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How to build a house

May 31, 2016

GUIDE FOR INVESTORS - How to build a house in Bosnia and Herzegovina?

In our previous post we tried to explain how to choose and buy a land for your future house. This time we will concentrate on second important part – how to build a house?

There is a lot of our clients that say they do not know the whole process they need to go through to start with house construction since they do not live here or they are not architects, engineer or anything similar, but they have to be aware that even some of our colleagues do not know all the steps. It is not that complicated process, but it has a lot of little steps.

So, without further ado here is a small insight into the world of permissions, participants and documentation:

Conceptual design / Project design- if you want to build a house, first you need to have the house design. It is best that you hire an architect who will study your location, possible documents on land use and Municipality requirements, check the possible dimensions of the house, required distance from the neighbors, height, etc. You can tell him/her what is your desired area, floors, number of rooms, bathrooms and any small details that architect can use to understand your wishes, taste and implement them during the design process. This design needs to consist: technical specification, all plans, sections and facades.

Urban permit - location information which establishes the location of the house and existing points for connection to the city's infrastructure: electricity, water, telephone, etc., as well as planning and technical conditions. Documents that needs to be submitted: Request for urban permit, data on the plot (Cadastral plan issued by Municipality), Land registry certificate as a proof of ownership (issued by the Court), geodetic plan of the location, Project design, Explanation of Request with the information necessary to determine planning and technical conditions. This permit is valid for period of 1 year.

Geology test – Before we start with detail design, we always insist that we include geology tests in our offer, because it is very important part of the design process. It shows stability of the soil where construction will be performed and gives guidelines to construction engineer for calculation of the construction, foundation depth etc.

Detail design project – it consists 5 different parts: architecture, construction, water and sewage, electricity and mechanical engineering. All these parts need to have both graphic layout / drawings and textual description with bill of quantity. It is very important that the project is done in a proper way, with detailed and precisely defined all parts, and specially bill of quantities, which will provide you information on budgeting and later offers from construction companies. The more detailed and accurate bill of quantities is, better offer you will get.

Arrangement of land project – very important part for every investor and part that is often forgotten. Important NOTE for every investor regarding detail design of the house or any building, and following offers for construction, is that they provide you all installations inside the building and 1 m from it (water, sewage, electricity, heating). In case you don’t have arrangement of land designed and followed by bill of quantity, you will be very surprised after the house construction. Arrangement of land project is not about planting trees and flowers, but answers important questions for the future user: exact positioning of the house comparing to the street, how to solve water connection to the house, where to bring sewage and wastewater from the house, where will be electricity connection, what will be entrance to the house, where will be the parking space, do you have provided road access, etc.

Project audit – after completion of all above mentioned phases: geology, detail design and arrangement of land project, the engineering company have to provide a third party that will review all those phases and confirm that are all made in compliance and that they are correct. In some cases this part is demanded, in some it is not, but we still advise to do it, since it provides security for the investor.

Connection and Municipality fees – Before obtaining of Construction permit, there are certain fees that are calculated by companies in charge for it: electricity permission – calculated by predicted usage of electricity, number of appliances, etc. (for house of 250 m2 and AC usage in every room, electric heaters and similar – connection is around 5000-5500 KM) ; water permission – calculated and determined by water company in charge for certain Municipality, based on predicted usage and options to connect the building on the main system; sewage permission – in case the future house is close to the sewage system, and in case it is not the investor needs to build some kind of septic tank; Municipality rent – it needs to be paid one time, it is calculated by the zone where the future house belongs and area of the house, it can go approximately from 10-80 KM/m2 (in most cases in rural parts it is around 30-40 KM/m2); arrangement of land fee – it is calculated by Municipality and paid one time, approximately 3- 4 times lower than calculated rent; shelter’s fee – calculated by Municipality as 1% of estimated construction value.

Construction permit - it is issued on the basis of the Urban Permit and authorizes beginning of construction works, and is based on detailed design and other documentation describing the structure, materials, construction techniques, different phases construction and compliance with legislation. Documents needed for this part are: Urban permit, Land registry of the land (issued by Court), Cadastral plan (issued by Municipality), Detail design project (2 copies), all permits obtained in process of Urban permit – water, sewage, electricity, gas and similar connection permissions, Municipality fees, Arrangement of land project (preferable) and Project audit.

Construction process – After all fees are paid and Construction permit obtained and became legal, investor can start the process of construction. There is a lot of companies that are providing this service, but also a lot of craft companies that are presenting as a construction company. It is important to know that price is obtained by bill of quantity, not square meter (m2), and that even though 2 houses are built the same, just because of location (which can dictate foundations and height of the house) prices can be slightly different. Also, price per m2 is just for your easier calculation and orientation, and should not be the main reason to accept or reject some offer. There is a lot of different materials, in terms of quality, price and aesthetics which can affect the price. Optimum price per m2 (just for orientation!) is around 1000 KM/m2, but anything between 820-1200 KM/m2 is acceptable price. Any price for 550, 600 or 650 KM/m2 is not recommended by us, because in long term a lot of flaws will be found, and in the end investor will spend more than he usually would in the first place. There is a saying here: “I am not rich enough to buy cheap.”

Supervision – even though some of the above mentioned companies (or rather say crafts?) will explain you that you do not need supervision. It is because they do not want to be controlled and because of lack of knowledge. When you finish the construction, in order to get Usage permission, you need to submit the confirmation that the construction was supervised by educated engineers. Supervision is controlling everything that construction company does, solves possible issues during the constructions, checks the quantities that construction company is stating they spend, writing regularly construction log (diary), and other things necessary to protect the investor. Price for supervision is usually 2% of price of the project (whole project, not just construction!).

Technical review – After the whole construction is finished, investor need to submit the request to Municipality for Technical review and Usage permission. Municipality will hire a team of engineers for all phases – architecture, construction, water, sewage, electricity and mechanical engineering. They will check all documentation and go on site, after which they write the report for Municipality, that can be positive or negative.

Usage permission – is the paper issue by Municipality after everything is finished and Technical review committee establishes that everything is done by existing permissions, documentation and the law.

Registering of house – after the Usage permission is issued and became legal, the house can be registered in the Court’s land and property registry.

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