Zihua I.D. and Maura Taylor provide rental property management, construction project management, interior design and consulting services to the Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo and La Costa Grande of Guerrero, Mexico.

Home Building Series Part I, Pre-Construction

November 2010
Another Day In Paradise, November 2010

Congratulations! You’ve decided to go ahead with the building of your dream home!

The burning question is … what happens now?

Well, if you’ve already decided on an architect then half of the battle is already won. Assuming you are ready to move forward, here is a basic overview of what you can expect over the course of your home building project.

Like any project, the construction of a home, whether in Los Angeles, California or Zihuatanejo, Mexico, follows a basic set of steps.

Although materials and methods may vary, understanding the general construction process can help you wrap your arms around what may seem like a very daunting project, especially if you are building here and living elsewhere.

It’s important that before moving forward with any building project, you feel comfortable with the team of professionals who will be carrying out the work. This means that you and your architect, builder and/or construction manager are all on the same page (and hopefully speaking the same language).

During this time you will be meeting, likely more than a few times, with your architect & project staff and reviewing plans, designs, materials, cost and honing the finite details. Once the plans and budget have been agreed upon and approved by you (the client), it’s time to put a project schedule together.

If your architect or builder isn’t able to deliver a project timeline it’s best to bring in a construction manager who can pull all of the ends together and focus on keeping the construction and delivery phase on-track.

Typically, in the pre-construction phase, a service agreement is signed between you and your architect, builder, construction manager and/or other project staff. This is generally a widely accepted formality and you won’t be considered rude or insulting in requesting one if your architect doesn’t automatically provide it.

However, you may find that certain well sought-after local architects will not sign a contract, something that you as a client (should you choose to move forward) will have to be 100% comfortable with. If the choice is made to work with this person, they should have such an excellent reputation and client satisfaction rate that there would be absolutely no doubt that your project will be delivered as promised. Enough said.

Budget Estimates
Creating a budget estimate or financial plan for your home design/building project is not always an easy task. Before building you should already have some idea of how much you intend to spend on your overall home building project. Your budget estimate will be made up of several factors, including your home design, floor plans and construction costs.

Home design and drafting costs will vary greatly depending on the intricacy or simplicity of the project, square footage and also the individual design & drafting fees of your architect or builder.

Construction costs also vary greatly and depend heavily on your home design & floorplans. The majority of your construction costs will come from the brick & mortar (materials, labor, equipment, etc) but also fixed costs are factored in such as construction permits, licenses, insurance, etc.

A budget estimate should include an itemized account of the basic construction materials (concrete, rebar, conduit, plumbing, etc) as well as your interior & exterior finishes. In order for this part of the budget estimate to be completed you will need to make some decisions as to the quality of your finishes. Finishes include flooring, facades, countertops, illumination, wall coverings, fixtures, tiling, etc. and in most cases will also include major home appliances.

It’s important to make decisions on finishing materials early on as there are often extended wait times for purchase and delivery of these products. As most finishing materials are purchased outside of Zihuatanejo and undergo a laborious process in order to arrive ready to install, it’s important that their wait-time be factored into the overall construction timeline.

Here also is where your costs can exceed your initial planning. If you are looking for what is considered “luxury” finishes such as marble flooring, granite countertops, stucco facades, brass fixtures, then you may consider downscaling size wise to adjust your overall construction costs. However, if it’s space you’re after then you may have to settle for less costly finishes in order to adhere to your construction budget.

Remember, you will also need to figure major home appliances into your budget. National name brand manufacturers have several different lines to choose from, however keep in mind that their models are generally one step behind their foreign counterparts even though the cost may be the same or often higher. Negotiation and attention to detail is key in drawing up a budget that works for both your economic and construction needs.

Paperwork Processing
Once you have approved your budget and home design and made the first payment (which is typically 20-30% of the overall cost) the architect or builder will begin all of the necessary paperwork to move forward with the groundbreaking work. This includes construction permits, insurance, environmental impact reports and so on and is often a lengthy process. The timeframe for each project can vary but generally expect several months of paper pushing before the actual construction work can begin.

· · · This article originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of Another Day in Paradise for which Maura Taylor is a regular contributor. CLICK HERE to read full digital issues of this vibrant local magazine on all things Zihua.