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First time home builder - tips anyone?

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#1 malibu71

Posted 07 January 2013 - 12:26 PM

We are considering building due to grants available in SA for building a new property.  This wouuld make it possible for us to get into our own place, we cannot purchase an existing property as we don't have the fund available for the deposit and stamp duty.  By building we receive a $8500 grant and save on the stamp duty cost of the house.

I have owned a property before but my husband has not so we do not qualify for First home buyers.

So any tips or tricks on what to look out for, I know building is going to be stressful even if everything goes smoothly but would like to keep an eye on any pitfalls that we could pick up before they become major issues.

Would love recommendations of building companies, but not sure that is allowed on the forum - I have checked on feedback online and most builders have several negative reviews, not surprising I suppose,  but a little scary.

#2 galba

Posted 07 January 2013 - 12:40 PM

The Homeone forum is great for building your own house.  

My advice:

1.  Set a budget and keep to it.
2.  Make it sellable
3.  Choose quality fittings where it matters
4.  A good builder will make it stress-free - ours has been pretty easy and we're almost done.

Good luck

#3 girltribe4

Posted 07 January 2013 - 12:46 PM

I use to go on the Homeone forum a lot whilst we were building , great for getting little tips , recommendations .

Okay so the 2 things I would re-do :

We built a steel frame home , everyone on the forum was talking about how they were adding bits of solid wood at certain points in their frames . Wish I had taken more notice because its nearly impossible to hang/attach anything to walls without these bits of wood wink.gif

Plan as carefully as you can the position of furniture /tvs ect in each room for the best positions of power points and add in many many more than you think you will ever need

We actually had a really easy build(once we had been through council 3 times rolleyes.gif ) and it was quite enjoyable .I thought I was useless with colour co-ordination but I have to admit I didn't do a bad job happy.gif
Our after service has been dreadful though , its very true that they don't care once they have that final payment .We are still without a fan in the master , a light in the MAIN lounge room and flickering /dimming lights in the hallway and tv room ( all electrical issues) .

We have been in a year now and I do love our home and would def build again ...enjoy !!!! biggrin.gif

#4 tle

Posted 07 January 2013 - 12:54 PM

My tips:

- however long they say it will take to build, double it.
- don't forget to budget for things like floor coverings, curtains/blind, light fittings, mailbox, clothes line, driveway etc as these things are often not included
- as a pp said, add extra powerpoints to every room and make any single power points double ones.
- consider access to the rear of the house i.e. if you cant fit a car down the side add a rear roller door to your garage (assuming it would lead to the back yard).
- make sure that you will be able to pay rent while having to pay interest on your progress payments as well

#5 imamumto3

Posted 07 January 2013 - 01:41 PM

if you go through a project home company, remember that the houses on display have all the added extras on them, one house we liked had $80,000 worth of extras on display.  most of them were things we wanted so that would be an extra $80,000 on top of the base house price, plus site fees, plus alterations to design, plus fixtures and fittings changes, plus furnishings, plus landscaping.

#6 Gumbette

Posted 07 January 2013 - 05:07 PM

We're about to start our build - very excited!  I second Homeone Forum, great advice from people past & present.

Not sure if you've bought the land yet, but the thing I will do next time, is purchase something as level as possible.  Failing that, if you need to purchase something with a slope, make sure your block slopes towards the street.  Anything with a slope costs thousands more due to extra site costs and drop beams, and in our instance it's cost us an extra $30,000 even before starting.  Also, if you slope away from the street, storm water retention sytems can cost upwards of $15,000.  Not to mention things like retaining walls due to cut & fill that will be required.  We're going through a project builder and it's already $162K over the base price, and that's without any upgrades.  I'd also wait for promotions, with ours things like floor coverings, lights, granite kitchen and bathrooms, extra ceiling heights and lots more are included.

Best of luck -  it's fun but nerve racking!

#7 malibu71

Posted 07 January 2013 - 05:58 PM

Thanks guys  - will check out the forum.

We have looked at so many builders and have found the extras are huge I get that they need to upsell but their brochures should HAVE to mention the exact value of all their extras a lot of which should allready be included you would think!!!

Thanks for the tips!

#8 katpaws

Posted 08 January 2013 - 07:54 AM

Contact your state dept of Consumer Affairs (or equivilient) as they often have tips for people building.

Check out this link in contract terms etc.

Make sure you read the contract carefully - do not sign it straight away. Do not be afraid to ask any questions.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.

Make sure you have a liquidated damages clause in the contract - that is if the builder goes over time you are compensated. Builders often leave this blank or with 0 or nil. That means you get nada if they go over the building completion date. However, they will make sure they get compensated if the client causes any building delays.

Know your rights as a client. Make sure you understand the stages and progress of a build and how the billing works.

Check the specifications and drawings carefully. Make sure you know what the builder is doing. Find out what products and materials they are using and that you are happy with the quality.

Make sure you get a completion date in writing and if it gets close to that completion date and it does not look like the building will finish then, do something about it.

Avoid variations to the work - they are clostly. This is when you make changes to the building during thw work. The builder will charge a $$$$ profit margin. Too many variations can create major headaches with the accounting - make sure you get variations in writing and that you understand them. Be careful of paying cash in hand to any of the builder's tradies as some do this to avoid variations and if things go wrong, the builder will distance themselves from the tradies. If you make any cash in hand payments make a record of it. Do not do cash in hand variations.

Often what you are told at the sales pitch is different from what you will be told at the build stage. This can lead to lots of problems as what you may have been promised is not what you will get.

Ensure you have communcations to the builder in writing. Keep a diary of all things to do with the build. Keep a paper trail. Follow up everything. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.

If you can, visit the site and check progress against all the specifications etc. Measure and check everything you can to ensure it is up to expectations. Make sure you get certificates of compliance at all stages of the build and CHECK THEM thoroughly.

Have a lighting and electrical plan.

DO NOT PAY any progress payments unless you are completely happy with the work done and that the stage has been fully completed. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.

Get a building inspector when the work is done to check the work before the final inspection and final claim. It may cost money but it will probably be worth it. I WOULD RECOMMEND THIS STRONGLY.

You may end up with a difficult building manager who believes that the client is always wrong. Never let the building manager or supervisor intimidate you. Do not make on the spot decisions, think things through before you agree to anything.

Building is stressful. Dealing with builders can be very stressful.

If a builder says "trust me" don't believe them.

#9 mychichi

Posted 08 January 2013 - 08:58 AM

Hi OP we are from SA too and thinking about building. We are trying to find land in our area at the moment.

My BIL is a draftsperson and is building his own investment properties. He said for a single story to budget for about $800-$1000 per m2.

So for example, we went to check out the M3tricton display up at Mt Baker and loved the Chelsea 33. They had the price listed as $241,000 however they listed the size 236.88 m2. The house is not really that size as they didn't include the garage, portico or alfresco Tounge1.gif so that bumps it up to 307.40 m2 and really a price around $300K. Then will need to pay extra for landscaping, flooring, curtains, aircon etc etc.

Also keep in mind the price of how much you pay for land and how sloping it is, as slopes will add extra costs.

I also had a look at Fa*rmont Home at Trott Park, sure not as fancy but still looked like good quality homes.

Would love to chat though, be good to speak to people who are going through similar experience.

(Hope you can figure out the builder names what I learned from HomeOne is that they do searches on the internet for people talking about them and might take action so be careful wink.gif)

#10 .MrsM.

Posted 08 January 2013 - 09:14 AM

things that im glad we did in when building our house:

* raised the ceiling height in the living areas, makes such a difference to the feeling of the area
*we had to raising the height of the garage to be able to fit in dh's 4wd, something to consider
*take note of the orientation of the house, which way is north, etc, we get a lot of afternoon sun in the living area - beautiful in winter, hot in summer. we dealt with this with appropriate winder coverings, etc.
*wish we had put more power points in!
*wish we had realised that our ensuite in winter was going to be very dark, needs a skylight or something in there...

and allow money to finish off the house/garden/shed, etc.

#11 Hypnic Jerk

Posted 10 January 2013 - 03:24 PM


Start there.  

Choose a plan that suits the block, so if possible chose the block first, builders can easily flip the layout to a mirror image.  If the crossover (driveway) is on the wrong side for you plan, find out if it an be relocated.

Keep you living rooms to the north

Eaves are essential.  We had our eaves increased to 600mm and this blocks out more of the summer sun.  It cost about $600 extra to do.

Consider if rear access to the site is needed.

Our house has been positioned to provide afternoon shade - I learned this from my parents house then having a home where we could not use the rear yard in the afternoon for half the year - the driveway was nice and cool though  rolleyes.gif

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