Finishing On Time

One of the biggest concerns most people start a large construction project with is timing, most specifically, whether or not construction will finish on the date forecasted.  Unfortunately, there are many factors that influence the timing of a project that you will have little to no control over.  Thankfully though, you do have control over the factors that tend to be the most influential. Below are some tips to help you along:

•  A timely completion starts to take form on the first day. Ensure that the projected completion date is made by seeing that you start on time. Stay on top of your architect and monitor the plan check process personally. Inquire early of the milestones that are required to be made along the path to a building permit and then monitor their process. Be sure to ask questions regarding the necessity of clearances from organizations besides the building department as well. It is likely that your project will require special handling by some of the following: California Coastal Commission, Orange County Fire Authority, your local sewer district and zoning department, your school district, and any homeowner's association that may be involved. Deal with these organizations early to avoid them holding up the process at the end. Also, speak openly with your architect about the fees that may be charged by such organizations and who will deal with them directly. Ensure that a part of your architect's plan includes dealing directly with the structural, soils, and energy engineers as well as the building, zoning, and grading departments.

•  Construction starts with your choices. Without your direction a custom home loses the “custom” and becomes instead just a house. Remain accessible at all times possible. When asked to provide information to your architect, designer, or contractor, request a clear deadline from them for when they want the information and hold to it. Not only will this help to directly keep the process in motion by ensuring that you are able to prioritize your decision making and meet demands, but it will create the general impression in your representative that you are driven by time and production and expect the same in return.

•  Your input becomes even more important as time moves on. In a perfect world architectural plans would detail your new house down to the cabinet knobs and finish. However, we live in a world in which perfection is nearly unattainable, especially when trying to plan something with as much detail as a custom home and manage a life at the same time. Because of this, plans most often detail only the location of walls and fixtures. In most cases, if there is a finish schedule present, it is put in as a placeholder and contains incorrect information. With this in mind, either speak with your architect about including a fair amount of detail or prepare to provide it yourself. Remember that your input will become paramount after drywall which is when the plans typically start to lose significance and avoid decisions piling up by ensuring that you keep up with demand early on and frequently ask about the next thing required of you.

•  Stay on top of information requested of you. When asked to provide information you become the stepping stone to the next link. Quite often your untimely answer will transmit directly into delay. For example, tile cannot be ordered if it has not been selected, and if not on the jobsite on time, will delay the arrival of the installer which then transmits directly to the plumber. The schedule of a custom home's construction looks like a complex web. Keep it intact by not breaking the chain.

•  Don't forget your supplies. In every construction project, the Owner is required to provide at least a few items. Ensure early on that you know exactly what you are to provide, when its presence will be required on the jobsite, and the importance of its timely arrival. For example, when asked to provide something as simple as address numbers, do not let it go too long or risk not passing a final inspection. Although they may seem like an aesthetic finishing touch, they are also a necessary safety feature required of every house with specific requirements to help to allow rescue personnel to locate the home in an emergency and therefore, the first item to be checked on final inspection.

•  Check on item availability when making choices. Every decision you make in the construction process has repercussions. When selecting items with a designer or in a store, inquire about whether the item is regularly kept in stock, and if it is a special order item, how long it takes to get once ordered. Inform your contractor of any abnormalities you discover, and if the availability specifications differ from those required to allow construction to move along normally consider alternate selections. Also, inquire as to whether the specification of the item will soon change with a new model year, and if so, work with your contractor to ensure that the correct issue is guaranteed to be delivered to the jobsite when needed.

•  The first time should be the only time. With careful and diligent planning most after-the-fact changes can and should be avoided. Rework takes time and often sets the schedule behind. When a change seems unavoidable, inquire about the cost and the time requirements and use both pieces of information to make an informed decision as to whether the change should truly be made. Make note of any additional time required and adjust the expected completion date accordingly.

•  If you must make a change make it expeditiously. Much time and money can be lost by allowing work to continue which is due to be undone. If an idea comes about in the midst of construction, be sure to discuss it with your contractor as soon as time requirements allow. Then, be prepared to deal with the repercussions and if a decision is difficult to come by, allow work to hold while it is made. For example, when electrical changes are to be made, do not allow drywall to be hung. Doing so will only compound the cost and time required to make alterations or additions.

•  Remember not to break the information chain. When working with a designer or supplier it is easy to misinterpret the way information will be handled. Unless the person you are working with has a very close relationship with your contractor, and possibly even then, route information personally to your contractor regarding selections or changes made or follow up with your contractor to ensure that such information has been forwarded by the person you are working with.

•  Inquire about the time requirements of the finishes you make.  Many decisions made in the construction process affect the pace of the jobsite, even those that are intangible and come without obvious lead time. For example, a simple stained cabinet finish may require only three coats and be completed within a few days. Conversely, a finish such as a crackled or distressed glaze may require as many as twelve steps with specific curing times between each that can total as much as four weeks. Because a glazed finish is ultrasensitive to dust, other trades must be kept away compounding the difference in timing. Do not allow time to slip away by ensuring that you are informed as to the time requirements of your decisions.

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