Protect YOUR Money When Building Your home

This post is intended to teach you how to protect your money when building a home. I get it. It’s scary. I know the horror stories you’ve heard. Unfortunately, most of them are true!

I’ve said it before, and it is the overriding philosophy in my business. As my client, you have worked HARD to get where you are. My mantra (and I should put it on the wall with those fancy vinyl letters)-

It’s your money. It’s your time. It’s your home.

The home building industry has gone so far astray that the only reason anyone decides to take this leap is to get something that they cannot find on an easier path. The risk is greater than it should be. Actually, it is greater than it has to be. I have developed a system that I am going to share. It is nothing earth shattering. Just back to old school philosophies. And it works!

First of all, see my post, Process…Where do I start? Ok, now you’re ready.

1. DISSECT YOUR BIDS. You will request and receive three bids. They will not be in the same format. They will not use the same language. You will not be comparing apples to apples. It will be necessary to pull the bids apart and reassemble them to make any use of them whatsoever.

2. NEGOTIATE THE CONTRACT. The builder’s contract is to protect him. Your chance for negotiation to protect yourself is right now. When it’s too late, it’s too late. Everyone is all gooey eyed and excited before everything starts, but if it’s not on paper, you are going to lose later. Hire an attorney.

3. TRACK YOUR CHANGE ORDERS. This is so obvious but missed so often. It’s a lot like credit card debt, it sneaks up on you. Keep a tally sheet.

4. LIEN WAIVERS. Here is my biggest piece of advice that I want to scream from the roof tops: THE BANKS ARE NOT LOOKING OUT FOR YOU!!!! Yes, they are looking out for the THE money, but not with your interests at stake. They are a business and are protecting their interests. Banks are not the bad guys, you just have to understand where you stand.

In the mountain of paper work, you will sign away the ability to hold them responsible for their estimation of completion of work. This is HUGE!!! You have to get lien waivers from every sub. Yes, it is more work for the builder, but it is important and it is your only real protection and opportunity to know where your money is going.

Sound like too much for the typical, one time, custom home homeowner to perfect?
IT IS!!!

Work it into your budget to hire a residential architect. There is so much to pay attention to. There is no way for you to learn everything you need to know to protect your money, your time and your home. It’s crazy! Hire a residential architect to watch your back.

This is where it gets interesting for me. I love this work!

It is fascinating to me to dissect the bids, bring it all back together and make informed decisions. Track, verify and approve payment requests. Keeping track and holding everyone accountable. With technology these days, I don’t even have to be close to the project site.

The main benefit to this system, and I have experienced it over and over, is that it is not adversarial. When everyone knows where they stand, they are making informed decisions, and everyone on the project is held accountable, it is amazing what a successful, exciting, rewarding project it turns out to be.

Connect with me on Facebook, it’s more personal there. I can answer your questions and someone else might be wondering the same things you are.


As Founder and Principal Architect of Springhouse Architects, Sheri’s mission is to lead Clients through the building process with the Clients in control and Springhouse as their guide, advocate and ally.  With over twenty years experience in Residential Architecture, Sheri brings knowledge and confidence to your custom home project.

Lisa Saldivar