Raleigh Home Builders Aren’t Unfriendly – They’re Just Busy Herding Cats

According to Wikipedia:  Herding cats is an idiom that refers to a frustrating attempt to control or organize a class of entities which are uncontrollable or chaotic.

Raleigh home builders are no different.

I think chaotic is the better way to apply herding cats to Raleigh home builders building a spec home.  Home Builders in Raleigh NC are martialing the services of multiple trade sub-contractors, as well as designers, cleaning staff and others.  In order to better understand why, even though you signed a contract to buy a home under construction, you are asked not to just stop by or be on the jobsite whenever it suits you.

  • There’s a tight schedule: As with most items we’ll discuss here, the reason you get a lot of home for the money often involves tight control of costs.  The completion schedule is very important, as the home builder is not building the home out of pocket.  There is financing, and there are costs for that money, as well as insurance costs to protect the work through your closing.  Whenever you just stop in, somebody will need to stop working to see what you want or to help you by answering questions.  Going over schedule costs money.
  • There’s a safety issue: Jobsites at new neighborhoods in Raleigh NC can be dangerous places.  At times there will be heavy equipment operating, power tools, workers above your head and other hazards.  It is unlikely that the builder’s job insurance coverage will cover them for injury of a buyer who gets hit by a falling joist.
  • You likely won’t find the right person: If you have a question about some phase of the construction or materials you see on the site, it is unlikely that you’ll be asking someone who knows the answer.  Often the general contractor builder isn’t on the job all of the time, as they are supervising multiple home projects at the same time.  This is another reason you get more for your money.  If you ask a plumbing sub a question about anything other than the single job he’s doing right now, you probably won’t get any answer or the wrong answer.

All of those situations are valid reasons for restricting your access to the jobsite, but the major factor in getting your home completed on time and within budget is sub-contractor supervision and scheduling.

Sub-Contractor Supervision on Spec Home Projects

This is where we can see the saying “herding cats” in play.  It’s not because the subs don’t want to do a good job or that they are incompetent.  The issue is that each sub, whether a roofer, plumber, electrician or carpenter is focused on their specific part of the project.  They want to get their job done within their budgeted time allotment just like the home builder.

When you have these different disciplines working in the floors and walls of a new home, the order of things is very important.  And, we all know that stuff happens.  The home builder must watch the process and make sure that there isn’t an electrician cutting holes and running wires where a plumber is going to have to run a plumbing vent.

The order of things is very important, and “do-overs” are costly.  Since wires and flexible conduit are more easily routed around things, the plumber usually gets in first because hard pipe is less forgiving.  And, everyone involved inside walls needs to be finished, work tested and inspected before the wall is closed in.

Material delivery is also a very tightly controlled part of the project.  The home builder doesn’t want your flooring delivered weeks early, sitting in the weather or not secured and ripe for theft.  Juggling materials delivery with sub-contractors who install them is tricky, but cats can be herded to end up with a great home you’ll love.

All of this is complicated and requires a lot of attention to detail so that after you move in you don’t find one faucet fixture not connected in the wall, or one ceiling fan not operating because a wire didn’t get to the box.  You want perfection, so help your builder out by working within the rules for job visits.  They’ll be happy to accompany you and answer questions if you work with them and understand the process.