Building a house is one of the most exciting and stressful times of your life. Especially when you’re a first homeowner, it’s not uncommon to get caught up looking at all the display homes. Being dazzled by the beautiful homes, well-designed plans and house and land packages is all part of the process. But you have to be smart about your investment and weigh up all the pros and cons.
When you’re looking at the big picture of your new home design, it’s funny how many things can be easily missed. Little design flaws that may seem trivial initially can turn out to be a massive pain once the house is actually built.
There’s always going to be a few mistakes made when building any house. Armed with the right tools and information, though, you can eliminate many of these issues. Looking for the best home constructions? Look no further! Hitch Property Constructions has the ultimate list of home designs for you to choose from.
Here are the essential tips for those building their first home:
- When choosing the right community to live in, consider the local services you will need such as shopping, transport, education and childcare, as well as things that can add to your quality of life like sporting, recreation and entertainment facilities.
- When choosing a block, make sure its size suits both your budget and the house design you have in mind. Also, check for any height or setback restrictions, and consider the energy savings that can be made by choosing the right solar orientation.
- Do as much research as you can to find a reputable builder you feel you can trust. Visit display villages to see what designs are available, and if any friends or relatives have recently built a house, ask for their advice and recommendations.
Common Mistakes People Make When Building a New Home
Sales reps under-estimating site works costs
The site works the builder estimates costs before you sign your contract, and this is generally referred to as a Provisional Sum item. Unfortunately, some builder sales reps in the industry deliberately under-estimate the site works costs to reduce the overall price and win the deal. After the contract is signed, the site works get quoted up properly, and the buyer then finds out that they have to pay thousands more than allowed in the contract. Always ask for a detailed breakdown of the site works provisional sum and get a second opinion if you have any doubts.
Unrealistic construction time-frames
Many big building companies overwork their supervisors, often stretching them to manage 30-40 builds at one time. The result is supervisors who haven’t enough time to control quality and manage trades effectively. This leads to projects blowing out well and truly beyond the 5 or 6 months promised by the sales rep. Ask about build times, how many projects the supervisors will be handling and ask for client references. The last thing you want is to be told your house will take 6 months, and it then ends up taking 2 years.
Misunderstanding dimensions on plans
Floor plan dimensions and areas can be calculated in different ways, and builders often indicate floor areas to give the appearance that their design is larger than the competitors. Room dimensions can be taken from the middle or edge of the wall, and total dimensions may or may not include the areas under the eaves. All this makes it difficult for buyers to make a fair comparison between different builders’ designs. Beware of this when comparing designs.
Shop around for finance
People shop around when looking for the right builder, but they don’t shop around for a good mortgage broker. There are many ways to secure a home loan, and some lenders are more cost-effective for you than others. Mortgage brokers have access to many different lenders, so it is worth speaking to your bank and a couple of brokers to get an idea of the range of finance solutions that are available to you. Builders should be able to recommend different brokers for you.
‘Turnkey’ doesn’t always mean ‘Turnkey’
A true ‘turnkey’ house package should be ready to rent or live in, including a TV antenna, clothesline, floor coverings, wall paint, window treatments and rear landscaping. Unfortunately, some building companies advertise a product as turnkey without all of these necessary items. Ask for a breakdown of all the inclusions and make sure everything you need is included in the turnkey package.
Understand the area you are buying in
Choosing a location with poor growth and rental yields will affect your return on your investment when you want to sell or rent it out. RP-Data is a good, unbiased source of information. Take the time to study the median weekly rent, rental yield percentages and growth of the suburb you are thinking of buying into. A good Builder’s Sales Rep should be able to assist you in understanding this information.
Over-spending on fittings
Don’t be tempted to spend more on the fit-out than is really necessary. Instead, try to think like an investor and only upgrade on items if they add to the value of the property, make the house more durable, or will increase the rental value.
Be aware of comparing apples to oranges when shopping for house designs
It isn’t easy to compare houses from different builders to determine which is better value for money. There are so many differences between a house quote from one builder to another, including; the specifications, materials, method of construction and the roof beams. At the end of the day, pick a design that you like within your budget that ticks as many boxes as possible and get on with it.
Display home inclusions
When visiting display homes, ask what the displayed price does and does not include – the floors, wall paint, air-conditioning and high-ceilings may be extra! Pay particular attention to the specification sheet, and don’t be shy to ask for a total price.
Don’t get emotionally attached to an investment property
We often see buyers wanting to overspend on fittings, appliances, structural changes and upgrades for an investment property. Keep your choice of upgrades limited to only those that add to the value of your property or increase your rental yield.
Making expensive structural changes
Making changes to a builder’s standard house design can cost you a premium in drafting and construction. The best way to keep the cost down is to shop around until you find a design you like as it is, or only requires minimal changes or additions. Remember, research only costs you your time!
Taking advantage of developer bonus items
Why pay for something you don’t have to! In some new land estates, developers include free items, such as; landscaping, fencing, rebates on solar power, and rebates of the price of the lot. It pays to research the different development estates in the area you’re looking at buying to see what’s on offer. Check out our extensive range of home designs at Hitch Constructions.
A tip for saving money
Builders charge a margin on top of every material used or tradie contracted to do a job. If you want to save a few dollars, you could try organising your own painting, landscaping, installing carpets and flooring, and installing blinds. However, keep in mind that these things can only be done after the builder has completed construction and handed the keys over, so the additional time it takes to get these items completed will mean it takes longer before your house will be ready to live in.
What to pay more attention to and what to avoid as a new owner builder?
Land selection is key
Location is obviously an important consideration when building a new home. Always weigh the distance and way of transport for your commute to work, shopping, as well as other personal location considerations.
Create a list of the location factors that are most important to you before you even start looking for land and thinking about the home itself. Suitable land can be difficult to find in the suburbs closer to the city, but there are also places within an easy reach of public transport just a little further that should be taken into consideration.
Hire a good builder
If you have never built a home before and still want to act as owner-builder, hire a reputable builder to supervise you and the building of your new home, for a much smaller amount than their normal fee. The builder/supervisor will help you managing the subcontracting on an ‘as needed basis’. If one of your contractors gets out of hand or you need the help of any kind, you can call the supervisor for assistance. The builder/supervisor can also help when technical inspector issues come up.
If you decide on hiring a builder to do everything, make sure you hire a reputable builder or supervisor with a good reputation and plenty of references. Ask your friends if they know of good builders, and when you start to hear the same name over and over, you know you’ve found a good one. Ask the building inspector for a list of reputable builders. The most important point is to shop around until you find a builder with the most reputable and honest background. Be sure to find a builder that has been in business for a minimum of three to five years in your particular location. 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.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing a Builder:
- Credentials: Make sure your builder is adequately licensed and insured and if they are a member of Master Builders or the Housing Industry Association (HIA)
- References: Check the Builder’s past work. Were previous clients satisfied? Don’t be afraid to ask the builder for references before you sign a contract. Contact the Department of Fair Trading to ensure there are no complaints against the builder you choose. Also, ask what 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, you’ll be working with your builder for a number of months. Make sure you’re comfortable with them and their communication style. If a Builder doesn’t communicate well with you, it’s likely they don’t communicate well with their contractors either
Set Your Expectations
If you’re building a home for the first time, you’re going to run into a lot of reality checks. Building your new home is an overwhelming experience. So before you get started, adjust your expectations to be prepared for what is about to really happen. By keeping your expectations realistic, you can reduce stress and disappointment. Remember, planning is king.
The first step involves some realistic calculations on the costs you will face in future years as well as the realities of the present. This can involve considering a range of factors, anything from increasing school fees for the kids to annual holiday plans.
There’s also the “chicken-or-egg” question of whether it’s best to buy the land first, then look for a suitable house design. It’s best to choose the land first. This avoids any traps of selecting a design that doesn’t suit a plot of land.
The goal of being an owner-builder is mainly to save money. Some people can save quite a bit of money if done correctly. However, some people are not meant to be owner-builders, as it takes a strong personality to manage contractors. Be realistic about your own skills but also don’t underestimate yourself.
Create a budget buffer
The first step when it comes to working out your budget is to be realistic. There’s no point in looking at extravagant homes and being sold on all the extra trappings if it’s going to put you too much out of pocket and under financial strain. You have to be prepared for any hidden or additional costs that can arise in the process. The best way to avoid these is to ask as many questions as possible before signing the contract.
Talk to your builder about what hidden costs there are and if there’s anything that may be added on top of the house price (i.e. site costs, fencing, stamp duty etc.). For comparison and clarity, when possible, get a fixed price and an itemised quote instead of a single figure estimate. Avoid contracts that have a list of TBAs. Once you’ve determined your savings, create a budget buffer which can be used for any unexpected additional costs that crop up. This is a vital part of protecting your finances and being prepared.
Whoever said that “knowledge is power” must have worked in the construction industry. It is one of the golden rules of owner-building. Take courses, attend workshops, watch DIY videos. The more you know about all aspects of your build, the better your new home will be.
Maximise the space
One of the most important things to consider when planning a new home is not the overall area – it is maximising the home spaces. A smaller but well-designed house can feel more spacious than a larger house that reminds more of a dark cold dungeon. Usually, you can add additional space if you need to, but it is complicated to change the layout or functional space in a cost-effective manner. Pay special attention to the rooms that you will spend the most amount of time in. Plan these rooms with enough area so that you will be able to enjoy them now and in the future.
Invest in energy efficiency
We would recommend spending money on energy efficiency rather over anything else. It pays you back over time, over and over again. Nowadays, we are more aware of energy efficiency, and it can be delivered easily by choosing the right insulation, windows, doors, and even things like tankless hot water heaters. But – energy efficiency should always be functional and smartly integrated aesthetically into space. Trust me, and you will not enjoy living in an energy-efficient box built into the side of a hill, with low ceilings and no windows or natural light.
Avoid the trendy finishes
Be wary of trendy finishes. Finishes such as wooden flooring and tiles are difficult and costly to change after the trend fades away. You should keep this finish timeless and if you need to stay with the trends, be trendy and personalise with finishes that can be easily replaced, such as light fixtures, appliances and paint. This will help you to stay trendy without setting yourself up for a costly remodelling job in the future.
Build to enjoy now and in the future
We don’t like the idea of building a house that doesn’t fit your lifestyle but will sell a better one day. You should build to maximise your current use and enjoyment. Life is short, and we should live it fully, every day. Protect your investment by taking advantage of the advice of seasoned local professionals, timeless design, and a good location, and you will have a house with a good value to sell later on.
It’s the great Australian dream to build a house from the ground up, but the process of construction is unknown by most.
If you equip yourself with the right information, it can be an exciting process, even life-changing. Most homeowners agree on one thing; careful planning beforehand is essential. Those mentioned above can be your guide in building your own home.