How To Build A House

This is a simple question: how do you build a new house? The answer is the slightly less simple. Do you ask for a quote with your local contractor, and if so, based on what? Is that going to be based on a sketch, or are you going to hire an architect? And what instructions do you give to the architect? Do you give him a budget, or do you give me a list of requirements. So what is actually the best way to build a house?

The answer is: there is no best way. Everybody does it his own way. We can only explain here how it works if you work with us.

A terrace makes ahouse nicer

A terrace makes ahouse nicer

In the end the steps or not that difficult. You always start with budgeting: how much money do you spend on which part of the project. After that it is a matter of detailing, detailing, detailing, in our case with the help of a 3D model. And then finally: execution.

But let’s start with step one: budgetting.

Stap 1: Budgetting

In this phase you prepare your budget, with just five items:

  1. Land
  2. Foundation
  3. House
  4. Finishing: plumbing, elec, kitchen, bathrooms
  5. Various: risk, notary, mortgage, etcetera.

Item 1: land. We can be short about this one: you decide. We can’ t really help you here. Land in Paris will be more expensive than land in the Lozère, land in a city center will be more expensive than land on the outskirts, and in the end you decide how much money you set aside for land.

meeting on the building site

meeting on the building site

Post 2: foundation. Here it gets a little more complicated. There are several techniques for building a foundation, and they don’t all cost the same. A cheap new method is the Technopieux-system: metal screws that screw into the ground. Much cheaper than a traditional concrete foundation. But the drawback is that with such a foundation you will have to spend extra money on the floor structure of the house and at the bottom line there is little difference. For smaller houses it can work out very well though. The foundation can be a difficult item to budget, usually you will end somewhere between 150 and 300 euro/m2. Let’s start with a safer number: 300 euro/m2.

Item 3: house. We will tell you the cost of the house, more about this later. Let’s start with a simple number: 1000 euro/m2.

Post 4: finishing. Call your local contractors. They will start by telling you that it is impossible to give you an estimate because, well, an IKEA kitchen is not the same as a Poggenpohl, and one switch is unlike another switch, and do you want solar panels or a heat pump, oh you don’t know yet, ah … Sure, this is all true, but if you take the trouble to spend an hour with a local contractor, for sure you will end up with a rough idea of the expected costs. Also, remember that at this stage the numbers don’t have to be exact, we’re just making a first rough estimate. For now, let’s start with a round number: 250 euro/m2.

Post 5: various. Let’s keep it simple: 50 euro/m2.

concrete in the foundation

concrete in the foundation

Now we are at:

 300 euro/m2 foundation
1000 euro/m2 house
 250 euro/m2 finishing
  50 euro/m2 various
----
1600 euro/m2 total excluding land

Voilá, a 200 m2 house (bruto, measured on the outside dimensions) will set you back 320.000 euro.

Is this correct? Nope, it is not. Because it is very well possible to build a 200 m2 house for a total amount of 260.000 euro. Even less than that will be difficult, but not impossible. Spending more will be easy, and you will not be surprised to hear that spending more is simpler than spending less.

But what is the really correct amount? Let’s go to step 2.

checking heights

checking heights

Step 2: 3D-model

A 3D model is a sketch-like representation of your house in a computer, in three dimensions. In the model all main dimensions are known and final and so it will be fully clear what your house will look like. A 3D model has the advantage that you, as a buyer, get a much better feel of the dimensions of your house. And for us, as builders, it has the advantage that we can now calculate the exact cost. Really exact, so we can provide you with a fixed price, an offer with a 12-months validity. No more guessing, and one less unknown variable in your budgetting process. Less risk for you.

3D-model

3D-model

With the 3D model not only do you have a valid and binding offer for a clearly specced house, also you can now go back to the other suppliers that have to build the foundation and do the finishing, and you can ask them to come with new, more accurate quotes based on the 3D. For sure these contractors can make a better estimate, and for you that means: more accuracy, less risk.

technical installation

technical installation

Step 3: Buy land, apply for the permits

Assuming that you now have a valid mortgage, you can start the formal procedures: buy the land, and apply for the building permits. The exact procedures are different in every European country and in some countries they even depend on the municipality, but usually the municipality can help you and explain what are the steps to take.

For the average building permit you will need a lot of paperwork. Don’t even try to do this yourself. Unless you are a professional engineer you will fail. Because you will need: drawings of facades, footprints, cut sections, details, you will need static calculations as per EuroCode 5 and sometimes 8, you will need ventilation plans, EPC-calculations, light plans, and the list goes on and on. Really, forget about doing this yourself, leave this to the specialists. We can help you with this.

logs ready for shipment

logs ready for shipment

Stap 4: Building

If you are still at step 1, you will not be building soon. Or maybe you will, because sometimes things can accellerate and unfold really quick. But anyways this article is long enough already. We love to help you. See you soon!

One more thing

In France, if you plan to build a house bigger than 170 m2, you are by law required to hire an architect. If you hire an architect right from the start, this will cost you somewhere between 7% and 14%, serious money. It will not be easy to avoid these costs, because the French have quite strict rules and the Mairie will check and enforce.

In Belgium some architects will explain to you that Belgium is like France, and you will need an architect. But you won’t, that law was changed long ago. Also in The Netherlands, you do not need an architect.

meeting on site

meeting on site