Building a home is the most exciting and stressful time of your life. We spend years working towards it – putting money aside, looking at other properties to gain inspiration and nutting out all the details about what we really want and need in a home. It doesn’t matter whether you’re building a home to enjoy with a loved one or setting yourself up with an investment property – the money, time and hard work that goes into it is something you want to do properly.
Ample research is key to finding a reputable builder for the job. Get multiple quotes for similar properties and suburbs. Before committing to a builder, it’s important to ask for client referrals and testimonials too. A reputable builder will be transparent about their work. Check the company’s social media channels too – this will give you a clear indication about client satisfaction.
Finding the best home builder for your needs goes well beyond the initial research and quotes though. Here are the key factors you need to be looking at before you sign the dotted line:
Before you start hunting for the right builder, you need to clearly define your property needs. Every smart investment starts by knowing exactly what you want – but be prepared to make a few compromises along the way too. Weigh up all the pros and cons and determine what features are essential, what you can add down the track and what can be eliminated.
If you’re building a new home, you only want to be dealing with builders that are experienced in new homes – not renovations or extensions. And to find the right builder for your specifics; the property size, type and price range all need to be outlined. If you’re after a certain property style, find a builder that specialises in it. Whilst there are builders out there who can construct a range of different homes, the building materials, building process and trade contractors can all differ greatly. Look for a fit that best meets the criteria of your home.
Budget is a big ticket factor for building a home. To be able to commit to your budget, you need to be realistic about it. Don’t go for all the gold trappings in a home if there’s no way you’re going to comfortably afford it and avoid cutting corners on quality. To help find a builder that fits in with your budget, it’s essential to get as many comprehensive quotes as possible. Make sure these quotes are transparent without any important items missing to avoid additional costs down the track. Once you’ve seen the plans drawn up in detail, ask the builder if there are any costs that haven’t been included in the quote.
It’s exciting going around looking at potential homes but be careful not to get too distracted by the fancy display homes and extravagant details and fittings. Not all properties are created equal and it’s imperative you look at the build quality of homes before you commit. ‘Cheap,’, too-good-to-be-true prices for great looking houses can easily dazzle you – and this is where many builders have the potential to trap home-buyers. To avoid this happening to you, shop around and make as direct a comparison between properties as possible.
The more built homes you can tour through the better. Whether it’s display homes or properties the builder has constructed for previous buyers, it’s the best way to get a feel for the look and quality of their work. Be sure to pay attention to all the details when you do go and visit them.
Almost every homeowner has been sprung by hidden costs. Chances are, there’s always going to be something that’s not included in the price or that adds up more than expected. That’s why it’s vital when budgeting to create a buffer for such cases. To avoid hidden costs, ask the builder exactly what’s excluded from the quote. Things like lighting, appliances and fittings are generally not included. Be specific about what sort of fittings and trappings you want in the house too.
Fixed prices are a better way to avoid hidden costs and extras over estimates and TBA’s. Go over the contract with a fine comb before signing anything and always get a secondary trusted person to read over it too. Contracts that have a long list of estimates or TBA’s will almost always leave you in a messy financial heap. The best way to avoid a massive cost blow-out is to ask the builder for a fixed price and get it in writing.
Check the contract for clauses that can be costly at the end of the day too. For example, a ‘pending soil test’ may not seem like a huge deal, but it’s the initial earthworks and grounds testing that can push the price through the roof. All these costs are normal for building a house, but you want to know exactly what’s included before committing.
You’ll be working closely with the building company you choose for months, so you want to develop a working relationship that’s successful. Is the builder who prepared the quote the one who will be overseeing your house and updating you on the process? Many building companies hire contractors and subcontractors to work on the project. Choosing a reputable builder will ensure that these contractors are licenced, insured and properly experienced. Find out from the get-go who you’re going to be dealing with from day to day so there are no communication issues down the track.
Especially as a first time home-buyer, it’s perfectly normal to be impressed by cheap prices and beautiful homes. But cheaper isn’t always better. Prices that are too good to be true probably are – and committing to such deals could leave you spending much more than anticipated. Be wary of builder promotions, huge discounts and bonus inclusions. Look for real value instead.
With the right tools, oodles of information, a smart budget and a good eye for detail it’s more than possible to find a builder that shares the same vision as you. The right builder will specialise in your project, be transparent with everything involved and clearly communicate every stage of the process. And the right builder for you is certainly out there!
This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Lakeshore Group – a boutique home building company in Perth that specialises in luxurious, high quality custom designed homes. Lakeshore are committed to putting their customer’s needs first, working with respect, integrity and honesty to create the home of your dreams. You can catch Jayde on Google+.