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Three things to consider when building or renovating at home

There is a lot to consider when you decide to build or renovate at home. Here are three important tips right from the horse's mouth.

Building at home renovations
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With the price of houses and flats skyrocketing in South Africa, a lot of people are going along the path of renovating and extending their homes to house family members.

While most children would rather move out of their parents' home, the current climate does not make it all that easy.

Even if you are looking to rent, the prices have been forced up drastically, making it almost impossible for a lot of people to leave the nest.

Granny flats and home extensions are becoming more and more popular, as they are not only a lot cheaper than buying a house, but they are a lot more sensible in terms of expected interest rate hikes and the uncertainty surrounding South Africa's junk status.

I am currently in the process of having a granny flat built on my parents' property for my wife, son, and I. Buying a house or flat is out of the question, while renting is also reaching a stage where trying to choose between school shoes and dinner is a serious question.

Here are three important aspects I have picked up on during this process so far:

1 - Make sure you have enough money

It is all good and well wanting to build a granny flat, but it isn't cheap. It obviously isn't as expensive as buying, but you are still likely going to need a loan from the bank. A lot of banks will only offer you a personal loan for this type of project, as you aren't the owner of the property. You won't be able to take out a bond at all, so you are going to have to surrender to the fact that you will be paying off a mountain of interest on a personal loan. Sickening, but that is the reality. In addition, a lot of banks only offer up to R150,000 personal loans, so if you don't have any money saved up in your own bank account, this project is likely to be a pipedream.

2 - Pick the right builder

Builders do not come cheap, but there is a general rule to abide by here. After you have had plans drawn up for the work by a draftsman or architect, you can start getting quotes. The general rule is never to accept the quote of the cheapest or the most expensive builder. The cheapest is likely to do a poor job (unless you have seen his work before) and the most expensive is likely trying to rip you off. The average cost of building is around R7,000 per square meter in South Africa. You can sometimes get away with buying sale items when it comes to fittings and tiles, but that figure is what I have discovered to be the norm. You should always ask for references from builders before agreeing to anything, with referrals from family and friends a great way to gauge if you have the right builder or not.

3 - Do not buy ahead

Now that you have decided to go ahead with the project, you may be tempted to start buying the fittings, tiles and paint. Don't do it! Just because something is on sale does not mean it is going to work in your new structure. You need to discuss the fittings and tiles with the builder before you go out and buy anything. You will be wasting your money if you do so without consulting the builder first. It is also recommended to buy all the fittings, tiles, paint, and extras yourself, as your builder is likely to add on a markup - which is completely understandable, he/she did drive to buy it for you. Oh, and that fancy, expensive bath tub you saw really isn't necessary, as the price tag alone could probably pay for your entire bathroom if you are clever about it.

Do you have any tips to add? Tell us about your building and renovating experiences below.

READ: Five money-saving household tricks using everyday products

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