Building or remodeling a home can be very stressful. You will be confronted with questions and scenarios that are unfamiliar. You may even find the process intimidating. However, you can take certain steps to cope with the stress and uncertainty of construction.
The first step to handling construction is realizing there will be mistakes. The sooner a homeowner realizes this, the better they will be able to handle unexpected events. A contractor may order the wrong product and begin installing it. Your home plans might list 9" ceilings in the basement, but the foundation contractor poured them six inches too short. These are just a few of the many things that can go wrong when constructing a home. Some of these mistakes can be avoided by double and triple checking materials before they are ordered. Try to be on site when major phases are started – like pouring the foundation – so that if an error occurs, you can rectify it on the spot. While mistakes cannot be avoided, you can minimize their effects by being thorough in preparation.
A common stress when building is dealing with contractors. If you are building a home, you may have 10-15 contractors working on your project over the course of construction. Some will be great and need little guidance while others will be a constant thorn in your side! So, how do you avoid stress when dealing with contractors? Make sure you review their bids and fully understand what they are quoting. You may assume the contractor is supplying the correct materials – but in fact, he may be quoting a “standard” product. You might show up during construction only to find the plumbing fixtures he installed are hideous! When you approach him, he will point back to his bid where he listed the make and model of all the plumbing fixtures. If you signed the contract, you approved the materials and there is not much ground to stand on. This can turn into a situation where you want them replaced and he offers to do it – for an additional fee. This example shows how a simple oversight on the bid can lead to a larger problem. Take the necessary time to review the bid and you can avoid a host of problems.
Another point of contention with contractors is paying them on time. If you are working with a General Contractor (GC), he will have a group of subcontractors performing the work. The GC will give you a bill prior to his payroll date. If you do not pay the bill on time, not only will you upset the GC, but also his workers. They may even walk off the job until you pay them! Time is money in construction, so keeping the process moving will save you money. Pay contractors on time and they will keep the work progressing. If you do not pay them on time, you risk work stopping and in the worst case scenario, a mechanic’s lien on your property (never a good thing).
As with any new experience, you will be unfamiliar with certain terms, processes and materials. This is quite common and in the large picture, makes the project fun! But if you do not understand something, investigate the matter. Ask friends, relatives, and others for their insights. The Internet can also be a great avenue for learning more about products and techniques. Many decisions - which seem small in nature – can affect the finished product of your home. For example, windows may seem simple, but can be quite complex. You may ask your builder to supply the windows, only to find out once they are installed, they do not flow with the home's architecture. The type of window (slider, single hung, double hung, casement and awing) coupled with choices like grids and color, can offer endless possibilities. But, with these possibilities comes ample opportunity for mistakes. By visiting window showrooms, viewing the product on manufacturer websites, and looking at the windows on other homes, you can avoid these mishaps. The answers to your questions are out there - you just need to take the time to investigate them.
Building or remodeling a home is never easy, but the rewards can be beneficial (emotionally and financially). If this is your first project, be prepared for unexpected events and questions about unfamiliar topics. A wealth of knowledge is available through people who have gone through similar projects - ask them for pointers. The Internet can be a valuable resource for learning more about products, mistakes, building techniques, etc. If you use all the resources at your disposal, you can plow through speed bumps to a successful construction project!