Home builders checklist
Can I afford it?
Make sure you calculate the total cost of building your home, including legal fees, costs of the land, land evaluation fees, rates and taxes, stamp duty, site works and moving expenses.
Am I eligible for financial assistance?
Find out if you’re eligible for any grants that may assist you with building your new home. These vary from state to state, but may include things like the First Home Owner Grant, or exemptions on things like stamp duty. Click here to find out if you’re eligible http://www.firsthome.gov.au.
Choosing the right land
Make sure the land you’re looking at not only meets the needs of your family in terms of things like schools and public transport, but also meets you physical building needs. For example, are there any special building conditions that apply? Is gas, water and electricity readily available? Do you need to remove trees or excavate?
Get everything in writing
Check your contracts thoroughly, and make sure any promises made by builders or contractors are secured in a written document. Make sure you understand everything that’s included in the price, whether that be a land and house package or a builder’s quote or contract. You can’t afford to be surprised with expensive extras that you thought you’d already paid for.
Understand your plans
Make sure you completely understand the plans for your home. Do you know what all the symbols mean, and, if you’re building from a display home, do the plans match what you’ve seen? Check all your measurements, and allow for furnishings and landscaping. Draw out your rooms and pencil in all the furniture if you have to. Things are much easier to change on paper than they are once you’ve built your home.
Record the dates of all your meetings with your builder, and all the day-to-day happenings once construction begins. Having a record of events will allow you to check the projects progress, and ensure you’re meeting your agreed deadlines. Keeping receipts may also be handy at tax time should the built property be used as a future investment property.
Sustainability and the environment
When planning to build, you may wish to consider the benefits of energy efficient options within your home. These can not only increase the value of your home long term, but can also save you money on things like electricity and water bills.
Sealing your home
Sealing your home is one of the simplest and most effective ways you can increase your comfort while reducing energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions. Under door drafts and gaps in windows can make using your air conditioner or heater up to 25% less efficient. As warm or cool air escapes, your heating and cooling systems have to work 25% harder to maintain the temperature inside, costing you energy and money.
In home insulation also has a significant impact on the temperature inside your home and is essential for keeping your home warm in winter and cool in summer. It too can increase your comfort while cutting cooling and heating bills by up to 50%. Naturally, the most economical time to install insulation is during construction.
The building materials you choose for your home can also significantly influence your indoor climate. Concrete, bricks and tiles for example have a high heat storage capacity, meaning they can help to keep your house warm in winter, whereas lightweight materials have a much lower mass and consequently result in a much cooler indoor temperature. Think about the climate of your area and what materials will be most appropriate for your build.
Unglazed windows are another source of unnecessary heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. Selecting the right glazing systems for your home’s orientation and climate can drastically reduce the energy costs associated with maintaining the ideal temperature inside your home.
Skylights are an excellent source of natural light, allowing as much as three times the amount of light as a vertical window of the same size. They also help to improve natural ventilation within your home.
Top tips for building your dream home
Make a mood board
You can either do this online via Pinterest or simply with magazine cutouts in a scrapbook. Create one for each room and include things like your favourite finishes, colours and fittings. You can read more about finding inspiration in our renovation section.
Work with a designer or architect
Talk to an expert to make sure your home is designed with maximum style and efficiency. They can advise you on things like the energy efficiency, flow of your space, storage, light sources, types of lighting and even the position of your light switches. It helps to have you mood boards done before you speak to them so you can share the vision for your home easily.
Create a sample pack
Collect samples of items for your floors, bathroom tiles, kitchen joinery colours and countertops. Put them in a box and take it with you everywhere. This will help you make sure all your elements are tied together as you continue to select finishes and fittings, giving you a strong style and continuity throughout your home.
Make a non-negotiable list
Decide on the things you absolutely must have in your new home. You may be set on a particular finish in your bathroom, or desperate for a double sink in the kitchen. Whatever the essentials are, write them down. This way, when it comes to making budget cuts, you can still have all the things you really want.
Make your cash work as hard as possible
Shop around for the best prices and never get less than three quotes for any job or item. Whatever you find, there’s always a chance that someone can do it cheaper. You might also like to consider shopping at auctions, or negotiating with retailers if you’re buying a lot of supplies from the one place.
Stick to your guns
If you want something done a particular way but your builder says it’s too difficult or cannot be done, push back. Do your research and find out what’s possible. At the end of the day, it’s your home and you have to live in it. Don’t get talked into a solution just because it’s easier for your builder to execute.
Other things to consider
Orientation refers to the way your place your home on the block. The best strategy when deciding this is to take advantage of environmental features such as which way the sun rises and if there are any breezes or airflow. For example, in most cases living areas would ideally face north giving you maximum exposure to sun and light, and allowing easy shading in summer. Planning the orientation of your home can also reduce the need for heating and cooling, saving you money in the long run.
Why are you building in the first place?
Is it because you can’t find your dream home in the location you love? Is it too difficult to find the right combination of features? Do you want full control of your finishes? They may seem like obvious questions, but if you keep them in the back of your mind throughout the building process, you’ll stay on track and on budget.
Create a support network
Whether it’s your friends or your family, plan to have the support of the people closest to you as you go through the building process. It can be a difficult and stressful time, and sometimes emotions can get in the way of making the best decisions. It helps to have a fresh set of eyes on the project if things are getting tough.
Plan for the future
You may be creating the home you want right now, but it’s important not to lose sight of the future. Will the home still suit your needs in 5 to 10 years time? Will the finishes you’re looking at today still be on trend and practical tomorrow? Will the design you’ve chosen date quickly? These are all important factors to consider right from the beginning. It also helps to keep the future sale of your home in mind. What features are attractive to other buyers? Are you building a home that someone else will love, or will you find it difficult to sell down the track? Having a long term plan will help you achieve the best results.
Look for the right builder and land
Building your new home is a great way to bring your dream home to life. You’re in control of every aspect, from location to style to number of rooms, right down to the colour of the carpet. But often the more choices you have, the more difficult they are to make. Especially when it comes to finding the right builder and land to build on. Here are some helpful tips for finding the right one:
Choosing your land
Unless you’re rebuilding on your existing block, you generally have two options here. One, to choose a block of land and build on it, or two, to purchase a house and land package as part of a development.
If you’re choosing to build yourself, you not only want to choose a block that’s in the right location and is the right size, but you also want it to be compatible with the house design you want. For example, is the block on a slope? Will you incur extra landscaping costs to flatten or excavate? Are there trees that need to be cut down? Which way does the sun rise? These things will all impact your building costs. You will also need to get the land surveyed to make sure it is suitable to build on before you select an architect or builder to design and organise the construction of your home.
Alternatively, you may wish to purchase a house and land package through a developer, who will organise everything for you. More often than not, you’ll be able to visit a range of display homes before you choose a developer, so you can get a feel for the homes they design as well as assess the quality of the workmanship. You can then make adjustments to the design you like to suit your needs.
Choosing your builder
Finding the right builder is not as difficult as it sounds. Look for things like references, reputation or display homes when making your decision, that way you’ll get the best sense of their capabilities by the work they’ve done before. Also, don’t hesitate to arrange a meeting with a builder just to have a chat. It can be helpful in determining whether or not you’ll feel comfortable working with them in the long run. If you take the time to do the research, you won’t be disappointed. The following links may be a useful place to begin your search:
- Master Builders Association
- Housing Industry Association
- NSW Office of Fair Trading Home Building Service
- QLD Building Services Authority
- VIC The Building Commission
- ACT Planning & Land Authority
- SA Office of Consumer & Business Affairs
- TAS Register of Accredited Building Practitioners
- WA Builders Registration Board
- NT Northern Territory Department of Planning and Infrastructure
Once you’ve decided on a builder, make sure you maintain clear communication about your expectations, and match this with up to date paperwork. It’s important to ensure your building contract is clear and covers everything you’ve discussed, and that you agree to a timeline of completion.
Builder incentives and stamp duty
When you’re looking for a builder, you may notice that many of them offer building incentives to encourage you to use them. These incentives may include things like grant top ups, gift vouchers, cash back offers, bonus packages and upgrades.
As with anything that’s offered for free, it’s important to be wary. Do these incentives really offer you extra value? More often than not the answer is no. Here are some things to consider before choosing to go with a builder based on their incentives.
Is it added value or added cost? Some builders may build the cost of the incentives into the total price of the home. While they’re promised as “free” or “extra”, chances are you’re actually paying for them. Plus, the value of the property versus the value of the incentives can make it difficult to get finance. If the total cost of your home is $300,000 but your bank values your property at $270,000 plus $30,000 worth of bonuses, you may end up borrowing more to cover the cost of the bonuses – costing you time and interest in the long run.
Are you really ready to buy? Many builder incentives are limited time only offers, encouraging you to sign the dotted line in a hurry and before you may be ready. If this is the case, consider whether you truly love the home, and whether a free entertainment system or air conditioning unit really is enough to sway you. Never feel pressure to sign anything if you’re not comfortable.
Are the upgrades being promised really worth as much as they say? You may be promised $10,000 worth of upgrades, but in reality, your builder purchases these items at a wholesale cost or in bulk. Find out exactly what the upgrades are, and how much they’re really worth. They may be cheaper for you to purchase yourself.
Are they asking for anything in exchange? Some builder incentives require that in return for the bonus or upgrade, you must use or employ the builder’s contacts. For example, you may be required to use the builder’s real estate agent to sell your existing property, or apply for a loan with the builder’s lender. This is a major warning sign. Never sign contracts with people you don’t know, trust, or feel 100% comfortable working with.
Stamp duty is a government tax that’s based on the purchase price of your property and it varies from state to state. It’s important to think about this as an additional cost when budgeting to build your home. It’s also important to note that when you’re building, stamp duty is only payable on the land and footings costs, rather than the total house and land package cost if you’re buying an established property. For more information check with your local State Revenue Office.
Something to consider when building your next home is how you’re going to protect it. We have a range of insurance products to help you get the cover you need, from Home and Contents Insurance, to Landlord Insurance, to Loan Protection Insurance, which helps protect your loan repayments in the event of illness or injury. It’s important to remember to budget for these essential extras. View our insurance products.
Applying for a home loan with MyState is easy, and we’ll keep you up to date with what’s happening every step of the way. Check out our step-by-step guide to the application process below.
Stage 1: Application
Download our home loan checklist to help you get your documents ready, then drop into your nearest branch or call 1300 092 468 to begin the application process. We’ll process your loan application on the spot, subject to an employment check, valuation & lender’s mortgage insurance. You’ll have a decision on your home loan within 60 minutes, guaranteed.
Stage 2: Verification
We’ll check your documents, including your employment history, to verify that they’re all correct.
Stage 3: Valuation
We’ll order a valuation to verify the value of your preferred property. The valuer will get in touch with the real estate agent directly and arrange the valuation; then report back to us.
Stage 4: Lender’s Mortgage Insurance
If it’s required, we’ll apply for Lender’s Mortgage Insurance. If you have a sizeable deposit, you may not need it. We’ll let you know either way.
Stage 5: Unconditional approval
At this stage, once your details have all been verified, the valuation is satisfactory and mortgage insurance (if required) approved, we’ll unconditionally approve your loan, which is a 100% guarantee that we’ll be financing your home loan.
Stage 6: Funding
At this stage, your loan will be opened, and the arrangements to book settlement will be made with your conveyancer and settlement will take place at an agreed time.