I built this house in 5 months
We had over 500 people working on this project each day. When it came to the interior finishing we had people working 24/7. Leading up to the interior we could only work 7am to 6pm M-F and 9-5 on Saturday.
I am going to share how we were able to build this 18,000sf home with 1,800 sf pool house and 1,800 sf guest house plus a 700sf guard house on 12 manicured acres.
I will not name drop or share any costs as the ability to complete this caliber work in this timeline is the feature. I also state we and I, we includes myself and others and I includes myself who at this time was V.P. of Construction.
For those of you who build or work in construction you may ask, Why?
It was the challenge, the ability to accomplish something no one else has done. I have to be honest it was actually comfortable for me most of the time.
Let me start with the team, our client had an Interior Designer on board already who they worked with for many years prior. Very talented and open minded firm I grew very fond of during this project. We arranged the Architect who was someone I have worked with for years and very very talented. We also used an amazing local land use attorney, along with civil/structural engineer and surveyor who always met our needs. We also hired a state certified wetlands professional to oversee our site development and pond dredging. There were many others who participated on the team as well, the point is this project consisted of numerous professional entities along with processes to complete, we were not cowboys in the wild west.
Permitting, we started this project knowing we were going to build it fast. So to expedite the start I obtained a demo permit and site excavation permit. This allowed us to cut out the 20ft tall mountain that existed where we set the home. We developed plans and interiors while working on the site. We also were hung up momentarily with a zoning review on volume. We were able to submit our foundation plan and hedge our zoning approval to build the house designed, which you can see all worked out.
As you can imagine it was difficult to onboard new subs and get them to agree to the timeline. It is something I deal with on a daily basis.
I remember vividly vetting the HVAC sub I wanted to use for the project. I had worked indirectly with them in the past on many projects and they were very capable. The sub we had been using prior had provided a really high price for the job and they were not worth the squeeze. So I brought in someone else, agreed on pricing and the start and finish dates.
The biggest challenge building at a reduced timeline is making sure everyone fully understands you are going to be on time for them to start. Delays in construction are typical (when or if allowed). Today there are so many ways to mitigate delays that you really have a lot of control. The only thing you cannot still control is mother nature but now it is when she acts extreme.
We were fortunate to avoid delays and when contracting the HVAC sub they were to start rough installation 5 weeks from contract signing. No big deal, except at that time we were still excavating for the foundation. The concern was raised from the sub and I assured them we were going to be ready and this is normal for us.
Well three weeks before HVAC start date we were pouring footings and the sub stopped by the project very concerned. I had a lengthy conversation and really delivered my message that I will be ready regardless of how long it takes everyone else to build that they work for. I could see this was really tough for them to swallow. In the timeframe of 2 weeks we finished pouring the foundation, waterproofed, installed underground piping and drains and backfilled ready for framing. I hired 6 framing companies to frame the house hourly under my leadership. They did not know they were going to be working with the other 5 companies. That monday am one of the companies left and I was down to 5 companies.
We started Monday am and framed the house complete by days end Saturday. The cost was equivalent to contracting one firm, the time savings was enormous. To put this in perspective it would have taken a framing company most likely 6-8 weeks to frame what we did in 6 days.
This type of processes was duplicated over and over again. Outside the box perspective and action to gain results. When we arrived at interior trim and millwork, I hired numerous companies to work by the hour again. I set up a millshop in the Family Room and we made mouldings and raised panels along with many other parts needed to complete the work. I used the architects autocad to work with the trimmers and reduce questions by expanding drawing profiles to see dimensional properties. I also had a meeting with each of the company owners and workers (alone) to offer time and half for anyone who was willing to work over 40 hours. I made sure the owners and workers were present so the money was assured to go to the worker and not in the owners pocket. I was also clear that they had to perform each week during the 40 hours or the overtime was negligible. They agreed and diligently worked as they felt comfortable performing.
I worked many hours weekly on this project coordinating everything from value engineering the pre-buy, permits and approvals, to overseeing field work, project management, inspections, processing invoices and tracking all expenses. Most companies have numerous people on the construction team. I had one supervisor, one pm, an office assistant, and myself. We did have a full accounting office, excavation, masonry, landscaping division and hundreds of laborers but on the construction management side it was the four of us (and we had other projects in various stages).
The painters were our employees and the client at this time changed the floor finish color after we completed the floor finish. To not extend the schedule I had a meeting with our painters and asked them if they wanted they could work from that Monday to Friday. They all looked at me smiling like I was certifiably crazy, “Lee we already work Monday to Friday”. I laughed and apologized for my shortness, I explained that I meant work from Monday 7am until Friday late evening and not go home in between. We can make a bunk area to sleep and I will provide dinner and breakfast, you will receive time and half plus double time, you work until you can’t then sleep and do it again. They all agreed at the opportunity to make extra money and they did it. I already had cameras set up to monitor work from anywhere on my laptop. But with the walls up it was tough to really monitor anything. So to make sure everyone was honest I would randomly show up at the house to check on the production and workers. 11pm, 1am, 3am, 8pm, 10pm never the same time and no pattern. I never encountered anyone taking advantage they were all great workers and exceptional people.
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