November 2001 Edition

Home Inspector Builds Home and Lives To Tell About It

Being in the construction industry for the last thirty-four years prepared me for the ultimate goal of building my "Dream Home." Over the last twelve years as a home inspector, every time I went through a home with a special feature that I liked, I would make a note of it for the design of my new home. After compiling all the information I could, I set out on the task for the final design. I knew I wanted a ranch in a "H" configuration with the left wing housing the garage & workshop and the right wing housing the bedrooms. The center section would be the "Great Room" that consisted of the kitchen, dining room and family room.
I worked on the design for four years, trying to fine tune every aspect of the design. I was ultimately satisfied with all areas except the master bedroom and master bath. They both turned out much larger than I wanted. However, I could not figure out a way to reduce the size without affecting the flow and the views of the natural landscaping, so I did something that went against my training as an architect, I hired a "Home Designer" to help me out. After six months of work, I finally had my finished design ready to be built.
The next step - finding a builder that could work with a home inspector. Not an easy task since out of the hundreds of builders I have met, I never found one I felt comfortable with. The only solution was to take to a Higher Power, so I prayed about it. Within the next 30 days I was introduced to a builder at (where else would you expect) church. His name was Ted Andrews of Lighthouse Homes, Inc. We talked for a few minutes and decided to get together for a meeting. Within the next few weeks we met and got to know each other. We have similar views on building in general and Ted was a very likable guy. It was apparent that he wanted to build quality homes and was not interested in cutting corners. I made a specification listing all of the things I wanted and made it a point to list the things home inspectors normally found wrong on other homes. He worked up an estimate for me and we got back together about six weeks later. Talk about sticker shock, the price came in way over budget. What I thought the home should cost and what the actual price came to was not even close. So I compromised on cutting half of the overage out and living with the increase in cost. I wanted quality construction, but like everyone else, had a limit of what I would pay for it.
After working on a mutual contract (yes, you can change the builder’s contract to mutually benefit both parties), we signed the papers and began construction. The grading began within the next week. Boy, what a surprise to see my "Dream Home" finally becoming a reality. I hated to see the hardwoods come down, but knew we needed a cleared area large enough for the house. After the preliminary grading was finished, I went out to locate the house on the lot. Having a 2 acre lot should be plenty of room for the house, however, the lot was in a cul-de-sac and was a pie shape. I kept moving the house further and further back to accommodate the spread out ranch. I knew I was getting older and did not want to go up and down steps the rest of my life. Finally the house was located close to the rear property line.
Over the next couple of weeks the foundation went in. I didn’t need a full basement, so the house ended up with a crawl space so I could relocate electrical outlets, speakers and phone lines anywhere I wanted. The foundation was much heavier than I had imagined. The piers were large enough for a small high rise building. Boy, was I impressed with the quality so far.
After the foundation was complete, the next stage was the framing. This is the stage when the construction is suppose to really take off. Two weeks go by, then three and still no framing. The framing crew was tied up on another house. I was beginning to get anxious. On a Sunday afternoon I stopped by fully intending to see no progress and I was preparing a speech for the builder the following morning. As I was walking up the driveway and past the trees in the front yard, I could see the wall framing on the bedroom wing and part of the great room was up. My heart must have skipped a beat. I couldn’t believe the progress in just a couple of days. My excitement rose as I finally could visualize the final product.
Over the next couple of weeks the framing was finished and the roof was put on. We were finally "dried in" and nothing could stop construction now. Well, the next eight weeks went by very slowly. Each trade taking their time installing the miles of electrical wiring, plumbing piping and heating ducts. I spent many days installing special items and helping my friend, Dave Wood, install the alarm system, speaker wiring and telephone system. I was ready to move in, but we were still a long ways away from the finish. I was growing tired of seeing the framing. After all of the subs finished their specialty, I took an afternoon to photograph every wall and ceiling to make a record of what was installed in every room. This will turn out to be a valuable record in the future.
Finally the day came for the drywall to be installed. I could not believe the speed at which the crew worked. They made me tired just watching them. You could no longer look thru three and four walls at a time. The final room layouts were taking shape. I knew now it would only be a question of a couple more weeks until I could finally move in. The excitement was building.
Over the next couple of weeks I found out just how long it takes to do all of the little details. We were still eight weeks away from finishing. I also found out what I forgot to specify in the "original specifications". I don’t care who you are, no one can cover all the bases and build a perfect house. It just is not humanly possible. Overall, Ted did an excellent job, but getting exactly what I wanted cost me in extras to the contract in the end.
What did I learn from this experience?
· There is no perfect house. No mater how hard to try, human error will enter in.
· There is no perfect contract. Out of thousands of items going into the building of a home, there is no way to cover every item in writing.
· In building a home, the most important aspect is finding a builder you can trust. This is the hardest part. When Ted told me a change was going to cost thousands more, I knew he was not trying to take advantage of me because I trusted him. He made a good profit and I got my "Dream Home". It was a win-win situation. There are many good builders out there. The problem is finding them. The best way is by referral. I would refer Ted Andrews with Lighthouse Homes, Inc. to anyone who wanted a quality home at a fair price. His number is 770-476-5857 or 770-351-6807.

If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at We reserve the right to edit questions for length.

"We Have Moved"

Our New Address Is:

Christian Building Inspectors

3697 Habersham Lane

Duluth, Georgia 30096-6111

Office: 770-849-0920, Fax: 770-849-0540

Quote Of The Month

"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Tip Of The Hat To:

Steve Bing

Platinum Place Properties

5435 Sugarloaf Parkway

Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043

**** Thank You****