What to observe during the process of building your house?

Builders typically schedule several tours with clients while their new home is under construction and after it has been completed. Here’s what you can expect at every visit.

He signed a contract on his new home and selected his cabinets, appliances, flooring and other finishes. If you thought it was exciting, get ready: the next step is the beginning of construction.

You’ll no doubt be eager to see how workplace events unfold: When asked about how to track the construction process, panelists at the New Home Source Insights Panel said they were interested in tracking their home’s progress in real time through photos, Time-lapse photography and drones. Of those surveyed, 25 percent of respondents said they visited their home construction site several times a month (stopped by the home site).

It’s understandable that you want to see the progress of your home, but for safety reasons, as well as the demands of a production schedule, it’s not feasible or advisable for homeowners to visit their home’s construction site without someone to guide them. Your builder will organize guided tours at specific points in the process.

Practices can vary from builder to builder, but there are usually two paths: after the mechanical and structural systems are prepared, but before the installation of insulation and drywall, and after construction work is completed.

The previous tour of drywall

Maracay Homes in Scottsdale, Ariz., calls the Hard Hat Tour pre-drywall tour. “Most builders do this walk,” says James Attwood, Maracay construction area manager. “Many call it an option walk or a pre-drywall orientation.”

During the tour prior to drywall installation, the construction manager confirms that all selections and options have been installed based on the customer’s purchase agreement and provides information on building components before they are covered with drywall. “It’s a good opportunity [for us] to explain a lot of the things that help make your home work, but the main point is to confirm that all the selections are in place,” Attwood says. “After installing drywall at home, it is much more difficult to install options located inside the wall cavity.”

This tour usually lasts approximately 1 to 1.5 hours. The construction manager reviews the structure of the home and its mechanical systems, which include heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), plumbing and electricity. The construction manager also reviews all phone, cable, and audio/video selections and locations to make sure they have been installed according to construction documents. At this time, the construction manager will review warranty and service procedures as well as the customer’s responsibilities for long-term maintenance.

How to make the most of this tour?

To make the most of a tour prior to drywall installation, Maracay recommends that customers bring the following items:

  • Copy of the builder’s customer service manual
  • Purchase Agreement
  • Selection sheets
  • Phone, cable, and audio/video diagrams
  • List of options and updates, if applicable
  • Garden and pool plans, if applicable

In addition, it is recommended that the owner take a lot of photos of the interior of the house. Once the drywall is lifted, the photos you take during this tour will come in handy to help you avoid drilling a pipe or wiring while hanging the wall decoration.

The pre-liquidation journey

The second tour is sometimes referred to as a pre-liquidation tour. Maracay calls it the “New Home Orientation.” This tour takes a little longer, often 2-3 hours, and takes place after construction is completed, usually several days before the house closes.

According to Attwood, the Maracay New Home Orientation goes beyond the traditional tour to include a detailed demonstration of the home’s operation and a review of the owner’s maintenance responsibilities and guarantees. This tour is also another opportunity for the builder to confirm that the home has been built and delivered with all construction work completed and selections installed as requested.

Right now, the construction manager demonstrates how to operate the heating and air conditioning units, appliances, electrical circuit breakers, plumbing shut-off valves, and other necessary equipment that keep a home running smoothly.

Inspection of touch-ups and imperfections

During the pre-settlement tour, the owner and construction manager will inspect surfaces such as floors, walls, window glass, mirrors, appliances, and countertops to make sure there are no chips, scratches, or other noticeable damage. It is advisable to conduct this inspection with an eagle’s eye, because such cosmetic items will not be covered by the warranty after closing and moving into the house. Remember that any items that require attention should be written down on an inspection checklist or checklist.

“This is the client’s opportunity to identify cosmetic defects in cabinets, countertops and other things that are susceptible to damage after the client closes the purchase of the home,” says Attwood. “After closing, there is no way to know if the cosmetic damage was caused during the construction process or if it was the result of damage incurred during the moving process.”

Paint touch-ups are the most frequently observed elements on a tour. You should also check hardwood floors, countertops, carpets, drywall, appliances, cabinets, windows, bathtubs, showers, tiles, etc. Walk around the outside of the house as well, looking for things like damaged siding, neglected bricks, and poorly sealed cracks. If the landscaping is already done, make sure there is no dead vegetation.

Homeowners receive a stack of documents on this tour, including a list of emergency phone numbers for critical business partners, such as heating and plumbing, that may be needed after business hours or on weekends. They also receive documentation from manufacturers of the furnace, water heater, appliances and other consumer products. But quite a bit of information is passed on verbally, so instead of relying on your memory, take a lot of notes and ask a lot of questions.

The goal of Maracay is to complete all the elements noted in the New Homes Orientation before the closing of the escrow. Generally, most are completed before the owners move in. If there are items pending when the closing date arrives, Maracay coordinates the completion of the work in the same way that a warranty request would be handled.

But, Attwood says, “it’s certainly the exception to the rule to have an open game at the time of closing.” Some builders allocate only 30 to 45 minutes for this tutorial. Don’t let them rush you during the process. It’s better to fix the small things now, before they become bigger, more expensive problems. It also benefits the reputation of the builder to handle these issues promptly.

The final route

Maracay schedules a third and final tour, or what he calls the “New Home Presentation,” several days after the New Home Orientation. “Typically, for us, it’s about three business days between orientation and presentation,” Attwood says. “So if the orientation was held on a Monday, the presentation would be on Thursday or Friday of that week. Within that period of time, we will complete all the checklist items.”

Builders prefer to fix problems before homeowners move in because it’s easier for them to work in an empty house, but some items may need to be corrected after the move. For example, if the tour is in winter, gardening adjustments may need to be delayed until spring.

During the one-hour tour, owners are asked to initialize and sign the full items of the checklist, documenting that the work has been done to their satisfaction. If new items are discovered, they are sent to the Maracay warranty department so repairs can be scheduled after the move.

It is common practice for builders to schedule follow-up visits during the first year of homeownership to make necessary adjustments and make non-emergency repairs, such as nails in drywall. Nail jumps occur due to the natural settlement of the house and are best treated near the end of the first year.

While it’s important for customers to verify that checklist items have been completed, the final inspection is really more of a celebration. When new homeowners stop in front of their house, they see a sign that says “Welcome to your new Maracay home” hanging on the garage door. Usually, the entire team is present, including the project manager, warranty representative, and salesperson. “We give them the keys and a gift basket and take pictures of them in front of the house,” says Attwood.

Do’s and Don’ts Tutorial

Here are some things to keep in mind as you tour and inspect the home with your builder.

Things to do:

  • Make a list ahead of time of any questions you have about maintenance and warranty procedures.
  • On the date set for the tutorial, make sure you can devote your full attention to the task at hand. Try not to schedule other appointments.
  • Bring pens, paper, a paper clip, and a digital camera so you can take notes and photos.
  • Bring your purchase contract, customer service manual, selection sheets, audio/video diagrams, and garden and pool plans, if applicable.
  • Wear appropriate clothing for walking on a construction site, including closed shoes.
  • Park on the street, not in the driveway, especially if the house is still under construction.
  • Keep your helmet on during the tour.
  • Check the expected completion dates for repairs, if necessary, and get a copy of the complete checklist before leaving the site.

Things not to do:

  • Arriving late to the tour. Builders have busy schedules and can have appointments with other clients on the same day.
  • Bring pets, children, or other family members and friends. You should focus your attention on what is presented.
  • Rush with the tour. Take your time and be thorough.
  • Be shy about asking a lot of questions.

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By Catharine Bwana