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Building a home, week 4: Communicating long distance

When we saw this lamp in a store in New Orleans' French Quarter, we decided it was perfect for hanging above our dining table.
When we saw this lamp in a store in New Orleans' French Quarter, we decided it was perfect for hanging above our dining table.
Cheryl Dangel Bartolini

Prior to buying our new home we planned two vacations the first of which came up this week when we took a trip to New Orleans. Unfortunately, this meant we would not be able to drive by the house on a regular basis for daily updates. Instead, all communication with our builder, Steve Lecas of Gander Builders, was conducted online through emails and a website called Builder Trend.

While vacationing in New Orleans, we found a few key fixtures for our new home including this stained glass ceiling fixture.
Cheryl Dangel Bartolini

Builder Trend allows builders to keep buyers updated on the progress by posting photos, as well as providing an online file cabinet for the exchange of emails. In addition, there is a calendar that shows scheduled activities for the day, the week and work schedules a month or more out.

Most importantly, there is a feature for change orders where the builder will post any costs that exceed what was included in the original purchase price as well as subtractions for things the buyer doesn't want.

Using Builder Trend while on vacation, we received and approved a revised estimate for our kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities as well as finishing the basement. Similarly, we declined the cost for installing a shed and adding an extra rain shower head to the master bathroom. It’s a great feature that makes budgeting easy, provided you have all the cost estimates. In short, it provides an online running total of all costs approved so there are no surprises on closing day.

Aside from our long distance communications, which occurred daily, we used our time in New Orleans to shop for a handful of items needed for the house, including two light fixtures, our exterior house number and a storage cabinet for my office.

Upon our return home, we approved the cost for the countertops that we looked at last week. We also arrived home to find that house was completely bricked and ready for painting. In addition, the windows were wrapped in wood and ready for staining. To see the photos, click on the accompanying slide show.

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