Building Houses: Common Mistakes That Cost Owners Millions

  • A modern prefabricated house
    A modern prefabricated house
  • Building a home is a dream for many. However, it comes with its challenges as ardent prospective homeowners quest for perfection. 

    A number of mistakes can cost one million; from designs, construction, contractors and time frames. Slight errors can also be noted by keen tenants seeking affordable homes. 

    1. Working Outside the Budget

    A budget should factor in pre and post-construction charges. One should also trust the architect and contractors and desist from interfering with the project. 

    It will also include a proper development plan. Construction should be done within the allocated time frame to save on costs. 

    An undated photo of a house under construction

    2. Not Comparing Quotes and Stock House Plans

    Quotes are important before hiring contractors. Many homeowners fall for low quotes which could be interpreted as poor workmanship which may lead to extra costs in maintenance and repairs.

    An optimal quote could mean that a builder can work on discounts and has networked with builders and suppliers. 

    Stock house plans are pre-designed home plans that include the most requested features owners seek in a new home. Such features include popular room dimensions and square footage, layouts of floor plans, room numbers and sought-after amenities.

    This contributes to designs and guides a consumer on taste, choices and preferences. 

    3. Unqualified Contractors 

    One's advised to hire a qualified contractor, supplier and subcontractor who are experienced. This can prove quite expensive on the budget but would save on errors that will cost more on repairs. 

    For example, one can be forced to rewire and refurbish the sewerage systems after an electrician and plumber faults.

    A good architect will give you a good design, efficient floor plan with optimal room sizes and a sustainable design which will have low maintenance costs. 

    4. Exaggerating or Complicating Designs 

    Architects advise homeowners to use simple and well-outlined designs. A floor plan can be square or rectangle to save on costs. 

    An open plan living can also be adapted to provide more daylight and sociable living. Designs can also incorporate space utilization to allow one to re-organise houses at any time. 

    Scale down on unnecessary spaces that overload designs. In public spaces like the kitchen and dining, one can use a higher degree of finish. 

    In private spaces like bedrooms and bathrooms, architects advise homeowners to use basic finishes and save on budget. Internal walls should also be thinner than external walls. 

    Homeowners also tend to use unnecessary structural numbers that cost more on cement, soil and ballast. Structural Number (SN) represents the overall structural requirement needed to sustain the design’s traffic loadings. 

    It is an abstract number that expresses the structural strength of a pavement required for given combinations of soil support (MR), total traffic expressed in ESALs, terminal serviceability and environment.

    The housing units located along Park Road in Ngara
    The affordable housing units located along Park Road in Ngara, Nairobi County.

    5. Alternative Construction Methods

    Most homeowners were said to be reportedly unaware of alternative and effective construction methods such as using structurally insulated panels (EPS) panels, stabilised earth blocks (SEBS), upcycled shipping containers and recycled materials. 

    One is also advised to use locally available materials rather than import from other areas. 

    Lastly, homeowners were said to be prone to peer pressure where they tend to design houses according to friends wishes or celebrities' lives.