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Top 10 Homeowner Frustrations

1. Difficult contractors.

Your dream project can become a nightmare project with a difficult contractor. You absolutely must research and select a reliable contractor who:

1) Is a good communicator. If you want the number one quality of a good contractor, this is it. Also known as customer service.

2) Can deliver the project you envision.

TV shows depict hiring a contractor as a seamless process, and you don't fall for that!

2. You ended up spending way more than intended.

It's common. It's so common that it happens almost every time. Proper planning and getting realistic estimates are crucial to weathering the storm of any construction project. 

3. You hired professionals but didn't get professional work.

Unfortunately hiring a professional doesn't always guarantee a professional job. Hiring professionals is a good first step but there is more to it than that. Hire the professionals that align with your expectations and standards.

4. Unrealistic expectations.

While home improvement TV shows help educate renovators, they downplay the true costs of home renovations and repairs. It's no wonder homeowners are confused. 

5. Disjointed design.

Even simple projects might require hiring multiple specialists like structural engineers, site planners, interior designers, energy consultants, and permit expeditors. Doesn't anybody do it all? Yes, architects do! We are trained in all aspects of design and we are professionals who hold a state-issued license to practice building design and construction contract administration. Architects are not only visionaries, they are technicians. We know codes and regulations, construction methods and markets. We are problem solvers, collaborators and project managers. True unicorns!

6. Poor communication.

Misunderstandings are common. The homeowner, architect, and contractor must all be on the same page. This is done by using the proper communication channels. Construction sites can get gossipy, fingers get pointed, and things can get ugly really fast. Head off such problems by getting out in front of all potential misunderstandings.

7. Construction delays.

Delays are inevitable. Best to just plan on being flexible when it happens. Edit the construction schedule and have everyone sign off on it when it happens. 

8. Construction hiccups.

There are 4 very important things I need to tell you about:

Scope of work: The entire construction industry operates around the concept of SOW or scope of work. The more detailed the SOW, the smoother and the better the project. Drawings, specifications, and contracts are the written documentation of the SOW. There are a couple of sayings, one is if it isn't drawn or written down, it doesn't exist. The second is if it's important, draw it. That's my job! That's how architects get these rich, detailed projects constructed! 

Schedule: You need a construction schedule. Even if you know it can and likely will change once you get started, start with a schedule so you are all on the same page. If something comes up you just modify the schedule when that happens. Do not work with a contractor who is unwilling to provide a schedule.

Change Orders: Understanding change orders can seem daunting but with a little bit of knowledge, they are not. All you need to know is that anytime there is a change to a contract, a change order may be requested. Change orders can arise from incomplete documents, owner changes, or other unforeseen changes. Your construction contract should outline what procedures will be followed when this happens. Everything must be documented in writing and agreed to by the contractor, owner, and architect before the work is started. Proper documentation ensures accountability by all parties. Just do the paperwork, it's worth it. 

Closeout: Welcome to the #1 frustration of project owners. That's right, it's closeout. The project is almost done, all of the workers have moved on. You still can't move in, can't get occupancy because of this, that, and the other thing.  So frustrating. Construction is hard. That's why we have tools to simplify it. Use the tools. Architects have the tools to close out the project.

9. Value.

If there's one thing homeowners value, it's, well, value. Value is the benefit to the purchaser in relation to the price paid. It is not the same thing as cost or price. 

In my experience, people value:

1. Customer service

2. Ethics and morality

3. Intrinsic and exchange value

4. Personal growth, authenticity, and well-being

5. Collective impacts

In order to find value, always consider what a quote includes, not just the bottom line. 

10. Unrealistic expectations of their architect.

If you haven't heard, architects work long hours. The job requires meticulous attention to detail, a broad spectrum of knowledge, the ability to apply that knowledge to a particular site and client, and the ability to create a set of plans that satisfies the building department's requirements AND reach the many suppliers and workers who come together to carry out the project. For every design a client sees, 15-20 iterations might be in the trash barrel. Client and user changes have a waterfall effect as everything in architectural design is interconnected. Oftentimes the architect must sort through conflicting information from owners, regulators, and builders. The pressure to produce, produce, produce is intense and leads to burnout. Then, the construction documents phase is where the rubber hits the road! Beams are sized and quotes are gathered and compared. Please remember to give your architect grace and compassion, let them take holidays, nights, and weekends to spend rejuvenating themselves, and you will be rewarded with a true masterpiece. You don't want your architect leading a boring life, trust me. This is supposed to be fun. 

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