Build yourself

Actions to be taken and points to bear in mind when buying your own plot to build your own house.

1. Visit the area that you are interested in and ask the local residents directly, or in case of a village, the village muchtar, if there is land for sale. Seek the assistance of a registered estate agent who may be in a position to offer to you alternatives, but bear in mind always that most local vendors do not use the services of estate agents. The direct approach (find out who is the owner of the plot you are interested in and ask him if he wants to sell) may prove to be the best one. Bear in mind that it is the vendor who pays for the commission of the agents and not the purchaser and for this reason agents may have the vendor's interest at heart and not yours. See "tips for land buyers".

2. The next step is to appoint an architect to carry out the design. There is an abundance of well qualified architects on the island and many capable technicians as well. A building design may be carried out only by a registered architect/ engineer. As such, we suggest that you appoint an architect for the purpose (not an engineer or technician). Architect fees range from 4%-6% (on the building cost) but you can also agree on a fixed fee. The prevailing fees are 3,8% on the building cost for a complete set of architectural plans and 1,6% for supervision (including the issuing of certificates). In addition a 1% - 1.5% is payable for the structural design and 0,3% for structural supervision. If you are at loss as to the choice of a suitable consultant, seek the advice of the Registrar of the Association of Architects & Engineers (all licensed architects must be registered). Please bear in mind that in case of large buildings you may be able to negotiate a lower fee (as also in the case of repetitive work).

3. In case you require air conditioning /central heating, we suggest that the advice of a qualified electrical and mechanical engineer be sought. Fees for this consultant are around 4% for the design and 2% for supervision (on the cost of the E & M works). Insist on all drawings being ready before inviting tenders.

4. It is recommended that a building permit be secured first before works commence, although works such as excavations etc may begin prior to the issue of the building permit. In this case, your architect must consult with the Appropriate Authority to ascertain whether there are any major objections to the submitted drawings. In order to build a structure one is required to obtain first a Town Planning permit and then a building permit. Most people at their own risk commence development based on the Planning permit [the local Authority may place a stop order if no building permit]. For a Town Planning Permit the time required from date of submission is approximately 6-8 months and for a building permit 4-5 months after.

5. Invite a number of tenders from contractors who are reputable. Remember that the lowest tender price is not always the best. Your architect must be in a position to advise you on the selection, and bear in mind that contractors are registered depending on their size, organizational ability and past performance. Ask for the contractor's registration and recommendations from past owners/ developers/ architects.

6. If you are contemplating the development of a complex/costly building, you are strongly advised to appoint a project manager (1%-2% fees on the total cost) who will manage the design team the contractors and suppliers and the whole development. Also the appointment of a quantity surveyor (1% fees on total cost) on such scale projects is strongly advisable, in order to minimize cost overuns and contractors claim at the end,

7. Central heating is not generally required in the seaside towns (although this is a matter of own judgment) but air conditioning (at least in the bedrooms) is recommended. The cheapest form of cooling is the split unit type with heat pumps. This is increasing in popularity and it is an alternative to be considered. The cost per unit starts from €400 including installation, for a 9000 BTU and the price increase for larger capacity units. The cost of installing central oil fired heating is approximately €45/sq.meters.

8. Solar heating is an economic alternative and its adoption is relatively inexpensive, having a payback period of approximately 5 years and a cost of around €700. (3 bedroom house).

9. If you will have a garden, it is advisable to drill a borehole for watering, as the water charges rise more than proportionately with consumption. This will cost around €2500 for the borehole and a pump, although it will depend on the depth of the borehole. The drilling of a borehole requires a Government permit first (permit is given easily) and on most occasions it will be subsidised by the Goverment up to a certain cost.

10. When the building permit is issued, works may begin. Try to avoid variations/changes, as these will give rise to claims on the part of the contractor, which will mean a financial loss to you.

11. Upon completion of the work, your architect must submit drawings (as built) to the appropriate Authority for the issue of a certificate of final approval. When this is issued, it will have to be deposited at the District Lands' Office so that the registration of the building on the title deed of the land is effected.

12. Whereas a building should be priced and built based on a Bill of Quantities, bear in mind that the contractor can charge “inflation” on prices and materials which might reach 3% - 5% from the quoted prices. Seek the advice of your architect.

13. House costs around €2000 / mt. for good quality buildings and €1.200/sq.mts. for average ones, a skimmer type pool 4 x 12 mts. approximately €25,000, garden cost [budget only since it depends on the size ] €7,000 and services [water, electricity etc.] approximately €2000 per unit once off.

All building costs + fees bear an additional 19% V.A.T. charge 

Caution: Fees given above are only indicative. Published scale fees exist for all consultants. Insist upon delivery of your property to have a full set of drawings "as built" so that you know where everything is especially in case of faults for pipes etc which are hidden.