Tips or traps with a build of a new residential home.

Hi All,

We are purchasing vacant land in Qld to build a new home. It is time for an upgrade and we want to take advantage of the HomeBuilder Grant.

The land contract has been signed with the usual finance and soil test conditions. We dont think we will have any issue with the soil as a few houses are starting to come up on the street. Finance wont be an issue though the banks are telling us turnaround times are at least 21 days…

We have started the process of looking at display homes and have narrowed it down to Plantation Homes, Clarendon Homes, and Brighton Homes.

We have spoken to a few people who have built which have varying opinions on their experience. I am wary of the additional costs of variations.

Does anyone have any tips or traps with their new home build? Were there any costs that you thought were standard but were actually variations?

Thanks All.

Comments

  • +3 votes

    We went through the same questions 2 years ago. Eventually the only thing that made sense was - do all your homework before signing the contract. Discuss, deliberate, make changes, add/remove stuff - whatever you wanna do, do it before you sign the contract.

    Me and the partner made a pact - lets spend an extra month thinking on the plan and the inclusions - anything after that will be very expensive and best avoided.

    While deciding inclusions - we focused on things that we majorly structural - like we extended the whole length by 3 mtrs.

    Then focus on things that are must have for you in the home

    Anything that could have been done later - like cosmetically - and we were not able to decide then, we left it as it is and got it done later. Like light fittings, fencing, landscaping, security alarms etc.

    •  

      Thanks, thats great.

  • +6 votes

    Double glazing. Worth it not just because of cost-saving in terms of energy bills but also because of the noise protection.
    You're in Queensland so ensure you have shade over your windows.
    The advice offered by RM above is solid - especially the bits about cosmetic work. This can be done later.
    Think about wiring your house with CAT6 cable before the walls go up. I did all the wiring around the house and am so glad I did it - removes the worry about wifi signals. Oh, and don't let anybody tell you that you have to have qualifications or that its highly technical. You don't - and it's not. A bit of googling and you're sorted.
    Oh, and double-glazing. Really.

    •  

      Solid.

      Are you able to get your own contractors to do some of the works i.e. engage your own tilers instead of using theirs?

      • +2 votes

        Most builders would say no. It's about liability, you are effectively asking them to employ somebody temporarily and take on all the risk of that employee just for your house. Also 9 times out of 10 unless you are getting the tiling for free, you will not get a cheaper price than what the builder is already getting, so it doesn't even make sense financially, that seems the be the main reason people want to use their own tiler or whatever, to save money.

        •  

          Ok so the economy of scales leveraging. The bigger builders can source materials and subbies cheaper?

          I spoke to a mate who got a pool through the builder but he told me they just outsourced that and added 15% on top of the pool guy's standard cost. That sort of thing I want to avoid.

  • +3 votes

    Add as many power points and lights as you ever might need.

    Add outdoor taps all around the house.

    As others said, lots of Ethernet and a central spot for networking stuff.

    •  

      Thank you, I was thinking about that. Looking through the Inclusions List, some of the builders only give you 2 ethernet points.

  •  

    Think about how your doors will logically open and make sure you are happy with it! They can be put in obscure ways which may obstruct your pathways…

  • +2 votes

    I've been through 2 house builds.

    Here's some comments:

    Project home builders like the ones you've listed all build to a base level. Any tiny variance, even like an extra power point or two, or a tiny variation to a window size, any thing, will cost an arm & a leg.
    If you like a specific floor plan, then tweak it a little and go to a local builder (hunt down various websites for recommendations- I can't give you any tips here) and see how much it'll cost for a personalised build to your own specs. They're usually pretty close.
    That way, all those variations you think of will generally be easy to accommodate.

    Also, the prior comment about wiring for Cat6, yes do it. But those project home builders RARELY let the owner on site. You'll be lucky to ever have the chance to do your own cabling coz they lock down the site pretty tight. So a local builder will tend to be more lenient and allow you access to the site for your registered cabler (ahem).

    Think of ALL the possible tweaks you want. Where you want the outside taps. Where you want double GPOs. Where you want light fixtures. What your kitchen appliances will be. Which brings me to another point about project home mobs. The kitchen design are often inflexible, so a local builder will just have a space for the kitchen & you can get a local kitchen mob to spec out the kitchen for whatever you want.

    And pretty much all project home builders will give you an allowance for tiles for wet areas. And it's not much. So a local builder doesn't care what tiles you want. Just go to your local Beaumonts or similar and buy whatever tiles you want & pass them onto the builder for their tiler to lay.

    Bottom line - project homes. Cheap & inflexible but if you want flexibility, prepare to pay.
    Local builder, do whatever you want for the same price.

    •  

      That is awesome advice.

      The only thing I fear is the independent builder going bust.

      Did you go through project home builder for one of those builds?

      • +1 vote

        The only thing I fear is the independent builder going bust.

        Before you start construction the independent or any builder for that matter has to take out an insurance policy for you, to protect against bankruptcy. It's called the Home Building Compensation Fund in NSW.

  • +1 vote

    Probably most important: get the design right for sun impact. Eg Don’t place windows in a bedroom facing the morning sun consider heating and cooling passively. Ie avoid massive western windows. Insulate.

    A bit smaller on the plan might look OK, but can make a room feel really tiny.

    Power points on pretty much every wall in each room. USB power points where you’ll probably charge your devices. Network points. Where is the wifi/router going?

    Don’t cheap out on lighting points unless you can access the ceiling space above. Putting them in later isn’t easy if you can’t crawl around up top.

    •  

      Thank you, I had some quick thoughts on the direction of the sun but didnt give it much weight. But after reading about the double glazing and your comments, will ask those questions of the builder. Cheers

  • +1 vote

    Any specific questions? I've gone through 2 new builds & about to complete the 2nd build in a few weeks hopefully.

    •  

      Was there any 'hidden' costs in your build or was it all written in the contract?

      Who are your key contacts during the construction phase?

      Any tips?

  • +1 vote

    Do an excel comparison Sheet so you can easily compare what you are getting across your quotes. For example in column 1 list out the 100 items from start to finish that you will compare across your quotes. In column 2 or column 3 enter what builder 1 and builder 2 are giving you against that line item. That way every time you look at a specific item like (concrete, lights, taps etc) you know exactly who is giving you what.

    For example in column 1 you might have the following:

    Column 1 - Square Meters
    Column 2 - Clarendon - 250m2
    Column 3 - Plantation - 270m2

    Column 1 - Bathrooms
    Column 2 - Clarendon - 2.5
    Column 3 - Plantation - 1.5

    Column 1 - Soil Removal
    Column 2 - Clarendon - 5 truck loads (fixed price)
    Column 3 - Plantation - 1 truck load (provisional)

    Column 1 - Concrete Slab
    Column 2 - Clarendon - Category H (provisional)
    Column 3 - Plantation - Category M (fixed)

    If you don't have the information or their quote does not say, you can then know what questions to ask them and clarify before you sign a contract. Project home builders are classical examples of giving you as little information as possible and making you pay hard, later on.

    •  

      Thanks, thats very good. We have started the comparisons sheet :)

  •  

    Hi @shandawg
    I'm not sure if this helps at all, but we are in the same situation as you in Qld.
    I'd recommend looking at plans then visiting display homes to get the 'feel' of the size/layout etc. We eliminated about a dozen houses initially, to be left with 3. Thankfully the original home well fell in love with was a clear winner.
    We did a comparison of the exact companies as you & Brighton Homes was a clear winner for us. The extra inclusions of solar/ducted aircon/larger hot water service & ceasar stone benches won it for us. The other two didn't even compare for quality.
    More than 1 light/PowerPoint per room is considered standard with all these companies. We however want to not have to do electrical works later, so we added and additional $5,000 on our quote for electrical items. You can do this for anything at the quote stage, so you know what your budget is. Then if you have to crunch numbers you can reduce your budget.

    For us, we wanted quality and Brighton Homes is providing that for us.

    Also be aware that most packages don't include landscaping, driveways or fencing etc. These are added extras.

    I hope this helps 🙂

  •  

    Oh, Brighton Homes also has a free package atm for kitchen appliances including a fridge + they have up to $30,000 of the house price atm.