Staying In Control

A large construction project can seem to take on a life of its own and take you on quite a wild ride. Stay in control by following the guidelines below.

•  Communication is paramount.  Without clear communication, nothing can be done and everything can be done wrong at the same time.  Make it your goal throughout the construction process to clearly articulate your thoughts and ideas to the intended recipient in the timeliest manner possible.  Remember that no one can read your mind and that it is your responsibility to ensure that your thoughts do not remain a secret.

•  Four eyes are better than two.  And more are even better than that.  The unfortunate reality is that in a large construction project some small things can occasionally go wrong.  Throughout the process your representative will have an infinite number of details to oversee, and although it will be his job to catch and correct any mishaps before they get out of hand or even become noticed, it is possible that you will see them first. In this event, quickly notify the responsible party (architect, designer, or general, but not subcontractor) and allow them to take action and correct it.  They should be thankful for the help, and will enjoy the idea that the Owner is on their team.

•  Act quickly upon requests.  Many times, if a job becomes delayed, it is due to indecision or material unavailability due to indecision. You will be provided requests for information throughout the project. When done right, these requests come with details and deadlines that are tied into the process as a whole and the deadlines allow sufficient time for reaction. For example, you may be asked to choose windows prior to the completion of demolition. Although it may seem too early, your timely answer allows the foundation and framing to be adjusted to meet the exact window specifications and enough time for an order to be fulfilled by the supplier prior to the windows presence being required at the jobsite.

•  Route comments in the right direction. Your general contractor cannot control the reaction to your requests if he is not informed. For this reason, do not request directly of subcontractors or their employees on the job site that certain things be done or changes made. When you do so, not only may the appropriate adjustment in related materials, timing, or trades not be made, but you may be presented with a bill for such work that has not been correctly negotiated.

•  Help make everyone feel important. It goes without saying that people do a better job when they feel appreciated. When you visit the jobsite, take a few moments to say hello to the people crafting your new home. Consider learning some names and keep it up throughout the process, not just in the early stages. Trades people enjoy the idea that they are crafting a fine home for someone who cares rather than just another house.

•  Ensure that the bills are paid on time. No one in the construction industry operates in a bubble. Every tradesperson has a link to every other through some alternate means, and just as it does in the outside world, negative information travels fast in the construction world. When payments at the beginning of a project come substantially late or only with much trouble, the finishing trades will inevitably know before starting work. This may slow their arrival to the jobsite and their reaction to changes. Keep things moving by creating a reputation for yourself that trades on your job are paid on time every time.

•  Read and understand your contract. The details matter. Included in what is typically referred to as “The Fine Print” are things such as your allowanced amounts, finishes and fixtures included and not included, and the condition your new house is to be left in when construction is completed. Knowing what your contract says allows you to make intelligent requests and observations about construction and to hopefully not spend countless hours worrying over things already included.

•  Deal with family before construction. Everyone knows not to bring their work stresses and worries home. The same applies to construction. It is likely that this will be your first time building a custom home and many people start the process with the idea that it will also be the last. Add to that the stressful fact that everyone wants their new home to look in reality exactly like it does in their dreams yet their dreams appear with an indescribable amount of fuzz and you have a practical recipe for insomnia. Wipe away the worry by taking some time on a regular basis with family and friends when construction talk is not allowed, and be sure to follow other tips provided here.

• Deal with your problems as specifically required. The idea that you are building a dream home tends to make dealing with every issue that arises feel like an emergency. Before becoming alarmed step back and assess the issue at hand. Changing the style or size of a window days before an order is placed requires fast attention. Dealing with a change in room size as the concrete truck pulls up to the jobsite requires immediate action. A change in paint color though, especially when made after painting is completed does not necessarily require alarm and may only be worthy of a message or email. Give yourself a virtual break and your contractor and his employees their deserved time away from the jobsite by always taking a moment before acting on impulse. The added respect you will earn by dealing with things accordingly will greatly pay off in the long run.

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