Building a new home is a dream come true. But the excitement of having a place to call your own could quickly turn into a nightmare if you are not aware of the potential issues that stand between you and your dream, so here’s mistakes to avoid when designing and building a house.
Designing Your Home
The first and probably the most exciting step in any house-building project is designing the home of your dreams. This is where aspiring homeowners trip themselves the most. A seemingly minor mistake at such an early stage could turn out to be a huge stumbling block later on.
Not planning for the long-term
Building a home is usually a life-long investment. Unfortunately, when you imagine your perfect home, it is easy to get caught in the moment instead of thinking long-term. As a result, you might end up with a home that won’t suit your needs as early as 5 years from now.
Luckily, this is easily avoidable by asking yourself several simple questions.
- How many kids do you want to have? You need this to plan the exact number of bedrooms.
- Do you plan on having guests sleeping over? If so, you may want to consider adding a guest room.
- Does your job require you to work from home? A home office or at least a designated area will be a huge plus.
- Do you like hosting events for friends? If yes, consider going for a more open-spaced living room and/or kitchen.
- How much storage space would you need? The golden rule is usually one closet per bedroom plus one additional closet in the main hall.
- Do you plan to live there when you retire? If so, you might want to opt for a single-story home or at least situate a master bedroom and bathroom on the main floor.
Not having a set budget
If you’re planning on designing and building a new home, you probably have some idea of what it will cost you. Still, in a project as large as this, a rough estimate is not something you want to work with.
To avoid huge unexpected costs during the Designing/Costing stage, you need to have an fair idea on budget right from the start. Understanding not only what you are willing to spend but also what you can afford to spend is important. Be sure to also allow a contingency for any issues that will surely arise in the process.
Once you have your budget set, be upfront and discuss it with all parties involved in the project, including the Designers and Building Contractors.
Neglecting property’s location
When you’re in your 20s or early 30s, living in the heart of the city may sound like a dream come true. But the truth is that areas with busy streets and big stores are not very family-friendly.
To ensure a good resale value in the long run, research the property’s proximity to amenities like public transport, schools, hospitals, parks, and grocery stores.
If you have a clear vision of your home, think also how it would fit in the neighbourhood. A house that is too big, too small, or doesn’t match in style may be harder to sell if needed.
Overlooking natural light
Of course, you could always install as many artificial light fixtures as you like to make a darker house brighter. Still, there is nothing better than natural light coming through the windows.
While you’re still in the design phase for your future home, be sure to brief the Design Team to incorporate windows to allow natural sunlight throughout the entire house. It would make the home a lot more welcoming, cosy, and bright.
Complete the design with the right amount of lighting for a glowing house even at dusk and night. If you want to invite the night sky into your home as well, consider installing skylights into the living area or bedroom.
How to Hire the Right Architect, Draftsman, or Building Designer
Because you don’t Design and Build a new home every month, you may not be able to convey all your requirements to the Design Team from the start. Though, if you’ve hired the right Team for the job, this shouldn’t be an issue. A professional Design Team should have a their own briefing process in place to ensure nothing is missed. Something to listen out for when discussing your project with prospective Designers/Builders.
When it comes to designing a new home, you have three main options — engaging a Building Designer, engaging a Draftsman, or engaging an Architect. To choose which professional is most suitable for your project, you need to understand the difference.
Being an architect in Australia is a legally protected title. Architects have passed through years of university training and on-the-job experience. They are the true experts in maximising a design in terms of space and functionality. They are also familiar with the potential construction issues and know how to avoid them right from the design stage.
When it comes to your budget, however, architects also have the highest fees among design specialists.
Draftsmen don’t have the qualifications architects hold. They may also lack any formal licensing for designing homes. Still, draftsmen need to be proficient in all aspects of documenting a design. If you have a clear vision in your mind, you could expect them to document the design of your future home. In essence you are the architect and you are engaging a Draftsman to document your ideas.
Their fees are considerably lower compared to a registered architect so they may be a good option if you’re on a real tight budget or looking for a standard home. Just be sure to check their previous projects to ensure they have the skills and experience for the job.
Building Designers are a combination of both Architect and Draftsman. While they don’t usually have the sane formal qualifications of architects, they often have the same skill level. Furthermore, they will hold accreditation in the form of a licence or registration.
A Building Designer can create a design tailored to your specific needs while keeping any potential construction and costing issues in check.
Who should you hire?
Choosing the right professional for the job depends mainly on the complexity of your vision for the design and your budget.
- If you want a complex, state-of-the-art home designed to your personal preferences whereby budget is not a priority, you should invest in an architect.
- In case you prefer something creative but still want it designed according to your requirements and budget, a Building Designer is just the professional you need.
- If you need someone to draw and document the clear vision you have in your mind, then a draftsman is perfect for the job.
Some home building companies like Pivot Homes also offer an in-house professional Design Team as well as Interior Designer services to ensure a smooth process from the beginning to the very end of the project.
Building Your Home
Once you have your design ready and approved, it is time to take your future home from documentation to reality. The process still contains risks that every future homeowner should try to avoid.
To reduce the expenses, some future homeowners think about building a home as a DIY project or Owner Builder. Unless you are a professional builder yourself, it is highly recommended to steer clear of such practices. The lack of experience poses many potential problems throughout the whole building process. Furthermore, these problems could cost you not only money but may also present a risk for your health.
vba.vic.gov.au has more information about being an owner-builder and what’s required.
if the value of the domestic building work you’ll be doing is over $16,000, you’ll need to have a certificate of consent from VBA to be an owner-builder.
Leave the work and work organisation to the professional contractors. They know how to spot and deal with issues, estimate the costs, obtain permits, and manage the building schedule. They also have connections in the industry, allowing them to better deal with subcontractors like electricians and plumbers while ordering supplies and scheduling deliveries.
Taking the lowest bid
If the price offered by a Building Contractor seems too good to be true, there is a high chance that it is actually the case. A low price is usually a red flag for hidden expenses, low-quality materials or lack of experience.
Signing contracts automatically
While everyone knows that they need to read a contract before they sign it, people often sign contracts without giving them much thought.
Before you sign a contract, it is absolutely a must that you understand everything that is or is not included. In case you don’t feel comfortable with the terminology, you should consult a lawyer to help you understand it better.
At the very least, there are several key points that you should have in writing before the start of the project:
- What are the contractor’s legal obligations?
- What are your legal obligations?
- Do you have any legal responsibilities with subcontractors and suppliers in case the contractor fails on their side?
- What is and what is not included in the agreed price?
- Does the contract cover all contingencies?
- What happens if the scope or timeframe of the project changes at some point?
Overlooking the warranty period
Your new home may officially be ready and available for you to move in but this still doesn’t mean that there won’t be any minor issues that need to be fixed. The only way to truly find whether the house is ready is by living in it.
That is why many home builders offer a Warranty Period during which you live in the house and then report any issues you may stumble upon.
Keep in mind that the warranty period usually covers a few months, so be sure to report anything that may require attention within the Warranty period.
How to Hire the Right Builder
Hiring the right Home Builder is the crucial element for a successful outcome. Here are some tips to ensure you’ve got the right contractor.
- Check their background thoroughly.A reputable home builder should be able to provide you with a list of qualifications, examples of completed projects, and testimonials from previous clients.
- Ask a lot of questions.An experienced company that values their customers will be glad to answer all your questions regarding the project. You can safely ask about the timeframes, costs, materials, company insurance policies and even the qualifications of the workers who will be building your home.
- Request everything in writing.Discussing all details about the project is recommended but you need to have all details written down and signed before the start of the project. This is the only way to protect your interests if any issues arise during the construction process.
VBA has a whole article to help you make an informed decision on the matter above.
While the importance of design and construction is more than obvious in any building project, many homeowners neglect to check what local regulations may concern their future property.
Before being able to move into your new home, you would need to ensure that all building and council guidelines have been strictly followed. Here are some common mistakes you should avoid.
All building and plumbing work in Victoria must be carried out in accordance with the Building Act, Building Regulations 2018 and the Plumbing Regulations 2018 – VBA
Not involving the right consultants
In most cases, the building company you choose to work with should advise you on what kind of consultants need to be involved in the process. Best case scenario, they will also have a team of specialists on-site or at least people with the right connections and expertise to issue all permits instead of you.
As soon as you choose a contractor to work with, be sure to discuss with them what their process is towards hiring any external consultants that may be required ie Surveyor for Land/Re Establishment Surveys, Geotech Engineer for Soil Testing etc.
Missing a permit or formal approval
Making a mistake such as missing or delaying a permit could result not only in a delay in the entire project but in some cases a building prohibition.
Again, the hired contractor should be able to advise you on the permits that need to be issued for the successful completion of the project, as well as who is responsible for obtaining them and when. The exact documentation required depends on the size and scope of the project but could include:
- Town Planning Application
- Building Permit
- Landscape Application
- Bushfire Attack Level (BAL)
- 6 Star Energy Rating
Trust Pivot Homes To Design and Build Your Dream Home
The easiest way to avoid the common mistakes future homeowners face while building a new home is to hire a trusted home building company with experience.
If you live in the Geelong area, contact Pivot Homes when you’re ready to start discussing the home of your dreams and take it from an idea to reality.