The six most common mistakes when building a new home

Builder versus Owner Builder

No matter what your brother in law tells you, do not act as an Owner Builder. You have probably heard that all houses are basically the same and all you need to do is hire a plumber and a roofer yourself and you will save 10% or more on the cost of your house. Haven’t you heard that? “Why pay a general contractor? He is going to do the same thing you could do but he is going to make a cut too.”
Why it is a mistake building your own home;

The Registered Builders relationships and rapport with Sub Contractors & Suppliers. You might say “Why do I need to have a relationship? They are never going to work for me again.” And that is exactly my point. They are never going to work for you or supply you materials again. But they make their living from repeat business with Builders. So if you are on a tight schedule and so is the Builder that they work with all the time, whose work or delivery is going to be put off and whose work or delivery is going to be attended to? Exactly.

Although this shouldn’t happen, Sub Contractors may cut corners and use inferior materials when they don’t have a Builder looking over their shoulders. And sadly, you won’t know about it until it is too late.

Subcontractors & Suppliers may to decide to charge a higher rate to complete works or supply materials for an Owner Builder in lieu a Registered Builder due to the perceived stories & the unknown factor of the Owner Builder or even the Sub Contractors/Suppliers previous bad experiences with Owner Builders hence why they will charge a higher price to cover themselves. Unfortunately that is just the way it is and if every Sub Contractor and/or Supplier was to do this, your home will cost you more than what the Registered Builder was charging yourself originally.

Quality of completed works or delivered products, the Sub Contractor or Supplier is more likely to bend over backwards to make the Registered Builder happy than he would you because of ongoing works and relationship between the parties. As mentioned earlier, the Sub Contractor or Supplier is not going to have further dealings with yourself again.

Unfortunately and probably the biggest item of them all is that an Owner Builder will not have the knowledge to monitor the quality of work or have the ability to create a seamless flow to the works that are being completed on your home. This could result in a serious error or the endangering of a person. For example, an error may have occurred in the Brickwork of the home and is not discovered for weeks after the completion of brickworks. The correction of these works may cost thousands of dollars down the road or a delay in the construction resulting in a domino effect of delays & postponements to the following Sub Contractors & Suppliers simply due to the lack of expertise and knowledge of the Owner Builder.

Poor Planning

Unless you have plans to build a very large home, space planning and design is crucial.

Ample storage is necessary, but pay attention to where you place your storage space. Does the Master Suite really need an oversized walk-in closet when the space could potentially be added to your Master Suite or Ensuite? Pay attention to where you place your Linen/Coats closet. There should be one in each Bedroom and in a Main Hallway. But too many and the storage space takes away from the Living space. Do you want a closet in the foyer? If you live in a cooler climate where coats are worn at least half of the year, this would be wise, especially if you entertain in your home and the front entrance is the main point of entry. If you have no use for a Coats closet, don’t build one. Do you plan on adding a Laundry? If so there should be a closet there or space enough to add detailed cupboards or some other similar storage area. If you clearly need more space, consider building a larger home.

When designing your own home you should take your lifestyle and habits into consideration. How long do you plan on staying in this home? Will you need to accommodate safety features for new or young children? Or might you need to think of your needs later in life as you reach retirement age and beyond? Think ahead, long term, to see where you will be and what you will need from your home.

Failing to Plan Ahead Financially

Building your dream home means creating a foundation—a place to raise families and grow old. Knowing how much you can afford, as well as how you plan to finance your future, is essential.

Not using an Interior Designer

No matter how big or small or grand or simple your home is, the use of an Interior Designer is essential in getting that last finishing touch otherwise you could be creating drama for many years.

On a Concept Board, you will coordinate all of the layers of your Interior Design Project. This can be overwhelming at times. They will include your wall colours, wall and ceiling texture, style of carpet, or Wall Paper. Your selection of flooring, tile, marble or wood floor, choice of wood, style of doors, wood trim, lighting decisions, style of fixtures, kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, counter top styles, granite or marble. All of these decisions are difficult. But more importantly, all of these design elements must flow harmoniously, to create a dramatic effect throughout your home.

Share your project with an Interior Designer in conjunction with your Builder to ensure all aspects are seen to, ask them about some of their previous work and discuss their fees. Most people do not think they can afford an Interior Designer this is not true. Fees can vary from nothing, to an hourly fee or a percentage.

Make sure that the final effect is a collaborative decision, and one that you truly love. If you are not comfortable with an idea, then keep looking for other options. This is not the time to hold your opinion. Share your thoughts about the direction of the Interior Design Project. The best results are when all members of your design team, Client, Builder, Interior Designer, Architect and other Professionals are involved in this fun, yet challenging part of your home.


Misunderstandings between you and your Builder and his team of professionals can cost you money or leave you unhappy with parts of the project. This is another area where you might start feeling like you’re over-doing it with the questions and clarifications, but Building Professionals are not mind readers unfortunately. If there’s something you don’t understand on the plans or in your contract, it’s always better to have someone explain it up front. As with nagging doubts during the construction process, you’re better off clarifying any questions you may have before work gets started, so there won’t be confusion once you break ground.

If you check your email frequently, it’s probably the best way to communicate with your contractors. Not only can they send you questions without disrupting your day, but you’ll have your correspondence in writing in case something goes wrong. Make sure your contractor also has your mobile or work number, so he can reach you quickly with timely questions. Not only will that help avoid confusion and mistakes, but quick communication helps keep your project on schedule, because no one will be waiting around for your responses.