Timers for Lighting for the Sales Models

            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.

Sales Models Hours & Exterior Lighting

            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.

Reverse the Locks on the Garage Man-Doors

            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.  

Keys for the Sales Office & Models

            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. 

Don’t Plug-in Appliances in the Sales Models

            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 Fans in the Sales Models

            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.

Electrical Wiring in the Sales Models

            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.

Air-Conditioning for Sales Models Plants

            In scheduling for the sales models opening for production tract housing and condominiums, the builder should consider that electricity must be on for air-conditioning to be operating at the time that indoor plants are placed in the interior of the sales models.

            To turn the electricity on, the final electrical inspection must be passed by the city building department, the electrical utility released, and the electrical meters set. 

            The air-conditioning units can then be fired-up and tested.

            If the grand opening occurs in the summer, for example, the indoor plants must be protected from the heat.  Because installing indoor plants is not a normal construction activity, and therefore not thought of during construction scheduling, it can be easily overlooked when planning for the sales models grand opening.

            The mistake to avoid here is not allowing enough lead-time for the air-conditioning to be up and running for the installation of sales model furniture which includes indoor plants. 

            These indoor plants must be in place to complete the interior decorating, for the promotional photography shoot, which typically takes place several weeks before the actual sales model grand opening date.

Electricity for the Photo Shoot…the Sales Models

            One requirement sometimes not considered in scheduling the grand opening of the sales models for a multi-unit production tract housing or condominium project, is that electricity must be on for the interior and exterior photography shoot.

            Photographs are typically taken two or three weeks before the opening date so as to be included in the sales brochures and promotional ads that run in the real estate sections of local newspaper, and on the internet.

            Electricity must be on so that dining room chandeliers, hanging light fixtures in stairways, kitchen florescent lights, bathroom bar light fixtures and sconce light fixtures, and bedroom table lamps can provide lighting for the photography.

            Providing electricity two or three weeks earlier than the grand opening date can throw the sales models construction into panic mode if this requirement was not anticipated. 

            Normally, the approval to allow electricity to be provided for a project is not released by the city building department until construction is complete.  If the project is scheduled to continue construction right up to the grand opening date, the construction will not be far enough along at the time of the photo shoot to have a final building inspection, much less allow time for the utility company to set meters and turn on the electricity.  

            Some city or county building departments will make an exception for sales models and give a separate electrical inspection before the building final inspection.  This process allows the builder to get electrical power earlier than normal.

            This approach must be planned for ahead of time, however, so that the electrical inspection, the setting of the meters, the release by the city building department, and the bureaucratic process between the building department and the utility company all transpire to coordinate in-time for the grand opening.

            The fallback position is for the homebuilder to rent a generator to power the electricity to the sales models, with the project electrical contractor making the temporary connections at the electrical breaker panels.

            The mistake to avoid here is in thinking that the construction completion date and the sales model grand opening date can be the same day, unless the builder is planning on renting a generator.

            The construction completion date should be about three to four weeks before the opening so that electricity, as well as furniture and indoor plants can be in place for the promotional photography shoot.

Temporary Power Pole Placement

            The placement of temporary power poles on the jobsite should be analyzed and planned so as not to be in the way of future concrete walkways and driveways, trenching for underground utilities, and large landscaping trees.

            The builder should attempt to avoid the common occurrence toward the completion of the project of having to move one or more temporary power poles, not only costing money, but disrupting electrical power to a portion of the project while it is moved to another location.

            For high-density condominium and apartment projects, and for large multi-unit tract housing, the initial placement of temporary power poles so as not to interfere with any future construction activities, can be difficult because of the scarcity of open, unused space within the completed project. 

            These projects often have most of the available space filled-up with walkways, driveways, courtyard patios, common area parking, recreation and swimming pool areas, and landscaping.

            For tight projects with limited space such as these it is sometimes best to have the civil engineering surveyors stake the locations for temporary power poles as a separate distinct activity, or along with and in addition to some other early staking activities that brings the surveyors out to the jobsite.

            The builder must spend some time at the start of the construction determining the desired locations for temporary power poles, so their exact locations can be plotted and laid-out in the field.

            For detached tract housing the exercise of choosing locations for power poles is made easier by the leftover open space on each lot.  But the builder still needs to ensure that the temporary power poles are out of the way of concrete driveways and walkways, as well as the underground utilities.

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