This is the third in a series of articles dealing with home construction.
Building your dream home can be an exciting time, watching the plans you’ve seen on paper come to life as a full-scale home. To write this article, I asked a number of friends and family for the factors that caused them the most stress when building their home. Many thanks to Matt & Belinda, Celia, Laura, Narelle & David, Louise, Kirby and Antonella for their input.
Here are 10 tips on how to prevent the dream build from becoming a nightmare!
- Time frames
While the builder may set a build time (which they intend to keep) they do not have control over the weather or outside factors. A very wet winter may delay the pouring of footings. The council may not meet that month to consider development plans. Suppliers may be affected by port docking issues. Any number of problems may crop up which are out of your (and sometimes the builder’s) control. Accepting that there may be delays will go a long way towards reducing your stress levels. Try not to have a critical event planned around the proposed ‘handover’ date. Needing the house to be finished in time for your wedding is guaranteed to give you panic attacks!
- Choose the right builder
Selecting the right builder for your project will go a long way towards alleviating the stress involved in building a home. Find out as much as you can about the company. What is included and what is an extra? How much do they communicate with their clients? Choose a company that you feel is going to be honest and upfront in their communications with you. They may not be the cheapest but are you going to be happier with the product?
- The ‘F’ word – Footings
Footings are the concrete that goes into the trenches and holes underneath the slab that is poured for your foundations. The amount of footings needed is dependent on the soil that you are building on and will be decided by the engineer’s report. Many builders quote an ‘average’ figure for footings until the engineer’s report is completed. Do not be surprised to find that the final figure is much, much more than initially quoted. Particularly be aware that in a ‘knock-down, rebuild’ or subdivided block situation, the footings can be expensive. Assuming your footings will be more expensive than initially stated will reduce your stress.
Variations to the signed contract can be very expensive so wherever possible you should work to have the contract as detailed as possible. If you are wanting doorstops on each door, check to see if they are included before you sign the contract. Adding them on after the contract is signed will usually incur a ‘Variation fee’ as well as the cost of the doorstops. All builders include different things in their basic contract. Spending a few weeks extra going over the contract with a fine tooth comb before signing to make sure it includes everything you want will reduce your stress levels during the build. Having said that you will probably find something that you have missed out. Do you need the builder to do that (and incur a fee) or can it be organised after the work is finished?
- Level of fitout
Builders will include a PC amount for a number of items in your build such as tiles, cabinetry, appliances and possibly floor coverings and air conditioning. A PC (Prime Cost) item is an allowance but you may choose a more expensive tile or a nicer oven for your home, in which case the cost will go up. Some PC items – such as stormwater or soil removal – will be charged according to how much it cost them to do the work whereas the cost of other PC items can be changed by you. It is easy for the cost of these PC items to escalate as you visit the companies for your selections. Keep your eye on the budget to avoid getting carried away!
- Decisions, Decisions
While the contract and the floorplan will set out many of the aspects of the home that you will find difficult to change, there are many decisions that you will be asked to make along the way. What colour walls do you want? What handles do you want on your cabinets and doors? Where do you want your light switches and power points? If you need a power point for your Christmas tree lights, where is the tree going to stand? These are small decisions but they will impact on your enjoyment of your new home so consider them carefully.
- All those other things …..
Everyone who has built a home can tell you about the nasty surprises that they didn’t see coming. The retaining wall that had to be higher than they thought, the power connection that had to be underground and hence added extra costs. At the end of the build, you may still have to do your stormwater and landscaping. Have you budgeted for a company to do that or are you doing the heavy lifting yourself?
- The tradies
The quality of your new home is dependent on the tradespeople that have worked on it. The tradies are organised by the building company and hence, if you have any issues with them, talk to your site supervisor. Recent building insurance changes have meant that you are not allowed to simply walk onto your building site and have a look around. You will need to arrange a time with the site supervisor so you can see what progress is being made. Most site supervisors are happy to accommodate regular visits as the home is going up. Don’t be afraid to call the site supervisor for updates. Every day that your building site is empty of workers is costing you money in interest.
- The ‘walk through’
Before ‘hand over’ you will be invited to a ‘walk through’ of your new home. Be very particular about what still needs to be completed or fixed as this is your best opportunity to have any repairs done. While builders usually offer a 3-6 month service where they will come back to fix things, in reality it is sometimes hard to get tradespeople back for a small job after handover. Builders are very keen to remedy any issues so the final payment will be made. We have asked for walls to be repainted and a small tile to be reseated in previous builds so don’t accept something that is not up to your standard. Do you want to look at that dodgy tile every morning?
- All lenders are not equal
When you come to see Mark, he’ll explain that different lenders treat construction loans differently, particularly in relation to after build completion funds. Some will release these funds to you for driveways, floor coverings and the like whereas others will require you to pay for these items and will then reimburse you. If you don’t have the funds readily available, it can be stressful waiting for reimbursement.
Hopefully we’ve provided you with some tips on how to reduce the stress when building a new home but keep in mind that at the end of the build you will have the home of your dreams!
For more information call Mark Scherer on 0403 577 287.