Building your own home is one of the most exciting projects one could undertake in his life, with so many decisions to make. It’s more likely running a small business, you need to be mastered of organizing and keeping on the top of the budget. what keeps you going throughout the process is the knowledge that you are not just building a house, but a home custom designed for your lifestyle.

This write up is for all those who want to construct their residence/home. Let us assume that you have a plot of land and you have decided to build a house.

Congratulations on your wise decision!

Let us look at the various steps to be taken while constructing a house.

Step 1: Set up your space Requirements clearly

You should come to a conclusion about what you really want in your house. It may depend on factors like

  • Size of the family:

The best part about building a new house is knowing the space is tailored to fit you and your family. Your social habits and family size should play a big role in the design of your home. The layout of the house should be intuitive to how you live and entertain. Think about your family life what would make it easier in your new home. Do you want to be near the kids/ parents or at the other end of the house?

  • Interests/lifestyle:

Your home should reflect you and make it easy to do the things you love. Starting with a blank canvas means you can build a home that matches your interests. Once you’ve figured out your core needs like your kitchen layout and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms make sure you consider your lifestyle. Think about your hobbies and the things that make you happy – will you need extra room in the garage for bikes or a boat? Can you have a covered deck if you like having dinner parties and BBQs? Is a connection to nature important to you? Asking yourself questions like these will highlight your needs and will help you focus your floor plan and final design.

Step 2: Budget – How much can you spend on this Project?

While sparks of inspiration will keep you motivated throughout your build, it’s your budget that is really going to drive the direction of your project. Start by getting a clear idea of your finances and make a want and needs list. This will help you determine what your non-negotiables are, and it will help you to weigh your options if you end up having to make tough decisions.

No matter how much you think the building process is likely to cost, it’s likely going to cost more. There could be any number of items that aren’t included in the estimate your builder gives you. For instance, your builder is unlikely to include costs such as electrical and gas meters, internet & cable hookups or window coverings. Items such as landscaping and outdoor concrete, fences and gates, decking and letterboxes might also not be included in the estimate. These are known as finishing costs, and could run anywhere from 15-25% of your budget. You’ll also need to take into account land price, site preparation cost etc.

In addition to add-ons you might not have considered, you need to budget for unforeseen circumstances. For instance, you might want the luxury of changing your mind should any of the fittings or materials not match your expectations. You can use the table below to work out a rough budget.

Land Price$
Site Clearance$
Design Fee$
Approval cost and Taxes$
Build cost$
Finishing cost$

Step 3: Select a right professional design team.

This might be the most important decisions you make in the home building process, because the building is going to be build according to the design, it ensures how the building is going to be in reality according to your needs while ensuring safety sustainability and affordability.

Using the services of a professional designers to design your house is as important as using the services of a medical doctor. Considering that you are likely to spend lakhs of rupees, it is prudent on your part to use the services of a good professional designers when you are spending, may be, your life time savings. You would be able to identify one by discussing with your friends and relatives who have used the services of a design firm or you can search on google for local designers.

Select a design firm after looking at some of the projects they have executed, their qualifications, client reviews, recommendations and the service charges etc.

The Design professional’s scope shall normally include the following:

    • Architectural design of proposed the house. Specify the number of alternate designs he would come up with for you to take a decision.
    • Structural design
    • Plumbing and Electrical services
    • Preparation of Bill of Quantities (BOQ) for all the design services
    • Preparation of cost estimates
    • Preparation of drawings ‘for approval’ to the authorities
    • Periodic construction supervision
    • Checking and certification of contractors’ bills

Enter into a formal contract agreement with the designers, specifying the terms of appointment. The contract agreement shall specify the role and responsibilities of the designers and clients, terms of payment of their professional fee etc…

Step 4:  Pick the right builder

The second most important decisions you make in the home building process is selecting the right builders. Whichever builder you choose, you’re going to be working with them for many, many months. It’s important to get the choice right at the outset to head off problems down the road.

There are several factors you should consider when choosing a builder:

References: Check into the builder’s past work. Were previous customers satisfied? Don’t be afraid to ask the builder for references before you sign a contract. Also, check online to ensure there are no complaints against the builder you choose. Also, check up on the warranty and service they offer.

Past work: Have a close look at some of the houses the builder has constructed in the past. Make sure the level of quality is high. Also, look into resale data on some of the houses the builder has previously constructed.

Personality: As mentioned above, you’ll be working with your builder for a number of months. Make sure you’re comfortable with them. Also, make sure they communicate well. If a builder doesn’t communicate well with you, it’s likely they don’t communicate well with their contractors either.

Agreement: Carefully read through the contract with your builder to make sure you understand its contents. Make sure you’re not taken by surprise by what the construction costs cover and what they don’t cover.

Price: All of this is a moot point if a builder is outside your budget.

Step 5:  Look for ways to save

Building a home is going to be an expensive process, and as we mentioned above, it’s likely you’ll end up paying more than you anticipated. That being said, there are ways you can save money. Shop around for the best prices on fittings, fixtures, and materials your builder will use. Get multiple quotes for any item needed during the construction process.

You can also save money at the start of the process by choosing a site that takes less preparation. Hauling off dirt, removing rocks or clearing brush can end up being costly. Picking a lot that needs little preparation before construction commences can minimize these costs.

Article written by:
H.Muqsith Ahamed
B.Sc. (Hons) in Civil Engineering (University of Moratuwa)



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