You’re looking at new homes in Sequim, and you’re trying to decide whether you should buy an existing home or build a new home. That’s no small decision. This is one of several articles you will see on this blog on this subject, because it is a big subject. The answers you get are only as good as the questions, so what questions are you asking?
Today let’s look at one aspect of having a new home or a custom home built on a lot of your choice. One of the early decisions you will need to make is which home builder do you hire? How do you know among the many builders out there which one will build the home of your dreams and do it within the budget and contract you sign?
Perhaps a true story will help flush out the relevant issues on this question. I talked with a client about an experience they had with a local builder. They saw an ad by this builder, and they met with him to discuss what they wanted to do. In their words, “He seemed like such a nice person.” They trusted him with a large down payment of $30,000, and they signed a contract with him to build their retirement home. They had been planning this for seven years, and they were excited that they had a contractor who was the lowest bidder.
These wonderful people began to recognize that there were some communication issues early on and that there were some disagreements on some seemingly minor but important construction plans. They put these things behind them as quirks or just unusual little things, but during construction there were between a dozen and two dozen “little things” of concern.
The front entrance to the house wasn’t being built the way they thought it would be, and when they asked the carpenter about it, he gruffly told them that he’s just a carpenter and that they should talk to the builder. They did, but he told them that’s the way it is being built. End of discussion. The clients were shocked to be treated that way, but they didn’t do anything to force the issue.
The hallway appeared to have 2×4’s with some bows in them, and they brought that to the contractor’s attention, and he impatiently told them it would be taken care of.
The bathroom fixtures were not what they had expected, and the builder told them those are the fixtures he uses. End of discussion.
The kitchen cabinets were not the kind shown on “Exhibit A” attached to the contract, and the builder agreed to change them after he made is displeasure very clear. This was all emotionally exhausting to the clients. They felt they had to constantly supervise the construction of their home, because if they didn’t it definitely would not be built correctly.
There were a number of other items, which the clients brought to the contractor’s attention, and he agreed to change some entirely, some partially, and refused to change others.
I would point out that my perception of these clients was that they were NOT high maintenance clients who were just a pain in the royal behind. Their concerns were legitimate and reasonable. They were actually very polite and perhaps even timid people, so I sensed that they did not make unreasonable demands on the builder, nor were they the kind of people who would be inconsiderate.
When the house was about 90% complete, the builder demanded the clients sign off on the next bank draw to the builder, although the builder had not completed a number of items he promised to take care of. He also informed the clients that there would be an additional $56,000 tacked onto the contract, because of “extras” they had demanded. The clients were completely shocked, because the builder had not asked them to sign any change orders, nor had he discussed any “extras” with them at any point before or during construction.
The clients refused to release the next draw, the builder walked off the job, and both parties retained real estate attorneys. You don’t want to know how much the clients spent on attorney’s fees, but their home was delayed and they had many more expenses before they were able to move into a completed home. So much for a pleasant experience and a dream home for retirement. They told me it wasn’t so much the money, although they couldn’t afford all the extra costs and attorney’s fees. The real cost was the emotional stress and the strain on their 26 year marriage.
If you are going to have a new home or a custom home built in Sequim or in Port Angeles, may I suggest you do some due diligence to identify and hire the best builder for you. If you need a good referral, you are welcome to call me to chat and ask questions. If I can save you a ton of money and a lot of stress, it would be my pleasure. You can Email ChuckMarunde@gmail.com any time.