Engr. Slater Young’s Ideal Tips Before Starting Your Dream Home

Most of us have dreamed of building our dream home at one point in our lives or another. But when the time comes when you’re finally there and starting the journey to building it, it suddenly becomes overwhelming. Good thing there are professionals like architects, engineers, etc. who can guide you to the right path.

However, even if you can hire these professionals there will be some conceptualizations and basic details that should be up to you first. In this video of ex-PBB housemate turned YouTuber Engineer Slater Young, he walks his audience through the basic know-how in building one’s dream house.


Everything starts with a budget. You have to know how much you have and can spend on what you want to achieve. As Slater puts it, you can have a very big house, but the finish is raw, so it will be cheaper than a small house with expensive and branded finishes.

Choosing your architect

Architects are like artists, they have their own style with their works. So before you go looking for an architect, Slater says you have to scour the internet. Look for the style that you like. Look for the house design style that you find most attractive and find the architect that specializes in that style.

Another tip he added on choosing the right architect is to choose someone who is flexible. You don’t want to be just following the architect’s design, and you don’t want an architect who just follows yours. You two should be working together to produce the best result.

Stick to one theme

When choosing your dream house, it is easy to get overwhelmed and choose a theme for each room of the house that turns out to be opposites of each other. Slater says that it is easier to stick to just one theme when choosing your house design. In this way, your house will not look like a “fruit salad” and your architect won’t have a hard time.

Dwell on every single scenario

To avoid having change orders on site which can be very expensive. Slater suggests being very particular with all the details of the plan before finally starting construction. His house took a year of back and forth changes from him to the architect. Which is better and cheaper than having to change while construction is already ongoing.

Masking tape hack

For those who aren’t engineers or architects, or those who can’t visualize plans when they are on paper. He suggested doing the masking tape hack. You use masking tape on the floor to mark the exact measurements of the room and even furniture. This way, you’ll have a better understanding of how you can use the space and make adjustments.

Hire the proper professional

Slater emphasized that after the architect is done with the design, there are other professionals that should be called. Structural engineers for the strength of the house, mechanical engineers for aircons and ducts, plumbers for water pipes, electrical engineers for electrical wirings, and fire protection for commercial spaces.

Now, these previous tips are just in the “hiring an architect” stage. Technically, you are still in the design stage and no construction is being started yet. This is when you’ll face what most people say is the scariest part of building a home is – the part about hiring your contractor to actually start the work.

Before starting his tips, Slater discusses the different kinds of contractors that you may encounter when looking for one.

Design and Build – These contractors are usually one-time big-time contractors where you just give them the money and they will do everything from designing to building your house. Although it might sound convenient, Slater doesn’t suggest getting this kind of contractor. Mainly because when there is only one contractor on-site and no engineers or architects, it will be easy to overlook lapses in the construction phase.

Labor only – Some people think that they can save money by buying the materials themselves and just getting a labor-only contractor. But Slater suggests not going there especially if you don’t have the know-how of the field. You might end up spending more than what you actually planned to spend in the first place.

Labor and Materials / Lump Sum Contract – These types of contractors will cover all the installations and materials except for the small details like tiles, bathtubs, and other fixtures that you can buy yourself. Slater reminds people that this is the best way to go if you will ask him.

Everything should be written down

Once you have a contractor, you have to make sure that everything is written down. This will protect you from unwanted expenses and petty add-ons that some contractors tend to do.

Once the contract is signed, it is final

Another thing that some contractors do that tends to make their clients go off budget is forgetting to add things to the estimate. Sometimes, they would approach the client even after the contract has been signed saying that they forgot to add the stairs to the estimate, or they forgot the second floor. When this happens, make sure that you do not pay anything extra because that should be included in the final contract they asked you to sign. Because it was their mistake, it should be taken from the estimate they gave you.

Payments terms

Now, regarding the payment terms, Slater recommends “progress billing”. This usually starts with a 20-30% downpayment to the contractor and then they will bill you based on what they have finished in the agreed-upon frequency. You only pay what is already done on-site. They bill you what the progress is less than 10%. The 10% is the retainer fee that you will only release to them once the project is done.

Last tip

Do not be selfish with the retention fee. Once the house is complete, you will provide a punch list, this is a list of what you want the contractor to repair before paying them the retainer fee. Do not be selfish and try to find a lot of errors more even after the punch list is done. Pay your contractor well.

That sums up Slater’s tips before starting your dream home. You can watch the whole video below:

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