If you’re braving the exciting world of house building, the prospect of the money involved might feel a little daunting. After all, it seems like every other episode of Grand Designs ends up with a downcast homeowner uttering the phrase ‘gone over budget’.
So how can you make sure your budget stays on track? Here are some of our experts best tips for building a house without breaking the bank...
Keep your design simple
One of the easiest ways of keeping costs down comes up early in the project. When designing your new home, the more simple you keep the proposed building, the cheaper your home will be to construct. That’s because complex or unique layouts not only take more time for your architect to put together, but they’re also more taxing on the rest of the professionals you’ll need to get on board.
If your project is very ambitious, you’ll be looking at increased fees from your structural engineer, all the way to your contractors. What’s more, you’ll likely need specialists to make it happen, raising their rates and limiting you on who exactly can take on the project.
Limiting yourself in terms of contractors puts you and your finances in a dangerous position, as you’ll find it harder to negotiate a good price.
Another very effective way of keeping costs down is DIY. Are you handy with tools? Perhaps you’re a plumber, or have some experience in woodwork? While doing work yourself isn’t recommended for a novice, putting existing skills to work can save you thousands in contractor fees.
What’s more, by getting stuck in you can better assess the work as it takes place, meaning you’re not caught out by someone else’s bad practises.
Project manager your build
Lacking in the handyman skills for DIY? Don’t worry, if you’re someone who can comfortably navigate admin and have a keen eye, you can still make savings by becoming your own project manager.
Project managers can cost between 15-25% of your construction budget, so doing it yourself can offer big savings. However, the down side of project management is the time involved. You’ll need to be making daily visits to your site to make sure things are going to plan, plus sign off each stage of the work. You’ll also be dealing with a lot of paperwork, especially when it comes to insurance, and you’ll need to be comfortable working under pressure. After all, most construction projects face delays or hiccups, as project manager, it’ll be your job to navigate these challenges.
Order items in good time
Speaking of hiccups, an easy one to avoid is late materials. When supplies fail to turn up on time, they can cause big delays for your project, and so leave you out of pocket. This can easily be escaped by making sure you order your materials well in advance, giving you leeway for any timing issues. Trust us, future you will be grateful for this forward planning.
Unless you have a second home to spare, where you live during construction is going to be a big factor in your budget.
As many young people know, renting doesn’t come cheap, and you could potentially be waiting months (if not over a year) for your new home to be ready for habitation. This means renting costs can quickly pile up, adding thousands to the cost of your project.
One saving solution is to look into buying a second-hand caravan. Though they don't have a glamorous reputation, there are some spacious models available and can be purchased on a wide range of budgets. Not only will they allow you to live on site, and monitor your work, you can also regain some costs by selling the mobile home once the project is complete. Of course, you will have to consider whether or not your household could survive living in such close quarters...
Other quick tips…
Even if you’re not project managing, make sure you’re keeping an eye on what materials are being used and whether or not there are cheaper alternatives. Doing your research here can really save the pounds!
For your budget you’ll need to consider all costs - planning, construction, and fittings. Make sure you prioritise the right things in these many stages. On the whole, it’s better to invest in a good build and classic WOW factors (like a glass ceiling or bi-fold doors) than expensive fittings in the kitchen and bathroom. Fancy taps devalue over time, whereas good construction work is a safe bet for the future.
Consider going eco-friendly. This might cost a little extra during the building phase, but it’ll seriously pay off in the long run, as your home benefits from small utility bills. Saving both the planet and your wallet!