Making that initial decision to home ownership isn’t easy..... or cheap. While you could procrastinate and prolong the process, there comes a time when you really need to step out on your own and paddle your canoe through the ripple tides. The journey can be quite daunting and just a bit intimidating, but part of that is solely because you don’t know how to get started, what steps to take or who to talk to. Here are a few tips to get you on your way.
1. Knowing your Budget
Budget? Seems premature right? When it comes to your dream home, automatically you start to envision your perfect HGTV space with an open concept living room, big kitchen, beautiful en-suite with spa treatments and finishes. Sorry to break it to you but you’re setting yourself up for disappointment because these things cost money... and lots of it. Knowing your budget at the beginning helps blend your design dreams with your monetary realities. This prevents heartache in the long run by knowing what you can afford from what you can’t.
The budget is probably the most important aspect to your home ownership as it informs the architect with design and the contractor with materials and building methods. Now you may wonder, "how much do I have to spend?" To answer this question, you can seek advice from your financial institution to know how much you qualify for. These institutions can be the:
2. Documents, Documents, Documents
This is the time you dust off all the documents relating to your land. Usually when acquiring land, whether handed down by a family member or newly purchased, there are accompanying documents that you must have. These include:
3. Get a design
Now we’ve reached to the exciting part, the design! This is probably the most valuable money you will ever spend as you get one step closer to owning your home. The design is the nucleus of home ownership (and I’m not just saying that because I’m an architect). This is where you can express your heart’s desires and hopefully get all your must-haves according to your budget. It is really important you get a professional i.e. an architect to design your home.
A common misconception is that you “just need a sketch” in order to start building your home. WRONG! Think about it this way, when you go to the doctor I am sure you won’t be comfortable getting a generic diagnosis for a specific problem. It's the same with design. The design is the manual by which your contractor builds the exact house of your dreams. Having a design allows you to specify every detail, every space, every colour, and every finish tailored to your needs, way before the first brick is laid.
It also enables you to get a very accurate costing for construction before the actual building begins, which is a great way to know if your must-haves are realistic or not. If it isn’t, your architect can tweak the design to suit your budget, preventing overhead costs during construction. After the design is complete, your architect produces drawing sets to submit to the local authorities. This takes us to the next step.
4. Submit drawings to local authorities
Once you have your construction drawings, your architect would submit them for approvals to the local authorities. In the case of Trinidad and Tobago, this is Town & Country Planning. This organization looks for particular codes and building standards that your architect should adhere to, for approvals. These include things like proper set-backs & boundaries, zoning, land to building ratio, plans and sections through proposed building showing construction details and dimensions.
After Town & Country Planning have completed their checks and are satisfied, the drawings are sent to Local Health Authorities before you or your architect can collect them. The unfortunate part is that it takes between 4 to 6 months to get approved drawings back in hand. Although this may seem unbearably long, it is an integral part of the home ownership process. (Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day ☺)
5. Building your Home
Alright, we’ve reached the final step. If you followed all the previous steps you should be feeling pretty confident about starting the construction of your home. Usually construction is synonymous with anxiety, sleepless nights, cost overruns and juggling between your regular life and this mammoth of a project. Thankfully, this is not the case for you. You are well equipped with your detailed design, your proposed budget and all supporting documents, so time to begin the fun. To build your home you should find a reliable and affordable contractor to build your home and manage the construction project.
I know what you’re thinking, another cost?! But this is another necessary and crucial decision that could make the difference between a successful project and stressful project. Ensure when selecting your contractor, you look at the qualifications and/or previous projects completed by the contractor and the quality of those projects. Don’t be afraid to ask for references from previous clients as well. You want to know the character and history of the contractor, because like it or not you will be entering into a relationship that can last from 2 months to a year, so you would want to be sure of what you are getting into. Also, get multiple quotes so a comparison can be done in terms of price.
With your detailed plans, it should be relatively easy for the contractor to get a very accurate costing for your design. Side note: just because the quote is the lowest doesn’t always mean it’s the best option. Once you are satisfied with your contractor, their cost and contractor fees, the process of building your home begins! In the next 2-6 months you will be moving in and finally have a place to call home.
The process of owning your home is a major milestone in your life and may only happen once, so you have to ensure that it is done right from the starting blocks. These 5 simple steps will guarantee a smooth and stress-free transition from renting or living with the parental unit to turning your own key.
Join our mailing list to stay inspired!