Building a house is a major undertaking that leaves a long-lasting impact. Understandably, it can be an intimidating experience for first-timers. There is no one all-encompassing method of building a house. Whether you decide to start with the location and plot of land or you begin with the design, your first step will vary according to your specific situation.
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.
It is helpful to learn everything you can before the project starts. Doing your due diligence makes the process far less daunting and helps you make more informed choices. Because you are undertaking a major task, it is crucial to prepare ahead.
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:
This should help you narrow down a general region in which you wish to live.
- Access to Transport
- A well-connected home is useful, especially if your school or office is far away.
- Choose an area that is close to at least one school for short commute times.
- You need to have access to resources and supplies.
- Parks and recreational areas
- Spending time in parks and playgrounds aid in the development of your children’s social skills and processing capabilities, and they can give you a well-deserved space to breathe.
- Proximity to work, family and friends
- Staying connected to your loved ones is easier when you live near them.
- Access to Transport
- 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. For further details regarding government grants visit www.sro.vic.gov.au
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 lot could be the thing that blows your budget. Often lots are cheap due to things like fall on the lot, 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, lot 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 lot already titled and if not, when will it be likely to title? It’s important to remember that until your lot 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 lot won’t title for another 12-18months, you have plenty of time to choose your dream home.
- Home Design
With your land now selected, it’s time to finalise your home design and builder choice within your remaining budget.
Once you’ve selected a floorplan and façade to fit on your lot, you will usually then have an appointment with a colour design consultant, 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.
- Final Building Contract
Your builder should now put together your home design, all upgrades and inclusions, as well as your final site costs (if your lot 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.
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 formalising 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.
Tips: You will need to pay your final balance to settle your block of land before your builder can prepare the site for construction
- Site Start
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.
Australian builders generally follow a sequential five-step process prescribed by the Housing Industry Association.
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.
- This involves laying out the foundation and conducting earthworks, such as levelling.
- This is where the structural elements, or the ‘bare bones’, of the house emerge.
- The external elements of the house begin to take shape, such as windows and roofing.
- The inside of the house takes shape as the builders add interior doors, walls, and finishing trims.
- Your house is ready.
- 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.
Tip: When booking removalists, allow a few days between your scheduled settlement and/or hand-over day and moving into your new home. Also remember it can often take a few days for water, gas and electricity to be connected, once you have selected your service provider.
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.
- Move In It’s now time to move in and enjoy your new home!
Never underestimate the power of a first impression. You’ve worked hard on building your new home, and now is the best time to decorate it as you please.
Sprucing up your home is an excellent way to give it a personal touch, and there are numerous ways to go about it. Buy furniture that will complement the style of your home. Give your home some character by adding paintings, plants or candles. Most importantly, conduct regular maintenance and repairing major issues.