and pay for them, the two stacks of work and money get smaller. The hard part is to not panic when you realize how your money needs to last longer than it takes to finish all the tasks.
The best way to minimize the anxiety of these converging points is planning and not allowing your need and want controls to get out of whack. You need a cooktop, but you want a Thermador or Wolff $5000 6 burner 48” top. You can get a perfectly good cooktop for 1/3 of the cost of a “designer” model. If you really want that professional cooktop and you have budgeted for it, good for you, but many folks decide which appliances they want when they walk in to the appliance shop.
We used to say “building the house in the field is simple compared to building the house on paper”. Every room in your home is going to have fixtures, flooring, doors and windows with hardware. If you list as many of these various items and stick with your choices, you will keep the stress to a minimum and might even really enjoy the experience.