Tips for building your first home

As some of you know my husband and I just built our first home, I am officially an adult! Owning your home is a great feeling, but having something that you created, putting your heart and soul into is an even greater feeling. It’s a long and stressful process, but is it worth it? It can be! If you choose the right builder it most certainly can be, and it most definitely was for us. I have been asked by a lot of people for tips when it comes to either choosing a builder or just the process in general. So here goes, it’s a long one!

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Do your research

The first thing I would suggest is going to the Display Village in the area you want to build (no need to go to any others just yet). The one where you are building will give you a good feel of the area and any style guidelines that might apply. From there you can narrow down the top builders within your price range. Curiosity will pay off here so ask all and every question you can think of to the Sales Consultants. From there go home and do extensive research. Speak to anyone and everyone you know who has built. I am a big fan of pros and cons lists so it wouldn’t hurt to have some of these going too. I used http://www.productreview.com.au which I found incredibly helpful in deciding to go with Celebration Homes. You may have narrowed down your list again, to which I suggest taking someone you trust, who is very handy, to go back and inspect the Display Home for that particular builder again with you. This is the point of the build where you need to be 100% clear about what exactly is included before you commit.

Mortgage stress

Mortgage stress is not something anyone needs on top of regular day-to-day stress so when it comes to applying for loans; taking in to account the cost of land, the building cost, fees, mortgage insurance and any extras you may add onto the build process, it is ideal for your repayments to be 30% or less than your income. Anything over and you run the risk of getting mortgage stress.

Get an offset

Most will be renting while they build and have absolutely nothing spare to save but I encourage you to open an offset account alongside you mortgage account. The interest you earn on your offset comes off the interest you earn on your loan. I don’t fully understand it but the more money you have in your offset the less you will re pay. Ask your financial advisor to explain this more.

Check everything twice and get organised!

Once you decide which company you are going to build with then you will receive your contracts and various paperwork. Again ask questions and check everything twice. This is not the time to be disorganised. Get yourself a folder to keep all house related documents together, do the same on your computer. It is up to you to stay on top of paperwork, payments and to pick up any mistakes. Some builders don’t allow any changes during the construction process so it is really important that you check your plans and contracts carefully. Even though I looked at ours religiously and frequently, things were still missed.

Take photos

When you are picking out colours and products take photos of everything you choose. For us it was a whole year between selecting everything and the house being completed that we pretty much forgot everything that was chosen. It is really hard to choose when the samples are really small which makes it hard to visualise what it would look like in a large space, so we went to every Display Home in the Perth Metro Area that builder had. For example, we visited every single Celebration Homes Display Home in Perth. We took notes of styles and names of products that we liked. We also took photos so we could emulate that same look in our home. Leading up to our selection appointment we spent a lot of time in the Celebration Homes Showroom, this can be the most overwhelming part. Preparation leading up to your colour selection can pay off; you reduce the chance of being heavily disappointed with the final product.

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 Save

While you are building if you can stay with family for free, or cheap, it would be ideal. Understandably this isn’t an option for everyone. In which case you will need to save like you have never saved before. Sell anything you no longer use or need for some extra cash and cut back on anything you can live without. You will know how this will work for you best but you will be glad you did once the build is over as there are a large amount of incidental things that you either didn’t think about or assumed would be provided by the builder. When you are building you will pay for only the interest on the loan, the house isn’t technically yours until you get the keys. You also pay in stages. At settlement you pay for the land price. Then there a 6 stages in which you will be requested to make payment for, thus increasing the interest slightly. They are slab down (when they pour the slab for your house), plate high (when all the brick work is complete), roof cover (once the roof is on and finished), internal workings (when plastering etc. is all done), lock up and handover. I cannot stress this to you enough, check the quality of work at the end of each stage before you approve your bank to pay the builder.

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Things you may need to organise and pay for yourself can include, but are not limited to:

  • Fencing
  • Landscaping
  • TV Antennae
  • NBN and internet connection
  • Air Conditioning
  • Painting
  • Window treatments
  • Window tinting
  • Dishwasher and other white goods
  • Skirting boards
  • Crossover

This is dependent on the type of package you receive when you build. We were lucky enough to receive a free fencing and front landscaping package with our land. A requirement of our loan was to include flooring so the cost of that was added to our mortgage.

If you need or want new stuff for your new home, then for white goods and furniture the best advice I can give you is to wait for the Boxing Day sales. I save around $1500 by waiting until then to get all the stuff for the house we needed, including some furniture. If you or anyone you know is handy try and do as much as you can yourself. My family helped us paint over 9 days and we saved about $5000 doing so. The same applies for the paving and rear landscaping, among other things.

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Be present

Make contact with your Construction Coordinator regularly, they will be your first and only port of call during the process. At worst you should be visiting the build site every few days and at best, every day. The workmen need to know not only that you care but also that you will pick up any mistakes. Should there be any mistakes then you can catch them earlier, making it a lot easier and faster to fix. Stalk your home it’s an exciting time and it’s great to see it unfold before your eyes.

Contact Tye Harper from Celebration Homes on 0427 449 066 and be sure to mention my name, Katriese Wilder. He will look after you and take very special care planning your home!

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Enjoy and feel free to ask me any question you have at berlinstormblog@gmail.com

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17 thoughts on “Tips for building your first home

  1. Next week, my husband and I are going to be meeting with a contractor to discuss possibly building our new home. This will be the first home that we will be able to live in that was designed completely by us and so I want to make sure that everything goes as perfectly as possible. That is why I really like your idea about taking pictures of everything that we choose. I think that if I take pictures of the type of designs and features in the home that we expect, that we will definitely end up with our dream home. Maybe I will try to go to some open houses this weekend, take some pictures of the things that we would like to be included in the project and then show them to the contractor when we meet with him.

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    1. Yes I think you will find this extremely helpful. If you have a good builder they should be able to blend their design with your dream as best as possible. Have a list of non-negotiable design elements and a list of some things you can live without.

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  2. Thanks for explaining what I should expect to pay for when having a custom home built. There are many things that I’m expecting to pay for, but I should be aware of details like painting, window treatments, window tinting, skirting boards, and crossovers. I haven’t taken these items into account when calculating how much it should cost to build my new home, so I’ll go over these details to make sure that I can afford this project when approaching a building company.

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  3. My friend and his wife want to build a home and have been trying to hire a contractor to help them. You advised to make contact with your construction coordinator regularly, they will be your first and only port of call during the process. It seems that finding someone who will be open and communicate with you could be beneficial. I wonder what local companies they have in their area.

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  4. I agree that organization is super important in this type of situation. Before experiencing it myself, I wouldn’t have believed how many tiny pieces go into this type of thing. I’ll have to be sure that I check everything twice like you suggested. Another thing that I think is essential is the professionals that you hire, do you have any tips for finding the best ones available?

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    1. Check more than twice. I can’t tell you how many times I checked my plans or paperwork and either found errors later on or completely missed things all together. What sort of professionals are you seeking to use? I used Celebration Homes as a builder but used my Dad as the building inspector.

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  5. Very informative post. I see this all the time. Fear holds people back from even looking into custom homes as a viable option simply because they lack the knowledge and information as to what it takes to even start the process. It can be very intimidating and I try to educate my clients as much as possible to ease their minds. There definitely needs to be more information out there like this.

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  6. My husband and I are building our dream home. Thanks for the advice about how you should have a plan B just in case plan A costs too much. Now we just need to get started and find a contractor to help us build the foundation.

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  7. I appreciate your tip to do your research before building a custom home. I remember when my mom decided to build a new custom home she met with various builders and was sure to know exactly what she wanted and was able to communicate that to the builders. I also like what you said about taking photos of all the home building progress in order to document it properly.

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  8. My brother is thinking about building his own house, and I wanted to know what you should consider. It makes sense that you would want to make sure that you should visit the site everyday. That way, you can watch the progress, and see if everything is getting done.

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    1. I would consider the quality of the builder. Going for a cheaper build and builder will cost you in the long run with maintenance and repair issues. The product Review website is good for making this assessment.

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  9. I like what you said about making contact with your contractor regularly since they’ll be your first and only port of call during the process. I was told that it’s a good idea to visit the construction site and do a walk-through with the contractor at least once a week to make sure everything is going according to your wants. I’ll have to keep this great info in mind as my wife and I are going to be beginning construction on our very first home soon!

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    1. That’s a good idea but might be hard to book in those walk throughs with the contractor. You will be able to walk through as often aa you like until lock up stage. Best of luck with the build.

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