Be Persistent & Diligent with the Builder
The truth is, no one will care about the quality of your house as much as you will. No one will see the imperfections or focus on the details that aren't quite right as much as you will. But also, no one else is paying for your house. No one else will create memories in your house like you will. So do what it takes to make sure you get what you've asked for (and what you've paid for).
1. Mind the details and be persistent.
One of the features we chose for our backyard was a built-in fire pit with a matching seating ledge. We loved the idea of having friends over, hot chocolate in hand, sitting around a warm fire... that we could turn on with a key. When the builder poured the concrete for our back patio and fire pit area, we began to be concerned. The shape of the semi-circle for the seating ledge was, well, off. Initially we wondered if it was an optical illusion but we after several visits to check things out, it became apparent that the concrete was indeed wonky. We brought it the attention of our builder and we were told not to worry - when the brick mason did the ledge, he would fix it.
When the fire pit went in, the brick mason followed the outline of the concrete, meaning one part of the brick ledge was oddly shaped, and it certainly wasn't an even distance from the fire pit. Again, we brought it to the attention of our builder and he sent the brick mason back out to correct the shape. This time we also asked them bring the seating ledge closer to the fire pit. We came back to find that the brick mason had lengthened each side of the ledge (so that those sitting on the very end were ridiculously far from the fire), and we had a nice concrete ring around the ledge.
I was at a loss for words. So once again, we contacted the builder - this fire pit was not what we were paying for. So the brick mason came out a third time, this time shortening the edges. We finally had the shape right... but the brick mason kept a lip on one side of the ledge with no lip on the other. This, too, we mentioned to the builder, and eventually, we got the brick even and the extra concrete removed.
Y'all. Now, look, I really liked our builder. And I appreciate that the team was responsive to our requests. But the fire pit we have today only looks the way we wanted it to look because we were persistent while it was being built.
2. Don't be afraid to be "those" homeowners.
Yes, we brought a tiny level to the house after our cabinets were installed to check the drawer and cabinet pulls. Yes, we took pictures of things that didn't look right and sent emails to our designer from time to time with a list of things we had noticed in the house (I tried to consolidate our questions / concerns into as few emails as possible, which meant most emails had several items). We didn't want to be "those" homeowners, but at the end of the process, we would be the ones living in our house. I was the one who would have to look at that uneven drawer pull every time I reached for a cast-iron skillet if it didn't get fixed up front.
Certainly, I recommend being cooperative. And remember it isn't the builder's fault if something is installed correctly and you simply do not like it. But if you see issues or have concerns, do NOT be afraid to point them out and get them corrected.
After all, it's your house.