It’s natural to have questions and changes when building a custom home. Prevent surprises and delays by getting answers from the top.
There are many things homeowners can do to keep their building project running smoothly. Number one is making timely product choices, but another key action is to direct all change requests and questions, no matter how small, to the builder or the builder’s representative (usually the project superintendent).
It can be tempting to ask workers to make small changes, but doing so can create stress and misunderstanding. For instance, a homeowner may ask an electrician to move the junction box for a wall sconce a few inches to one side. Simple, right? Perhaps, but the electrician will have to ask the framing carpenter to add blocking at the new location, or to move a wall stud that’s now in the way.
The problem is not the change itself but the fact that the costs involved in the change have not been discussed between the contractor and homeowner. The homeower may be surprised to find out just how much it could cost and not realize it as an extra charge.
Another example are homeowners who work with an architect or interior designer to make selections, but don’t consult the contractor regarding costs, work involved and delivery schedules. Costs could be more than budgeted, may require extra work and if there is a long lead time for delivery it can affect the entire job and budget.
Going directly to the builder with each change request ensures that the homeowners learn the cost ahead of time, so they can decide whether that cost is worth it.
So it is clear why change orders should go to the top, but why can’t the homeowner just ask tradespeople informational questions?
The answer is that these trade contractors may not have all the facts. Say the homeowner wants a different type of showerhead, but before approaching the builder casually asks the plumber how much that model usually costs. The plumber may give a ballpark cost without knowing all the other variables, creating an unrealistic expectation in the homeowner’s mind. It’s best to go to the builder, who will contact the supplier (or send the homeowner to the plumbing showroom) and then apply all other necessary costs involved.
The point is that, on well-run jobs, workers and trades defer to the builder. In fact, most tradespeople prefer not to be asked a lot of questions because it puts them in an awkward position: they want to be polite to the homeowners and provide good service, but they also work for the builder and are committed to following the builder’s policies.
A custom home has a lot of moving parts and keeping them all moving in the same direction is easier with one person at the wheel. That’s why it’s crucial to use the builder as the primary contact. Doing so ensures a happier experience for everyone.