House building basics – How to build my own house?


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House building basics – How to build my own house? If you want to build your own house and design it perfectly to make it the house of your dreams then you have come to the right place. In this article, I will list all the important and essential steps that you need to undertake to build a house from scratch. I have put detailed descriptions of tasks that you will have to undertake in every area.

Some rules may vary from area to area and hence you will have to follow the guidelines of your local housing authority in that regard. Some things that can differ in various areas are for e.g. the permits to dig out a basement. In areas that are closer to the shore digging a basement may not be allowed as the water level underground is very shallow and would result in constant water seepage into your basement. So let’s dive into the basics from the top.

Acquire a piece of land

The first step to building a house is to acquire land. And the type of land you are looking for is residential land. Usually residential land is much much cheaper than the other types such as commercial, industrial and recreational land. But it is still much more expensive when you compare it with agricultural and arid land.

The best place to acquire land is in an already established housing community or a newly developing housing community or suburb. The price of land in established communities tends to be higher as compared to newly developing areas but it all depends on the neighbourhood and where you want to live or own.

I typically tend to buy in new housing markets as I am a builder and to make a profit I need to buy low and sell high so it makes sense to buy in newly developing housing markets.

But where ever you decide to buy the most important thing before buying is to check the title of the property, the exact area i.e. square footage of the lot/plot and the exact dimensions. In newly developing housing communities plots are usually cut in fixed rectangular dimensions such as 50 feet x90 feet. However, in older neighbourhoods, the plots may be cut in a way that they don’t form perfect rectangles and the various houses may be dispersed in various directions. So, it makes sense to note down the exact area and the exact perimeter of the plot.

Unplanned housing society with randomly assorted houses
Planned Housing Society with equal dimension plots

Hire an architect and a structural engineer

The next step in building a house from scratch is to hire an architect and a structural engineer. These are those parts of the project that should be left to professionals. If you are an architect yourself then you can definitely try to come up with a design but if you aren’t an architect or a civil engineer it is best to hire someone. You will need the house blueprints to get the house project approved by the relevant authority in your area.

In addition to the general blueprint, you will also need the structural design and support of the house. This is usually done by a civil engineer however many firms offer architectural and structural blueprints in a combined format.

You will also need blueprints of plumbing and electric lines. In bigger projects such as apartment complexes and hotels, these are a must, but for small single-family residences, you may be able to get away with not getting these drawn up. But the final verdict rests with your local housing authority on whether they want these drawings or not.

Draw the blueprints according to the housing area code

It is very important to get the blueprints drawn according to code. Many housing authorities require that you leave a few feet of front space as a front lawn. Similarly, the housing authorities may or may not allow houses built with end walls together. These are certain caveats to keep in mind while drawing up your plans. Usually, it is best to hire an architect that works in the same locality where you are planning on constructing. This can help you greatly as the architect will be adept at the housing code of the area and will draw up plans accordingly.

Drawing up multiple plans and asking for multiple revisions can cost you a lot of money so it is best to use an already drawn up plan as a guide and improve upon it. This can minimize both the time and cost in getting to the final plan.

Get a Soil Test

Getting a soil test may be a requirement in some areas where the soil is filled recently or the land is on a slope etc. It is a requirement in such areas and it must be fulfilled to get the documents ready to get approval for your home.

Get a permit to build from the government/ housing authority

This is the last main step before you start looking for contractors. Getting a permit can take from one to six months depending on the area requirements and the procedure. It usually takes about 30 to 45 days. In this process, your housing plan is looked at by trained civil engineers to ensure that the structure is not weak and will not fall down during intense winds, earthquakes and other natural disasters. They also look at the fire exits in the house and smoke and sewage disposal.

After everything checks out the government/housing authority will give you a permit to start building the house.

Get permits/connections for water, electricity, heating, internet/telecom and sewage

After you get the permit for building the house it is also important to get permits for utilities. Permits/connections for water, electricity, heating, internet/telecom and sewage are the major requirements for any house. You need to connect your house to the main lines in your area. Usually, the housing authority will also have offices to get your utilities alongside your building permit but you will mostly be allowed to apply for utilities after you get your house building permit.

Hire a general contractor or become one

You can either hire a general contractor or if you have some time on your hands or want to get your hands dirty you can yourself become a contractor. However, becoming a contractor is not easy and is pretty much a full-time job. You will have to hire subcontractors and technical people. Negotiate and schedule with builders and also be in charge of getting all the supplies ready in time.

Hire subcontractors for different tasks

If you hired a general contractor then hiring subcontractors will be his job. But you are doing it yourself then you will need to keep a ledger book. You will have to jot down the various contracts and costs of each and every subcontractor. Do ask for the time they will take to finish the job in addition to the cost and make them liable to finish the job in time or incur a cut of wages. You will also need a second notebook to jot down all the materials you are buying and their costs. These notebooks will help you tremendously in any and all disputes which as you will come to experience are many.

House building basic tips

  • Always note down each and every detail meticulously in a notebook. You don’t need to go fancy. Just a simple notebook from Amazon will do the job.
  • Always negotiate on everything
  • Learn to say no to ridiculous bells and whistles during constuction that are of no use in practicality
  • Be a cheapster, seriously. This is the only way you will be able to complete the project.

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