With resale home inventory at record lows, more buyers who may not have previously considered new construction are now thinking about it as a viable option for their next home purchase. This recent shift in buyer behavior has generated a lot of heightened activity for home builders not only here in Lancaster County but also across the entire United States.
The shift comes with an equal share of challenges and opportunities for builders — perhaps none more important than the need to develop a realistic and deliverable construction schedule that will put the minds of buyers and their agents at ease.
Stick to the Schedule
The last things any buyer of new home construction wants to deal with are project delays and a ballooning schedule. The thought of moving into temporary housing until their new home is complete or having to negotiate a rent-back with the buyer of their current home is often why some buyers are hesitant to embrace the idea of new construction.
So what’s the good news in all of this for buyers and their agents?
If you work with a builder who has a solid track record for delivering homes on time, then all involved parties can rely on that past performance as the best indicator of future success. In the Lancaster County market there are reputable builders who regularly succeed in delivering homes on schedule. What’s their secret? There is no magic formula, but there are key drivers that contribute significantly to establishing and maintaining a successful construction schedule.
Five Key Drivers Behind a Firm Construction Schedule
The five drivers behind a firm construction schedule are similar to spokes in a wheel. They may seem unassuming on their own, but they keep everything running smoothly. And when one spoke in the wheel isn’t pulling its weight, the whole operation can come crashing down.
#1 — Clear Expectations and Milestones
A successful schedule is dictated before project kickoff. In fact, seeing the end at the beginning — and all the milestones in between — is how solid schedules are made. Agents and their buyers should make sure their builder of choice has a well-defined process and clear milestones in place for how the schedule will move along. Ask what steps are involved for home plans and home site selection, financing, personalizing the home, pre-construction and construction, change order process, new home orientation, closing and one-year follow-up.
#2 — Kept Commitments
Your buyers should be aware that changing their mind about home plan choice, design selections, etc. can often impact their schedule. Choosing a builder who helps guide the buyer through the design selection phase can make them more confident in their initial choices and help keep things on track. Also having an established portfolio of neighborhood plans and options to choose from helps streamline the process and creates a more predictable production environment, which also contributes to maintaining schedules. Anticipating the inevitable such as weather delays in wintertime means building in “slack time”. Building in such realistic factors will contribute to your new home being delivered on the settlement date you were promised early in the process.
#3 — Reliable Resources
Having a trusted network of vetted, reliable trade partners for materials and construction services is critical. Mike Hockenberry, EGStoltzfus Homes Director of Residential Construction, notes, “The construction schedule is just as important to our entire construction team as it is to our buyers. Any builder must offer a construction schedule formula that can be trusted as it is one of the most valuable tools for building strong trade partner relationships. The responsiveness of trade partners to a builder is absolutely critical to meeting milestones and completion deadlines.”
An invaluable network establishes a steady supply chain with few surprises and helps builders keep key schedule commitments from design selections, groundbreaking, framing, finish installation, final orientation and ultimately the closing.
#4 — Open Communication
Ongoing and open communication is a must in the world of new home construction. Everyone in the mix needs to know what’s happening — buyer agent, materials suppliers, service partners, construction crew and so on. Having an open communication process sets everyone up for success and keeps things moving along as scheduled.
#5 — Experience
Building a home with an experienced builder is one more way to ensure a home gets finished on time with minimal bumps in the road. A seasoned builder will have a wealth of knowledge to draw on — and if bumps in the road do happen, they’ll know how to navigate them smoothly without interruption.
Bill Patrick, EG Stoltzfus Homes
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