The Custom Build Process
During the design process there are many elements considered, sometimes hundreds of elements. Try not to lose track of those elements with the help of your architect/designer and builder. Make notes on your copy of the plans and keep a file with notes and pictures or brochures of elements you like. As an example, you will usually do an electrical walk-through after the framing is complete and before the electrician starts wiring for outlets, lights and switches. The more thoroughly you examine and think through your lighting and power plans during design, the better prepared you will be when it is time for the electrical walk. I always tell people when designing the lighting to look at the plan room-by-room, thinking about what your traffic patterns will be to locate switches, and how you will live in each room to determine where the outlets and lighting should be.
Once the plans are completed and permitted, and a builder has been chosen, the fun starts and construction begins.
You should know how long the construction of your home is going to take. The builder should give you that time frame, and either give you a schedule or give you a periodic update of where they are in the building process. I give the client a copy of the construction schedule and any updates to it as the building progresses.
Before clearing the building pad have the surveyor stake corners of the house so you can confirm orientation. Also, walk the clearing area with the builder to ensure agreement on plants being salvaged, if they are to remain in place and protected, or where they will be transplanted temporarily or permanently.
It is important that you receive deadlines for selections that you need to make at the start of construction. Sometimes the selections are near the beginning of the process, like electrical outlets and any HVAC ducting located in the floor as well as plumbing valves for tubs, showers and faucets that will go in the walls. Typically cabinets, counter top thicknesses, and appliances need to be selected by the time the wall and roof framing is finished so the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical trades can have the specifications and shop drawings to accurately install everything in the walls and ceilings that will be trimmed or attached to at the finish end.
Visit the construction site as often as you can. The more discerning eyes there are looking at progress, the better the finished product will be. You may have questions or concerns along the way; you should get easy-to- understand and straight forward answers from your builder. If you live out of town and cannot visit the site, make sure the builder sends you pictures and schedule updates on a regular basis. When I have an out of town client I send this information weekly.
Upon completion of the project, take the time to do an orientation of the home with the builder. All the systems should be explained to you so you know how everything works. Make sure you receive all appliance and fixture documentation, organized so you can easily find the information when you need it.
There is enough information about the custom building process missing here to fill an encyclopedia, but if you assimilate most of this information you will have a good, basic understanding of what happens and why. Choosing a reputable builder will make the custom building process a satisfying experience.