9 Tips for building your first home

A mason at a construction site. The style of your house greatly determines the cost
A mason at a construction site. The style of your house greatly determines the cost. PHOTO/FILE
Building a home is a big dream for many Kenyans and though it can be a challenging development many find it to be very fulfilling.

The opportunity to build from the ground up is a great advantage since you get to choose each and every feature of the house according to your family’s style and needs.

To ensure satisfaction in the final results here are 9 tips you should put into consideration.

1.) Plan carefully
Make as many preparations in advance as possible putting every little detail of the entire house plan in relation to family needs into consideration.

Conduct ample research both online and in person by consulting professionals in the construction industry as well as friends who have built a home before to help you in the crucial decision making process.

Attend home shows to obtain ideas and take pictures which will come in handy when trying to explain to your builder what you want.

2.) Select your builder carefully
Before hiring a builder or contractor ensure they are registered with the National Construction Authority (NCA). Look for some of their previous jobs and talk to their previous clients to establish if their quality of work is satisfactory.

Do not be influenced by either the highest or lowest bid since expensive does not always translate to superior quality while a low quote might be to lure you into a bad deal.

3.) Sort your finances first
Most home builders require financing in form of a construction loan to complete their project. It is important to present a fully priced plan to the lender since the loan amount granted is pegged to the estimated total value of the completed house.

Keep in mind that construction loans are released in instalments with each portion getting paid after the completion of a specified stage of the building.

In order to get the best deals in the market shop around for different financiers and see what each has to offer.

4.) Prepare a written contract
Formulate a comprehensive contract between you and the builder drafted and go through it together to ensure you understand it fully before signing it.

Go through the plan with a lawyer to ensure you are fully covered in case of any eventuality. Check whether you will be charged for any alterations on the house plan after work has commenced.

5.) Stick to your budget
Get every item fully priced before the building works begin and avoid making changes. Any major changes in one stage are likely to disrupt the whole project and could lead to non-completion if the funds were limited.

If there is an over spend in one area, be sure to recoup in another section without compromising on the desired result. Allow 15 per cent above the cost to cater for unforeseen costs along the way.

6.) Close supervision
To ensure that you get the desired result, do not leave everything in the hands of your builder else you will end up with the house he wants. Be in constant communication, ask questions, voice your opinion and visit the site as much as possible.

Listen to the advice and suggestions of professionals but stick to your guns since people will always have varied opinions about everything.

7.) Cut on costs
There are different tactics you can employ to help you save considerable amounts of money.

Buy your own materials and hire labour since contractors and builders will rarely go the extra mile to get you the best bargains in the market.

Get more than one quote to obtain the best prices for both labour and materials. Use similar fittings throughout the house to ensure that you buy in bulk since buying in wholesale is cheaper.

8.) Go slow on latest trends
To ensure that your home’s design, features and fixtures stand the test of time, go for timeless classic items that will always look current.

Some trends quickly become outdated forcing the home owner to upgrade into the current fashion.

It is advisable to go for products that have been in the market for at least a year since they are readily available, cheaper and manufacturers have had ample time to rectify any functionality flaws common with initial products.

9.) Conduct inspection
It is a requirement of law that buildings under construction should be inspected at different stages to ensure that the necessary rules and codes have been adhered to.

Hire a registered independent inspector to ensure the correct materials and procedures have been used to avoid problems with the law or future building collapse resulting in great losses.