Why does my builder hate me?

So many homeowners are afraid of constructing a new home, deciding to construct an addition, or renovating the home they already live in. Why are individuals afraid to venture out into the world of construction?

Reputation, the grapevine, editorial comments, as well as normal day to day conversations, have led the average homeowner to believe that any decision that leads to construction and eventual interaction with ” the builder ” ,will be both terrifying and probably a total disaster.

As a builder of both residential and commercial projects I can understand the fear of construction by the majority of residential owners. Construction has a well known negative reputation to the average person, and the attitude that most homeowners would rather have a root canal than be involved in any construction, has plagued the residential industry for a long time.

It is with this knowledge and awareness in mind, that this discussion is entitled, Why does my builder hate me?

First, we will directly answer this question, without political or editorial comments, and then we will try to understand the particulars of each of the answers.

1.) Overall attitude; The typical homeowner enters a relationship with a builder immediately on the defensive. This is due to the culture of residential construction and its already pre-determined relationships between home owner and builder. The following pre-established negative impressions are already involved ;

a.) The builder will probably be non educated, offensive and a bully when dealing with him.

b.) The price, no matter what is presented, will be too high, because everyone says it will be.

c.) The schedule, no matter what is presented, will be too long, because everyone says it will be.

d.) No matter what the builder says, the homeowner will remain on the defense.

2.) Homeowner’s ability to search the web; This concept has introduced an entirely new aspect to the construction business. The homeowner’s ability to “goggle” it. This ability circumvents the experience and knowledge gained by an accomplished builder throughout his career. The homeowner’s ability to research all construction topics, procedures, etc. will create a basic ‘ know it all ” in terms of the construction business. In many cases this is presented by the owner to the builder in an arrogant and very hostile fashion, due to the need to go on the offense to ensure that the builder does not push back.

3.) Homeowner’s ability to reach out ; The concept of the smart phone has allowed the homeowner to interact on a moment’s notice with friends, family and other professionals. This instant communication has allowed the homeowner to seek others opinions instantaneously. Therefore, in most cases, the required discussions between the builder and the owner are already circumvented by numerous other opinions and conversations. If my Father says it, it must be true, or my brothers fiancée’s brother is in the construction business and told me this, etc.

4.)Personal attitude of the general public; The builder is the lowest life form on the planet and when dealing with an educated community, this attitude is amplified within the general attitude and communication.

These are the four basic reasons, which answer the question, why your builder hates you.

This is not a common concern or issue on the commercial side of the industry. Why does the commercial side of construction not generate the same negative associations and elements that the residential side does? A limited discussion regarding the lack of disrespect on the commercial end is pertinent to understanding why it exists on the residential side.

Why the commercial side of the industry does not create such a negative attitude, and environment, can easily be summarized as follows:

1.) The majority of contractors, engineers, architects and owners, have a mutual feeling of respect for each other.

2.) The team attitude is much more prevalent on the commercial side than the residential.

3.) The culture of ” one hand washes the other” is more easily established in commercial construction.

4.) The overall personal financial responsibility that exists in residential construction is usually not as acute in commercial construction, therefore reducing the overall stress level of the owner.

Based upon understanding the four reasons that your builder hates you, as well as understanding why this attitude is not as prevalent within the commercial side of the industry, may support the following comments, in an effort to resolve this attitude and opinion.

The basic relationship between a residential owner, and a builder, is created from the onset of the relationship. If the owner attacks the builder, the builder will strike back. If the owner attempts to understand the issues that a builder has, then the development of a positive relationship may be more easily constructed. What are the builder’s concerns and issues?

a.) Understanding that the initial interaction will probably be supported by the social impressions of residential builders. The owner will be on the offense and the builder will be forced to be on the defense.

Once this realization is understood, the owner, if they are interested in establishing a positive relationship with the builder, should approach the project in a different way, without being offensive. By approaching the builder with respect and admiration for the work that the builder has performed, the owner will take the defensive position away from the builder and exude an attitude of appreciation and respect that the builder will appreciate.

b.) The understanding that whatever price is provided to the owner, it will be considered too high and exorbitant. This impression will also place the owner on the offense and the builder on the defense.

The owner must understand, that when a builder understands the owner is expecting a high price, the builder will provide a high price. There is a basic impression, that once an exorbitant value is expected, then it will be presented for negotiation. The owner, will once again, be in a very different situation, if they acknowledge the fairness of pricing by the particular contractor as described through conversations with other clients of the builder. The presumption of a high price will initiate a high price, the impression that the owner expects honest and sincere pricing and pricing that is in accordance with what other clients have told them, will cause the builder to more economically and sincerely value the work.

c.) The understanding that no matter how accurate the schedule might actually be, the owner will consider it too long and inaccurate. This impression will place the builder on the defensive and position the owner on the offensive side.

It is much better to approach the schedule from the owner’s side. The owner should indicate the time frame they are expecting, and not allow the builder to formulate their own time frame. By establishing the timeframe that the owner requires, allows the builder to decide whether the project fits into their schedule.

In general, the best way of communicating between owner and builder, is with a mutual respect. The initial conversations and interactions, must be supported by an owner’s attitude, that the builder they are corresponding with and attempting to negotiate a business relationship with, is a professional builder that deserves respect and admiration. The owner must start with this attitude, and allow the relationship to develop. There will be no positive relationship if the owner is overly aggressive, and on the offense, placing the builder immediately on the defensive.

What will occur, if the relationship is properly built is the following;

a.) Mutual respect with each other. The owner respects the builder for their abilities and the builder respects the owner as a client.

b.) Interaction regarding pricing will be more forthcoming and honest. If the proper relationship is established, then the owner will be confident that the builder is providing accurate pricing. If the builder feels that the owner is being fair and honest with budgets, etc., the builders pricing will be more accurate and effective.

c.) Discussion referencing scheduling will be more accurate and sincere. A builder that has no respect for the owner, will simply tell the owner whatever the builder feels the owner wants to here. If there is a mutual respect and honest interaction, the discussions regarding scheduling and construction sequencing will be of mutual benefit, not simply a reaction to the wishes of the owner.

d.) The owner and the contractor will develop a mutual bond, that will strengthen as the project advances. If the owner honestly confides in the builder with accurate budget values and scheduling needs, the majority of builders will respond accordingly.

The answer to the question of why your builder hates you, is basically because you don’t respect them.

Relationship building is so important in a residential building project. I know, and can attest to several situations where a mutually beneficial relationship was formed, that helped the project move forward and be successful. I also know of several projects where the relationship was just the opposite. There was derision from the onset and the project became a nightmare. In this case, yes, the builder did hate the owner.

A builder is in business to make money. However they are also in the business of establishing relationships that evolve into future work. In addition, a builder is only as good as their reputation. All these reasons for existing, promotes a mutually comfortable relationship with the owner. The owner does not want a project that is constantly in turmoil and conflict. This is no way to perform a construction project.

The builder will not hate you, if you are respectful and considerate of their attempts to make a living. The builder will react to how the owner conducts business, how the owner relates to the builder, and how the owner basically treats the builder. This is a perfect case where, if the owner backs down a little in the beginning, they will be able to recoup at the end of the project. Every builder considers an owner that respects them, a valuable client, all the others simply fall into the ” one night stand” category.

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