Develop the Details


At least a couple of times a week we receive calls from eager new homeowners and developers preparing to embark on their first custom home endeavor. The same question is always asked, “how much will it cost to build a house?”. Unfortunately our answer is usually the same, “without plans, your decisions will drive the cost.” Before the light leaves their eyes and defeat settles into their voices, we give them hope by accessing their objectives and referring Architect’s that can help them develop their vision while offering two tips: “Consider getting into a preconstruction program, and develop your finishing selections early.”


The preconstruction program is crucial not only when it comes to the complex California hillside real estate market, but for anyone that is looking to tighten their budget without compromising design intent, expedite a timeline, or explore means and methods before valuable time and dividends are lost, all of which we will delve deeper into in a subsequent blog. The development of finishing specifications, however, is often left off until specific items are needed, which is a recipe for delays and changes.


With construction costs as exorbitant as they are, it is important to make sure things get done right the first time. Before construction begins, it is important to hire a designer to make sure finishing selections take place to avoid revisions later.


Determining Finishing Materials

Material finishes as they relate to structural components, when not specified early on can mean the difference between pouring a slab right the first time, or a potential change order to float it when the flooring is finally decided. Waiting to decide type and placement of cans, pendants, and cabinetry can impede on the HVAC duct routing and delay the rough MEPs. Material selections for accent walls are not strictly held to the type tile or plaster but how the substrate will transition to adjacent walls, doors, windows, and floors. All of which needs pre-planning once specified so as to not cost the job a day or change.


Sourcing and Coordination Time Delays

One of the most costly consequences of delaying finish selections is time. For example, unfortunately the Lacava fixtures are not in a warehouse downtown and lead-time must be taken into consideration. The critical path schedule will have an in-hands date for install, however the decision date is a moving target depending on what material you are going with. An import product with a 6 week production time and 1 week transit can translate to 3 months delay on the overall construction schedule when not specified and ordered early. The alternative to save lost time is potentially compromising the design by sourcing a readily available product.

Standard recessed trim cans can be picked up the day before with minimal coordination with drywall and electrical subcontractors. This same scope can become costly if drywall is installed and completed with the assumption of standard cans and later trimless cans are spec’d, requiring re-coordination between trades to ensure a quality finished product.


Mockup to Be Sure

Go a step further, work with your Architect and Contractor to produce mockups where possible. Unsure how the concrete floors are going to transition into the cedar steps? Create a mockup to see a sample of the concrete finish, how the riser integrates and a sample of the finished cedar. Torn between a white concrete floor and terrazzo, know your direction well in advance and have the time to pour through samples and different custom mockups without delaying the floors.

A number of costly measures during construction can be prevented with pre-planning. Specify early and know exactly what you are getting and when. For more information on how pre-construction can save you time and dividends on your next project, contact us at 818-668-3116 or