As a general contractor and luxury home builder, one of the comments I hear most often is:


“I don’t want to go through the build process.  Everyone says it’s a nightmare.”


With all the home improvement shows on TV highlighting the potential problems that can happen, it is no wonder people are afraid to build.


I am here to explain the real truth about building or remodeling your dream home.  It can be incredible!!  It starts with choosing the right contractor.  If you believe everything you see on TV, then you think builders are crooks, they hide sub-par work, they overcharge and under-perform, and you get a taillight warranty (the warranty ends when their taillights are out of sight).

I am not representing that these practices don’t go on.  They do, and it is a shame because they give good, honest contractors a bad name.  In addition, the homeowner gets damaged in the process, and that isn’t fair.  However, in most cases, THIS JUST ISN’T TRUE!


Here are some tips from a contractor, on choosing the right contractor for you, and how to make the building process more enjoyable:


  • Decide what kind of company you want to deal with. Do you want a large company with many levels of administration and multiples projects, or do you want a small “boutique” type builder who takes only a few projects a year and provides more personal attention?
  • Find a contractor with a passion for construction, and who enjoys what they do every day. The process will be much more enjoyable.  You will also have a better end product if the contractor actually cares about the project, instead of it being considered just a “job”.
  • Find someone you like and enjoy being around; someone who has a personality you connect with. Depending on the scope of work, building can be a long process.  It is a relationship, so start off on the right foot by connecting personally to the contractor you are getting into the relationship with.
  • Do research. Ask for references, and call them.  Ask how the building process was for them (was it enjoyable, was the builder honest, was the work done with quality and care, did it stay on budget, did it stay on schedule).  If not, were these actually the contractors fault?  Sometimes owners forget that in many cases, they share in the budget and time overages.
  • View some of their past work. If it is possible to see some completed projects, take the time to view them for quality, workmanship, cleanliness, level of finishes and style.  Make sure the contractor’s work measures up to your level of expectation.  It is important to see what your money is buying, and to have a visual when determining budgets and allowances for the project.
  • Talk about money. Have the conversations early about contractor fees and how their contract is formatted.  Make sure you understand how the contract is set up and how the fee structure works.  There are many ways to format a contract (fixed fee, cost plus a percentage, cost plus a fixed fee).  Have a full understanding and put the questions and concerns on the table early.  The rest of the process will be much more enjoyable once all those details are ironed out.
  • Be realistic.
    • Many owners have “champagne taste and beer budget”. You have to understand that you do get what you pay for.  Nicer things cost more money.  You will most likely go over budget.  It is best to have that in mind before starting.  There are so many choices out there.  It is very easy to go “slightly” over budget on something small like $7 tile vs. $6 tile.  Over the course of the entire project, all of those little things add up.  Stay committed to staying on budget, while understanding that you have a share of control.
    • Set a realistic time frame. Most constructions projects end up taking a little longer than expected.  Design, permitting, selections, and weather all add to the time frame.  The client owns the responsibility of making decisions in a timely matter.  Be mindful so you are making the right decisions, but know that indecision and changes add time, and ultimately money to the project.
  • Once your decision is made, TRUST your contractor! They are experts in their field, and will not lead you in the wrong direction. Let them do their job.  You wouldn’t want them at your office, standing over your shoulder telling you how to do your job.


With those things in mind, it is very possible to have an amazing experience building or remodeling your home.   Don’t let the fear of having a bad experience keep you from the joy of creating something especially for you and to your specifications.  Do your homework, commit to the process, and trust your contractor.  Enjoy every step.  Enjoy the design and visualization, enjoy making selections, enjoy viewing every step of construction as they unfold, and take photos!  Remember it as an important milestone in your life.  When it is completed, you will be prouder of your home than you thought you ever could be.


Brian J. Beaudet, president

Milestone Development & Design, Inc.