Looking to Talk With Someone Building a House
Ken Mazaika
October 22, 2013

I'm a university student, who is currently working on a project about people in the process of building a new custom home.

If anyone is in the process now (and has already started working with a contractor to build out the house), I'd love to chat and ask you a few questions.

If you could send an email to kmazaika@gmail.com it would be very much appreciated.

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What would you like to know?
    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 11:05AM
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Ken Mazaika
Thanks for the comment!

I'm doing a project about the process a new home builder has to do when building a new custom house. I'm focusing on the process after the architect is finished with the plans, but before the keys are handed over by the contractor.

I'd love to have a 5 or 10 minute chat on the phone with you to talk about the process, the pain points, and what your experience was like.

You'd make a university student very happy.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 11:09AM
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In my "idea books" there's one called "the build". Currently it's a private book. I'll include your houzz user name so you can take a look through the pages and you can ask me there about the pain points.
    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 11:15AM
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I've added you, see you there.
    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 11:17AM
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Ken Mazaika
The pictures are super helpful. Looks like your house is making a ton of progress :)

One of the biggest questions I have is about how you are making all the decisions about the finishes on the interior of the house.

Have you already picked everything out before the construction crew started to dig the first hole? Do you have a lot of decisions left to make? How have you communicated these decisions to the people building your home? Anything you can tell me about that process would be super appreciated.

Thanks, you rock!

1 Like    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 11:36AM
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Our custom builder has an interior designer assigned to the project. We have met with her several times to make all the decisions regarding interior and exterior choices. This was very good as our home is quoted accurately based on the choices we made. All choices were made in advance except the kitchen backsplash, for that we have set aside a budget to work with and will stay within it. When samples weren't available to show us at there office, a group shopping trip was in order. We meet with the builder about every two weeks to make sure everyone's on the same page, so to speak. Weekly we see the foreman on site.
    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 11:44AM
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Ken Mazaika
This is super helpful. Thank you so much!

It sounds like the decision making process was super easy for you, because of all the help your interior designer gave you. Do you have a ball-part estimate of how many decisions did you had to make? How many hours did you spend talking with your interior designer before your quote was generated?

Thanks again!
1 Like    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 12:03PM
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Sorry, we had to go check on the build. One thing about building is, you want to check on it several times a week. Best not to assume someone can read your mind, hahaha.
Time wise picking finishes, I bet it was close to 40 hours, even though we pretty much knew what we wanted. Regarding the amount of decisions that had to be made, are you referring to the interior design finishes only?
1 Like    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 3:00PM
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Ken Mazaika
Sounds like it's almost a full-time job having a house built :).

I'm curious about finishes inside the house, as well as anything you had to decide on your porch, yard (like fountains), etc.

You mentioned you knew most of what you wanted before you started the process. Did you look through houzz and magazines and select everything up front before you finished the blueprints? How many decisions did you have to make? Is your home a full custom where you have to decide on everything, or a semi-custom where some of the decisions are made for you by the builder?

Did your interior designer show you 3d models of the house as you picked out different products to show you how things would look all together (or are you just good at visualizing it all in your head)?

Did you enjoy picking out the selections and meeting with the designer/builder? When my parents built their house they said they ended up arguing a lot about what to buy in front of their contractor, and the process was painful for them. It sounds like your process went a lot smoother than theirs.

Do you have any tips about how you went through the process?

Thanks for all the help. All your feedback on the house building process is super valuable for me!
1 Like    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 9:41AM
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Hi Ken, there certainly is times, when it is a full time job even when it's not, it's still on your mind day in and day out. To say upwards of a thousand questions, is no stretch of the imagination. This home is considered full custom, we picked everything, so everything was asked. Some ideas were taken from model homes, friends homes, magazines, online, architect and builders suggestions but most importantly, our needs. We probably drew this house out on graph paper a hundred times. We found houzz after our blue prints were already done. Great site for the lipstick, decorating and general Q&A. somewhat helpful for visualizing but not so helpful for alllllllllll the nuts and bolts when going through the building process. Product availability, building codes, restrictions by the developer and climate all play a huge part in what you choose to build.

As for the finishes on the main floor, here goes:
Maple hardwood in dressing room, master bedroom, hall ways, great room, dinette, kitchen, pantry.
Porcelain, in the bathrooms, mud room/ laundry room and foyer (all in floor heated).
Maple flat panel cabinetry and granite/quartz counters throughout. Smooth ceilings, smooth barrel ceiling. Gas linear fireplace w. hearth.

Eased round staircase in hardwood to lower level.

Lower walk out level
Family room, two bedrooms, one jack and Jill bathroom, one additional 3 piece bathroom. Office/3rd. Bedroom, bar, utility room, unfinished space.
Acid stained concrete floors, in floor heating. Maple, flat panel cabinetry, granite/quartz.

Concrete deck, coloured and stamped with a pattern. Stone pillars, glass railing. Gas bar-b-que. bar ledge. Pot lighting and stereo speakers in the deck ceiling.

Lower patio: brushed coloured concrete with circular staircase to upper deck level. pot lighting and stereo speakers built into ceiling.

Courtyard and front entry: stamped coloured concrete and aggregate concrete. Stone pillars, stone courtyard half wall. Pot lights in barrel ceiling.

Since this home is at the lake, we wanted an outdoor shower. Circular drive. Power drive gates. A pull through garage, plus a stall big enough to store the boat during winter.

Although 3d renderings were offered, were quicker with a pencil and can visualize.

Meeting the builder and his team has been very enjoyable. They only do 10-12 custom homes a year so there attention is always on your home. I'm sure we have all had less than flattering days on site. Today we flipped the ensuite, moved absolutely everything within it around, pushed a wall back, shortened a hallway and stretched the ensuite into the dressing room. Red......yes I was seeing red, my shower was disappearing!!!!!! and everyone knew within an earshot......a little embarrassing but I had to stand my ground. With felt pen, many boards and templates on the floor, the builder made it all work. What had seemed like a perfect layout on the plan was a lemon in real life. Sometimes you don't see it until your standing it!!!!!! It was also very important for us the have a wheelchair accessible bathroom, just the door needed to be wider there, no problem that was an easy fix.
My husband and I have for the most part been on the same page in terms of size, finishes, budget, layout etc. we have compromised between us and have spent countless (in private) hours discussing this home, when we're with the builder or designer,there's no arguing between us. When we couldn't decide on something way back at the planning stage, we budgeted very high to cover the unknown expense. So far, we have not gone over that high budget amount. Remember, we pre-shopped to get an accurate price on our home. Best to be real with the cost of items, it makes it easier to decide if they can fit in your budget.
As for a tip..... Booze :) just kidding.
Be honest with yourself about your needs and wants. Don't rush, take plenty of time to completely wrap your head around this home. The only person stuck with it if it doesn't turn out like you want, is YOU!!!!! Estimate the length of time you plan to occupy and use the home then pick accordingly. Make a reasonable budget for the project and stick to it, you can't have everything.
Qualify your builder, physically go and take a look at there work, check there references, any BBB complaints. The builder will be working for you, you're the boss. Ask yourself is this someone you can trust, someone you can rely on, someone you can work with, if your hesitant about any of these points, keep looking, they're not your builder.

I hope I have answered all your questions, if there's anything else, let me know.

Best Regards,
    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 8:25PM
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