Advice From a Building Project Manager

Learn what a project manager does and get tips on building your dream home.

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Building a house from the ground up is an enormous undertaking. From the foundation and drywall to paint colors and cabinets, someone has to oversee every detail of the process. That's where Dustin Melzark comes in. As a project manager for Lakeside Development Company, he keeps the construction teams on schedule, ensures all necessary materials are on the site, works out any issues that come up, and more. We sat down with Melzark to learn about the challenges of building a house and what new homeowners should keep in mind before embarking on their dream home journey.

What's the hardest part of building a house?

One of the most challenging parts of Melzark's job is keeping an eye on the big picture. Much of his day-to-day work involves managing product timelines, which can be lengthy. Custom orders take longer, for example, and unique materials can take an especially long time before they are completed for a client. (Imported Carrara marble, anyone?) After all, his team is building a house, and it needs to be ready on time for the excited homeowners to move in.

What's the biggest mistake people make when building a new home?

Your house can still be functional even if it's smaller or mid-sized. Melzark recommends being intentional about designing multipurpose spaces. Don't feel pressured to "check off the boxes" when it comes to planning rooms for your house. Consider your family's needs instead—and be realistic. A formal dining room that you only use once a year may not be a practical choice for you. Why spend the time and money on additional rooms that you won't use? Think about all the possibilities; a combo guest bedroom and home office, or a kid's playroom that doubles as a media room.

What's the best way to prepare for building a new home?

Before any nails can be hammered, you have to decide how you want your house to look. Melzark says to keep a folder or Pinterest board of ideas. Tear out magazine pages, talk to friends and family about elements you love in their homes, and browse design websites. You'll start seeing patterns emerge of favorite items popping up again and again. With this, you can better communicate the styles and features you want to see. Don't be afraid to ask questions or clarify concerns with your project manager, architect, or designer. These individuals are trained to assist you through the process.

What's a space that people don't think about, but should?

Melzark loves transitional spaces that mark the switch from inside to outside, whether that be a front porch or entryway, a back patio, a fire pit, or a pool deck. These areas, he notes, are important for setting the tone for the room you're about to enter. They also provide a bridge between indoor and outdoor activities. A transition point should have its own personality, but still blend in seamlessly with the rest of your house's design.

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