At Prestige Homes, we have built over 14,000 homes over the course of almost half a century – all at our factory in Sussex, New Brunswick. As you might imagine, this level of experience has created a highly efficient set of processes that our Mod Squad of expert modular builders is able to follow.
But here’s the reality: Building a home – no matter the size and specifications – is never an easy process. While we can, to an extent, predict the time it will take to design, build, deliver, and finish your home, there are always factors not completely in our control that can lead to delays – and this will be the case for any builder.
While the modular building process does offer some clear efficiencies over the traditional “stick-built” approach, we aren’t completely impervious to these outside factors, and at Prestige Homes, we believe in being completely transparent. This is a philosophy of clear communication that we carry through the entire homebuilding process, from your first phone call to the day we hand you the keys to your new home.
No homebuilder can guarantee zero delays, so we think it’s best to pull from the depth of all that experience we have with those 14,000-plus completed homes to help our customers understand the common causes of delays, along with some tips to negate these potential challenges where possible. As far as we are concerned, the more you understand about the process, the better!
All that being said, here are our top 8 tips for a smooth build.
Tip 1: Financing can be fickle
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Buying a home is one of the largest purchases you will make in your lifetime and securing financing is not always as straightforward a process as you might imagine. There are multiple steps and organizations involved in getting your financing approved, including the financial institution (lender); the Canada Mortgage and Housing Association CMHC, or other insurer; and the appraiser. That’s a lot of paperwork and a lot of opportunities for the process to get delayed a little.
You can help yourself by getting ahead and making an appointment with your financial institution BEFORE you set your sights on a particular house. The bank will look at your income and current monthly debt load to come up with a ballpark figure on what you can afford. After that, be open about your budget with your builder to ensure everyone is on the same page right from the get-go. A good builder will be willing and able to work with your budget and may even be able to make suggestions on where you can save money to squeeze more out of the budget you are working with.
Keep in mind that building a home is a complicated transaction with a lot of factors and parties in play. Be patient and always allow a little more time than you think to get the financial aspect of buying a home in order.
Tip 2: Your existing home may not sell quickly
Have an existing home you need to sell before you can buy your new home? That may not happen as quickly as you might expect. Even if you have a beautiful, well-priced home and the market is favourable to sellers, there is never any guarantee that a sale is going to go through swiftly and smoothly. Until the sale closes, there is always the risk of unforeseen delays in the process.
There is no exact science to this. In fact, even the most experienced realtors in your market can sometimes be surprised by how quickly or slowly a home will sell. Nor is there any easy answer, other than getting as much planning, paperwork, and – if possible – site preparation done on your new home while you are in the process of selling your existing home.
Most likely, you will need to sell your current home (or at least have a firm offer for it) before construction can start on a new home. It is very rare that a homeowner would be in a position to move directly from their current home to the newly built home, so you should plan to have somewhere to stay and/or store your belongings in the interim.
But don’t forget, there is plenty you can be doing to get prepared. Do your research to identify a builder – or shortlist of builders – you would like to work with. Research plans. Have those conversations with your financial institution. In short, be as ready as possible to move into your new home once the business of selling your existing home is completed.
Tip 3: Construction experiences peak periods, too
Just as there are times when traffic gets heavy and your usual commute can become longer than expected, so too are there peak periods for home construction. We all try to avoid being on the roads during “traffic hour” and the same kind of thinking can be applied here.
So, what are the busiest times at Prestige Homes? Typically, the summer and the fall see the most demand on our factory. This may sound obvious, because people’s minds aren’t typically on moving during the frigid winter season, but it is important to keep in mind because it can have an impact on the time it will take us to build your home if there are lots of homes that need to be produced.
Of course, it’s not always possible to avoid traffic jams on the roads, simply because they tend to occur at the times most people need to be out driving. Similarly, it may not be possible to avoid peak construction periods; because this may just be the time you need to find a new home. That being said, at Prestige Homes we like to offer this Golden Rule of Construction Timelines:
For a summer move, call in the fall.
For a Christmas move, ring in the spring.
We say this because we do get a lot of people coming to us in the spring, wanting to move into their new home that summer. Similarly, people will come to us in the fall wanting to be in their new place by Christmas. Those scenarios will never come to fruition. That’s why it’s critical to understand what’s involved in building a new home. You can learn more about our timelines by reading this blog post.
Even with that said, these things can be unpredictable. Yes, our orders usually pick up in the late winter and early spring, but it isn’t an exact science and it isn’t uncommon for a large influx of orders to suddenly come in at any stage of the year. This can put extra demand on our retailers, sales team, design department, as well as our factory, resulting in delays. Such delays are no-one’s fault, nor do we talk about them to offer any excuses. They are simply a reality of producing a complex product (a home) in an always-unpredictable marketplace, and are true for any builder. Again, we feel that being open about this is an important part of our philosophy of complete transparency and open communication with our customers – current and future!
Tip 4: Make up your mind, before you sign
Here is a tip for a smooth build that, as the customer, is very much in your control: Make up your mind, before you sign. One of the great benefits of building a modular home is that every detail of your new home – right down to the finishes and any additions like decks and garages – will be worked out before a hammer is swung. This also means that the price you sign for is the price you pay – no hidden costs, no allowances, and no surprises.
This also means you’ll want to put a lot of thought into all the decisions you are making about your home. Our expert custom home consultants will work with you every step of the way to ensure you are comfortable with every decision you make in creating your vision for the perfect home, so there should be no question that everything is to your liking when you sign.
Changing your mind after the paperwork is completed, however, has the potential to cause delays at every stage of the process. It can slow down design, hamper work at the plant, and significantly delay site finishing work. Furthermore, changes after signing can create increased costs, as we need to charge fees in order to cover any such changes.
If you are going to be handling any of the site preparation work yourself and it isn’t ready come delivery time – for any reason – this can also lead to delays in the delivery and site finishing of your home.
The takeaway? Give good thought in the design stages and be certain of your choices before you sign on the dotted line.
Tip 5: Time can come down to taste
Prestige homes are highly customizable. We offer lots of options, some of which are considered standard, while others are upgrades. These upgrades can come with an extra cost – not just in terms of money, but also in terms of time.
Of course, there are lots of materials we keep in stock at our factory, such as lumber, drywall, roof shingles, and standard plumbing fixtures. These are things we know are going to go into every home. But with the great amount of customization we offer you in the design of your home, many of the materials will only be ordered once your home has been issued for construction. Things like windows, doors, and specialized products that we don’t stock at the factory can take as long as 6-8 weeks to come in, so in many respects timing depends on your tastes!
We don’t say this to discourage you from choosing the upgrades you desire; we want to build your dream home down to the very last detail! It’s just something to keep in mind from a timing perspective, and we always strive to communicate clearly any impact on timing your choices might have.
Tip 6: No one controls the weather
As we always say, one of the biggest benefits of building modular is that your build is far less at the mercy of the elements. It is true that rain, wind, or snow won’t often slow us in building your home in our climate-controlled factory, but there are some ways in which adverse weather could cause unwanted delays, even with a modular build.
These issues typically occur at the site. The cold can make it difficult to affix siding, and we wouldn’t want to be attempting to make your home weather-tight during a rainstorm or heavy snowfall! Adverse weather conditions can also delay delivery, should, say, a blizzard hit on the planned delivery day, making it too treacherous for our trucks to take to the highways.
At the end of the day, Mother Nature will sometimes have her way. Just rest assured that we will communicate any weather-related delays clearly and that these kinds of delays tend not to last too long. (As we are fond of saying in Atlantic Canada and Maine, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes!”)
Tip 7: The human factor
Yes, we may be able to build homes in a factory environment using an incredibly efficient assembly-line process we’ve perfected building over 14,000 homes in the last almost-50 years, but it’s still human beings that do the vast majority of the labour. Our Mod Squad of expert modular builders may be among the best at what they do, but that doesn’t make them impervious to illness or needing the occasional vacation!
The truth is, like any business, there are times when we find ourselves a little short on human resources and this can make production run a little slower. We strive to work around these challenges, but, like our builders, we are only human.
Again, should we be experiencing temporary slowdowns in production due to “the human factor”, we are always transparent with our customers and we generally get such challenges resolved quickly, and our factory pumping at full efficiency in no time!
Tip 8: It doesn’t end with the build
We build indoors, but there is still work left to do once we complete construction at our factory and bring your home to the site. Plumbing and power connections will need to be made, any additions such as decks and garages will need to be added, and finishing work such as completing siding and fixing drywall still has to occur. As with any stage of the process, there are still factors that can be outside our control that may push back your move-in date.
We are always coordinating with the relevant power companies for the regions we serve, but they may have challenges of their own that can impact their timeline to complete your power connection. For instance, a storm resulting in downed lines can easily turn a 3-week connection time into a 6-week connection time as their crews are out trying to fix lines and restore power to existing homes. (At the time of writing, the permitting process necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic has also increased these timelines.)
Power companies aren’t the only third parties we need to coordinate with. While it is true that most of the work will be done in our factory long before your home ever reaches the site, there is still site work that requires the involvement of sub-trades. Of course, we are working with these contractors on a very regular basis, so our communication with them is generally excellent, but there can be occasions when they become stretched and their availability can impact a timeline.
Remember, we’re building a house here!
Like, a whole entire house! While we have been doing this a long time and have refined our processes to give you the smoothest, most satisfying journey to your new home, it isn’t a simple undertaking. Things can and will come up. Construction can be unpredictable, but our Custom Home Experts are very vigilant in communicating the latest information they have on your home, as soon as they receive it.
The great news is, there are many things we can predict. (In fact, these far outweigh the things we can’t!) So perhaps the best tip for a smooth build is to be patient, trust our experts, keep asking questions when you have them, and look forward to get receiving those keys and taking ownership of your very own Prestige home!
(NOTE: INCLUDE MODULAR VS. STICK-BUILT CTA AT END)