How to build a new home and stay sane
You have decided to build your new dream home. You’ve visited numerous display homes and met with the sales people. All promise you the sun and the moon. And now you’ve got a sea of floor plans and brochures to flounder through. It's impossibly hard to choose because you're trying to compare apples with oranges.
You’ve consulted with your friends and colleagues. All are eager to share their knowledge. But their experiences are different to yours so none of it helps. Even though you feel you're all at sea, you decide to take the leap.
It will take longer than you think
If this is your first construction project, be prepared for a 12-month journey into the unknown. You 'know' all will be right if you have chosen the right builder to bring it all together so your dream home does not become your worst nightmare.
Above all, it’s about finding a builder you can actually trust — and who respects you for who you are, and fully understands what you require.
Understand the fine print
Gathering information to find the right builder is something too many people do through rose-coloured glasses. What you see, hear, feel and expect may not end up being what you get. With little or no experience in how your dream home project comes together, you may become increasingly confused and frustrated. The babble of 'builder-speak' and incomplete explanations leaves you feeling like the last person who counts. You'd be excused for thinking you're being let down and that your requirements are not being addressed and understood. Which means, inevitably that they won't be met. Feeling that you're feeding a bonfire with $100 bills, you feel you and your family are headed for a very miserable 12 months — or more.
Here’s how to make sure you really understand what you are signing up for.
Your builder – it can be a gamble
It’s easy to be impressed with a display home, a friendly (if overly talkative) sales person and believe you are getting a really good deal at your agreed price — one that will come with no hidden surprises and 'afterthoughts'. But there’s much, much more you need to understand.
Firstly you must meet the go-to person for the entire construction schedule. If you are going with a big-name brand, then get an understanding of who calls the shots when the going gets a little rough.
Remember: this is a 12-month journey for you. You need to understand how the back end all comes together and who will have your best interests at heart.
Therefore, who is your site supervisor? What level of experience do they have within the industry? Do they understand your project and its special needs? Do they actually care or will your queries be treated as some sort of interruption to their busy day?
Most supervisors will not be working only on your home; they could easily be overseeing dozens of other homes during your project — meaning very little actual involvement with your new home.
So, how will they keep you informed? Can you expect a weekly update by email or phone? How competent and experienced are the tradies that work on that site — people chosen by your builder, not you.
Your contract - understand the fine print
It’s not uncommon for you to receive a contract that presents just a basic price. Meaning variations could creep in that become extra costs. The materials you understood would be used could suddenly become 'no longer available' and more costly alternatives will be specified — at your costs. Unexpected delays could see demands for extra labour costs. The possibilities for errors or exploitation are infinite.
So it is vital for you to understand the fine print. You must know how to review your contract's finer points and fully comprehend the architectural drawings. You need to closely check your list of inclusions, make sure you're getting what you pay for and aren't being slugged for extras that seemingly crop up from nowhere.
If you don't you could well end up with a very expensive project.
Be aware that many builders advertise a very low price: called a bait price. And for too many unsuspecting Indian subcontinent people, driven to seek the lowest price possible, you may well end up with a huge extra bill for variation not discussed when setting up your contract.
Check if your driveways, fences and lawn are included. Does your contract cover site clearance, structural steel beams, council fees and charges, retaining walls? Is your contract a fixed price contract that will not see you paying for unexplained, unnecessary or unexpected extras?
Do you know that some builders apply penalty costs for delayed commencement of construction work — even if the delays were outside your control? So review the fine print and have complete understanding about your rights.
If you're still not completely sure get expert advice before you sign anything.
Keep the dream alive and your sanity intact
With little or no experience in how your dream home project will come together, you can find yourself feeling that your needs are being disregarded and that you're the last person who matters in an expensive exercise that you are paying for!
No wonder so many people find that building their dream home is a misery-filled nightmare of being let down, overcharged and, in effect, being robbed.
There is a solution
This is something you may not have considered: choosing to work with a Construction Coordinator. One who has the resources to collaborate with you from beginning to end, understanding your needs throughout the entire creation of your dream home.
A construction coordinator will not only save you time and money, but will ensure you are supported, listened to, fully understood and guarded against the many pitfalls that await, even with the best of builders.
Your construction coordinator can make your whole 12-month journey far easier than you could ever have imagined. Unless you have the luxury of taking 12 months off, or are ready to micro-manage every little detail, then the best decision you could ever make is to look beyond what is offered and work with people who really do have your best interests at heart.
How we help
When we work with you, we ensure we fully understand your goals, your experience and knowledge in creating your dream home — and we connect on a cultural level.
We know that trust and respect is not something you buy off a showroom floor. It has to be earned, and takes time. And we realise that having the freedom to ask questions is important to you — and that being heard, supported and assisted from your project's beginning to end will make a huge difference to your life.
It's all about your peace of mind and being able to sleep at night, free of the many concerns that could have arisen without our help. What you will value most is the security of knowing that if a problem arises, as it will, we will find the solution to keep your project on track.
You can forget about sacrificing quality time with your family during the construction or letting it disrupt your lifestyle. There’s no need to get distracted from your busy work schedule either.
This is also not the time to wing it. Nor can you really expect a friend or relative, however well-meaning, to help you out.
In taking on a project of this nature, you need a person with a track record or dealing with builders. Most are honest, many are not. It takes a lot of experience and knowhow to understand how they work and what you could be up against.
You need a person ready to have an honest and straight conversation with you about what you want, what to expect and what to avoid.
If you're ready for your dream home — and want to remain sane for the next 12 months — then give me an obligation-free call on 0414 834 733.
William de Ora (de Silva)
Buyer’s Agent, Construction Coordinator, Best Selling Author
M: 0414 834 733