6 mistakes to avoid when building
I prepared this guide after seeing many people struggle with making the same mistakes over and over again. Building can be one of the most liberating, wonderful, passionate and rewarding experiences you can have. To have a dream and to collaborate with wonderful people to turn that dream into a reality is extremely exciting. To be part of a process that can take a piece of land, effectively a blank canvas and create a home, a place for family, a place for creating memories is no small feat.
However, if you are venturing into the unknown, it can be a place full of traps. We have all heard of the building horror stories. As joyful as building can be, it is also one of the most expensive exercises you will ever undertake. It can be frustrating, lengthy, confusing and covered in red tape.
So what are the traps? What are the mistakes that new players make in this game? How can you best prepare yourself to ensure that the process is enjoyable and not painful?
1. The Brief
The most common mistake is not to do enough planning at the beginning. The brief is an important document. It establishes, right at the very beginning of the project what you want in your building. Just like a business starts with their Mission Statement, the brief is your house mission statement.
The brief will set out:
a. Who the house is for: e.g. 2 people, a family, an extended family?
b. What you want in your house, e.g. how many bedrooms, bathrooms etc,?
c. How big you want your house and how big the rooms should be?
d. What is the ‘look’ and the ‘feel’ of the house?
e. Are there any special elements to the house?
f. What is the budget for your house?
The more detailed your brief is at the beginning of the project, the more focused you are on what it is you want. From that point on all of the decisions you have to make will be easier because you already have a clear vision. It also means that you will be in a much better position to provide directions and give instructions to others about what you want.
2. Poor Planning
The great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright once said,
Get it right! Buildings are three-dimensional – length, width and height. There are spatial relationships and connections. How the sunlight enters the building, where the breezes come from, where the views are. What does the space feel like when you enter the front door? Is it dark and enclosed, open and light? Is there a view in the distance that draws you into the house?
It is great to have an idea, to have a plan for what you think would be a great layout for your house. It can be a wonderful starting point for a discussion with your architect.
3. Work With the Right People
You are one part of the equation, an extremely important part, but at the end of the day you are still just one part of the part of the jigsaw puzzle that must come together to create your new house. It is essential for a good outcome for your project, that you hire the right people. Money should not be the deciding factor – quite often, you get what you pay for.
4. Be Realistic with Timelines
This is becoming a major problem within the industry. Reality television has become fast food entertainment. A major building sugar hit, where complete novices manage to spectacularly renovate houses in a matter of weeks – right before your eyes. Determining how long the project should go for is something you should discuss with your architect. They can provide you with an outline timeframe for each stage of the project.
5. Be Realistic with Cost
Remember, this will be the biggest purchase of your life so you don’t want to be seduced into cutting corners. One of the first areas that prospective home-owners consider as a cost saving is on the design fees at the beginning of the project. This money doesn’t appear to have real value because you aren’t receiving a ‘real object’ for the money you have spent. The money spent at the beginning of the project will be the most efficient money you spend in the whole process.
Cutting corners on costs also applies to buying cheap materials and hiring lesser quality tradesmen. You may have saved money today, but you will be spending more money down the track on repairing defective work or replacing faulty equipment. You need a contingency budget. Preferably you should set aside an additional 10% of the construction budget.
6. What Am I Getting?
As architects, we have many years of training to read drawings and be able to interpret them and visualise how those two-dimensional lines translate into a three-dimensional volume. However, not everyone else has that ability or training.
There is nothing wrong in not understanding a drawing. I can’t read an x-ray, nor would I be able to follow the tax code, it isn’t what I am trained to do. The mistake that you will make will be NOT speaking up when you don’t understand something. Ask, ask, ask. If you can’t visualise a drawing, don’t understand the specification, not sure what that material is, then ask. Your architect will be happy to explain it to all to you.
Craig Taylor’s architecture is famous for blending natural environments with sustainable home design. Homes designed by Craig not only belong but enhance surroundings without compromising sophistication or luxury. To receive a full-length copy of Craig’s 6 Mistakes To Avoid When Building pamphlet, visit redblue.com.au.