Updated: Dec 10, 2020
Real Estate is a Passion
Having a career in real estate would lead some to believe that buying a home of your own is easier, but I am here to tell you it is worse. My expectations are already unusually high, so to take on the building of your own home heightens these expectations. Some would say it is because I do not like to part with money, but that is not true. When building a house, you quickly come to the realization that parting with money is the name of the game. Set your budget, then double it and start writing checks.
Where the frustration comes in, is when you write the check and the craftsmanship of the quality of work is subpar. I immediately go into “I’ll do it myself mode.” I work hard for my income and so do others without question, but for goodness sake what happened to quality standards? What happened to feeling pride in your work? This immediate gratification world is not for me. I am not saying work at a turtle pace, but slow down. Do not be in a profession you do not love. I have no problem paying my hard-earned money to someone else who has worked hard to earn it. But throwing money away is not how I operate, and I will be the first one to tell you.
“What happened to quality standards? What happened to feeling pride in your work?”
Your home is probably the largest purchase you will make in your life. It can also be the largest financial burden if you allow it to be. I am always perplexed with watching people around me spending more than they have. So, I am thrilled to see HGTV pushing tiny houses and how to live mortgage free. Financial freedom is without question the most fulfilling enjoyment in life. That is why when I set out to build this home it was to consolidate my real estate holdings, thus ensuring an affordable mortgage with a plan to pay it off within a few years.
The home builder is still sending me their survey to complete, so I am going to take the liberty of completing the survey now.
Here is how it all started. I set out to find a new home that provided security, solace, and an investment of course. Looking for something with minimal maintenance, I thought a townhome would be an ideal option. So where do you go for security and solace when you live in Las Vegas? You look to the outskirts of town, so that is just what I did. There it was, the perfect option, or was it. I got back in my car and drove around the area. Wait a minute, look at those single-story homes on the hill. Single story would be a great option and the view from the model was amazing. Next question, “What lots are available?” Never should have asked that question after falling in love with a home. Perfect home, but it is not the perfect lot. Clearly, I am not the settling type, so I got back in my car and sat there a minute looking around for other options. When I looked up the mountain even further it was all two-story homes. I figured since I was considering a three-story townhome, maybe I should look. This time I reversed my approach. I walked into the model and immediately asked what lots were available to build on and I took the sheet and drove them all. There it was, the perfect lot. Now the house. Was it everything I wanted? No, but I am a visionary of design so that could be fixed.
Since I had never been involved in or built a home from the ground up, I had a few lessons to learn. Things that you can only learn as you go through the process. They really need a lesson in building a semi-custom or custom homes. You know, like the book on “What to Expect When you are Expecting.” I could have never expected that I would say this but buying an existing home would have been much easier and less expensive, and I still would have gotten what I wanted with some renovations.
So here are the answers to the survey.
At the initial orientation walk through, did you receive adequate information as to the process and what to expect? No, the walk through happened on a day that the sales agent was absent, so the orientation paperwork was not provided then or ever. The engineer was not present, instead his boss was sent someone who was not able to answer many of my questions. So, we were left with the superintendent that clearly knew this process was a joke and knew more than anyone with the least amount of authority. Then there was the design specialist that was attempting to fill in for the sales agent, unfortunately no one gave her instructions. All and all, it was a cluster. We walked the model home to be instructed on what was an upgraded feature and what was standard. The whole meeting felt like the opportunity for the home builder to say get out your checkbook because everything you see will cost you a fortune. After this meeting there was zero follow-up from the absent sales agent. I get that people have things that come up, so either reschedule or at the very least follow-up with the home buyer.
Were you informed about the groundbreaking? Groundbreaking, what groundbreaking? I guess they forget to inform the home buyer. I was not informed or invited. Instead I was informed after the slab was poured as the superintendent informed me, they moved the house up a month and a half. And you guessed it the slab was poured prior to the design selection, which required the concrete to be cut for pipes to be moved. Funny thing is they blamed me for not scheduling my design appointment earlier and attempted to charge me for the modifications.
Did the design center meet your expectations? If you consider me taking the lead on scheduling a meeting after they questioned me as to why I had not scheduled. How would I know when to schedule a design meeting? I would expect that the home builder be communicating with me, but no they accused me of not following up with them. I did not know it was my responsibility to coordinate the building of my home. The last time I checked I was the home buyer and they were the builder. When I arrived at the design meeting I was asked if I had picked out extras on the design chateau? I informed the designer that I never received a username and login, so how could I have possibly been able to view a private design chateau? She seems puzzled and perplexed. I asked her what my username and password was, and she was able to provide this to me and then stated that this should have been provided to me during the initial orientation walk through. Given the fact that she was there as the design representative, I found her comments shocking. She further stated that she found it unusual that I had not been on the design chateau. So, why did she not call me prior to the meeting and provide me the login and inform me that I was to make some preliminary selections? Great question. Needless to say, the design appointment took nearly four hours because of this. I also found the prices to be astronomical and being told no to most of my selections. Not because it was not possible, but because the engineer did not agree with the design choices. My modern approach and his dead set traditional design idealisms were at a crossroads. I needed to settle and remove the items, only later to be replaced as desired. Funny thing is, the home builder could have marked up my requested modifications and made a ton of money. Upon the completion of the home I was told those changes could have happened by others who worked for the home builder.
Did the design selection meet your expectations? Well that depends on if me having to do all the follow-up is satisfying to a home buyer and if installing what you did not pay for is meeting expectations, then yes I say I did a good job. Imagine walking in your home and noticing standard sink installation when you paid for custom sinks and then imagine the concrete counters had already been formed around those standard sinks. Their response was that is what you ordered. Here we go again with the blame game. Nope it was not, and I had the paperwork and bills to prove it, so yet again they had to pay for silly mistakes, and I am sure this was a costly one. Say goodbye to your mark up on the countertops and sinks.
Did your home buying experience meet your expectations? The biggest challenge throughout this process believe it or not was the request for bare floors. As a custom home builder with minimal flooring options (tile or carpet only) you really sucked the life out of the word custom. So why we had to challenge the request for bare floors for months through every channel was absurd. We did prevail, but it came at a cost. Although the home builder was made aware of our desires to have concrete floors as the final product they took zero consideration to this fact by not finishing the cabinet bottoms, setting the floor plugs too high or too short to the floor boards, applying baseboard when we requested them not to, leveling the waterfall counter tops with shims that are visible and it was fun to find out the upstairs sub floor was not level requiring me to pay to have the floors leveled.
Were you adequately informed upon the final walk through of your home as to the inner workings of your home and warranty options available? Yes, I was informed about the warranty options available and the garage doors that were painted the wrong color, shower door that did not close in the master bath and fiercely shook upon opening it, all the sinks did not plug, two windows were not sealed creating condensation between them, cracks in the ceiling that span more than four feet in length, and touch up roller painting that was notable in most rooms. All and all, it appears there was not a checks and balance completed prior to the final walk through, and these items listed are only a few of the obvious ones. Then how about that follow through on the repairs, well neither the repairs nor the 30-day follow-up happened. Shocker!
Do you have any comments you would like to add? As a CEO, I know that no company is perfect, but when a home buyer has to email the top level executives in a company to get the attention desired as a homebuyer, that should tell you something is wrong with the processes of your business. This experience has been nothing but a costly hassle. I have heard from no one in your organization since closing on my home, not even the agent who received a commission.
So, the lesson here is to buy the standard home if you love the lot, and then gut the house and rebuild it yourself. This way you will not be frustrated and disappointed by overpaying.