Five questions you must ask before building a new home

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Start your new-build journey equipped with the right information. All pictures show Stockland’s Highlands estate in Craigieburn. Picture: Chris Groenhout

From choosing a block of land to visiting display villages, the home-building journey can be exciting and rewarding.

But if this is the first time you are building, it can be a little daunting, too.

To help you get across some of the most important information to know, Stockland general manager Mike Davis shares five questions to ask yourself before building a new home.

Building a new home can be exciting and rewarding. Picture: Chris Groenhout


1. Have I set a reasonable budget?

It’s important to know what you can afford from the outset, including any additional costs that could arise.

Mr Davis advised seeking independent financial and legal advice and clearly understanding how much you could comfortably borrow.

“Getting a pre-approved loan through a mortgage broker or direct with a bank is a great way to get a budget in place and set yourself up for house hunting,” Mr Davis said.

He said there were many free tools online to help work out your borrowing capacity and how much your loan repayments were likely to be. But make sure to allow extra funds to cover costs such as stamp duty, legal fees and lender mortgage insurance.

And don’t forget to factor in moving costs and home and contents insurance.

Know what you can afford from the outset. Picture: Chris Groenhout

2. Which community suits me best?

Mr Davis said it was important to check out the credentials of the developer and ask about its plans and overall vision.

“Well-designed communities make residents feel connected. Green open spaces, for instance, not only encourage residents to lead healthy, active lifestyles but bring residents together,” he said.

He recommended finding out whether the community provided opportunities for neighbours to meet, such as free fitness classes in the park and regular social events, including outdoor movie nights.

Also, think about how safe and settled you’ll feel when you’re living there. Mr Davis said bright, well-lit footpaths and easily monitored open space could help with this.

And communities designed to cater for various life stages will mean you won’t have to leave where you live and your support networks as time goes on.

Green open spaces bring residents together and encourage active lifestyles. Picture: Stockland

Be aware when building your home in a new residential estate the developer will have an overall design style and vision that must be complied with.

This might include the external finishes on the home, setbacks, sustainability requirements, fencing, landscaping and street presentation.

“These developer guidelines also help to ensure that your neighbours are building homes of a similar standard, which will help protect your investment through an attractive presentation and streetscape,” Mr Davis said.

Investigate the developer’s guidelines. Picture: Chris Groenhout


3. Is my lot the right fit for my house?

What comes first: the block or choosing the house? Simple answer: the block.

But some blocks can be a bit trickier to build on than others, particularly those that slope.

“These and different-shaped blocks may limit the variety of home designs you can choose from, but in some cases might mean you end up with more front or backyard compared to
a rectangular block,” Mr Davis said.

He noted there might be special conditions applied to the block, as well, such as having to consider local wildlife and bushland, or limitations created by features such as an easement.

Generally, choose your block first. Picture: Chris Groenhout

4. Can I trust my builder?

Two key things to note are whether the builder has a house design that suits your needs and, importantly, whether it is properly licensed to carry out the work.

Look online for customer reviews and don’t be afraid to ask the builder about its qualifications and experience. Also, find out what warranties and guarantees it offers.

5. What do I need in my new home?

Don’t just think about your home for now; think about how it will suit your future needs.

Mr Davis said consider questions such as: Is my family likely to expand? How often will guests be staying? How much storage will we need?

“Good design that doesn’t waste space can also make your home more affordable to build,” Mr Davis said.

“Before contacting a builder, list everything you need in your home, from whether you want a single-storey or double-storey home and the number of bedrooms to various finishes, and decide which items you’d be willing to compromise to keep to your budget.”

He urged buyers to visit display homes for inspiration and to think about the running costs of the home early in the decision-making process.

“Many of the decisions you make when determining your floorplan will impact on the future cost of running your new home. Keep in mind the bigger the home, the more it costs to heat, cool, light, clean and furnish,” Mr Davis said.

Visit display homes for inspiration. Picture: Stockland

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