Lessons From a Construction Zone
1. Get multiple bids. Even if you don't choose the lower-priced bids, you can learn from them. Meet with the subcontractors as they may share invaluable insights. Don't only use subcontractors recommended by your general contractor.
2. Small savings add up. Don't belittle the small items. Yes, dig deep into the big items, but don't ignore the small stuff.
3. Keep detailed, accurate accounting of ALL spending.
4. Allow for some unknown expenses and budget for them.
5. Be prepared to make some sacrifices. You won't get everything you want. No-one does!
6. Breathe deeply and regularly. The stress of building - aside from the enormous costs - requires self-management.
7. Labor is a big part of costs: but materials matter too and switching to something different can help you get closer to budget. Be flexible.
8. An investment in insulation is a wise long-term investment: the more the merrier. A tight envelope, aside from quality windows, can achieve enormous long-term energy savings.
9. Think future needs around functionality: more extreme weather patterns require engineering to withstand exposure to the elements.
10. While buying the of-the-moment fixtures and finishes is fine for the very wealthy, be prepared to see them fade in style if they are too fashionable. Look to design cues from 10 years ago that still look current to know what might still look good 10 years from now.
11. Extensive millwork is extremely expensive: could furniture achieve the same look? The furniture you can take with you if you move......?
12. Set aside a budget for landscaping. New homes without good landscaping can look rather awful. Screen off the ugly mechanicals!
13. Be sure someone looks at the site daily and locks it up. Site theft is common. One or two cameras work wonders! In areas where there is more extreme weather, check that windows and doors are closed properly, or sealed up, turn off lights, etc.
14. Insure your site properly. And be sure all working on that site are fully insured too. Sites pose big safety risks!