How involved should you be in your new home build?
There are different approaches to take when managing the build of your new home. Some owners manage the process themselves, while most prefer to appoint a professional home builder. A contractor will manage each step of the project and ensure a trained eye oversees the workmanship and quality.
Most building contracts have three key parties involved. The Owner, The Contractor and The Principal Agent. To clarify the role each plays, here are some definitions.
You Role in Your New Home Build
If the principal-agent is managing the contractor, and the contractor is managing the building process, what do you need to do?
Although we recommend you stay as involved as possible, your responsibilities are short and sweet. Your role is to provide the contractor with the right information and decisions at the right time. The more you stay involved and aware of project progress, the easier it is for this to happen. With the right information at the right time, your contractor stays in control and your project will run smoothly. Your contractor should give you weekly progress updates and requesting feedback as needed. You will need to stay in communication with them.
Communication is key to the success of any project. We encourage you to be in daily communication with us, asking questions and providing feedback as and where needed. We do not make assumptions when quoting or building. If anything is unclear during the quoting or building phase, we will clarify before proceeding. To avoid delays and confusion, it is best to reply to concerns sooner rather than later. We will call for a site inspection or meeting with you to ensure there are no misunderstood aspects of the project if needed.
Give us as much detail as possible. This helps form a more accurate costing of the project. For example, if you already know what finishes you would like, we can get precise quotes from suppliers. This will give a clearer indication of the project cost.
To make communication easier, we create a WhatsApp group between relevant stakeholders. This helps get important information to each party daily. Keeping everyone aware of what we need and what is happening on site.
Another aspect you should stay involved in is project site meetings. These meetings are important for you to see what is happening on site and get a feel for the house. Here we will ask for your input and decisions if needed. All decision-makers (both partners if needed) should attend meetings to avoid delays or confusion. We invite various stakeholders to attend each meeting, based on each phase of the build. For example, when we are nearing the end of laying all brickwork, the roofing engineer will attend to receive updates on what they need to provide and when. As mentioned in our Site Meetings article, we minute all our site meetings and distribute them for record purposes.
Each new home build involves a series of steps which result in a completed home. These steps form a schedule explaining what each stage involves and what is to come. As the owner, you will receive a copy of this project schedule. Our schedules detail what decisions you need to be making at each stage. From paint colours to tiles and kitchen designs, we set each decision for a specific time in the project. This allows for production and delivery before we need each item on site. To optimise on time and avoid frustration, it is best to follow the schedule according to the project path.
Do not rush to buy front door handles when it is time to decide on the aluminium colour of your windows.
Each decision is a small step towards the bigger picture. To keep the project moving, provide feedback and a decision as soon as you can. Each delayed decision creates a knock-on effect which will affect the project later.
Your final responsibility is project payments. If you have any concerns about your monthly invoice, query and settle it as soon as you can. Where possible, try to avoid withholding payment unnecessarily. Your project schedule has a purpose, so any payment delays will affect manufacturing and delivery times. Unnecessary delays in payment can also result in site-closure. A reputable contractor will manage their finances and project schedule well. Invoicing what is necessary at each stage and not ‘take you for a ride’.
Above all, maintain a professional and pleasant relationship with your contractor. If you did your due diligence when choosing a contractor, you should be comfortable enough to talk to them and confront any situations that arise and resolve them amicably. Read our article How do I Choose the Right Builder for tips to make sure you choose the right one.
A smooth-running project is not void of challenges or changes, but it keeps the owner at ease while progressing toward completion. A smooth project results from open communication and active client involvement.