Lessons learned from a building a house
RICHARD Gough, general manager of Future-Proof Building, made some mistakes when building his family home five years ago.
Now that he has moved on to a new project — a house renovation — Gough took some time to reflect on things he would be doing differently this time round.
Here he shares his top tips for building your own home. 1. Rays the roof Solar power: When I built I didn’t give much consideration to solar power, the units weren’t that attractive and it wasn’t as cost-effective as it is now. But prices have reduced dramatically — installation is now less than a third of what it was in 2008 — and they are more slimline and aesthetically minded.
My advice: Solar power can pay for itself in about eight to 10 years. If you can’t afford to install it at this stage, it’s definitely worth pre-wiring in case you want to upgrade in the future. It is a selling point if you put your home on the market. 2. Full steam ahead Bathroom ventilation: We put a heat and light ventilation unit in the centre of our bathroom, and thought we had done the right thing.
But our shower was tucked away in a corner and we needed a second unit above the shower to directly extract steam.
My advice: Put the unit where it needs to work the hardest. You need to ensure adequate ventilation in en-suites especially, or that steam will waft into your walk-in wardrobe and result in damp or mouldy clothes. 3. Draw your own conclusions Baths: We invested in a ceramic bath but won’t do that this time. It needed more hot water to heat it, and whilst it stayed hot longer, our children weren’t spending ages soaking in the bath — so it ended up being extravagant.
My advice: Consider all the op- tions and weigh up the pros and cons. Acrylic baths come in a lot of shapes, sizes and colours, and won’t chip.
However they can scratch, stain, creak and flex. Limestone and ceramic baths hold heat, and cast iron baths need reinforcement when being installed.
4. Find out what’s in store your garage or hall ceiling cavity so you can store your Christmas decorations and off-season clothes and sports equipment. 5. Let there be light Solar tubes and skylights: We missed a real opportunity to save money by not installing them and I will definitely not make that mistake this time.
Harvesting natural light in areas that don’t have windows saves money on electricity and provides ventilation — we should have put them in our hallway, walk-in wardrobe and scullery.
My advice: Look at where you don’t have natural light or ventilation. Any area that has the roof directly above may be suitable.
The design of solar tubes and skylights has advanced and some models have diffusers that you can control, so you can close off the light when you want to.
Some also come with LED lights on sensors when there isn’t enough natural light.
6. That real “light-bulb” moment
My advice: Get a lighting plan done, and choose LED bulbs from the outset. LED lights last up to 15,000 hours - that’s more than 90 per cent better than the cheapest incandescent bulb, and they reduce your electricity bills too. 7. Sensor sensibility Home security: We thought we were doing the right thing by getting an alarm installed in our house. That isn’t enough these days.
Police recommend leaving your doors locked when you are at home as there are reports of thieves rushing inside and grabbing the nearest things — often laptops and mobile phones.
When we renovate we will install CCTV and perimeter sensors. That way we will be alerted if anyone comes onto the property and we will have CCTV footage of whoever rings the door bell. New technology means we will also be able to monitor any sensors triggered from our mobile phone .
My advice: Invest in as much security as your budget will allow. If you’re spending a lot of money on your home, do what you can to protect it, and your family. 8. Pipe dreams our family’s future needs.
Wi-fi is being superceded by data cabling, and I suspect my primaryschool kids could be streaming university lectures from home, and appliances such as heat pumps, fridges and TVs will all be functioning online.
My advice: Be data ready. Ensure cabling being installed is not only sufficient for your needs now but also what you might need in the future. 9. Everything and the kitchen sink Under-sink water cylinder: It seems a lot of our regret — and what we have learned to include in this next project — is ways we could save money. We intend to install a small water cylinder under our kitchen sink so we don’t waste litres and litres of water as we wait for the hot water to come through.
My advice: Consider a small cylinder in areas where you want hot water frequently that are a long way from the main source, for example under the kitchen sink, in an ensuite or laundry.
This can also be beneficial if you are on gas heating for water and you forget to order extra gas bottles. 10. Help yourself Use professionals: I had my own building company and was confident I could manage the process.
This time around I will hire the professionals to do what they do best.
Much like a wedding planner, they know the processes and will be able to manage that more efficiently, and I won’t lose revenue by needing to take a lot of time off work. And it will save a lot of stress, doubling up of communication and managing all the contractors.
My advice: Heard of Bridezilla? Don’t be a Buildzilla.
Use a registered master builder and accredited contractors, and choose quality products that have warranties.