Building a house is not very easy as one has to go through many struggles and challenges to finally see their dream dwelling materialised. Many complain that the construction is not getting completed in time even if the owner regularly visits the site and supervises the works. So, it must be a real challenge for an expatriate to share his/her opinions or oversee the construction while staying abroad.
There are chances that the owner gets cheated if they are coordinating things from a different country. Besides, they may not be able to convey their ideas properly to the workers. Finally, it so happens that expats get disillusioned when they see their finished house, for the structure might hardly look like what they had dreamed. You could avoid these if you are a bit careful. Here are some tips for the expatriates who are overseeing the construction of their abodes from a distant place.
Rope in a reputed architect or designer
It is important to do proper homework and gain as much knowledge as possible. You could read or refer to architecture and decor magazines and websites to get clarity about what you want. Prepare notes about the details that you wish to convey to the architect. Next step is to find a reputed architect or a designer to prepare the plan. You could grab an idea about the style of each architect from the articles that appear in magazines. Or you could find someone through your friend, relatives or other reliable sources. Do not wait until you reach your home town to contact the architect. You could speak to him/her from wherever you are through phone or by other means of communication. If you feel you could hire the architect, decide a few things and then arrange a meeting as soon as you are in town.
Do not fall for the vanity that your house should look grandiose just because you are an expatriate. Houses shouldn’t be structures that reflect your ego. Over the top decor and designer features may actually mar the elegance of your dream dwelling. Besides, it may burn a hole in your pocket as well.
Be always alert to avoid being tricked
People may try to trick you, thinking that an expatriate would possess lots of money. Most people ask for a house with certain facilities than an abode within a pre-planned budget. People may take advantage of this attitude to extract more money from you. Budget should be prepared by considering your income, job security and the capacity to repay the loan even if you lose the job. It is not right to think that you could build a mansion just because you have money at the present moment.
Make sure to visit a few sites and houses that the architect and the contractor had built. It's a must. Talk to the owners of those houses to ensure the credibility of the team that you have hired. It is important to hire architects and contractors who are experienced and have amazing technical knowledge.
In case it is not possible for you to constantly come down to visit the site from your place of work, you could share your ideas through phone and entrust the designer to draw the plan. Make sure that the final draft of the plan is ready by the time you are in your hometown.
Your relatives could help you find the workers for digging well. However, make sure that you call and speak to those workers. This would help exchange ideas and reach an agreement about the wages as well. It is important to note that no one should be blindly trusted when it comes to building your own house.
Know your materials
Matters related to the construction of the house must be given preference in your schedule when you are home for vacation. It is better to concentrate on the construction works than enjoying the vacation. Else, the works may get delayed.
Do not be a ‘machine’ that only spends money. You should have a clear idea about why or for what you are spending your hard earned money.
Have a clear idea about the contents while preparing the estimate. Know the quality of the materials and their prices clearly. In many European countries, the expenses for the sanitary ware and electrical fittings are included in the estimate. However, it is not the case here.
Some people are interested in bringing or importing exquisite decor items from aboard thinking that their dream abode shouldn’t lack anything. However, our market too is rich with varied materials that have high quality. Besides, the same materials would be extremely costlier in the foreign countries. Moreover, servicing and maintenance too would be difficult in the future. There may be variations in the standard measurements of certain gadgets or equipment. So, it is important to consult your architect or designer before purchasing such items.
House according to our climate
It is not practical to build your house just like the ones that you have seen in the country that you stay. The houses that are uniquely built to stand extreme heat or snow fall may not be practical in a tropical climate like ours. The house must be designed considering the layout of the plot, the climate in the area and the lifestyle of the family members as well.
Meanwhile, some people are too much attracted to the nostalgia. They ask for long verandahs, giant pillars, traditional naalukettu and courtyards in their brand new house. However, crowding the spaces with such features, for the sake of nostalgia, may hamper the natural and aesthetic charm of the house. For instance, a nadumuttam or an open courtyard would do more harm if no one is living in the house for most part of the year. Besides, imported decor pieces may look odd amid the traditional features.
Install proper security arrangements
It is important to make the necessary security arrangements if you do not plan to live in the house. Buy only minimal furniture and other furnishing materials.
Some people are adamant that they require the same facilities that they had in their homes abroad, here as well. There is no point in being too particular about including facilities like swimming pools, bath tubs or Jacuzzis in the house that you build here. If no one is staying in the house for most part of the year, these things may get damaged due to lack of proper maintenance. It is wise to choose durable furnishing items that require less maintenance. You could always include additional facilities when you live in the house permanently.
Create a WhattsApp group with the architect, contractor, painter, electrician and plumber in it. You could easily communicate with them through this group. Besides, it would be easy to analyse the work progress as well. Moreover, you could see the pictures of the works and the materials, allowing you to share your opinion then itself. There would be evidence for what you say as well. So, the workers wouldn’t be able to wash their hands in case something goes wrong.