Planning a new building project: Where to start

When tackling a home remodeling project, there can be a strong temptation to roll up your sleeves and dive right in. This, however, would be a mistake.

The financial cost and timetable for building work can spiral out of your control if you haven’t taken the time to effectively plan the work first. Every building contractor and design professional will have their own ways of doing things, but there are some essential stages to preparation that will have to be met before building can begin.

In this article we cover the critical steps to get you started on the road to making your dream home, along with some tips to help make your vision a reality.

Trethowans
Trethowans

Choose a Professional Designer

The basis for any construction work has to start with a plan drawn up by an interior designer or architect. However, these roles come in all shapes and sizes. Some designers may be better equipped to handle projects which lean more towards interior redecoration than big structural modifications, and so they might be more useful in helping decide on the right materials and color palettes.

Architects, on the other hand, will be more preoccupied with structural modifications and make little input about aesthetic modifications to your home. If you’re going to need to overhaul your utilities, then you may need to seek the services of qualified plumbers or electricians to ensure the work is meeting health and safety standards. 

You could try finding a professional designer online, where you’ll usually be able to read some testimonials and view examples of their previous work. Getting a designer on board usually starts with an interview where you can give them an idea of the results you want to see. This will also be where you hear about the services they can offer, and discuss the budget that you’re willing to work within.

Come up with a plan

With a professional designer on board, it’s time to plan out the building work. Known as schematics, the plans will provide a blueprint for the construction work and furnish a layout of the changes to be made. The process will require a dialogue between homeowners and the designer, who can work up different ideas for you to look at before you make a final decision. 

If you’re looking at a larger project or want to make a lot of additional changes to the plans on an ad hoc basis, then this design phase will understandably take a lot longer. Depending on the work, the services of a structural engineer may have to be acquired.

This person can ensure that the design is both feasible and safe with regard to changes to the load-bearing character of a structure. They can also advise on which materials will be necessary for maintaining the structural integrity of the building.

Find a contractor

After you’ve settled on the final schematics for the work, you’ll need to find one or more contractors to execute your plans. Your designer will have provided estimates on the type and amount of materials needed for the work and the dimensions of the work that will take place, which should be enough for contractors to generate a preliminary estimate for how much the work will cost. It may well take a month or more to find contractors and receive a quote after initially making contact. 

Finding the right contractor may be the trickier part, as some can be very unprofessional in their work. Your designer may well be able to point you to contractors who they’ve successfully worked with in the past. Or you can try finding word-of-mouth recommendations and online reviews to turn up some promising leads. The main things to look for are builders who are qualified for the work and can deliver any construction within the timeframe and budgetary limits that they’ve agreed to, barring any legitimate unforeseen incidents.

Go shopping

Hopefully, you’re the kind of person who enjoys a good shop, because you’ll have to do a lot of it before the building work is concluded. You’ll need to make decisions about everything from doorknobs, taps, countertops, and light fixtures. It’s advisable to make all these decisions before construction has begun, since this allows you to start with a more accurate budget and gives you time to schedule the delivery of any and all necessary materials and fixtures.

Since you’ll be living with these choices every day for the foreseeable future, Take your time and don’t rush the process. It’s best to start early while you’re still in the preliminary stages of developing schematics with your designer, so that you’ll have made your decisions around the time that building can get underway.

Acquire the relevant permits

There’s no bigger nightmare than getting construction underway, only to find that your plans will violate local zoning laws. That’s why you need to file for any necessary permits for any extensions to your home. Fees can start in the low to mid-four figure range, but possibly run to more if the work is more drastic.

Work like lengthening your driveway or building an extra storey on the house is just the kind of thing that can get you in hot water without a permit. So don’t take any risks and make sure that all your plans are legally above board before construction gets underway.

It’s time to get building

With your permits acquired, schematics drawn up, and materials ready for delivery, your contractor will be able to give you a final quote before signing a contract for the construction work. From your first meeting with your designer to this point, everything may take up to six months to come to fruition.

No one said the planning process would be over quickly. But the more work you put in on the front end, the less time the actual construction work will take. As anyone who’s had contractors working in their homes for long periods can attest, it’s hard to relax until the work is complete. So make sure all your bases have been covered before giving the green light for building to finally begin.