Thinking of building your own home? Some guidelines

Although it may appear expensive at first, having the following carried out can reduce your overall construction costs or at the very least,  minimize potential surprises later on. 

  • Have a survey of the property carried out to re-establish the boundaries and determine the topography.  
  • Have a geotechnical investigation carried out to determine the properties of the soil – load-carrying properties, expansive and cohesive properties, permeability of the soil and any other relevant factors that could affect the strength and durability of the building and surroundings. Long term maintenance costs can be substantially reduced by having and using this information up front. 
  • Establish with your bankers the amount of financing you qualify for beforehand and determine your construction budget. Deduct 20% of this figure as your allowance for contingencies (the unexpected – there will always be those) and understand that the remaining 80% is your design/construction budget. Note:- be aware that bank administrative and legal fees,  valuators and quantity surveyors fees are normally expected to be funded from personal savings. Try to get a good idea of what these are likely to be early – probably even before buying land and certainly before having your house designed. 
  • Before you approach the design consultant,  check with someone in the know, such as a Quantity Surveyor or Estimator, regarding the current “ballpark” rate per square foot to construct a building similar to the one you are contemplating. Divide your design budget by this rate to come up with the area of the building you can afford. RESOLVE TO WORK WITH THIS AREA!  
  • Work with the affordable area to make a list of the rooms you want/need the building to have (prioritise wisely) – don’t forget circulation space – then try to do a line sketch of how you want your rooms to be laid out. 
  • Doing all of the foregoing will put you in an informed position to now approach a design consultant to have your home designed and then constructed without having to stop because your budget was exceeded. 

Written by 

Lori is an accomplished construction manager and engineer, who has wide experience in the commercial and residential construction industry.