When you begin the journey of building a custom home, it can be an exciting process! After all, for many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and an opportunity to create a true work of art that is customized to meet your needs. As you begin the process, you should work with an architect or builder to create detailed design specifications. It is virtually impossible to compare apples to apples or stay within a budget when specifications have not been clearly outlined.
Vague specifications leave a lot of room for interpretation, cost variation, and substitution (often with lower quality products). Whether you’re working with an architect, or directly with the builder, it is critical to have detailed specifications so that you have a clear understanding of exactly what type of quality, materials, and finishes you will have in your home. This process requires considerable time and resources but saves the homeowner, the builder and the architect from uncertainty and confusion. You will likely pay either the architect or the builder a design fee to prepare a detailed list of specifications. This is money well spent, regardless of the builder you choose. Here is an example to illustrate why specifications are so important.
One small example that can cause variables in pricing is a relatively simple matter, like selecting the paint for your home. Now, it may or may not matter to you which quality of paint you select. That decision is yours alone and your builder, architect or interior designer can help guide you as to the pros/cons of this decision. However, by not selecting the paint, you are opening yourself up to apples/oranges bids or quotes. For example, one builder may price in a standard ‘builder grade’ paint whereas another builder may select higher-end quality paint. Sherwin Williams Emerald series, which is a high-end finish selected by many interior designers, may cost $55/gallon while Sherwin Williams Pro-Coat may cost as little as $15/gallon. As with most materials, the larger the home, the more the cost differential. The homeowner may or may not have a preference, but the differences between specifications should be carefully reviewed and discussed as part of the budgeting process. A quality custom luxury home builder typically recommends products that are consistent with the type of home they are building. Again, there is no right or wrong selection, but the specification needs to be clear so that you are comparing apples to apples. These small decisions and choices start to create vast price differences between one quote and another and you don’t want to sacrifice your selections, without knowing that you are making that choice. Vague specifications allow the builder to choose, versus you.
On the other hand, it takes considerable time and effort for a builder to provide you a thoroughly prepared estimate with detailed specifications. This is why many builders charge a design fee to create detailed specifications. An architect may also be used to facilitate this process, but again a design fee will likely be charged, as the time and effort are not insignificant. However, this design fee is completely irrelevant when it helps you ensure that you are comparing apples to apples and assuring that you are not sacrificing quality without a conscious decision to do so. If your builder’s bid is overly general, buyer beware. Get detailed specifications for your custom home building project and you’ll have a better overall experience.
We provide a real life example of how one couple learned the importance of detailed vs. vague specifications. Download a copy of our FREE ebook: “Designing & Building Your Custom Dream Home: How to Create an Experience You’ll Love to Remember” and read the story of Michelle and Brian on page 37. This story shows why detailed custom home building specifications are so important.
Ready to get started? Contact Mueller Homes today, and let’s talk!