Before you build

Know what to do / Tips for construction

Building a new house can be the biggest project for a family, and it begins long before the foundation is cast. A house is an asset as well as an investment for the future.

You will be overwhelmed by various decisions at various stages. At MHC Ltd., it is our mission to make this experience as enjoyable as possible. In case you need more details related to your housing project, our qualified technical team will be pleased to help you.

Below you will find some of the important steps required in order to avoid costly mistakes during the construction process.

Plan your budget

Planning your budget

Are you dreaming of building a new house but worried about the expenses? Start by thinking about how much you can afford to spend and how much your new house is likely to cost. In case you need a housing loan and it is not too early to find out what type of loan you are looking for, then our Commercial Unit or in-house architect will be most delighted to provide you with all necessary information.

How much will it cost?

Long before you finalise your plans/architectural drawings, it pays to do some “guesstimating”. Knowing how much the project might cost will help you modify your plans to meet your budget requirements. Once you have finalised your house plans, a builder or a quantity surveyor can provide you with an estimate. Our architect can assist you in finalising your project details and costs.

Cost Overruns

The finished cost of a house tends to be more than the original contract value. Cost overrun occurs as a result of overspending allowances, making changes and encountering unforeseen problems. Proper planning can greatly reduce cost overruns. In general, it is a good idea to provide for an additional 10% of the contract value to cover unexpected contingencies.

Some features cost more

The most expensive areas in a house are usually:

  • The bathroom and kitchen with features like walls, floor tiles, sanitary ware, hot/cold water reticulation amongst others
  • The number of windows/doors and the size and quality (steel frame, aluminium, UPVC or timber frame)
  • High roof pitches – special shuttering, roof tiles, corrugated roof sheeting, etc.

When using other houses to calculate an estimate, you should ensure the houses have designs/features similar to the house you intend to build. The size and shape of your house also affect its cost – houses that are rectangular or box-shaped cost less to build. Having more angles and corners in your house increases the amount of labour and materials required.

Inflation and Market condition

Construction costs increase yearly as a result of a rise in the prices of building materials. If you are not planning to build for several years, remember to include inflation into the cost estimate for your house. When using other houses to compare prices, try to use houses that have been built within the last six months.

Using square footage

First, check out newly constructed houses that are similar in size, style, quality and features to the house that you want. Then, deduct the price of the land from the price of the house, and divide that amount by the square footage of the house.

For example, if the selling price of the house is Rs2m and the land costs Rs 800,000, then the construction cost is around Rs1.2m. If the house area is 1500 sq. feet, then the cost per sq. feet is Rs800.

You can check out several new houses in your neighbourhood to get an approximate cost per square foot. Once you calculate an average cost per square foot, you can multiply that cost by the finished square footage of your house plan to get a rough estimate.

Choose your plot

You can contact builders who have constructed or are constructing houses that are similar in size, design and structural features to the house you want to build. The builder will give you a rough idea of what it will cost to hire their services and how much you will be charged for construction per square feet.

Tips on client/builder relationship

We hope that the tips suggested below will help eliminate some of the verbal miscommunications or misunderstandings which may arise between you and the builder:

  • You should get a written contract which has been signed and dated by both the builder and yourself
  • The contract should be as detailed and thorough as possible. For instance, a contract for a new house construction will describe the project in detail and include a listing of all parts to be included
  • Remember that vagueness and relying on verbal information can be a source of future frustration and disappointment
  • Once construction has begun, changes may often be necessary or desirable. You should insist on the cost and description of each and every change being documented on paper as well as signed by both parties
  • Don’t forget that it is your house project and your money being spent! So be sure that nothing is left to be settled at a later stage

What goes into a Building Contract?

Before hiring a builder or contractor for any construction or house improvement project, all agreements should be put in writing.

The written contract should include:

  • The contractor’s full name, address, telephone number and registration/permit number (if any).
  • A detailed description of the work to be done. Specify the materials to be used: quality, quantity, colour, size, brand name, supplier’s name, etc.
  • The starting and completion dates
  • The labour cost and material charges
  • Information on how and when you must pay
  • Any warranties and guarantees of workmanship
  • The method for debris and material removal when the job is completed
  • Penalties on late completion
  • The right to cancel the contract for poor performance and relevant damages

Some Precautions:

  • Never sign a contract unless it is completely filled in
  • Read the entire contract carefully. Ask questions to clarify any doubts
  • Keep a copy of the signed contract
  • Do not pay more than what has been described in the disbursement schedule
  • Do not pay the balance until all works have been completed
  • Do not release retention money until all details have been made good after the guarantee period

Prepare the site

Preparing a site for construction can have a big impact on the cost of a house. Building on flat land will usually cost less. In case you have to haul a lot of dirt, do a lot of grading (levelling), clear trees, excavate through rock, then site preparations can be more expensive.

Choose your colours

Here are some tips on how to choose paint colours that will bring out the beauty and features of your house.

  • Accents
    • Depending on the size and complexity of your house, you might choose two, three or as many as six colours. In addition to the colour you select for your main walls, you may want to select accent colours for roof overhangs or cornices and other details such as windowsills, window surrounds, columns or decorative features. This can be problematic because too many colours will overwhelm your house, and too few will make it look two-dimensional.
  • Dark and light
    • Light colours will make your house seem larger while dark-coloured walls or dark bands will make your house seem smaller but will draw more attention to details. Dark shades are best for accentuating recesses while lighter tones will highlight details projecting from wall surfaces.
  • Harmony and Contrast
    • Contrasting colours will draw attention to architectural details. However, extreme contrasts will clash and actually detract from details. To be on the safe side, consider staying within a single colour range. For some accents, try using a lighter or darker shade instead of a different colour.
  • Balance
    • A burst of a single colour on just one part of your house may give it a lopsided appearance. You may want to balance colours over the entire building.
  • Durability
    • The more intense a colour, the more likely it is to fade. After a few years, vivid blue and deep reds for example will seem more subdued, and as such, dark colours are more difficult to touch up. Not only do they pose extra maintenance problems, but dark shades also absorb heat and suffer more moisture problems than lighter ones.
  • Sheen
    • You will also need to decide on the sheen of your paint, for example:
      • matt or flat
      • semi-gloss
      • glossy
      • The glossier the surface, the more likely it is to show imperfection, brush strokes and touch up marks. However, glossy surfaces are easier to clean. In general, many homeowners opt to use flat/matt paint for walls and ceiling columns, railing and window surrounds.
  • Colour deceptions
    • Colour swatches look very different when they are brought out of the shop and viewed in natural sunlight. Also colours appear lighter on large surfaces than they do on smaller samples. It is best to test your selected colour on one area before buying gallons of paint.
  • Interior colours
    • The colour of your furnishings, skirting, internal door frames, flush doors, curtains and flooring will guide you in the selection of interior paint colours which will also impact on the colours you decide to use on exterior facades. Once again, the main goal is to create a sense of colour harmony that seamlessly blends the inside to the outside.
  • Neighbourhood context
    • Do not clash with your neighbours – choose colours which coordinate with those of the buildings around your house. Even if you are opting for a more subtle scheme, you should make sure that your colours are comparable with those of the houses next door as well as with the surrounding landscape.

MHC's in-house Technical Services

You will need a team of professionals to design and construct your house. Key players will include a house designer or an architect, a structural engineer, a surveyor and a builder.

MHC Ltd puts an in-house architectural/engineering unit at the service of its valued customers. From renovation works, extension works to a new construction project, we cater to your every need. The service includes the preparation of architectural/structural drawings for MHC customers to be submitted to authorities when applying for development and building permits as well as for construction purposes.

We believe in upholding good aesthetics in the planning and creation of interesting internal and external spaces. We offer services tailored to our customers’ needs or problems, and try to find the appropriate solution.

Drawings are prepared based on:

  • the customer’s needs and requirements,
  • the customer’s financial capacity, and
  • the site (topography and orientation).

A nominal fee is charged to customers based on area scale factors.

 

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