Before You Build Your House in Mauritius
Building a new house in Mauritius can be the most important project a family undertakes, and it begins long before the foundations are cast. A house is an asset, as well as an investment for the future.You will find below some of the main steps you can take to avoid costly mistakes during the construction process.
Planning Your Budget
Dreaming of building a new house, but worried about the expenses?
Start by thinking about how much you can afford to spend and how much your new house is likely to cost.
How much will it cost?
Long before you finalise your plans/architectural drawings, it pays to do some “guesstimating”. Knowing how much the project might cost will help you modify your plans to meet your budget requirements. Once you have finalized the plans for your house, a builder or a quantity surveyor can give you an estimate. An architect can assist you in finalising your project details and costs.
Contacting Local Builders
You can contact builders who have built or are building houses that are similar in size, design and structural features to the house you want to build. The builder will give you a rough idea of what it would cost to hire him, or how much you will be charged for construction per square foot.
Using Square Footage
First, look for newly built houses that are similar in size, style, quality and features to the house you want to build, then take the price of the houses, deduct the price of the land and divide that amount by the square footage of the house.
For example, if the selling price of the house is Rs 2 million and the land costs Rs 800,000; then the construction costs are around Rs 1.2 million. If the house area is 1,500 square feet then the cost per square foot is Rs 800.
You can use several new houses in your neighbourhood to get an approximate square footage rate. Once you calculate the average square footage cost, you can multiply that cost by the square footage of your planned property to get a rough estimate.
Some Features Cost More
The most expensive areas in a house are usually:
The bathroom and kitchen due to features such as the walls, floor tiles, sanitary ware and hot/ cold water amongst others,
The number of windows/ doors and their size and quality (steel frame, aluminium, UPVC or timber frame) etc.,
High sloping roof - special shuttering, roof tiles, corrugated roof sheeting etc.
When using other houses to calculate an estimate, you should ensure the houses have designs/ features similar to the house you intend to build. The size and shape of your house also affects its cost - houses that are rectangular or box shaped cost less to build. Having more angles and corners in your house increases the amount of labour and materials required.
The cost for preparing the Site
Preparing a site for construction can have a big impact on the cost of a house. Building on flat land will usually cost less. In the event that you have to haul a lot of dirt, do a lot of grading (leveling), clear trees, excavate through rock, then site preparations can be more expensive.
The finished cost of a house is more than the original contract value. Cost overrun occurs from overspending the allowances, making changes and encountering unforeseen problems. Proper planning can greatly reduce cost overruns. In general, it is a good idea to allow an additional 10% of the contract value to cover unexpected contingencies.
Inflation and Market Condition
Construction costs increase yearly due to arise in the prices of building materials. If it will be several years before you plan to build, remember to include inflation into the cost estimate for your house. When using other houses to compare prices, try to use houses that have been built within the last six months.
Choosing Your Plot
Whether you are building your house in an urban, suburban or coastal zone, you need to choose the land before you finalise other details. Once you have located a promising building site for your new house, spend some time on the site:
- walk the full length of the site at different times of the day;
- if you are a follower of ‘Feng Shui’, you may think about the land in terms of its ‘Qi’ (energy); or
- if you are a follower of ‘Vaastu Shastra’, you may want to know where the sun rises and sets, any structure around the plot or the topography of the plot.
If you prefer a more down to earth evaluation, think about ways the building site will influence the shape and style of your house. Ask yourself:
- What are the general characteristics of the land?
- Is it green, woody, rocky, sandy?
- Is it wide or narrow?
- Will the house you imagine blend with the landscape?
- Does the landscape suggest particular colors or materials you might include in the design of your house?
- Can other houses be clearly seen from the site?
- What is the prevailing architectural style?
- Will the size of your proposed house be proportionate to the size of the plot?
- Is there a proper access road to the site?
- Should the house face towards or away from the road?
- Where are the most pleasing views?
- Where does the sun rise and set?
- Which views would you have from the living room? kitchen? bedroom?
- Where should the windows and doors be placed?
- How important is it to face the North?
- Will a northern exposure help you benefit from the heat?
- How much landscaping will be required?
- Will preparing the land for building and planting trees and shrubs add to your costs?
Where to Build?
You must be practical when you plan your new house. As you narrow your search for an ideal building site, do not hesitate to get advice on house building. A civil engineer or an architect can provide you with expertise -they will investigate the characteristics of the land, explore the zoning building regulation: codes and other factors. You should also check the planning guidelines in force in that region from the district council or municipality.
Questions to ask about your building site:
- Soil condition
- Land stability - Is the plot subject to landslides or subsidance?
- Water drainage - Is the land located near a river or any water course?
- Are there hills or low spots which may make your land subject to water run-off or flooding?
- Noise - Is there any highway or factory nearby? How disruptive are they?
- Availability of services (electricity, water, and sewage) - Is the land provided with electricity and water supply? What type of sewage disposal would be appropriate?
Getting Permission to Build
A Development Permit and Building Permit are required before you start any new construction or structural changes to your house. It is your responsibility to obtain all relevant permits.
Tips on the Client/ Builder Relationship
We hope that a few of the tips suggested below will help to eliminate some of the verbal miscommunications or misunderstandings which may arise between the builder and yourself:
You should get a written contract which has been signed and dated by both the builder and yourself.
- The contract should be as detailed and thorough as possible. For instance, a contract for the construction of a new house willinclude a description of all its rooms in detail.
- Remember that vagueness and relying on verbal information can be a source of future frustration and disappointment.
- Once construction has begun, changes may often be necessary or desirable. You should insist on the cost and description of each and every change being documented on paper and signed by both parties.
Don’t forget that it is your housing project and your money being spent! So be sure that nothing is left to be settled at a later stage.
What goes into a Building Contract?
Before hiring a builder or contractor for any construction or house improvement project, all agreements should be put in writing.
The written contract should include:
- The contractor’s full name, address, telephone number and registration/ permit number (if any).
- A detailed description of the work to be done. Specify the materials to be used: quality, quantity, color, size, brand name, suppliers’ names etc.
- The starting and completion dates.
- The labour cost and material charges.
- Information on how and when you must pay.
- Any warranties and guarantees of workmanship.
- The method for debris and material removal when the job is completed.
- Penalties on late completion.
- The right to cancel the contract for poor performance and relevant damages.
- Never sign a contract unless it is completely filled in.
- Read the entire contract carefully. Ask questions to clarify any doubts.
- Keep a copy of the signed contract.
- Do not pay more than what has been described in the disbursement schedule.
- Do not pay the balance until all works are completed.
- Do not release retention money until all details have been made good after the guarantee period.
Lining Up Your Team
You will need a team of professionals to design and construct your house. Key players will include:
- a house designer or an architect.
- a structural engineer.
- a surveyor.
- a builder.