Preparing to build your home: getting down to business

Building a new home is a lengthy process, and while creating plans ahead of time is important, you must also be willing to be flexible.  These guidelines will help you stay on top of things and suggest what to be mindful of when planning your dream home.

Preparing to build your home: getting down to business

1. Scrounging and making do

You need not always purchase shiny new tools and materials to build your house; there are a number of other ways to get hold of what you need.

  • Consider buying second-hand tools and hiring heavy machinery.
  • Ask your friends and neighbours about sharing or borrowing equipment. Look to your land for useful timber and earth.
  • At the end of construction, consider recouping some of your outlay by selling unwanted tools on the second-hand market.
  • If you use second-hand doors, windows and roofing materials, you may pay only a fraction of normal building costs.
  • For a smooth cash flow, stage deliveries and payments to coincide with construction.

2. Plan to avoid waste

No matter how well you plan your work, material will be wasted. As much as one third to a half of mortar for bricklaying is discarded. Timber offcuts will accumulate because not all spans will be standard length and the same will often happen with plasterboard. Allowance for unused material must form part of your orders: the best you can do is minimize the waste by working out how best to incorporate standard lengths and quantities of materials into your design.

3. An access road and site preparation

The best laid plans will come to nothing if your land is inaccessible. Building materials will have to be delivered so at the very least you will require a reasonably weather-proof track that can take the weight and width of a semi-trailer or truck, otherwise materials may be unloaded so far away that they will require time-consuming double handling.

Before purchase, it is wise to obtain a district plan from the local council, usually available for a small fee. This will show a service easement where you can make an access road or track. It is advisable to check every metre of the "paper road" to ensure that a deep gully or a steep hill does not impede the path to your homesite. If all is well, you may make your road over this service easement (you must bear the full cost of it), but remember you have no exclusive rights to it. It may not be fenced, stripped of firewood or made out of bounds to the public and you have an obligation to maintain the road or track. If neighbours settle nearby and begin to use it they may agree to help with maintenance.

Where your property is reached by driving through or beside another property over a "right-of-way", investigate the legal position thoroughly. Is this permission properly set out on a deed of gift or similar right? If not, you could find your access closed off without warning.

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