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10 Must Avoid Mistakes Before Building a Single Family Home

jerrimae gutierrez

    Sep 24, 2021

    22 min


General contractors can’t afford to make any mistakes.


In our previous blog about the lumber market, we shared CHBA’s analysis regarding the impact of lumber prices on the cost of building homes in Canada in the first quarter of 2021. Their study found that the average construction increase due to the instability of prices in the lumber market reached a ballooning price average of $19,254.

Among nine provinces included in the study, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, and British Columbia hit record-high increases above $20,000. With these costs in mind, general contractors must review their overall operation to help homeowners avoid paying unnecessary costs that might result from inefficient construction methods by general contractors. In this three-part blog series, Lucullan identified the must-avoid construction mistakes that may arise before, during, and after construction. We believe that identifying these mistakes will be helpful not only to the contractors but also for the homeowners and realtors too.

Keep reading to know the ten must-avoid mistakes before a single family home construction.

Ten must-avoid mistakes

1. Setting the bar beyond reality

This mistake is usually the number one enemy of building a successful single family home. Since the whole construction process depends on the expectations defined beforehand, being realistic with the terms set, designs given, specifications shared, and timeframe provided could definitely help make sure that the project on-hand is done efficiently so that the client will be happy and satisfied. 

This advice may sound cliche, but reminding you of using the  S.M.A.R.T. goal could help make any single family home construction plans realistic and achievable. 

2. Forgetting to communicate  

Not communicating could reflect how general contractors handle their internal affairs. Clients can quickly determine if the team is not communicating internally. In one of the reviews made by a client on a famous platform regarding a general contractor, she perceived that the contractor is disorganized internally. She found this out because whenever she gave a list of deficiencies to one person, they found that the rest of the team was unaware. Even if the contractor created a nice design for her home, the headache, and frustration she felt whenever she tried to get information from the team were not worth it. 

Because of what the client experienced, the company's overall credibility was affected. 

Communication is critical to making any project successful, positively impacting the client's satisfaction and the general contractor's overall performance. Make communication a habit before, during, and after any single family home construction.

3. Not gathering the entire team from the start

Even if you have the best set of skilled and professional single family home builders, failure to gather them together from the start may only result in sub-standard outputs. For example, the general contractor's exceptional architect may fail to provide his best skill in rendering if his priorities and goals are not aligned with the contractor's tasks. Assembling the team before starting the home construction should be kept in mind. Gathering the team together before the home construction lets you fully convey the homeowner's goal, which can eventually help you synchronize the overall home construction.

4. Assuming that the client is 100% aware of the project’s whereabouts

General contractors should ensure that their clients know the project's whereabouts, including each person's role in their team, particularly the point person they can contact for all their home construction-related concerns. If they failed to introduce their team correctly, their client could mistakenly communicate with the subcontractor, who is there to do the job given by the construction manager. If such happened, problems born out of miscommunication may occur, creating more issues later on. Once the client knows the whereabouts of the contracts and whom to contact, general contractors indirectly assure their clients that they have chosen the right builder for their dream home.

5. Failure to allocate enough time to the design and programming process.

The efficiency of execution once the home construction begins relies on the accuracy and carefully thought about details laid out on a  blueprint. It is, therefore, crucial to spend sufficient time programming the necessary systems needed to achieve an efficient operation and method to build a single family home. Allocating adequate time in the design process also has equal importance. Doing these things allows the team to fully grasp the plans, learn and follow the scope of work, assess risks, create high-quality designs and carefully review their work against the given standard and expectations.

6. Choosing the wrong materials

If the general contractors failed to select the proper and high-quality materials, even the most beautifully designed home could look terrible and, worse, never come into reality. Aside from these, the reputation of the product supplier and, more importantly, the contractor's credibility will be affected. Upon choosing materials, it is highly recommended to look for CCMC marks or materials approved by CCMC (Canadian Construction Materials Center). General contractors must also consider climate peculiarities and risks. In this case, higher costs are acceptable if the materials selected are high-quality, fire-resistant (if possible), and industry-recommended. Climate peculiarities and the type of land where the house will be built must also be considered. If builders fail in this task, the home may not stand long enough for homeowners to regain what they have invested. After all, homes are made to last as long unless unexpected and great earthquakes occur, which seemed impossible for homes to withstand.

7. Not minding the timing

A good general contractor knows that "timing" is vital in making the best decision. Not making the right decisions on time could make expenses heavier. For example, if the contractor plans to source a particular material at the time of the week when the demand is high, prices of materials may slightly increase—incurring additional costs, even if it's minimal, could significantly impact the budget of the whole project negatively. 

Those contractors who don't make timely decisions in sourcing materials may also experience delays in the construction schedule due to traffic congestion or unexpected problems in logistics due to typhoons and other uncontrolled phenomena. 

To avoid these problems, general contractors must carefully think about timely decisions, making the whole construction process move smoothly.

8. Not introducing a contingency fund

This mistake could arise, mainly if the contractor doesn't make timely decisions. As explained previously, costly delays often occur when contractors are not careful in setting timeframes. Such delays leave the contractor with no choice but to pay for the costs of their mistakes using their own pockets. To avoid such problems, contractors must consider adding a 5-10% contingency fund to their quotations or, much better, make timely decisions.

9. Implementing a modified plan for house construction that requires customization.

General contractors who plan to settle on a modified existing plan for a new project requiring customization will definitely be in trouble. Those contractors who do so may save some money initially but could later encounter problems, especially if the owner's expectations are not met. Before getting started with the construction of single family homes, contractors must make sure to get their client's approval.  In some cases, where the client is open to beneficial and cost-saving suggestions, that may be the only time you provide them with a modified plan. Just explain to them that the original plan for their single family homes may change slightly upon implementing the modified one.

10. Taking one move after another too quickly

Almost every client longs to see their home done entirely. However, overly speeding up the process to help them get this dream quickly can only result in more extended waiting periods, especially when plans are assumed to be ok without thinking about them twice or even thrice. Fast-track construction is only advisable when the project is carefully studied; if not, the risk of rework is very high. Based on a study, rework and change orders are more frequent when tasks are set on a fast-track schedule. The same source stated that based on a technical report by US Federal Facilities Council (2007), 33% of fast-track projects have claims for delay damage. In contrast, consecutively scheduled tasks have 7% only, 26% below the fast track projects.

The must avoid single family home construction mistakes mentioned earlier, like not gathering your entire team, failure to allocate enough time, choosing the wrong materials, forgetting to communicate, and the rest of the mistakes could all arise because of this mistake -- taking one move after another too quickly. Therefore, contractors are encouraged not to take quick action, especially if it's unreasonable. This will ensure that the project starts and ends smoothly and is lighter both for the contractor and their clients. 


Setting the bar beyond reality, forgetting to communicate, not gathering the entire team from the start, assuming that client is 100% aware of the project's whereabouts, failing to allocate enough time in the design and programming process, choosing the wrong materials, not minding the timing, not introducing contingency fund, implementing a modified plan to a house construction that requires customization and taking one move after another too quickly are the 10 must avoid mistakes before building a single family home.

Have you encountered one of those mistakes from one of your general contractors, renovators, or single family home builders in Burnaby, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, and Tampa? We hope not, and we hope you won't. Each homeowner deserves a head-ache-free home construction project! That's what we want you to experience--the fun and excitement of building your home. :)

Complete this 3-part blog series to find out the must-avoid mistakes during and after home construction to learn more.  

This article was last updated on May 26, 2023