Can you build it? Yes you can!
There are lots of options and incentives for prospective homeowners who are prepared to build rather than buy. So how do you decide if building your own home is the right way to go?
It’s certainly an enticing idea: a home built just for you and your family. Building gives you more control over the design, floor plan and overall quality of your home than if you’re buying an existing property. But when you consider construction costs, location, convenience and other factors, how does building stack up against buying?
Your priorities – location vs floor plan
Building can be a great way to move into a home with the perfect floor plan for your family. If you don’t like having your laundry in the wrong spot or if you need two ensuite bathrooms instead of one, then building your own place could be the ideal way to address your unique needs.
Vacant blocks in established suburbs are increasingly rare and generally very expensive. Add in the costs of construction and you’re probably better off buying in these locations. If you don’t have a king’s ransom to spend, new developments in upcoming suburbs offer some highly affordable ways of building a home – and you may be able to take advantage of an attractive home and land package.
Save time with home and land packages
A home and land package usually involves buying a combination of land and a yet-to-be-built new home, within a new development. You’ll select your block and then choose your home from a number of customisable standard designs. This will get you into a brand-new home with minimum fuss. While most builders give you a wide range of choice, you will have to choose an “off the shelf” design rather than work with an architect to get exactly what you want.
Your finances: incentives, cost savings and loans
One of the other great advantages to buying off the plan is the lower price. The states offer incentives for new home builders, including stamp duty reductions and building grants that can save you plenty on the cost of your home. Check your state government’s website for more information.
Your new house will come with warranties so you’ll save on most of the maintenance costs that come with home ownership, for a few years at least. In order to comply with current environmental standards, your home will also be built to be energy efficient, which will reduce your utilities bills.
You’ll actually need two loans if you’re buying a home and land package, one for the block and one for construction. Most lenders can bundle these loans to keep things simple. With the construction loan, you’ll draw down funds in stages and only pay interest on the money as you use it, which makes it easier to manage during the building phase.
Your choices: the block
Although there seems to be more space away from cities, new planning regulations require developers to allocate a certain number of blocks per hectare. To meet the needs of families large and small, land releases will usually be divided into blocks between 300 and 600 square metres. Think about how much you’re likely to use a backyard and how much time you’re willing to put into maintaining it – and be honest! If you like the idea of a big yard but are time-poor, then there are some great options for low-maintenance gardens.
If you choose a sloping block you may need to pay extra for a custom-designed home that works with the gradient of the site. Bear this in mind when you’re weighing up the costs of buying and building in different locations.
Your choices: floor plans and home designs
Visiting your local display village is a great way to review designs, builders and other options with minimal fuss and bother – and they’ll have home and land packages that can save you time, money and hassle. Most developments and new home builders offer a choice of display homes for you to explore. Always make sure you check exactly what will be included in the price, as display homes may feature premium finishes for things like tiles and carpets that cost more than the standard design. Some packages will include everything from the letterbox to the clothesline, others don’t. Ask questions about flexibility with the floor plan and how much changes to the standard home design might cost.
Your choices: new home builders
When it comes to choosing a new home builder, you should have an extensive checklist to follow up, including visiting recent projects, getting referrals from previous clients, checking whether they are licensed, and checking if they offer a fixed price contract (so you know what to budget for your build). You might also consider the benefits of getting a Master Builder to construct your home.
Finally, ask your solicitor to check any contract for workmanship warranties and builders’ insurance provisions, so you’ll understand your rights and responsibilities.
So there you have it – a quick guide to building your dream home. Do your research, consider your options carefully and always opt for the best quality you can afford. Your home is an investment and the space you’ll be living in for many years to come, so it pays to get the details right.
Download our builders checklist.
The information in this section has been prepared as general information only without consideration for your particular investment objectives, financial circumstances or particular needs. Read the full disclaimer.