Tips for Individual House Construction

This write up is for all those who want to construct their residence/home. Let us assume that you have a plot of land and you have decided to build a house.

Congratulations on your wise decision.

Let us look at the various steps to be taken while constructing a house.

First and foremost thing is to use the services of professionals to design and construct your house. 

Using the services of a professional is as important as using the services of a medical doctor. Considering that you are likely to spend lakhs of rupees, it is prudent on your part to use the services of a professional when you are spending, may be, your life savings.

How is a ‘construction project’ unique as compared to other projects?

All construction projects are unique and one of its kind, even if completely similar to buildings being built at different locations.

All Construction Projects go through four major phases in its life cycle:

  1. Concept Phase
  2. Design and tendering Phase
  3. Execution Phase
  4. Finishing Phase

Step 1: How much can you spend on this Project? 

  • What is the maximum amount of money that you wish to spend to commission the house and make it livable? You should be able to walk into the house and start living immediately. Your budget should provide for fixed and loose furniture, soft furnishings such as curtains etc., once you have arrived at this figure, this forms the basis of all design and decision making.

Step 2: Space Requirements

  • You must be having an idea as to what our space requirements are.
  • How many Bedrooms do you need?
  • What is the size of the living room? What is the size of the kitchen? Do you need a separate Pooja room? Make a list of all your requirements.

Step 3: Select An Architect

  • An architect is a professional who designs space efficiently. It is necessary for you to engage the services of a good architect. You would be able to identify one by discussing with your friends and relatives who have used the services of an architect. Select an Architect after looking at some of the projects he has executed. Make sure his style of architecture is in sync with your taste and style of what you want your house to be.
  • Preferably select an architect who is registered with a professional body of Architects such as ‘Institute of Indian Architects’ or a local body of Architects.
  • The Architect’s scope shall normally include the following:
    • Architectural design of proposed the house. Specify the number of alternate designs he would come up with for you to take a decision.
    • Structural design
    • Plumbing and Electrical services
    • Preparation of Bill of Quantities (BOQ) for all the design services
    • Preparation of cost estimates
    • Preparation of drawings ‘for approval’ to the authorities
    • Preparation of a tender document with terms and conditions (I will address this in detail later)
    • Periodic construction supervision
    • Checking and certification of contractors’ bills
  • Enter into a formal contract agreement with an Architect specifying the terms of appointment. The contract agreement shall specify the role and responsibilities of the Architect and his associates, terms of payment of their professional fee etc..

Step 4:Concept Phase.

    • Having selected and appointed an Architect, give him/her your requirements
    • The architect shall present various (specify the number) concepts for your approval
    • Finalise the architectural design
    • Based on the finalised architectural design the other consultants shall develop their design
    • Appoint a landscape and interior designer, if need be
    • Based on the final design in terms of space requirement and the finishes arrive at a Budgetary cost

Detail design and tendering Phase:

  • Detail design
    • Now that the concept is finalised, the architect further develops on the concept and gets into the detail design wherein every aspect of the house is given a thought and incorporated.
    • Based on the Architectural drawings the structural engineer, the plumbing and electrical consultants develop on the design and details.
    • This is the stage when one decides as to what flooring material one wishes to use. For example: is it marble floor, vitrified tiles, wooden floor etc., Similarly one has to decide on the type of ceramic fixtures (WC, washbasin) and CP (chromium Plated) fittings (Taps).
    • Decisions have to be taken on your requirement of light points, power points, TV cable outlets, Internet, telephone outlets, ceiling fans, Air-conditioning, geyser, etc., These details are required to arrive at the total power requirements and have to be shown on the Electrical Construction drawings.
  • Statutory Approvals from concerned authorities
  • Onec you have finalised on the concept drawings, make sure that the design meets the statutory requirements laid out by the authorities.
  • Obtain statutory sanctions by submitting the drawings for approval to the authorities and obtain formal approval for construction.
  • Drawings for approval have to be prepared by the architect.
  • Obtain sufficient copies of these sanction drawings, as these will required to be submitted to the authorities for obtaining, power, water and sewage connections.
  • Tender phase
    • This is the phase one has to decide as how to go about the construction. This is also the phase when you get the maximum amount of unsolicited advise.
    • There are many models of contracts (‘Contracts’ in itself is a very vast subject, this will be dealt with in detail separately), which may be adopted to get the work done. The most common form of contract that is adopted in this country is called the ‘item rate contract’ OR ‘re-measurable contract’.
    • The normal tendency is to go for a ‘square foot rate’ contract. I strongly disapprove of adopting this type of contract. I will let you know the reasons in a separate chapter.
    • The Architect along with his consultants shall prepare a details Bill of Quantities (BOQ).
    • The Architects and the consultants shall submit a cost estimate based on the BOQ prepared by them.
    • The estimate shall be as accurate as possible, considering that all the requirements are finalised.
    • Shortlist the contractors suitable for this project. the architect may recommend a few and your acquaintances  may recommend a few.
    • Pre-qualify contractors by checking their financial and technical background. Do a background check.
    • The architect shall prepare a simple tender document with therms and conditions (this shall be dealt with separately in detail) which shall specify the terms of payment.
    • The tender document shall be issued to the pre-qualified contractors to submit their bids.
    • The pre-qualified contractors submit completed bid to the client.
    • A comparative statement of the bids received is prepared. This comparative statement has to be prepared by the Architect (a sample of the comparative statement is attached for reference)
    • The contractors are invited for negotiations. This meeting helps is not only in understanding each other but also to clarify all doubts both the parties may possess.
    • Few crucial points that have to be discussed and finalised during the negotiations are:
    • Define and understand scope of work
    • Terms of payment
    • Date of commencement and completion
    • Are there any materials the client wishes to supply, which the contractor shall incorporate in the works
    • Are there any extras that the contractor will have to do but is not provided for in the tender?
    • Contractor has to meet all the statutory requirements and indemnify the client against any claims
  • Award work to the contractor
  • Enter into a formal agreement
  • Construction Phase
    • This is the phase when three aspects of the project are monitored, namely the Time, Cost and Quality.
    • Contractor mobilises his infrastructure to commence work.
    • Construction drawings for commencement of work must be made available immediately.
    • Architects and other consultants shall submit a schedule for release of drawings. This will facilitate the contractors to plan his activities.
    • All the construction drawings shall be released ahead of time progressively.
    • Time Management
      • This is when you draw up a programme schedule to complete the project within the time frame that you want to.
      • Contractor to submit an overall project plan for completion of the project.
      • This project plan shall indicate all his requirements in terms of drawings, details and decisions.
    • Cost Management
      • Based on the project schedule, the contractor shall prepare a cash flow.
      • The cash flow shall take into consideration all the terms of payment, materials to be procured etc.
      • A constant vigil on the budget and actual expenditure has to be kept every month.
      • Contractors’ bills shall be checked and certified for payment.
      • If there are any materials that are supplied by you to the contractor, they have to be accounted for in the bills produced by the contractor.
    • Quality Management
      • Quality of materials used and the workmanship shall be checked.
      • Concrete and steel shall be checked as per the IS code requirements.
      • Quality of work has to be checked by an engineer at site during construction.
      • A set of checklists may be used to check the quality of work being executed.
    • Close-out or Finishing phase
      • In this phase, all the documents that are connected with the project, such as final Architectural, Structural and services drawings, final bills of various vendors, warranties and guarantees are collected.
      • Ensure that all statutory drawings such as Building sanction drawings are filed safe and secure.
      • These will be your records for posterity