Builders’ partnerships are expansive. From subcontractors on the jobsite, to landscapers, real estate agents, title companies and beyond, getting a job done is not a one-man job.
The core project team includes an architect, a builder, a designer and, most critically, the homeowner. While some partners may join the team at different times, homeowners are involved throughout the process. Colorado Builder talked to some of these key players to learn how they work together on efficient, successful projects that end with happy homeowners.
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“At TKP, we always tell our clients, ‘The sooner you can involve the builder, the better,’” said Tim Barstad, an architect and project manager at TKP Architects in Golden.
Barstad will refer clients to builders and encourage them to begin interviewing candidates before the drawings are even completed.
“In the design-development phase, that’s when we get a lot of really valuable input from the builder” regarding constructability and cost, he said. “The builder can tell us, ‘Here’s how things are actually built in the field.’ Some builders have particular construction methods they like to use. We can accommodate all of that in our construction drawings as the design is forming rather than as an afterthought.”
Early involvement is helpful to builders and homeowners. Barstad will work with clients to develop “progress drawings” to show the builder before the final drawings are complete.
“We’ll actually ask builders to price that set of progress drawings, even if it’s just a rough estimate. We find that having builder input on cost during the design process is huge in terms of helping the homeowner understand where they’re at,” he explained.
For example, homeowners may decide that they don’t need timbers in both the great room and master bedroom after all. Those kinds of decisions are a lot easier for homeowners when they have more concrete ideas about the cost and time it will take to complete certain elements in the design, Barstad noted.
Cost is a particularly sensitive issue, and early input from the builder who will be doing the work is invaluable to homeowners.
“In this market, everyone wants to know what their house is going to cost before we build it,” Barstad said. “These aren’t publicly funded projects; these are people with their savings. They want to know what it’s going to cost to build their home.”
He added, “The smoother the construction goes, the more money is saved and the more value is going into the construction.”
Dave Mosely is a co-owner at Rosewater Construction in Denver and does everything from small bathroom remodels to large custom homes. He says that some owners may not appreciate what they’re about to take on when they start a custom build, so it’s important to set expectations before any work is done.
“Every person who builds a house for the first time is blown away by how much they have to put into it,” he said. “People think, ‘I’ll get an architect and a builder, and I’ll wake up one morning and it’ll all be done.’”
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Most custom builds will take at least a year, Mosely said, with regular input from the owner throughout the process. Mosely and his team have weekly meetings with homeowners while construction is underway.
Builders who serve wealthy homeowners may be frustrated if those clients have busy schedules that keep them out of construction meetings. In those cases, Mosely urges homeowners to “deputize” someone who can represent them and make sure their vision is being followed.
“That could be the architect or the interior designer or both, but when we have questions, we need somebody who can give us an answer. We can’t wait two weeks until [the homeowner is] back in town because we’ll be dead in the water.”
TKP’s Barstad agrees that involving homeowners throughout the process is critical.