Time, Cost & Quality

The trade-offs between the competing variables of time, cost & quality.

Buildings are full of inter-dependencies.  Every aspect of architectural design, right down to the specific building materials, has an effect on basically everything else around it.  There are repercussions and trade-offs to absolutely everything; adding space over here means taking away space from over there, removing those columns means a thicker beam above, higher ceilings means more stairs.  It’s ‘the butterfly effect’ in built form.  All this to say that, every single decision made creates multiple consequences, intended or otherwise.

Successfully designing and building a new house is the result of managing those thousands of inter-relationships in a thoughtful and intelligent way.  By knowing what is most important to you and your project, you’re able to maximize for that variable while still meeting the minimum requirements for everything else.

Of the thousands and thousands of questions that can and will be asked during the home building process, most of them are related to three main variables that can either go up or down; cost, time, and quality.

For most ventures in life, these are the three most important values we typically judge for.  Keep the costs low, make it happen quickly, and ensure it’s the very best = successful project.  Sounds great, but it’s easier said than done.  Striving for any one of these core values directly constrains the viability of the other two.

For example, as you try to keep costs to a minimum, it becomes common to start seeing quality suffer.  Try to boost the quality and it begins to take more time.  Attempt to speed up the whole process and you’ll spend more money.  The vicious cycle continues.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to deliver a perfect project, but you should manage your expectations knowing the value trade-offs that might need to be made in order to achieve your goals.  You have to first decide what is most important to you – the final cost, the quality of the result, or how quickly it happens?

Scenario 1:  Low Cost

If you want a new house for a rock bottom price, expect compromises in the quality of construction and material finishes.  Goodbye marble tile and solid wood floors.  Either that or it will take forever to finish while you spend years searching for discount bargains and waiting for a cheap contractor to actually show up on site.

Scenario 2:  Top Quality

Maybe you want the very best of everything.  Top quality throughout.  It’ll be a stunning new house, but the price tag will be a stunner too.  Not only will be you be paying top dollar, but it could easily take longer while you wait for exotic materials to arrive and a master craftsmen to become available.

Scenario 3:  High Speed

Never mind all that, you need it done now.  Actually, you needed it done yesterday.  No problem, but be ready to pay a premium.  Money talks when you need things done immediately, but all that extra speed will cause a few corners to be cut.  When important steps are skipped, the quality suffers.  Would you live in a house that was built in a week?  No thanks, I bet it’s has some issues.

Of course, exceptions are possible and your beautiful new custom home might be delivered on time, on budget, and with exceptional craftsmanship.  If that’s the case, congratulations!  When that happens though, it’s usually not by accident – I bet there was a talented team of professionals working together to balance out those three important variables in a highly orchestrated way.

So before embarking on a life-changing project like building a new home, take a moment to consider what aspects are most important to you.  Cost?  Quality?  Speed?  Generally speaking you can achieve two of the three.  Know that you may have to lose a battle in order to win the war.