The idea of building a new house can be challenging; there are so many things to think about and decisions that need to be made. Of course, everybody wants to make sure it all goes according to plan, right? What better way to avoid common mistakes and navigate your way through the process than getting advice from those that have gone before you. We have put together this list of the top 10 things people wish they had known before embarking on designing and building their house.
1. The Right Builder Is Everything
You are about to invest a large amount of money into this project - hiring the right builder is going to make all the difference. You want to look for the three C's - confidence, competence and most of all, communication. The right builder must be able to be trusted to have the confidence and competence to carry out the build to a high standard, and they must be on the same page as you. Open and honest communication is a must. See here for more tips on how to choose the right builder.
2. Be Clear In Your Intentions
Are you building this house as a forever home? Or do you plan to use it as a stepping stone? Over-customising the house to suit your current needs/desires can mean overcapitalising if you intend to sell the house in the near future. Similarly, designing your home to suit your present childfree life might mean the house doesn't work for future you. Getting perspective and figuring out what you intend to use the property for or do with it over the next 5 to 10 years is crucial.
3. Don't Forget To Incorporate Storage
We all get swept up in the design process – the bathrooms, kitchen cabinetry, paint colours, added features and room size. But remembering to factor in good storage is the key to creating a functional house that is going to be a pleasure to live in as time goes on. For example, if you are an avid skier – where do the skis get stored? If you have a lot of kitchenware - is there room enough for all of it in the kitchen cupboards? Where do you store spare towels and bedding? Is there somewhere for work boots, jackets and shoes? The kid's school bags? Extra clothing? The list goes on and on. Check out some more helpful home design ideas here.
4. Invest In Things That Can't Be Easily Changed
When planning a new build, it can be easy to get carried away with carpet and paint colours and aesthetic features. However, these kinds of things are easily (and cheaply) updated further down the track, whereas fixtures and fittings like taps, baths, showers and kitchens are much more expensive to replace and require specialist contractors. Putting some thought into purchasing high-quality fixtures and fittings will mean you can quickly freshen up the look of the house at a later date with fresh paint and colours without having to invest in any significant changes to its main fixtures.
5. The Build Schedule Is Just A Guide
The build timeline provided by your builder is just a guide unless you are locked into a fixed price contract. And even then, understand that building contractors can't see into the future – no one could have predicted the month-long lockdown of 2020, adverse weather can come out of nowhere, and delays in product and contractor availability can create unforeseen delays. While the completion date is useful to give you some idea of the time the build will take - always have a contingency plan!
6. Always Finish Before You Move In
Yes, everyone thinks they are going to be able to move in before the final touches are made, or when the driveway is not yet laid, or landscaping complete. It's understandable that you will be itching to just get into the house you have so lovingly created at the end of a long build process. But, the reality is it is much easier to get everything done before you move in; otherwise, time has a way of getting away from you, and many people find they still haven't completed these kinds of tasks years later and no longer have the budget for them. Plus, if the contractors are on site it's much easier to get it done than having to pay them to come back at a later date.
7. Get Hands On If You Want
If you have the skills, by all means, aim to get stuck in and do whichever parts of the build you are permitted to help with. Keep in mind though, that much of the building work is legally required to be carried out by a licenced building practitioner. It is best to speak to your builder before signing up and explaining the aspects of the build you would like to assist with. Some builders may prefer to use experienced contractors and complete the work themselves as it is usually faster and more reliable, however as long as you are aware the build process may be delayed while they wait for you to complete the tasks – it's usually all good!
8. Stay Neutral
Yes, it's a bit boring at times, but keeping your colours fairly neutral is the best option for most homeowners. You may love the bright blue kitchen or dark red carpet now but in a few years those colours are going to date very badly, often putting prospective buyers off. Sticking with neutral colours means the house will stand the test of time and require more minor updating in the future. Also, it does mean you can personalise the home more with your own individual decorating tastes without fear of clashing.
9. There Are Always Extras To Pay For
Even though you have organised a construction loan to cover the build, it does pay to note there are a few costs that you are going to run into along the way. Some of the most common ones are; Lawyers Fees. To formalise the loan details and purchase of the land.
Property Valuation Costs. A full property valuation based on the section price and plans for the build is required by the bank before the build starts and again after the project is finished.
Consent Fees. While usually included in the build contract price, sometimes these are an added extra, particularly if you make changes to the original plans along the way.
Soil Report. If you haven't already, it may be necessary to undertake a soil report on the land you intend to build on.
Geotech Report. Again if you haven't already, it may be necessary to get a Geotech Report completed before the build can proceed.
Variations. If you make changes to the original contract, even small things such as deciding on a different vanity or larger bathroom mirror – all of these changes will cost you extra. This includes a fee to make the adjustment and additional costs involved in purchasing the alternate product.
DIY Materials. If you plan to rig up your own sound system, line the garage or carry out any parts of the build yourself, you must allow for these costs out of your own pocket as they will not be included in the construction loan.
10. Expect To Make Compromises
Building your own home is an endless struggle between needs and wants. The reality is you are going to have to compromise on certain things along the way to be able to keep within the budget. Learning to compromise early on will save you a lot of stress, but remember to keep two or three things at the top of the list that are must-haves otherwise, you will lose sight of the things that are most important to you.
Building a house may seem like a daunting task, but there is something magical about living in a house that you have designed and seen built from scratch – building your own home really is a rewarding experience! Find out more information on building a custom home here.