6 things people won’t tell you about building

You get what you pay for. Your project will go over budget. It’s stressful. The housing market will be very different in 15 years. You can’t have everything. There are better options. Some truths of the building industry are rarely discussed; and knowing them will save you piles of stress and frustration. You are looking […]

Project photography credit: Franc D'Ambrosio Architecture
  • You get what you pay for.
  • Your project will go over budget.
  • It’s stressful.
  • The housing market will be very different in 15 years.
  • You can’t have everything.
  • There are better options.

Some truths of the building industry are rarely discussed; and knowing them will save you piles of stress and frustration.

You are looking to build your dream home and you ask three builders: “I’m trying to decide between 3 builders: what would building with you be like?”

The first builder says: “We’re the best builders in town. Our workmanship is unparalleled. We’ve built lots of beautiful houses. Just tell us your budget and we’ll build you a great house for a set price.”

The second builder says: “We have great budgeting and project management systems. We’re entirely transparent. You can see every cost. We’ll give you an estimate and then you just pay cost plus 15%. We’ll do whatever you want.”

The third builder says: “We’re pretty average – and brutally honest. Building is stressful. Your project will go over budget. And you can’t have everything you want. Sorry”

Which builder would you pick?

I’m guessing you wouldn’t pick the third one…

Unfortunately, when people are inclined to win your business, it’s hard to be totally honest and truthful. Also, everybody working in the building industry is so used to it that it’s second nature to them. But here are 6 things that most people in the building industry won’t talk to you about:

You get what you pay for.

There seems to be a misconception amongst owners and perpetuated by builders that there are all kinds of tricks and things you can do to get what you want at almost any budget. That is not reality. Like buying a car or a vacuum cleaner, you get what you pay for. The most effective way to reduce costs is to reduce size or scope. Period. There is no magical competitive advantage or construction method that will give you the quality and scope you want at whatever price you want.

Your project will go over budget.

With building, as with any creative process, nobody can see the future with perfect certainty. If builders are bidding for a contract, they are not going to budget for details not specified or contingencies for the unexpected. On top of this, things change, mistakes happen, and unforeseeable circumstances occur. Clients too, often get excited and whether knowingly or not, add to their own budget overrun. What is most important is planning for reality, not proceeding under unrealistic expectations. For a renovation, much is unforeseeable and a contingency is an important part of any budget. With a new build, lots of cost overrun can be mitigated by confirming all details prior to construction.

It’s stressful.

Construction is an industry without prototypes. We do not get to walk through and touch everything prior to signing off on the design. Throughout the process, when things are incomplete or mistakes happen, don’t be surprised and trust your builder to find a solution. The more flexible you are throughout the process, the easier solutions will be. The final product is the cumulation of many decisions, a lot of difficult work, and lots of money. For all but the most experienced and steely demeanours, seeing all our decisions take shape and bills come in is at least slightly stressful. The more this is accepted, the more we can be at peace with it.

The housing market will be very different in 15 years.

As part of BC’s Climate Action Plan, all houses will be Net-Zero ready by 2032. In other words, houses will be way better in just 15 years. If we build our houses to today’s code-minimum standards, they will suffer a significant market disadvantage in the near future. With weather severity rising and utility bills growing exponentially, the difference in market value between today’s buildings and high-performance houses of the future will become even more significant.

You can’t have everything.

When builders or designers are competing for your job, you can imagine they don’t want to be the ones to tell you “Sorry, you can’t have everything.” No matter what your budget, there are always tradeoffs we must face. It is important to recognize from the outset that we can’t have everything we want. We need to evaluate what is most important so we can be strategic.

There are better options.

There are more building methods and products than ever before. There are always better options but it is often costly or risky to explore and evaluate new options. For efficiency and warranty, both builders and designers will always lean towards what they are most familiar and comfortable with. In the name of cost-effectiveness, the path of least resistance is often most credible. For discerning customers wanting something more unique or cutting edge, extra support is often required.

Owner Representation is the answer.

With an owner representative on your side, you gain the objective guidance of industry expertise, unbiased by the pressures of the design-bid-build process. Free from the pressure of the bid process, your owner representative can guide realistic expectations, reduce stress, and make well-informed decisions. As your representative, markeHOUSE protects your interests and ensures you get the most out of your project. We also support designers and builders as necessary to ensure they can cost-effectively deliver on the needs of your project.

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