before you build

Building Cheap Could Cost You More

  • Creation Date: Thursday, 09 May 2019

05 May 2019

Tough economic times makes all of us tighten our belts and compromise is the name of the game in many different parts of our lives. When it comes to building, it is generally no different. The big question is where do you start with that compromise?

The very first area that most people start with is to try and get a cheap design. In reality, there is no such thing. What you will almost always end up with is a compromised design. This is the difference between having someone just do a drawing for you (however good the quality of the drawing may be) and someone designing a facility that adds to the value of your home.

There is also no substitute for experience and as with all things, you will always get what you pay for. The lower the fee that you are willing to pay for your design, the less attention to detail you will get. In many cases, your cheap designer will not have the time (because they are not being paid for it) to look at alternative designs that will add value to your property or investigate the use of various construction materials and finishes particular to your needs. In many cases, this will be left to you or your builder to decide.

There will in most cases, also be a lack of willing effort on the part of the designer to go out of their way to seek to introduce the wow factor into the design because they are not being paid to do that.

You may also find that your cheap designer is not prepared to go to the trouble of producing a detailed specification for the builder to quote on, resulting in low quality materials and finishes being used which you may only find out about later and then it is too late. So ultimately, you may be compromising on quite a lot in your basic design for the sake of 3 or 4% extra on your total building cost. It is also possible that your less expensive designer may not have any Professional Indemnity Insurance in place which is there to take care of any design errors that may be discovered during the construction phase where mistakes have a financial implication.

The next area of compromise is to further save on design fees by excluding your architect from the building process in favour of leaving it all to the builder. Unless you are in the building game yourself and know what you are doing, this is not advisable as it could end up costing you many times more than the small saving that you made on design fees.

The building process is where you will be investing a large amount of your money and someone with experience should be looking after that investment for you. From the time that you start looking for builders to the time that the project is finished, a huge amount of technical and financial control is needed to ensure that you have a quality product at the end of it all. All the building disaster stories that you hear about occur because of a lack of proper control and supervision during the building process. Compromising on supervision is just not worth it.

The last area of compromise is with your builder where you are likely to consider accepting the lowest quote. The problem is seldom with the builder as such. (See Choosing your Builder .)

It starts with the information that the builder is given to quote on. The less clear that the design information is, the more fuzzy the builder’s quote will be. The builder’s quote should always be well itemized and clear in its costing. Lump sum quotes should be avoided as they almost always lead to disputes later. (See Building Contract: Do You Need One ?)

More so than any of the other areas mentioned, you are definitely going to get what you have paid for during the building operation with a big chance that you will end up paying a lot more for what you are getting if things go wrong.

Take a long considered look at the money that you are spending and how you are spending it. If you are going to compromise, do so in the right areas and make sure that you take all the steps necessary to protect yourself and your investment. Rather scale down and have the whole project properly designed and properly built. It will save you a lot of headaches and money in the long run.

Article compiled by Les Abbott
L A Design Studio