Most people will only have the pleasure (or misfortune) of constructing one or two homes throughout their entire life. This infrequency prevents people from clearly seeing or understanding what is happening on their own project. Most rely on a builder for proper coordination and arguably that is what you are paying them to do. I’m sure your builder is “different” but in most cases the builder is stretched too thin to pay particular attention to the following small details. I want to help you avoid the uncomfortable conversation of who will be paying to make requisite changes. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list but just a few bullet points to consider.
Drawing Coordination - Just a heads up, most architects do not coordinate the construction drawings with the structural engineer’s drawings. In other words, no one is telling you that there is a massive support beam that runs down the center of your room and you are going to have to drop your ceiling or have an unsightly soffit running down the center of your living space.
*Ask your builder to review this with you BEFORE you start framing so you can communicate your expectations clearly and can mutually understand any limitations
Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing Coordination - Most blueprints do not contain enough information for effective sub trade coordination. More than likely your plans will have a lighting diagram and couple pages with illustrations of sinks and toilets. It is probably also missing information regarding mechanical duct routing….all of this leads to one big coordination nightmare. If your builder isn’t Johnny on the spot and your not paying attention, bad decisions will be made on the fly by subcontractors that do not have your best interest in mind.
*During framing lay your light fixture (centers) locations out on the floor and instruct the framer to be mindful of these locations as he is suspending trusses. i.e. You don’t want your lights to be off center in a hallway.
*Have the mechanical contractor review his ducting layout with you before installation…he doesn’t care where your light fixtures are either :)
* Make sure your plumber also knows where your lighting fixtures will be installed so that you don’t get a waste or vent line running down the same chase as your fixture
Electrical - looks good on paper but when it comes to the actual installation there are going to be some hiccups. For example, when the framer is putting a wall together he is not mindful of lighting and switch locations. Racks of studs, joists or trusses may prevent you from putting a switch or fixture in your preferred location.
Furniture Plan - Have you supplied your builder with a furniture plan? Simple layouts can help you builder make sure that convenience outlets are located in the right spot.
Elevations - More specifically inside to outside transitions. On more than one occasion a builder has poured a garage slab toooooo low. In their minds, the fix is simple, they will just build a bigger set of stairs…until your car doesn’t fit in the garage.
*Review porch, patio, basement and garage transitions BEFORE the concrete is poured. If there isn’t a detailed plan, make one and clearly define your expectations.
Really this boils down to clearly defined (written) and communicated expectations. Don’t get caught up in thinking that just because a builder has constructed 200 homes that he will make the right decisions for you. I have seen many a project result in litigation because a “good” builder dropped the ball. It’s up to you to ensure that you are getting the product you are paying for.