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Use walkthroughs to get the most out of your building contract

For those eager to see the blueprints of a project evolve from sketched images to an inhabitable structure, the construction process can seem endless. It's often tempting to push deadlines and provide financial incentives to hasten the process along. However, those seeking too quick a turnaround may end up disappointed when it comes to the end quality.

Finding the right balance between speed and accuracy can be a tough task to accomplish. One important strategy for encouraging your builder to stay committed to the timeline - without sacrificing quality - is to participate in walkthroughs. These inspections should provide a window into how construction is progressing, and they offer an early opportunity to resolve potential disputes before they erupt into costly litigation.

Your building contract should outline, at minimum, your right to walkthroughs at two critical stages:

1. The "hard hat tour"

While construction is underway, take advantage of this opportunity to inspect the "bones" of the development before drywall is installed. On this walkthrough, you should expect to see the basic framework of the house, plumbing and ductwork.

Now is the time to ensure that the structure conforms to your expectations. You should also make sure the groundwork is in place for all of your options and upgrades.

2. Orientation inspection

This final walkthrough is typically scheduled after construction is finished but before closing. It's your chance to take a detailed look at the completed work and raise any concerns before the property finally transfers into your hands.

Make sure the materials and finishes are up to your specifications, and keep an eye out for cosmetic issues such as:

  • Sloppy painting
  • Marred countertops
  • Dented appliances
  • Insufficient sealing
  • Poorly installed flooring or tiling

Better now than later

Walkthroughs are essential for ensuring a smooth transition process. While they may seem like a hassle, they are ultimately for your benefit, so you can identify and confront any problems. Doing so now rather than later will save you significant headaches - and significant sums of money - down the road.

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