The Importance of Timely Color and Material Selections


The Importance of Timely
Color and Material Selections

February 23rd, 2016
This segment will be on the importance of timely
color and material selections and how they affect the construction schedule and
the relationship between a custom home builder and homeowner.
In the 30 plus years I
have been building homes, the level of decision making has changed
dramatically.  First, todays custom homes are far more complex than before
and require significantly more, in depth decisions to be made by the homeowner
than ever before.  Each homeowner reacts differently to the selection
process.  Ideally all selections are made prior to the home starting for a
variety of reasons.  When selections are made early, finishing materials
can be ordered and stored so delays are minimalized, there is less chance of a
product becoming unavailable when needed,Color selection and the construction process can
accommodate special selections.  The other scenario is a homeowner does
not complete selections in a timely manner until the job is delayed by lack of
information.  I am sure most homeowners don’t intend to end up in this
situation, however, it occurs more often than you would imagine.  In these
cases, the homebuilder is compelled to continually push the homeowner to
complete the selections needed to maintain the desired schedule.  The
homebuilder also has to prioritize which selections he is requesting based on
the stage of construction and how long order periods are for certain
materials.  There is a natural tendency for the homeowner to resent being
pushed to make decisions and the relationship can become strained as a
result.  When decisions are made late, there are other ramifications as
well.  Often time is lost waiting on the delivery of a product ordered
late.  Sometimes the order period for an item the homeowner wants would
result in too long of a delay and the homeowner is then required to
reselect.  Often the unfortunate result is additional costs are incurred
to allow a late selection to be used when a different material was originally
With so many terrific products and materials
available to the homeowner and home builder both at supply houses and through
the internet, the selection process is much more involved than it has
been.  To try to work through the process in a more user friendly manner,
we have recently modified our selection process into 4 sections which roughly
follow the construction process.  Some homeowners will continue to make
all selections in the early stages of construction, and they will benefit by having
a less stressful process as the finishing of their home takes place.  For
the others who require more time, the individual sections provide the minimum
information needed to allow construction to proceed.  In all cases,
however, it is wise to go into the selection meetings with ideas on what the
general style, colors, and finishing you want in order to minimalize the time
spent deciding on an overall concept.
In many cases the selection process involves
decisions on items that will not be installed until late in the construction
process, but never the less the integration of selections with other components
necessitate these early decisions to avoid problems and delays.  Plumbing
is one of these.  Master bath showers and tubs can be complicated. 
With free standing tubs, the drains can be in the middle of the tub, in the
middle but on one side, or at an end, some have a built in overflow drain,
while others require a separate drain, some have faucets that mount on the tub
itself while others mount on the floor or wall behind.  Given these
requirements if the tub is not selected prior to the slab plumbing, the cutting
of concrete is almost a given.  Toilets can mount on a wall or on the
floor.   For the floor mounted type, most but not all follow the same
distance from the wall.  If a usual one is selected the drain may need to
be moved.  Shower faucets offer the same challenges.  The proper
valve must be in the wall prior to drywall.  If body jets, diverters or
other items are to be used they must be installed at this time also.  Once
the valve is installed, the trim must match.
Appliances are another item that should be
selected before the home framing starts.  In order for the cabinets to fit
properly we have the cabinet company layout the cabinets on the floor for us to
frame to.  Different size/style appliances will cause changes to the
cabinet layout.  In addition, there are different venting requirements for
different cooking appliances, some appliances use higher amperage than others,
and some steam appliances have an internal storage and others require a water
line.  So while the appliances are not installed until the end of
construction, they must be selected early so they work properly.
Painting require advanced planning as
well.  We typically prime the walls when the drywall is finished leaving
the final coat until later in the process.  However, if the final color of
the paint is not known, we cannot select the proper pigment for the
primer.   If a darker color is selected later, it can result in additional
costs for additional coats that could have been avoided with a pigmented
These are some of the examples (but many others
exist as well) which show the critical importance of timely selections to a
smooth building process.  A thorough review of the selection process early
in the builder selection process can save time and money and will be an
important component of having an enjoyable building experience.
We are continually asked about the design build
process and what is involved.  In this section I will discuss the basics
of the process.  The overall timing is difficult to estimate in this
general conversation.  It depends on several items such as our work load,
the preparedness of the homeowner, and the number of revisions required.
In most cases the process starts when a
homebuyer has decided on a home site.  This site could be owned, under
contract, or in a due diligence period.  The initial task is for us at
this time is to determine the site conditions including required flood heights,
drainage requirements (if any), and architectural board requirements.  In
addition the site is reviewed for its view lines, access from road, and other
conditions important to the design.
Next the homebuyers design requirements are
discussed.  These will include overall home style, number of bedrooms and
bathrooms and other ideas wanted for the new house. is a great
place to see both current styles of homes and individual details.  Once we
get an idea of the expectations, we can determine if we have a prior house
design that maybe a starting point, or if the home will need to be designed
from scratch.  (Note, it is extremely difficult to arrive at a starting
point if the homeowners do not come to the initial meeting with some idea of
what they are looking for.)
Depending on design details, a time will be set
for a subsequent meeting to review an initial concept drawing.  If a clear
direction has been determined the presentation at this point may have the floor
plan and exterior elevations.  Other times we will start with a first
floor plan and make sure we are going in the right direction.  Either way,
usually we will come to an approved concept drawing.  At this stage the
project goes in one of two directions depending on the project.
While the concept drawings are being prepared,
we also are discussing the specifications for the house.  We will usually
present these around the time the final concept drawings are presented. 
In a lot of cases we will go directly to bidding at this time.  In other
cases when the concept drawings are at a point, the completion of the bid set
of plans will be turned over to an architectural design firm to complete the
required drawings to price the home from.  In coastal and beach front
areas, engineering will usually be required to be able to present an accurate
bid.  Both of these steps will result in fees being paid to the firms
involved.  The total of these fees will vary depending on the required
After the plans have been approved for bidding
the process usually takes 2-3 weeks for a full bid.  This can be reduced
if the home is a variation of one of our prior houses.  Once we have
assembled the bids, we will present a price for the work.  At this stage,
the homeowner will decide to go to contract to build the house, or request
revisions to the plans and/or specifications to adjust things to their budgets.
Written By, 
Stephen Kaufman, CEO of DIVCO Custom Homes