Building a house in stages - A complete Guide

Building a house in stages - A complete Guide

Most people undertake construction of their homes in phases. The reason for this is mainly financial. Loans and mortgages are hard to get and very expensive. Saving up enough to construct an entire home at once is also very difficult. Therefore the next best thing is to space out construction to allow self-funding of the project from personal income. This is a slow process but on the positive side you are debt-free by the time you complete construction. But how do you best go about planning for this type of construction?


The planning involved before you start construction is by far the most important step. Start by gathering your ideas then get an architect to draw up your plans or purchase ready-made house plans directly from various online stores. Make sure you have a full set of detailed drawings and if possible also obtain the Bills of Quantities (BOQ). A BOQ is a breakdown of the materials, costs and labour for your project based on average market rates. If you do not have a BOQ you can request a cost breakdown from your contractor which will let you set aside funds for each stage of the project.

At this stage you should be well aware whether you will be able to afford the project or not. Perhaps it is time to scale down on your ambitions and plan something smaller within your budget. You should also by now have a good idea of how much money you can spend monthly which should also give you a good idea of how long it will take to finish construction.

Break down construction into modules

Make sure you have enough funds for each component before getting started. For example, you do not want to run out of money when you have only put on half the roof as the timber trusses will get affected by rain. Or, you do not want to cast half a slab as it will lead to structural weaknesses if done in phases. Your BOQ or cost breakdown should contain at least the following components so you can break down the overall budget into smaller units.

  1. Substructure (Foundations)
  2. Frame and walls (including first electrical and plumbing fix)
  3. Roof
  4. Doors and windows (including burglar bars or other security measures)
  5. Finishing and decorating (plastering, painting, tiling etc)
  6. Fittings and fixtures (kitchen cabinets, closets etc)
  7. Plumbing installations (taps, WCs, sinks, showers etc)
  8. Electrical installations (electric cables, switches, sockets etc)

Below is a rough estimate of what each component should cost. Note that these are only general estimates and may vary significantly from project to project.



1: SUBSTRUCTURE (Foundations and slabs)


2: SUPERSTRUCTURE (Beams and walls)


















Take a linear approach

A linear approach means you deal with one item at a time as much as possible. Complete one item before moving on to another. For example, avoid installing windows while you are laying pavers for the parking area. It is better to wait with laying pavers rather than running out of money halfway through and having both the paving work and the windows installation stop work halfway through because funds ran out.


The longer a project takes the higher the chances that things will disappear from the site. Therefore, build a strong reliable storage space or place a container to keep all tools and materials. Also avoid installing anything in the building that can be stolen if not secured. All electrical components and plumbing fittings should only be installed after you have secured the house with doors, windows/ security grills and preferably a perimeter wall. Make sure you visit the site regularly even if construction is not ongoing to make sure things are safe. Remember, it is cheaper to invest in good security than to keep replacing stolen construction materials.

Live cheap

This is one of the biggest and most expensive investments you’ll make and one which is in the end equally rewarding. You will find that you pour in all the money you have into this single project. So, from early on, start living cheap. Forget those length holiday travels, eating out everyday or buying new clothes. You will find better use for the money by investing it in your dream home.

Good luck with construction :-)

Reading next

Bitcoin basics - and how to purchase plans using Bitcoin
7 Front and Backyard Landscaping Ideas for your house |

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.