First homebuyers comprise around twenty per cent of the new home market. This means that each year of the 20,000 new dwellings constructed each year, around 4,000 will be built by new homebuyers.
Master Builders’ advice to homebuyers who are going through the building process for the first time is as follows:
- Make sure you use a registered builder for your new home, and preferably a Master Builder member for additional assurance, as all Master Builder members are obliged to adhere to a code of practice;
- Make sure that when you are obtaining quotes for your new home that you are comparing “apples with apples”. In other words look at the plans and specifications carefully and make sure that the prices you obtain are comparable in terms of what is included;
- Do not choose a builder purely on price. You should also consider the builder’s track record. Talking to previous clients can provide valuable feedback on past performance. Assess your ability to be able to work with the builder. Good communication skills are vital. See choosing a builder;
- Make sure that you have a contingency sum in your building budget. There may be variations to the original plans and drawings that you may wish to make during construction. Alternatively unexpected expenses like site costs may be higher than the provisional estimate in your building contract;
- Decide whether you wish to build with a large project builder or a smaller builder. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Large builders have the “economies of scale” resulting in lower costs, while smaller builders can be more flexible and directly supervise the building work. See choosing a builder;
- Do not sign a building contract or preliminary agreement without reading and clearly understanding your rights and obligations;
- Keep an accurate diary of negotiations and discussions with sales staff and construction supervisors. Do not rely on verbal representations or undertakings by sales staff. A written record of these undertakings should be included in the contract document, and/or maintained during the construction period;
- Any variations should be documented and signed. Do not rely on a handshake or a “she’ll be right”; and
- If there is anything that you are not happy with, talk to your builder first. Small problems can be easily sorted out, but could escalate if they are allowed to fester.