Key Considerations for Your Building Project

Building a new home is more complex than many people realise. Remember you are about to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into a building project and it is strongly recommended that you maintain active involvement in your project.

Before you begin the project decide on how you want to manage the build. Key roles are needed on a building project which include the development and management of construction timelines and costs, management of the main contractor and subcontractors, liaison with designers, engineers and local authorities while making decisions about the design of the work.

You can do some of this yourself, but if you are not knowledgeable about the building process, you should get help from competent building professionals. You will also need to maintain contact with them so that you are available for those onsite design decisions. These decisions will come up more frequently than you can imagine and they need to be supervised and recorded.

Below is a list of some of the key considerations that you should be aware before construction, during construction and at completion of a building project.

phase one

Before Work Begins

  • Ensure that building consent has been issued. Inform yourself so that you understand all the documentation and your responsibilities.
  • Ensure that any easements and covenants on the land title are complied with.
  • Be very clear about the scope and size of the project and get properly detailed plans completed up front.
  • Should the project involve specific engineered design (SED) ensure that this work is designed by a registered engineer.
  • Have the designer explain the plans and specifications to you and make sure you are happy with all aspects of the design. Changes during construction are likely to be costly.
  • Understand the building contract and get legal advice if you are unsure on any conditions of the contract. Note that you don’t have to accept the contract your building contractor may offer.
  • Agree a payment schedule and construction timeline programme with your building contractor.
  • • Ensure that contract works and general liability insurances are in place and are maintained over the full period of construction.
phase two

While Work is in Progress

  • Determine with the building contractor who is doing the building work and who is responsible for making design and change decisions during the project.
  • Maintain a good working relationship with your building contractor. However, do not hesitate to discuss immediately any concerns about the works or workmanship.
  • Make sure there is a clear line of communication with the “key contact person” this could be the building contractor’s site foreman, the project manager, or any other person who has authority to speak on behalf of the building contractor.
  • Keep changes to a minimum and instruct your building contractor in writing about all variations to the specified work. Ensure you get a written costing and agree the variation cost before the work is undertaken. Be aware any changes you make could mean that you may have to amend your building consent.
  • When you are making decisions during work in progress, have a clear understanding as to whether those decisions will affect your project costs or the contract agreement
  • If you are responsible for supplying any materials, fixtures or fittings ensure that they are available when the builder requires them.
  • Engage a quantity surveyor, they will be able to give you an accurate estimate of your project and help you with strategies to stay within your budget..
  • Keep to the agreed payments schedule if the works are on programme.
phase three

When the Work is Complete

  • Report any urgent defects to your building contractor promptly and in writing.
  • List any non-urgent defects and agreed a time for making good by the building contractor.
  • Often some funds are retained until work is completed satisfactorily but only if allowed and agreed in the building contract.
  • Assess and agree the final account promptly.
  • Ensure that you received a Completion Certificate or Code Compliant Certificate(s) when the building work is complete.

pps director

This post was written by Gareth Williams. Gareth is a Director of Pacific Property Solutions Pte Ltd and is also a Professional Quantity Surveyor and Member of the New Zealand Institute of Quantity Surveyors