The concept is simple. Put in 10,000 hours of time practicing a specific skill over the next ten years and you’ll become an expert! Bestselling business author, Malcolm Gladwell proposed this concept in one of his early books and of course, there is some debate on how accurate this number is.
But at HomeWrights Custom Homes we tend to agree that it does take a big chunk of time to become an expert at anything. Especially building custom homes! You can’t just read a book on how to play the piano or learn to swim. You have to put your hands on the keys and get your butt in the water to learn certain things. It’s called practice!
Most of us would agree, practice makes perfect. Whether it’s 5,000, 10,000, or 50,000 hours to expertise, it doesn’t matter.
But YOUR challenge is that you are likely short of the 10,000 hours needed to be an expert general contractor by about 9,995 hours.
So if you’re committed to building your own custom home and acting as your own general contractor then even 10,000 hours of experience may not be enough. You might find 300,000 hours of experience more helpful!
So how does a first-time custom home builder bring 300,000 hours of expertise to their project? Easy. Hire HomeWrights to be your building partner and bring the entire team of home-building experience, all 300,000 hours of it to your custom home building project. All of our project coordinators have between 20 and 35 years of construction experience. Add all those hours together and you have an amazing resource to guide you and support you in your custom home building project anywhere in the Denver area.
Relax, You Don’t Have to be a Home Building Expert
If you were hoping to move into your new custom home some time before 2030 you’ll need a way to tap into some real expertise long before you’ve accrued 10,000 hours of new home building experience. There is so much you need to know about planning, zoning, and construction techniques that it will make your head spin. Wait, let’s rephrase that… There is so much you DON’T need to know about planning, zoning, and construction techniques because HomeWrights knows!
Getting Comfortable With Construction Problems
We can nuance the term “problems” and call them challenges, and surprises if it makes anyone feel better. But when you are building anything for the very first time you are going to have surprises, challenges, and/or problems. Call it whatever you like but that‘s where HomeWrights 300,000 hours of experience comes in. We go to work for our clients every day knowing that we’re here to solve problems, address challenges, and capitalize on opportunities. If you’re building a custom home get ready for problems, challenges, and surprises.
We’ve Seen a Thing or Two in Custom Home Building
YOU on the other hand have never had to deal with a problem soil test, a truss that doesn’t fit, or a miscalculated set back. There’s not much the project coordinators at HomeWrights haven’t seen and when something pops up (and it will) we’re not surprised. We don’t over react, we go into problem solving mode.
So, expect problems and surprises because by definition, a “custom” home has never been built before. What distinguishes an expert from a layman is that after thousands of hours in new home construction experience, there’s not much we haven’t seen.
Do What You are Good at
You don’t know how to build custom homes but you do know what you want! You have a vision for what your home will look like, feel like, how it will function to support, protect, and nurture your family and the lifestyle you envision. What you need to be good at is not swinging a hammer or knowing how much rebar to order for the foundation. What you need to be good at is communication, project management, managing your budget, decision making, and patience.
Many HomeWrights clients tell us they’re looking at new home construction as an investment or business opportunity when they get done with their first custom home. Why? Because they realize that building a custom home is a lot of work and very complex but that they don’t need to have all the answers, they just need to know people that do.
Basic Skills to Become a Successful Custom Home Builder
As mentioned above, there are some basic skills that you should have before you jump into this. You don’t need 10,000 hours on each of these skills but they are important. These are not all the skills but some of the most important:
Communication. Knowing how to be clear and concise with the subcontractors you’ll be hiring will be quite helpful. You will also be tested on your ability to be both firm and kind. Making your expectations clear without being a jerk is critical. Keep in mind that your subs often have multiple jobs going and in Denver’s hot real estate market, quite frankly, they don’t need your business to survive.
HomeWrights has a vetted list of subcontractors we’ve been working with for many years. As a HomeWrights client you will have access to these craftsman. We’ve found that hiring good subs, paying a fair price, and treating them with respect, gets the best results.
Project Management. When you contract with HomeWrights, you will be assigned a project coordinator that best fits your location and needs. All of our team members understand the construction game quite well but they also work together to solve problems, find resources, and address challenges you will face. Your obligation is to follow our recommended project management program and pay attention to detail. Keeping tabs on the timing, budgets, and decisions that go along with a construction project is very important.
It’s not difficult but it does require discipline on your part. You are acting as your own general contractor so you don’t have to pay a general contractor. But you do need to do what a general contractor would do and that means a lot of coordination and follow up.
To make project management as easy as possible, we provide our clients with a “ToolBox” of resources. This will help you select the best subs, get multiple bids and help you manage your building project effectively. The “ToolBox” will also save you a lot of headache by showing you which subcontractors to avoid. And, to assure you are managing your project properly, your HomeWrights project coordinator will be at your worksite frequently and only a text, email, or a phone call away to answer any urgent questions.
Managing Budgets. We find that when a client of ours is spending their own money and paying for supplies and subcontractors directly, they quickly realize how easy and valuable it is to pay attention to detail. This is quite similar to managing your own household budget. You’ll want to have things in writing, get receipts for every purchase, and recognize how every decision will cost or save you money.
The huge difference between acting as your own general contractor and having a traditional turnkey approach to building your custom home is that you now get to see every single expense and make every decision. Working with traditional builders you may see a category of expenses (appliances) but not the detail.
HomeWrights clients are also given access to our suppliers and they are able to use our contractor’s discount which includes the combined buying power of all of our clients. With our Owner-Builder Program you get to choose the quality level and the price of every single item needed to build your home. Trust us on this, YOU will pick the better quality and the best priced item more often than your typical builder.
If you can keep a checkbook and pay attention to detail, then building your own custom home just got a lot easier. With HomeWrights Owner-Builder Program, you don’t pay for change orders, because you can do whatever you want. You’re the boss. Change you mind as often as you like.
Decision Making. One of our clients spent several weeks trying to decide on the color of his garage door. Totally his choice but there’s a cost to indecision. By delaying the decision to choose the door color, other subcontractors in the building sequence were stalled and schedules got complicated. Keep in mind that every subcontractor keeps multiple jobs open, not because they don’t know how to focus, quite the contrary.
They keep multiple jobs open because they have to. When the homeowner postpones a decision, there are subcontractors that don’t get paid! So, they go to another job site. They can’t sit around waiting for you to make up your mind. Then, when you finally do make up your mind and call them back, they won’t just drop what they’re doing and run back to your job site.
“We’re probably sounding kind of blunt here but we want to be clear about this.”
We’re probably sounding kind of blunt here but we want to be clear about this. The domino effect of indecision will cost you money. And, money is one of the major reasons people hire HomeWrights – being your own contractor can save a lot of it. The garage door fiasco for the client we’re referencing ended up costing him an additional $4,000. So, you don’t have to rush everything and it’s important to think things through but please be realistic about how much time you should take to make a decision.
Patience. There’s no a master’s level degree on this over at Denver University that we know of but patience is a powerful skill that will be tested and honed in any new construction project. It’s important to keep your eye on the long-term vision and the ultimate goal of enjoying your completely finished dream home.
Every day, little things and a few big ones will show up to test your patience. But with effective communication skills, our proven project management systems, fundamental budget management, and quick decision making, your patience may be tested, but we’re sure you will pass.
Take a look at the topic of “10,000 hours to expertise” in the video interview below with our project coordinators. We think you’ll find it helpful to watch some of the interviews with our team members to get a better understanding of all that we know, that you don’t.
Thankfully, you have access to all 300,000 hours of our experience so you can have the custom home of your dreams in the next year, not the next decade.
There is no cost or obligation to explore your vision for building the custom home of your dreams. Don’t wait 10,000 hours. Just pick up the phone and call 303-756-8870!
Call with any questions: 303-756-8870
We have representatives in Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, Fort Collins, and Pueblo areas. We’re happy to meet at your home, our office, or virtually.