Helpful hints to the owner for a smoother, running small to medium size construction project

Written on 17 Apr 2016 by  / Published in Blog

Of course, from our point-of-view, finding a good Architect is the key to a successful construction project.  He/she will provide you with a thorough, well –conceived design.  They will also guide you towards a competent Contractor and a comprehensive contract.  These two professionals should be your advocates through the entire process.  Is there anything else that you may want to do during the build?  Here are a few tips to help your project run a bit smoother and save time and money in the long run:

Keep the site clear and open for the contractor and sub-contractors to work.

Provide the contractor with a clean area in which to work, with no furniture or storage bins to work around.  This includes an adequate area for staging of machinery, tools and materials.  Don’t make the trades people reach over and constantly move your materials around when they work.  This will just cost you money in the long run.

Ask questions.

If you are not sure of the process or not sure what is to be done next, ASK QUESTIONS.  The contractor will be happy to fill you in with more detail.  Don’t worry that you will look stupid.   I still ask subcontractors on the job-site what they are doing and why, especially if it is something I’ve not seen done before? They are usually happy to spend a minute to explain what they are doing and why.  And, I never buy a new tool without asking the subs questions and getting their opinion out at the job site.

Label anything you want to keep.

 I know a document exists someplace saying that you want to keep the three doors just to the left of the conference room, but the truth is that for a normal project there are over fifteen different subcontractors.  And, each subcontractor will have several employees.  The chances of having everyone reading that specific note is slim. Go through the space and label things that you intend to keep with big blue construction tape, or some other method.  Then, designate a place where you want to locate it after it has been removed.

Keep the construction area clean.

During a remodel, the contractor will protect their entrance with plastic in an effort to keep your space as clean as possible.  If you have another entrance, or if the contractor allows others to take a quick peak at the progress, you will want to prevent them from walking off with construction debris on their feet.  Lay down a carpet remnant near the entrance and keep it damp.  As you walk back over the scrap carpet, most of the construction dust will be left behind.

Photograph or videotape the electrical, plumbing, etc. in all the walls, ceilings and floors before the sheetrock goes up.

I found this very useful when building my own house.  Although the footage is not very stimulating, I have used it several times since.  No one can remember the details of where specific electrical wiring, or plumbing ductwork are located inside the walls.

If you are thinking of being the contractor yourself -- DON”T.  If you don’t heed this advice, at least do not apply a timeline to yourself. 

I do not suggest trying to build a building or even a home yourself.  It is way more work that you have ever anticipated.  I guarantee this!  If you do decide to do the unthinkable, whatever timeline you set for yourself, it is too short.  Try to remove the timeline goals you set for yourself during construction.

I DID the unthinkable and built my own home. Talk about stress!   I was always trying keep to a specific timeline.  It was very stressful, and to be honest, not at all rewarding.  I finally called my lender and we talked about extending my construction loan.   I still worked on the home every day -- for twenty months straight. But I did it at my own pace.  I took my time, did a better job, and it turned into a fun project again.

Stay ahead of the construction.

Again, this goes back to a good Contractor and Architect.  Have material decisions made well ahead of the construction process.  This also means that the ordering, manufacturing, and delivery time needs to be included in this formula.  It is so easy to put off these decisions and, many times, this is not in your favor.  You will either slow down the project, or be forced to make selections of less desirable items because of a quicker delivery time. 

Celebrate the start of Construction. 

It may sound trite, but go out to dinner, bring the staff, why not bring the contractor!  Celebrate the start of the project.  It is most likely a monumental moment in your life -- enjoy it.

When I was just graduating from college, I saw a man ordering a bottle of Dom Perignon.  Being from a small town, I asked him what he was celebrating.  His response was that he was an Architect and he just purchased his first office building.  He then proceeded to pour me a glass of the champagne.  This just goes to show you that Architects are not all bad, and asking questions works out in your favor many times.

If you have any other tips or tricks during a construction project, please comment on this article.

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