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L.Srikumar Pai
B.Sc( Engg.), MIE, MIWWA, MICI
Civil Engineer & CAD Specialist
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Guidelines  & tips before you start house construction

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Once you have decided to construct your dream house,  note the following points before you proceed

Think about Your Budget: Begin now to think about how much you can afford to spend and how much building your new home is likely to cost. Chances are you will need a construction loan and a mortgage. It's not too early to find out what size loan you qualify for. Also, knowing the approximate costs will help you modify your building plans to meet your budget.

Your plot & Location:
Whether you are building your home in a suburban development or a site with sweeping ocean views, you will almost always need to choose the land before you select floor plans or other details. You  will need to investigate factors such as soil condition, drainage, zoning and building codes in the region.

You should have a designer & contractor: You'll need a team of experts to design and construct your house. Key players will include a builder and  a home designer or an architect. Many homeowners begin by selecting the builder or contractor. It is better to select an architect or designer first. Architects and builders have to be carefully selected. Try to get some reference from your friends and relatives. Make designer agreement with the architect about his fees and services.

Prepare a Plan: Based on your requirements and looking at the building rules of the local administration, prepare a preliminary plan and estimate with the help of the Architect. Discuss the house layout plan  with your family and some close friends & relatives if required. Once the plan is finalized, submit it for approval to local administration. You can also try to get approval for Biogas plant, Solar energy panels, Wind energy etc if you are going to install it. Many administration gives you subsidy for these items provided you submit the details sufficiently early. Note the following:

1. Plot Plan: Should include size and location of structures on property, including distances to lot lines, streets, roads, and property lines.

2. Floor Plan:  Include all room uses and sizes, door and window sizes and locations.

3. Specification Sheet, Footing/Foundation Plan and Cross Section Drawing: (may be self-prepared, although blueprints are preferred) Include size, type, and quality (grade) of materials, size of footings, depth, size and span of joists and rafters, ceiling heights, stair details, etc.

4. Structural drawings  must be submitted with plans.

5. Plumbing and Electrical Drawings

Make Contract agreement: Once you get approval of your plan, be sure to get a written contract which has been signed and dated by both the builder or contractor and the architect or designer. A contract for new home construction will describe the project in detail and include a listing of all the parts to be included in the house. Remember to amend the contract if you or your team make any changes to the project later on.

Note the following:.

1) A permit fee shall be paid before a building permit can be issued.

2) Do not start construction until the building permit has been issued.

Most people use the expertise of those in the building industry to advise them on the legal requirements of the building laws and many delegate the task of obtaining a building consent to their architect/designer, builder or project manager.

When you employ a registered architect or other type of designer, they must prepare plans and specifications that meet the Building Code performance standards . The builder then has to build the house to the specifications and plans so that the end result matches what was approved in the building consent.

Ultimately you will be responsible under the Building Act if your house does not meet the required standards, so make sure you employ skilled people who know all the building controls and keep up-to-date with new standards and rules.


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