How to stay on schedule & on budget.

This article is my advice to anyone remodeling or building a custom home on how they can minimize being over budget and reduce schedule delays. Every project I have ever worked on has, and always will be, obsessively focused on getting the with strict budget & guidelines.

At a high level, the way to stay on budget and on schedule is:

  1. Don't obsess with getting started ASAP in order to get finished ASAP.
  2. Never shortcut the planning stage.
  3. Get the entire design build team onboard and on message.
  4. Create rendering to clarify your vision.

Let me flesh out some details around each of these issues.

The Finish Line

Too many projects start before many of the details are in place. In order to get finished, they always want to get started ASAP, or sooner. To quote my marketing person "If I wanted it tomorrow, I would ask for it tomorrow". 

A good Home Builder wants to finish a project as soon as possible and efficiently (on time/on budget). We do not get paid by the hour. I have the same goal that all my clients have, to finish the job on time. My biggest advice is to know where you are going before starting. You really need to have 80% of the planning in place (maybe more) before breaking ground. On a remodel, it is ok to start the demolition before all the planning is in place, but the build-out should wait until the plans are in place.

A premature start tends to create progress that later on turns into major change orders and time delays. I cannot tell you how many times we have installed plumbing or electrical multiple times because the plans were not complete, but we "got started!" I am never happy about these types of change orders because nobody is happy about re-working the project.

Planning

Be patient during the planning and design phase. Every dollar and hour spent during planning will keep a project closer to the schedule and budget.  I have seen clients short cut the design and budget phase on too many projects. It always bites them later on. A good architect will assemble a design and engineering team to detail out the project. The more details the better.

A simple example is a toilet. A really cool wall mount toilet creates a nice design that is easy to keep clean. However, a floor mount toilet is the defacto design for most projects and will be designed into a project by default. Making the decision to switch to a wall mount toilet after the MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing) design is finished, or worse yet, after rough plumbing is installed, and your costs will go up significantly. A standard floor mount toilet does not require: a tank in the wall, a deeper wall, or a structurally different wall. The result is the wall will be rebuilt, plumbing re-worked, and a substantial change order with time delays.

Another great example is lighting design. In this article I explained all the major benefits of good lighting design and how it will increase the value of a home. A lighting control system though will typically require all the lighting circuits to be home-run to an equipment closet. Home-running wire is not that much more expensive, unless you did not plan the lighting design and did traditional circuitry. Now all those wires need to be rerouted creating delays and cost overruns.

Spend the time planning and don't let it overwhelm you. A good team will help with decision making that will facilitate the design process.

Build the Team

You need to build your core team as soon as possible. This will include the Architect, Engineers, Interior Designer, Lighting Design, and Builder.

We all look at the project differently, but if one of us comes to the party late, then all the planning could be up for a revision, usually a major revision. These key players have to work tightly towards one clear goal: creating your dream home within your time and budget constraints. Make the process and experience a memory you’ll always cherish and a home you are completely proud of. 

Renderings & Virtual Reality

Conceptual renderings of a project are imperative. This will help the homeowner and everyone on the team to have a clear understanding of what is being built. With today's technology, it is easy to produce renderings and even do a Virtual Reality tour of the project BEFORE construction starts. A large commercial building project will automatically utilize BIM (Building Information Modeling) and I am starting to see some of this come into the high-end residential projects we do.

Sometimes these are just artist renderings that may not be buildable. A reality check needs to be made with the entire team to determine feasibility. Fixing the rendering and getting plans to produce the concept will save a significant amount of money and time.

Conclusion

Building your dream home needs to be a great experience. You should enjoy the process. Our team works very hard to make the construction phase of the project a great experience. If pre-construction planning is in-place, then your budget and timeline can usually be delivered. I strongly recommend creating the core team, fleshing out the plans, and clarify your vision.

Build your next home with us and enjoy the entire process.

Chris