The Hidden Build Process

Understanding the construction process will help owners manage their expectations and emotions.

Here’s a quick quiz...

It’s several months into a new custom build. The home is weather tight, plumbing and wiring have been roughed in, the insulation is in place, and drywall has been screwed to the walls and ceilings. The drywallers are sanding the seams in preparation for that first, shiny coat of paint. How do most homeowners feel?

The question illustrates a crucial issue. There are two things going on at each stage of a project: the actual construction and the homeowners’ perception and evolving feelings about it. Fortunately, most people react in predictable ways at predictable times, so an experienced builder will understand how to help their clients through the inevitable ups and downs. If the homeowners know what to expect, the emotional ride becomes easier and more enjoyable.

As construction begins, homeowners are typically very excited—and why shouldn’t they be? Preconstruction ups and downs involving plans, specs, and product choices are behind them. Their dream home is about to take shape!

Emotions tend to remain high as workers and machines dig the hole, form and pour the foundation, build the rough frame, and install windows, doors, siding, and roofing. How long this takes depends on the home but with some exceptions, such as weather delays, things moves fast with obvious progress nearly every day. Excitement and anticipation build as the home they have been imagining for years is finally rising from the ground!

That visible progress slows dramatically during the next phase of construction.

Once the shell is complete, the electricians, plumbers, and heating technicians descend on the house to rough in their systems. This is when a homeowner’s emotions can be tested. This phase of the project is inherently time-consuming. Plus, it can be drawn out by complex scheduling requirements of different subcontractors. Progress seems to come to a halt and excitement can quickly morph into anxiety. Will the home be done on time? What’s taking so long?

At this point, it helps to remember the importance of good lighting, plumbing, and heating to a home’s livability. Investing the time to do them right will pay off big later on.

We understand how challenging this phase of the project is for homeowners. This is the time when, as professional builders, we step up communication about the progress that is being made behind the scenes. We find that educated homeowners can better manage their emotions through the whole process, but especially as we get ready to move into the home stretch.

The last phase includes installation of trim, flooring, cabinets, and fixtures. Here, excitement begins to rise again as the finish line pulls into sight. By the time the keys are handed over, emotions will be at a point nearly equal to where they were at groundbreaking.

How best to navigate this emotional journey? How does one enjoy the highs and take the dips in stride? Awareness about the process goes a long way. Study the schedule and know what is going to happen and when. Think of the project as a story, and the schedule as the plot outline. A good builder will work with the homeowners to fill that outline with details that will help make the project a great experience and ensure a happy ending.

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Selecting a Builder