A year or so ago my wife and I embarked on a mission, we were finally ready and could afford to construct the dream home we had always talked about. We thought this would be easy, we flew to Panama and looked at floor plans, we met with a developer and signed on the dotted line. We had done our homework checking references on the developer, who had been building homes for 25 years, and we even got a second opinion. What we did not do was make them show us a 3D Architectural Rendering.
Because of this, we had no idea what we were building. You see most people cannot conceptualize what a house looks like based on the plans. And the developer built the house to the very letter of the plans we had approved, but had never shown us a rendering. The inevitable result was tears from my wife upon seeing the place for the first time. Some rooms were too big, others importantly the kitchen were much smaller than we had envisioned, even the windows were smaller than we would have chosen if we had a better idea of what we were building. In short we should have demanded to see an architectural rendering.
The good news is we had a stroke of luck; the developer did a good job of building the house. A couple who was at an open house next door really liked and asked if they could buy it, which we obviously jumped on. It turns out they were not turned off by our dinky kitchen, because apparently some people don’t like to cook. But if you are like us you live in the kitchen, so it has to be the most perfect room in the house.
On our second kick at the can we used a new developer. This developer was fantastic; they put together 3D Architectural Renderings for all customers’ plans, which is fantastic. This time we could see by way of these virtual mockups where the problems were in our second dream vacation home.
But our dream could have very easily become a nightmare if it was not for the couple that took the first house off of our hands. Thankfully our story turned out well, but for others they might not be so lucky. Shoddy construction on the part of the developer, or an even more disastrous layout could have forced us to take a huge loss on the first house, and permanently poured cold water on our dream vacation home.
Thus we have a few lessons we want to share. First, be sure to check your developer’s references. Second, you need to make sure you know what you are building, and be there to monitor the construction. This would have saved us a lot of pain, because we could have fixed things during construction. Finally make sure your developer shows you a 3D architectural rendering before you sign anything. This way you can fix any problems, which you might have with your house before you build it. Do we recommend building a vacation home despite this experience? You better believe it, this has been the best money we have ever spent.