Building a project home

December 31, 2016

If you own an old home that is in need of an upgrade, you have a decision to make; do you renovate, or knock it down and begin again? It’s a tough choice as there are benefits and pit falls to both options.

One of the benefits of renovating is that you get to do the work to your own schedule. If it isn’t within budget to do the entire overhaul of the house, you can put a step-plan in place and chip away slowly over a matter of years. For example, you can order a skip bin and start tearing the kitchen out now, but leave the bathrooms or extensions until you’ve saved a bit more later. Whereas, if you decide to build from scratch, the whole lot has to happen in one hit.

However, there are a lot of benefits to building a project home:

  1. The most obvious benefit being that you end up with a brand new house made from scratch, without keeping any of the worn out things such as old pipes or dodgy wiring.
  2. You get to see the home before you start to build it. Going to a display village is like window shopping. You get to see the layout, the materials used and the size of the rooms in real life, instead of just looking at a floor plan and trying to imagine the end result.
  3. Most project home companies will not only give you an itemised list of costs, but they will also outline what isn’t included in the quote. This will help you understand what money you need to outlay all up.
  4. Because project homes work and buy in bulk, a project home is much more affordable than a custom-built home.

Some of the down sides of building a project home include:

  1. The end cost is a lot higher than the price tag on the houses at the home shows, which can be disheartening if you are expecting the additional charges.
  2. From signing off, to building, through to getting your keys at the end can be a lengthy process. And while you cannot live on site while they are building, you’ll need to factor in rent as well as moving costs.
  3. Due to excavation and needing a flat area to lay the slab, your entire block of land may change considerably from how it first started. For example, you may have had a small step up to the backyard to start with, but after the home is finished it might end up being half a metre height difference.

If you would like to go ahead with a project home, here are some tips that may help you:

Get a proper quote

The price tag on the houses at the display home villages are rarely the price you end up paying. The price you are first told is just for the most basic materials. If you’d like any extras such as higher ceilings, better tap fittings, floorboards instead of carpet or a different colour paint to what is included then you will have to add extra dollars to the bottom line. The homes that are on display are, of course, fitted out with every available extra to make them look good and what many people don’t realise is that these homes are roughly $100k more in extras on top of the base price. If you don’t need quite so many upgrades, you should still add at least 20% on to the base price for an indication of what you’ll likely end up paying.

When you sit down with the salesperson be sure to ask them a lot of questions, such as what is or isn’t included within the quote, or what work will be your responsibility vs. theirs. Such as, will they be doing the electrical work or will you need to provide your own electrician? What about plumbing? Who does the demolition and who is responsible for paying for the skip bin hire and taking the waste material away? These are very important questions that can make a big difference to the final cost.

Landscaping quotes

There are project home packages that will include a small amount of landscaping, but if yours doesn’t then it is a good idea to talk to a landscaper up front. As landscaping is the last thing that is done, it can often come as quite a shock when people have to fork out huge amounts of money after already paying for the house. So to get yourself prepared, have a landscaper give you a rough idea of what you’ll be up for before you even begin.

Be prepared

There are a few things you can do in advance to prepare yourself for this big, exciting project you’re about to tackle.

First of all, speak to people who have been through this process before. They will have plenty to say about their experience, and everything they’ve learnt along the way will help you be prepared for what’s coming up.

Second, take the time to think about your colour schemes and the kinds of materials you’d like to use (such as carpet vs tiles). A lot of project home companies will have special colour and material selection days where you get to lock in everything in one place. While this will save you a lot of time (no more running from one end of town to another just to choose the right tile!), it can also be quite overwhelming. So if you have an idea of what you want before you turn up, it will help ease any decision making anxiety.

Finally, get mentally prepared. Building can be a stressful thing to do, no matter how big or small the project. There will always be something that doesn’t go to plan, and builds often run over time, but being ready for it will help reduce stress.

Make all changes before you sign off on the dotted line

As a final tip; before you sign on the dotted line, be absolutely sure that you’re happy and don’t want to make any further changes. Project homes are notoriously expensive to tweak once the building work has started, so it’s best not to make any changes after sign-off or you’ll be paying a premium for it.