Understanding the building process part 1

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By Real People at 21 Dec 2017, 09:31 AM


Building your dream home is an exciting project to undertake, especially when you understand the process. Here are a few key concepts.

These are the main stages of planning and the construction of the external structure:

Location - Where?

  • When looking for a piece of land to build your home, consider the location of the land you want to build on
  • Research what the weather is like in the area, does it experience bad floods, does it get very hot in summer or cold in winter, you’ll need this information when designing your house
  • Carefully assess the foundation and soil type of your chosen land. Is it stable enough to build on?
  • Take some time to investigate the surrounding area:
    • Is there access to local municipal services such as water and electricity, telephone lines and wastage collection?
    • If you have children, are there schools nearby?
    • Take a trip to the local police station to find out about the safety within the neighbourhood
    • Is it a high traffic area?
  • Have the plot of land surveyed to find out where exactly the boundary lines of your property are so that you do not build on someone else’s land – this is a very expensive mistake to make

Designing your house - What elements would you like?

  • Make a list of what features you would like included your home before you meet with the designer / architect
  • Seek assistance from an architect to help you design your home
    • Remember to review the architect’s portfolio and references before signing off the project
    • Ensure you or your architect submit the building and design plans to the local municipality for approval
  • Research pre-drawn floor plans for inspiration and a guide for your own space
  • Decide how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’ll need for the amount of people who will be living in the house
  • If your family is still growing, add another room now as it will cost more to add it on at a later stage
  • Think about the design you want in your main living areas and kitchen
  • Design utility rooms with a focus on function such as the kitchen, garage, laundry room and storage areas
  • With energy efficiency in mind, think about how you can use natural light in your house as well as natural ventilation and heating with the placement of windows and by positioning the house on the land to be north facing
  • Ensure that the design tackles water drainage issues by directing and draining rain water away from the house

Permits and Submissions - Submitting your building plans

  • It is advisable to collect the relevant paperwork and submit your building plans to the local municipality for a building permit
  • Research and hire a good builder to lead the project
    • Get referrals from friends and family
    • Verify that he/she is registered with the NHBRC (National Home Builders Registration Council) or other credible builders associations
    • Check their references and visit  examples of homes they have worked on

Building contract - Legal agreement

  • Your chosen building contractor must compile the building contract with you. Ensure the following is included in the contract:
    • The individual responsibilities of each party
    • The expected start and estimated end date for the project
    • The payment expected by the builder
    • A completed Estimated Cost Breakdown (ECB), signed and dated
    • Provisions for changes
    • All parties have signed and dated the agreement
  • Once you have come to an agreement, signed the contract and drafted the final building plans, ensure the contractor submits the plans to the local municipality

Breaking ground – The actual construction process

  • The builder will map out the outline of the foundations and break ground by digging the trenches for the foundations
  • The building lines will be placed up at each corner to keep the foundation level
  • Plumbing lines are then placed before pouring your chosen floor type
  • Concrete will be poured into the trenches and left to set

Building up - The final construction process

  • Once the foundation is laid, the builder will outline the wall lines on the floor
  • They will start to build up the walls with brick leaving gaps for doors, windows, walkways, plumbing and electrical lines
  • Plaster will be applied to the walls in the finish you desire
  • Once the walls are up, the roof trusses will be marked out
  • Your builder must ensure that the roof trusses and joining elements are cut to precision and fitted securely
  • The next step is to install the window and door frames into the gaps that were left open for them
  • The final step is the installation of your chosen roof tiles. There are different types of roof tiles to consider:
    • Lightweight metal tiles are ideal for harsher conditions
    • Concrete roof tiles are known to be the most affordable
    • If you are looking for energy-efficient tiles, solar tiles are worth considering


Sources: All about building | Building SA | SANS 10400 | Vis roof | Home Info