This article originally appeared in The La Jolla Light
We have covered plenty of luxury home build “Dos” in our columns, including what to expect, how to prioritize, and how to expand your vision of a luxury home into something both personal and marketable. However, it’s also important to look at a few “Don’ts” for your building project. Some of these may seem minor (or even obvious), but experience has shown that these luxury home build Don’ts can turn the experience of building your dream house into a nightmare.
Don’t Get Carried Away with Details
Sure, Neuschwanstein Castle is a charming and famous tourist stop in Bavaria. But let’s remember that it’s still unfinished, almost 150 years after construction began, because King Ludwig II kept obsessively adding and changing details. It was also gaudy and garish for its time. (Things did not end well for Ludwig II.) Some people, when presented with a blank canvas on which to conjure their greatest fantasy, go overboard. Overboard on the details equates to exorbitantly expensive. Plot out a design and consult with your builder on what goes well together and how much it will all cost.
Don’t Get Lost in the Details
There are many decisions to be made when customizing your luxury dream home, including everything from how big to make a doorway to the slope of a roof to quartz versus marble countertops to where to put the dungeon and how thick to make the portcullis. There is a point in the design process when some homeowners get the glazed over look in their eyes, as if one more decision will make them explode, especially if they haven’t done any preliminary research and have no idea what goes into a personalized building project. If you find yourself losing track or becoming overwhelmed with decisions, your builder can help you by creating a website for your build, or coming up with a portfolio that goes room by room through the design and building process. By organizing the process, you can better keep track of the decisions to be made and see how they all mesh together. Especially for a high-end home, it can be helpful to hire a designer, even if you have a solid idea of what you want.
Don’t Depend on Your Builder for Every Decision and Idea
On the opposite side of the coin, some people dread making any decision and want to lean on the builder to dictate every choice. This is counter-intuitive to building a luxury dream home, since it should be your dream home and not the contractor’s. Relying solely on a builder to make decisions can lead to a more standardized concept of a luxury home, lacking original details that personalize the structure. If your builder doesn’t specialize in design, your luxury home may be “nice,” which is a synonym for “cookie cutter” and “generic.” If you lack vision, hire a designer to give you ideas. But ultimately, you need to make the decisions. Often, people don’t know what they want until a builder makes a decision they don’t want—and then they blame the builder. This is why it is important to go into the building process with a solid plan laid out.
Don’t Forget that in Substituting Details, Something Must be Taken Away
This is similar to getting carried away with the details. With every change, make sure you clearly communicate with your builder. If you add to the initial plan during the course of the build, everything will be affected, from space to time frame to budget. When building a luxury dream home, we understand that you’re working with a much higher budget. But this makes it easier to sometimes forget if there is a maximum budget. King Ludwig II started off with enough money, but because he kept adding and changing, while attempting to build two other palaces simultaneously, his budget was drained, delaying construction. He was indebted, kept opening new lines of credit, and was finally declared insolvent and then deposed by the Bavarian government. Fortunately, most of us will not be deposed monarchs, but Ludwig II still provides a lesson that there is a limit, somewhere, that is important to keep in mind.
Don’t Forget that Delays are Inevitable
Almost every building project risks some delay. Often these can be beyond the builder’s control (El Niño, a storm in the Mediterranean that delays a shipment of Italian marble, a canyon fire, etc.). There can also be sudden neighborhood disputes over the build, or maybe it will take longer than expected to get all the initial permits approved. Even being indecisive about which range to choose for the kitchen can cause delays for the entire building team. If you are unable to make several decisions, creating prolonged delays, understand that your building team has a schedule and other clients planned. So realize that while there is an initial move-in date projected, your builder can’t guarantee that was final, so plan your living situation accordingly, and always have a contingency plan. If you take a break in the construction, they will go onto other projects, and your project will have to wait until they’ve finished with the other one.
If you’ve sensed a common theme here, it’s that having a solid plan and communicating with your licensed, professional, and experienced luxury home builder, with the help of a professional designer, are invaluable to a successful luxury home build. There is no such thing as a guaranteed drama-free construction project, but there are plenty of things you can do to avoid a nightmare build. To get started on your luxury home build, or if you’re interested in a remodel, or if you have any questions about the luxury home design and building process, contact us for expertise at www.murfeycompany.com.