I have previously written on how one can estimate the construction costs for a house they are planning to build without necessarily consulting any professional in the field. All that one needed to do was to establish how big their house would be, then follow the laid down guidelines.
The topic that naturally follows up then has all to do with checking these construction costs. Everyone would want to save some money regardless of whether they just have enough or even more than they need. I have therefore come up with a list of items which, from experience, I have come to learn that they are critical in driving down the costs of construction.
Selection of building plots
Your efforts to save construction costs can commence even before you acquire your building plot as a good one can save you money. However, it is a tall order getting a plot at a good location, with good soil conditions, and desirable topography. Generally, good plots tend to be more expensive. It is, however, better to pay a premium for the plot as it may end up being economical to build on it. Your costs would escalate if your contractor has to excavate and cart away soil or bring in soil to fill up excavated sections or have to clear large bushes and so on.
To deal with construction costs, then you have to build small. There are scenarios where building large may result in a lower comparative cost per unit area, but the bottom line is size determines the cost and smaller costs less, not only to build but also to maintain. Smaller does not mean that you end up with rooms that are non-functional. No. It is all about efficient utilization of spaces and having layouts that eliminate unnecessary circulation spaces. This is the point at which your architect plays a critical role.
Go for simple floor plans that are well designed
80% of clients I have dealt with believe that plans with complex shapes, corners, and kinks with a complicated roof containing numerous of roof lines and ridges will result in a good looking house. NO! Complex shapes result in wastage of space causing inefficiencies and increase the size of house thereby increasing construction costs. They are also difficult and expensive to construct. To cut construction costs, choose simple, rectangular shaped floor plans and spend more time working out the type and quality of your wall, floor and ceiling finishes as these are what really gives a house its oomph. Not funny shapes.
On paper, it looks cheap to get cheap plans off the street and use cheap inexperienced contractors. I have had cases where clients who had initially avoided my services in an attempt to save costs have come back and paid for the same services to help them sort out a mess they have been put through. Using the wrong people leads to massive amounts of changes to the structure during and even after construction which raises construction costs tremendously. Make sure you have the right consultants to advise you on the best and cheapest way forward and also provide you with fully detailed designs which will need not to be changed during construction.
Prepare a Bill of Quantities and get quotes from various contractors
A bill of quantities and schedule of materials prepared by a qualified Quantity Surveyor will give you the exact quantities of materials and corresponding construction costs for building your home. This will give you a safety net from contractors who may wish to take advantage of your lack of knowledge on the construction costs that will be involved in your project. In addition, get quotes from at least three contractors, and inform each of them that you are looking elsewhere so that they give you the best deals.
Finishes, fittings, and installations
The cost of putting up the structure of a house is fairly standard and the savings made on this are mainly affected by the factors discussed above. The shell also amounts to between 50% to 60% of the total cost of a house. The remainder would be the cost for the finishes, fittings and other installations. The choices that you make for these items can help get significant savings. One way would be through getting into an agreement with the contractor that you supply these items and procure them from the various available suppliers both locally and internationally at significatly lower rates than the contractors could give.
How about getting into a labour contract with a contractor then supply all the materials?
This can substantially reduce construction costs if you have the time to give extended supervision on site and means to prevent material pilferage. It also has the potential to cost you heavily especially since the quality responsibility for the materials supplied is transferred from the contractor to you. In essence, you are the contractor and the labour contractor is technically your sub contractor. This option should be approached cautiously.