In this family's home construction a mistake is caught giving the builder time to address the issue and make the necessary changes without incurring major cost. The longer an issue goes unfixed the costlier the solution becomes.
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A good example is the Oberg home. It wasn't until the footer for the foundation was complete that the surveyor discovered a problem — a section of the footer was put in the wrong place. Greg Allen, the site supervisor, had to have that section of the footer re-poured, which involved getting the mixer back out to the lot.
Note: If this footer problem had gone unnoticed, this particular garage wall would have moved in 6" -- changing the size of the garage, the layout of the second-floor rooms and even the roofline. Thankfully, the re-pouring of the footer took care of the problem and the laying of the foundation blocks could be continued.
When building a foundation of this size and complexity, it's important for the site supervisor to keep the masons and other subcontractors informed about the details of the home. "There are eight or nine different types, size and shapes of block in this foundation," Allen explains. "What I do is color-code them, give them [the masons and subcontractors] a list of everything I figured and the way I figured so they know how many [blocks] I have for each wall and what pieces for each wall. I break it down wall by wall by wall for them."
Each color indicates a different type of block or an opening for a window or door. The masons can quickly look at the plan and know which block to use next.
Believe it or not, even with this much attention given to details, errors can still occur. For example, along the back wall of the home, a mason inadvertently left out a window. "It was just a mistake," Allen said. "I gave them color prints to indicate the different colors of block but the rain we had a little bit the one day and with the sun the colors were starting to fade away so it's not so quick and easy to see as it was originally." Know that these types of errors are common when building a custom home! And the time taken to fix them adds up, and so much so that the move-in date can be affected.
Tip: Frequent visits to the job site by the homeowners can help to uncover these mistakes.
Another problem occurred concerning the bricks for the house. A special-shaped brick being used on the house was not going to be ready in time for when the bricks should be laid. The brick laying starts in six weeks; however, this particular brick would not be ready from the manufacturer for 10 to 12 weeks. "Building a home takes a lot of time," Allen says, "and it takes a lot of effort on both the builder's part and the homeowners' part. The homeowner has to be able to keep up with the demands of the schedule." A selection sheet (for choosing the bricks, fixtures, paint colors, etc.) is given out by the builder to the homeowners, and it's up to them to keep on track. Allen says it's vital to make the selections as quickly as possible.
The Obergs solved the brick dilemma by going back to the brick store and find a replacement that looks good and can be delivered on time.
As the mason team rounds the front-right corner of the house another mistake shows up, and it's on the blueprints this time. It takes a long time to figure out exactly what the problem is, and especially how to deal with it! There was a discrepancy in one of the doorframes — an 8" error, in fact. Allen had to shift the door over 4" due to the error. Even though there was a mistake in the blueprint, the door will be fine and look centered from the street. Unbelievably, this 8" mistake will show up again and again (changing room sizes, rooflines and more) during the building process.