We have learnt lots along the way and had many tips from friends and family who have built before us so I thought I would compile it all together and add to it as we go
Budget & Extra Costs
- Stamp duty is still payable on vacant land (unless you’re eligible for a rebate), even though you avoid this on the house component.
- Legal fees for a conveyancer or lawyer
- Bushfire, flood prone or sloping land? They’re all going to cost you more so make sure you factor them in – assessments, specialist engineering and extra materials all come into play.
- You’re going to be picking up the electricity, water and council rates for your new build as well as the interest payments on your construction loan for the duration of the build. Can you manage that as well as the rent/mortgage and bills for where you are now or do you have savings to cover it.
- Don’t forget all the extras – Blinds, driveway, fencing, landscaping, FURNITURE! Check into what your council requires for a minimum of an interim occupancy certificate. Last thing you need is to run out of money AND not be able to move in.
- Do you need that extra bedroom/bathroom/living space? Its easy to get carried away when looking at display homes, but you are going to end up furnishing, cleaning and paying the bills on this house. Consider how you will use every space carefully – now and in the future so you don’t end up with dead space that is costing you in higher bills, mortgage repayments and pointless maintenance.
- How much time do you want to spend keeping your home looking good from the street? Using light coloured bricks and renders, they’re more likely to look dirty and show moss as if it grows over time.
- Heat impact – darker colours will attract more heat, if you live in a hotter, sunny climate opting for lighter colours may outweigh the negative of a bit of extra maintenance if it keeps the house cooler in the summer.
- Tiles vs Colorbond. This is a really personal choice, we opted for Colorbond simply because if we get a hailstorm (we’re moving into an area that bears the brunt of Sydney’s more intense storms), Colorbond will dent instead of crack so we shouldn’t get water damage. Sure we may still need to put in an insurance claim for the roof to be fixed but at least our valuables and irreplaceable items indoors shouldn’t be at risk of being ruined from water coming in too.
- Layout – how do you work in your current kitchen and what really annoys you? This really applies to everything in your house. Write it all down so you consider it when looking at display homes.
- Fridge Space – will the fridge space fit your existing fridge. Do you plan to buy a new one? If so check the depth of the fridge space. Most fridges max out at 900mm wide, but they get deeper as the capacity increases.
- Island Sinks – do you really want all your dirty or drying dishes sitting in the middle of the kitchen on display? There will always be something that doesn’t go through the dishwasher! Consider getting a sink with a grate that goes in the bottom so you can dry items in the sink, hidden from view, or move the sink to your back bench. If you have the luxury of a butler’s pantry, do you want to move the main sink and dishwasher there and have a smaller secondary sink on the island just for prep?
- Power points – be prepared that there are building code requirements about how close a power point can be to a sink. We had to remove a power point in out butlers pantry for this reason.
Home Theatre/Media Rooms
- If you’re planning on going all out and putting in a home theatre setup, consider the sound implications. New builds generally have no insulation between internal walls or floors – add some soundscreen insulation and don’t forget the ceiling.
- Also consider your door choice – standard doors are hollow and poor insulators, swap them out for solidcore doors. Sliding cavity doors are notorious for sound leakage, so if you want to keep the noise contained stick with normal opening door(s). A single door will let less sound out than a double door too.
- Larger format tiles will have less grout lines…therefore less to clean. But they will also cost more to lay because they’re more difficult to line up and lay level. Expect extra laying costs as well as an increased tile price as they get bigger.
- Floor to ceiling tiling is easier to clean than tiling that stops short of the ceiling, but it’s also an expensive luxury. Most builders only include tiling to approx. 40-50% of the walls as standard.
- Floor Space – If you have the space on your land, consider making your garage larger. The standard 5.5m x 5.5m double garage will JUST hold two cars with a longer car like a large SUV or sedan filling it to the back wall. Making it a bit wider or deeper will give you extra storage space for yous bikes, lawnmowers, spare fridge, tools, workbench etc.
- Research the standard garage motor inclusion – most garage company have better models that are quieter, have more features and a longer warranty. Chances are this is going to be one of the most used electrical items in your home so it’s worth the investment.
- How much time do you want to spend maintaining your garden? We got a small lot and our only complaint was that our garden will be 12.5m x 4.2m (even our apartment garden is bigger!). But the more people we speak to, the more say they wish they had a small garden as they hate all the time their gardens eat up in maintenance.
- Not sure where to start? It’s worth investing the money for an appointment with a landscaper, even if it’s just to do a plan for you. They can help recommend plants that will suit your environment and your level of commitment/interest in the garden.
Preparing To Move
- Don’t waste the time waiting for your house to be ready – there is plenty to plan and prepare for while your build is going on.
- Order any large or custom furniture – Unless your builder is extremely efficient then your build is likely to be longer than 6 months. Take advantage of the fact that either the Boxing Day or EOFY sales will fall in your building period. Most furniture stores are quite happy to hold orders for upto 6 months until you’re ready for delivery. So plan ahead and try to buy big furniture in the sales to save some money. Sofas can take anywhere from 6-14 weeks to be manufactured anyway. When you move in, all you need to do is call the stores to arrange collection.
- Quotes for post handover work – such as removalists, fencing, landscaping, concrete, window furnishings will all take up your time and some trades may already be booked in advanced so get your quotes early and start booking them in as soon as your handover date starts to firm up.
- Declutter your current home – break everything up into small chunks and tackle it a bit each weekend so by the time the new home is ready you’re only left with what you want to take with you. Same applies to large furniture – line up a bulk refuse day a week or two out so you can get rid of any old furniture.
- Maintenance on your current home – if you’re renting, get around to all the little things that you think you will fix when you move out so they’re not all waiting to be done last minute. Check if your rental agent has preferred cleaners for end of lease cleaning to help save the heartache of arguing over your bond and the state of the rental. If you own, start thinking about repainting and finishing all the odd jobs to get the house ready for sale. Pair this with decluttering and work your way through each room as a mini project.