Building your dream home

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Few things are more exciting than building a new home. Opening your brand new front door and walking into a space that is absolutely perfect for your needs is literally the experience of a lifetime. Things however can - and sometimes do go - wrong and it pays to know all the ins and outs of a 'new build' before you take the decision to build your dream home.

No matter which way you look at it, building your own home is an enormous undertaking. While it is a wise choice that allows great deal of flexibility, you must be prepared to dedicate sufficient time to the process in order to ensure that everything goes according to plan.

When building your own house, it pays to remember that it is necessary to become an expert in all aspects of the process, from the choice of builder through to the type and style of finishes which will eventually grace your home.

Marsha Haupt Cooper from Links Living in St Francis Bay says the good news is that not only is the building process a big step in self-empowerment, it is an investment that is going to last a lifetime. She cautions, however, that there are questions which need to be asked and answered long before the foundations are dug and the first brick laid.

"The ground rule of any successful build is affordability. There is nothing more disappointing than starting to build a home only to be held up by lack of funds. The rule of thumb is: Build what you can afford and don't spend your entire available budget. It's wise to keep some funds in reserve for unforeseen cost and price increases."

It is also highly advisable to employ the best you can afford. "Regardless of who you choose it is imperative to check their credentials and track record." This, says Haupt Cooper, "will help avoid many of the pitfalls that lie in wait for the inexperienced or somewhat naive homebuilder."

There are various options available and often the most convenient is a 'package builder'. In this scenario an independent company buys land and builds houses or flats on your behalf. In other words, you buy the property 'off plan'. Haupt Cooper stresses that anyone deciding on this option should insist on seeing either a completed show house or a house built by this builder before signing any sales agreement.

The other option is to buy your own stand and then employ a registered builder to construct a home according to your specifications. Under these circumstances it is imperative to employ a builder who is registered with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) to ensure that the build is completed to approved standards. The NHBRC has list of registered builders countrywide.

Haupt Cooper adds that although it is always advisable to retain the services of a professional architect, this is only a bank requirement if the contract price is more than R2-million, the property size exceeds 500m2 and/or the alterations include demolishing and restructuring the existing structure on the property.

"There are a number of other good reasons to hire an architect. These include the ability to design a home according to your needs and budget, submitting the plans to the relevant council for approval and attending to other building requirements. An architect also manages the building process, will authorise progress payments to the builder, monitor the quality of construction and compliance with the plans as well as acting as your agent on site to ensure that all the finer details are completed to a satisfactory standard. Each service in the process carries a fee, which is calculated according to a scale based on the building cost," concludes Haupt Cooper.

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