• Scott Clark

How to Prevent Delays in Your Custom Home or Cottage Build

Updated: May 19



Like all major construction builds, pitfalls are normal and can occur at any time throughout your project. Some issues can cause minor or even major delays in completing your custom home or cottage. Here is a list of things that can delay your custom build:


1. Designer Construction Drawings


Builders receive drawings from either a client’s designer or directly from the client themselves. These construction drawings are used for the purposes of pricing, permit submission, and actual construction– unless the building company you work with has an in-house or contracted designer that they use frequently. Any delays in the completion or any revisions in the design could push forward the start of your custom home or cottage build. Any drawings that have missing information could also create a problem with the building department, delay permits, and postpone your completion date.


2. Inclement Weather


Whether it be extreme cold, snow, ice, rain, or extreme heat, inclement weather may significantly impact the progress of your custom build. For health and safety reasons, employees of the building company or sub-contracted tradespeople cannot, or may chose not to, work in inclement weather as the consequences could be disastrous. For this reason, it is sometimes helpful to start your build in a season where this is less likely to happen so that the exterior of the build can be completed before the more challenging months. This is not always an option, but it does not hurt to ask your building company when they can start.


4. Poor Communication


Finding a builder who can communicate well with you is an absolute must for your project to move along smoothly. Misaligned expectations or miscommunication between designers and builders or between yourself and your builder can delay the completion of your home or cottage by many months. It is much easier to have a long conversation with your builder or designer in the beginning stages than it is to rectify something that was done incorrectly. This could be costly and very time consuming. Ensure that your builder understands exactly what you want and get it in writing if you can.


5. Special Product Requests


Products that are not typically offered in your region or are rare or unique can take longer to arrive, thereby delaying the build. Your builder will often work around the delay in product delivery by working on other areas of the house, however, there are some projects that are interdependent and cannot be completed until the product arrives.


6. Product and Material Delays


There are all sorts of reasons that your products or materials could be delayed. As mentioned previously, natural disasters in forestry or mining can create product shortages and increase costs. There could also be shortages from other suppliers that delay timing in getting your materials to you. As well, you could be waiting on products being imported from other countries. Working with a builder who has local contacts and relationships will help alleviate some of the issues you could run into with product and material delays.


7. Delays in Permit Acquisition


Good builders and designers should know what is required by local building departments. However, if there is missing or inadequate information on the construction drawings that is required by the local planning and/or building departments, this will delay your ability to obtain permits for the beginning of your project. Working with local builders and designers can help increase your chances of submitting all necessary information and obtaining permits in a timely manner.


8. Changes in Preference


When you work with a good builder, you should expect many questions regarding your preferences and selections for products, materials, layout, etc. To ensure that the project moves forward in good time, you will want to have a vision for your custom home or cottage well in advance. Many builders will require you to do some homework to determine your preferences prior to receiving an estimate. However, during the building process, any changes or additions to the contract may impact the completion time of your home.


9. Availability of Tradespeople/Capacity of Builder


Whether your builder sub-contracts specialists or employs tradespeople, the availability of these professionals may be limited. For example, if your building company is particularly busy and they employ their own tradespeople, they will need to be strategic in how to schedule the work. They can only start work on one project when another is completed or is at a standstill. If your building company hires sub-contracted specialists, your builder will need to ensure that they are available for the timing of your project. In other words, staggered work is essential with multipole projects. In both instances, all the issues listed here can impact the availability of skilled tradespeople.


10. Late Deposits or Contract Signing


Before you sign your contract with your builder, you will want to ensure you have the financing lined up for your custom home or cottage. Some builders require a deposit upon signing and then develop a payment schedule throughout your project. Delays in deposits may significantly impact the start time of your build. For payments due throughout the build, some builders will work with you to determine a pay schedule that works for you. Ask your builder up front what they expect in terms of payment.


10. COVID-19 and Other Events


Lastly, we would be remiss if we did not pay heed to the impact of major world events like COVID-19 on the ability to move a custom build forward. In Ontario, most construction has been deemed an essential service, so building has continued. However, the cost of materials has increased exponentially and have had a major impact on the bottom line for both builders and clients. For example, as per the timing in this blog, 2x4 lumber has almost quadrupled in price.


Other major events that can impact the progress of a build include natural disasters. In many cases where this is a concern in Ontario, it is due to forest fires or flooding. Depending on where you live, earthquakes, tornados, and other natural disasters can cause a significant delay in building – particularly if you are having to rectify damage to your build that is currently underway.


If you would like to understand more about what might delay a project you have on the go, or if you are interested in discussing the process, feel free to give us a call.


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