Building a custom home is an emotional roller coaster. We've talked in detail about each of the stages in prior posts, but let's recap the whole emotional process again.
Slab through shingles
Up we go! This is the most exciting part of building. The foundation and slab get poured, the framing goes up, and the shingles go on. This phase of construction doesn't seem to take very long considering the dramatic change that happens. You go from bare dirt to something that actually looks like a house in a matter of a few weeks. You are ecstatic with the progress! At this rate, your home will be complete in no time! This is an emotional high that's tough to come down from, but that's where we're headed.
Rough-ins and inspections
And now down we go. Just after the shingles go on and the windows and exterior doors get installed, the rough installations of plumbing, electrical, and heat and air will begin. Clearly, this is critical work, but it isn't as visually dramatic as framing. It's also a bit tedious. Sometimes, we run into unforeseen issues that make the progress seem to halt or at least drag on longer than you thought possible.
Part of the reason it feels slow is that you tend to mentally compare it to the previous phase, which seemed to go so fast. The rough-in phase also includes building inspections by the city or county building department. Depending on the locality, these inspections can take days to weeks. Most of the time, the inspector will find some little detail he wants the contractor to fix, which results in some rework and a re-inspection. It all takes time. This is the bottom of the first hill in the emotional roller coaster of building a custom home on your land.
Up we go again. The inspections are done, and it's time to put in wall insulation and hang drywall! Up to now, your new home has been a maze of wall studs and a web of pipes, wiring, and air ducts. You can somewhat visualize the rooms, but it takes some imagination. Now the walls have definition, and you start to get a real feel for how the house will flow and how big or small the rooms feel. You start to visualize yourself actually living there! It again starts to seem like there can't be that much more to do if it already looks like this! You're on that next emotional high and getting excited!
Trim, cabinets, paint, and flooring
Here comes the stress. After drywall is hung, the seams are nicely finished, and the texture is applied, the builder will begin to install interior finishes, such as trim, interior doors, and cabinets. That's followed by paint, countertops, and hard-surface flooring (such as tile or wood). These finishes get installed, but they're hardly finished.
For example, the wall, ceiling, and trim paint looks perfect right after the painter finishes, and you're really excited to see the brand-new finished walls! Then, the countertop installers put a big scuff right down the side of the wall next to the master bathroom vanity top they just put in. Then, the tile setter had to pull up a piece of brand-new baseboard molding because there was a little hump in the floor slab they had to grind down to make the tile level. It seems like the brand-new painted walls aren't new anymore! Watching your brand-new home get beat up like this is extremely stressful. It's like you've entered the tunnel on the roller-coaster, and you can't see the other end.
Lighting and plumbing fixtures
Okay, we got through the stress of that last phase, and now it's getting exciting again! You made it through the tunnel, and you've made peace with the fact that your builder will indeed take care of all the touch-ups that are required at the end, just like he did for all those other beautiful homes he built. Remember the homes he built that you looked at when deciding to hire your builder? They all went through this same process, and look how they turned out.
The stress is (mostly) gone, and now you're seeing lights and faucets go in, which makes the house seem almost livable. You remember choosing that fixture for the family room, and you're excited to see how it looks hanging in your new home! You can almost see your family hanging out together enjoying the home just like you had dreamed.
Back down we go to disappointment. Carpet is the last step, right? After the carpet goes in, you dust, mop, vacuum, and it's done… right? But as you fling open the front door to see how awesome your house looks with the carpet installed, you're taken aback by how unfinished everything looks. It feels like it looks worse now than it did yesterday when the concrete floor was still exposed! What happened?
Here's what happened: You had an expectation based on your experience looking at finished homes and you naturally equate "carpet" with "finished." But the carpet actually emphasizes all the details, both big and small, that still need to be addressed. They jump out at you because of the contrast between brand-new carpet (finished) and the scuffs, holes, and missing pieces (in process). This leads to the disappointment you feel at this stage.
Final touch-up and repairs
Now we move from disappointment to frustration. To the uninitiated, the final touch-up and repair process can seem overwhelming. There are holes to be patched, trim pieces to be reinstalled, and windows to be cleaned. The garage looks like a war zone, and somebody managed to put a muddy footprint on the new carpet. How in the world is this ever going to look finished and new? And if it ever does, surely it will take weeks, maybe months, to get it done!
This is where you get that pit in your stomach. You just can't imagine this ending well. The frustration mounts further as your builder seems to take it in stride, as if it's no big deal. It IS a big deal! This can't be how it normally goes! Something must have gone horribly wrong!
Relief and joy! Well, your builder takes it all in stride during the touch-up phase because he does this every day, and he knew it wouldn't take more than a few days to complete all the touch-ups and repairs. He didn't work a miracle to shine it up like a new penny. He simply did what he does, kind of like when you do what you do and it seems miraculous to the untrained eye.
You're relieved and overjoyed to find that your new home really did turn out just like your builder promised. It's hard to believe until you see it, and that's perfectly natural.
This phase is whatever you make of it. It can be simple and easy or stressful and frustrating. You can think, "It's brand new! Nothing should break. This is ridiculous!" Or you can think, "I'm so glad my builder is there to help with this. Stuff happens. If this had been a used house, I'd be on my own."
Nothing—and nobody—is perfect. You didn't hire a builder because he can build you a perfect house. You hired him so someone would have your back when things DO go wrong. And they do go wrong. The warranty period will be emotionally what you make of it. You can either be disappointed when (not if) something breaks, or you can be thankful you have a builder you can call to help fix things up.
And that's it! The full emotional roller coaster of building a custom home on your land. We promise it's worth it in the end!