Expectations When Building a Custom Home

Mueller Homes meeting with custom home building clients in Maryland

Expectations When Building a Custom Home

When you’re building a custom home, expectations may be high.  Expectations are defined as, “a belief that someone will or should achieve something.”  But, it is sometimes hard to achieve those expectations if they aren’t clearly defined.  That is why it is important for you and your builder to have a heart to heart conversation about your expectations and, as with any long-term relationship, be willing to meet in the middle when necessary.  After all, we all have different personality types and ways in which we communicate.  So, it’s important for both the builder and client to understand each other’s expectations and adjust accordingly.  This is not always easy.

Identifying & Managing Expectations

A few years back, we worked with a businessman who owned a large Accounting firm.  His background and personality style was extremely detail oriented, data-driven, and precise.  That is obviously what made him a very successful accountant. We recognized that he would enjoy the data and details surrounding the building process, but we also knew that the fluid, sometimes unpredictable process of building a home, could be challenging.  You see, in his business, there were no flexible timelines.  His expectation for  precision was what made him a great accountant, but not necessarily realistic, when it comes to building a home.  So, we discussed the scenarios that would impact the proposed construction schedule, such as permitting, weather, and other factors.  These conversations were important to identify and manage his expectations.

The construction process began, and we provided detailed reports at each meeting, specifically about the budget and finances, which met his expectations wonderfully.  Things were going well until winter came and foul weather really impacted the schedule and progress – something totally beyond our control.  We adjusted the project timelines and of course, the expectations had to be reset.  These changes were challenging because he just wasn’t accustomed to working in that kind of environment.  Eventually, we got through the winter and, even though the construction schedule shifted a number of times, the construction was completed in a timely manner.  But it was important that we had anticipated these challenges and worked to manage his expectations, weekly.  Once he realized that we were doing all we could, his anxiety eased and the overall experience was a good one.  This story illustrates the need for identifying expectations and clear communication throughout the construction process, between the builder and the client.

Excellence or Perfection?

Another great way to establish client expectations is to take a tour of a previously built home and discuss the construction methods, finishes, craftsmanship, efficiencies, and other details.  If the home meets your expectations, great!  If you want or expect something more, that’s fine too but there should be a clear discussion to understand and manage expectations up front.

It’s also worth noting that when we talk about expectations, we are operating under the assumption that when you build a luxury custom home, a high level of quality is expected.  But, to further manage expectations, we really need to address the difference between excellence and perfection.

There are a number of different explanations for excellence vs. perfection.  Let’s look at the definitions of each to understand better:

Excellence:      the quality of being outstanding or extremely good

Perfection:       the action or process of improving something until it is faultless

“People” build homes and “people” are not perfect or faultless.  So, it’s important to understand expectations and the difference between a perfect home and a home built with excellence.  Vince Lombardi said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”  That perfectly sums up our belief and approach to custom luxury home building.  Make sure that you and your builder are aligned with regard to your expectations and that those expectations are humanly possible to achieve. This will add to your overall experience, especially if you are working with a builder who strives for excellence while managing your expectations for perfection.

This article is an excerpt from our book:  Designing & Building Your Custom Dream Home: How to Create an Experience You’ll Love to Remember.”  If you are thinking about building your once-in-a-lifetime custom luxury home, be sure to download our FREE ebook: or visit our website at MuellerHomes.com to schedule a consultation.

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