Having your house built new has got a lot of advantages over buying a pre-existing property in terms of cost, flexibility, resale value and sheer personal satisfaction, but it usually amounts to a lot of extra work and there is the risk that things can go horribly wrong. Before you decide to proceed with construction, take a look at the following breakdown of the things you will need to manage before, during and after construction, and then think about whether it’s something you want to get involved in.
Before you even think about building, you need to have a good grasp of what you’re facing in terms of capital outlay, and how you’re going to finance it. It is crucial that you factor in the costs like government duties, inspection and valuation, legal costs, settlement fees, property taxes, site preparation to your overall budget, and don’t forget you’re still going to need money for furniture and refinements. Once you have fairly accurate estimates of house, land and sundry costs, you then to approach financial institutions for a loan. There are a lot of different loan packages on the market, so you may want to enlist the help of a good broker to dig up the solutions that best fit your circumstances.
Location, location, location
Pardon the cliché. There is, however, a great deal that you need to research and think about before choosing your lot. You need to check all the public utilities and find out whether you can connect to sewerage mains or if you’re going to have to install a septic tank. You also need to consider intangible amenities like schools and transport services, as well as crime rates and general affluence in the area. You need to examine at the land title very carefully, especially looking for any covenants and encumbrances on the block, and you also need to check with the local council regarding any special requirements or building restrictions. While you’re there, find out whether there are any works planned for the area in the foreseeable future. Then you need to assess with your builder how you’re going to orientate your planned house with respect to the land, bearing in mind energy and light factors associated with the passage of the sun.
Building quotations and contracts
If you were asking yourself whether you were having fun yet, well get ready for plans, permits and building contacts. Designing your house can be an exciting phase, but remember that there is no perfect solution and every design involves some degree of compromise. And the spatial layout is only half the job; you need to look very closely at the construction materials you are going to use and the distribution of electricity, gas, water, phone and Ethernet cabling throughout the house as well as door and window fixtures, lighting and insulation, just to name a few.
Once you’ve gone through the rigmarole of obtaining permits and, assuming there haven’t been any major hiccups, it’s time to get down and dirty with the builders. The contract phase with your builder can make you or break you, so you need to scour quotations and contracts thoroughly to be sure you know exactly what you are and aren’t getting in the contract, and remember to consider details like fixtures, lighting, built-in cupboards and wardrobes, plumbing, taps, fittings, pavements, driveways, flooring… everything.
The contract elaboration process is a very good moment to get a qualified building inspector involved, as they are industry professionals who can help you identify any potential issues with the contract and also give you a lot of important advice regarding your rights. Remember that once you’ve signed the dotted line, don’t expect that you can just cancel the contract without incurring penalties, and there is no “cooling off” period to speak of in the building game.
Once construction is underway, you really should visit the site as often as you can to check the work is proceeding according to plan. Progress payments will likely be part of the original contract agreement and you need to be sure that the builder has actually properly completed the work you are being billed for.
Unfortunately, with the amount of money that goes into building a house, a builder can skim tens of thousands of dollars off construction costs by simply switching to inferior materials and lowering specs and, well, the temptation is just too great for the average human being. Make very sure that you are as vigilant as you can be during the construction process. Remember your building inspector? This figure can help you immensely in this respect, and will give you the added piece of mind that they will be checking things that, as a layman, you may never have even dreamed of. As well as conducting progress inspections and providing detailed, documented reports, the building inspector is also responsible for the final inspection, which is vitally important with respect to enforcing a builder’s legal obligation to provide maintenance and fix shortcomings within a specified time after construction has been completed.
Moving in and furnishing your new home
If you didn’t factor in moving and furniture costs when you first developed your estimates and arranged financing, you’re going to regret it now. This can be such a painstakingly long and expensive process that there is little wonder that so many new homes are never quite complete even a few years after the owners have moved in. Never mind. When you do buy furniture, look closely at the quality of the workmanship and think carefully about whether it will service your needs in the immediate and longer term future, as family conditions change and evolve over time.
Don’t forget to inform various government departments and public institutions, the local electoral office, banking and insurance companies and other interested parties of your new address.