Arming yourself with the right information before you even start looking at house designs will make building your home a whole lot easier and far less stressful.
To be in the know, you need to ask questions — and lots of them. But the challenge lies in knowing exactly what you should be asking. This can be especially tricky for first-timers but also those considering different ways to build.
According to Metricon dual occupancy sales and business manager Jarrod Sturdy, research is crucial, whether you are building a single home, tackling a dual occupancy, considering a knockdown rebuild or opting for a house and land package.
“The more homebuyers can learn about the process before they embark on a build, the smoother the process will be,” Mr Sturdy said.
Here, Mr Sturdy and other experts from volume builders share pointers on what they want people to know before building their home.
Ask about tricky lingo
Mr Sturdy said you were likely to come across some terms you hadn’t heard before and you should never be afraid to ask what they meant.
“We’ve had customers come to us after they’ve bought their land, wanting to build a dual occupancy, but the land had a single-dwelling caveat, which deemed it unsuitable for this type of development,” he said.
“They weren’t aware of what a caveat meant at the time and didn’t ask. Always ask. Never just assume.”
Be realistic with costs
When planning your budget, don’t just think about the cost of the house and land components, include things such as stamp duty, mortgage insurance and rent, Mr Sturdy said.
“Also, factor in the overall development time, as this can have a major effect on costs, and get good financial advice to ensure you’re not at risk of overcapitalising,” he added.
Research design possibilities
Display homes are a great way to get a feel for a floorplan and how a place will eventually look.
However, Arden Homes director Dean Morrison said not every plan would be on show, so ask what other configurations were possible.
“There are often multiple floorplans available for a particular house; it’s just not physically possible to display everything,” he said.
He added if you had your heart set on a design but wanted to modify some elements, choose a builder that allowed for design flexibility.
“It’s often assumed that what you see is what you get, but every family is different in the way that they live and use spaces within their home.”
Know what’s included
Mr Morrison said be sure to check with your builder exactly what was included in the price, including all the fittings and finishes.
“Compare the inclusions thoroughly because it will impact on your overall cost,” he said.
And be aware of any hidden costs, said Porter Davis group building manager Rhodes Mackenzie.
“Soil and contour tests, landscaping and even driveway costs are not always discussed or included in initial building conversations,” Mr Mackenzie explained.
He added a fixed-price contract allowed for full transparency but, otherwise, seek additional costs upfront to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Understand your block
People often bought a block of land before considering the house design and became disappointed when they found the house they’d fallen in love with was too big for it, Mr Mackenzie said.
“Fall in love with the house first, then look for the right block to fit it,” he said.
“You will also need to consider things such as how much garden you’d like and whether you want a double garage, which would need at least a 12.5m frontage.”
Mr Sturdy said when choosing the right block, look at which direction it faced, the fall of the land, if it was in a bushfire zone and the type of soil.
“If you’re undertaking a knockdown rebuild or dual occupancy development, then you would also look at whether there are any trees on the block and heritage overlays that will automatically knock out the potential of a new build,” he said.
Get across estate guidelines
To maintain a harmonious look and feel, residential estates generally have strict guidelines on the style of home that can be built.
Mr Mackenzie said these guidelines included colour schemes, materials and even sustainable features.
“Don’t just think you can build your dream home exactly as you envision it,” he said.
He recommended asking a sales consultant or inquiring at the local council about your chosen estate’s guidelines. Some developers also had the information on their website.
“Guidelines will vary from estate to estate. You may be able to paint your facade pink in one estate, but in a neighbouring one, you may not,” he said.