The ultimate checklist for building a house
Are you thinking of buying land with the view of building property, or have you already made the move?
The idea of buying a house just doesn’t appeal to you, or just isn’t an option for you. Opting to go for it yourself and design and build property with the aid of construction firms and architects can be a highly cost-effective method to get the house of your dreams.
Be prepared for a very different process to that of buying a house, however. When entering the world of property construction, there are many different factors you have to consider. Here, we present to you what to look out for with your first property build.
Buying the land
The process of buying the land will be the first step in the process. The purchasing of land can actually be pretty straight forward, so long as you have done your proper due diligence. The first thing you need to do is check the zoning of the land.
This happens far too often – people purchase land that, on the face of it, is in the perfect location for their new dream home. However, problems emerge in the fact that the land is not fit for living. Whether this is zoning issues, or contaminated soil, you will not be permitted or granted the right to build your home on the land
Oftentimes the land will then have to be sold on for significantly less than what you had paid for it, highlighting the importance of doing your due diligence. This applies to wherever you decide to build your property. Common stories emerge from Spain, with licences becoming increasingly hard to obtain with buyers making the purchase before securing the licence, or in the US, particularly Los Angeles, where people purchase land on a hillside and come to realise that they cannot build on it.
It is essential these checks are made before the purchase of the land. A surveyor will be able to confirm that the build can go ahead, although this adds to the cost of the project, it is an essential one.
Check the utilities
On top of checking the quality and zoning for the land, you must ensure also that there is the ability to hook up to utilities, this includes electric, gas and plumbing. Even if there was an existing house on the plot, it is essential you check this just to be sure.
If utilities are not available, or if the existing plumbing needs to be updated, you need to factor in the additional work and price to the overall project. Thinking worst case scenario, a drain hook-up may even be required, and this will need planning permission and significant additional money you probably have not budgeted for.
Demolishing an existing structure
If the land you are purchasing has a structure already on site that needs to be demolished, you have a few ways to approach with this.
A mechanical demolition is the fastest way to approach this. This involves heavy machinery and excavators to clear the existing plot – the issue here is the demolition will cost more. The alternative is to perform a smaller-scale demolition of the property by hand, which will of course be cheaper, but will take more time.
A contractor either way is likely to be necessary to ensure all utilities are shut off, you have the correct paperwork to carry out the demolition and that you have notified local departments of the works to be carried out.
Be sure to plan in advance the demolition of the existing premises, otherwise this could be a nasty expense that emerges early on. It is almost always the smart play to consult with the firms you will be using to aid in the construction process, as often some foundations or structures can be reused from the existing project, saving you time and money.
Hiring the professionals
With your vacant plot of land secured, you are free to start the building process, assuming you have received approval and all permits for the construction from your local municipality. Here, you will want to make sure you are hiring the perfect firms to work with.
As touched on earlier, you are likely to need an architect, builder and subcontractors to ensure each stage of the process is completed.
ost people end up seeking these professionals individually, taking the assumption of greater options and it being most cost effective (or the only way to do it). However, there are a growing number of design-build firms that employ architects and construction specialists that reduce the need to hire additional contractors, making the process efficient and far easier to budget for.
If you opt to go it individually, make sure that you have researched a few companies for each area. Ask any friends or neighbours if they have had any positive experiences and seek referrals – a positive experience is better than any number of claims made by the firm.
Ask also to see examples of their work and approach multiple firms with your project, this is a big decision that you need to make sure you are getting right. Often a firm can be way out with their valuation for the project, whether this be too high or too low, and this indicates they are not aware of the full process and expenses, an easy way to whittle down the best firms.
Design the house
This is definitely the most enjoyable part. Selecting the overall style and preferences for the house, rooms and materials is a lot of fun, though it can get costly. As the design of the house develops, you will realise that you may have to cut back on certain things that initially you wanted – think state-of-the-art kitchen or home theatre.
You also need to consult with the architect from an early stage for your initial musings for the house, as they will need to ensure that these additions are considered in the foundations of the house.
You also have to decide whether you are willing to go ahead with a custom house or whether a new-construction house may be more applicable to you. If you feel this may be better for your needs, find developers in your area and see what they offer
Often developers are in the process of building highly modern buildings that are yet to be completed. This is an alternative approach to buying a house that has already been constructed but saves you the stress of the many points listed above. You may be paying a premium for this service – lower risk but less reward.
Be ready for things to go wrong!
There are so many things that can go wrong with the build of a new house. Make sure to stay flexible with time here. Many hiccups and weather events going forward will occur, so it is essential that you keep a rough timeline for completion – expect this to go over though!
No one enjoys shelling out additional money, but unfortunately this usually is the case. From small oversights to major additional costs, be aware that this is not going to be plain sailing.
Building a home is not for everyone. However, as long as you follow the above checklist well, and ensure that you have covered all of the bases, building a home can be a highly profitable and downright incredible thing to undergo. Just know that it will not be easy, the best things in life usually aren’t though.