Considering a new construction project or a remodel? Lucky you! My wife and daughter watch shows about the fun of the design and remodel process. I have found that in real-life the projects can often be more stressful than fun, but it all depends on how you look at it. I see some customers struggle with what seems to be an overwhelming process, while others have fun and get great results. There are a few things I have learned in my 25 years in the trades and I will try and share a few of them with you.
Get a plan in place BEFORE you start. One of the most successful projects we have been involved with was a 6,000 square foot new home in the East Bay. The owner was the Vice President of a commercial construction company that specializes in high-rise buildings. He spent almost 2 years in planning before they broke ground. He had all the cabinetry designed, all windows specified, all colors, fixtures and finishes picked before the project started. The A/V and electronics were completely designed and in the budget. I see too many customers planning as they go. The number of decisions that need to be made and the cost implications can be staggering. The more planning and decisions you make before you start, the more likely you will be able to enjoy the process and make the smaller ongoing decision in a timely and cost effective manner.
Pick the design and construction professionals you like and trust. Often times I see a loosely designed project go to bid, and the bids can vary widely. Usually this is NOT because some of the companies are more or less efficient. Rather, the difference in bids is usually the result of the assumptions the bidders are making on the unspecified portions of the project (allowances) for finishes. Finishes are usually the most expensive part of the project. The more clearly the project is defined, the more likely the bids will all come in very close to one another. This allows you to get a more accurate idea of what the project is actually going to cost. It also allows you to pick the best contractor for the job, as opposed to the guy who appears less expensive. (Interesting note: the lowest bidder usually has the most change orders and normally does not save the customer money.)
Make timely decisions. Realize that your project is a full size prototype. Some details will need to be worked out as the project proceeds. Most of these details are relatively minor. Try not to let them overwhelm you. Pick what looks like the best options without stressing over it. Make sure your designer/architect does not get too caught up in the drama of it all (unless you love that sort of thing). Projects have a sense of momentum. Normally the biggest momentum killer is waiting for owners to make decisions. This adds a lot of time (and cost) to most projects.
Winston Churchill said “Perfection is the enemy of progress.” I have also heard “Perfection is neither attainable, nor desirable.” Both are applicable in a construction project. I have seen customers who got so hung up on the idea that everything had to be perfect that they became miserable in trying to make everything perfect, at the expense of way too much money and misery. Let go of perfection and focus on awesome or fantastic. Perfection is neither attainable, nor desirable!
When you are:
Working the plan,
With the builder and design professionals you like,
Making timely decisions on the details, and
Enjoying the process of building something awesome and fantastic…
Then you are much more likely to finish on-time and on-budget with a finished project you love!