You’re on the verge of building your dream home and you’ve thought about all aspects. You have envisioned the layout of your house and know exactly what you want to have in your home. You have collected a lot of information on buildings from the net and from the exhibitions on building products and materials, Interiors, etc, You must have discussed with friends and relatives who have already constructed houses about their experiences, you have asked them for referrals of Contractors, Draughtsmen, Architects etc.
However despite all this meticulous planning, in my experience as an Architect, I have seen clients inevitably make mistakes. Some of the commonest mistakes people make are listed here. It is worthwhile to go through this checklist before you actually start "House Construction".
Poor Preparation: When planning your home you should think ahead into the future and take your lifestyle and habits into consideration. Will your family be expanding? Will you need to accommodate safety features for new or young children? Or will your children be leaving the nest? Do you need to think of your requirements later in life as you reach retirement age and beyond? Do you entertain often and host overnight guests regularly? How long do you plan on staying in this home? Take your time and do your research both online and with experienced persons before you meet the professionals. You can get some ideas from my post on 'Preparing the project brief'
Hiring a Contractor without hiring an Architect: Many times, I have come across clients who believe that an Architect can be dispensed with, but a Building Contractor is necessary as it is he, who will actually give shape to your ‘dream’ house and obviously has a lot of practical knowledge and experience in building matters. You also wrongly believe that, with all the preparation and information You have gathered, there is no way you will be fooled and that you will be able to complete the construction well within your budget and on time. But the truth unfortunately, is that, most people unwittingly make a mistake by giving the job to the Contractor without hiring an architect to cross-check on the quality and cost of the Building Construction. Also very often, though the Contractor helps you in getting a 'plan' of your dream house, the source is not very clear – it may not even be designed by a qualified Architect.
Self-designing: People go to schools and colleges to learn how to design and then spend years getting real world experience in all the subtleties and nuances of space and ergonomics. If you think that you can just draw it on a napkin or envelope, and get a great design, you are wrong. Many people find out while living in the home, that they were wrong about so many things such as off centered windows, wrong door swings, miscalculated stairwell head room and space for stairs etc. So get an Architect on board and save yourself from life-long compromises in living in a badly designed home.
Poorly lit homes: Natural light should be the main source of light. Windows should be present in every room and should be large. Think about adding skylights if natural light is not sufficient. Light fixtures and outlets should also be plentiful. Do not compromise on this aspect, just to save some money because a badly-lit house can be downright unhealthy. See my posts on Vastu Shastra and Lighting.
Poor ventilation: Ventilation is also an important aspect of a well-designed house. Poor ventilation can cause the rooms to be stuffy, hot in summer and cold in winter. There will be stale, unhealthy air trapped in such houses and there can be stagnant moisturewhich can cause terrible mold growth that can affect your health. So make sure your window placements ensure cross-ventilation and constant flow of fresh air through your house. Also, the right placement of the rooms can ensure good flow of air. Read my posts on Vastu Shastra.
Poor placement of rooms: This is a very personal decision and depends on the way you use rooms. Ideally, the bedrooms should be far away from from the central living areas which are noisy. The dining room should be at the same level and near the kitchen, etc. If the rooms are not placed according to the way you live, the house can be uncomfortable to live in. You can get some ideas from my post on designing a house.
Under-utilized rooms: Include rooms that you will surely use. The addition of a playroom, game room or multipurpose room sounds enticing, but only do so if it is going to be used. Often an unused room becomes a dumping ground for things that never get used. If you plan on adding an extra room, make sure that it can transition from one type to another. For example, a family room can alternate as a guest room.
Losing Enthusiasm: Often I see many clients start your 'house construction' with a lot of optimism and enthusiasm but ultimately get overwhelmed by the many possibilities, choices and unexpected delays. You may believe that you know exactly what you want, but the number of options available confuses you and causes 'burn out'. It is better to request the architect to recommend 3 or 4 high-mid to high quality alternatives to each item so that the selection becomes easier. The post on Choices may help you be better prepared.
Cutting Corners: Remember the saying “the cheap person invariably pays the most”. Hidden cost, cheap materials, weird techniques all end up costing you more in the long run. Some contractors use cheaper, duplicate products that look like authentic products to raise their profit margin. This is where an Architect can help save your precious money. He can easily detect duplicate material, bad workmanship, poor finishing and get the Contractor to redo such work.
Architects, Engineers and Contractors are all trained to help you make effective decisions in your 'house construction'. They will help guide you as to where you can save money and where you absolutely should not cut corners. So please make use of them. You have to pay more for their services, but believe me, in the long run you will actually save money and get food value for your home. I speak from experience.