It's True - You Get What You Pay For
Your home is most likely the biggest financial investment that you will make, especially in the Washington, DC area. If you are planning to build a new custom home or remodel your existing one, getting the most for your money is foremost in your mind. But, hiring a builder based on cost alone can be a big mistake. The cliche "you get what you pay for" is very accurate when it comes to home construction.
The Benefits Of Hiring A Collaborative Team From The Start
At Meridian Homes, we advocate for a collaborative approach to home building. This philosophy, called design-build, allows for the homebuilder, architect, and interior designer to be involved in a project from the beginning. A custom home or remodeling project has the highest likelihood of success when the client and all three of these professionals work together to achieve the same vision. Without pricing driven by exacting specifications provided by an experienced homebuilder at the client's direction, the members of the team could be unintentionally working at odds. The architect could create plans that cannot be built within the client's stated budget, or the interior designer could overspend when making selections as a percentage of the client's budget. It really takes a cohesive team to create a custom or remodeled home that is completed on time, within budget, and to the client's specifications.
Unfortunately, significant problems can occur in situation where architectural plans are developed and then sent out for bids. When homebuilders are asked to prepare bids for a set of plans when they were not involved in the initial planning and design meetings, it can be very difficult to accurately estimate the true cost for materials and construction. What are the specifications and what level of finishes should the builder assume the client wants? For instance, should the homebuilder provide an estimate for in-stock, ready-to-install cabinets or fully custom cabinetry for the kitchen and bathrooms? Will the interior doors be hollow-core or solid wood? Should the builder include pricing for energy-efficient, triple-pane wood-clad windows or less expensive vinyl windows? What type of HVAC system will be used? Inexact specifications can lead to a homebuilder presenting an estimate that is too-high, too-low, inaccurate, or confusing because the necessary detailed information to provide correct pricing was not provided. Keep in mind that in a competitive bid situation, some homebuilders cut costs to be awarded a contract. That means lower quality materials may be used, and less experienced construction crews and sub-contractors may be hired to build your home.
Added Value That You Should Expect From Your Homebuilder
Building a new home or remodeling your existing home can be an overwhelming undertaking. Working with a homebuilder who will be a trustworthy and reliable partner throughout your project is tremendously valuable. That kind of intangible value isn't always evident when evaluating homebuilders based only on price. When assessing true overall value versus cost only, consider the following:
1. Communication and Collaboration
There is value in hiring a contractor who takes pride in not simply building a home, but also building strong relationships with his or her clients. Any construction project should be a collaborative effort. A homebuilder should ask you a lot of questions about what you envision for your new custom home or renovation so that he or she fully understands the scope of work. More importantly, he or she should listen to you intently. Of course, you should feel comfortable talking to your homebuilder and asking questions of your own. In other words, two-way communication is key to a successful outcome.
2. Client Education
A homebuilder should want to educate his or her clients about the design and construction process, and should explain in detail how their company manages that process from start to finish. It is also incumbent upon the homebuilder to set realistic expectations about a client's 'wish list' versus what the budget will allow before construction ever begins. Understanding cost implications of all decisions will allow a client to make informed choices from the start.
Only when you finalize all of the details of the overall design and select all of the finishes can your homebuilder give you a truly transparent final price. If the homebuilder does not know what materials you intend to choose for your kitchen, for instance, then he or she has no way to estimate those costs. That's why you should be skeptical of bids from homebuilders who have not asked you highly detailed questions about your project.
Your homebuilder should provide you with a timeline for the design and construction phases of your custom home or renovation project. Unless there are unforeseen circumstances, such as inclement weather, your project should proceed as expected. All selections should be made before construction begins so that adjustments can be made if, for example, your bathroom tile is back ordered for six months or it costs much more than originally expected. Planning ahead will allow your homebuilder and you to anticipate issues before they become problems, and that should be everyone's objective.
A dedicated project manager should be assigned to you. The project manager should have ongoing contact with you during every step of the construction process. You should receive timely answers to your questions. There should be scheduled on-site meetings where you can track the status of your project and collaborate with your project manager. In other words, you should expect an efficient management process so that you are fully informed all along the way. If your project is managed properly, it will be completed on time, within the budget and to your satisfaction.
Make sure that your homebuilder will provide you with a warranty on their work and a detailed review when your project is complete. Before you occupy your new or renovated home, your homebuilder should have a walk-through with you and note any follow-up work that needs to be done. The homebuilder should commit to a date when all follow-up work will be completed to meet your expectations. Ask if your homebuilder offers their clients aftercare services so that you know who to call if you need immediate repairs, maintenance or handyman work over time.
Use the checklist above to help you assess price versus value before you select a homebuilder. Rank what's most important to you. Then you can make an informed decision and hire the homebuilder who will create the home of your dreams while exceeding your expectations.
At Meridian Homes, we specialize in luxury remodeling and custom home building in the Washington, DC area. Our mission is to create exceptional residences that exceed expectations. Our highly personalized design process and careful management of every project have earned us a reputation over many years for outstanding client service and solid, beautiful craftsmanship. Contact us today to begin your custom home or remodeling project.