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Buying a home

Four mistakes to avoid when building a new house

07 May 2021

Building a house from scratch can be overwhelming. If you aren’t fully prepared, it’s not uncommon for small issues to snowball into big problems.

Having overseen countless builds, Melissa Wolfe, Queensland Sales Operations Manager for Plantation Homes, is well versed in common building mistakes. Here are her tips to avoid common pitfalls.

1. Cheap land isn’t always a bargain

Finding land is often the first step in home building journeys.

While low-priced land might seem like a good buy – particularly if it’s a large block – Melissa believes these savings can sometimes hide pricey problems.

“Sometimes cheaper blocks require more site works or restrict certain designs,” she says.

“This can make cheap land more expensive in the bigger picture.”

If you’re on a budget, keep in mind that smaller blocks can help stretch a budget without sacrificing many benefits associated with larger homes.

“Many lots are now more compact, which is great in terms of affordability,” Melissa says.

“Designers have really stepped up to this challenge with innovative narrow-lot designs that still serve up an abundance of storage, open-plan living and the wow factor.”

2. Make sure your builder keeps you across the details

When it comes finding the right builder, Melissa says, “Honesty and transparency are critical. A red flag is a lack of detail, especially on pricing and inclusions.

“Whether you want more information on how to build, or you have clear ideas on your building and site plans, communication is key to a successful build.”

Melissa suggests customer-focused builders are those willing to go the extra mile.

“A good building partner will help you understand all the building jargon. You also want to look for a builder who helps to make the most of your block of land and understands your design brief.”

3. Don’t compromise on your ‘must-haves’

While everyone has ‘need-to-have’ and ‘want-to-have’ lists, these should be clearly separated during the design process. Focus on needs first and foremost, and then include any nice-to-haves with surplus budget.

“Everyone has a budget and while they might vary, it’s important to understand what can be done later versus what might be hard to do later,” Melissa says.

Part of this process is about understanding that the needs of others can be very different from your own. While it may be tempting to copy other house designs, Melissa says that you need to consider your own family’s needs.

“We see families with little ones who want the master bedroom closer to the children’s bedrooms, or the complete opposite if there are teenagers or a guest room,” she says.

“If you see a design and feel as though ‘I wish I could change this bit,’ then it may not be the right design for you.”

4. Focus on function over form

Home designs should reflect how you live, with features designed for your comfort and convenience over the long term.

“Butler’s pantries are always popular, as are innovative storage options and generous laundries,” Melissa says.

Your home’s position is another important consideration. “Many people like living areas and the rear of the home to face north,” says Melissa. “This ensures protection from direct sunlight during hot summer months and plenty of natural light during cooler winter months.”

“The west tends to get the most sun, so west-facing spaces are better suited to the garage side of the home.”

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