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CaptainR

Building a custom home - Any experiences?

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So we're doing some research at the moment into building our own place as it seems we'll get exactly what we want/need, will save on transfer taxes buying a plot of land <$350,000 and will be able to get the $10,000 new home owners grant.

We are thinking of building in sandstone, and aim to build a smallish house on a large plot (not going for a McMansion etc, just going for a small but quality). We are still early on in the stage, but are looking at a plot at the moment and have done loads of sketches and notes with ideas which we'll eventually have to present to an architect to try and come up with something practical.

 

Anyway, would love to hear some experiences of people who have done this, and even more to know any of the things that you wished you'd added or done differently?

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The first thing to be aware of is the area restrictions. Many areas have covenants that restrict what you can build.

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We did this, we met with a couple of architects but in the end decided not to use an architect purely on cost. We had a relatively modest budget and for the money we had we were only going to get a square box anyway and pay $50k more.

 

We went with a small builder and for no additional cost we could change the internal layout as much as we wanted - we took a 5 bed house and re-designed it as a 3 bed. We also designed a separate 'granny flat' ourselves with the help of the builder. Most builders have 'designers' - these are not architects but essentially do the same thing without the cost.

 

As VS says there could be restrictions on what/how you can build depending on the council or possibly if it's a 'master planned' estate by the developer. We were interest in one block but the local council specified on a block of that size the rooms facing North had to be living rooms, given we wanted a garage at the front (there was no where else to put it) then the upstairs front room would have had to be a living room.

 

You can get planning guidelines from the local council but your builder will ensure your house is suitable for the block and will meet the guidelines.

 

For us it was a very good experience, our builders were brilliant, the only lesson we learnt was to ensure everything is stated in the building contract with the cost. We had quite a lot of items tbc and didn't realise the mortgage could only be for the contract value and ended up with $30k to pay and $15k for external painting which we didn't have.

 

Do go and see show houses and homebuilding shows and meet with builders, if you can find something similar to what you want then they can probably adapt it, our builders were very happy to work from my husbands dodgy sketches!

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Hopefully going to start early next year build our home, agree with LR about architect costs , I am using a draftman to draw final plans as I have designed house myself. I have worked over here as a carpenter up to project manger and it's been a great learning curve.

 

A few things to allow for landscape plans , Engineer to detail foundation ,structural requirements , geotechnical report for soil type this will enable Engineer to designe details , land survey this will also double check your boundaries !

Well worth a look at some display homes to give you ideas and feel for room sizes etc, Hozz is also a good site to get ideas.

 

Bear in mind if you have to excavate in rock builders like to charge this as a variation at a premium rate !

Try and get as much as possible sorted when you sign contract then you don't get hit for variation costs ,I would also allow a minimum 10 -15% contingency for any unforeseen works ,

Good luck , a emotional journey at times but worth it at the end

Edited by Rallyman

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Thanks for the replies so far, some really good food for thought. I hadn't realised how restrictive the planning could be; the plot we are looking at isn't in an estate, it's an acreage on a street with a diverse range of house designs, so hopefully this won't be an issue. I'm waiting for more information from the agent, and may talk to some other owners of the new builds on the same street to get a better idea of any potential issues.

The whole process is quite daunting, but thoroughly excited that we could get exactly what we need.

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We're in a similar situation, about to build.

my suggestion would be to think about things that are hard or impossible to retrofit such as insulation at the planning stage.

retrofit insulation is never as good as when added during the build, thermal images show areas not insulated (insulation needs to be seamless to work well).

also under slab insulation is impossible once built and is a place most Aussie houses lose a lot of energy.

 

it may not interest you, but it's something to consider all the same.


Chicken, gave me a bad coupon.

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Do you want a traditional brick build ? We had something similar to this built in Spain, it was steel framed and we loved it and wanted to do a bigger one here but decided not to move in the end as the kids are getting older and one is hardly ever here anymore,lol

 

http://www.stonehomes.com.au/home_designs.php?type=0&name=The%20Federation&id=12

 

Cal x


If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place...

If you get a chance,take it, If it changes your life,let it. Nobody said it would be easy they just said it would be worth it...

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We considered custom building but decided we didn't know nearly enough about building to take that route so went with a regular builder. We made sure the builder we chose would allow us to customise their standard house plans and looked for a plan that was closest to what we wanted and customised it to our requirements. Our land was a bit more restrictive than yours will be though as ours is a long thin block so there is a limit to what we could do anyway.

 

I would definitely consider everything you want in the finished house at the planning stage, including where you might put furniture as this will help with deciding where to put things like light switches and electrical sockets. You can never have too many electrical sockets - we have at least two banks of two in each bedroom and we have still found that we don't have them everywhere we want them. And consider landscaping and things like rain water capture while planning the house as some of these things may need to be in place before the slab goes down (or might be easier to put in place before the slab goes down).


Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.

Dale Carnegie – 1888-1955, Author and Lecturer

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We have used architects and they are worth their weight in gold however unless you want something very individual you could probably customise one of the houses project builders have. Lord knows there are plenty to choose from these days and most, if not all, will allow you to change the internal layout, move walls and windows etc.

 

If you are planing to build in the blue mountains you should familiarise yourself with the info in the link below regarding bush fire protection. You will be required to jump through additional planning stages and will also have restrictions in relation to building materials etc. It can all feel like a momumental pain in the rear end but the requirements have been put in place to help keep you safe.

 

http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/plan-and-prepare/building-in-a-bush-fire-area


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A cheaper option would be to find a plan you like the look of, then modify it. Builders are normally more than willing to do this; the inlaws recently did a build like this and ended up with exactly what they were after, but based on an existing plan.

 

Was posting the same time as above...

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We built our own house ourselves (having never done building before) and I now lecture to future Owner Builders on a course here in Melbourne.

 

I strongly recommend against using an architect, use a draftsman. 1/10th of the price and you get a design that works, as opposed to just a design that inflates the architect's own ego.

 

BB


MELBOURNE SHORT TERM ACCOMMODATION - FURNISHED SELF-CONTAINED STUDIO APARTMENT AVAILABLE -

walk to shops, beach and station. Ideal for new immigrants before you find a long-term rental. PM me for further details.

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I'm surprised people seem to think architects only design houses. They do a lot more than that lol


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Before you purchase any land please contact the local shire/council planning department for confirmation on any building restrictions. Especially if it's in a rural bush setting (lots of bush fire protection required). The selling agent may not be as informed on the restrictions as they should or could be. You don't want to get stuck with land that does not meet you requirements.

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Thanks for the new responses, it's giving us a lot more food for thought. The land we are looking at is in North East NSW, and is in a bush fire area so needs to meet some of those regulations (50 metre rules?), but overall seems to fit the bill for what we want. I'll be asking the right questions thanks to the comments here.

Steel frame, sandstone is what we want, so will see if there is a way to find out whether it will be possible before we buy the property, but it not we will just have to compromise somewhere.

The more I read up the bigger our lists, drawings and diagrams become.

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Steel frame, .......... is what we want,

 

I built my house on a steel frame, let me know if you have any questions.

 

BB


MELBOURNE SHORT TERM ACCOMMODATION - FURNISHED SELF-CONTAINED STUDIO APARTMENT AVAILABLE -

walk to shops, beach and station. Ideal for new immigrants before you find a long-term rental. PM me for further details.

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I don't know if there is a regular house builder that does sandstone, but it might be worth a look as it could be a lot cheaper.

 

We were in a puzzle for a while as we had a very clear idea of what we wanted and it is a bit on the unusual side. But, we found a deal we liked with a builder that had a plan in which the footprint would accommodate our design. As a result, we got our unique house, but at almost the regular cost - only big addition was we had to have their regular off the shelf design have a lot more steel as the entire back of our house is glass.

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So we're doing some research at the moment into building our own place as it seems we'll get exactly what we want/need, will save on transfer taxes buying a plot of land <$350,000 and will be able to get the $10,000 new home owners grant.

We are thinking of building in sandstone, and aim to build a smallish house on a large plot (not going for a McMansion etc, just going for a small but quality). We are still early on in the stage, but are looking at a plot at the moment and have done loads of sketches and notes with ideas which we'll eventually have to present to an architect to try and come up with something practical.

 

Anyway, would love to hear some experiences of people who have done this, and even more to know any of the things that you wished you'd added or done differently?

I would make the following thoughts in no particular order based on my experience in Brisbane

Getting aus builders to price from drawings is a difficult job, they don't seem to have the experience

Think about resale value and ease of selling on, the aus buyer has very set ideas, we looked at a couple of very overseas influenced designs, a frank Lloyd wright influenced house and the people could not sell them.

The best option is to find a project builders design you like and then change it to suit you and your plot and that might be the time to use an architect and use a project manager to manage the build.

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As people have said , make sure you identify everything you want included in the package as someone says on here include insulation as it really helps during the winter and in the summer, make some choices about bathroom fitments so that it will fit, get a geo investigation done on a site before buying as that will give an indication of any foundation problems and help to limit extras for extra excavation and piles/pierings, think about whether you want a pool , and where its going to be located and if its going to be heated, think about driveways and access to the garage and front doors.

Builders often find it difficult to build esoteric designs, they are set up to do very standard constructions and will charge a lot to do non standard construction and some will not do it well.

Edited by BacktoDemocracy

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The best option is to find a project builders design you like and then change it to suit you and your plot and that might be the time to use an architect and use a project manager to manage the build.

 

This is hard to do as project builders do not release plans until you have signed up with them.

 

BB


MELBOURNE SHORT TERM ACCOMMODATION - FURNISHED SELF-CONTAINED STUDIO APARTMENT AVAILABLE -

walk to shops, beach and station. Ideal for new immigrants before you find a long-term rental. PM me for further details.

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There are books of home plans and you can buy the plans. Project builders do not like people using their plans and they have deep pockets when it comes to this. I think a draftsman or architect would not likely change a project plan.

 

We built our own house and we had no problems doing it. It was way before there were books and lectures on home building. We were looking into getting a kit home at the time but my builder client said don't do that just take the plan to the timber place and they will make the frames etc. We did our own plans took them to a draftsman and had the plans drawn up. Then we registered with the tax office. Found an insurance company who would give us public risk and liability whilst building and cover our materials. Does help that I have a legal background.

 

We got a soil test and we have a raft slab not one builders are fond of. They like easy ones.

 

You also have to have your funds available to make payments to contractors etc.

 

Even if you choose a project home you need to make sure if borrowing money what the requirements are for the lender to let you draw down on the funds.

 

I am a widow now and if I had to build another house I will get an architect this time, why, because you tell them you have a certain amount of funds at the beginning and they have the knowledge to source the materials that will fit in with the budget and give the house that is desired. I know they are dearer but if look around at other projects they do you can get a good idea of what to pay.

 

I like the fact that architects can do the whole environmental thing and they use different materials for building which is good I think.

 

Good luck


Petals

:ssign15:taking no prisoners :wink:

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if I had to build another house I will get an architect this time, why, because you tell them you have a certain amount of funds at the beginning and they have the knowledge to source the materials that will fit in with the budget and give the house that is desired.

 

This is not my experience of architects. My experience is you give them a budget and they design a house that you can never afford to build.

 

Fortunately VCAT took my side in the ensuing legals.

 

BB


MELBOURNE SHORT TERM ACCOMMODATION - FURNISHED SELF-CONTAINED STUDIO APARTMENT AVAILABLE -

walk to shops, beach and station. Ideal for new immigrants before you find a long-term rental. PM me for further details.

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We took several books of plans from the library, came up with a design that was close to what we wanted, contacted a builder who had been recommended to us, checked some of his recent builds out and spoke to the owners, then he went off and altered the plan to the ideas that we had in mind, brought them back to us, made some further changes that we came up with, then he gave us a price for the total build, which we negotiated on. ( I did all the painting). If you are using an existing plan that you have not bought, you have to alter the plan by a certain % to avoid infringing copyright.

Be aware if prime costs items are not included, such as drainage connections, because they can take an unexpected bite out of your budget.

We had soil tests done, and they showed stable soil, but unfortunately missed a corner where an old well had been, so we ended up with extra costs on concrete for the footings at that point. Make sure that old plans for the area are checked for things like that.

You may find that rock removal will be costed in. Make sure you are there when they are carrying out any excavations. My daughter had a home built by a well known company, and she was in attendance taking photos when the excavation was done, and no rock was removed. When she told the building company that she wanted that cost removed, they were slightly miffed.

It may be worth paying for a building inspector to check each stage of building before making the stage payment, just incase the builder or one of his contractors tries to cut corners. We found out ourselves that not all the roof tiles had been secured as per required, so they had to come back and do the job properly. The builder had been there when they started to fasten them down, but once he was out of sight, they stopped doing so to save time.

A stressful time, but worth it in the end.


It is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.

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We built our own house here in Brisbane as owner builder, everything was our own design and a just dealt with a draughtsman for advice and to do the drawings, I would also note that a draughtsman will already have a vast number of house plans in his/her files.

We found all our own subbies but paid a premium as it was in the boom period, 12 months later we would have probably saved about 30%. We built our 2 storey home out of 'Hebel' block, no timber or steel frame required, we installed a concrete 1st floor slab, 6.5mm laminated glass and a few other things which were different to normal Aussie build and as BacktoDemocracy says above it means nothing to the Aussie buyer, a floor is a floor and glass is glass. If this is going to be your home for a long while then go for what you want and do not worry about or factor in resale.

Good luck with everything.


Enjoying life in Queensland

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This is hard to do as project builders do not release plans until you have signed up with them.

 

BB

No, i agree but if you find a design that you like most of them , or at least ours did, work to adjust their plans to suit what you want and what i neant was if you are uncertain as to what you want then get an architect to accompany you along to the redesign meeting to advise what to do to get what you want.

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