We start building a house. What to prepare?

After completing the basic formalities related to the construction, choosing the project or the system of its conduct, we move on to activities allowing for works’ physical commencement. However, even now, we have to carry out several organisational steps adapted to local conditions and investment implementation. We should also adopt a preliminary schedule of execution of particular construction stages and determine the optimum time for commencing works.

When to start construction work?

The construction cycle may vary greatly in terms of time, depending on the technology adopted and the form in which the works are carried out. Unforeseen delays due to human factors, weather or technical problems often occur.

For organisational and execution reasons, it is important to start work in such a way as to ensure that the investment is completed at least to a closed state before unfavourable conditions for carrying out work outside arise – low temperatures, precipitation, short days – which by the convention may be defined as early November.

In average conditions, the time needed to achieve the state of covering a single-family house with a roof usually does not exceed four months, so we should plan to enter the construction not later than May-June.

An important factor influencing the commencement of works is the condition and type of soil on the plot and the unpaved access road, depending mainly on the watering level following the spring thaw. Vehicles transporting heavy materials may get stuck in muddy ground, and foundation works in a flooded excavation will be difficult or even impossible.

Before we start building, we need to make the proper preparations to ensure workers’ technical and social conditions and safe storage of accumulated materials. The scope of practices necessary to commence construction will depend mainly on the form in which the works are to be carried out – whether we decide to carry out the investment in the so-called economic manner or whether we commission a construction company to carry out comprehensive construction works.
Providing necessary utilities

Conducting construction works requires at least ensuring access to electricity and clean water. The best situation will occur when these utilities are brought to the plot boundary, which should be done even just after the purchase of the plot.

Suppose there is a possibility of connecting to the power network. In that case, we apply to the local power supply company to make a connection, which will initially have the status of a construction connection (different billing tariff). After the house is built it can be transformed into a target connection.

The costs of a short-distance connection are flat-rate and depend on the notified nominal capacity of the relationship. Depending on the technical conditions, the link is built either as a cable connection located at the property boundary or as an overhead connection with the mains supply, e.g. via a temporary pole.

In the case of a cable connection, its location must be carefully determined so as not to interfere with the future entrance to the property, for example, as it usually remains there permanently. However, the connection alone is not sufficient.

For the devices’ power supply during construction, a so-called building distribution board with the necessary protection and connection sockets is needed. In areas with a poorly developed power grid, it can be challenging to connect to the grid if the grid expansion plans have extended lead times.

In such cases, we will have to use our power generator for the duration of the construction. We should negotiate with the power company regarding the connection, e.g. by contributing to the construction costs.

We should not have any problems with gaining access to mains water if such a network runs nearby – we apply to the local water supply company to connect to the web, and the connection is made to a well-equipped water meter.

Suppose there is no possibility of using the water supply system, depending on water and ground conditions and prospects for developing the local infrastructure. In that case, we decide to make our own well – a temporary one for the time of construction or a final one, e.g. a deep well.

In the interim, we can use, for example, a hired barrel or a mobile IBC container until the connection to the water supply system is made.

Social and storage facilities

Even if local workers are hired for construction work, it should be possible to use the toilet, wash hands or have a meal during the breakfast break. Of course, conditions are rather spartan in the initial phase of construction. Still, depending on the construction site’s location, it is necessary to set up a so-called “saloon” or order a service of portable toilets.

In the case of visiting teams – if they do not use the nearby workers’ accommodation – a welfare container can be hired for accommodation purposes. We also need to provide storage for weather-sensitive materials, e.g. by erecting a makeshift shed or a purchased or leased storage tent.

Installing temporary fences

The regulations require the construction site to be secured against unauthorised access. However, they do not specify the requirements depending on the location of the construction site. In areas frequented by many people, the fence should prevent physical entry. This can be done in the form of a temporary wall (e.g. erected from poles with cheap forestry netting stretched over it). It is sufficient to signal the construction site in a wilderness area and restrict the construction site, e.g. with warning tape.

As a rule, until the building shell is completed, we do not decide to build a permanent fence – especially at the front – as this may limit the manoeuvrability of large vehicles transporting building materials.

Preparing the site for construction

Before commencing the construction works, within the area of the building surface of the future house, we should remove the plant layer in the area approx. 2 m larger than the building’s contour and possibly level the whole plot.

Initially, we can designate the place where the building will stand on our own, using the property development plan. Levelled and the vegetation-free ground will make it easier to determine the location of the house foundations. We usually hire a bulldozer for these earthworks, and depending on the needs; we will spread the collected soil on the plot or take it away.

Laying out foundations

The formal start of construction is initiated by a surveyor marking out the foundation’s outline’s characteristic points in the field. He fixes them with pegs driven into the ground, although a better solution would be to set the so-called string footings simultaneously, which would prevent mistakes in measurements made while digging the trench for foundations.

That is why in practice, we call for a surveyor when there are workers on the building site preparing for the construction of foundations.

Using a surveyor’s presence, the boundaries of the plot should also be determined if their course cannot be unequivocally determined, e.g. based on geodesic posts, stakes or adjacent fences.

Suppose no geodetic points are marking out the plot. In that case, it will be necessary to start re-drawing the boundaries to avoid possible conflicts with the owners of the neighbouring properties. After marking out the foundations, the surveyor makes the first entry in the construction log.

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