Building Success 101
Q: Who ensures a quality job?
A: Merlin Contracting built our reputation on the quality of our homes. So for Merlin, the answer is everyone in our company is responsible for and ensures the quality of each job. Merlin marries a Project Manager to each job even before the plans are permitted. Our Project Managers will have in-depth knowledge about the project as well as solid working relationships with the company’s regular subcontractors. The Project Manager’s primary responsibility is making sure that the project gets built to specifications and that it meets Merlin’s quality standards. Regular jobsite visits by Steve puts his experienced eye on every phase, assuring what is in and behind the walls meet the same quality test as those parts of the home that show. At different phases Merlin’s entire team of Project Managers visit each home to critique the work underway, assuring the
Even in Vegas Building is Not a Game of Poker
Should you tell us your real budget? If you want a successful project, the answer is yes. Here’s why.
Steve and Bart occasionally meet homeowners who don’t want to reveal their true budget numbers. This lack of disclosure is not in their best interests and almost always sets the stage for disappointment.
Such reluctance is understandable, of course. Much of the online advice about hiring contractors treats the process as a poker game, with the contractor as the opponent. This mentality leads people to hold their cards close.
But the adversarial approach is the least effective one when planning a custom home. You’re not engaging in a one-time transaction; instead, you are partnering with an architect, builder and designer, all professionals who will transform your design vision into reality. Success demands that you choose a design/build team in whom you have enough trust to discuss how much you are prepared to invest. You can give a range rather than a hard number, but it needs to be realistic.
A reality-based budget is a crucial tool in the designing and construction planning process. Most people have preconceived notions of what a home should cost, based on square-footage prices they have seen here and there. But these assumptions seldom support the designs and products they’re envisioning, and the result tends to be frustration. Putting your budget cards on the table at the start of the relationship is the only way your design/build team can paint an accurate picture of what is possible.
The best approach is to bring your design, whether it’s a full set of plans or just a rough concept – along with your product wishes and your budget – to your trusted professional builder (ideally Merlin Contracting) for a planning session. The builder will weigh these against your proposed budget. If there’s a gap, having complete information opens the door to finding creative solutions. Merlin’s decades of experience building custom homes in Las Vegas has provided us with an extensive library of build options and because we have a vast database of costs, we are able to empower our clients with unique solutions to fit their budgets.
These solutions usually involve a bit of value engineering, which is a systematic approach to making intelligent tradeoffs that satisfy the homeowners’ priorities while fitting their budget parameters.
Value engineering may include altering the layout, such as reducing square footage in a way that doesn’t take space from the rooms you consider most important. If you’re applying for a construction loan, a knowledgeable builder will also make sure to reduce costs in ways that don’t lower the home’s appraised value. For instance, the market will likely value the home the same regardless of its roof covering, so choosing a different roof design with a different roofing material and system can substantially reduce the roof cost without affecting the loan amount.
The value engineering process can also include specifying less-costly products that, while not ideal, are easily upgraded later. For example, you can replace that $50 light fixture with the $1000 chandelier you want after living in the home for a while. Or you could opt for inexpensive carpet today and install hardwood floors in a couple of years. The builder will also ensure that you make the best choices today on items that aren’t easily upgraded, like cabinets and countertops.
This tradeoff process can go on until you have a set of plans and specifications that give you as much as possible of what you want without taking you out of budget.
The builder can’t do this creative work without an accurate budget. In other words, an honest discussion about costs is a prerequisite to getting a result that will satisfy. But it all comes down to choosing a pro that you trust to be your partner.
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