In the lower-priced range of production tract housing and condominiums…requiring fine- tuning by the builder before the homebuyer walkthrough…the final prep phase provides the homebuilder the opportunity to pull out a victory after a hard-fought campaign…even when the construction has been long, frustrating, and difficult.

The final prep fine-tuning just prior to the homebuyer walkthrough allows the builder one last chance to get each unit as close to perfection for the only people who really matter in the big picture…the homebuyers.

If the builder can create a finished product that is clean, polished, complete, and free of any visual flaws…all of which is achievable by investing time in a thorough punchlist and a few man-hours of minor repairs…the new homebuyer comes into the walkthrough completely unaware of all of the underlying previously resolved construction problems and issues.

The result is a happy ending for both the homebuyer and the builder.

On the other hand…everything can go smoothly during the building construction…but if the builder does not fine-tune and polish the finished product…the homebuyer is likewise unaware of and could not care less about how well the construction process went.  The homebuyer can only judge the quality of the product by what they can visually see and touch, and if the final prep-phase work is not done then entire product suffers…including everything that went well up to that point.

I have a friend who a few years ago bought a new condominium.  During the walkthrough with the jobsite superintendent, the carpets had not yet been vacuumed and the interior had not even been final cleaned.  My friend came up with a correction list of about 40 items that were missing or needed repair.  Because he worked in construction, he fixed many of these items himself over the first six months of occupancy…because of the homebuilder’s poor after-move-in customer service as well.

I once did a walkthrough with a young couple who were very wary and apprehensive about what to expect about the quality of their new condominium.  After the walkthrough, they told the story of friends who bought a new house…had a walkthrough with 75 items that needed repair…and after a year and a half of occupancy still had 15 items remaining to be repaired from their original walkthrough list.

We started the walkthrough in the kitchen…and as this young couple began opening cabinet drawers, looking at margins and fit, testing the pull-out breadboard, turning on the kitchen sink faucet, examining the countertop tile, opening the window, and looking closely at the flooring, the walls, and the ceiling…after about 10 minutes I could see their originally tense body language as a result of anticipating a confrontational walkthrough with the homebuilder’s representative…me…visibly relax as they realized that this homebuilder cared enough to put in the final effort to produce a near perfect new condominium.

These and similar stories illustrate how important the final detailing of the units can be in affecting the homebuyer’s perception of quality.

No matter how difficult the construction has been up to that point in time…if the homebuyers are satisfied with what they can visually see and test in the finished product…the construction of the project can close out in a positive way.