Building a house is a one-time event for most people and an expensive affair. Quality of construction, hence, is of extreme importance to the owner, as it determines the life of the building. People who own land in a gated community, have the choice of getting the house constructed through a developer or through a contractor. Typically, a contractor arranges different resources for the construction of the house. They usually hire experts in various house building trades, at different stages, to complete the project. On the other hand, a developer completes the construction of the house project on his own. The developer will have in-house specialists like architects for design, engineers for construction, plumbers, electricians, quality management and liaison teams, etc., to manage the home’s construction from start to finish.
Points to consider, while building a house through a developer
A developer will have experts like architects and engineers, a quality management team, liaison team and operations team, working with him on various projects. So, if you would like your architect to design the house, ensure that the developer is put in contact with your architect, for the construction process to be in sync. Timely feedback from your family and approvals of the plans, will ensure that the construction can start on time.
Ensure that the developer has all the approvals pertaining to the construction of your house/building, such as the sanctioned plan, no-objection certificates and/or consent letters from various departments, structural report and insurance in place, to undertake construction of the house. Also, confirm the financial aspects, before going ahead with the project.
Once the plan for the house is finalised, the budget allocated for its construction should be conveyed to the developer. This will determine the materials to be used during construction and the structural changes to be made. Costing also depends on the design and selection of products, like flooring, bath fittings and fixtures, painting, electrical switches and fittings, modular kitchen, etc.
Choice of sub-contractors
Most developers will have their team of sub-contractors, like quality engineers, site supervisors, etc. In case you want your own sub-contractor for a particular work, the developer would have to be informed in advance, to finalise the scope of work and pricing accordingly.
The labour costs should be discussed before the start of construction. Ensure that the developer provides you with an estimate of changes in labor and materials costs, so that you are not in for a rude shock, when the final bill arrives. It is always better to finalise all the costs related to construction well in advance, so that there are no issues/disputes with the developer during the course of construction. Discussion on the safety and security of labour is also important, to avoid legal hassles.
Updates on construction
Make certain that your developer updates you on progress of the construction. Also, as an owner, it is advisable to visit the construction site from time to time, to check on the progress of your home so that there are no deviations from the agreed construction plan.
Essential services and interior layout
Keeping the developer informed about your plans for the interiors and layouts is very important, as it will help him to position the power, water and lighting locations, appropriately. It is important for the owner and the developer to work together, for sanctions with respect to power, water, sewage, etc.
If your developer is already into construction, you may want to seek his customers’ feedback about his expertise, vis-à-vis design, process, procedures, space utilisation, specifications and furnishing.
Completion of the project
The developer should share a comprehensive development schedule, which will include the financial support to be provided to the developer, in line with the progress of construction. Further, you will have to ensure that the decisions on selection of flooring finishes, paint colours, light fittings, bath fittings and fixtures, cabinets, etc., are done in a timely manner. Upon completion of the project, the developer’s quality team shall hand over the project with instructions, guidelines, manuals and warranties, wherever essential.
Points to consider, while building a house through a contractor
Single point of contact
Make sure that during the construction you are updated by a single person, on the development of the project.
This should include details regarding the scope of work entrusted to the contractor and the budget for the building materials, the specifications and make/brand details of the building materials and the labour costs and sub-contract assignments and their responsibilities.
The owner will have to finalise the design with the architect and coordinate for essential approvals, such as the building plan, electricity, water and sewage connections, etc. The architect should be introduced to the contractor, to take the construction further.
Discuss the schedule of the construction with the contractor and outline the tasks to be undertaken, including the selection of kitchen fixtures, tiles, bath fittings, interiors and payment schedules for the contractor. The contractor should also update you on the progress of the construction, which will help in the decision-making process in case you require any changes.
Supervision at the site
It is very important to know the details of the person, who will supervise the day-to-day activities at the construction site. Many contractors employ site supervisors, to monitor the construction quality and activities.
The construction contract should also provide a mechanism to handle changes. Change orders should be documented in writing, specifying the change in scope of work and costs. Some contracts also take note of the changes in schedule.
Make yourself available on important days. For example, a day to decide the placement of electrical points, before the wires are run, or the day when tiles are fixed. If possible, ensure that your architect is around, to aid in better decisions.
Correspondence, like user manuals for electrical equipment, contact information of sub-contractors, inspection reports and list of plumbing utilities should be received, before closing the contract and finishing the project.
While planning to construct a house, a contractor may be less expensive but a developer will be a one-stop-shop to complete the project.
(The writer is managing director, Century Real Estate)