Are you planning to build your own home but don’t know where to start?
1. Don’t rush in.
Devote the vast majority of your time and energy to the design stage. This means taking the time to find the right architectural designer, and choosing as much as you can in advance – not just building methods but also finishes as these often have knock-on effects on design. Construction drawings must be extremely detailed to avoid issues on site – sticking to a fully thought-out plan is the most cost efficient way of building. Making changes when building work has started will be either costly, disruptive or time consuming, or all three.
2. Take responsibility for quality control.
Insurance and warranties are likely to be a condition of your mortgage but it’s a good idea to take out a policy regardless of how you will pay for the build. Have an engineer sign off that the house fully complies with the building regulations in ROI (in NI building control does this), and in both jurisdictions at the end you will also need a certificate of compliance that states you’ve built the house as per your planning permission.
3. Put in place clear channels of communication.
If hiring a builder, set up a contract that is checked by your solicitor; this will set out
what’s expected of everyone and what’s to happen if there are deviations. With tradesmen make sure it is clear what you expect of them, and what they expect of you, including who is to supply what (materials, equipment, tool hire) and to what finish exactly (have construction drawings with exact specifications).
4. Always pay people on time.
Whether main contractor or tradesmen. Never delay payment and pay fair prices; don’t squeeze them out of their profit margin. This will go a long way towards goodwill on site.
5. Stay on top of the day to day.
Even with a main contractor, ideally you should take photos of the site at the end of the day, every day. With direct labour (hiring the trades yourself to do the individual jobs) you will also need to clean up every day, deal with waste, deliveries/equipment hire, etc. and get ready for the next trade which is likely to involve some DIY building work or other preparation.