Top 10 Tips to Building a Home

house and building plansHi folks,
Recently people were asking us to provide some information about what to look out for when building a home so here are a few tips below that you can follow, that will hopefully make the process run more smoothly:-


1.    Choose an architect and a builder that you have faith in. Like anything of this nature, you need to do your homework and not just go out and hire the cheapest one you can find. Get a number of quotes from architects and builders but it’s not the price you should be looking at but more so the quality of previously completed projects and to verify this make sure to look for references of previously completed builds that the architect and builder has been involved with.
2.  Check that the building contractor has adequate builders insurance and that the architect has Professional Indemnity insurance.  Get advice from your own insurance broker if you don’t feel confident to assess this yourself.   Sometimes you can choose to take out additional insurance as an extra safeguard and your broker will be able to advise you about this.
3.    Take your time with it. Building a home is something that shouldn’t be rushed. You will live in it for long enough, so make sure that all the plans are 100% according to your specifications and let the builders take care of the rest. Trying to rush a job like this will most certainly result in problems down the road. Do it right at the start and reap the benefits afterwards.
4.    Sometimes less is better than more.  A five or six bedroom house might seem like a brilliant idea when your kids are young, but when they grow up and move out, you can be left with a big empty house which could end up costing you loads to heat up during the winter season.
5.    Make sure to have a written contract.  Understand the contract fully between you and your builders/contractors before you sign off on anything. If you can’t understand something or you think its poorly written, then don’t sign it. Preferably, have a solicitor review the contract with you before signing anything of this nature. It will prevent problems later on for all involved, and especially you.
6.    Everything about your project will cost money. Set out initially with a reasonable budget and allow a 10% limit over this to cater for unplanned expenses along the way. Set out what’s the maximum budget you can afford and aim to spend 10% less than this. Don’t get talked into building anything you don’t want or need. It’s your pocket that’s paying for everything, so unless you are happy, then don’t give in to any suggestions.
7.    Never be afraid to ask questions. Some people feel that they should never visit the construction site and let the architect look after things. Not a good idea. You should regularly visit the project to make sure that things are going the way you want. If you don’t check up on things, then you could get a house that your architect wants and not the house you want. If you see something that you don’t understand, or feel isn’t what you planned, then ask questions and lots of them. If the builder uses terms to describe things and you don’t understand the meaning, then ask him to spell it out. Get another opinion if you are not happy with the explanation that your builder or architect gives you.
8.    Because you are designing and building your own home, you will want things to be just as you planned. This means you can get whatever you want, keeping within your budget of course. If a contractor informs you that your needs cannot be accommodated by them, then you simply search for an alternative contractor who can. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t have something, especially when you’re paying. If you want something, and you look hard enough then you’ll find someone who can help you out.
9.    Be prepared for surprises. Don’t be naive and think that nothing can go wrong. It doesn’t work like that. Simple things like weather delays, damaged materials as a result from transit and delays in construction are all par for the course in most cases. Take each problem as it comes and solve it one by one. Having this approach and mindset will keep you on and short and narrow.
10.    Make sure to have an independent certifier sign off on each stage of the build and only pay for each stage as it’s signed off.  Consider using an escrow payment facility to manage the payments and to safeguard both you and the contractor.

Building a house is a difficult task. There are loads of details that you must pay attention to, and hundreds of decisions that you alone much be prepared to make. A project like this could be the single biggest financial investment that you make in your lifetime, so make sure that you plan everything well in advance. Following the above 10 tips could help you save a lot of money and mental strain:)

I hope this helps some of you who are planning to build your own home in the near future.  If you decide to go ahead with it be sure to post your house building job here and get up to 4 quotes from rated builders.

Oliver Dempsey
9 February 2013

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About Oliver Dempsey

Owner and Managing Director at and contributor to the Blog DISCLAIMER: All content provided in my articles is for informational purposes only. The information contained in these articles has been obtained from research carried out by myself through online and offline sources and through other writers and contributors who provide me with content. While I am responsible for the final editing of each article and I do my best to verify the information, I do not make representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information. Therefore you must not rely on the information contained in any of these articles and always make sure to seek the advice of a suitably qualified expert before embarking on any project.
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