Pointers to success with building projects; Building a New Build to budget

Building a New Build to budget

Undertaking a new build to sell at the end requires costing as accurately as possible at the outset to avoid over extending yourself financially – and of course to ensure you walk away with a tidy profit. The problem is that there are so many variables within the building process; If you overlook a costly item or assume that you can utilise cheaper materials or resources than are actually available to you, your project could be delayed or at worse it could jeopardise completion entirely.

Forearmed is as they say forewarned.

Finding your Building Plot

Due to demand for plots generally, single building plots are often more expensive than multiple house sites. The choice of site can have a major impact on the overall cost of the project for a number of reasons including:

  • Ground conditions – sloping sites or poor ground will add to your costs. You should always organise trial holes prior to purchasing the plot.
  • Access to drainage and services – absence of or difficult access to services can be a real problem. You should always check that the site can be serviced by all service providers at reasonable cost before purchasing the plot.
  • The impact of trees and location – whilst trees generally add to the aesthetic appeal of a site they can be a big problem. If their roots system lead to the foundations having to be strengthened, costs can be considerable. The local authority can also protect trees. In fact if a protected tree is positioned in the wrong place, the site can be un-developable!

To avoid nasty shocks later, I would recommend that you get a few professionals on site during site appraisal. These individuals include civil or structural engineers to advise you on foundations and drainage, a planning consultant if you are acquiring a site without planning permission and an architect or technician to prepare preliminary plans.

You must of course not forget the following hidden costs, which can add up to many thousands:

  • Land valuation
  • Solicitors fees
  • Land registry
  • Local authority
  • Site insurance
  • Stamp duty
  • Professional fees
  • Site accommodation (& site toilet!)
  • Safety equipment and compliance

The construction

Once more we should stress that using typical “square metre / footage” building costs is a dangerous approach to the building game. The “going rate” will in all likelihood not be appropriate to your project. A few examples of items that can impact the “going rate” and certainly increase your build costs are:

  • Problem sites (bad ground, drainage & non-existent services)
  • Shortages of labour and associated high labour costs
  • Architectural details that are inherently expensive to produce
  • Planners specifying the use of certain non standard materials

Furthermore if you’re building a home to order, accordingly the client will want to finish the project to their taste and specification. This individual specification can lead to higher costs, over and above the mythical typical square metre/ foot rate.

The question of Timber Frame

One question that often arises is “If I use timber frame, will it result in a cheaper house?”

The choice of timber frame is not so much about cost as about speed of erection and insulation standards. A crude rate comparison of the cost of internal blockwork and labour versus timber frame will quickly confirm that the frame looks expensive. However the speed of erection of the timber frame home is a major benefit and brings with it significant savings.

The timber frame structure can be erected & weather proofed within days of delivery to site, allowing you to commence internal fitting out whilst the external brickwork or facing is constructed. In fact the average timber frame new home takes two months less to complete than traditional brick & block. Because of this virtually instant shell on site, the management of the building project is significantly simplified, particularly if the kit is supplied and erected complete with windows, internal floors and staircase. The bricklayers will then require the minimum of supervision as the structure is completely set out for them. All secondary trades including electricians, plumbers and plasterers are quickly at work in a dry and clean environment. This is of course particularly relevant if you are building over the winter period.

A speedy build will also help keep finance costs under control such as interest charges. The timber frame home also tends to be more energy efficient and requires less drying out remedial work than brick and block construction. (These low after sales costs are often cited as a reason why timber frame and other building systems such as insulated concrete formwork are becoming more popular with residential developers!)

Add all of these factors together and it is possible to put together a convincing case that timber frame is a simpler and competitive alternative to “traditional” brick and block construction.

If you have found Adrian’s article on building a New Build to budget and want to read more of Adrian’s advice articles please click here. If you would like to find out more about how EstimatorXpress can help you with your building projects please give us a call on 0117 9167898 or drop us an email.