Many people limit the custom home building walkthrough to the very last minute check before closing. At this stage, prospective home owners cannot tell anything about the real structure. I recommend numerous walkthrough times throughout the construction process.
Before you sign a contract you should insure your right to see your home at least once or twice a week during the construction process. You should also establish construction details, such as the depth of the footings, which varies by area, and must be below your climates deepest frost line, as well as the spacing and dimensions of wall studs, dimensions of floor joists, the types of wood used in the subfloor and floor, and the various weights of OSB plywood sheathing used on your home. If you want to get granular, you should discuss the use of metal hardware to strap the frame together in some places as opposed to toe nailing. It has recently been proven that some of the longer metal straps increase durability against wind in stick built construction. From there you should discuss various selections packages and upgrades which deal more with cosmetic appearance of the home. Insure that there is a signed list of all of these important stipulations in writing before you sign the final contract.
Your first walk through should be well before you can walk through. You should see your footings dug out before pouring if at all possible. On another day, you should see the foundation and floor joists, before subfloor has been applied. You should see your studs before they are sheathed in plywood, and also observe the sheathing process. These are far more important ‘walkthrough’ evaluations, than the final walkthrough, where you check to see if the drawer pulls in the kitchen look nice.
From the beginning future homeowners should build checklists, and research every single aspect of construction. While your work crews are the experts, you should be able to spot problems or inconsistencies in their work. Anything that deviates from your agreement should be noted and questioned. It is fine to ask workers and subcontractors questions as long as you remain curious and pleasant. Save your complaints though, for your homebuilder or contractor.
Traditional stick built homes are built in layers, so that once one layer covers another, it is too late to see it. Be sure to make sure that your home builders and their subcontractors are following your instructions from the beginning, to the end. No final walkthrough is going to tell you what you need to know about what is inside your walls, above your ceiling or under your floor.
Modular homes and panel homes go up very fast. It is important to be very well informed about the materials and to be present when the walls go up. This may involve taking a couple of days off from work, but it is well worth the time investment to know exactly what you are paying for. Taking an active interest in your construction prevents problems later on.
By viewing your home at various stages you make the final walkthrough much simpler, because you only need to check on things that had to be done in the final week. The final walkthrough should be an introduction to your new refrigerator, and perhaps checking the knobs on the cabinets, not “why are my windows installed backwards?” or “why is the stairway squeaky?” It certainly isn’t the right time to say, “The bedrooms are smaller than specified in our agreement.” These issues should have been resolved months ago!
The final walkthrough should be a viewing of the completed home. Don’t close if everything isn’t finished. Two weeks before your closing everything should be nearly finished, and you should have a fairly accurate time table on any remaining work to be done. Again staying aware of the construction site, will allow you to make sure the home is ready by closing. Discuss any delays with your contractor or home builder.
While the final walk through should be an overview of the home as a whole, it should not be a time to discover major construction flaws. Keeping an active interest in your construction from the beginning can save you years of dissatisfaction, and potential lawsuits. Most of the people in arbitration and lawsuits would not be doing this, if they had done their research, paid more attention to the contract, and visited their jobsite regularly. Successful construction depends on first defining what you want clearly, and then catching mistakes as they happen. If you take care of home building business every week, then the custom home building walkthrough should offer no surprises.