16 Feb 2015

Building your first home can be both an exciting and overwhelming experience. Unexpected delays and issues can pop up with everything, from paperwork through to construction. Make sure you have every angle covered with this guide to building your first home.

1. SOIL RATINGS

Know the type of soil you’re building on. Sandier soil will have to be compensated for, as will soil that is mostly clay-like. Knowing the soil type and building to structurally compensate for these factors can save you heartache and money down the track.

2. BUILDING COVENANTS

Be aware if there are any building covenants that apply to the area. These could be things like restrictions on paint colours (e.g. must be painted heritage colours) or materials (e.g. house must be rendered) or height (e.g. must be below three storeys).

3. ‘SMALL LOT’ CODES

If you have a smaller lot, be aware of any restrictions that may apply. Certain safety standards have to be met when it comes to small lots, particularly with fire safety. Save yourself added expense down the track and ensure you’re meeting the requirements.

4. UNEXPECTED DELAYS

Delays are most likely going to occur. To minimise this, ensure all the necessary materials have been ordered well before they are needed, and always confirm appointments with tradesmen the day before they’re due at the site. Try to keep some money allocated for emergency use – this can be used for those unexpected problems that sometimes pop up. It could be something as simple as an item breaking, or needing an extra that wasn’t originally factored into the equation.

5. CONSIDER RESALE VALUE

If you plan on later selling the property, ensure that what you spend on the house doesn’t exceed the estimated sale value – you want to make a profit! Talk to your builder about what upgrades can be added to increase the value of your home, and what features are popular in the current market. Upgrading your home during the building process, rather than later on, will save you a lot of money when you’re ready to sell.

6. CONSIDER SUSTAINABILITY

It makes absolute sense in this day and age to build an energy efficient home. With the rise of electricity costs and the strong focus on minimising the carbon footprint, adding features like solar panels and grey water gardening systems will make your home far more energy efficient. These features will pay themselves off in the long term as they save you money on energy bills. As a bonus, these features will add value to your home when you’re ready to resell.

7. CONSIDER CLIMATE

When you choose materials, make sure that you’re selecting the right materials for your climate. For example, wooden floorboards are an extremely popular material but if you live in a colder climate, insulation needs to be installed to reduce the cost of heating over winter. On the other hand, tiles are a much cooler flooring option in warm climates than carpet.

8. LIGHT AND POWER

Think about where major appliances are going to be used so you can strategically place powerpoints where you’ll need them. Remember to factor in smaller items like bedside lamps, hairdryers, phone chargers, and laptops. If you find that you use a lot of electrical devices, be sure to install plenty of power points! If you want satellite TV or internet connections, ensure you have the inputs set up where you want them.

9. STORAGE

Be realistic with how much space you’ll need and ensure you plan for sufficient storage where it’ll most be required. Think of your laundry, linen closet, kitchen cupboards, and fridge or dishwasher space. It’s always better to have too much storage space than not enough. Ensure that storage space will be easily accessible and not too high for you to reach!

10. INSULATION AND FLYSCREENS

Flyscreens are a must in Australia, and it’s a good idea to know what type of frame and screen you want for your windows. Adding sufficient insulation will make your home more energy efficient and help maintain temperature during the colder and warmer months. It’s always more cost effective to add insulation during the construction process and not after, so be sure you’ve considered these features carefully.

11. HAVE A PLAN B

When choosing items like tiles, plumbing hardware, lights, and other extras, always have a ‘second choice’ ready on the off chance that your first choice has run out. It may not be a common occurrence but it happens, so it’s always good to be prepared.

12. CONSIDER UPGRADES

Will upgrading to higher quality materials and features improve the value of your home? Mostly, the answer is yes. Talk to your builder about what features and upgrades are available. These are always cheaper to add to your home during the construction process and not afterwards, so it’s best to discuss them prior to having the house built.