Living Space

Building a new home – What to tell your builder

Clear, direct communication is a key ingredient in smooth and successful homebuilding. After you have selected a builder and he has accepted the project, he will expect you to give him as much specific information as you can about the kind of house you want, inside and out.

Most of this information should be thought through carefully; many details may require research on your part. Here is a sampling of some of the elements you need to decide on and communicate to your builder early in the process:

Budget. One of the most important pieces of information you can give the builder is the budget. How much money can you afford to spend? Be honest and realistic about that figure. Many builders, through experience, can look at home plans and estimate how much a house will cost to build in a particular square footage. So be prepared to tell the builder up front how much you want to spend. If the plans you have go over your budget, a good builder will work with you to modify them to meet your needs or set you in the right direction as to what type of house you should look for that you can really afford.

The Kind Of House You Want. Take 6-9 months to decide what you want the house to look like and include in the way of appliances, flooring, paint, cabinets, countertops, fixtures and hardware. Take your time, before you decide on all the details, to examine your options by visiting stores, showrooms and showhouses, and reading through related magazines and books.

Special Requirements. Do you need extra phonelines for a computer or fax machine? Many homeowners don’t think about it until it is too late. Are there oversized furnishings that have special requirements? For example, you have to think in advance about whether or not grandma’s 8-foot long buffet is going to fit along the dining room wall. Or will there be enough space for the heirloom armoire in little Daisy’s bedroom?

Guest Accommodations. What types of guests will you have and what will their needs be? How old are they? If Grandma and Grandpa are going to visit often, perhaps the guest bath should include a non-slip shower stall instead of or in addition to a bathtub, because it will be easier for them to step in and out of.

Future Needs. Will you purchase a satellite dish someday? Some builders will normally wire for cable, but the wiring needs to be done a specific way for a satellite dish. Rewiring down the road after the house is built can be a lot more expensive than having it done during construction for future use.

Fully Investigate Selections You Can Stick With. Changing appliance choices or other selections can incur additional expense and delay. For example, kitchen cabinets may be ordered in a specific configuration to surround the new refrigerator you have selected. But if you change your mind and want to bring a refrigerator from your old house instead of purchasing a new one, the old refrigerator may be a different size and not fit into the space between your new cabinets.

Also keep in mind that just because items haven’t arrived yet, doesn’t mean there is time to change your selection. In many cases, components are ordered several weeks in advance of when they will be installed and changing one appliance to a different size or shape may have a domino effect and necessitate a string of other change orders-resulting in potentially more expense and delay.

Tell The Builder Who Is In Charge. Who makes the decisions? Whether it is both spouses, or one, it should be clear. And if a couple makes decisions jointly, the builder should respect that arrangement. The goal is to work together to realize the dreams of both and their family.

Maintain Confidence And Respect For Your Builder. One expert notes that usually families dislike talking to builders about money, because they fear being taken advantage of. Without trust and respect, antagonism between you and your builder can grow to be an unpleasant subtext in the relationship. Honest communication is the best remedy against it.

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