The builder should consider the use of clock timers for the sales models lighting during the construction.
The electric bill for leaving the lights on continuously in four or five models can become expensive, but it is too much work having the sales staff going through the models turning the lights on at the start of the day, and turning them off at the close of each day.
If the sales office opens at 10:00 AM every day, and closes at 6:00 PM, the timer could be set to turn on the electricity to the models at 9:00 AM, and off at 8:00 PM.
Any alarm system would need to be on a separate system (such as connected to the electrical meter ahead of the clock timer) so it could run 24 hours per day.
When the sales office is separate from the sales models, and the sales office hours extend past darkness, the homebuilder should consider exterior lighting leading from the sales office to the models.
In one particular case, the sales office stayed open until 6 PM. With daylight savings in October, darkness began at 5 PM.
Enough exterior lighting had not been provided for homebuyers to walk safely from the office to the models. A few lights were finally added between the sales office and the sales models, using extension cords.
For sales models, the doorknob hardware on the fire-door that separates the interior of the garage from the interior of the house (the man-door), should be installed in reverse.
Prospective homebuyers walking through the models cannot then accidently close a locked door behind themselves while entering into a garage, that also has its garage door padlocked on the exterior (not uncommon for sales models).
On one particular project, a husband and wife locked themselves inside the garage of one of the sales models when sales traffic was light. After unsuccessfully yelling for help for about 30 minutes, the husband then put his shoulder to the locked garage man-door and busted his way out, knocking the door through the door jamb.
If the hardware for this door is reversed with the finger-turned latch on the garage side of the door, and the keyed half of the doorknob on the house interior side, people are then prevented from entering the garage from the house and accidently locking themselves inside the garage.
As the sales models grand opening day approaches, the builder should determine how many sets of keys are needed for access to the sales model complex.
People needing keys include the sales staff, main office management, field construction staff, interior plants maintenance, and the cleaning crew.
The keys to the sales complex should be different from the master key to the empty inventory units and the units under construction.
Plan-ahead this activity of providing keys for those people who will need continuing access to the sales office and the sales models. This then does not become a crisis along with other last-minute issues.
There is something inviting about the digital clock numbers lit-up on the kitchen range, and people are tempted as they walk through the sales models to push buttons and “kick the tires.”
The same thing occurs with the microwave oven and the dishwasher, for example. If people push a button and hear a beep, or turn a knob an get the water to run…their interest is aroused and they may continue to play with the appliance.
If the sales models for a large project get several thousand visitors over the span of a year or more, a lot of people are touching and experimenting with the kitchen appliances.
If people push a button or turn a knob on one of the appliances and nothing happens, however, they leave the appliance alone and move on to something else.
One problem to avoid here is the builder needing the appliance technician to replace electrical circuitry inside the sales model appliances that has become worn-out, after the builder has converted the sales models into occupied units and the new homebuyer discovers that their appliances do not work.
The builder can avoid this problem by simply not plugging in the appliances in the sales models.
Appliances are there for everyone to see, but offer no response when people push the buttons.
Bath ceiling fans in the sales models should not be hooked-up to the bathroom light switches, while the units are sales models.
The builder does not want the bathroom fan motors running all day and night simply because people turned the switch on while walking through the sales models.
By having the switch to the bath fans dead, but the electrical wiring hot, the builder exclusively controls the interior lighting and fans, not prospective homebuyers.
When the sales models are converted to livable units, the builder can plug the bathroom ceiling fans back in when the electrical wiring is changed over into normal wiring.
In the sales models, light switches should be wired so that the lights are always on to prevent people from turning lights on and off as they walk through the models.
This approach accomplishes two things.
First, it prevents people from inadvertently leaving dark pockets behind them as they tamper with light switches while walking through the sales models.
The builder wants the sales models bright, cheerful, safe, and inviting, by having all interior areas of the models well lighted.
Second, the sales people do not need to constantly walk through the models turning lights back on.
The best approach is to have a master switch located in the sales office, whereby sales staff can turn on all of the designated lights in the models at the beginning of the day, and turn off these lights from the sales office at the end of the day without having to physically walk through the models turning off lights.
The grand opening of the sales models and the sales office, which can be very exciting for the people from the main office, can be a major setback for morale in the field if everything is handled in the last-minute, rushed atmosphere typical of most new project grand openings.
The standard protocol is for the main office to set a date, order all of the brochures and promotional literature, start the advertising, but fail to anticipate all of the small details that must be taken care of at the last minute.
The construction people in the field are then locked into a date that might not be realistic in terms of pulling everything together in a smooth and orderly manner.
In one particular case, the builder had trouble deciding whether the sales office should be in one of the condominium units…or in a separate structure.
The homebuilder procrastinated to the point of having two unfinished double-wide trailers delivered to the jobsite for a sales office, only 10 calendar days before the grand opening.
The jobsite superintendents were forced to schedule most of the subcontractors on top of each other with landscaping, masonry block work, finish carpentry, and painting all occurring simultaneously, late into the previous night and early the next morning, down to the last minute before the opening on a Saturday morning.
When people from the main office came out to the jobsite two days before the grand opening to view the progress and to help in the last-minute preparations, they thought as construction novices that all of the tradespeople running around bumping into one another was normal for building construction. They saw all of this frenzied activity as exciting compared to the mundane routines of the office.
What the people from the main office did not realize was the damage being done to the reputation of the jobsite superintendents among the various subcontractors and tradespeople involved.
Tradespeople commented that this company was just as disorganized as all the other homebuilders in their past experience, and that everything being done in preparation for the grand opening of the sales model complex was a last-minute panic, as usual.
It took the jobsite superintendents months of orderly and organized construction, after the sales models grand opening, to regain the confidence of many of the tradespeople and subcontractors who participated in the sales models work.
The point here is that the main office should plan and schedule the grand opening date with the assistance of the construction department, and then abide by their own activity milestone dates in finalizing decisions, selections, and the ordering of various materials and furniture for the sales models and sales office.
If the grand opening date is unrealistic, or if the main office cannot themselves stay on schedule, then after the promotional literature has been printed and advertisements published in the newspaper and on the internet, the construction must hold to that date.
This forces the field personnel into almost impossible situations and working conditions that are then adversely criticized by the tradespeople involved, potentially damaging the building construction morale for months after the sales models grand opening.
Electrical power is needed for the interior lighting, air-conditioning, audio-music, video presentations and vocal narrative, and office equipment and telephones in the sales models and the sales office.
If there is a chance that final inspection and occupancy approval might not be given by the city building department in enough time for the electrical utility company to set the meters and turn on the electricity, the builder should plan to use a generator in the interim.
The builder should plan ahead for this temporary generator as an option, so there is no last-minute rush trying to obtain electrical power.
A location for the generator must be found that is out of sight behind a building, wind-screened fence, or trees to minimize noise and to not detract from the sales models and sales office campus.
The builder must also arrange for periodic refueling of the generator. The generator must also be large enough to handle the required electrical load.