We went to the building site almost every day.
During and after the framing is when we caught several mistakes -- in my plans, in Craft's plans, and in the sub's work. Ironically, some of the "mistakes" turned out to our advantage, such as this one:
The framing sub misread the blueprint and added an extra foot to the study/bedroom, leaving the guest bathroom 5' wide instead of 6' wide. (See the floor plan.)
I measured a similar bathroom in the house we were renting and it was only 5' wide, so making it 6' was actually a mistake on my part and we were happy to have the extra foot of space in the study/bedroom.
Here was a problem that wasn't actually a mistake:
While standing in the framed-up study/bedroom (with no wallboard up yet), we saw that there was a very nice view of the trees outside a wall which had no window. We decided to spend the extra money to have another window put in. Again, this was not a mistake -- we just had no way of knowing about the view that far off the ground until the house had progressed to that point.
Another problem with the study/bedroom was the result of a miscommunication between Craft and us. We had told Craft that we wanted the windows to extend low enough that we could sit at our desks and look out the windows.
|Craft figured that computer monitors, etc., would block most of the view if the windows started at 36", so he only took them down to 48" to save money. We could not tell from the elevation drawing nor the blueprint just how they would be, but as soon as we saw the framing, we knew they were too high -- there was no way we could see anything but up in the sky while seated.|
By swapping those windows with some larger windows in other parts of the house, plus ordering some additional windows, we were able to have windows in front of the desks which gave us a good view, but we had to pay about $1000 extra and the windows had to be re-framed and moved. For all the time we have spent at our desks enjoying the views, birds, and squirrels' antics out those windows, it was well worth it, but it would have been better to get it right in the first place.
|When the sheetrock went up, we caught some other problems that were not obvious when just the framing was up. One was that a closet was not deep enough to hang clothes in (by a few inches). Craft had the sheetrock pulled off and the closet re-framed. This was unfortunate, but it would have been much more unfortunate if it had not been discovered until the house was completed, the floor tile laid, etc.|
Since this was the sub's mistake, fixing it did not cost us anything.
Another problem that became apparent was that in my plans, I had located the master bathroom door over a little too far in one direction. We decided that it was not bad enough to tear apart and re-do (especially since we would have had to pay for it!).
Also in the master bath, a window that was supposed to be centered between the shower and the front of a linen cabinet was not centered. This did not become apparent until after the cabinets were installed. By this time, the walls were finished inside and out, and moving the window would have been a major job and expense. We let it go.
There have been other problems (leak in the
roof, a door opening the wrong way), but Craft caught most of these about the
same time we did and took care of them without our saying anything.
The time to get the builder to comply with specs is while the work is being done. If you wait until the final walk-through, differences which would be expensive to fix probably won't be done, contract notwithstanding. In theory, you could take the builder to court, but it would have to be something really, really major to justify that, and if it's that important, it should not have gone that long without being discovered and corrected. If you elect not to check the house during the building process, then that's just the chance you take.
Nevertheless, if you gave the builder pages of specs, you should review them one last time to make sure that you have checked everything off as it was being done. If you missed checking something or if it was something done near the end, add that to your list of things to check at the final walk-through (or before, if possible).
When it is time for the final walk-through, you and the builder will probably find several dozen other small problems which have gone unnoticed before. This is common and should not hold up the close, but you probably should hold back (put into escrow) some of the final payment to insure that the work gets done.
It is easy to get excited about finally getting the house and to be less than thorough during the walk-through, and the builder may try to speed you through it too, but if you take your time and do it right, you will be glad in the long run that you did.
At Judy's house, Judy did a walk-through prior to the final one, and I did one too a few days before the final, then we both walked through with the builder at the final. Judy and I each caught things on our preliminary walk-throughs which the other person missed, and we and the builder saw even more things at the final.
The escrow (and the contract) should also require the builder to fix things which do not show up until after you move in, but it is far better to get as much as you can on the walk-through punch list. If a door frame is scratched or dinged, it will be hard to establish if that was done during the building process (the builder's responsibility) or while you were moving in (your responsibility).
If you can get into the house prior to the scheduled final walk-through without getting in the way of the builder's people, you can do some of the things listed below. Many things you find may already be fixed by the builder before the final walk-through, but by checking things in advance while you can take all the time you want, you don't risk overlooking them at the final walk-through when the presence of others tends to make you rush a little.
Rule #1 - Test everything that moves or turns on/off. The builder will be keeping the list and may try to rush you through things, but if you skip checking something out and it turns out later not to work, you may have trouble getting it fixed later. We did not have trouble with Craft in this regard, but why take the chance?
Also, while checking everything else, watch for paint flaws, scratches, etc. Look for poorly joined sections in the baseboard and crown molding and door/window frames. It's very hard to make such joints completely invisible, but they should have at least tried to sand them down to the same level.
Heating and Air Conditioning:
Doors and Windows:
Drawers and Cabinets:
Garage and Driveway:
Paint, Trim and Other: