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Phase 6 – Construction

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6. Construction

You have completed all the necessary steps and you’re ready for the most anticipated phase – THE CONSTRUCTION.

 

The construction of a house is undertaken by a contractor who employs various groups of individuals in whatever specialised field. This may include an engineer, electrician, plumber, workmen, etc. who will construct your home from start to finish and when completed it’s just for you to move in and live.

If the construction phase is being aided via a loan from a commercial bank or financial institution, there are certain stipulations attached. The loan is usually issued in parts based upon the completion of each segment of the house. Additionally, you should expect site visits from a representative of the bank or financial institution after the completion of each segment of the house before another part of the loan is released for the completion of another segment.

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Construction Process nine (9) step guide

In this nine (9) step guide, we will provide you with tips and what to look for throughout the process.

1. Preparation of Construction Site and Foundation

  • Construction Crew Levels Site
  • Puts Up Wooden Forms for the Temporary Foundation
  • Footings Are Installed

In most cases, site preparation and the foundation are done by the same group of persons.

The foundation is one of the most important parts of the construction process. Any mistakes you make in the foundation will only get worse as you go up. As such, it is very important that the foundation is well prepared, using the right steel and concrete materials.

The minimum depth below the ground surface at which the bottom of the foundation should be founded is 300mm. Under no circumstances should the foundation be placed on the topsoil.

The concrete grade for footings should be C25 (25N/mm2) or higher. Concrete should be kept moist for a minimum period of 7 days to allow curing and development to design strength to occur. During this period, there should be no activity on the construction site.

The steel for primary reinforcement should be high yield bars with a minimum size of 12mm. For secondary reinforcement, mild steel bars with a minimum size of 10mm shall be used.

Reference made to the Guyana National Bureau of Standards Code of Practice for Buildings. For a copy of the entire document, kindly visit the GNBS at the National Exhibition Centre.

Homebuilder Tips

  • You should have a representative who would represent you in technical matters from time to time. This person should be introduced to the contractor. He will inspect all reinforcement and formwork before casting is done among other things. He should check the foundation walls by sighting down from one end. Look for areas that bulge or lean which can indicate uneven load on the foundation. Both the foundation walls and home walls should be flush and level. Also, look for any potential water damage or cracks in concrete. You may have to pay for this service. It will be worth the while and end up saving both owner and contractor down the road.
  • You may want to do a single storey house now and build an upper floor later. It is advisable to build a foundation that can accommodate two floors in advance to prevent any future issues or constraints.

2. Rough Framing Rough Framing (Wooden or Concrete Hollow Blocks)

  • Floor System, Walls, Roof Systems Are Completed

The floor systems, walls and roof systems are completed (collectively known as the shell or skeleton of the house). If it is a wooden house then sheathing is applied to the exterior walls and roof and windows and exterior doors are installed. The sheathing is then covered with a protective barrier known as a house wrap; it prevents liquid water from infiltrating the structure while allowing water vapor to escape. This reduces the likelihood of mold and wood rot.

If it is a concrete house, then the columns and beams are set up (whether it’s a one storey or two storey house), and then the hollow blocks are run up around the house and plastering of the interior and exterior can also be done at this time but that’s optional. The interior flooring is then done usually using wood or solid concrete.

The steps are also constructed at this point in time. For exterior steps, a front and back step is usually constructed but some houses can also be constructed with an interior front step and an exterior back step.

Homebuilder Tips

  • The consumer along with a technical person should ensure that beams and columns are properly constructed. Check properly to ensure that they are of the right size according to what was requested and also inspect to ensure that there are no cracks or other damages.
  • Inspect steps to ensure that they are not too steep and that the stair treads are evenly spaced out.
  • If framing is being constructed with hollow cement blocks, for sturdier walls ensure that they are cavity filled (Cement is poured into each block when they are being laid). N.B. this is optional
  • If the flooring is being done with wood, ensure that the wood has been cured before putting it down because the less moisture in the wood, the better.

3. Rough Plumbing and Electrical

The Following are installed:

  • Pipes and Wires
  • Sewer Lines and Vents
  • Water Supply Lines
  • Bathtubs, Shower Units

Once the shell is finished, siding and roofing can be installed. At the same time, the electrical and plumbing contractors start running pipes and wires through the interior walls, ceilings and floors. Septic tank lines and vents, as well as water supply lines for each fixture, are installed. Bathtubs and one-piece shower/tub units are put in place at this point because there’s more room to maneuver large, heavy objects.

After the roofing goes on, the house is considered to be Dried In (imperious to rain and other elements of the weather). An electrician then installs receptacles for outlets, lights and switches and runs wires from the breaker panel to each receptacle. 

N.B. Plumbing should be installed before wiring since it would be easier to run wires around pipes.

Homebuilder Tips

  • Plumbing- Before moving into a new home, note the location of the main shut-off valve and drain (in some cases, the shut-off will be located outside the house). You should also get acquainted with sewer line access points; in the event you need to conduct periodic cleanouts.
  • Electrical- Have an Inspector from The Government Electrical Inspectorate, inspect electrical works while being conducted to avoid any issues in the future. Ensure that you’re using the correct wattage in all your fixtures and appliances. Using the right bulbs can prevent electrical problems, so check all lamps, fixtures and appliances to ensure you’re using the correct wattage. If a light fixture has no wattage listed, use 60-watt bulbs or less. For unmarked ceiling fixtures, choose 25-watt bulbs.
    N.B. LED bulbs consume less power and reduce the risk of fixtures overheating.

4. Interior Fixtures,  Exterior Finishes

  • Wooden Fixtures (Drywall)/ Concrete (Plastering)
  • Texturing is completed
  • Primary Coat of Paint is applied
  • Exterior Finishes (Brick, Stucco, Stone, and Trowel Tex) are applied

For wooden structures, drywall (optional) is hung and taped so the seams between the boards aren’t visible, and drywall texturing (if applicable) is completed. The primer coat of paint is also applied after taping is complete.

For concrete structures, plastering can be done at this stage if it hasn’t been done already and contractors begin installing exterior finishes such as brick, stucco, stone and Trowel Tex.

Homebuilder Tip –

  • If you are using a design professional you should ask for a written confirmation of your choices to make sure you fully understand how much you’re spending. Go over the price information carefully and ask for more advice before you make your final decisions.

5. Interior Trim

  • Doors, Window Sills, Decorative Trim Installed
  • Cabinets and Vanities
  • Final Coat of Paint

Interior doors, baseboards, door casings, window sills, moldings, stair balusters and other decorative trim are installed, along with cabinets and vanities. Walls then get a finish coat of paint.

Homebuilder Tip

  • Create a Plan for each room
  • Certain finishes, like flooring and the colours you choose, will affect the design of a whole floor but most finishes will be specific to a room. Concentrate on one room at a time.

6. Hard Surface Flooring, Countertops; Exterior Grading

Your choice of Ceramic tile, vinyl and wood flooring are installed as well as countertops. Exterior finish grading is completed to ensure proper drainage away from the home and prepare the yard for landscaping.

Consumer Tip

  • The exterior grade should slope away from the walls of the home so that water does not lodge on the land but rather run-off to the sides into the drains.

7. Mechanical Trims; Bathroom Fixtures

Light fixtures, outlets and switches are installed and the electrical panel is completed. Sinks, toilets and faucets are put in place.

Homebuilder Tip

  • Bathrooms, Outdoors, Kitchens & Laundry Rooms require GFCI outlets if outlets are within 6 feet from sink or any other water source.

8. Mirrors, Shower Doors and Flooring

Mirrors, shower doors are installed and final cleanup takes place.

Homebuilder Tips

  • Check to ensure that all mirrors are installed at the points requested. Inspect them for any cracks or breaks.
  • Ensure your shower doors are functioning properly whether it is a sliding door (glass or other) or a regular door with a lock.

9. Final Walk-Through

This is where you spot items that need to be corrected or adjusted.

Your contractor will walk you through your new home to acquaint you with its features and the operation of various systems and components and explain your responsibilities for maintenance and upkeep, as well as warranty coverage and procedures. This is often referred to as a pre-settlement walk-through. It’s also an opportunity to spot items that need to be corrected or adjusted, so be attentive and observant. Examine the surfaces of countertops, fixtures, floors and walls for possible damage. Sometimes disputes arise because the homeowner discovers a gouge in a countertop after move-in and there’s no way to prove whether it was caused by the contractor’s crew or the homeowner’s movers.

Homebuilder Tips

1. PAY WISELY

  • Don’t make the final payment or sign an affidavit of final release until you’re satisfied.

           Besides being satisfied with the work, you also need to know that specialty subcontractors and suppliers have been paid.

  • Know the limit for the final bill

2. USE A SIGN-OFF CHECKLIST

  • Before you sign off and make the final payment, check that:
  • All work meets the standards spelt out in the contract.
  • You have written warranties for materials and workmanship.
  • You have proof that all specialty sub-contractors and suppliers have been paid.
  • The job site has been cleaned up and cleared of excess materials, tools, and equipment.
  • You have inspected and approved the completed work.
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Pitfalls and how to avoid them

when designing your home with your Architect and vetting and choosing a contractor

Pre contract

House plan not reflecting what you really want

Sit and discuss with your Architect what you need. Let him give you a draft before the final plans are prepared. Remember, you will be paying and living there for most of your life. Also, try to get the size of the house that roughly meets the amount of money you can borrow.

Contractor incompetent

Vet your contractors by asking them to show you recent projects successfully undertaken. Try to speak with the owners to get their feedback.

The footprint of the house not placed on the plot as you wanted

Be comfortable with how your house footprint sits on the plot. You may prefer a large backyard and small front space or the reverse or a long driveway for two or more cars along the length of the plot. You may also want to do future extensions and modifications that should be easily accommodated with the existing site plan.

Risk of not getting what you really want or contractor claiming he never promised what you are alleging

In addition to the bills of quantities prepared after discussion with the contractor, you should write out a detailed list of your agreed requests and affix both of your signatures to become part of the contract.

Location of the septic tank to accommodate later extension/modification

The location of the septic must be such that any future extensions could be accommodated easily and without unnecessary demolition and alterations.

Future additions difficult

You may want to do a single storey house now and build an upper floor later. It is advisable to do ground floor columns and leave the starter bars for future upper columns. It is also advisable to do the first-floor beams in the single storey.
Further, if a two-floor project is not possible, try doing a single storey building on columns. In the future, you can always enclose the bottom and have a bottom flat for personal use or rental as the case may be.

Rooms too small/ no closets

Make sure the rooms are of good size by actually measuring the dimensions of the ground to get a feel. Also, it is good advice to have built-in closets using the division wall as part of same. This saves on unnecessary expenses of buying wardrobes.

Post contract

Contractors claiming more money for material and additional labour cost

The contractor’s Estimate/ Bills of Quantities will form part of the contract documents. These quantities and rates represent the drawings/plans and discussions with the client. As such no claims for more materials will be entertained unless they represent an agreed change order or variation and signed off by both client and contractor.

The contractor shall be deemed to be an expert in building and constructing projects. Consequently, the contract sum represented by the detailed bill of quantities shall be deemed to adequately represent the work shown on the contract drawings and no claim for buying extra material will be entertained (unless caused by an agreed variation or change order.

Contract taking longer than anticipated

The contract must include an agreed commencement and completion time known as the contract period.

Contractor not inclined to complete project/ no incentive to stick to time

A penalty clause for the contractor to complete the project on time must be included in the contract for every day, week or month that the building remains unfinished beyond the contract completion date.

The contractor receives more money than work done

Labour for work done will be paid on a percentage basis as decided by the Bank or financial institution.
The materials will be paid for in advance so that materials could be bought and promptly reconciled by bills to the lending agency so that other materials could be bought for future elements of the work.

Contractor waiting too long for money for work done

If the contractor receives payment later than projected, after submission of relevant bills he should be entitled to an extension of time to be agreed on with the client and the penalty mentioned in J above should not be applicable.

Contract taking longer than anticipated

The contract must include an agreed commencement and completion time known as the contract period.

Contractor not inclined to complete project/ no incentive to stick to time

A penalty clause for the contractor to complete the project on time must be included in the contract for every day, week or month that the building remains unfinished beyond the contract completion date.

The contractor receives more money than work done

Labour for work done will be paid on a percentage basis as decided by the Bank or financial institution.
The materials will be paid for in advance so that materials could be bought and promptly reconciled by bills to the lending agency so that other materials could be bought for future elements of the work.

Contractor waiting too long for money for work done

If the contractor receives payment later than projected, after submission of relevant bills he should be entitled to an extension of time to be agreed on with the client and the penalty mentioned in J above should not be applicable.

Contractor not having a proper supervisor or foreman on site

The contractor must have a competent supervisor/ foreman present on-site at all times. This person should be introduced to the client.

Not certain if proper reinforcement in foundation or columns/ beams

The client/owner should have a representative who would represent him/her in technical matters from time to time. This person should be introduced to the contractor. He will inspect all reinforcement and formwork before casting is done among other things. The client may have to pay for this service. It will be worth the while and end up saving both owner and contractor down the road.

Ground floor or under house slab not at the right level above ground level

The contractor shall agree on-site where the floor level will be in comparison to the average ground level.

Martial and workmanship not up to standard

The contract must include a clause that the contractor is to provide materials and workmanship of a high quality that obtains in the industry.

The contractor wants to walk away from completing the project and from remedying defective work.

A retention sum of 10% on labour should be withheld on all payments to the contractor and released after remedial works are satisfactorily completed.

Contractor using materials not to your liking

Specify your particular type or brand of material to be used and make that preference list part of your contract document. For example, you may want your floor beams, floor joist, and wall framing to be greenheart and not hardwood or you may want aluminium framed awning windows and not regular louver windows, or you may want your ceiling to be sheetrock and not plywood. Further, you can make sure that these materials are mentioned in the contractor’s detailed estimate before signing the contract.

Have to build water tank trestle after the house is completed

If it is affordable ask the contractor to include a suspended concrete slab in the roof or over the back-stairs landing or elsewhere for water storage tank or tanks. This saves the cost of constructing a separate complete trestle.

APPLYING FOR NEW ELECTRICAL SERVICE FOR YOUR NEW HOME (GPL)

GEI

The Government Electrical Inspectorate is the Electrical safety body within the Ministry of Public Works, set up to protect the users of electricity against the hazards of unsafe and unsound electrical installation. The G.E.I is responsible for enforcing the requirements of the National Electrical Code to ensure that electrical installations, equipment and services meet minimum standards of safety and quality.

 

Guidelines

  • Before commencement of any electrical works, electrical layouts/ designs must be submitted to the GEI for approval.
  • Inspections are to be conducted by the GEI during installations.
  • Only Approved/Listed materials must be used. (Acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction, AHJ)
  • There are penalties (fines/ imprisonment) for carrying out electrical works without prior approval by the GEI and for being certified and not working to standards.
  • All electrical installations must be done by an electrical contractor.
  • Electrical Contractor refers to a qualified person who is licensed by the GEI.

 

Procedure for Acquiring Certificate of inspection

  • Solicit the services of a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
  • Submit Electrical Plan and Specifications to the G.E.I for approval.
  • Obtain a “Notification to Electricity Inspection of Installation” form from the Ministry of Public Works (From the GEI or Accounts Department)
  • Fill out all details clearly and accurately. Contractor License # and Phone # must also be included.
  • The Contractor must make arrangements to have work inspected once completed.
  • All Panel Schedules, Electrical Equipment and   Fixtures must be in place before the inspection.
  • A visual inspection is carried out on the electrical installation in the presence of the Contractor or a duly appointed assistant.
  • Testing of the Insulation Resistance, Polarity and Continuity are done.
  • If Visual Inspection and Testing results are satisfactory a Certificate of Inspection is Issued.

 

Tips

  • Bathrooms, Outdoors, Kitchens & Laundry Rooms require GFCI outlets if outlets are within 6 feet from the sink or any other water source.
  • Ensure cables are well shaped, neat and organized.
  • Grounding Conductor must be Installed in conduit which should be secured to the outer wall.
  • Every Installation must have a grounding system
  • The grounding system must be continuous from the main switch to the final sub-circuits (lights & points)
  • The grounding rod must be no less than 6ft long (copper).
  • The main grounding conductor must be no less than 10mm2.

 

 

 

APPLY FOR NEW SERVICE FOR YOUR NEW HOME

After obtaining your Certificate of Inspection, you can now proceed to apply to the Guyana, Power & Light Inc. (GPL).

For more information on how to apply for a new service, kindly click on the link below.

https://gplinc.com/services/new-service/

HOW TO APPLY FOR A NEW SERVICE? (GWI)

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You may apply for a new service by visiting any one of the Regional Offices to complete the application form.

Offices are located at Anna Regina, Parika, Pouderoyen, Georgetown, Peter’s Hall, Mackenzie- Linden, Bachelor’s Adventure, Onverwagt, New Amsterdam, Chesney, Springlands & Bartica.

The application form can also be accessed online by clicking on the link below.
https://gwiguyana.gy/system/files/docs/2020-04-01_11/GWI%20Application%20Form.pdf

Requirements to apply

  • A form of ID (National ID, Passport or Driver’s License)
    Title document (Transport, Lease or Certificate of Title)
  • Rental or Tenancy Agreement
  • TIN
  • Power of Attorney (where necessary)
  • Authorisation (where necessary)