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Things to consider before building a house

Things to consider before building a house

Things to consider before building a house

Things to consider before building a house

10 November 2023

If you’ve decided to take the plunge and build your own home, there are a lot of things that you will need to consider. To get you started, we’ve compiled a short summary for both experienced and first home builders. The building landscape is constantly changing, as are relevant rules and regulations, so it’s important that you stay up to date and consult the appropriate experts where appropriate. Whilst this guide isn’t exhaustive, it will hopefully give you a basic understanding of where to start and things to look out for.

Arranging your budget and finances

You need to start considering your budget before you begin the process of looking for a lot to purchase. Understanding what you can afford and getting preapproval from a lender can prevent any disappointment and time wasting associated with looking at properties that exceed your budget. When you obtain a pre-approval, a lender is, in principle, agreeing to lend you the funds for the purchase without providing full approval. It’s important to know what you can afford, so that you can look at properties seriously and with confidence. This will show real estate agents and vendors that your enquiries are genuine and worthwhile.

We recommend engaging a mortgage broker to assist you with this process, as they will be aware of certain benefits and features associated with different home loan products. They can also advise you on any criteria and potential penalties or fees associated with a home loan product. If you choose to proceed without a mortgage broker, keep in mind that construction costs can often be higher than initially planned, so it’s a good idea to be conservative in your calculations and spending both before and after obtaining a loan.

Purchasing your land

Before venturing out to look at blocks of land, we recommend sitting down to think about which areas you’re interested in, and which areas you’d like to rule out. This might involve looking at features such as neighbourhood safety, proximity to shops and schools, distance from work and more. Once you’ve established a list, you can then begin to look at specific blocks for sale.

It’s wise to consider this stage (purchasing land), together with choosing a builder and choosing a house design, which we will discuss shortly. This is because the land that you choose can impact or limit your house design options, and your house design can influence your choice of builder. Therefore, these steps should not be thought of in isolation.

For example, if you have a particular home design in mind, then it’s important to establish that the design will work with the block you’re considering. It’s wise to engage experts to examine a block prior to purchase to ensure that it meets your expectations, and that you won’t run into any unexpected challenges. This may include hiring an experienced surveyor to survey the land, an environmental consultant to test the soil, and a licensed builder or engineer to identify any potential issues, such as the need for retaining walls.

Once you’re satisfied with a particular block of land, we strongly recommend engaging a lawyer or settlement agent to assist with contractual negotiations and all relevant paperwork relating to the purchase and build – a small error can have big ramifications where significant funds are involved. 

Choosing a builder

You have two options when choosing a builder: a project builder or a contract builder. Put simply, project builders offer house and land packages and design services, and they’re generally involved in building multiple homes at once. House and land packages involve choosing from blocks in certain locations and then selecting designs that will fit those blocks. With a house and land package, you will be entering into a contract to both purchase land and to have your house built. For this reason, it’s very important that you seek proper legal advice. In contrast to project builders, contract builders will usually offer a customised serviced and will be personally involved in a project until completion. Many of them also offer design services to assist you in customising your design to suit your land.

The option you choose will depend on your individual needs, the location of your home, and your budget. Regardless of whether you engage a project or contract builder, it’s important that you do your research in order to find the right fit. You can contact the Housing Industry Association and Master Builders Association for information and talk to people you know who have experience with building in WA. You may also choose to research a builder’s completed projects to assess their overall quality and design. Building a house is an expensive, lengthy process, so it’s important to make an informed decision when choosing your builder.

Deciding on a home design

You finally have another reason to create a new Pinterest board. Scour the internet, catalogues and building company websites for ideas regarding a house plan. If you already have an idea for a plan and would like a customised home, then you can engage a licensed building designer or architect to complete your design in accordance with all current laws, standards and regulations.

Another option is to buy a project home “off the plan”. A project home is a standardised house plan offered by a builder, who will sell this plan to various buyers. You can usually make some minor modifications to your chosen plan to tailor it to your needs. Commerce WA succinctly breaks down your options and explore the pros and cons of buying “off the plan” versus paying for a customised house plan.

Concluding thoughts…

As you can probably tell, there are a lot of factors that may influence your decision making when you’re preparing to build a home, and there’s a lot to think about. Our advice is to do your homework, ask questions and make sure you consult with the experts. While doing so might seem like a pricey exercise, it’s generally a lot less expensive to pay someone to help you prevent issues from arising than it is to pay someone to address these issues later. If you’d like to chat to a member of our team about the building process, submit an enquiry via our website today.