The Seven Most Common Mistakes People Make When Building a House


Whether you buy my plans or someone else’s, get them before you even hire the contractor. A good set of plans is worth its weight in gold. No, it’s even more than that.

It is worth its weight in gasoline!

During my years as a designer of roof and flooring systems I think I saw it all. People would walk into the office with floor plans drawn on a napkin, photocopies of a page from a house plan book, a photograph of a house that they liked, or worse, nothing at all. They would have a vague idea in their head but no real concept of what the house was supposed to look like.

People think they are saving money by not buying plans.  Nothing could be further from the truth. All they see is that “I saved $400 up front. How smart I am.” But they don’t realize how many mistakes are made without plans. If there are mistakes that are made because you didn’t invest in plans, these are not the contractor’s fault. So guess what? You pay for these mistakes. Mistakes will cost you 10 times more than what you would spend on plans. It is just not worth it!

Let me spell this one out. First, without plans you cannot get an accurate cost estimate for building a house. You can’t make an accurate materials list so you won’t know what the materials will cost. Without plans, a contractor will not know how difficult the house will be to build so he cannot give you an accurate estimate of the labor. You are shooting into the dark. Unless you are independently wealthy, you should want to know what this house will cost before you start to build it or you could be in real trouble.

Without good plans, how are the subs going to know exactly what to do? The plumber may plan on the sink in one place but the electrician wires the disposal in another. Incomplete or nonexistent plans will inevitably lead to misunderstandings, expensive tearouts, delays, and conflicts between the subs. It all comes back on you.

Without a good set of plans, marks and notations could be interpreted differently by different people. One plan may have some changes marked on it while another copy given to a different sub doesn’t have those same changes. Mistakes will be made. And when they happen they cost you money. If there is a tearout, you pay to put it back right. You have to buy the new materials. And you don’t get a volume discount at the lumber yard when you buy just a couple of items. You need an accurate materials list so you can order an entire lumber package to get the best discount.

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