Luxury Home Construction Redefined
September 1, 2019
Text by Debra Judge Silber
How would the business of luxury home construction in New England be different if it was viewed not as a project based on contracts, but as a creative and enriching experience and the beginning of a trusted relationship? Instead of sitting down with your builder in an office to crunch numbers, what if you got to know each other over dinner?
Building a luxury home or adding to an existing one should be a personal journey rather than a rote transaction that begins with a wish list and ends with a certificate of occupancy. Joe DiLazzaro, CEO of Boston-based Opus Master Builders, says the smoothest building projects are often the result of an organic approach. (And yes, sometimes that approach involves dinner.) According to DiLazzaro, who has been in the home-building business for thirty years, there are two approaches you can take when it comes to luxury home construction in New England. First, you can hire a builder, set a budget, step aside, and show up at the end, check in hand, for the final reveal.
Alternately, you can look for a builder who is more like a creative partner rather than a paid employee. With the advent of HGTV, Pinterest, and lifestyle living, nowadays homeowners who are tackling building projects have very specific ideas about the final result. They don’t want to just write a check: They want to be involved from start to finish. Believe it or not, this new trend can be a very efficient and effective way of building.
“If you approach the project with the idea that you are going to partner with your builder rather than hire him/her, you break the standards of consumerism and turn your build into a unique life experience,” says DiLazzaro.
So how can you foster that life experience?
Define Your Vision
During your first meeting with a potential builder, you want to define your vision for your home or remodel. Look for a builder who takes the same approach to every project, whether it’s large and complex or small and focused. Tell your builder what you want to achieve with your luxury home construction project. But don’t do all the talking. You want to carefully listen, too. Does the builder explain their firm’s contractual model and set the expectations for a good working relationship? Does your conversation leave you feeling positive about the project?
“First and foremost, the initial meeting should remove any stress and worry if you’re working with the right builder,” DiLazzaro says. “Your builder should communicate a high level of accountability and transparency. At the end of the conversation, you should be excited about the process.”
Go Back to School
If you want to make your mark on your project and ensure that it’s a reflection of you and your lifestyle, be prepared to get your hands dirty – metaphorically speaking, of course. Your builder should double as your teacher, educating you about the building process. This includes budgets. When you talk numbers, you want to come away with an understanding of the cost mechanics of estimating, competitive bidding, and your numerous options when it comes to building materials and how those materials affect the final build. This will help you make informed decisions and stick to your budget.
“Consumers often feel held captive by what they don’t know or understand,” DiLazzaro says. “You want to feel empowered to make decisions that impact your finances, and you want an understanding of the value of your investment in your home. This is key. It leads to a proactive partnership, not a passive one.”
Strap on Your Hardhat
How are you going to interact with your new space? How is it going to affect your family or even your neighborhood? And, perhaps just as importantly, when is it going to be complete? A successful partnership between a builder and homeowner is one in which the homeowner makes integral decisions during construction that answer these questions – and more. Worried your involvement is going to slow things down? DiLazzaro says an organic approach often has the opposite effect.
“When you call your significant other this afternoon to talk about what’s for dinner, and the two of you decide that s/he is going to cook your favorite dish tonight, you know that you aren’t going to go hungry because the two of you talked it through,” says DiLazzaro. “And you know it’s going to be good because experience has shown that your partner is a good cook. Think of an organic building process as a similar partnership. When you hire a builder who communicates and collaborates, someone who has a proven track record and instills trust, you know that at the end of the day, your vision is going to be realized.”
Opus Master Builders, Boston, 617-423-3014