Staying on Schedule Is Difficult
It’s difficult trying to help homebuyers move into their home on schedule. It’s not that we cause the delays, although sometimes we do. It’s usually that homebuyers fail to complete their critical responsibilities on time.
It’s not for lack of effort. But few homebuyers anticipate how many tasks they need to complete. Even fewer realize how long each of these tasks can take. And fewer still recognize how much time is lost if they don’t work on several tasks at the same time.
Schedule Task Deadlines
To see how a construction schedule works, let’s imagine you want to build a home with site-installed hardwood and tile floors as well as with a site-built garage, porch and deck. Let’s further assume that you intend to order your home today, May 4th, and need to move into it before Thanksgiving so you can celebrate the holidays with your parents. They’ll be flying in from Florida to see you and your spouse and (especially) their grandchildren, so staying on schedule is critical. Here are the deadlines for each step:
May 4 – Order home
May 15 – Apply for loan
May 15 – Sign contract with GC
Jun 1 – Sign off on modular plans and specifications
June 30 – Close on loan
Jun 22 – Receive permit plans from factory
Jun 23 – Apply for building permit
Jul 7 – Receive building permit
Aug 1 – Foundation installed
Aug 15 – Home set
Nov 15 – Certificate of occupancy obtained
Nov 16 – Move in
The Reason for Each Schedule Deadline
As you can see, it’s going to take 6 months to go from ordering your home to moving in. Here is the reason for each of the deadlines.
Since you’re building a home with site-installed hardwood and tile floors as well as with a site-built garage, porch and deck, you need to plan for the GC to take 90 days to complete your house after it is set on the foundation. This means you need to receive your home from the factory by August 15st, which will give you about a 10 day cushion for moving in on schedule.
For that to be possible, you need to have closed on your loan by about June 30th, which means you must have applied for your loan by about May 15th, which is next week. You also need to have your foundation in by about August 1st. Since you’re hiring your own General Contractor, you need to sign a contract with them by May 15th so the GC can give you feedback on your modular plans and specifications and be ready to install your foundation on schedule.
In addition, you will need to have your building permit by about July 7th so your GC has the town’s approval to begin the site work and foundation. This means you will to have applied for your building permit by about June 23rd, since your town takes about two weeks to issue the permit.
Since you cannot apply for a permit without receiving the factory’s permit plans, you will need to have made final decisions on your modular plans and specifications by June 1st.
If you keep on schedule with each of these tasks, you can expect to receive your Certificate of Occupancy by about November 15th, which means you can begin moving in by November 16th.
However, if you are late on any one of these deadlines, you will probably have to let your parents know that your home won’t be ready for you to celebrate Thanksgiving together.
Shortening and Extending the Schedule
There are a couple of things that can shorten the schedule. If you already have a building permit or are able to obtain what we call a “foundation only” permit, you can move forward before you receive the factory’s permit plans. You can also shorten the timeline if you don’t need to wait for a lender to close on your loan.
On the other hand, the schedule will get extended if you need the factory to complete two or more drafts of your house plans. It will also stretch if you need a septic system and don’t have an approved design. In addition, your building department and lender can add weeks to the project if they take longer than the schedule allows.
Map Out the Schedule
If you want to set a definite date for moving into your home, you and your builder should map out all of the steps and their deadlines ahead of time. You should then be honest with yourself about whether you can complete all – and I do mean all – of your responsibilities on time. If you are late on even one item, your entire schedule will get extended. But even if you do your part well, you will still need to hope that everyone else, such as your lender and building department, completes their tasks on time. Since stuff might happen to delay your move-in, you should form contingency plans.