Save Time and Money on the Design of Your Custom Home

building a custom home within your budget

Save Time and Money on the Design of Your Custom Home

If the headline of this article intrigued you, you are no doubt cost-conscious as you begin the design phase of your custom home building process.  It is certainly wise to be aware of the costs involved when building a custom home.  However, there are a number of ways you can actually increase and/or influence the design costs, based on your role in the design process.  Some of these ideas are also elaborated on, in previous articles.  In this article, we are going to focus on your role, as the homeowner, and how you can save time and money on the design of your custom home.  Conversely, we’ll also show you how you can actually increase costs by trying to save money.

The Initial Design Concepts

Before you sit down with an architect, get your builder involved.  You want your design concepts to be aligned with your budget and your builder is the party primarily responsible for ensuring that is the case.  Far too often, a client comes to us with designs in hand only to realize that their beautiful architectural drawings are far more than the budget they have in mind.  While your architect can be a valuable guide, true builder and architect collaboration is the only way to ensure your designs and budget are aligned.  Having the builder and architect collaborate, during the design phase, will also save you a lot of time and money when value-engineering.

The Selection Process

As we have discussed in a previous article, it’s important to have your family discuss your wants and needs ahead of time, so that when you meet with your builder and architect, you have a pretty clear idea of what you must have and also what you’re willing to compromise on, based on your budget parameters.  Our checklists can assist with this part of the process.   The selection of materials, finishes, and features can be overwhelming, so it’s also a good idea to utilize your builder concierge to assist you with selections or scheduling showroom appointments.  If your builder doesn’t have a concierge, you may want to consider hiring an interior designer for this part of the process.  If your selections are performed according to the construction schedule, you’ll save time and money on the design of your custom home by avoiding costly delays.

A Bad Example

Often, as the design process begins, it’s common for a homeowner to see a product on-line and think, “I can get that product myself.”  While that may seem easier, it is not typically an approach that ends well.  We often refer to this as stepping over dollars to save pennies.  In the long run, this approach is going to cost you a lot more than it’s going to save you.  Here’s a bad example that you can learn from.

Many years ago, Terry and Bill met with us to review their plans and sign the construction contract. Terry had lots of questions about the costs of the selections included in our estimate. She felt that she could buy products online at a fraction of the cost, thereby saving significant money. We explained that while there may be some savings, there would be inherent problems with this approach. Two significant issues are:

  • First and foremost, no builder can warranty products that they do not sell. For example, if a light fixture is ordered online, there may be unique electrical or mechanical requirements.  In addition, the builder has no ability to repair or replace the product if it is defective or stops working a month after construction is completed.
  • It’s also important to remember that a builder has a finely tuned construction schedule to help keep the project on-time and on-budget. If a customer-ordered product doesn’t arrive on time, this can create a domino effect on the schedule and the overall labor expense.

Terry was determined to move forward with this approach, and despite our best judgement at that time, we hesitantly agreed. As the project progressed, Terry found the selection process to be overwhelming.  She struggled with almost every decision and was unable to make selections in a timely manner in accordance with the construction schedule.   We suggested that perhaps a designer could assist her in expediting the process, but she wanted to ‘save money’ and choose her own products on line.

The logistical concerns soon became a nightmare.  For example, when the construction schedule called for installation of the fixtures in the bathrooms, the products Terry chose were back-ordered, delayed, or in some cases, not in working order. Because the plumbing fixtures were not onsite, and couldn’t be installed, the tile work was delayed.  The plumber had to make multiple visits to the job site, costing additional time and money. Since the tile work was delayed, the glass and flooring couldn’t be installed and the domino effect continued.

This process pushed the entire schedule back 8 weeks– which required them to extend their construction loan, which ultimately cost them far more than whatever savings she had anticipated.

Needless to say, this experience taught us a few valuable lessons that we incorporated into our business.  First, specification selections must be made upfront and in accordance with an agreed-upon timeline. Second, we provide all the materials, so that we can work with our suppliers to ensure timely delivery and quality assurance. Third, after this experience, we implemented our complimentary Client Concierge process to help our clients with the selection process, which greatly enhanced the overall customer experience.

Save Time and Money

It is experiences like this that have helped us refine our design process, over the past 30 years.  It is also experiences like this that have taught us the valuable lessons of saving a few pennies here and there can ultimately cost a lot more in the long run.  While you may want to save time and money on the design of your custom home, it’s important to work with a trusted partner who can guide you along the way.  We have found the best way to saving time and money on the design of your custom home is to utilize a client concierge or an interior designer to assist with the selection process.

If you want to be fully educated on the design process for building a custom home, be sure to read our ebook: “Designing & Building Your Custom Dream Home: How to Create an Experience You’ll Love to Remember.”

If you are ready to get started, Contact Mueller Homes today, and let’s talk!

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