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3 Pillar Blog

Blog Category - Build Process

Managing Chance

Categories: Build Process, Newsletter | Posted: April 8, 2015

Building a new home is a dynamic and exciting process. As professional home builders, our goal is to make the process smooth and transparent for our clients. Once the job is underway, things happen quickly, so we work with clients to make decisions well ahead of time to help ensure they get their new home on schedule and on budget, as promised.

Most of the big design decisions are made before the first scoop of dirt is moved, but that is rarely the end of the decision-making process. Once construction is underway, owners often think of a few things they’d like to change. Adjustments may range from adding a room to a change in kitchen cabinets, choosing different flooring in the bathroom, or just adding an extra light switch or two.

We document such requests, called “change orders,” to make sure that all parties have a clear understanding of the scope and cost of the change. It is important for the homeowner to understand how change orders affect the building process. When homeowner and builder communicate well, the impact of change orders on the construction schedule and budget can be minimized.

A change order made after construction begins always has a cost. The cost may be the time and labor to make the change or it may be the price of additional materials or products required—sometimes both.

In addition, the timing of a change order affects the cost. Changes late in the building process typically cost more than earlier ones. Some changes may be cost-prohibitive, such as altering the foundation or adding a basement once we’ve started building a home’s structural frame.

We respect our clients’ desires to get exactly the house they want. And we know that some finishes (or even floor plans) may be hard to visualize until they’re actually installed or built. From long experience, we know that changes will happen and, consequently, we aim to be systematic about managing change orders. Our process ensures good communication and provides assurances between everyone involved. It also helps us stick to the schedule and minimize additional costs.

The change order process: The most effective change order processes follow a general pattern that creates a paper trail and provides reliable cost information up front, including:

  • Centralization. Change order requests are managed by one person to help ensure effective communication between everyone involved. This includes specialty trade contractors, suppliers, our job site managers, and, of course, our clients. We discourage homeowners from making special requests directly to a trade contractor, as this is a quick route to misunderstandings and disrupted schedules.
  • Documentation. Client requests are transferred to an electronic or paper-based change order form that initiates a paper trail and helps ensure greater accuracy and clearer communication.
  • Terms. We anticipate the types of changes our clients may make. We have a good idea of the cost and time most changes require. As a result, we can often communicate the terms quickly so that homeowners can make an informed decision in plenty of time to make the change or decide against it.
  • Confirmation. It’s important to everyone involved that no change occurs without a client signature. Clients must approve the cost and terms, as well as the style, finish, or other details about the change. This also ensures that clients are made aware of how the change may affect their move-in date or other aspects of the construction schedule.
  • Inspection. We may ask clients to visit the new home’s job site when the change is being made to make sure they are satisfied and don’t have any questions.
  • Payment. Costs for change orders may be billed separately, usually as soon as the change has been made and the work is completed to a client’s satisfaction. Sometimes we ask for a percentage of the cost or full payment up front before making a change, depending on the type of request.

By following this simple but thorough change order process, our clients can be sure that any changes they consider—whether minor or substantial—will be handled in a timely fashion without confusion, miscommunication, or unnecessary cost.

 

To learn more about the build process, subscribe to our 3 Pillar Newsletter!

 


 

3 Pillar Homes is a custom home builder in Columbus, Ohio.  For more information about our new homes, please visit one of our model home locations in Jerome Village, located at 10602 Arrowwood Drive, Plain City, Oh 43064 or in Lewis Center, located at 2360 Koester Trace Drive, Lewis Center, Ohio 43035.  You can always contact us by phone at 614-286-0659

Friday’s FAQ | Safety

Categories: Build Process, Newsletter | Posted: March 20, 2015

Q: What’s the most common job site safety hazard?

A: In residential construction, the most common hazards relate to falls, namely from roofs or areas that are more than six feet above the ground. OSHA reports that scaffolding, fall prevention, and ladders are among its top 5 most-frequently cited violations. They recently tightened standards to further mitigate those hazards.

 


 

3 Pillar Homes is a custom home builder in Columbus, Ohio.  For more information about our new homes, please visit one of our model home locations in Jerome Village, located at 10602 Arrowwood Drive, Plain City, Oh 43064 or in Lewis Center, located at 2360 Koester Trace Drive, Lewis Center, Ohio 43035.  You can always contact us by phone at 614-286-0659

Safety First

Categories: Build Process, Neighborhood | Posted: March 18, 2015

There’s no getting around it: construction can be a hazardous job. We say “can be” because professional builders respect those hazards and equip and train their workers and subcontractors to mitigate safety issues as much as possible. By doing so, professional builders protect their businesses and their clients from liability.

The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) provides specific guidelines and regulations for homebuilders and contractors regarding the prevention of accidents on a residential job site. The penalties for failing to comply with those rules range from hefty fines to shutting down the job until violations are corrected.

Professional builders not only comply with those regulations, but also often take extra steps to help ensure a safe working environment on every project, and to help keep everyone out of harm’s way.

Closing Walk-through

Inspection. As directed by OSHA, professional builders continually inspect their job sites for potential hazards, and may even have a safety manager that regularly visits each site. Common hazards may include ladders or scaffolding that are unsecured or set on uneven ground, unmarked trenches, or an incomplete or missing first aid kit.

If violations are found, they are quickly reported and remedied to get the company back into compliance. And, they are corrected for the next job.

Education and Training. It is critical to continually educate workers, to train and equip them to recognize and avoid construction job site hazards and accidents.

In addition to a written safety and health program required by OSHA, professional builders often conduct what’s called “Toolbox Talks” on the subject of safety, perhaps showing a video, presenting a report, or (even better) showing workers a real-world example of a common hazard and how to remedy or avoid it.

Builders who are dedicated to safety also equip their crews with the latest in safety gear, from guardrails on ladders and scaffolding to hard hats, gloves, eye protection, and personal harnesses — and keep that gear in optimum working order. These builders also require their trade partners to follow these same safety procedures with their employees.

Incentives. Smart builders often use incentives to help ensure safety. A worker who reports or remedies a job site hazard may earn a bonus, time off, or some other reward that recognizes his or her initiative and sets an example for the rest of the crew.

Unfinished Lower Level

Builders may also track and publicly post job site safety achievements, such as the number of days without an accident or time lost to a job site injury. Those accomplishments may earn the company recognition from OSHA or acknowledgement from the company that insures the builder against liability and worker’s compensation — lowering the builder’s overhead costs and enabling them to be more competitive for future jobs.

Including Owners. Savvy and safety-conscious builders know that their homeowner clients will want to occasionally visit the job site to see progress, make decisions and discuss concerns. Safety is no less a priority for those instances.

Homebuyers can go a long way to keeping themselves safe on the job site by following the same rules and procedures as the crew. We encourage them to wear hard hats and safety goggles and avoid visiting and walking through a house under construction without supervision, after hours, and on weekends, as they may not be aware or are unprepared to avoid hazards.

Hard Hats

 


 

3 Pillar Homes is a custom home builder in Columbus, Ohio.  For more information about our new homes, please visit one of our model home locations in Jerome Village, located at 10602 Arrowwood Drive, Plain City, Oh 43064 or in Lewis Center, located at 2360 Koester Trace Drive, Lewis Center, Ohio 43035.  You can always contact us by phone at 614-286-0659.

Keeping Projects on Track

Categories: Build Process, Design, Newsletter | Posted: March 4, 2015

Failure to make timely decisions is the number one culprit behind schedule and cost overruns. Homeowners play a key role in preventing these problems.

Some homeowners find it a challenge to make their final selection of products and materials. It’s easy to see why—with practically limitless choices in countertops, fixtures, tiles, windows, and other products, it can be difficult to settle on one model, style, or color.

Countertops Jerome Village

But decisions must be made at some point, and making those decisions in a timely manner is crucial to keeping the project on schedule and on budget. Indecision and delay can cause costs to rise dramatically.

Professional builders always include enough time in the schedule for homeowners to sort through these choices, but they also set firm deadlines for when each choice must be made. Those deadlines are based on how long it takes to obtain each item, and whether other work depends on the decision.

Take the example of windows and doors, where frame openings have to be sized to fit each particular model. If the homeowner chooses the windows after the framing is underway, that could mean going back and reframing openings. The same goes for decisions about plumbing fixture locations that would require the moving of pipes.

Foyer Tartan West

What about items that don’t affect infrastructure like framing or plumbing? The answer is that late selections anywhere can cause problems. Custom-made products like shower surrounds, cabinets, and counter-tops can have long lead times, so late selections can easily push the job past its original finish date. The same goes for decisions on flooring, paint colors, and landscaping.

The problem with extending the finish date is that time is money—every day the builder’s crew is on the job, expenses are adding up for labor and overhead (for example, items like the job-site office, the perimeter fence, the power pole, and so on).

During those extra weeks and months, homeowners run the risk of paying the costs for two separate homes: the expense for the home that’s being built, as well as the mortgage payment for their current residence.

Savvy homeowners reduce this risk by working closely with the design team, made up of the architect, interior designer, and landscape architect. Selection problems are minimized when the homeowners and designers work closely together. The design team helps the homeowners to narrow the choices in models, styles, and color, and guides them to selections they will be happy with.

The most effective thing homeowners can do to ensure a smooth project is to work with the builder and design team to make as many decisions as possible before work starts. Early selections eliminate a lot of stress and expense. The process of building a home requires a lot of decisions, and savvy homeowners help keep the project on track by meeting decision deadlines.

 

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Friday’s FAQ

Categories: Build Process | Posted: February 6, 2015

Welcome to “Friday’s FAQ”, a bi-weekly event where we take a couple minutes to answer one frequently asked question about the homebuilding process.  This week, we are answering a common question about Construction-Perm Loans.

Q: How are loan draws figured?

A: A good draw schedule balances the contractor’s need to get paid for work done and materials purchased, with the homeowners’ and bank’s desire to not pay too far ahead of what has been completed. On a new home, payments are usually matched to completion (or “substantial completion”) of a particular phase: foundation, frame, drywall, and so on. On a remodel, payments often depend on percentage of completion. It’s important that the homeowner communicate with the contractor to ensure there are no misunderstandings about how and when funds will be disbursed.

Monroe Great Room

 

The Hidden Build Process

Categories: Build Process, Newsletter | Posted: February 4, 2015

Understanding the construction process will help owners manage their expectations and emotions.

Here’s a quick quiz…

It’s four or five months into a new custom build. The home is weather tight, plumbing and wiring have been roughed in, the insulation is in place, and drywall has been screwed to the walls and ceilings. The drywallers are sanding the seams in preparation for that first, shiny coat of paint. How do most homeowners feel?

The question illustrates a crucial issue. There are two things going on at each stage of a project: the actual construction and the homeowners’ perception and evolving feelings about it. Fortunately, most people react in predictable ways at predictable times, so an experienced builder will understand how to help their clients through the inevitable ups and downs. If the homeowners know what to expect, the emotional ride becomes easier and more enjoyable.

As construction begins, homeowners are typically very excited—and why shouldn’t they be? Preconstruction ups and downs involving plans, specs, and product choices are behind them. Their dream home is about to take shape!

Emotions tend to remain high as workers and machines dig the hole, form and pour the foundation, build the rough frame, and install windows, doors, siding, and roofing. How long this takes depends on the home but with some exceptions, such as weather delays, things moves fast with obvious progress nearly every day. Excitement and anticipation build as the home they have been imagining for years is finally rising from the ground!

Pinnacle Club

That visible progress slows dramatically during the next phase of construction.

Once the shell is complete, the electricians, plumbers, and heating technicians descend on the house to rough in their systems. This is when a homeowner’s emotions can be tested. This phase of the project is inherently time-consuming. Plus, it can be drawn out by complex scheduling requirements of different subcontractors. Progress seems to come to a halt and excitement can quickly morph into anxiety. Will the home be done on time? What’s taking so long?

At this point, it helps to remember the importance of good lighting, plumbing, and heating to a home’s livability. Investing the time to do them right will pay off big later on.

We understand how challenging this phase of the project is for homeowners. This is the time when, as professional builders, we step up communication about the progress that is being made behind the scenes. We find that educated homeowners can better manage their emotions through the whole process, but especially as we get ready to move into the home stretch.

The last phase includes installation of trim, flooring, cabinets, and fixtures. Here, excitement begins to rise again as the finish line pulls into sight. By the time the keys are handed over, emotions will be at a point nearly equal to where they were at groundbreaking.

Model at Jerome Village

How best to navigate this emotional journey? How does one enjoy the highs and take the dips in stride? Awareness about the process goes a long way. Study the schedule and know what is going to happen and when. Think of the project as a story, and the schedule as the plot outline. A good builder will work with the homeowners to fill that outline with details that will help make the project a great experience and ensure a happy ending.

 

To learn more about the custom-build process, sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter here!

Preplanning is Key

Categories: Build Process, Newsletter | Posted: January 21, 2015

When it comes to building a new house, many people don’t realize just how important it is to develop their preconstruction plan. This is especially important with a custom-build home, because there will be aspects that differ from other houses which greatly affects construction plans.

The more time that the Professional Builder spends on the preconstruction planning process, the better the actual build will be. This process involves much more than just creating the home’s blueprint. It involves people, supplies, getting the timing right, etc.  A decision made today will determine whether the personnel and materials are on the job three months from now.

 

Izabella Floor Plan

Communication is key, especially when you are working with the homeowners, architect, interior designer, project manager, and contractor.  The more people involved, the easier it is for a message to get lost along the way.  The entire process is similar to the passing of the baton in a relay race.

The builder can ensure the best possible outcome for the homeowners by taking the time up front to think through and record decisions, establish workflow and detailed schedules, account for permitting, and plan for communication and contingencies.

 

To learn more about the world of custom-built homes, sign up to receive our 3 Pillar Homes newsletter here!