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Carefully Evaluate House Plan Changes

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CarefullyEvaluateHousePlanIt’s very important to carefully evaluate potential house plan changes before pulling the trigger.  A good contractor will let a customer know when a change will create more problems than it is worth.  However, some future homeowners can be very persuasive when asking for a particular change to be made.  And because the person that will ultimately live in the home is the customer (and because they are writing the checks), contractors typically will do everything possible to make things happen even when they shouldn’t.

An Example

When I had a customer last year ask to put a skylight in a particular location in their master bath I told them about the high probability for water leaks in the future.  You see, the skylight would have been dangerously close to a valley on the roof.  Valleys are collection points on the roof that carry water down to the gutter.  This home had a very large roof area that raised the probability of leaks due to the high volume of water that would be carried by the valley next to the skylight.  Taking my professional recommendation seriously, the customer moved the skylight to another location.

Here are a couple other problems I have seen or dealt with due to house plan changes being made without thoroughly thinking through the potential problems associated with the change.

  • Rear wall moved out to make the house larger: Unfortunately, the customer asked the builder to make the kitchen and family room bigger on this particular home at the last minute just before construction started.  The builder didn’t think through all of the things that needed to changed and decided to make the change without adjusting the roof.  The problem was, the pitch on the roof was dangerously low already and by pushing back the rear wall of the home, it became even flatter.  This left the homeowner, who lives in a cold weather climate, to deal with roof leaks during snowy weather.  In order to accommodate this house plan change the builder/architect should have increased the pitch of the roof.
  • Bigger whirlpool tub: I’ve had customers ask at the last minute to increase the size of a whirlpool or soaker tub.  This change needs to be carefully evaluated for more than just to see if it fits in the room.  The house framing needs to be carefully reviewed to make sure the extra weight of the water and tub can be properly supported by the floor joists/trusses and beams below.  It’s also important to review the hot water supply to make sure it will provide enough hot water to fill the tub.  If the home will have a water heater with a tank, the capacity of the tank needs to be evaluated to make sure it is adequate.  Nobody likes a lukewarm  whirlpool tub.
  • Add living space. Any time additional square footage is added to the house plan, it’s very important to evaluate the electrical and heating systems.  Will the existing electrical panel be able to handle the additional circuits/load?  Does the current heating and cooling equipment have the additional capacity to properly condition the proposed space?  If these items aren’t carefully evaluated, significant problems can come up down the road for the homeowner.

Unfortunately, some contractors don’t take the time to carefully review a request for change.  Instead, they look at the change as an opportunity to increase profit at all costs.  Whether you are building the home as an owner builder or hiring a full service contractor to oversee things, be sure to ask enough questions to know that a proposed change has been carefully thought out.  You don’t want to pay extra money for the change only to end up with all sorts of problems in the future.

Michael Luckado

Michael Luckado has built, remodeled, and repaired thousands of homes across the U.S. He co-founded ArmchairBuilder.com to help people save money and time creating their dream home.

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