Build on Your Land: Home Building 101, or Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

    You're watching your brand-new home appear before your eyes, and it's exciting! But remember this one key idea: There's only one consumer product that's manufactured outside in the heat, cold, wind, rain, and bugs. It's also manufactured by human hands with natural materials. That one product is your custom home.

    Now you see it...

    Your new car, computer, iPad, or smart phone were all built using precision tools, equipment, and robots in clean, climate-controlled factories. You only see them as finished products, brand new and in shiny packages or well-lit showrooms.

    Now you don't...

    You don't get to see the ugly process of creating those products from scratch—the ore being mined, the steel being smelted, or the paint getting mixed. You don't see the mistakes that got made as your new F-150 went down the assembly line and got the wrong steering wheel installed and removed before the correct one got put on. You don't see the electrical panel glitch that was caused by the broken wiring harness connector that didn't get fixed until final testing. And you don't see the tiny scratch that the dealer repaired that you'll never even know about. All you see is that finished product.

    Seeing Your Custom Home

    Guess what? It's going to be different with your new home. Your custom home has never been built before. It is a prototype, one-off, first and last one ever. That means nobody except God knows every little detail that's going to happen during this project. Roll with it.

    Contractors are human, and they make mistakes. All the time.

    During construction, your builder has three jobs.

    1. Try to see problems coming in advance and prevent them.

    You'll never see all of the problems your builder prevents before they happen, the same way you never saw the cavities you didn't get because you brush your teeth every day. If you've chosen the right builder, they have plenty of experience building custom homes, and they know a lot of little and big things to expect before they happen.

    2. Solve the problems that happen every day on every job. Even yours.

    You'll see the problem, which to you will seem insurmountable, permanent, and inexcusable. You may think the builder hasn't seen it or doesn't care. Oh yes, he's seen it. And he can solve it, just like you solve problems at your job every day because it's what you do. You're an expert at what you do, and so is your builder. Respect his expertise as you'd want him to respect yours.

    3. Babysit, herd cats, or some other metaphor for coordinating lots of people.

    There are a lot of people involved in building a custom home, and your builder is doing his best to get all those people to do what he wants them to do correctly and on time.

    But your builder's contractors work for lots of other builders. Your builder has no direct control over them. He spends the majority of his time every day working hard to keep your job moving in the right direction, which is another thing that's often invisible to you. He's not only herding cats, but he's herding them in a different direction than the herder in the field next door.

    The Bottom Line When it Comes to Home Building

    The bottom line is that the home building process is full of ups and downs. The ups are when you're excited to see all the progress as your home takes shape before your eyes. The downs are when you see mistakes get made, things getting dirty or broken, and work needs to be re-done.

    Just know that all of those things are part of the process—the same process that produced some of the builder's beautiful work you looked at before you chose him to build your home.

    Find peace in knowing your builder has done this before, and that's why you're paying him. I like to tell my customers to do one of two things: either worry and get stressed out about everything that's going on in the building of your home, or pay a builder to do all that. Don't do both.

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