So You Want to Build a House
I think I can speak for the whole Man-kind species when I say there is nothing that gives greatest sense of achievement than building something with your own hands. It makes you feel… How can I put it… Manly! Yes… That is the word!
Be it putting up a shelve on the wall or building a house from scratch, there is nothing that makes a man feel manlier than building something with their own hands – Even if it is just flat-pack furniture – It is genetic… Or that is what I am told…
I want to build a house…
Using my own hands…
And I know some people might see a problem with that… Me being the DIY King (of fools) and all… But I wanna build a house!
Building your dream home can be one of the most exciting and rewarding projects you can undertake. Getting the opportunity to plan out each step of the process and make the decisions about your building project is a big responsibility, and can be overwhelming for even the most experienced do-it-yourselfers , so I’ve been trawling the interwebs again ins search for answers (What?!?! I work the night shifts and if I don’t find ways to entertain myself I’ll go crazy!)
So here is what I found out I need before I get my arse into gear:
1 – LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION!
I know it comes without saying, but I am saying it anyway… Think about a place you’d like to live long-term and keep in mind things like:
Climate – Special considerations must be made for building in flood, intense heat, frigid cold, and other extreme weather and climatic conditions.
Ground stability – Houses built on shifting sand, mucky soil, or other unstable earth will likely fail over a short period of time unless they are built on special foundations or pilings.
Availability of utilities – If you intend to have electric power, potable water, telephone, and other conveniences, make sure these utility providers offer them at your location. Me? I just wanna get oof the grid!
Community infrastructure – If you plan to raise children or have kids, make sure good quality schools are available. Check to see if you are in a police jurisdiction to protect you from crime, look at the distance you will have to travel to acquire basic commodities, and whether medical help is nearby.
Consider access issues – On large parcels, especially, you will need to ascertain the route for a usable driveway if you depend on a car for transportation. Look at any low area that would become impassable in winter mud or heavy summer rain, how installing driveway will affect the landscape, and whether a driveway will be in conflict with underground utilities.
If you are looking for advice on where to find a plot of land for your self-build, this article has helpful tips.
2 – Designing Your Home
Now, that is one of my favourite bits. Once you have surveyed the area you have chosen to build your home, you can take the next step and bringing that dream house from your dreams to paper. And you don’t have to be an artist to do it, your own limit is your imagination, if I am to be completely honest here. I’ve been drawing sketches for houses since I was a teenager when I decided I wanted to be an architect (funny how life’s goals change as life happens huh?).
I remember spending hours and hours drawing floor plans up and having a dad that worked in the area enabled me to do it quite a bit to learn the kinks of the job… And it kept me out of trouble! 😉
The other way you can go is hiring an Architect or Engineer to draw up the plans. Architects and engineers have special training and years of experience in designing houses, and are necessary for most building and zoning jurisdiction code requirements. Regardless of whether you contract their services or elect to design your own, the house you build will be built for you, so you should be involved closely in the design process.
When you choose between both is worth a little note: Engineers tend to be more practical getting the job done in the most efficient manner possible, while Architects tend to be more attentious to details and aesthetics, even it they aren’t the most practical – believe me… I’ve lived with one for most of my life and they can really let their imagination fly (hi mum).
If you choose to design it yourself here are a few things to bear in mind in your design:
Bedrooms: For a family house where the possibility of additions exists, remember it is simpler to add a room during initial construction than to remodel or build an addition later. An alternative to that would be considering a modular house, but I won’t go too deep about that one right now. 😉
Bathrooms: In practical terms, one bathroom can suffice in almost any circumstances, but if the house is for multiple people, two makes life much easier. IT can also increase the market value in case you choose to sell at some point.
Special function rooms: Consider if your lifestyle requires rooms suitable for special functions, like formal dining, office space, a den, or a play room. An essential for me, for example would be a Studio that can be used for both Photography and Music which would keep both me and Brook happy… Apart maybe when we decide who gets most usage of it. 😉
Utility Areas: Make sure you design these areas with an eye toward function, making sure you pay attention to design them to be as easy-to-wire and outfit with plumbing as possible. This should apply to Kitchen, Garage, Laundry Room and Storage areas.
Energy Efficiency: And I am not just talking about bulbs and eletro-domestic appliances here. Part aesthetics and part energy-efficiency, designing your home with an eye toward sunlight will ensure that your home stays full of warm radiant light when it needs it the most. If you are building a home with large windows in a living room, consider facing these toward the most appealing view and at an angle that maximizes the natural lighting when you’ll want it most. Make sure you add to your costs double-glazed windows and wall insulation. This will help keeping your home cool in the summer and warmer in the winter.
3 – Secure the proper construction permits:
A building permit is a basic requirement in many areas, particularly for permanent construction. To obtain this, you’ll need to provide detailed architectural diagrams, engineering load specs, and other materials to yourLocal Council. It’s likely you’ll also need to follow local codes and zoning requirements.
Keep an Eye on Your Budget: It is SO EASY to slip over your Budget, so it is important to prepare an Estimated Cost Breakdown with detailed costs of the construction. If you hire a builder, make sure they provide you with one and bear in mind that, doesn’t matter how well you plan a project, there will ALWAYS be unforeseeable events. Make sure you have the funds to complete the project, stopping it half way through could be more costly than, for example, applying for a construction loan.
Another way to stay on budget, is deciding how much you can do on your own and how much you will NEED to hire someone to do it for you.
Get Construction Insurance: To engage in a homebuilding project, you’ll need three types of construction-related insurance (Course of Construction Insurance, General Liability Insurance and Workman’s Compensation Insurance ), some of which may be provided by the builder – should you decide to hire one), some of which won’t. In one way or another, this one simple step can be the making or breaking of your dream home. You will be under enough stress during the whole project, and this simple step can give you a little bit of peace of mind.
Got all of the steps above out of the way? NOW is where you can actually start building your dream home.
The more I read about foundations, plumbing, walls and roofing, interiors, exteriors, insulation etc etc etc, the more I am certain that one cannot simply do it on one’s own… Reading up on all the next steps got me exhausted as it is, so independently if you are getting help from family and friends or hiring professional help (mind you… some of the steps, like all things electricity, you will NEED to hire someone to do it for you) my recommendation is DON’T DO IT ALONE!
Clear to say that I won’t be building my own home any time soon, huh?!
But the thought is there right?
Some day though… some day…
Until then, Carpe Diem!