Things to Consider Before Building a Home
If you are thinking of building a home, your mind is probably already running through endless variables. Maybe you know what you want, maybe this is not your first rodeo. Or maybe you are in the deep end and have no idea where to begin, or how to lift your ideas off of that Pinterest board and into reality. There are fortunately a lot of resources out there to help you get the ball rolling, we thought we would utilise our experience in the industry as engineers and project managers to bring you a list of things to consider before building a home.
Aside from the obvious elements of choosing land such as location in terms of local amenities that suit your lifestyle i.e. proximity to schools, your workplace, public transport, and local shops, it is important to consider things that may affect your footings, such as soil condition. Soil testing is a vital step when buying a block of land as the soil type determines the type of slab to be poured. If the slab isn’t appropriate to the soil type, you could be facing movement and cracks in the ceilings and walls within 5 years! Also, consider additional cut and fill on the site that may be required to prepare your land for building, this may result in extra labour and equipment costs. Further to this, consider whether the land will require any retaining walls to prevent erosion or create usable levels, which may impact the cost of your build significantly.
Research Builders and Contractors
We have all heard the horror stories of runaway contractors and dodgy builders, so this may seem obvious, but you cannot afford to select builders and contractors simply based on initial meetings in showrooms, sales pitches, or temptingly low-price points. Do your research and be thorough. Read reviews, look up business licenses and verify certifications. Look at their previous work, is it up to your standard, budget, style and timeframe? Take your time with this one. Building a home is a slow, often tedious experience, it can feel like a stop-start motion, so we understand that you just want to find a contractor who is available to get that little job done so you can move on with the next thing, but try not to give in. Make sure you have got the right person before handing over a deposit.
Another note on contractors; communicate more than you think you should. The beauty of building your own home is the ability to tailor everything to your taste, do not miss this opportunity to have your ideas implemented effectively by miscommunicating with your contractors.
Your schedule is strictly a guideline
As mentioned above, building a home can be a slow process. You will experience setbacks here and there due to various reasons, such as waiting on approvals from Council, any mistakes that need rectifying, inclement weather, or a delay in the supply chain (particularly relevant with the fluctuation of COVID-19 cases affecting warehousing and shipment). Your schedule is strictly a guideline, so don’t expect the finish date to be set in stone.
Extent of Documentation & Management Plan for Delays
The extent of your documentation will determine how smoothly your build goes. Your comprehensive plans should be detailed meticulously to avoid the builder either delaying progress or making choices on your behalf. When the builder makes these choices, they may opt for cheap or generic alternatives that don’t align with your style or budget, and changing these post-construction will just be expensive and time-consuming, so you will need to be on the ball with documentation. It’s important to educate yourself on the building contract and the process of signing it. Ensure all the details are correct and check it over with your solicitor, so that if a conflict does arise you have covered all your bases. Further, double-check your builder’s insurances such as public liability and professional indemnity insurance. Basically, prepare to go over all documentation with a fine-tooth comb to prevent issues on-site or delays.
Layout of Home
When considering the layout of your home, think about your lifestyle needs not only currently but 5-10 years ahead. You are making a huge investment so make decisions in the design that will allow you to grow into the home should you wish to have children. Consider your lifestyle, do you entertain guests regularly, will you require a large outdoor area or a spare bedroom? Do you require a home office? If you are not planning on staying in your build long, or even at all, take it one step further and think about what the next buyer might want for the home. Ensure your layout allows for optimal functionality, a lot of home builders regret not taking the time to really think about the placement of PowerPoints and storage.
Type of materials
There are quite a few options to choose from when it comes to construction materials for your home. Timber framing, steel framing, Hebel, and brick are the most common. Each differs in price, strength and longevity, appearance, and level of insulation. Whilst timber is the cheaper option for framing your home, it also has the shortest lifespan. To extend its longevity, it is important to choose termite and fire-resistant timbers. Steel framing, while less eco-friendly and more expensive than timber, is a stronger, more durable option. Brick homes are well insulated and noise reducing, however can be more expensive to construct. Your choice may depend on your budget, the climate where you are building, if you are building in a bushfire-prone area, or a densely populated/high traffic area that will require more noise reduction. Discuss with your builder and consult the Australian Building Code to help define your choices.
A great benefit of building your home is tailoring your energy rating and energy-related expenses. You can opt for window glazing, insulation and materials that will save you money on your electricity bill in the long run. Also, consider the service connection fees in your build area such as NBN and water services.
We hope you found our list of things to consider before building a home useful and wish you all the best in your home build journey! For more information on our project management services, click here or contact us!
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