4 Steps to Building Your Dream Home

Building your dream home can be extremely fulfilling. It can also be frustrating, stressful and expensive - if you don’t know what you’re doing.
When complications or setbacks arise during a build or renovation, it can often spoil that feeling of accomplishment and foster resentment rather than joy. With proper research and planning, however, you can minimise these setbacks.

The steps below are by no means an exhaustive list, but we have covered the four major factors that can make or break your new construction or renovation project.

By getting expert advice or involving professionals, before you buy a single brick, you can avoid some of the pitfalls that plague the construction industry. With professional involvement, from the beginning, you can factor in project timeline considerations like the building plans approval process, and also realistic budgeting for your building costs.

1. Budgeting

Using an estimated building cost calculator can help you get an idea of what your build or renovation could cost. However, getting an accurate quotation as soon as your designs are finalised is crucial. This avoids you having to change or compromise your initial vision because of unrealistic budgeting.

Being completely open about your budget from the beginning, and adjusting it during the planning stages of your project, is the best strategy. It may seem demoralising or uninspiring, but it reduces the risk of going over budget due to unplanned costs.

Enlisting a professional service that is clear about all the additional administrative costs construction projects may accrue will eliminate the potential for finance-related conflict.

After establishing your budget, you are able to set things in motion.

2. Design and Planning

With Instagram and Pinterest serving as endless sources of design inspiration, everyone fancies themselves an authority on architecture and interior design.

Although visualising what your dream home could look like is a crucial part of starting a construction or renovation project, it’s important to be realistic about what you need and what can actually be done on your plot of land.

That Japanese-inspired, minimalist space you envision may not be that feasible because the area you’re working with isn’t big enough or the windows don’t provide optimal natural light.

This is why you need to involve professionals.

Working with a designer or draughtsman, from the beginning, will give you absolute clarity on what can be done with your existing space, and how to align that with your inspired ideas.

Similarly, when you’re looking to start a new build on a plot of land it’s necessary to have professional involvement in the designing process to make sure your plot is used optimally.

Working with a professional service that offers 3D house plans and mark up capabilities helps you visualise and get a more realistic feel for what your project will actually look like before you start building.

3. Putting your Team Together

Building or renovating a home is a long-term undertaking. So, working with a trustworthy team of professionals is essential in completing your project. It is also essential to have your team of building experts involved in your project from the beginning.

This will limit any setbacks in your project’s timeline and budget due to miscommunication.

After designing your project with a South African Council for the Architectural Profession-registered draughtsman, you need to find the right contractors to turn the building plans into an actual living space. For a new build and depending on the nature of your renovation, your team will also include plumbers and a civil engineer.  

Finding the right contractor can also be a laborious and nerve-wrecking process, especially in South Africa. Ask for recommendations from your architect before choosing a contractor or materials supplier.

You could also ask prospective contractors to provide a list of recent projects they’ve completed and do a site visit to get an idea of the level of workmanship. This is not always possible, however. When a contractor is reluctant to show you examples of their work, it’s most likely a cause for suspicion.

4. Financing your Project

Saving money for a build or renovation could prepare you well for the overall cost of your project. However, saving requires extensive financial planning as well as discipline and is not always feasible. Applying for a loan can be a more manageable option if you haven’t been putting money away.

Research and professional advice is once again key in selecting the best loan option for your build.

It is trickier to get a loan from your bank for a build than it is to get a standard home loan. Banks require a lot more paperwork and information to consider and approve a building loan. This includes the building plans, a detailed list of all the building materials required for the project, along with the specifications of the plot and the interior finishes.

When your construction or home improvement loan is approved, it is important to consider making repayments as soon as possible. At the very least, try to cover the interest and insurance to keep your project on budget.

Accumulating these costs will drastically escalate your overall project costs and put additional financial strain on your budget - before you’ve even moved into your dream house.

If you are in a position to make larger payments than your loan agreement requires, this can also alleviate some of the bank’s cumulative costs.

Whether you’re financing your project yourself, or with assistance from the bank, it is crucial that you’re covered by insurance. There’s also the option of being covered by your builder’s insurance however, this will need to be discussed well in advance and in considerable detail. Insurance will protect you financially should there be any damage to the building materials throughout the build.

Taking these factors into consideration can make building your dream home a meaningful and even enjoyable process.