Everybody loves a good house. Even more, a house than can become a home where love resides, memories are created and laughter never ends.
However, budgeting is very critical so that one makes the right choices at design stage to avoid financial regrets that will jeopardise this laughter.
An open discussion with an architect will prove very important so that one does not suffer budget shock when the quantity surveyor finally calculates the cost involved.
This is because a quantity surveyor dwells much on determining the amount and cost of materials needed for delivering a particular design and may do so little in helping one cut costs without getting the approval from architect to vary the design.
Amid tempting designs and allure for sophistication, there is always a way to make a statement without breaking the bank.
Architects advise that a good design should embrace simplicity. Any complex feature comes with an added cost and should only be justified by the value it adds to the people living in the house; not the peer pressure.
Simple designs such as open floor design may mean fewer walls, which equals less material and therefore a big saving on costs.
However, Aleem Manji, the principal architect at Aleem Manji Architects cautions that this should not be overdone to an extent of sacrificing privacy.
“When you minimise the use of walls, it works very well in saving costs but sometimes you need a certain level of privacy for example in a bedroom. So do not do it beyond the level you won’t be comfortable,” advises Mr Manji.
Fewer walls also means that visual connection between spaces increases the perceived space, making the house feel larger, according to Mugo Mutembei, the CEO of Bristem Developers.
He explains that another way to enhance size in the house with minimum cost is by cutting down on thickness of inner walls of the house.
Minimising the number of corners on the exterior walls and using simple and short roof lines as opposed to steep roofs can also help cut material costs.
Friends may tempt one to purchase materials from a particular place they got theirs or they may lure one to go for a kitchen fabricator who worked on their house. They may drive one to kitchen showrooms just to make a statement. This has the potential to increase costs.
Many people are in love with mahogany and some lose their minds to afford it. One has to make real and hard cuts in the budget and go for alternatives.
Mr Manji says, sourcing for materials locally can help cut down on transportation costs. He also advises one to embrace alternative materials within their locality.
If you own several cars, more than two or three, putting the garage in the basement can save you money. You will only add the cost of the door. This makes even more sense if you happen to construct in a slightly slopping land.
The alternative to this means troubling yourself to construct another structure next to your house. This will require almost all basic materials, making it pass as a small house next to your main house.
However, Mr Mutembei says if one has enough space and say two cars, constructing a separate simple structure for car park will spare one the need for a basement slab and also lower costs.
“We recommend this especially for single dwelling units lying on spacious land. Having a garage in the basement means an additional slab, concrete and steel. This may drive up the cost,” he says.
Fussy details such as wood casing around the windows can easily raise the price. If you must splurge, architects say you can still achieve that sparingly.
The secret is in strategic splurging, according to Mr Mutembei. He advises that if you must have a few really nice things, put them where it matters most and spend modesty on other areas.
Finishing affects pricing. To save on money, you can use superior finishes in publicly frequented areas such as the dining, kitchen and living room then use modest finishes on bedrooms and bathrooms,” he advises.
This can always afford one ample time to upgrade in future without straining. A good colour can also bring that desired pop to the design and cut on future maintenance costs for the sophisticated finishes.
One can also choose nice lighting fixtures for rooms such as the dining room and entry to create great ambience. They can then use budget fixtures elsewhere.
Other basics such as buying materials yourself, using professionals, ensuring close supervision and avoiding very cheap bargains are essential in managing costs.