7 questions to ask before building a home in a new estate
Building your first home? Here’s what you need to know
You’ve found it. The ideal block in a new real estate development. It’s a great location, the perfect aspect, and there’ll be plenty of room for the kids in the backyard. You can picture living in your ideal home right here for years to come, and you’re ready to talk to a builder about making that happen.
But wait a minute; you haven’t done this before. You’ve heard all kinds of horror stories about other people’s experiences with builders and things going wrong.
How can you make sure your build is a rewarding experience, not a heartbreaking one?
Building a new home – the two keys to success
There are two keys to success when building your own home. Firstly, you have to be clear on what you and your family need and want. Secondly, you need to know what questions to ask your builder (and make sure you get answers). We know how challenging that can be, so we’ve put together a list of the most important questions you can ask yourself and your builder to help you create the home of your dreams.
Know what you need in your new home design
It’s important to know what you want before you talk to a builder. Asking yourself these questions is the first step in building a road map for your construction journey.
Being clear on your budget seems like an obvious first step, but many people get into trouble by overlooking the potential for extra costs that come up in finishing off the home, or if there are building delays or challenges. It’s important to factor in unforeseen issues, and even things like changing your mind about materials, or fixtures and finishes along the way.
This may be your first build, but it might not be your first home. If you have a young family, you might want plenty of room the kids as they grow through primary and secondary school. If your kids are older, you might want this home to see you through to their adult years or even until you retire and consider downsizing. Or, maybe it’s just the two of you, and you’re building your dream home in your dream location after years of hard work. Understanding what stage you’re at and giving some thought to what the future might look like can help you make decisions about your build.
Answering the first two questions will help you get clear on the design features and extras that you must have, versus what would be nice to have but you can live without. Be especially clear about big things that can’t be changed, for example if you plan to have more children, three bedrooms might be enough now but you’ll regret not having the extra space in a few years’ time. You might also want that second bathroom. Smaller things like the type of appliances you want in your kitchen, or other features that will be easier to add or upgrade later, can be more negotiable. You’re better off making sure the essentials are included from the get-go.
Building a home is exciting, but it can also be stressful. It’s important that you and your partner talk about how you’ll make any big decisions you might face during the process. Being on the same page with the overall design and features of the home, and talking about how you’ll resolve any challenges, is critical. Who will be the main contact for the builder? Who will have the final say if you can’t reach an agreement? These things might not seem important now, but sorting this out at the start will help things run smoothly.
Taking the time to work through these questions will give you a great platform for talking to your builder and asking them everything you need to know about their side of the process before you sign a contract.
What to ask your builder before construction starts
A reputable, licensed builder will be happy to answer your questions and will work with you to make sure you’re comfortable before you sign a contract. These questions will help you decide whether this is the right builder for you and your project.
Most builders use either a fixed price or a cost-plus contract. The fixed price contract is exactly how it sounds and sets out a fixed price (or lump sum) for all construction-related activities. Fixed price contracts are your best option when you are clear about what you want.
Cost-plus contracts can be risky, because it means you will pay the actual costs of the build. If things go wrong, or there are delays, you will end up responsible for covering any costs relating to the construction. These types of contracts are generally used when the buyer isn’t sure what they want, and the place most of the responsibility for monitoring expenses on the owner.
Go through the contract in detail and confirm with your builder exactly what is and isn’t included in the base price. If you’ve fallen in love with a display home, it’s a good idea to ask the sales rep which features are standard, and which are upgrades, so you can make decisions around whether or not you’re willing to spend extra. Going through this process will also ensure that your home really is finished by the time you take possession of the keys.
Just like any new purchase, your home should come with warranties to protect you in case something goes wrong. This might include a warranty against structural defects, or other construction-related issues. Your builder will ideally provide you with a warranty that covers you for the first few years after construction is complete.
We’ve all heard stories about people waiting seemingly forever to get their house finished. Make sure you ask your builder how long you can expect the build to take, what kind of delays they’ve experienced in the past, and what they did to make sure they got back on track. Your builder should be able to give you a typical timeframe, but it’s important to remember that things sometimes do interrupt or delay the process, and there is sometimes the need for some patience and flexibility.
Sometimes the best way to decide on whether or not to work with a builder is to talk to one or two of their past clients, and view completed homes. This will give you the opportunity to hear about the process from start to finish from someone who has already gone through it and can tell you all about their experience. It also gives you the chance to see how liveable the homes are, as well as get a sense of how the builder manages their client relationships. It’s probably the most important question you can ask.
Taking the plunge and building your new home
Being prepared and asking the right questions is the best way to make sure that building your new home is the exciting adventure you want it to be. Know what you want and why before you start, then put your builder to the test before you sign. Working with the right builder, you’ll be enjoying the home of your dreams before you know it.
If you’re looking for answers about building your new home, we’d love to help. Give Sam a call on 0418 289 898 today.