Before building new, empower yourself with knowledge
If you’re a first-time home builder and you’re nervous, it’s not surprising.
After all, you are sinking your savings into what will be the biggest purchase of your life, one that will involve drawing up budgets, signing contracts and wrestling with a raft of builder jargon that is entirely alien to you.
But there should also be a positive emotion, too.
“Building should be an exciting time for people,” said Orbit Homes’ sales manager for Victoria, Colin Bischof. “And the more research someone does, the more they will enjoy the process as they eliminate unnecessary stresses.”
Here are some tips to ensure your build stays on budget, on time and, most importantly, results in the home you have been dreaming of.
1. Educate yourself
Education, according to Mr Bischof, is the No.1 priority for people building a new home, and it involves more than just a bit of evening internet research.
“Buyers will start by going along to display villages and this is often where the confusion starts,” Mr Bischof said.
“People can end up being quite confused as to what they are actually getting and what is involved.”
Mr Bischof said buyers should sit down with the on-site sales consultant and ensure they understood the exact plan they were looking at and how the house would fit on their block.
“Talk to two or three sales consultants at different display villages and see which one you trust and can work with,” Mr Bischof said. “They will be able to help you to understand lot sizes, easements, setbacks, estate guidelines, site costs and so on.”
2. Don’t buy land without thinking about the home
A common mistake that many first-timers make is to buy the block first and think about the house later.
“The house and land need to be seen as working in tandem and you need to purchase land with an idea of how the house will fit on to it,” Mr Bischof said.
“It is helpful to have done some homework on home designs first so house and land do not become separate considerations.”
Mr Bischof has seen numerous first-time buyers purchase the wrong block and be hit with unforeseen site costs or a block that is not right for the home they eventually choose.
3. Know your upgrades
When you’re touring display homes, it’s easy to forget that what you see isn’t always what you get.
Builders will, more often than not, put their best homes on display with all of the optional extras, so make sure you understand the difference between standard inclusions and upgrades.
“I recommend people make a list of their needs, wants and wishes and then get a quote for how much their basic needs will cost,” Mr Bischof said.
“Once you know what the standard inclusions will cost, you can then add on with a few cosmetic upgrades where you can afford it.”
4. Learn the language
Easements, covenants, design guidelines … builders and developers are notorious for using language that goes straight over the head of the average punter.
Which is why it’s important to take some time to educate yourself on the language and terminology frequently used in building contracts and in the home-design process.
“Builders are getting better at speaking in layman’s terms, but it’s helpful if people understand some of the common terms,” Mr Bischof said.
In order to do this, ask your sales consultant to explain key terms.
“There are no dumb questions, so make sure you ask,” he said. “You are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, so it’s important to make sure you understand the process.”
5. Get across solar passive design
When viewing a new design on a computer screen, it’s very easy to fall in love with it without considering how it will actually sit on your block.
But solar passive design — which involves positioning the home on the site to keep it naturally warm in winter and cool in summer — is absolutely vital.
“Focus on getting the design of the house right to begin with,” Mr Bischof said. “Think about if you want the living room to receive the afternoon sun and so on. Every builder can give you a Caesarstone benchtop and custom add-ons, but make sure you work with a builder that can help create the right structure and design for your home to begin with.”
6. Understand your quote
It’s likely that at some point in the new-build process you will end up with a range of builder quotes to pore over. Which one should you choose?
“Buyers should always ask the various sales consultants to break down the quote, from the base price, facade price, site costs, government costs, estate requirements, upgrade costs, promotional items, site start month and price-protection period, including how much you will be charged if the land is not ready on time,” Mr Bischof said.
“It is also imperative to understand the detailed inclusions list to know exactly what you are getting from a builder. A good sales consultant will also point out what you are not getting to allow you to budget for those items that will need to be added to the quote.”
And while price is important, it’s far from the only factor to consider.
“You definitely get what you pay for, so be aware of choosing a builder solely based on price,” Mr Bischof said.
“The value of the best builders comes through the way they hold your hand through the process and the service they offer the whole way through.”