Prevent common construction mistakes
Matt Risinger has seen a lot of rookie contractors make common construction mistakes during his 20 years as a remodeler and custom home builder, but says they are easily avoided. Here’s how to prevent common construction mistakes:
Do tasks in order. Don’t install the siding before your subs do the rough-ins. “It’s a lot easier to seal holes from electrical boxes and wiring before the house is sided,” says Risinger.
Don’t use bubble boxes over outdoor outlets. Instead, Risinger recommends installing an Arlington Inbox, which lasts longer and can be attached smoothly with flashing tape.
Provide subs with everything they’ll need. Risinger says he buys all materials and products so there’s no confusion about what subs should install.
Hire an engineer to size the system. “Oversizing is a common construction mistake,” says Risinger, “and it causes the system to be inefficient on all but the hottest days of the year. Have a mechanical engineer do the measurements so you get the correct specs.”
To avoid common HVAC installation mistakes, provide each room with a supply and return, and test them in each room. To test, leave the door open about ¾ inch. If it closes itself, there’s too much air pressure in the room and likely no return. “You can fix the problem by using jump ducts,” he says, which are U-shaped ducts with grills that should be placed in a bedroom and in the hallway.”
Never put ducts in unconditioned spaces. “All ducts should be in the house, not in crawlspaces or attics,” says Risinger.
Test the HVAC system for tightness. Make sure the house isn’t losing air pressure from leaks. If you build an addition to a house, add to the original system so you don’t overtax it.
To avoid one of the most common construction mistakes, don’t bid out plumbing jobs. Find a plumber whose work you can trust and have him do all your plumbing, because the quality of the work and price will be consistent. Many plumbing companies have separate crews for groundwork, top-out and set-out, which can make your job more complicated. Find a firm that uses one crew to do all tasks.
Prior to making holes for plumbing, have a plan to seal them. Holes need to be air and watertight, so make sure flashing tapes and tools work well with the kind of house wrap you’re using
Install high-quality fixtures and materials. “Cheap plastic valve stops on toilets will need to be replaced sooner than brass fixtures,” says Risinger. He recommends the KT series from BrassCraft, which he says lasts 30 to 40 years and cost $11 to $15. Protect the fittings and fixtures. Use plywood or apply a protective coating of rubber to tubs and other fixtures so they don’t get damaged during the building process.
More tips to avoid common construction mistakes
“Sell yourself to your clients,” says Risinger. “Talk about why you’re the right choice for the job and leave the price conversation for after they’ve decided to hire you.”
Choose great tradesmen over low prices. Spend time interviewing trades and doing research to find the best team for all your jobs.
–By Molley Podlesny and Matt Risinger
Matt Risinger of Risinger Homes, Austin, Texas, is a remodeler, and a production and custom home builder. In addition, he writes a popular blog. Risinger provided these expert tips for avoiding common construction mistakes during a recent Pro Construction Guide PROcast, a podcast just for pros.