Common mistakes to avoid while starting your Home Construction journey

Constructing a house is actually creating a home for us and our family. It should be a pleasant experience starting right from the stage of conception and for years & years to come. However, in reality, it usually turns into a nightmare during the construction phase and proves to be a financial burden during the future. What usually leads to this is either one or more than one of these factors:

1.            Choosing a Contractor who is technically incompetent; it might be that he is honest, but being ignorant about the technicalities, is unable to provide the right kind of inputs.

2.            Choosing a Contractor who is technically competent but unscrupulous of intention. He might be having all the knowledge, but using the same in a cunning way to squeeze the maximum profits from the Client. The only thing he would be interested in is to extract the maximum benefit even at the cost of time & quality

3.            Worst of all, choosing a Contractor who is technically incompetent as well as of unscrupulous nature

4.            Having a Contract Document which is full of loopholes & ambiguities; sometimes, the Contract Agreement is flawed because of the ignorance of both the Parties and more often, it has been framed like that intentionally by the Contractor. These ambiguities might be related to the deliverables, the specifications, the timelines or GST etc. In the beginning, the Contractor would quote a low price just to land the job but later on, would utilize these loopholes to obtain financial benefits which would eventually lead to a fairly higher landed cost

5.            Starting the work without having the Architectural, Structural, MEP Drawings & 3D Model/ Walkthrough Views in place

Now, how to make sure that we do not fall into situations like those mentioned here above?

1.            Do not settle for a Contract document without being sure about the implications of each & every clause. You may go through the Draft Contract available in our website to have a generic idea about how the Contract ideally should be. However, you need to customize it according to your specific requirements & situation

2.            Make sure that the Contractor is technically competent & knowledgeable. To ensure this, one needs to ask the right questions; just visiting & observing a few houses built by the Contractor would not be enough. What you are actually seeing is the cosmetic treatment, not the real skeleton/ structure which is the life of a building. You can at any point of time decide to change the cosmetics, but you would never ever be able to rectify a building with structural defects & weaknesses without incurring heavy costs. A slight negligence on this aspect, and people end up with water seepage, termite infestations, peeling plaster, structurally insufficient beams & columns, water logging inside bathrooms etc. etc. The most popular statement given by the Contractor is that “see, I have constructed 5- 6 houses and none of them has faced any major problem till now”. To this, our question should be, how many major earthquakes have these houses faced till now? Uttarakhand lies in the most earthquake prone zone of the earth & an earthquake of major magnitude is overdue any time now according to the Scientists & Researchers. A proper seismically designed building is actually put to test only when there is an earthquake of 6.5 Degrees or more. Until then, even an earthen house will survive happily. Aesthetics & cosmetic appearance is something that totally depends upon the choice of finishing material and appointing the right skilled worker to execute the job. Choosing the finishing material is entirely upon the Customer & any Contractor can hire the best skilled worker to deliver the job. So, how can you judge the quality of the work based on the superficial appearance? An extremely good looking job is no guarantee of it being technically & structurally sound

3.            Always have the Architectural, Structural, MEP Drawings & the 3D Model/ Walkthrough in your hands before signing the Contract Document. If a Contractor enters into a final price without seeing those, it means he is in a hurry to land the job and might create issues later on. Do not leave any scope for confusion in the future

The questions to ask the Contractor:

1.            Are you going to post a Civil Engineer at the Construction Site at all times?

2.            Are you going to provide a CCTV Camera access to the Construction Site at all times?

3.            Are you going to provide curing with gunny bags for RCC Columns & Beams; and for how many days post casting?

4.            Do you have any idea about the initial & final setting times of Cement?

5.            Do you have any idea about the lap length/ bond length/ hook length for Steel Reinforcement?

6.            Do you have any idea about segregation of Concrete?

7.            Are you going to get the Concrete Mix designed?

8.            Are you going to use actual First Class Bricks?

9.            What Anti- Termite Measures are you going to take?

10.          What Water- Proofing Treatment do you provide?

11.          How are you going to ensure that there is proper Slope in the Bathroom & Kitchen Tiles? If there is an error, what will be the Penalty?

12.          Are you ready to have a Penalty/ Incentive Clause in the Agreement?

13.          Do you agree with our Draft Contract Agreement? If not, what changes would you suggest and why?

14.          Do you provide some sort of post construction Warranty for Plumbing, Sanitary & Electrical Works?

Answers to these questions will give you a fair idea about the Technical competence of the Contractor. However, judging his integrity & trustworthiness depends on your instincts & wisdom only.

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