Wandering through the various Display Homes, it can be easy to assume that what you see is what you get. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s hardly surprising then that understanding what is and what isn’t included with your new home is often incredibly confusing…. confusing enough that it sometimes really does take a trained eye to distinguish the difference between one builder’s standard inclusions and another.
Furthermore, understanding what’s included and the quality of what’s included adds even more confusion.
Here’s a detailed guide on standard inclusions and what you should look for when comparing them across various types of builders.
What Is A Standard Inclusion List?
A Standard Inclusions List is a list of items that form part of what’s called the ‘Base Price’.
The Base Price a starting point for pricing. With so many variables involved when building a new home, builders begin with a Standard List of Inclusions which has a ‘Base Price’.
If you speak to several companies, you will likely start to notice that the base price can vary from builder to builder.
This is because each builder includes a different list of included features. For example, if you build with Pivot Homes, we include top of the range Caesarstone Benchtops as a standard in our kitchens.
As an example, some builders may only include a laminate or lesser- quality benchtop.
Whilst many customers might be fine with a laminate benchtop, a beautiful benchtop such as Caesarstone is a must have for others.
Builders might consider this an upgrade and charge extra for it. Therefore, they will naturally have a lower base price since they have not included this feature as a standard.
What’s Included in the Base Price?
As a rule of thumb, standard inclusions are typically entry-level products which is why it pays to ‘compare apples to apples’ and really scrutinise standard inclusions.
Typical Standard Inclusions are:
- Pre-construction works including plans, specifications, Master Builders/HIA Residential Building Contract, council building and application fees, and insurances for construction and liability
- An allowance for Site Works
- Internal finishes including walls, skirtings, architraves, ceilings, doors and painting
- Windows and sliding glass doors for outdoor access
- External Walls
- Bathrooms, ensuites and toilets, which will include vanities, shower screens, basic fixtures and taps and a PC sum for tiles
- Kitchens with standard features, basic appliances, cabinetry and basic benchtops
- Plumbing, including sewer and water connection, storm water drainage (including gutters and down pipes), hot water system
- Electrical, including switchboard and meter box, a limited number of double and single power points, light fittings allowance and smoke detectors that meet building codes
- Basic floor coverings (sometimes this means only tiles to the wet areas).
Now you can start to see that the Standard Inclusions and what makes up a Base Price may not be the same as the spotless, shiny display home you just walked through.
Display homes are fitted with extras to show potential buyers what your home can look like but please understand, typically what you see is not always what you get.
What Is Typically Not Included
Items and features with a strictly aesthetical purpose are typically not a part of the standard inclusion. For example, window furnishings, hanging baskets and plants in them, wallpapers and landscaped gardens are most often not a part of the standard inclusion. They can still find their way on the standard inclusion list but that should arouse your curiosity.
It all makes sense when you think about the standard inclusion from the builder’s point of view. The builder would want to present a consistent, standardised level of value to all of its customers, which means minimum uncertainty and experimentation. Unusual features do help the builder stand out in the market but could create uncertainty and confusion in buyers.
In any case, you should be asking questions if you find something unusual in the standard inclusion, such as plug-in appliances. The builder should give you a straightforward, verifiable answer as to why this or that item is in the standard inclusion.
For your benefit, we recommend you don’t accept a verbal answer from a builder or sales consultant. If you find an item not listed in their standard inclusions list, ask for a revised list in writing that’s specifically for your project and have it emailed in writing.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, but don’t jump to conclusions and think everything through before deciding.
What are the Extras?
‘Extras’ are the items that are NOT included as part of the Standard Inclusions or the Base Price.
Examples of extras that are not included in a Standard Inclusions List may be:
- Air Conditioning
- Paths and Driveways
- Window furnishings
- Pergolas/Outdoor Entertaining Areas
- Entry Decking/Tiling/Concreting
- Overhead Cupboards to Kitchen/ Laundry
- Security screens
- Caesarstone bench tops
- Stainless steel appliances
- Polished Concrete Floors
- Timber hardwood floors
- Porcelain/Ceramic Tiled Floors
- Bifold/Stacker Doors
- Robe Fit Outs
- Floor to Ceiling Tiling
- Floor coverings to Stairs
- Downlights or Pendant lights
- Décor/Furniture items
- Extra plug-in appliances like dishwashers, coffee machines, doorbells or home security systems.
The outdoor entertainment area in our Torquay 41 project features a deck, louvred pergola, timber screens, built-in seating, built-in outdoor kitchen/bbq. The above can certainly add a grand appeal to the exterior of the home, and these are examples of items that are almost never part of a standard inclusions list.
Some Builders may include none or some of the above in their Standard Inclusions, so it’s important to ask and understand what your builder deems as an ‘extra’ or a ‘Standard Inclusion’.
Upgrades to items on the standard inclusion list can cut down on menial labour that would otherwise take too much of your time later on. This is especially true if the upgrade is the same brand the builder has already included in the standard inclusion list.
Upgrading the building’s features can increase the property value but also make it more in line with current market trends. One standout feature can turn an OK building into a must-have. If you want comprehensive upgrades, consult a professional in the related field before starting any work.
Few people can afford it all, so choosing upgrades and extras is usually a matter of trade-offs. Items that involve construction, such as larger windows and doors, are the least expensive and disruptive to do when the house is first being built. On the other hand, standard carpeting can easily be replaced in the future. – HIA.com.au
When considering upgrades, it pays to shop around as what some builders deem an upgrade may be standard for other builders. Many custom builders have a higher level of standard inclusions when compared to volume or project builders. The additional cost of upgrades with a volume builder can potentiality cost more as opposed to engaging a builder who includes those items as standard.
Devil is in the Detail
Some builders will simply provide you with a brochure that outlines the Standard Inclusions and a Base Price.
Now beware because many will include generic or imported products. Seldom do they explain the level or quality of the items you will need to make an informed decision. Remember you always get what you pay for.
As a professional design and build company, we at Pivot Homes provide you with a standard inclusions list that features the make and model of each item.
Our Display Home is as per our Standard Inclusions List with pretty much everything you see is what you get.
Inclusions aren’t always truthful so bear in mind that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is! – iBuildNew
With every inclusion fully specified, you’ll see that we use only the most reputable local or well-known suppliers. Armed with this specification, you can easily search and view these products online, so you know exactly what you’re going to get.
Unfortunately, when buyers choose a builder with an inferior list of inclusions, they quickly feel disappointed as they are instantly thrust into what some builders call the ‘upsell process’.
This process usually starts after agreeing to engage the builder, and then each change or request seems to result in a cost upgrade variation.
The salesperson may try to convince you that the list is great value. However, the devil is in the detail, so pay close attention to every item.
Whenever possible, ask for a personal guided tour through the display home and ask away.
Never be afraid of feeling like you’re wasting their time or making them uncomfortable. Any awkward questions asked upfront will clear out confusion and prevent costly surprises further down the track.
Visually Understand What You Are Getting
Builder’s websites and home brochures might look great but those beautifully rendered 3d images don’t represent base inclusions or illustrate what’s an upgrade. Brochures and on-site sales consultants can provide you with information.
As mentioned, we recommend you to take a personal guided tour through the display home, during the guided tour ask the builder or sales representative to point out what’s a standard inclusion and what’s an upgrade, it would be ideal to have a list of the homes standard inclusions so you can check that everything the representative says lines up with what’s likely to be on your new home contact.
If you do plan on choosing a standard plans and selecting some of the builders upgrades, work out budgets before you sign any letter of engagement. Allot 75% of your budget for the home price and the remainder for upgrades. Start planning for upgrades right away and do them in stages, in such a way that makes the building palpably better with each finished stage. Avoid having your money tied up in huge renovation or upgrade projects that last for months while also making the house unliveable for the duration. Go with financing plans only if you have an idea on how to pay them back.
Can You Swap Out Upgrades Later On?
A building contract is legally binding agreement and you should mull everything over before signing it. Since the contract includes the upgrades, if any, the builder is under no obligation to respect any change of mind you have later on. Changes made to a building contract whether its upgrade, downgrade or because a certain product is not longer available is known as a Variation.
Any planning you do beforehand will pay off in spades, so pay attention to all details and consult professionals for advice whenever you get the chance.
Changing your plans after the contract is signed can easily cost you an arm and a leg. – Build.com.au
How To Do An Upgrade/Contract Variation?
An upgrade or contract variation can follow the format of a building contract.
Any building priced above AU$5,000 is legally required to have a building contract, though you should have a paper trail of every transaction and decision if any disputes arise, but we advise you still have a legal professional check it just in case.
No matter how you do it, a contract variation should equally protect all parties to it, provide transparency, ensure certainty and define a remedy in case something goes wrong. All upgrade contracts should at least define:
- upgrades to be made
- expected date of completion
- payment terms
- recourse for both parties
If you require more information about variations or help with building issues, contact the Building Information Line on 1300 55 75 59 between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday (except public holidays).
How To Know What Upgrades To Make
There is no list to suggest what upgrades a home might need, and if choosing a builder with a quality list of standard inclusions you might not need any at all.
However, here are a few common upgrades customers might want to consider.
Windows provide an extraordinary way to view the surroundings but can also be a cause of overheating if pointed in the wrong direction or an inferior type of glazing. They should provide indirect light whenever possible to softly illuminate the area rather than blind. Many homeowners will opt for a double glazed window upgrade.
Double glazing is a great way to prevent heat loss from your property and has higher energy efficiency. – Rylock Windows Geelong.
Communal storage should be spacious and organised enough to avoid occupants having to rummage through the contents. If there’s a separate unit for seasonal activities, such as skiing, that’s even better. Besides that, each occupant should have personal storage that is away from common paths to avoid accidents and misplaced items.
From watching movies to listening to hi-fi music and playing video games, everyone has their own form of entertainment. Each entertainment room should have enough outlets to avoid spreading wires and cables across the floor. At least some sound insulation will allow for more intense experiences without alarming the rest of the home.
Pets relish the outdoors and so will you. Consider their behaviour patterns and how much space they commonly need. Also include the occupants’ preferred outdoor activities, such as jumping on a trampoline or doing gymnastics on grass.
For those who love the water and entertaining, consider adding a pool to your home.
Gardening is a thoroughly Zen activity, bringing the gardener closer to a non-assumptive state of bliss. Gardens can be big or small but the most lush ones need sunshine, access to water and plenty of air circulation. It’s possible to make a garden in shade, parched soil and cramped space just fine, as long as you choose the specific plants that can tolerate those conditions.
A car is a necessary evil in the 21st century and so is a dedicated spot for it. You can avoid all of it by using public transport or biking, provided there’s a communal infrastructure for either. However, if you’ll be having guests, you should have enough car parking for all of their cars.
Water is a precious resource, one we should conserve and recycle as much as possible. Talk with the builder about conserving and recycling water for some ideas such as water tanks.
Solar panels can aid power generation, though they need maintenance as well. You would ideally use small, scalable systems that can be maintained and replaced on a dime.
Trees provide shade, capture moisture, prevent soil erosion and serve as a windbreak. However, pollen is a consideration, as are fruits that might attract vermin. Yearly pruning is advisable and so is proper soil drainage to prevent diseases. If there are trees already present, they can be enhanced with compatible species, such as dwarf trees or ferns, moved or removed.
Comparing Builders’ Inclusions Lists
Why Do Builders Have Different Inclusions?
Builders will most often specialise in building for a certain type of buyer and hence optimise their standard inclusion list for that kind of buyer. For instance, first-time home buyers will want to extract maximum value from their purchase, such as by having features that maximise square meterage or make the space feel more lively.
These inclusions can also be a specialty of the crew the builder employs, which is how the builder can guarantee consistent quality. Pay attention to brands that keep appearing throughout the standard inclusion list across builders. If an upgrade you want comes from a distinctly different brand, it might mean delays during the upgrade process if the crew isn’t familiar with it.
Custom Builder Vs Volume Builder Inclusions
Custom builders focus on the long-term living experience while the volume builders emphasise the immediate utility of a home. All standard list inclusions of all types of builders have some value to them but it takes a specific kind of homeowner to get the most out of each.
By defining your needs and wants, you can easily create a shortlist of builders, narrowing down the choice until you’ve found the one that’s perfect for you. Pivot Homes is a custom builder. This means that you have complete control over what you want your final home to include.
A Custom Home is a one-of-a-kind house designed for a specific client. The custom home builder may use plans created by an architect. Custom homes provide consumers with the opportunity to control layout, lot size, and accessibility. – Wikipedia
Finding The Right Builder For You
Define your goals and priorities before settling on a builder. Where do you spend the most time in your home? What is it that you’re doing there? The home and its features should suit you and your needs as much as possible. If you still can’t decide, define features you don’t want in a home and start from there. This elimination process is slower but works just fine.
Once you know your priorities and/or deal breakers, start researching home builders. They should have a portfolio filled with projects, so browse them until you find the one that tickles your fancy. As you’re looking through their portfolios, jot down whatever else you like or dislike in their projects. Use those insights to refine your list of priorities and deal breakers.
This will be a process during which you will learn a lot about yourself and how homes are built. Take your time, don’t rush it and keep refining your insights. Things you previously noticed but couldn’t explain will become verbalised and concrete.
For example, curb appeal is an elusive yet essential feature of every home. It means the home makes any passer-by do a double take and fall in love with the property. That might be because of the garage door, the patio, the stone veneer or the flower beds. Whatever the case, the curb appeal means you will love the home more and more with each passing day and want to invest yourself in it.
Trust Pivot Homes To Help You Make The Best Choices For Your New Custom Home
If you feel like it’s time to pivot towards custom home ownership, we think it’s a splendid idea. Your custom-built home should fulfil your every need and help you project your plans into the future. Check our portfolio and let us know your needs and your wants.