Our homes are playgrounds, sacred spaces, places to rear families, sanctuaries to rest within, environments to work in, and structures with which to define ourselves, our lives and our purpose for being. When you are ready to build a multimillion-dollar new home or take on a massive renovation, with good planning, the experience should and can be transformational. Here are the common mistakes to avoid in order to facilitate a more easeful, predictable, organized and sane process for everyone involved.
#1: Not thoroughly investigating the home and/or site.
A pearl of wisdom from Bluestone owner and trained mechanical engineer, Kevin Reed: “It’s super important to do due diligence and investigate the home or site. Home inspectors do not cover this adequately.” Particularly with renovations, we recommend having a licensed engineer, architect and builder do what’s called exploratory work before getting started. This includes looking at the foundation, lot, walls, materials used, soil or sloping, etc. and applying expert knowledge of building regulations and engineering principles to determine the project’s unique considerations.
Recently, Bluestone worked on a five million dollar remodel project. When we arrived on-site to do an initial walkthrough, we noticed a lot of cracked concrete in the foundation. To begin investigating, we drilled down to examine and test the integrity of the footings. Then, we cut sections of concrete out and quickly realized there were major issues — the rebar was either not there or placed in locations that provided zero benefits from a stability perspective. We ended up having to tear out all the footings and rebuild them. We also found issues with the flashing and moisture barriers that would have led to the collapse of the home’s chimney and many other serious problems in the near future. The project wound up requiring triple the amount of repair work initially planned.
Thankfully, not every project is like that. The takeaway, here, is to adjust your expectations and prioritize the planning phase of your home build or renovation. Eventually, your vision will take shape and you can begin to relate to details that may feel more familiar, like flooring choices or kitchen design. But, your safety and the longevity of your home depend on you allowing for experts to lay a proper foundation, literally and metaphorically.
#2: Agonizing over the wrong details.
Falling in love with the idea of building or renovating a multimillion-dollar home is easy. When it comes time to executing the plans, sometimes things go sideways. Wait, what about adding a light switch near the corner? Can we move the sink in the guest bathroom to another side of the room? What if we added a skylight here? How about a storage closet, there? Wait, how long is it going to take?
When Bluestone is involved, we do everything in our power to ensure planning is thorough, communication is clear and extensive, and all parties are in agreement as to the project scope and duration. As a client, you have as much if not more power to affect the home building process. Do you want it to be as harmonious and enjoyable as possible? There are things you can do.
For starters, work with the architect to produce plans with a very high level of detail. Where do you want to sit and watch TV? Do you want to be able to look out the kitchen window when you prep, or when you wash dishes? How would you like to arrive at your home and what areas you might want to access first? Consider your lifestyle — how you live. Also, think about your neighbors and the location of your home. This goes for the final design (e.g. the impact a loft level might have on your neighbor’s view) as well as for the building process (e.g. noise, machinery and traffic needed for extensive digging or drilling).
Some architects are now using virtual reality and other advanced technologies to model designs in ways that feel much more lifelike and can help you spot design issues before getting to the building phase when making changes becomes more logistically demanding. We can help you anticipate and mitigate challenges in your design or build by finding the right design team in the beginning.
#3: Going over budget.
As you might guess, this is likely to happen as a result of making of the aforementioned mistakes. But we’ve seen projects that are well planned that still go over budget. What’s the culprit? Usually, continuously adding, adding, adding. An extra patio, another set of windows, a second kitchen island, and so on.
Of course, our priority is crafting your vision. We understand that developing that vision can take time. It’s why we suggest beginning the home building or renovation process with getting inspired. What do you like? What things make a house feel like a home, to you? What do you want to see in your home that you would regret if you didn’t budget for? Get clear on these things before putting the project into motion, and you can save a lot of time and money.
Food for thought
If you were to do nothing else, there is one thing Bluestone owner, Kevin Reed suggests: decide if price or quality is more important. We’re all on the hunt for the best quality and affordable prices — this is economics and human nature — but when one aspect has to win out, which one will it be? You will have to choose, so put time and energy toward realistically answering this question for yourself before starting a home build or renovation.
As part of your project, you’ll need to choose a builder. This question will be relevant.Will you choose a builder based on price or quality? Builders that offer low prices do so for a multitude of reasons, all of which we can’t explain. What we do know, as a premier builder, is that there are several reasons to go with a builder that prioritizes quality over price:
- Better service — You get a more seamless process that’s better managed. You also get a team that takes the time to answer your questions, shares more information and involves you in key decisions. For example, we offer monthly budget reviews, weekly status reports, and daily progress photos during the construction phase.
- Higher quality — You get things built the right way, the first time, no questions asked and no worrying required. In sum, your home will look and perform better.
- Don’t just disappear when the job is done — There are cheaper builders that finish the job, pack up and run. You move in and come to find things left unfinished or poorly done, and somehow the builder can’t seem to answer your phone calls. In our opinion, this is unthinkable. Our relationships with our clients are paramount. And, homes last a long time and require maintenance. We provide a three-year warranty on any home we build. We also offer ongoing maintenance, because having your home cared for by the same hands that built it makes a huge difference.
We always recommend starting your design process with a qualified builder. Bluestone works with all the best architects and designers in the area because we appreciate building from thoroughly detailed plans. We want to know dimensions on every last outlet and light switch. This level of accuracy results in less surprises and happier clients. Architects and designers often have style specialties, though they will take on clients that may be better suited for a different designer. But, a builder’s first priority is keeping you happy; we are on the ground with you, actually building walls. It is in our best interest to recommend a design team that will deliver the finest version of your vision.