The Bob Project: Advice for New Home Builders

The Bob Project series began earlier today on Sweet Peach, which will follow my friend Bob through his experience of overseeing the design and build of a new home that he seeks to be stylish, functional and energy efficient. Through his experience thus far, Bob has some excellent advice for new home builders. In his own words: 

1. DEFINE YOUR GOALS. The architect and contractor should clearly understand why you are taking on this expensive and complicated endeavor. For example, I wanted to reduce my overall monthly operating costs with a design and personality that reflected me. During the discover process, the architect and I got off track in the excitement with a blank canvas. When I went back and reviewed my original goals, I discovered we were off and quickly got ourselves back on track. 

2. GET BIDS. I just didn't 'pick' a contractor. I had four recommends. I selected three and they each bid out the project with several rounds of proposal. And it wasn't just about money. For about 8 months, I will be working very closely with the contractor so the personality fit was pretty important.

3. FIND ALTERNATIVES. Contractors and their subcontractors are very experienced and will work with you to find other options that what the architect or yourself might originally spec'd. For example: The interior doors- what I wanted was way over budget. I explained to the contractor why I liked them and he created an alternative by simply taking a standard door and adding a detail on it.  

4. HIRE AN INTERIOR DESIGNER THAT KNOWS HOME CONSTRUCTION. If you do this, it will drop your stress level down. He or she will organize all the details and be able to properly communicate to the contractor and his sub contractors effectively. 

5. BE AVAILABLE. You want to get the project done. I think one of the reasons the project is going so well is I fortunately have the time to meet with the contractor often and take his calls anytime. Instead of days of back and forth phone calls or emails, we are able to resolve any issues within hours. 

6. SHOP ONLINE. Online is a great resource for fixtures and appliances. I was able to find some amazing pricing online and depending where you buy, there can be no taxes and free shipping. I even shared my findings with the contractor and allowed him to beat the price.

7. KNOW THE SUN. Where does the sun rise and set? I learned from previous homes that the sun plays a pretty important role on how you utilize your house. Decks, porches and patios- the layout of the home should take into consideration how the sun travels throughout the day. 

8. BE INVOLVED. Visit the construction site as often as possible. Ask TONS of questions. If it doesn't look right or you don't understand something, never assume, ask. I even met with the HVAC installers and they walked me through the entire install and answered every novice question I had about how the system works. People assume the contractor has every detail in his head but it's always good to have a second set of eyes every step of the way and to know as much as you possibly can. Always remember one thing: It's your house, It's your investment.


Illustrations: Leah Giberson   Content: Bob Conquest