Building a new home or renovating an existing one is like stepping into the great unknown. With a builder as your guide, it’s a journey that could last many months, involve a great deal of money, and bring much stress to your life. The relationship you cultivate with your builder is crucial to the success of your project.
I spoke with several Abilene professionals who have years of experience in the home construction world. From builders to design consultants, each passed along valuable observations and best practices to put into place when building or renovating your home.
These ideas will help you develop a healthy working relationship with your builder and keep your project running smoothly.
Do Your Homework
Take a tip from the Boy Scouts and “be prepared” before selecting a builder and breaking ground. The more details you have nailed down, the better. Have you selected appliances? Do you know how many paint colors you’d like to use? Are you staining or painting cabinets? These types of details allow a builder to develop a more accurate budget. It will also communicate your expectations and vision.
“Have a full plan of what you want to do before starting any project,” said an Abilene- area home builder. “This way, the contractor and your sub-contractors will have a clear understanding of what they are doing.”
Scour magazines, search online sources like Pinterest, or take home tours in our area. Hone in on what you like and what you do not like and be ready to communicate that to your contractor.
If you find yourself overwhelmed, consider hiring a design professional who will help you navigate the journey of remodeling or building your new home.
“It’s okay if you aren’t a person who can visualize the finished product. Most people can’t,” said Paula Fiel, Design Consultant at Menke Carpet Warehouse. “If you don’t know what you like, find someone you trust to help you make decisions. Then trust them to lead the way.”
Contractors and home builders often suggest getting design professionals, interior designers or architects involved early, even before selecting a contractor.
“If you plan to have any design help, bring them in on day one from floor plans to furniture. Having a comprehensive game plan can save money and reduce frustration,” said interior designer Rebecca Gibbs owner of Rebecca Gibbs Design.
So Many Decisions
The number of decisions that must be made while building a home or during a renovation is incredible. Could you have imagined that some day you would have to consider the grout color in your laundry room?
When it’s time for decisions to be made, large or small, it’s important to develop paths of communication with your entire team.
“Know your builder,” says Ron Fogle, owner of Ron Fogle Construction. “The building process is a series of decisions and your builder and his team of associates should be willing to listen to your input and make it a priority in the planning and building process.”
And before you ask your friends, your family and your postman for their opinion of your entryway wallpaper selection, a word of caution: don’t. Too many voices lead to indecision. Seek advice from someone you trust and who understands your vision or the professional you hired.
“Be wise when seeking input from others,” said design consultant Paula Fiel. “You can be overwhelmed with too many opinions.”
That Scary Word-Budget
I can see it now. You walk into a showroom to make selections for your home project and you pick the most expensive item in the entire store! How does that always happen? (It’s your excellent taste of course).
Nothing will throw a wrench into the works quite like going over budget. However, things may not be as desperate as you feel when fighting those numbers. Oftentimes, there is a balance that can be struck within your budget.
“Unless you have an unlimited budget, learn the importance of splurge versus save,” says interior designer Rebecca Gibbs. “I like to splurge for inset cabinetry and then save on countertops. There isn’t an exact science to it, just keeping the balance.”
When making selections such as flooring, lighting, countertops or tile, work with professionals who are respectful of your budget.
“The selection process should start with your budget,” says design consultant Paula Fiel. “A professional will help you stay in budget and not just sell you anything. Going over budget shouldn’t be a surprise.”
Each of us has experienced the unprecedented breakdown in the world’s supply chain over the last three years. It will be no surprise that home building and renovating has not been immune. With factories shut down, labor shortages, transportation delays, price increases, and material shortages, it’s been a difficult few years.
“In the current climate, plan on projects taking longer than you anticipate,” said one Abilene-area contractor. “The cost of remodeling and construction is still high, so projects are going to be higher than you anticipate.”
There are a lot of moving parts to coordinate when building or renovating a home. Many factors are out of a contractor’s control.
“Nothing is perfect,” said builder Ron Fogle. “There will likely be unexpected events that come up – supplies may be on back order, weather could interfere, or you may decide on a few upgrades. Your builder should be honest and keep you informed along the way.”
Builders are in the business of combining dreams with hard work. Practice good communication, do your homework, ask each other lots of questions, and be respectful of situations that are out of everyone’s control. Together, you and your builder can make your dreams a reality.
By Callie Harris
Photos By Shayli Anne Photography
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