There are so many things you need to think about before, during and after you enter into a contract with a builder. There are essentially hundreds of components of varying size and scale that must be done by the right people, to the right scope of detail at the right time. Every scenario is different and your own circumstances and your block of land that you are building on will have a major impact on your decisions. Your specific situation will determine which of these things are more or less important to your success. But each will play a role.
For the purpose of this article I am going to name what I believe are 7 critical and fundamental things that you need to consider when building a home.
1. Cost and Budget. The single most important thing for you to know is your budget. If you already have your block of land then the next step you are considering is between a Project Home and a Custom Design process. Your budget and your site will determine the decision so you must understand the total cost of construction in each scenario that you measure.
Different Builders approach the process in different ways and this can have a major difference in the full and final cost of your building project. Know exactly how much you have available to spend and exactly what each solution is going to cost. Total construction costs need to allow for landscaping and finishing both internally and externally.
2. Custom Design or Standard Design. A Standard Project Home design is generally going to be quicker, cheaper and simpler to deliver. But always consider a Custom Home solution. Try to avoid getting a Project Home Builder to tailor a design solution to your needs. They are not skilled or resourced to do this effectively. It almost always ends in tears. If you know you must tailor a design solution then get a qualified Building Designer involved. Your building site will often determine if you are going to need a Custom Designed Home. Any site that is odd shaped or has a serious slope on it will likely need a customised solution.
3. Research the Builders and make a shortlist. Then go to work in seeking out their past projects. Recent projects are the best ones to measure. Find out if you can talk to recent customers so you can find out questions regarding the 3 core outcomes: Budget (did they include everything in the price?) Time (did they start and finish when they promised?) Quality (was the house built with a reasonable to high level of quality?).
4. Inclusions and Exclusions. Detail is everything in the building industry. So, when you have a set of plans and they are suitable for your site (whether standard or custom designed) then the next thing you have to consider with each and every builder is what is included in their price and what is not included. Builders take a different approach to pricing inclusions and you must learn all you can about the process of Provisional Sums and Prime Cost Allowances. These items allow the builder and you some flexibility in price outcome. But more often they result in the price going up from the original preliminary price. Pay attention to all the detail.
5. Quality and Price. In every industry, there is a direct correlation between quality and price. Sometimes it is perceived and sometimes it is real. The building industry is one where it is most certainly real. If you are shopping on price then you must keep it very simple and work within a realistic framework. One that is usually provided by many of the quality Project Home companies out there. You cannot expect champagne on a beer budget. If you try then you will be disappointed. That is why the first point I make about cost and budget is so important. Know your financial limitations!
Products and materials designed for the building industry are mostly designed to keep the initial cost down. Understand that your home will wear over the years and just like a car you must service and maintain the parts. The lower the initial quality of the parts and products, the quicker you will be replacing them. Choose wisely.
6. Time is Money. The minute you buy your land the clock is ticking on your bank balance. Interest and holding costs are your silent and secret enemy. You may be paying rent or you may be carrying an existing mortgage or a bridging loan. Some advice; Plan well and execute quickly. Factor time into every decision you make and question that you ask. “How long will that take?” should be something you ask at the end of every conversation. Too often a design and construction project will take much longer than was originally planned and that was due to poor expectations and unplanned decisions being made on the run. One tip would be to delay settlement on the land if you can and whilst that is happening really work hard to get your builder lined up and ready.
7. Read and Understand your Contract. Like I have said before: Detail is everything. Often builders will use one of the many Standard Contracts. These are issued by the HIA or MBA. They can vary though but only in accordance with the law. Look at every section carefully. Understand what has been included. Check that the latest set of plans are part of the contract. There will be a number of appendix type documents. Check that they are the final and approved copies of your: Plans, Engineering and Specifications.
Read the Contract carefully. Ask questions. Get advice. If some part of the contract has been ruled out, ask why?
So, plenty of homework and legwork if you can find the time. Understand that you will almost always have to compromise. If you are building a new home or undertaking a major renovation project then you are about to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are lots of good news stories out there. But there are also a few bad ones. So with that type of investment ahead of you, do your research and ask lot’s of questions. It could save you a lot of time, money and stress.
Good Luck with your Building Project. If we at House Builders Brisbane can assist in any way then please don’t hesitate to give us a call.