Before You Build New Home

Before You Build New Home: Important Steps

Written by : Ar.Chitra Tibrewal


(Building a new home begins long before the foundation is poured. To avoid costly mistakes during the construction process, start with these important steps.)

Building a new home may be one of the largest investments you make in your lifetime—it’s not the time to cut corners where energy efficiency is concerned. The spaces,the windows, doors, walls, ceilings and skylights define your home’s “shell.” If the shell is built properly using quality materials, you will reduce the transfer of heat, cold, and moisture ,increase the comfort ability and reduce your energy usage.

You can build a home that’s not only comfortable for you, but will save money on your health bill and energy bill for years to come.

Starting construction of a new home requires a lot of pre work, which includes preparing cost estimates, hiring a contractor, hiring an architect, planning the activities, arranging for finance, and deciding on the building style, floor plans, etc. As experts would say that a good start to a project means that its half done, so start your project by reading the tips in this section.

Planning: This is one of your best investments and easiest ways to avoid mistakes you might regret in the future.
Choosing the site: Before you design your home, consider the local environment. Where does the sun rise, travel and set over the four seasons? Which trees or buildings shade the sun during the day?
Hiring the architect: We recommend that an architect be appointed for the construction of any house as the professional help would be useful in many ways. Select an architect familiar with energy-efficient designs such as passive solar, optimal insulation levels for the climate, efficient appliances and windows, and quality energy and building design principles. One can clearly see and feel the difference in a house designed by an architect and one by a non-professional.

The visual appeal of the house is much better, as it is discussed with the client beforehand and is designed by an experienced person.

• Know how of the spaces and structure before hand is useful. The architect with his experience helps in dividing the spaces more efficiently as required by the client. This also ascertains that the whole space is efficiently used.
• One gets to know the feel of the place and space functions. The architect is able to explain what the final look and feel of the spaces would be.

The architect acts as an invigilator of the construction and helps in designing the house within the constraints of building bye laws thus avoiding any illegal constructions that may create problems at the time of getting the completion certificate.

Hiring a contractor: Try to contract a good contractor of the area keeping in mind the following requirements.

Contact at least two or three contractors of the area because contractors working in the same area are very helpful in construction work in many ways as follows.

• He is easily available.
• He knows the problems of the area very well.
• He can easily employ extra labor in emergency because his labor is usually working nearby.
• He can pay more attention to the work as he remains in the same area for all the time.
• It is very easy to know about the behavior, the dealing and the progress of the work from the house owner whose construction is currently going on.
• You can easily evaluate the quality in work or progress in work if the contractor belongs to the same area.

Make sure you sign a contract with the contractor: After you have collected the rates from two or three contractors, select one of the contractor keeping in mind the cost, time to be taken, quality of work and the skills of the contractor.

Adverse Elements

Even before the construction commences, it is essential to check for certain adverse factors whose existence would necessitate the abandonment of that particular site for construction.

1. Immediate neighbourhood of rivers carrying heavy floods
2. Reclaimed soils; land subject to subsidence or settlement
3. Smoke or obnoxious odour due to vicinity to industrial areas

Besides the above factors, you must also ensure that the construction site should not be a part of a land depression. The topographical conditions of a site not only determine its elevation and foundation, but also affect the laying of sewers and drains.

Geological Conditions

The geological conditions of the site are also important factors to be considered due to their effect on the foundation and the subsequent life and strength of the construction. If there is a rocky base on the surface or below, the site is optimum as it provides an excellent base for laying the foundation and also prevents damage due to moisture.


In northern India, longer walls are generally placed towards north & south and shorter walls towards east & west, so that minimum possible walls are exposed to the sun. The general wind direction of the site also determines the orientation of the building.

Orientation of building is to design building in such a way as it receives maximum ventilation and natural light in all climatic conditions. It provides comfortable living conditions inside the house/building and saves energy bills also. The orientation can defend undesirable effects of worse weather. While planning to build a new house, ask your architect to design building in such a way that energy loss is minimum.

• Detailed cost estimate: can save you thousand of rupees during construction. This will help you negotiate prices better, manage the funds, avoid wastage and theft of raw material by buying the required material at right time.
• Raw material procurement: It may be hard to believe that sand affects the quality of construction as much as the cement does, even though sand costs very less compared to cement. Find facts for all types of construction raw material including its quality, precautions for storage of material, purchasing guidelines and measuring criteria of raw material and the tricks vendors use to cheat a unsuspecting customer.
• Safety :The home owner should insure all construction safety measures before laying cement concrete for eg. sometimes the contractor uses old decayed ‘ballies’, small pieces having joint in ballies, white ant affected batten and decayed planks which are not able to take load and create mishap and even take the life of labor.

I hope reading articles would guide you about the considerations and would help you in avoiding costly mistakes.