There is no right or wrong way to go about building your dream home, whether you start by finding the right location and block of land, or you select your perfect house first. However, buying land and building your home is one of the biggest undertakings you will make and can be quite daunting if you haven’t been through the process before.

Step 1: Research

Things to think about when you first start looking at areas should revolve around your lifestyle and will vary from person to person, but often include:

  • Access to Transport
  • Schools
  • Shopping
  • Parks and recreational areas
  • Proximity to work, family and friends

This should help you narrow down a general region in which you wish to live.

 Step 2: Budget and Finance

Before you go any further, it’s important to establish your budget. When working out your budget you’ll need to factor in extra costs such as conveyancing, state taxes, duties and fees. Speaking to a Mortgage Broker regarding the right type of loan to suit your needs and obtaining a pre-approval at this stage, will make things a lot easier once you find your block of land.

It is also important to understand any rebates or grants you may be entitled to.

Step 3: Land Selection

Now that you’ve done your research and established your budget, it’s time to find a block of land in your preferred location. Whether you have already chosen your perfect home, so need a block that will suit or have decided to lock in land first, there are a few things to remember.

  • The cheapest block could be the thing that blows your budget. Often blocks are cheap due to things like fall on the bloke, irregular shape and/or size, substantial levels of fill, easements position or other covenants, all of which are likely to result in higher site costs.
  • Take into consideration, block orientation, proximity to any major roads, public transport and/or parks, all of which may add value to your home in the long-term.
  • How do the Estate Design Guidelines impact the overall streetscape and what impact will it have on you when building?
  • Is your preferred block already titled and if not, when will it be likely to title? It’s important to remember that until your block is titled, you cannot start to build your new home and many builders will only hold their price for between 6-12months after contract signing. So if your preferred block won’t title for another 12-18months, you have plenty of time to choose your dream home.

Step 4: Home Design Concepts

With your land now selected, it’s time to finalize your home design and builder choice within your remaining budget.

Once you’ve selected a floorplan and façade to fit on your block, you will usually then have an appointment with a colour design consultant or your builder, to select all your interior fixtures, fittings and finishing touches.

When working to a budget, it is important to remember not to get too carried away in your consultation, as it can be easy for upgraded items to blow out your budget quickly.

It is a good idea to go to your colour consultation prepared and with some ideas. Prior to attending to your consultation, find images of colours and finishes you like, or even create a vision board to take along with you.

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Step 5: Finalise Building Contract

Your builder should now put together your home design, all upgrades and inclusions, as well as your final site costs (if your block isn’t titled, a provisional sum will usually be included), into a Building Contract.

It is important you go through both your written contract and the final contract plans, to ensure you understand everything and they are exactly as you want. Also, you’ll need to check this all works within your allocated budget.

If there are errors or you have gone over budget, now is the time to fix things, as many builders will charge to changes made after contracts are signed.

Once your contract is signed, you will be required to pay your full 5% deposit and this is when you should provide your lender with your contract documentation.

Step 6: Pre-Site

Once your block of land has titled, your builder conduct a soil test and update any site costs (if required). Then they will arrange for all external approval, such as formalizing unconditional finance approval for your construction with your lender, obtaining building permits, preparing the site for construction.

It is now that your allocated building supervisor will make contact with you, as they will usually be your main point of contact during the building process.  

Step 7: Start of Construction

At last it’s time for your new home to finally start taking shape. Construction is broken down into several stages and you will usually be invoiced a percentage of your overall contract value at the completion of each stage.

  1. Slab
  2. Frame
  3. Lockup
  4. Fixing
  5. Completion

Once your home construction is complete, most builders will schedule Practical Completion Inspection with you. Don’t be rushed during this inspection, it is your final inspection when you sign off on everything, so if you have concerns or issues do not hesitate to voice them.

Step 8: Final Settlement

With your final inspection completed and any required touch ups done, it is now time to arrange for the final settlement payment to be made.

Step 9: Hand-over

With your final payment now made, you will receive the keys to your new home.

Your home will be covered by a range of guarantees, warranties and maintenance programs, it is important you familiarise yourself with these details and understand your responsibilities as the home owner, to ensure you do not do anything to void any guarantees or warranties.

Step 10: Move In

It’s now time to move in and enjoy your new home!

Click Here to find out The 7 Things you must ask before signing your building contract

Don’t assume every floor plan will fit your family and lifestyle. Builders put a lot of planning and thought into all of their floor plans, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it will be exactly what you need.

Check the room sizes on the floor plan are adequate for you. Consider furniture layout and use. Just as you might find a bedroom is too small for the double bed you need to put it in,  sometimes rooms can be larger than you actually need.

When viewing display homes, in your mind, try to strip away all the upgrades, and visualize the floor plan without getting distracted by the beautiful benchtops, sleek taps and gleaming bathrooms.

Ask whether the builder will allow changes to the floor plan to suit your requirements, and if so, to what degree. Find out exactly what is adaptable, and what is set (like structural changes).

Measure a space from the floor plan in real life. This can help you feel the proportions of the space compared to your furniture etc. It’s handy to measure it in reference to your actual current spaces so that you have a reference point. For Example. Stand in your current bedroom and measure your new bedroom. Is it smaller or larger than what you currently have? From this point you can imagine how you will fill the space in the new floor plan.

Builders design a floor plan in a certain way for good reasons – energy efficiency, orientation, privacy, best use of space, usability etc…So if you want to change it, discuss with the builder to understand the pro’s & cons of any changes you want to make.

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YOUR CHECKLIST – [ Before you sign off on your plans & specifications ]

General

  • Ceiling heights: Check what ceiling height is included in the base house price (usually 2400mm). Consider increasing your ceiling height to at least 2550mm, you will be surprised at the instant feeling of space.
  • Cornices: There are different types of profiles available, but also consider ‘square set’ which is where there is no cornice? This is more clean and modern looking, but will often cost additional.
  • Internal doors: By increasing the height of your internal doors you can dramatically change the feeling of space. It is a visual trick that makes you feel like the ceilings are higher than they actually are.
  • Windows: Check the window type on the plan (awning, sliding, casement, double hung). There are pros and cons to each window type – for example, awning windows protect from the rain, but they offer less ventilation. Windows should be placed to take advantage of prevailing winds and to maximise cross ventilation with another window or doorway. Are they single or double glazed? Do they have weather seals to increase thermal efficiency?
  • Insulation: What is standard? Depending on where in Australia you live you may want to increase insulation within the house?
  • Paint: How many paint colours are included, often it is only one? How much is it to have multiple colours?
  • Storage: Is there enough? Consider using spaces such as under stairs, under floor, under bench seats for example. Can you take a bit of floor space from the entryway for more storage? Could, clever pull out shelving increase utilization of space in the kitchen?

Kitchen

  • Joinery: What shelves are included? Is a bank of draws included? Pot draws? Overhead kitchen cupboards? Built in space for microwave? Do you want soft-close drawers? Will the fridge space fit your fridge?
  • Layout: Do you have adequate space to prepare food? Where would your chopping board go? Where would your appliances sit? Can you carry hot pots to the sink easily? Have you considered the kitchen work triangle? Imagine entertaining and having a few people over. Can you prepare food and speak to guests easily?
  • Plumbing: Do you need a water tap in the fridge space (if you are having a fridge with water/ice dispenser)? Consider a pull down tap (especially if you have a small sink, it provides better flexibility).

 Bathrooms / Wet Areas

  • Tiles: Are wall tiles in the bathroom included? If so, to what height? Often they will only quote for half height. What pattern are the tiles laid?
  • Bath/Shower layout: When designing your bath/shower layout, consider: how do you get in and out of the bath? Can you turn on the taps without getting wet? Are the taps in a safe position for children? Can you lean up against both ends of the bath without taps in the way? Is the shower head/rail high enough?
  • Accessories: Check placements of toilet roll holders and towel rails to make sure they are accessible and don’t get in the way
  • Toilets: Is there a toilet easily accessible from living areas? Does it offer noise privacy?

Bedrooms

  • Robes: How many shelves and rails are included? Sliding mirror doors can be more expensive than wooden opening doors, however if you have a small space they will be more practical.
  • Bedrooms: Check the sizes of the rooms. Is it large enough to fit the size bed you require? Some small bedrooms are not configured for more than a single bed. Plan where the windows are situated to suit your furniture layout.
  • Bedroom placement within the house: Depending on what stage of life you are in, you might want to consider alternate placements. If you have a baby (or are likely to have one in the near future), you might want a small bedroom near the master (rather than at the opposite end of the house). If you have toddlers, is it easier having their bedrooms downstairs?

Electrical (watch for budget blow-out!)

Get an electrical plan done at quoting stage. You will always need some level of customization, and it is a common area for budget blow out, so plan for this early on in the process.

  • Power points: How many power points are included? Often you will need to add in additional points, so factor this in. Don’t forget powerpoints in hallways (for vacuuming), near the bathroom vanity, beside the couch for lamps, beside the bed for lamps, outside alfresco areas, multiple locations in the kitchen (including on an island bench), charging stations for laptops/phones and in the garage.
  • Lighting: How many lights are included in each room? What type of lights are included? Do you need dimmers (for living spaces is common) or two-way switches (for long hallways for example)? Imagine yourself in each room – where would you turn on and off your light switches? Can you see into your robes/cupboards? Imagine laying in bed, standing in front of the mirror etc… Think about the use – practical light (brighter), ambient light (not direct), task light (direct). Consider the orientation of windows in each room to understand how naturally light or dark they will be.
  • Data points: Are data points and TV antennas in the right place?
  • Heating & cooling: Is anything included? It is easier to heat/cool smaller spaces, so consider hallway doors to section off parts of the house for heating/cooling purposes.

Flooring

  • Flooring: Most homes don’t include flooring as the standard. Get this priced up early in the process.
  • Consider stairs if you have small children. Can you put a gate across them if you need to?

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Outdoor (watch for budget blow out)

  • Outdoor: Are garden taps included? What degree of landscaping, retaining walls, fencing, decking or ground cover is included or what is the additional cost?
  • Driveways: Is it included? If so, what style of driveway is it? Is there a path to your front door?
  • Garage: What kind of door is included? Is insulation included in the garage (if you are using this as a workshop, it might be handy). What are you going to use your garage for? Do you really need a double garage, or could you move the garage forward and put a storage room behind instead?
  • Alfresco: Does the outdoor living seamlessly connect with the indoor living?
  • Storage: Where do you store things like bikes, lawn movers?

Choosing the floor plan is an important decision, however take into consideration the location and orientation of your house on the block. A floor plan could look good on paper, but did you consider the outlook from your windows for example. The perfect floor configuration might not be as desirable if the outlook isn’t what you’re expecting. Make sure the plan fits with your block.

Click Here to find out The 7 Things you must ask before signing your building contract

Straight answer…no, you do not need to have a block selected before finding a builder. In fact, you may even want to select a builder first.

While you may have found the perfect building site before you even considered building, most people begin the building process still searching for the ideal location to build their new home.  A good builder has the resources, to help you find the perfect building site.

What advice can a builder offer you about lot selection?

1.) Potential Expenses – If a builder has previously built in a particular area or subdivision, they may be aware of unexpected expenses that they have come across in the past due to soil conditions unseen prior to excavation.

2.) Floor Plan Options – Considering the size, shape, easements and setbacks of a block, a builder can offer their knowledge as to what type of floor plan would, be suitable on the block. If you are working with a design-builder, then the rooms will be designed with the sunrise and sunset in mind, current and future views and other features the lot allows.

Here are a few tips that might help you when choosing your land

If you are building a new home, consider these tips before buying a block of land. When selecting the site, there are a number of things to keep in mind to ensure you have the right block to suit the home you want to build.

Once you choose and buy your land, you are ready to move to the next step in the building process.

Land availability & suitability

The first step is to go out and see what land is available, where it is located and at what price. Some options include land in a new estate, regional acreage, demolishing an existing dwelling and using the land, building on land that has been subdivided, or just generally finding land that has remained vacant.

It is also important to make sure the land you purchase is compatible with your home design, with the size, the shape, orientation, slope and soil type all points you need to consider.

Every site is different, and it is not financially viable to do a soil test on every block of land you consider purchasing, so talk to adjoining property owners or local builders. When you have decided on the land you feel is right, then obtain a soil test

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Services & facilities

 Some of the things to think about when choosing your block are the availability of power, water and sewerage, storm water easements, and soil conditions. These can all substantially add to the cost of building.

If you are looking at acreage,, don’t forget the costs associated with installing a septic system, power lines, water tanks, telephone and internet connection and access roads. Steep blocks or sites with difficult access all have challenges that will cost you more money. There are also possible additional costs if your building a considerable distance from the property alignment.

Once you have narrowed down the options on your land, talk to the local council planning branch to check flood levels, buffer zones and other easements. Remember, talk to some industry experts and do your homework, the more research you do, the fewer surprises you will have when you start building.

Lifestyles & Neighbours

A good starting point, before selecting your land and designing your house, is to decide what lifestyle your after. Different neighbourhoods provide different opportunities to achieve the lifestyle your looking for. Choose the one you believe that will suit you and your family

When inspecting land, consider the age and the lifestyle of those living in the area. Make sure you have a lot in common with, maybe your future neighbours . Is the neighbourhood relatively quiet ?. Does it offer you a lot of variety? If your seeking privacy, is the area one where you can live a comfortable distance from your nearest neighbour ?. If you need them, how close are shops, public transport and schools.

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Before you do, there is some very important information you need to know first. In this article, we’ll show you what to look for in a building schedule BEFORE you sign and lock yourself into a legal contract.

When it comes to building your new home, there are several things you need to look out for in your contract; mainly a Building Schedule. Nobody wants to get messed around by builders that don’t’ know what they are doing. But spotting a professional builder in the past has not been easy. And for the builders, there will be clients that want a professional job done – on time and on budget! There are three main problems that can occur with builders and schedules for your new home:

Click Hear to find out The 7 Things you must ask before signing your building contract

Problem 1 – Most builders just don’t prepare schedules

The first problem you may come across is that you don’t even have a schedule to look over. Did you know that the majority of builders do not plan their jobs! These builders don’t take the time to draft up a schedule for you before you sign a contract.

The reasons why these builders don’t do this are simple. For starters, making a building schedule is very time-consuming. Builders have a lot to think about and often juggle a few different jobs at a time, not to mention the number of different quotes they are working on at the same time.

The other most common reason that builders don’t give you a schedule is that a lot were simply never trained to do it! Creating a building schedule that coordinates the hundreds of different tasks that need to happen on site is a pretty complicated job, especially for more complicated homes. When you take into consideration that your builder may have several other jobs under way at the same time, writing schedules becomes a difficult task.

Say you’ve found the builder you want who has provided you with a contract to sign.  Just be sure to get a work schedule as well. A lot of builders will not stick to the schedule, let alone have one prepared with the contract. As we know, building sites are a busy place and unexpected issues can often pop up. It’s much better for you if your builder provides you with a building schedule with your contract.

You must insist on seeing a building schedule for your job. If any builder says they will only provide it after the contract is signed, beware this is a clear sign of a disorganised builder that is putting off the planning of your new home.

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Problem 2 – Builders without a schedule take longer

You may come across builders that avoid the issue of a fixed handover date. Some builders don’t take the time to order their materials and organise their subcontractors in advance which leads to delays on your home, additional costs, and no real idea when your home will be completed.

The best way you can avoid these builders is to…

Use a builder that uses project management software to run their jobs. Project management software helps your builder to keep things organised and running smoothly. Their software automatically notifies subcontractors and suppliers of deadlines, so even if your builder forgets, the materials & labour will still turn up on time.

Before you sign anything, ask your builder about the last three jobs they did. Did they stick to the schedule, or did they run on time? It’s also a good idea to ask for references to see for yourself. Most builders will provide you with testimonials from previous clients, without hesitation.

Problem 3 – Insufficient communication during the build, whether it’s online or in person.

A common issue with building is the delays faced because of selections. Your selections need to be completed within a certain time frame to avoid delaying your project even more!

Having a schedule allows a builder to set a deadline for each selection item, and get everything they need to prepare for it.

It also holds you accountable, as you need to be organised to keep things moving on time. Selecting before these dates is best for everyone – you’ll get the job done according to schedule, and your builder won’t have to add any variation charges and Extension of Time!

So, remember to choose a builder that has your selection choices linked to their job schedule. That way you can communicate your final choices by the date that the builder needs them. It’s rare that everything is finalised at the time of contract signing, but a builder’s online software can allow you a clear way to communicate how you want the job done.

Having seen a job schedule before you sign your contract will put your mind at rest known that you are dealing with a Professional Builder and will help you to get the job done on time, exactly how you want it. Your new home will be completed on time and you’ll enjoy a smoother process with your builder.

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Building a home can be a very demanding exercise; not least because you don’t want to forget anything that you will later regret, and you don’t want to burden yourself with an excessively high mortgage you can’t afford. Unfortunately, many home owners who design their new home or select a house and land package from a builder, wish that they had spent much more time researching home designs, appliances and floor plans before signing on the dotted line.

This is because changes during construction can become very expensive, often forcing you to choose between having the home you want, at a higher cost, or putting up with a home that isn’t your ideal, just to stay within budget.

We can all agree that the best way to build your dream home and have no regrets is to plan ahead early and stay within your budget. To help you build your perfect family home, here are five areas that you need to consider seriously, before construction starts.

Research

The biggest regret of most home owners is that they didn’t spend enough time researching what they wanted vs. what they could afford. Building a home on a tight budget is achievable, but you need to focus on key areas, so that you can fit everything comfortably within your budget.

For example, would you be happy with a smaller home that has top of the line fittings or a larger home that has more moderate fittings? These are the things you need to think about, before settling on a builder and committing yourself to building a new home.

Remember, if you suddenly change your mind during the construction process, you will lengthen the completion process and need to find more money from your lender to cover these design changes.

Floor Plans

Another major regret of home owners is that they didn’t spend enough time thinking about the floor plan and how they would actually live in the house. Many home owners thought that they had considered their future circumstances and needs well enough, but in hindsight they realized that they hadn’t spent enough time in this area.

For people with a growing family, it can be hard to decide on a floor plan; often settling for a large open floor plan. You might think that this is the best design for your home, but when you have three or four children in your family, having separate spaces and living areas can make a huge difference to everyone’s home comfort.

Don’t forget that the homes we build today are much bigger than in our parent’s time, when the open plan concept gained ground. This means that you should have enough floor space to consider an open plan kitchen and dining area for example, with separate living spaces as well.

Storage Space

Yet another element often overlooked by many home owners is a lack of storage. This can be a difficult feature to anticipate, but a good rule of thumb is to think about storage in every room of your home, including the garage.

New Appliances

If you want top of the line appliances and fittings, you might have to either increase your budget or make allowances somewhere else in your home’s design. For example, some home owners prefer a smaller home and/or block of land, because they can then afford a home that is built to their specifications and filled with the best appliances and fittings. Others prefer to exchange the top of the line appliances and fittings for a bigger home and land parcel (they may even decide to include a pool).

Electrical Outlets

Wiring your home for every eventuality might seem a bit over the top, but the best time to do this is when you don’t have any walls. Adding extra power outlets in rooms always comes in handy, particularly in hallways and bedrooms.

So, think about your multi-media needs of the future, as well as in-wall speakers, computer stations, wall lamps, and lots more. Forgetting to locate an outlet in the hallway, so that you have to keep unplugging the vacuum cleaner because the cord isn’t long enough, might become very irritating in a year or so.

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