MAINTAINING A HOME
What you need to know about the HomeBuilder grant program
11 December 2020
For many Australians, the impact of COVID-19 may have derailed plans to build or renovate a home. The HomeBuilder grant program has been introduced to encourage Australians to get their plans back on track. Launched in early June 2020, the HomeBuilder grant program has offered eligible owner-occupiers a $25,000 grant to build or substantially renovate their home.
On 29 November 2020, the Government announced that it would be extending the program through 31 March 2021. The program will offer a $15,000 grant for building contracts (new builds and substantial renovations) signed between 1 January 2021 and 31 March 2021, inclusive.
How the HomeBuilder grant program works
What it can be used for
The HomeBuilder grant program can be used for both new home builds and substantial renovations. So, if you’ve bought some land to build on, you could consider applying if the combined home and land is below set thresholds (provided that you meet certain eligibility criteria).
If you’re already a home owner, you could consider applying for the grant to partially fund substantial renovations if they cost between $150,000 and $750,000. The combined house and land value cannot be more than $1.5 million before the renovation. The renovation also has to improve the accessibility, liveability and/or the safety of your property — meaning no tennis courts, pools or sheds can be built using the grant.
If you’re a first home owner, you could also be eligible for the usual State or Territory schemes too, like stamp duty concessions and first home owner grants.
Who can use it
The HomeBuilder grant program is designed for owner-occupiers only, meaning you must live in the home to be eligible. This means it can’t be used for investment properties or holiday homes. Applicants must also be:
- 18 years old or older;
- an Australian citizen; and
- an individual, not a company or a trust.
Income limits apply too, based on your 2018/2019 tax return or later:
- Singles must be earning $125,000 per annum or less; and
- Couples must have a combined income of $200,000 per annum or less.
Changes to the program announced in Nov. 2020
The Commonwealth Treasury Department announced on 29 November 2020 that the Homebuilder program will be extended, with important changes to the amount of the grant and property price caps in New South Wales and Victoria.
Changes to the HomeBuilder program include*:
- A $15,000 grant for building contracts (new builds and substantial renovations) signed between 1 January 2021 and 31 March 2021, inclusive.
- An extended deadline for all applications to be submitted, including those applying for the $25,000 grant and the new $15,000 grant. Applications can now be submitted up until 14 April 2021 (inclusive). This will apply to all eligible contracts signed on or after 4 June 2020.
- An extension to the construction commencement timeframe from three months to six months for all HomeBuilder applicants. This will apply to all eligible contracts signed on or after 1 January 2021, but will also be backdated and apply to all contracts entered into on or after 4 June 2020.
- An increase to the property price cap for new build contracts in New South Wales and Victoria to $950,000 and $850,000, respectively, where the contract is signed between 1 January 2021 and 31 March 2021, inclusive.
- The existing new build property price cap of $750,000 will continue to apply in all other States and Territories.
- A change in licensing requirements and registration for builders and developers, as below
- Where an eligible contract is signed on or after the 29 November 2020, the builder or developer must have a valid licence or registration before 29 November 2020.
- Where an eligible contract is signed before 29 November 2020, the builder or developer must have a valid licence or registration before 4 June 2020.
Other than the above, the existing program criteria applies. That is, the other existing eligibility criteria remains in place and the $25,000 grant will still be made available for eligible contracts signed on or before 31 December 2020.
How to apply for the HomeBuilder grant program
Learn how to apply for the HomeBuilder grant in Queensland or visit the Australian Treasury website for links to HomeBuilder information and applications in all States and Territories.
Your State or Territory revenue office will require certain documentation to process your application. At a minimum, you’ll likely need to provide:
- proof of identity;
- copy of the renovation or building contract, signed by you and your registered or licensed builder;
- a copy of the builder’s registration or licence;
- a copy of your 2018-19 tax return (or later) to prove your income against the income cap; and
- documents like council approvals, building contracts, occupation certificates and evidence of land value.
More information on what you need to provide is available through your relevant State or Territory authority.
Meet some potential candidates for the HomeBuilder grant program
Rufus, a first home buyer
In July 2020, Rufus purchased a house and land package in Brisbane’s outer suburbs, with construction due to commence in September 2020. The package is valued at $540,000 and he earns $90,000 a year as a software developer. The revenue office checks Rufus’ eligibility and documentation and confirms that he is an Australian citizen, over the age of 18, has a taxable income of under $125,000 per annum based on his 2018-19 tax return. The value of the contract is under the $750,000 contract price cap. Rufus is likely to be eligible for the HomeBuilder stimulus package. As Rufus is a first-home owner, he may also be eligible for the Queensland First Home Owner Grant and stamp duty concessions.
Jack and Anna, home owners taking on renovations
Jack and Anna have been dreaming about doing a big renovation to their New South Wales family home. They enter into a renovation contract with a licensed builder worth $175,000 in September 2020, and their property is valued at $1 million pre-renovations. They also have a combined income of $180,000 per annum. The revenue office checks Jack and Anna’s eligibility and documentation and confirms they are Australian citizens, over the age of 18, have a taxable income of under $200,000 per annum based on their 2018-19 tax returns. The value of the renovation contract is between $150,000 and $750,000 and the value of the existing property does not exceed $1.5 million. This means they may to be eligible for the HomeBuilder grant.
Finding the right loan to help fund your renovation or home build
While the HomeBuilder grant program could give you the extra push you’ve been waiting for to build your first home or take on a renovation, you may still need a little more help. That’s where Suncorp Bank can come in. With flexible loan options for people wanting to build or renovate, Suncorp Bank has a range of home loans that could help with your new build or renovation journey.
What renovations could mean for your insurance
Before you start renovating or building, it’s important to get in touch with your insurer. If you’re a Suncorp Insurance customer, the Suncorp Insurance team can go through any cover restrictions and exclusions that may apply while your home is undergoing renovations.
After the renovation, you should then update your Home and Contents sum insured – the most you can claim for any one incident. It’s your responsibility to ensure the sum insured reflects the amount it would cost to rebuild your home and replace its contents. That way, you could save yourself the financial heartache of being underinsured. If you’re looking to update your sum insured, our Buildings Calculator can be a great place to start.
- How to apply for the Queensland HomeBuilder grant
- Everything you need to know about construction loans
- What does the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme mean for you?
*Program change inforrmation is from https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/homebuilder and is accurate as of 11 December 2020.
Home Loans are provided by Suncorp-Metway Ltd ABN 66 010 831 722 AFSL No. 229882 Australian Credit Licence 229882 (“Suncorp Bank”) to approved applicants only. Fees, charges, terms and conditions apply and are available on request. Please read the relevant Product Information Document before making any decision about a product. Contact us for a copy.
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