A Greek proverb says that until you build your own home and act as best man (or woman) at a wedding, you know nothing about life. Prospective home buyers living under the illusion that it is an easy task will soon find themselves faced with a number of problems, even when money is no object. First is the dilemma of whether to look for an apartment or a house; then there is the question of whether it is financially more prudent to buy an existing home or to build from scratch. The prevailing view is that an apartment is cheaper than a house, although most civil engineers claim that a house, including the property it stands on, actually costs less than an apartment of the same quality of construction and size. This is because the cost of an apartment building includes the profit margin of the construction company that builds and sells the individual apartments, particularly with the antiparohi system, whereby the owner of the land enters into a contract with a construction company, which then builds and sells the apartments for a profit, after giving the owner an agreed percentage of the building’s surface area. Another important factor to consider with regard to cost is the building’s durability (installations and materials) and the cost of maintaining and operating it. According to civil engineer Georgina Daskalaki, there are certain fundamental parameters that can help ensure value for money. These include the provision of full and precise reports on the entire building and the materials to be used, even if not required by law; a detailed account of the construction costs; and the avoidance of any major changes to the design during the construction process. Daskalaki stressed the importance of close cooperation between contractor and owner, and said that during the construction phase, it is well worth getting the building’s designer to supervise the project. The total cost of a building depends on the outlay on actual construction, such as wages and building materials, as well as the cost of the building permit, design and supervision, taxes and insurance, and other general expenses. The fee for a permit depends on the surface area of the building and includes the civil engineer or architect’s fee and various insurance fund payments. The engineer’s fee usually represents about 80 percent of the cost of the permit. Issuing the permit only accounts for about 5-10 percent of the actual fee. The remainder goes toward insurance funds. For example, a permit for the basic construction of a house of about 160 square meters costs about 8,800 euros (3 million drachmas); for a 260-square-meter maisonette about 14,700 euros (5 million drachmas). A permit for a complex of four apartments each covering 140 square meters would go up to about 20,500 euros (7 million drachmas). Daskalaki estimates that the final cost of a well-constructed home would amount to about 730-880 euros (250,000-300,000 drachmas) per square meter for the owner and 616-675 euros (210,000-230,000 drachmas) per square meter for a construction company. Cost of building materials Concrete costs a construction company from 147 to 170 euros (50,000-58,000 drachmas) per cubic meter. A homeowner can get it for 147-153 euros (50,000 – 52,000 drachmas) per cubic meter, since the concrete itself costs 59 euros (20,000 drachmas), labor costs 50 euros (16,000 drachmas), along with the timber moulds, and the steel supports cost another 50 euros (16,000 drachmas). However, very few owners order the material themselves, since quite apart from the trouble they have to go to, there are usually problems involved. Walls cost about 9.5 euros (3,200 drachmas) per square meter; 3.5 euros (1,200 drachmas) for the bricks, 1.5 euros (500 drachmas) for other materials such as cement, and 4.4 euros (1,500 drachmas) for labor costs. Plastering amounts to about 7.5 euros (2,500 drachmas) per square meters. Doors and windows vary considerably, ranging from 20.5 to 59 euros (7,000 to 20,000 drachmas) per square meter, depending on the materials used (aluminum or wood) and the type of glass used, among other things. Procedures The first step is to obtain the appropriate studies that are the prerequisite for good construction. The civil engineer is required by law to compile the topographical and architectural designs, the static study, as well as the provisions for insulation, fire protection, electrical and mechanical work and plumbing installations, for submission to the town planning authority. For the building permit to be issued, the following documents are required: – the owner’s application – the building designs – evidence of payment of the civil engineer’s fee – declarations that the tasks of design and supervision have been assigned – proof of payment of fees to the state and to insurance funds – any approval required by the local municipality, forestry or archaeological services. Once the permit is issued, work can finally begin. The owner may choose to assign the entire project to a contractor to be completed «key in hand» or to use subcontractors for individual tasks (such as pouring concrete, bricklaying, or plastering). The owner may also buy the building materials instead of allowing the contractor to do so, as well as supervise the construction, or hiring another engineer to do so. Once the building has been completed, the owner has to submit an application to the zoning commission for an inspection and to provide proof of payment of the supervising engineer. The owner also has to submit to the taxation bureau copies of all contractors’ bills, and receipts for all materials used. Only then may the building be connected to the power, telephone, water and gas networks.