Whether you’re building a shed on your property, a new house for your family or are renovating and reinforcing existing structures, getting buildings built is a lot of work. Many people who haven’t ever taken on this type of project before are stunned at just how many different decisions there are to make. If you are new to structural construction and are hoping to take on a building project this year, here are the details that most require your attention.
This is the best place to start, obviously, because without a budget you cannot move forward with your project. We’ve talked before about getting buildings built on a small budget so don’t worry if you do not have a lot to spend. Even small budgets can accomplish quite a lot! What matters isn’t how large or small your final number is; what matters is coming up with it in the first place. That unchangeable number is what will determine who you can hire, what materials you can use, how extensive your project can be, etc.
PRO TIP: As you’re putting together your cost analysis, aim at a final budget that is at least 10% less than what you can afford. This way if there are emergencies or unforeseen expenses (and there always are), they won’t throw your building project completely off track.
Even if you have a lot of experience in construction or structural engineering, it’s best to hire a contractor to manage your project. Your contractor is the person who manages the day-to-day details of your project, leaving you free to concentrate on the larger vision of what you’re trying to create. There are a lot of reasons to hire a contractor instead of trying to do the project yourself.
PRO TIP: Make sure that your contractor has up to date insurance. Contractor insurance covers not just your contractor but also his/her crew. Among other reasons (like most states requiring it) it is what keeps you covered if something goes awry on the job site (that isn’t covered by your own insurance policy).
Permits Are Important
You cannot just build whatever you want wherever you want to build it. Every city and state has zoning laws that dictate what can be built where and the purposes those buildings are allowed to serve. In Douglas County, for example, there is even a set of codes specifically for “manufactured dwelling units” (aka manufactured homes). It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different codes that are in place. Most counties, cities and states have PDF booklets you can download to learn about the different zoning laws and requirements.
PRO TIP: If you’re not used to sorting through zoning codes and documents, it is okay to ask for help! Your contractor can help you figure out what you are allowed and not allowed to do. Or, even better, make an appointment with someone at your local zoning permit office. Your zoning officer will know what the most current laws are and will help you make sure that your project doesn’t break any of them. Even better, if the laws are about to change, your zoning officer can help you make sure that your building won’t be in violation of future requirements.
These are just three of the first details that you need to take care of before you can start work on your building project. There are others, of course, but these are the three that take the highest priority when you’re starting work on a building project.