The Palm Cove display home by Bellriver Homes is on display at Jordan Springs. Picture Markus Summerer
While deciding to embark on a building project is one thing, finding the right builder for your new home can be an altogether different prospect. Not only do you want someone who will work within your price bracket, you also want someone you can trust to build a quality home.
But many people are not as prepared as they could be when meeting potential builders. Regional sales manager for Bellriver Homes, Grant Mansell, says most people don’t ask the right questions.
The time to ask questions is before the build begins. Picture: Jerad Williams
“You should ask questions pertaining to costs associated with site conditions, what is actually included in the tender and will any costs be charged after the job moves into construction,” he says. “Look for a builder who is open and upfront about what is included in the tender and if the costs are fixed so there are no surprises later.”
When first visiting a builder, Grant suggests you take as much information about your block of land along with you as you can.
“Bring along your lot plan showing the width and length of your block and how much fall is on your land so the builder can determine which house design would best suit it,” Grant says. “A copy of the land contract and the 88b form is also important as it shows any restrictions that may be on your land.”
Make sure you understand all the costs before signing the contract
Living the dream
Some builders will ask you to talk about your lifestyle, to get a better picture of the type of design that will best suit you and your family. Bellriver does a design consultation to look at your current and future needs, such as growing children, or elderly parents who may come to live with you.
There are a number of different factors that can affect the final price of a house so it’s definitely worth asking a builder how they deal with those costs.
Sites and surveys
Grant says one aspect you should ask about is site costs.
“Site costs cover works needed to prepare your land for building,” he says. “These can include slab upgrades, soil removal, additional fill or even retaining walls.”
These costs are generally determined by a soil test or contour survey. “Not all builders will fix these costs and you may receive a cost variation to the contract during construction,” he says.
Making changes once work has begun can be costly
Piering can also add to your costs when building.
“All homes require concrete piering to strengthen the slab and foundations,” Grant says. “The number of piers is determined by site engineers, and the soil classification will determine the depth.”
If possible, get the cost of piers fixed in the contract.
Being in a bushfire or flood-prone area can also add significant costs.
“You may need to add bushfire-rated items to all openable areas such as windows and doors and you will also be restricted to particular materials,” he says.
“With flood-prone areas, you may need to raise the level of your home to protect it from water rising.
Making changes once building has started will also be costly.
“A post-contract variation is raised when there is an addition or deletion to the signed building contract,” Grant says. “This is a legal document signed by the owner and the builder acknowledging the change to the contract and documenting if this is a credit or debit to the overall cost.”
Sound advice: Bellriver Homes regional sales manager Grant Mansell
Keeping a lid on building costs
Bring as much information about your block as you can when you first meet with a builder and ask what the potential site costs might be involved.
Check with council that your site is not in a flood zone or bushfire- prone area, which can add to the cost of materials.
Make sure you read the contract thoroughly and understand what is included — and what is not. Variations to materials after construction has begun can add significantly to the final cost.