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Construction Pitfalls: The Top 10 Reason Why Construction Projects Go Poorly

Building a home is a dream come true for many, but it's an increasingly complicated process that can go south in a hurry. Here are the top 10 most common pitfalls of home construction projects:

10 - Permit Issues: Beginning construction without a permit is often illegal and a quick way to get a stop work order that will really slow progress down. If it's obvious that you need a permit, don't think twice about it and go through the proper channels. They offer you some protection through pre-construction reviews and inspections throughout construction. They are also a great filter to help weed out bad contractors. Permits can be tedious and a pain to get in certain municipalities, but it's not that big of a deal if you hire a professional with experience who follows your municipality's instructions and responds to their requests quickly. In reality, permitting is often a scapegoat by some contractors for slow starts, but your building department is often not the problem.

Construction project frustrations

9 - Unrealistic Timeline: Building a home costs more and takes longer than you think. A good timeline will account for some down time, rework, and punchout that is bound to happen. It's better to have a longer projected timeline and get done early than the other way around. As a homeowner, what you don't want is to move your family into a rental house then have to move out to another temporary location because your home isn't quite done with construction.

8 - Scope Creep: Changes in project scope after construction has started are inevitable. It's important that your builder track these changes and equally as important for you as the homeowner to realize that scope changes can increase the overall cost and time to complete the project. An initial scope might meet the original budget, but that could change after scope gets added later on.

7 - Unforeseen Conditions: There will always be unforeseen costs that occur in construction projects; it's impossible to plan for and know everything. It's important that your builder account for the unexpected by adding some margin for it in your budget. It's also important for homeowners to not start a project with a maxed out budget because you will run into something throughout the process and will set yourself (and your builder) up for failure.

6 - Poor or No Contracts: Any major construction project needs a written contract between the buyers and builders. A good contract will be clear and fair to both parties. A great contract will be specific and include knowledge gained from issues in past projects by the builder.

5 - Incomplete or Unrealistic Budget: Budgeting is one of the most difficult parts of the budgeting process. Each house is, essentially, a prototype, and creating a budget for that prototype is a guess. Sure, there is some experience that will help, but think of the example of going to the grocery store. If someone asked you how long it would take you to make a trip to the grocery store, how close could you get? What if there's traffic? What if they moved an item and it took you a while to find it? What if there's a line at the checkout? You can see that even something as simple a grocery run is hard to accurately predict. So when it comes to something as complicated as a construction budget, it's best to aim higher and then aim a little higher because it's better to have a high budget and come in under than a low budget with numerous overruns.

4 - Inadequate Project Management: One of the values a builder should provide is skilled project management. While not every project will require manager onsite full time, there should be someone there regularly checking on materials, subcontractors, and doing quality control.

Construction Project Management

A good project manager can save time and money by catching problems before they arise. Poor project management could cause rework and schedule delays.

3 - Lack of Planning: Inadequate or improper planning can lead to a series of issues and additional costs down the road in your construction project. Too often clients (and even some builders) want to jump into a project head first without really ironing out the details. While you can't ever plan for everything, it's worth the time to try. Before ever breaking ground, homeowners and their builder should go through each aspect of the house to make selections and ensure everything is accounted for an in sync.

2 - Choosing the Cheapest Builder: While the most expensive builder doesn't guarantee you the best outcome, you can be sure that the cheapest builder will guarantee you the worst one. A house, and the process to build it, is not a commodity, so if your only qualifier on who builds your home is price, you will guarantee yourself disappointment and frustration.

1 - Poor Communication: By far, the biggest cause of building projects to go awry is poor communication by the builder and the homeowners. What are the expectations for the project on both sides? What is the industry standard vs builder standard vs homeowner expectation for each aspect of the project? What is most important to the homeowner: time, cost, or quality? When something goes wrong, is the situation communicated quickly and thoroughly (and hopefully presented with a potential solution or two). Construction projects today are too complicated to make assumptions and too much is at stake on both sides, so proper communication is paramount to a project's success.

A construction project can be an emotional roller coaster. They can be incredibly exciting when thinking about what your house could be and while picking out all of the pretty things that will go into it. However, they can also be incredibly stressful and frustrating at times, especially when the situations above come into play. Find a builder who is detail oriented and cares about the final outcome of your project to avoid these major pitfalls. Contact us to learn more.

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