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5 Tips To Prevent A Grand Design Nightmare

Posted by Lorraine on 12th Sep 2017

We've been patiently waiting for the 17th series of Channel 4's hit show Grand Designs and could not wait to tune in to watch the brand new series of Grand Designs last Wednesday night where a family moved back to the UK after a few years of living in New Zealand. Having fallen in love with the striking scenery and open plan living that New Zealand has to offer the family were seeking a plot of land which boasted views synonymous to those they'd become accustom to. Without even visiting the area they bought a plot of land in the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire and this is where their 'up side down' house building journey was to begin, and what a journey it was!An enthusiastic Jonathan and Gillian Flewers took on the huge challenge of building on a site that was so steep and difficult to build on that they unexpectedly struggled to find a local builder to work on the project. This resulted in Jonathan finally quitting his job to become project manager of the build, a task for which he had no previous experience.Jonathan's dedication to this project was incredible yet it was evident by the end of the build that it had taken its toll. Budgets had escalated and stress levels reached their peak. A huge blow came when the family came to install utilities to the house. There were no utilities running near the house, resulting in them having to find a further 40K to allow them to excavate up to 65m of road in order to rectify the problem. This oversight costed the Flewers dearly, the stress of the ordeal almost made them fall out of love with their new, three-storey home.Once again, a Grand Design project that had its problems yet despite the challenges they faced they still managed to reach their goal of building their ultimate home, which they aptly named Endeavor. Endeavor certainly provides all the things Jon and Gill Flewers longed for; a family home with spacious open plan living boasting stunning views of the surrounding countryside.Grand DesignsWhen designing and building a new home along with renovation projects, you will always stumble across a few challenges along the way but with careful planning you have the potential to make the process flow much more smoothly;
  1. Be Realistic. Before buying land, visit the site and don't rush to buy the first plot you see. You need to be mindful of the whole project cost. It is easy to spend too much on a plot of land resulting in the risk of leaving too little in the pot to actually complete the build. There are three main factors to consider when building a house; the cost of the land, the build cost and additional costs including professional fees, service connections, insurances, warranties etc.
  2. Research Local Builders. Speak to local builders about costs and building possibilities on the area on which you plan to build. This is especially crucial if you plan to build on a hillside or close to water as the foundations on such builds are vital, can often cost heavily and some builders may not be willing to take on the work. Experts suggest that for every degree of incline you can expect to pay roughly an extra £1000 in ground-works! The end result may boast stunning views but be mindful of these costs; building on a 40° slope could cost approx £40K in groundworks.
  3. Hire Professionals. You'll need complete structural drawings to be drawn up by an architect at the early planning stages but it is also worthwhile hiring an architect and structural engineer to help with the whole build. Although costly, as this first Grand Designs episode revealed, taking on the responsibility of project managing the build yourself can take its toll and prove to be an extremely stressful experience, especially on huge house builds.
  4. Preparation Is Key. Create a list of exactly what you want from the house; if it's views, think about window placement carefully. Spend your money wisely, a house is built to last a lifetime so ensure all the components that create a house, including windows, bricks and staircases are all high quality, well made products. Architect's technical drawings allow builders to provide a more accurate cost for the build. Big changes being made part way through a project can be expensive, taking costs way over budget. Discuss plans in intricate detail with the architect and ensure any big changes are accounted for prior to starting work.
  5. Check Service Connections. When building a new house on a new plot of land always check the service connections in the area are within easy access. You can obtain plans from the local council for a small fee. If your property is in a remote location, always be mindful that to hook up to the utilities may cost you substantially, always factor the service connections into your budget.
Perhaps every grand design is destined to push you to the limits but with careful and detailed planning in place before the build starts some of those nasty 'gremlins' could be prevented, saving you cash and the headache's that come along with them.Don't forgot to leave some money for internal furnishing too, you're building a home not just a house! Decor can be changed to suit trends but the bricks, walls and mortar are a permanent fixture so make sure you give them the credit they deserve.Spend wisely, plan wisely and hire creditable, well respected tradesmen and professionals to help you along the journey and you should be heading in the right direction to a relatively stress free grand design project.For more tips and advice on planning your very own grand design or renovation project click here.
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