Post details: Walk Through the Building Process - Part 3


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Walk Through the Building Process - Part 3

The Construction Contract

After you have chosen your builder and agreed on a price, it's time to get it all down in writing and have a lawyer review the document. A good contract spells out, in detail, each part of the job. This includes dates for starting and completion, building specifications, and materials lists. You'll also specify a payment schedule. Your contract should specify the brands, sizes, and finishes of products used in the house, with prior agreement about acceptable substitute materials. It should also ensure that the builder is responsible for meeting all codes, securing permits, and meeting other laws pertaining to the project. The contract should require that the site be left clean.

Breaking Ground

Finally, it's time to start building. Construction of your home should take from three to six months, depending on the home's design complexity and weather conditions. The first step will be excavation, when subcontractors will grade the lot and dig the hole for your basement or footings. The footings, foundation, or supports will be put in place, and drainage tiles will be installed around the foundation to control the flow of water around the house. Extra fill dirt may need to be hauled in or out.

Next, framers will build interior and exterior walls, floors, and ceilings. Installation of the roof, windows, sheathing, and siding usually come next, protecting the home from the elements while the electrical, plumbing, and ventilation systems are roughed in and installed. Drywall will be installed and prepared for painting, and cabinets and interior trim installed. Carpet typically gets installed last, after final interior painting, staining, and caulking. Near the end of this process, the driveway and sidewalks will be poured.

It's not unusual to make design changes during construction, but you'll want to minimize them. Moving a wall, for instance, can be expensive, especially if it's already been drywalled. For any change you make, have your builder fill out a change order that you both will sign.

During construction, make periodic visits to the building site. Consider hiring an architect or other professional third party to monitor your home's progress. He or she is likely to detect problems earlier than you would and take corrective action.

Before you hand your builder that last check for your home, do a final walk-through with the builder. On the day of the walk-through, the builder will carry a clipboard and room-by-room checklist to record notes and check off items found to be satisfactory. Do not feel rushed during this important part of the building process. Look above, below, and behind everywhere you and your flashlight can reach. By the end of the walk-through, your builder will have compiled a "punch list" of items that must be attended to before the job is considered complete. You and the builder will sign the punch list. Depending on the extent of the punch list, the final payment may be held until the tasks on the list are completed. Unless there are major problems to be corrected, you're ready to accept the keys and move into your new home.

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