Building your new home in Sequim or Port Angeles is an exciting phase in your life, and it should be full of good memories. Well, building a home is always going to be a bit stressful until you’re moved in and have the family photos all hung. But let’s agree on one thing here: Building your retirement home should not be a nightmare scenario, and at the least it should not require that you constantly supervise the project managers and the carpenters on site. That’s the contractor’s job, isn’t it?
Apparently not in most cases. The following is a true story. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.
Joe and Betty hired a home builder who said the right things, had a nice smile, and didn’t smell bad. But most importantly, he was the lowest bidder. Joe and Betty decided he was the right man for the job.
The first sign of trouble was during the dirt work and excavation of the lot to prepare for the foundation of the house. Joe had not even signed the contract, and the equipment was on his lot tearing it up. Once the contract was signed Joe figured it would be fine from that point, but he found out he had to constantly, almost daily be on the job site, because the carpenters kept taking short cuts and not doing things that were part of the house plan.
One day Joe pointed out to the carpenter in charge that he was not building the front porch right. The carpenter said, “You’re always changing things.” To that Joe replied, “I haven’t changed a single thing. You are the one who is not building according to the house plans and my contract requires you build the house according to the architectural plan.”
I later met with the owner when his home was completed, and frankly it was beautiful. I asked him who his builder was and how it went, and he told me his general contractor was never around, and that the general had hired a project manager who had little skill in communicating with people, but more importantly the manager didn’t pay much attention to the house plan. “The only reason this house was finished the way it should be is because I was here every day.”
That’s not a homeowner’s responsibility to supervise construction, but I have heard this from so many people now, I can’t emphasize how much the majority of builders conduct their businesses in this way. Take every short cut possible so long as the homeowner doesn’t catch them. Not a good business model, but it is very common.
A tactic that is used by many home builders who have a model home is to walk the clients through the model home as though that is just what their home will be like. The builder does not explain that the model home has the highest quality materials and workmanship, the best hardwood floors, the more expensive cathedral ceilings, the finest fireplace brick work, custom made kitchen cabinets, marble countertops, custom work throughout the house, the best hardware and the best appliances. And the builder just happens to NOT mention that the client’s home design will have none of this. It’s very much like the old bait and switch tactic that we all dislike. But clients agree to sign a contract based on how beautiful the model home looks. It’s unfortunate because their home will not be anywhere close the model home, but they assume it will be, or should I say the builder leads them to believe it will be.
Where is integrity among home builders? As as matter of fact, there are other home builders with integrity, but it gets interesting, because integrity alone does not determine the best builder.
Among the home builders who do have integrity in every sense of the word, from the representations made in the first meeting and all the way through construction to completion, their business models vary dramatically. What does that mean? It means for the same house plan, one bids $975,000, another bids $850,000, and a third bids $745,000. That’s a huge difference in price for the exact same house. The difference is found in the business models. There’s nothing wrong with a business model that charges more. This is America. But it does point out the need for clients to be discerning.
You’re reading the blog of Rick Anderson Homes, so you might expect I would endorse Rick Anderson. I do, but there is a huge reason, and it is absolutely true. Rick Anderson has integrity as a builder, and you never have to worry about his project manager taking short cuts on materials or workmanship. Never. You also do not find Rick Anderson at the highest end of bids for the exact same house.
I endorse Rick Anderson as a custom home builder not because he and I have an obvious relationship here, but because in fact he is the best home builder in Sequim and Port Angeles. Hands down. It’s because of his integrity that I write here.
Choose your home builder carefully. You’ll be glad you did.