Home Building Procedures
Whether you are looking at building a simple starter home or a dream mansion; a new home construction contains many unknowns and can be overwhelming—especially if you are unsure where to start or have had a few bad experiences.
Building your own property is an exciting prospect, but one that requires proper planning from budgeting and build schedules to calling in the professionals.
Being prepared is absolutely key when it comes to running a successful project. Building your own home is not for the faint-hearted – it takes passion and commitment as well as the ability to keep on top of everything.
Time spent researching what you want, what it will cost and how you can get it, is seldom wasted. I would recommend you take as much time planning what you are going to do, as you do in actually building the house. There is so much choice in terms of design options, structural systems and finishing materials that making decisions can seem a bit overwhelming.
Set a realistic budget
You will be surprised at how quickly your self-build budget gets out of control. There are many scary stories out there where people have ended up spending tens of thousands over budget. This definitely does not have to be the case if you are realistic and set the right budget from the beginning.
Before you even start designing your new home it is important that you work out just how much you would like to spend or how much you can afford to borrow (if that is the case) to build your new home. Realistically factor interest rate increases and other circumstances that may occur when it comes to repayments.
Have an idea on building costs before you make the final deal on finance, so that you are not in for any surprises. You may not be able to borrow the full amount so you may need to adjust your budget and design accordingly.
Building regulations, purchasing land etc.
Deciding on where you would like to build your new home is paramount. Enlist the help of an Estate Agent who can guide you on the correct property prices for the area in terms of location and size of plot. You may find that you need to compromise on your location to get a bigger plot of land.
Ensure that utilities will be an easy process to connect on the property. Contact the utility companies before buying the land to be certain that you will be able to get water, electricity to your home. If you are intending to rebuild on an existing property or extend, then the supplies will already exist.
On purchasing a plot of land to build on, it is not just the location to obvious amenities that you should think about, you also need to consider the construction of your home. Accessibility for construction vehicles, access to power and water during construction and security measures once the house begins to take shape e.g. boundary wall etc. Another thing to consider would be having a professional survey done to pick up on any slopes, drainage issues and underlying rocks that could cause problems, and in effect added cost.
I would recommend that you check the zoning status and getting a copy of the site plan before making an offer on any plot of land, as zoning is an important factor. There may be some restrictions that limit building options.
At some point I am sure you are wondering what a realistic time period is for the building work from start to finish. The timeline mostly depends on the completion of the different stages and can be very dependent on weather, delivery of materials, site staff availability etc. Having a project manager on any build helps to set clear timelines for each phase of the project.
When building a new home planning permission is required from the local planning office. We have laws controlling planning and development and you cannot build a new home without full planning permission. The consent may very well come with conditions attached which must be met without any shortcuts. You will also need building regulation approval which is granted by a building control inspector who will carry out periodic site inspections to ensure that the regulations are being met.
Being aware of your surrounds while you are in the construction phase can go a long way in building relationships with your neighbours. Building work is often-times stressful for those around from the noise, parking to the general disruption associated with any building project. It might just be better to forewarn your neighbours of what is to come, with some timelines, and to provide contact details should there be any type of grievance.
Having a clear idea of how you want your new home to look will help save both time and money when it comes to working with your architect. Have a look at other homes for inspiration and read through home magazines for the latest designs and technology.
Before the project begins you should have a clear idea on things like your fixtures, fittings, appliances, cabinets, paint colours and tiles / carpets. Making these decisions in advance and placing orders for items that could be on backorder is key to avoiding delays and unnecessary stress.
Finishes and fittings turn a house into a home so it is good to spending time and effort on making the right choices. Magazines and décor websites can provide inspiration, and if your budget allows, ask an interior designer for assistance. As with any project team effort is worth it. Involve the whole family in designing the home, aim to get consensus on living areas and even allow members of the family to personalise their own spaces.
Your project manager plays an important role in the project. They are always thinking about money – from estimating budgets before the project starts to hiring and paying contractors. Financial management is one of the most important aspects to a successful project.
Having a project manager is less stress and its easier to have one person to get feedback from than trying to juggle your own job, your building site as well as contractors and site staff.
In the beginning draw some sketches of how you envisage the way the building will look. The floor plan is essential because it will give the architect an idea of how you would like the finished layout to be. Show your sketches to the project manager and the architect and discuss your requirements. Your architect will then perform calculations and produce a set of detailed plans for you to follow.
Usually the project manager will have an architect that they work closely with, their costs then included in the overall costing to the project. An architect or engineer will first asses the feasibility of the design based on regulations and building codes as well as the number of rooms verses size of the building etc.
Now that everything is ready to start, ensure that you have done a site inspection with your project manager and builder. You should have done all the necessary tests regarding the soil etc., for any environmental challenges.
Make sure you have a clear agreement with your project manager / builder, on when payments will be due, and how much they will be. Review any exclusions before signing any documents. Keep the lines of communication open between you for a pleasant and professional relationship. Make sure you express any concerns you may have as soon as you have them.
To start off construction meetings will be held with any subcontractors and material suppliers to set good working practices in place. Things need to be sorted out like temporary storage facilities, ablution facilities, securing the site, establishing safety programmes etc. After that construction will officially begin.
During construction the architect will check on the quality of work whilst the project manager will manage the costing, timeline, material orders and overall site management. The sooner the cost-control monitoring phase begins the better as this will help to identify any trouble areas.
It could happen that some time has lapsed between when the quote on materials was received to when construction starts. So, some materials might have gone up in price to when the estimates were received. The project manager would then need to alert you of the cost increase for that item for approval.
Keep in touch with your project manager and builder to monitor progress and have site meetings. This will also eliminate any surprises should anything for some reason not go according to plan. In saying that, construction projects are always changing and the constant level of uncertainty can often lead to conflict between project teams. This is where your project manager can help in resolving disputes, identifying risks and understanding any legal ramifications.
On completion of the project a final inspection will be done and a final account on the project will be submitted. Once the building work is completed, inspect the work closely before signing off and paying. Make sure all issues are corrected and make sure there is an agreement in place for anything that may go wrong.
When occupying your new home inspect it carefully, paying particular attention to:
- Sanitaryware – taps, toilet fittings and other plumbing installations.
- Fireplace surrounds, wall tiles and splash backs.
- Doors and windows – make sure they open and close properly.
- Electricity and water – make sure they are connected and in working condition.
- Check whether the extras you ordered have been provided.
- Ensure you have keys to all the locks and that they work properly.
- Make sure you have been shown where water stop valves and main electrical switches are located.
- Also check the stand to make sure that the boundaries are correctly and clearly marked, the site has been cleared of all debris, and that all contractual work and finishes are correct.
- Draw up a list of all problems and defects (snag list) and submit it to your builder within 90 days of the date of occupation. Keep a record of all correspondence.
When the owner moves into the new building, the warranty period starts. This ensures that all the materials, equipment, and building quality meet the expectations outlined in the contract.
This final phase ties up any loose ends. The team formally completes any remaining contractual obligations to finish the project.
Make sure you have all relevant contact numbers for any comebacks down the line.