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Due diligence for building your own house

Saturday, September 29, 2018

By P. Ravindra Pai, Managing Director, Century Real Estate

Owning land in a gated community gives the choice of constructing the house by developers or through contractors. Typically, a contractor arranges different resources for construction of the house. They usually hire experts in various house building trades at different stages to complete the project. Whereas the developer completes construction of the house project on his own. Developer will have in-house specialists like architects for design and architecture, engineers for construction, plumbing, electrical, quality management, liaison team, etc. to manage the home construction and ensures their presence from start to finish.

Tips to be deliberated upon while building your home through a developer
Expertise: A developer has experts like an architect, engineers, quality management team, liaison team, operations team working with him on various projects. Ensure the developer is put in contact with your architect for the construction process to be in sync. Final approvals of the plans make sure that the construction can start on time.  
Approvals: Ensure the developer has all the approvals and consents pertaining to construction of your house / building like Sanction Plan, No Objection Certificates and / or Consent Letters from various departments, structural report and insurance to undertake construction of the house. Also confirm the financials are approved before going ahead with the project.

Budget: When plan for the house is finalized, budget allocated for construction should be conveyed to the developer which inturn helps in deciding materials to be used during construction. Costing depends on the design and selection of products like flooring and dado materials, bath fittings and fixtures, painting, electrical switches and fittings, modular kitchen, etc.  

Labor costs: The labor costs have to be discussed before the start of construction. The developer should provide you with an estimate of changes in labor and materials costs so as not to get a revelation when the final bill arrives. It is always better to finalize all the costs related to construction well in advance so that there are no issues / dispute with the developer during the course of construction. Discussion on the safety and security of labors is also important so as not to fall into any legal hassles.

Working in sync: Keeping the developer informed of your interiors plans and layouts is very important which will help him position the power, water and lighting locations appropriately. It is important for both to work in sync for sanctions with respect to power, water, sewage and other additional interior work accordingly. Developer will also provide inputs that can be incorporated during the construction.

Updates on the construction: Make certain your developer updates you on progress of the construction. Also as an owner, it is advisable to visit the construction site from time to time to check on the progress of your home so that there are no deviations from the agreed construction plan.

Completion of the project: Developer shall share a comprehensive development schedule which has to be adhered to and the financial support to be provided to the developer in line with the construction progress. Further, you will have to ensure that the decisions on selection of flooring finishes, paint colors, light fittings, bath fittings and fixtures, cabinets etc are done in time for timely delivery. Upon completion of the project the developer quality team shall handover the project with instructions guidelines, manuals and warranties wherever essential.

Measures to be taken while building your own house through a contractor
Single point of contact: Make sure that during the construction you are updated by a single person on the developments of the project.

Contract: To ensure that the scope of work to be detailed with the contractor, the budget for the building materials and construction to be agreed in detail. Specifications and building materials make or equivalent brand details to be stated. Labor costs and sub contracts assignments and their responsibility to be understood.  

Approvals: Owner has to finalize the design with the architect and coordinate for essential approvals of the building like sanction plan, electricity, water and sewage connections, etc. Make sure that the architect is introduced to contractor to take the construction further.

Schedule: Discuss the schedule of construction with the contractor and outline the tasks to be undertaken. This will also benefit in selection of kitchen fixtures, tiles, bath fittings, interiors, payment schedules for the contractor. The contractor should also update you on the progress of the construction which will help in the decision making process in case you require any changes.   Supervision at the site: It is very important to know details of the person supervising day-to-day activities at the construction site. Many contractors have site supervisors at the site to monitor the construction quality and activities which in turn may affect work or may not meet deadlines.  

Change orders: Change orders can be handled in construction contract. The most common way to document change orders is in writing, specifying the change in scope of work, cost included. Some contracts also take note of the change in schedule.

Physical presence: Make yourself available on important days like an electrical walk- through so to review the placement before wires are run, also on the day when the tiles are fixed. Presence of your architect will also aid in better decisions.

End-of-project paperwork: Correspondence like user manuals for electrical equipment, contact information of sub-contractors, inspection reports and list of plumbing utilities should be received before closing of contracts and finishing the project.

While planning to construct a house either from a developer or a contractor, a contractor may be less expensive but a developer will be one stop shop to complete the project.

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