Eating An Elephant

February 20, 2012

How do you eat an elephant?  Easy.  One bite at a time.

How does this apply to building custom homes?  Contracting to build a custom home will be a major event in your life.  It has also been compared to running a marathon, climbing a mountain, or giving birth.  There are many analogies that come to mind, but no matter the comparison, building a custom home for yourself will be both the most fulfilling and one of the greatest challenges you might ever face in your life.

Whatever the major goal, whether it be running a marathon or building a custom home, once you commit to the result you’ll need a plan as well the fortitude to go the distance.  Every step, or bite, you take is a decision toward the finish of your home, and it takes dedication and endurance, and miles and miles of decisions.

So, how do you develop a plan?  Here are a few essential decisions, to be made in advance, to help you map out a plan:

1.  Choose your coaches – choose a builder who you like and trust and have a rock solid contract to define your expectations.  It also helps to like your builder’s other staff members since they will play a key role in the on-time, on-budget completion of your project.  Also, choose an architect or home designer who understands your needs and your vision for your new home and can clearly convey your vision to your builder.  Do your research on your coaches and find out their experience, expertise and expected longevity and stability in their business.

2.  Put your goals in writing – define your expectations through a detailed set of working plans and specifications for the home, and a budget that realistically defines the costs of completing your home within your expectations.  Your builder’s expertise in estimating costs will be essential to a realistic budget.  Decide as much information as possible about your standards for your new home and you may more closely rely on your builder and avoid the disappointing news that your budget does not allow for the brand or style you wanted (doors, windows, millwork, cabinets, hardware, flooring, etc., etc.)

3.  Prepare body, mind and soul – before you start, bank your money as well as your decisions on styles, materials and finishes.  If you make your decisions about money or materials after you start, on a daily or weekly basis, your building project will not be timely, not run smoothly, and will not likely be within budget constraints.  Making decisions in advance will leave time for multiple bids, price shopping, and special order of materials during an economy when inventories are very low.

4.  Miles of training time – work backwards from the date you would like to start your new home and leave ample time for every aspect of the advanced planning and decision making that will be the groundwork for a less stressful building experience.  You can expect that the time it takes to make advanced decisions about your designer, general contractor, “must- have” features, finalizing a design and getting permits will be approximately as long as it might take to build the house itself.

5.  Countdown to the finish – understand the standard timeline for building your home, but expect delays and be flexible.    Don’t make plans to move into your new home until the last punch list item is completed.  Again, your builder’s expertise in estimating the time it will take to complete each phase of your project will be essential to a realistic timeline.

6.  Balance your dedication to the result with life as you know it – while your building project is in process it will almost assuredly interrupt every other aspect of your life, including your relationships, your personal time management and routines, and your finances.  Expect the added stress in your life and make sure your family is on board with the process.  Having a plan, including a well chosen builder, clear goals, and many decisions made in advance will minimize unexpected obstacles.

One thing that accomplishing all major goals have in common is a plan.  If you would like assistance in planning for your custom home building project, contact Winsome Construction, shan@winsomeconstruction.com or  503-472-7402.

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