What you need to know about building your own house

If you're planning to undertake the building of your own home, here's everything you'll need to know to help get the job done.

The golden rules of building a home

  • Before even thinking about starting, you must first assess and evaluate your needs in detail. The main factors to consider are the location (property), the necessary building supplies and the proximity to services.
  • Don’t automatically settle on doing business with your current financial institution. Shop around. While some banks are more conservative when it comes to construction financing, others offer very advantageous terms. Some lenders set limits, which means you can run into trouble if you don’t have sufficient working capital.
  • This may be the biggest investment of your life. You don’t want to end up with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, so be sure to hire workers that are trained and certified.
  • Determine a reasonable time frame and be patient. Building a house can be exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Also keep in mind that your builders may not always be available when you need them to be.

Always remember...

  • Check with your municipality before buying a property
  • Be informed of building permits and all necessary standards and regulations
  • Know your rights and obligations with respect to garages, sheds, house paint colour and all relative dimensions, as each element has different requirements, for example, the minimum lot size for a detached garage.
  • Consider seeking a high-energy efficiency rating for your home. In addition to saving 25 per cent on energy costs, you can benefit from provincial building incentives and programs. You'll also get preferential rates extended by some financial institutions.
  • Protect your investment and do not leave anything lying around the job site. You’d be surprised how common vandalism and material and equipment theft is.

Helpful tips

  • Make sure your expectations are in sync with those of your partner. Otherwise, you may discover a none-too-pleasant side to your spouse’s usually sunny disposition.
  • If you want to paint the house yourself to save money, consider hiring a professional for wall priming and ceilings. It’s a nominal cost and the time you save will be well worth it.
  • Wait until you're rested and energized to do your buying. It isn’t just about selecting the colour of the walls or tiles. You need to choose cabinets, appliances, fixtures (bath, shower, faucets and sinks, to name a few), door handles, the moulding on the doors themselves, and mention flooring. It’s important to enjoy this process to avoid regretting these choices later on, when you have to look at them every day.
  • Once you’ve chosen your plan (approved by an architect), take a look at the room scale, and decide if there is enough space for your furniture in the rooms and in the hallways. The last thing you need on moving day is to realize the couch is too big to fit. If necessary, modify the plan... or change the furniture!
  • Don’t take your family and friends for granted. After all this is your project. You can ask for help but don’t expect anyone to come to your rescue.
What you need to know about building your own house
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