3 pitfalls to avoid when building a dream home

Designing and building your dream home an be incredibly exciting. It’s something that people have often thought about for many years. Unfortunately we have all heard horror stories about custom-built homes going way over-budget, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

Of course you don’t want that to happen to you. As you plan to bring your dreams into reality there are a hundreds of options that are available to you. To help keep you on track and on budget we are going to talk more about some of the common pitfalls.

Not Developing and Sticking to Your Brief

It’s understandable that you’ll be excited about the design and construction of your new home. However, being over-enthusiastic or unrealistic about what your site can support or your budget can afford can lead to disappointment and / or cost blowouts. It’s important that you have a clear, documented list of everything you want included in your home and then stick to it. It’s easy to say yes to additional features in the design phase without understanding their effect on cost.

An extra bedroom or bathroom added on during the design phase might seem like a good idea but you need to be certain of the real cost of adding elements such as these.

What you can do: Before agreeing to any additional features, decide carefully if you can afford them and if they are ‘must-have’ or just a ‘nice-to-have’.

The Hidden Costs in Building

When it comes time to designing and building your dream home you will of course search the internet for homes of a similar style, visit a number of display homes where everything is wrapped up in a package or talk to a design professional who can promise to produce miracles, on paper at least.

Unfortunately many projects suffer due to hidden costs that were not budgeted for. These can include:

Additional Site Costs

This can be a real project killer. All aspects need consideration  including the type of site you have and if it will require retaining walls to deliver the design you have in mind. What is the soil condition and is there easy access to site? You may also be required to connect new services to the site such as water, stormwater, sewer and electricity.

You need to quickly establish if your site has already spent a large portion of available budget prior to the actual construction of your new home. Site costs are not “nice to haves”, they are fixed costs that are required to build.

Council Overlays

An overlay is a specific zone or condition that the Council has placed over the location of your site. These overlays are further conditions that need to be met and address items such as bushfire risk, flooding, acid sulphate soil or noise. While none of these overlays are insurmountable they can add significant cost to a project

Consultants Costs

You may be required to deal with a range of matters such as obtaining a site survey to establish the contours on the site or potentially a more involved response to a Council overlay. This work is usually performed by specialists consultants many of whom will require payment for their services prior to a financial institution funding the project

Finance Costs

Financing a building project is a significant cost that will affect most people. Your financial institution will usually require you to make payments on your loan as soon as you settle on your land and prior to the project being completed. If you are making additional rent or mortgage payments during the build this can quickly accumulate.

Non-Standard Inclusions

Many home builders will advertise prices that seem too good to be true. The simple answers is that they ARE too good to be true and the marketing price will potentially not include many items that you would think would be included as a standard. This can include items such as:

  • Suitable electrical allowance and fittings
  • Internal floor coverings
  • Alfresco concrete and flooring
  • Driveways
  • Letterbox
  • Clothes lines
  • Site works
  • Air-conditioning.

What you ca do: Before signing any building contract make sure you are fully aware of and all exclusions the builder is stipulating. It is also a good idea to do a comparison on inclusions between any quotes you receive.

A Failure to Communicate

When thinking about your dream home, that longed-for vision of just what it will look like and how it will function may be at odds with your builder if your hopes and dreams are not communicated correctly. If your team of specialists are not on the same page from the very beginning or you run the risk of delays, cost blowouts or being disappointed with your new home.

To avoid these issues communication is key. Right from day one of the process your architect and builder should ask you extensive questions about the design you desire, the type of materials you want to use, and other key questions about the home you expect before they can design and subsequently price it.

As you move through the design process and in to the build you need to establish:

  • A communication method to ensure you don’t miss important information about the build program
  • A schedule of site meeting or updates
  • Make sure your requests are in writing and that the builder is across all requests. Don’t deal directly with sub-contractors on-site without the builder knowing
  • A communication log to track all communication and key decisions.

While additional pitfalls can occur during a project, if you can establish your position crisply and clearly and have it well documented you are guaranteeing the success of the project.

What you can do: Contact Happy Haus for a no-obligation design consultation and a roadmap to a successful project.