New Generation Homes Sales Manager Chris Hopkin has helped many first homebuilders during his career and know only too well the emotions people feel and the concerns they have when they commence the exciting, if not daunting, journey of building their first home.
1.Research the builder
Shop around and do your homework. Ask the important questions: have they won awards for construction and customer service excellence? How long have they been in business? Do they use local trades and administration teams? Can you get updates online and can you call your construction supervisor direct? How long will it take to get to site?
Spend some time researching their online reviews and social media status and drive to their building sites to see if they are clean and tidy. You want to partner with a builder that offers confidence long after you sign the contract.
Many builders offer in-house specialist construction finance. Make them do the work and get the best deal for you. In addition to their specialist advice, they can refinance your existing assets too. Entering into a mortgage is all about maximising your cash flow so you can service loans and still have a lifestyle you enjoy.
You will be required to pay installments at key milestones of the build. You need to have finance approval with your lender at the outset to ensure you can meet these progress payments along the way.
3. Choose your land, design and inclusions for your home
Your builder will have relationships with land developers, so ask them to find you the perfect block if you don't already have one.
Look for a design that maximises both liveability and your budget on the block. Homes should be built with your future in mind. Today's study could be tomorrow's nursery, for example. Also, make sure you 'check the spec' as different builders offer different quality and ranges as standard. This can include things like high ceilings and the type of materials used for the kitchen and bathroom bench tops. Choose a builder that offers transparency and only choose those inclusions that you want. You can make changes to your plans and your consultant will work with you to refine exactly what you want.
While it might be a great time to build, be wary of those builders that offer "promotions" that are not 100 per cent transparent. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
4. Sign your Preparation of Plans Agreement
A PPA is an agreement signalling your commitment to proceed with your chosen builder to enter the main building contract. It requires a deposit from you - normally around $2000 - and a signature as confirmation.
5. Surveys, contracts, colours and signing
A site survey and engineer's detail on your land will be undertaken by the builder to determine its viability to build, and any associated earthworks costs will be confirmed with you at this time.
Your final building contracts and plans will be formally drawn up for your review and approval. Take the time to read them, as once signed it is a legally binding document between you and the builder. Any further structural changes you decide to make after this time may incur a fee.
At this time, you will meet with your pre-start consultant to choose the inclusions inside your home such as the colour of your kitchen benchtop and what type of cupboard handles and sinks you would like in your bathroom.
6. Scheduling and council approvals
Your builder will begin ordering the materials to build your new home and also obtain all necessary approvals from the council. Once all approvals are in and materials are received, work on site can commence.
7. Site works
In preparation for the construction of the new home, site works first need to be completed on your block of land. Examples of these preliminary works include: clearing of vegetation, earthworks including creation and compaction of a sand pad, establishing footings in preparation for slab and establishing sewerage, power and water services.
8. Slab down
This is the first major milestone of your new home journey. Your supervisor will contact you and give you an update on what has been completed, what you will see on your block of land and the next steps. Your supervisor will also give you their direct contact number and email address for any questions you may have along the way.
9. Brickwork complete
The brickwork, also known as 'plate high', has now been finished, and your supervisor will ensure the build complies with your plans and specifications. If the home has external rendering,t his will be carried out at this point. The site will be cleared of any brickwork remnants in preparation for the delivery of the roofing materials.
10. Roof cover
The roof has gone up and has been secured onto the home. The plumbing tube (pipes cut into the walls) and electrical pre-lays have also been completed at this stage. To ensure the new home is maintained to the highest standard, and in anticipation of the delivery of cornices, ceilings and plastering materials, your supervisor will organise a site clean. Then all ceilings, walls and finishes can be completed.
The home has now reached lock-up stage. At this stage the cabinets and stone benchtops for the kitchen will be delivered and fitted, plumbing installed and the concrete floor poured in the garage. Your construction supervisor will also be in touch with you to arrange a meeting to discuss tiling selection.
The electrician will return to commission your home, appliances will be delivered and lights will be fitted. The plumber will install toilets and final tapeware. Gas will be connected and the painter will complete the finishing coats to doors, frames and walls if this is included in your specification. Any external paving will be laid and the garage door will be fitted.
13. Practical completion
The supervisor will contact you in regards to running through the final documentation and allow you to test all of the fittings and appliances. Following your Practical Completion Inspection (PCI), a time will be arranged to complete any minor remedial works. Once all works are completed, all that is left to do is to make an appointment with your contract administrator to collect your keys.
14. Handover of keys
Once you have collected your keys you're set to move in and start enjoying your newly built home.
Originally published in The Sunday Times and The West Australian Newspapers First Home Owners Guide on April 1st and 2nd, 2017.