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Building a House Is A Lot Like Running A Marathon

Last Friday Gary and I headed out to the Copper Ridge project, and just like every site visit, we walked around the house, taking a look at the completed work and evaluating what still had to be done. I consider myself a pretty detail-oriented person (okay, it's a bit of a problem, but this is neither the time nor the place). To be honest, I'm extremely detailed and it's one of those things that can drive a person crazy at times, but at other times, can be highly beneficial. Immediately, I recognized the problem in the kitchen. The problem wasn't huge, it wasn't detrimental, but it was going to change the way we moved forward in this space. And though we were staring into the face of adversity, we celebrated the opportunity failure would bring.

You see, building a home is a lot like running a marathon. Whether you are the builder or the owner, you are likely to run up against not one, but several, challenges. You have to be prepared to take failure as an opportunity. Running takes a lot of mental strength, and building a house requires the same mental stamina. Just as a runner can't allow his mind to accept defeat in the face of challenges, you can't allow your mind to accept it either.

Now, we all know it's smart to train before a marathon, and in the same way, it's important to do your research and be prepared for challenging moments on the course to your dream home. Here are some tips to get you across the finish line!

#1: Before you commit to a builder, do your research!

Believe it or not, not all builders live up to their promises. Some builders have some pretty amazing websites, and at first glance, they look real good, but don't be fooled by appearances. Before you commit to a builder get references. Your references should include previous clients, subcontractors, and suppliers. Most people see the obvious benefit of speaking to a previous client, but you might be asking yourself, why the need to speak to a subcontractor or supplier? Talking to subcontractors and suppliers is an easy way to find out whether or not you're working with an honest builder. Ask them whether your builder pays them on time. The last thing you want is to hire a builder who doesn't pay his bills — which could lead to a lien being placed on your home.

#2: Be clear about your expectations and beware of builders who shape expectations.

Alright, alright, alright (using my best Matthew McConaughey voice) before you even speak with a builder, have some expectations. For example, you should communicate your expected move-in date. Ask your builder whether or not your expectation is reasonable, and expect an honest answer. As you listen to your builder in the first couple of meetings you have with him/her, listen for "shaped expectations." These are expectations that are promises like, "We will return your phone calls within 24-hours," or "We will provide weekly updates of your project." The more promises your builder makes, the more you should proceed with caution. That doesn't mean you can't select that builder. It only means you should make sure promises are put in writing.

#3: Pick a builder and go for it!

At this point, you're all in! Keep in mind that there will be a few rough patches, but chances are, if you paid attention to #1 and #2, you've got a great builder who will help you through each step of the process. Your builder should provide you with a long-term plan as well as frequent updates regarding your project.

#4: Be flexible.

Before building and designing homes, I was a high school cross country coach — crazy, right? —I'll never forget one of the most challenging meets we attended. The weather was not on our side. The rain had created a mud pit on the course, and it only continued to come down as a constant stream of clouds rolled in. This was not what we had trained for. Our runners were troopers though. They made it work. And although no one set a personal record that day, they made the best of what was handed to them. While you and your builder may have a long-term plan, be prepared to be flexible. Yes, flexibility might be messy at times. It might look like being flexible with your budget (within reason) and cutting somewhere you hoped you wouldn't have to. It might mean being flexible with timing of the delivery of certain items, or it might mean being flexible with the completion date (again, within reason). Just remember to make the best of the challenges. You never know where the adversity will lead you!

#5: Dig deep, finish strong, then party like it's 1999.

I've been a runner, I've been a home owner, and of course, I've been a builder. I know what it's like to have to dig deep and search for that light at the end of the tunnel. Trust me, it's there! And once you've crossed that line (or signed the hundred pages of your closing docs), you can celebrate! If you've ever ran, you know the feeling of utter satisfaction when you cross that finish line. Remember— the joy is in the journey. As it turns out, every single minute was worth it.

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