Home Construction Tips

What are the tips for building a house?

Can’t find your dream home? Build your own! Our guides and information can take you through the regulations, designing a home, how to make it energy efficient for cheaper running costs and finally, how to build.

Building a house that complies with the strenuous Passive House standard requires a large investment that is off-putting to many margin-conscious home builders. Many homeowners are keen to lower their home’s carbon footprint and running costs, but often the significant upfront investment of this kind of design is a high hurdle only cleared by the most committed.

However, smart home builders are learning that they can copy high-end constructors to build homes that are incredibly comfortable and energy-efficient but are marketable to a broader range of prospective home buyers due to better all-round comfort that includes thermal stability, abundant daylight, great noise suppression and fresh air at an affordable price point. These builders have learnt that they don’t need to blow the budget with commercial-grade fixtures if they think critically about the home’s construction and look at the areas where thermal bridges and outside air can compromise the home’s heating and cooling performance, from the floor to the ceiling.

Finding the right home constructions company Melbourne is an important decision. Check out our range of the best home design constructions at Hitch Property Constructions.

Tips for building a house

Home Construction Tips

Get your plan in place

Planning is the most important part of the construction process. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Winchester Mystery House? This San Francisco area mansion was built over a period of 38 years by an eccentric widow who thought if she stopped construction on the house, she’d fall prey to vengeful spirits. The house is a labyrinth of stairs that dead-end into ceilings, hallways that grow narrower and narrower until they disappear, doors that open onto two-storey drops. This is what happens when you build without a plan. It’s fascinating, but not a very welcoming abode.

Make sure you meticulously plan the details of your house. What direction will it face on the lot? What will the layout and flow of the rooms be? What kind of lighting will you use, and how many power points will you install (tip: you always need more than you think)?

There are several useful tools for planning out the design of your home. Sites like Floorplanner and RoomSketcher let you create mock floorplans. When in doubt, a good old graph paper will work as well.

You’ll also want to start keeping track of design ideas that inspire you, and that you’d like to emulate. Think about starting a Pinterest board for each room of your house to file away examples of your favourite designs. As well as helping you plan, they’ll be a great point of reference to show your builders once construction is underway.

Planning: the most significant piece of the development procedure.

Ensure you carefully plan the subtleties of your home. What bearing will it face on the part? What will the design and size of the rooms be? What sort of lighting will you use, and what number of features will you introduce, will it have a steel or timber frame and so on. The types of homes most people will build include:

  • Single story detached House.
  • Apartment block
  • Double-storey house
  • Townhouse
  • Farmhouse
  • Kit home
  • Pre-built, modular home, flat pack home

Budget more than you expect

No matter how much you think the building process is likely to cost, it’s likely to cost more. There could be any number of items that aren’t included in the estimate your builder gives you. For instance, your builder is unlikely to include costs such as electrical and gas metres, NBN hookups or window coverings. Items such as landscaping and outdoor concreting, fences and gates, decking and letterboxes might also not be included on the estimate. These are known as finishing costs and could run anywhere from 15-25% of your budget. You’ll also need to take into account site costs, which are the costs associated with preparing your site for construction, and you may also have to pay for planning application fees.

In addition to add-ons, you might not have considered, and you need to budget for unforeseen circumstances. For instance, you might want the luxury of changing your mind should any of the fittings or materials not match your expectations. You can use the table below to work out a rough budget. Check out our extensive range of home designs at Hitch Constructions.

Estimate the cost per square foot

To get this estimate, take the total cost (which you’ll get from the builder) and divide it by the number of square feet in the building.

You can do the same for similar, newly constructed homes and commercial buildings in your area. Take the price of the building, subtract the price of the land it stands on, and divide the result by the number of square feet you want to have.

Doing this with a few different examples will give you the going rate for this kind of construction. Comparing these numbers will help you determine whether or not your builder’s estimate is reasonable.

Pick the right builder

This might be one of the most important decisions you make in the home building process. Whichever builder you choose, you’re going to be working with them for many, many months. It’s important to get the choice right at the outset to head off problems down the road.

There are several factors you should consider when choosing a builder:

Credentials

Make sure your builder is adequately licensed and insured. You’ll also want to make sure the builder is a member of Master Builders or the Housing Industry Association (HIA).

References

Check into the builder’s past work. Were previous customers satisfied? Don’t be afraid to ask the builder for references before you sign a contract. Also, check with the Department of Fair Trading to ensure there are no complaints against the builder you choose. Also, check up on the warranty and service they offer.

Past work

Have a close look at some of the houses the builder has constructed in the past. Make sure the level of quality is high. Also, look into resale data on some of the houses the builder has previously constructed.

Style

In looking into the builder’s past work, see that it suits your design style. A builder might be very accomplished at constructing a particular style of home, but if what you want is outside their area of expertise, you might be wise to look elsewhere.

Personality

As mentioned above, you’ll be working with your builder for a number of months. Make sure you’re comfortable with them. Also, make sure they communicate well. If a builder doesn’t communicate well with you, it’s likely they don’t communicate well with their contractors either.

Price

All of this is a moot point if a builder is outside your budget.

Make sure there’s builders’ risk insurance

Builders’ risk insurance, a.k.a., course of construction insurance, which is usually purchased by the builder or general contractor, protects against mistakes and mishaps that can damage a structure, equipment and materials waiting to be installed.

It’s important to make sure they have adequate coverage in place to recover the current value of your project, including labour costs if a loss occurs due to a set number of causes. This will also help to keep construction on time and within budget.

Communicate constantly

Throughout the process, often communicate with your builder and tradesmen. Get regular updates on the progress of construction, and check-in yourself. It’s a good idea to take pictures of the progress on a regular basis so you can document any problem areas.

Don’t be afraid to stick to your guns. If your builder, contractor or tradesmen tell you something can’t be done, push back. It might cost you extra, but odds are with the right amount of effort you can accomplish your vision. It’s worth putting up a fight for details that are important to you. After all, you’re the one who has to live in the completed home.

With good communication, though, you should be able to avoid arguments during the building process. If you’ve clearly laid out what you want and the details that you see as non-negotiable, construction will run much smoother.

Understand your agreement

Carefully read through the contract with your builder to make sure you understand its contents. Make sure you’re not taken by surprise by what the construction costs cover and what they don’t cover.

Make sure includes a cooling-off period, and that it specifies a timeframe for construction that suits your needs. Check to see that it includes detailed plans, warranty and insurance information. Also, pay close attention to the payment schedule.

Ensure you’re not shocked by what the development costs cover and what they don’t cover and that also incorporates a cooling-off period, and that it determines a time allotment for development that suits all your requirements. Verify that it incorporates everything on the plans, guarantee and protection data. Additionally, consider instalment payments. At last, it’s smart to have a lawyer investigate the agreement before you sign anything.

Finally, it’s wise to have a solicitor look over the contract before you sign. Cross out any blank spaces, and make sure any variations to the contract are well documented and mutually agreed upon.

Some of the components they recommend including are:

  • Definitions of heated and unheated spaces.
  • How to handle a garage or basement. Are they included? Should they be finished?
  • Utility connections.
  • Liability insurance protects the half-built structure from fires, storms, vandalism, etc.

Get your financing in order

When you’re building a property, you’ll need a construction home loan to finance the process. A construction home loan is structured differently than a regular home loan in that the lender won’t release all the funds at once. Instead, the lender will decide how much you need for the project, and will then release the funds in periodic payments to your builder. These periodic payments are known as draws. They’ll be paid out at the completion of each individual stage of your construction.

Another way construction loans can differ is in the size of deposit lenders require. Because construction loans can be seen as inherently riskier, lenders might require at least a 20% deposit.

Before you seek out finance, make sure you have a detailed plan in place. Because construction home loans rely on an estimate of the assumed value of the completed house, your lender will want to have detailed construction plans that are fully costed.

Look for ways to save

Building a home is going to be an expensive process it’s likely you’ll end up paying more than you anticipated. That being said, there are ways you can save money. Shop around for the best prices on fittings and fixtures, and on the materials, your builder will use. Get multiple quotes for any item needed during the construction process.

You can also save money at the outset of the process by choosing a site that takes less preparation. Hauling off dirt, removing rocks or clearing brush can end up being costly. Picking a lot that needs little preparation before construction commences can minimise these costs.

Engage an architect and save money

Connecting with the correct planner or architect for your build can be a hit and miss exercise. It’s essential you do your due diligence- always. Sometimes you may only need a drafts-it depends on how complex your build is. Never DIY draw a structure – it will cost you lots of money in the end.

Get an independent inspector

An independent consultant should inspect each stage of your construction. This will help you rest easy, knowing that all the building materials and practices used in constructing your home meet all the necessary codes and regulations. You’ll want inspections at the following stages:

Foundations and footings

This will include inspections of the slab and foundations, any drains and the formwork.

Frame

This inspection will make sure all the framing for the house’s walls are level and straight. It will also check that the building frame matches the dimensions laid out by the building plans. The inspection will check room dimensions, ceiling height and roof lines.

Lock up

This stage is when the house is lockable, meaning gyprock, windows and doors have been installed. The inspection at this stage will check window and door frames, window flashing, electrical and plumbing, brickwork and mortar.

Pre-handover

This inspection will check all the final fittings, including painting, tiling, window fittings and doors. It will also ensure the building site has been properly cleaned.

Plan for delays

Delays cost more than money. They cost time. Margaret notes that many buyers “take a contractor’s original completion date as a fait accompli and end up with no place to live” when the house isn’t finished by that original date. This is why you need to create a back-up plan as soon as construction starts.

If delays are less than a couple of weeks, crashing with family or friends is a great option. If delays are on the order of months, research apartments and hotels in the area. You’ll also need a place for your stuff, so check out storage facilities nearby. Ask your moving company if they offer storage or can recommend someone.

I’m not building a house. I’m building offices/a storefront for my business.

If you’re in the storefront camp, then at least wait to order promotional material for your grand opening. If it’s office space, arrange for you and your employees to work remotely while you’re in transition. Many cities now offer co-working spaces for rent. See if there are any in your area and if they’d work as a temporary base for your team.

Know what you’re entitled to

If you’re building your first home, you could be entitled to a First Home Owner Grant (FHOG), dependent on the state or territory in which you live. This could substantially offset the cost of your home. To find out if you might be eligible, read our First Home Owner Grant guide.

Likewise, depending on your state or territory, you might be eligible for stamp duty concessions on the purchase of your building lot. For a full rundown of each state and territory’s stamp duty concessions, head here. At HP Constructions, we have the best home constructions selection to make your house a dream come true.

Know your rights if something goes wrong

If you’ve planned your building process well, budgeted well and signed on with the right builder and lender, it’s unlikely you’re going to face any insurmountable problems. If the worst should happen, though, there are a number of channels you can go through for complaints against builders.

If your builder is a member of the Housing Industry Association or Master Builders, each of these organisations has processes for handling complaints. Each state and territory also has its own process for handling building complaints.

Construction isn’t a business for the faint of heart. Even for the buyer, it’s full of delays, sudden changes in plan, and generalised chaos. But choosing the right team of experts, and having a clear vision and plenty of money in your budget, will help make the process less scary. No guarantees about less tricky or shorter, though.

Can’t find your dream home? Build your own! Our guides and information can take you through the regulations, designing a home, how to make it energy efficient for cheaper running costs and finally, how to build.

Building a house that complies with the strenuous Passive House standard requires a large investment that is off-putting to many margin-conscious home builders. Many homeowners are keen to lower their home’s carbon footprint and running costs, but often the significant upfront investment of this kind of design is a high hurdle only cleared by the most committed.

However, smart home builders are learning that they can copy high-end constructors to build homes that are incredibly comfortable and energy-efficient but are marketable to a broader range of prospective home buyers due to better all-round comfort that includes thermal stability, abundant daylight, great noise suppression and fresh air at an affordable price point. These builders have learnt that they don’t need to blow the budget with commercial-grade fixtures if they think critically about the home’s construction and look at the areas where thermal bridges and outside air can compromise the home’s heating and cooling performance, from the floor to the ceiling.

Tips for building a house

Get your plan in place

Planning is the most important part of the construction process. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Winchester Mystery House? This San Francisco area mansion was built over a period of 38 years by an eccentric widow who thought if she stopped construction on the house, she’d fall prey to vengeful spirits. The house is a labyrinth of stairs that dead-end into ceilings, hallways that grow narrower and narrower until they disappear, doors that open onto two-storey drops. This is what happens when you build without a plan. It’s fascinating, but not a very welcoming abode.

Make sure you meticulously plan the details of your house. What direction will it face on the lot? What will the layout and flow of the rooms be? What kind of lighting will you use, and how many power points will you install (tip: you always need more than you think)?

There are several useful tools for planning out the design of your home. Sites like Floorplanner and RoomSketcher let you create mock floorplans. When in doubt, a good old graph paper will work as well.

You’ll also want to start keeping track of design ideas that inspire you, and that you’d like to emulate. Think about starting a Pinterest board for each room of your house to file away examples of your favourite designs. As well as helping you plan, they’ll be a great point of reference to show your builders once construction is underway.

Planning: the most significant piece of the development procedure.

Ensure you carefully plan the subtleties of your home. What bearing will it face on the part? What will the design and size of the rooms be? What sort of lighting will you use, and what number of features will you introduce, will it have a steel or timber frame and so on. The types of homes most people will build include:

  • Single story detached House.
  • Apartment block
  • Double-storey house
  • Townhouse
  • Farmhouse
  • Kit home
  • Pre-built, modular home, flat pack home

Budget more than you expect

No matter how much you think the building process is likely to cost, it’s likely to cost more. There could be any number of items that aren’t included in the estimate your builder gives you. For instance, your builder is unlikely to include costs such as electrical and gas metres, NBN hookups or window coverings. Items such as landscaping and outdoor concreting, fences and gates, decking and letterboxes might also not be included on the estimate. These are known as finishing costs and could run anywhere from 15-25% of your budget. You’ll also need to take into account site costs, which are the costs associated with preparing your site for construction, and you may also have to pay for planning application fees.

In addition to add-ons, you might not have considered, and you need to budget for unforeseen circumstances. For instance, you might want the luxury of changing your mind should any of the fittings or materials not match your expectations. You can use the table below to work out a rough budget.

Estimate the cost per square foot

To get this estimate, take the total cost (which you’ll get from the builder) and divide it by the number of square feet in the building.

You can do the same for similar, newly constructed homes and commercial buildings in your area. Take the price of the building, subtract the price of the land it stands on, and divide the result by the number of square feet you want to have.

Doing this with a few different examples will give you the going rate for this kind of construction. Comparing these numbers will help you determine whether or not your builder’s estimate is reasonable.

Pick the right builder

This might be one of the most important decisions you make in the home building process. Whichever builder you choose, you’re going to be working with them for many, many months. It’s important to get the choice right at the outset to head off problems down the road.

There are several factors you should consider when choosing a builder:

Credentials

Make sure your builder is adequately licensed and insured. You’ll also want to make sure the builder is a member of Master Builders or the Housing Industry Association (HIA).

References

Check into the builder’s past work. Were previous customers satisfied? Don’t be afraid to ask the builder for references before you sign a contract. Also, check with the Department of Fair Trading to ensure there are no complaints against the builder you choose. Also, check up on the warranty and service they offer.

Past work

Have a close look at some of the houses the builder has constructed in the past. Make sure the level of quality is high. Also, look into resale data on some of the houses the builder has previously constructed.

Style

In looking into the builder’s past work, see that it suits your design style. A builder might be very accomplished at constructing a particular style of home, but if what you want is outside their area of expertise, you might be wise to look elsewhere.

Personality

As mentioned above, you’ll be working with your builder for a number of months. Make sure you’re comfortable with them. Also, make sure they communicate well. If a builder doesn’t communicate well with you, it’s likely they don’t communicate well with their contractors either.

Price

All of this is a moot point if a builder is outside your budget.

Make sure there’s builders’ risk insurance

Builders’ risk insurance, a.k.a., course of construction insurance, which is usually purchased by the builder or general contractor, protects against mistakes and mishaps that can damage a structure, equipment and materials waiting to be installed.

It’s important to make sure they have adequate coverage in place to recover the current value of your project, including labour costs if a loss occurs due to a set number of causes. This will also help to keep construction on time and within budget.

Communicate constantly

Throughout the process, often communicate with your builder and tradesmen. Get regular updates on the progress of construction, and check-in yourself. It’s a good idea to take pictures of the progress on a regular basis so you can document any problem areas.

Don’t be afraid to stick to your guns. If your builder, contractor or tradesmen tell you something can’t be done, push back. It might cost you extra, but odds are with the right amount of effort you can accomplish your vision. It’s worth putting up a fight for details that are important to you. After all, you’re the one who has to live in the completed home.

With good communication, though, you should be able to avoid arguments during the building process. If you’ve clearly laid out what you want and the details that you see as non-negotiable, construction will run much smoother.

Understand your agreement

Carefully read through the contract with your builder to make sure you understand its contents. Make sure you’re not taken by surprise by what the construction costs cover and what they don’t cover.

Make sure includes a cooling-off period, and that it specifies a timeframe for construction that suits your needs. Check to see that it includes detailed plans, warranty and insurance information. Also, pay close attention to the payment schedule.

Ensure you’re not shocked by what the development costs cover and what they don’t cover and that also incorporates a cooling-off period, and that it determines a time allotment for development that suits all your requirements. Verify that it incorporates everything on the plans, guarantee and protection data. Additionally, consider instalment payments. At last, it’s smart to have a lawyer investigate the agreement before you sign anything.

Finally, it’s wise to have a solicitor look over the contract before you sign. Cross out any blank spaces, and make sure any variations to the contract are well documented and mutually agreed upon.

Some of the components they recommend including are:

  • Definitions of heated and unheated spaces.
  • How to handle a garage or basement. Are they included? Should they be finished?
  • Utility connections.
  • Liability insurance protects the half-built structure from fires, storms, vandalism, etc.

Get your financing in order

When you’re building a property, you’ll need a construction home loan to finance the process. A construction home loan is structured differently than a regular home loan in that the lender won’t release all the funds at once. Instead, the lender will decide how much you need for the project, and will then release the funds in periodic payments to your builder. These periodic payments are known as draws. They’ll be paid out at the completion of each individual stage of your construction.

Another way construction loans can differ is in the size of deposit lenders require. Because construction loans can be seen as inherently riskier, lenders might require at least a 20% deposit.

Before you seek out finance, make sure you have a detailed plan in place. Because construction home loans rely on an estimate of the assumed value of the completed house, your lender will want to have detailed construction plans that are fully costed.

Look for ways to save

Building a home is going to be an expensive process it’s likely you’ll end up paying more than you anticipated. That being said, there are ways you can save money. Shop around for the best prices on fittings and fixtures, and on the materials, your builder will use. Get multiple quotes for any item needed during the construction process.

You can also save money at the outset of the process by choosing a site that takes less preparation. Hauling off dirt, removing rocks or clearing brush can end up being costly. Picking a lot that needs little preparation before construction commences can minimise these costs.

Engage an architect and save money

Connecting with the correct planner or architect for your build can be a hit and miss exercise. It’s essential you do your due diligence- always. Sometimes you may only need a drafts-it depends on how complex your build is. Never DIY draw a structure – it will cost you lots of money in the end.

Get an independent inspector

An independent consultant should inspect each stage of your construction. This will help you rest easy, knowing that all the building materials and practices used in constructing your home meet all the necessary codes and regulations. You’ll want inspections at the following stages:

Foundations and footings

This will include inspections of the slab and foundations, any drains and the formwork.

Frame

This inspection will make sure all the framing for the house’s walls are level and straight. It will also check that the building frame matches the dimensions laid out by the building plans. The inspection will check room dimensions, ceiling height and roof lines.

Lock up

This stage is when the house is lockable, meaning gyprock, windows and doors have been installed. The inspection at this stage will check window and door frames, window flashing, electrical and plumbing, brickwork and mortar.

Pre-handover

This inspection will check all the final fittings, including painting, tiling, window fittings and doors. It will also ensure the building site has been properly cleaned.

Plan for delays

Delays cost more than money. They cost time. Margaret notes that many buyers “take a contractor’s original completion date as a fait accompli and end up with no place to live” when the house isn’t finished by that original date. This is why you need to create a back-up plan as soon as construction starts.

If delays are less than a couple of weeks, crashing with family or friends is a great option. If delays are on the order of months, research apartments and hotels in the area. You’ll also need a place for your stuff, so check out storage facilities nearby. Ask your moving company if they offer storage or can recommend someone.

I’m not building a house. I’m building offices/a storefront for my business.

If you’re in the storefront camp, then at least wait to order promotional material for your grand opening. If it’s office space, arrange for you and your employees to work remotely while you’re in transition. Many cities now offer co-working spaces for rent. See if there are any in your area and if they’d work as a temporary base for your team.

Know what you’re entitled to

If you’re building your first home, you could be entitled to a First Home Owner Grant (FHOG), dependent on the state or territory in which you live. This could substantially offset the cost of your home. To find out if you might be eligible, read our First Home Owner Grant guide.

Likewise, depending on your state or territory, you might be eligible for stamp duty concessions on the purchase of your building lot. For a full rundown of each state and territory’s stamp duty concessions, head here.

Know your rights if something goes wrong

If you’ve planned your building process well, budgeted well and signed on with the right builder and lender, it’s unlikely you’re going to face any insurmountable problems. If the worst should happen, though, there are a number of channels you can go through for complaints against builders.

If your builder is a member of the Housing Industry Association or Master Builders, each of these organisations has processes for handling complaints. Each state and territory also has its own process for handling building complaints.

Construction isn’t a business for the faint of heart. Even for the buyer, it’s full of delays, sudden changes in plan, and generalised chaos. But choosing the right team of experts, and having a clear vision and plenty of money in your budget, will help make the process less scary. No guarantees about less tricky or shorter, though.

Scroll to Top