On time, on budget, and exceeding customer expectations starts with a thorough preconstruction plan.

To finish a complex project on time and on budget, the Professional Builder must have a thoughtful, thorough and well-developed preconstruction planning process. It can feel like a slow way to start, but the time spent upfront pays off in more ways than some homeowners realize.

Despite its importance, planning is one of those success factors that gets too little credit. Most homeowners understand that the builder must complete the house on paper before breaking ground, but not all of them realize the full extent of the prep work involved. This work goes well beyond blueprints.20121017-091545.jpg

For a custom home project to come off without major problems, the builder must plan every detail and activity for every stage of the project—right to the day in many cases. The builder has to put supplies in place at the right times, have workers ready to go when needed, and create contingencies for weather and other obstacles. The more detailed the plan, the more streamlined the project effort.

The scope of this build-out plan can be staggering because of the sheer number of details that need to be tracked. New homes include thousands of assemblies, colors, components, finishes, and model numbers. The absence or presence of specific words in the plans and specifications can dramatically change estimated costs, finished appearances, and scheduling. Calculating and determining correct quantities, costs, and delivery times for all these items demands real organization. A decision made today will determine whether the right personnel and materials are on the job three months from now.

Another element of the plan addresses bureaucratic entities such as zoning and architectural review boards and state environmental agencies—their rules have to be taken into account during every step of the project, anda good plan includes all the deadlines and requirements.

Then there are communication issues. Building a new home has much in common with a relay race, where the baton gets passed between participants at key points. The most crucial of those happen during the planning phase, when a lot of information has to be passed intact from the salesperson, to the designer, to the production manager. A proven management system is needed to ensure that these transfers happen smoothly and accurately.

Someone on the builder’s staff must also make sure that key details are communicated to all members of the project team—homeowners, architect, interior designer, project manager, contractor—at the right time. This person must also make sure that everyone on the team understands their own, and everyone else’s, responsibilities.

A project with this type of detailed plan stands a much better chance to come in on time, on budget, and with minimal stress. The builder can ensure the best possible outcome for the homeowners by taking the time up front to think through and record decisions, establish workflow and detailed schedules, account for permitting, and plan for communication and contingencies,. The ultimate benefit of a good plan is a finished home that reflects the vision of the homeowners, and a sense of pride and satisfaction for all who had a hand in building it.