Key Elements of Building Your First Home

Key Elements of Building Your First Home

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Building a home from the foundation is an extremely rewarding experience, as it allows you to customize every aspect to your tastes and needs. Still, anyone who's seen any homebuilding knows how stressful and excruciating the process can be. On the other hand, building a home doesn't have to be a nightmare. With good planning and a solid strategy, building a house can be as pleasant as living in one.

Get the plan ready

When you build without a plan, you might end up with something like the Winchester Mystery House. Built by the deranged widow of firearm magnate W.W. Winchester, this stately mansion in San Jose, California is full of curiosities like windows inside the house, doors that open to two-story drops, and stairways leading nowhere. While the amount of architectural eccentricity made this house a popular historic landmark, a more mundane lack of planning can lead to the unfavorable layout of rooms, insufficient lighting, shortage of power junctures or plumbing points, or wrong orientation. Apps like Autodesk Homestyler and Sweet Home 3Der let you create mock floorplans, however, make sure you run your sketches by a human architect.

Leave a budget margin

No matter how much you estimate your house is likely to cost, it will always cost more. There is a number of items that may be omitted from the initial estimate your builder provides. For example, builders rarely include costs of electric and gas meters or window coverings. Then, there are details like landscaping, paving, fences, gates, and decking that are often left out. These so-called finishing costs might amount to an additional 15-25% of the budget. In addition, there are site costs, which are associated with preparing the site for building and may also include the application fees.

Choose the right contractors

Whichever builder, plumber, carpenter, electrician, and decorator you choose, prepare to work with them for many months, so make sure your early choice doesn’t create problems down the road. First of all, verify that your contractor is adequately licensed in their trade in your state. In Australia, for example, you can use Licensed Trades website to see if the license they hold is still valid. Also, you need to make sure the contractors are specialized for the sort of work you need or pick ones with the most experience. These Sydney commercial carpentry specialists offer a range of services, and although they focus primarily on interior carpentry, such as timber mouldings, floors, and stairs, handrails, skirting, doors, they also excel at outdoor features like decking and pergolas.

Study before you sign

Read through the contract with your selected contractor to make sure you understand every bit of its content. This way, you won’t be taken by surprise when the unseen construction costs start piling up. Check if the contract includes a cooling off period and that the timeframe for construction suits your needs. The agreement should include detailed plans, warranty, and insurance information, and most importantly, the payment schedule. Eventually, you can even ask a solicitor to take a look before you sign, as this will further erase the blank spaces.

Get your finances in line

Unlike regular home loans, a construction home loan has a different structure, where the lender doesn't release all the funds at once, but rather in periodic payments, by assessing you much you need for the project. These periodic payments are known as draws, and are paid at each stage of your construction is completed. Also keep in mind that since construction loans are usually seen as riskier than home purchase loans, the lender might require a deposit of at least 20%. In any case, make sure you have a detailed plan before you seek out finance, as these loans are estimated on the assumed value of the complete house, as derived from the construction plan.

While minor mishaps like spilled paint or wrong hole positions are easy to fix on the go, major and expensive errors can only be avoided by careful planning and tactical execution.

By Diana Smith