Your house is almost finished! Now it's time for repairs and touch-ups, which are part of any custom home project. We've discussed before how little things get damaged along the way during construction. It's simply part of the process.

And now we're to the part where all those little things get fixed. Like every other stage of the building process, this stage will look a little different for every house, but here are some common things that might need repairs or touch-ups.

  • Drywall - There will always be holes, cracks, or chips in the drywall that need to be repaired at the end. Some holes might have been there several weeks, but your builder was waiting until the end to fix them all at once.
  • Paint - Any drywall repairs mean paint has to be touched up, plus there are always minor scrapes, smudges, and hand prints that need to be touched up. There may be other repairs that require paint touch-ups, too, like if an electrical outlet got covered during drywall and had to be recut.
  • Trim - Sometimes trim gets in the way of tile surrounds or flooring because the carpenter can't always anticipate where a small interference might occur at the junction of trim and tile. When that happens, a tile setter might remove some of the trim to finish their work. During the touch-up phase, the trim carpenter will cut and install a new piece.
  • Cabinet door hinges and drawer glides - The cabinets get installed pretty early in the process, which means lots of contractors come into contact with them as the house is finished. Doors and drawers can end up slightly out of alignment, completely crooked, sticky, or anything else. Hinges might have been removed to paint around them. The builder will clean and adjust cabinet door hinges and drawer glides as a normal part of this phase.

There will be things you notice that need to be touched up, and there will be plenty more things that your builder has on his list. He'll probably use blue masking tape or some other method to mark all the things that need attention throughout the house.

If you're curious about your builder's process, just ask! He can explain his approach to the repair and touch-up process. It might seem weird to you, but chances are that process was built from experience and the builder's knowledge of the most effective way to finish your home. He's done this before, and he has a system.

The final weeks of the process can be frustrating for you as the homeowner. You're seeing things that have been broken, scratched, dented, or whatever along the way just sitting there unfinished for weeks. It can be frustrating for you, but there's a method to the madness. Subcontractors work on multiple jobs, so it's much more efficient to have each contractor come back once at the very end to fix any of the little things rather than one little thing at a time along the way.

Once the touch-ups and repairs are done, it's time to clean! The builder will have your house cleaned top to bottom, and then it's finally ready for your inspection and approval. You'll walk through the house with the builder (or whoever fills that role in the builder's company) to make sure everything meets your approval. At this point, if your builder has done his job right, you should only have a few minor things that still need to be touched up.

That final walk through is also when the builder shows you all the house's systems: water shutoff, breaker panel, hot water tank adjustment, and anything else unique to the house that you need to know about.

When the house gets to this point, a lot of homeowners get anxious to start moving some of their stuff to the house. Don't do it! Don't pressure your builder in allowing you to move in early or even move a few boxes into the garage. It always ends in disaster, and it often means not all the repairs get done. Trying to schedule contractors while someone is living in the house is nearly impossible. Schedules are difficult to line up, there's furniture in the way, and it's hard for the contractor's to get their work done efficiently.

Even putting a few boxes in the house can cause problems. What happens if one of the boxes gets damaged or ends up missing? There are a lot of people in and out of a home being built, and there's no way to secure everything in the house at all times. We know it's exciting when your house is almost finished, but wait until it's totally finished to move in.

As with many other pieces of the home building process, patience is important during the repairs and touch-ups phase. Talk to your builder so you understand their process and then trust them to do the job you hired them to do. When you do that final walk through, you'll probably forget about all the little things that were damaged along the way. You'll be seeing your finished custom home and imagining all the great memories you're about to make in that home.

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