Homeownership. Isn’t that the dream? Some people choose to buy already completed houses while others choose to build their own custom structures. If you are among those who have chosen to build, there are many precautions you should take to avoid costly mistakes as you embark on this building journey.
1. Poor planning and design
Planning the space is absolutely crucial. Poor planning can make even a big house look small. During the planning and design phase, you need to consider everything about how people live including things like closet space, where shoes go in the hallway, where the washing machine goes and more which are easy to overlook assuming you will decide later. These decisions have to be made early on. You have to imagine yourself living in that space. Consider all the factors current and future.
Another planning-related problem is not properly budgeting. How much can you reasonably afford to spend? How will you finance it? What happens if you end up going over budget? Will your finances be terribly compromised or will you be okay? You have to answer key financial questions early on in the planning phase before the project takes off. You need this security and protection.
2. Having insufficient or no contracts
Before you start anything hire a lawyer to review all your contracts with the contractors and builders or draft them if the contractors do not have one. Make sure everything is captured on paper. Specify all the deliverables and costs. What happens if things go wrong in one way or another? You need this protection for yourself and for your contractor and all the rest who are involved too.
3. Running the projects yourself
There is always the understandable impulse to run the project yourself in a bid to save money in what is undoubtedly an expensive undertaking. You however have to be honest with yourself. Do you really have the experience to sort out building regulations, planning approvals and finding the best value for materials and labour? Are you the best person to liaise with architects, surveyors, and all others involved all while still working full-time at your current job and managing all your other obligations including familial responsibilities?
Most DIY project managers end up over budget, way behind schedule, and incredibly stressed out. They also end up making decisions that end up being the wrong ones, for example, when it comes to choosing material and they have no experience to guide them one way or the other.
4. Going too big
Don’t build too big, always remember that you can always add to your home later. Build a realistic home for now. When building, people assume they need many rooms. Rooms that eventually end up underutilized. A better plan is to have a few large rooms.
5. Not thinking about the future and the resale value
Think beyond now. Think about yourself living in it in 20 years’ time. What are your needs now? How are your needs likely to change? How many steps are there for example to the top floor? Is that workable for elderly people such as your parents or even you? Also, think about the possible resale value as you go along. Build your house for a lifetime.
6. Not checking in on the work
Choosing not to be the project is not an invitation to be passive. Don’t get sucked into the idea that it would be fun to just drive up once in a while to so you can be surprised by how things are going. Be involved in the building. Read the builders’ contract. Ask for any clarification on anything you do not understand. Make sure the building codes are being followed. Point out things you do not like when the construction is ongoing so that they can be resolved. Make sure the things on the ground are meeting your expectations at every turn. Make no compromises. Keep records of everything especially expenses. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
As you embark on this journey, read the testimonials of other people in your area who have built their own homes. Find out about timescales, cost, quality of building and workmanship. Happy building.
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