The construction of the sales models should be used as a trial-run to identify and solve problems before starting construction of the production units. The sales models construction is the time to investigate and solve design, scheduling, and coordination problems.
Equally important is the cooperation of the city building inspectors in anticipating and identifying building code and engineering questions on the plans. The builder should encourage the raising of any questions and issues the inspector may have during the construction of the four or five sales models…so that these are resolved once the construction starts on the 50, 100, or 200 production units.
The builder should take the lead and encourage the debugging of the models through the use of requests for information (RFIs) to the architect and structural engineer, constructability analysis of the plans, and the input of the city building inspector.
If the builder instead rushes through the models construction to get into the start of the production units…unresolved problems only multiply over several units rather than a single sales model floor plan. If unresolved problems still exist in the plans…a change of building inspectors midway through the production units only exposes some latent/hidden issue that could and should have been identified and resolved earlier during the sales models construction.
The production schedule can then be held up resolving problems on several repeating units…sometimes affecting several trades…creating a ripple effect of debugging part-way through the production phase rather than problem resolution confined to a single sales models unit.
Finally, for multi-unit production tract housing and condominiums…changes to the sales models in terms of problems identification and resolution…and owners changes to the floor plans…should be memorialized in revised sets of plans re-submitted to the city or county plan checking department…so that plans reflecting the changes and corrections can be ready for use when the production phase begins. Some cities or counties will not allow the production construction to begin until revised plans are complete…so that their inspectors are looking at the revised plans rather than old plans plus a number of architectural or engineering field memos or “cut-sheets”…which get to be too confusing for the building construction and the building inspectors to follow.
When the project sales office has a security system, it is a good practice for the builder to have a panic button connected to the security system on the land-line telephone so the salesperson can summon help.
Some new housing projects are located out in the middle of uninhabited areas…and sales offices are open for business during weekends until 5 or 6 PM.
When a lone female salesperson is working the sales office, the secluded conditions of the location place that person at risk.
When a button on the telephone can set off the security alarm and summon the police to the project…the salesperson can quickly call for help if a problem develops.
For multi-unit tract housing and condominiums…one of the things the builder can anticipate during the construction of the sales models…is the collection of finish materials to be featured on display within the sales office.
Such items as door casing, detailed baseboard, bull-nose drywall cornerbead, bathroom sinks with the plumbing fixtures installed, doorknob hardware, and other featured materials are sometimes mounted on display boards by the interior designer and placed within the sales office as a sales tool.
Consider this activity item with the sales department and the interior designer before the start of the construction…so these materials can be procured from the various vendors and subcontractors in a timely manner.
Pre-planning is better than coming up with this idea as an afterthought…then rushing to get these materials to the interior designer in time for the sales office grand opening.
Sales model units receive thousands of prospective buyers throughout the course of a large multi-unit project.
This amount of traffic creates wear-and-tear in these units in a variety of ways.
The builder should sell the sales models on an as-is basis. Most sales models are decorated with wallpaper, wall treatments, optional decorator features, and upgraded flooring. Sometimes sales models are purchased with all of the furniture.
For these reasons the sales models prices are often negotiated with the homebuyer. Like a demonstration automobile with low mileage at a car dealership…the homebuyer must understand that the sales models are slightly used.
The builder wants to avoid a purchaser demanding that entire areas of vinyl flooring be replaced in the kitchen, for example, because of a small cigarette burn discovered after move-in and occupancy.
The builder should not intimate to the buyers that the sales models will be brought up to the standard of quality of the new…untouched by sales traffic…production units.
For the negotiated sale of a models unit to have any meaning…the words as-is in the sales agreement must mean as-is. This should be the arms-length understanding…even when the builder engages in final prep repair work in converting the models into livable units.