Tired of living with your parents? Do you have plans to build your own house in the future? Are you curious about what it requires? Whether you decide to take out a mortgage or put your own money into it, building a house is a huge challenge.
If you’ve decided to take the leap and build your own place, here are a few things you should know.
- Be prepared for how long it’ll take. Building a house is a long term project; it’s taken 5 years for me to reach 80% completion. Give yourself enough time to build your house. You’ll need at least 5 years, but if you have the money and time, you could do it in 2-3 years. Once you have most of the technical and financial aspects of the project covered, you’ll need to be disciplined enough to follow through with everything because a lot of sacrifices will have to made.
- Make a plan, but be flexible. Planning is crucial. You’ll need to go through several stages; initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, control, and closing. Reach out to people who’ve already been through it for advice. Remember to be realistic with your plans, keeping your budget in mind. While it’s good to plan for the final move-in date, remember that things change, and you might have to adjust your timelines and plans as necessary. When you’re planning your house, it’s also a good idea to keep the future in mind. For example, even if you only want to build a bungalow, it’s a good idea to make a foundation that’s strong enough for at least a 3 storey building. That way, you’ll save on major expansions in the future. Sometimes new technologies can come up midway through the process, but if that happens just do your research, consult with others, and make an informed decision, even if it means slightly altering your plan.
- Find workers you can trust. A good foreman can make or break your project. Find someone you trust, who understands your vision and needs, and has the experience and patience to help you achieve your dream house. A good foreman should be able to help you with both the design and execution phases and recommend trustworthy and skilled artisans. Maintain good relationships with all your workers, treat everyone with respect, and make sure you communicate well. Buying lunch for the team, and even eating lunch with them, goes a long way. Ask around for good recommendations, and don’t be afraid to seek second opinions when necessary.
- Be organized and keep track of everything. Make sure you keep every receipt and take notes on every expenditure from transportation to labour. It can be scary to review the costs afterwards and see how much money you’ve really been spending, but it will help you be disciplined and be frugal.
- Second-guess and cross-check everything. This is Ghana; nothing is constant. You’ll need to constantly hunt down the best prices and materials. Keep in mind that prices may vary by area, so cross-check often and get as many quotations as possible so that you can compare. Work on your negotiation skills as well! But keep in mind that you should buy the best materials at the best prices, not the cheapest materials at the cheapest prices. Don’t compromise on quality or it’ll come back to bite you.
- Do your research. I read a lot about construction when I started building my house. Google should be your best friend! Participate as much as possible in the technical aspects of building, but be sure you don’t become a nuisance to your foreman. You should be able to identify when mistakes are being made and even suggest alternative ways of doing things.
- Ask for help! Don’t forget to ask for help! Building a house requires a good support system. Seek the advice of the person that motivates you the most (in my case, my mother), and rely on your friends as well for help. And don’t forget to help others too; don’t only take from your support system without giving back.
By Guest Hacker George Sekyi Mensah
George is a former Manchester United supporter who likes to read biographies and comics. If he could start building at 23, you can too.