Building versus buying is appealing.
With new build costs on a par (if not under) with buying an existing 'as is' house these days.
It's also the fact you know what you're getting when building.
And by that, I mean you're not buying some ex-crack den that's been tidied up, given a quick lick of paint and sold on by an unscrupulous estate agent who couldn't give two flying fucks about the health of the future inhabitants but instead is focused on their dollar religion.
So, with that being said - here's my top 5 things you need to know before building a home.
1. Stock Design v. Architect
Personally, I would go with an off the shelf stock standard design and hire a Draftsperson to make any changes and get it through Council (or local Government body) for me. You're looking at <$10K all in design wise for that option.
But if you're looking for a one off bespoke design with all the bells and whistles and a house designed for your personal wish list, then the latter is probably the option that suits you best.
One thing I would point out is try and ensure you know/agree fees up front at the start, otherwise it can become a very costly option.
Also, don't rely on pictures from a portfolio to back up the Architects promises. Go view a few designs that have been built to see how well they work from a livability perspective.
2. Know Your Budget
Don't assume a cost based on an industry standard square meter rate.
This can have horrendous consequences over the course of your build.
Have your design locked down before engaging a Builder/breaking ground.
The amount of times I've first hand heard people say 'shit I never thought it would end up costing that much'
Well no shit Sherlock - you had 5/8's of fuck all of an idea what you wanted before you started and made decisions off the cuff as you went and you're surprised it turned out badly?
Engage the right people at the start. Get a QS. Make sure you know your excavation/earthworks methodology/costs ... especially if you're building on land that requires remediation. Or if you're building on the side of a hill (ChCh is a bit hilly).
The more decisions that are made pre-construction and the more planning you put in - the smoother the build process will go.
Trust me on that one.
3. Avoid Provisional/PC Sums
Builders like to use Provisional/PC Sums to create the illusion that a build cost won't be as excessive as it turns out to be.
Sorry - but fuck that!
Avoid putting monetary allowances against shit that you can't be arsed sorting pre-construction and say 'era I'll worry about that one once we're into it'.
That my lay friends is called commercial suicide.
Get a joinery company to sort your kitchen/bathroom/living joinery design/pricing before putting a Builder in place.
Most Architects will charge a hefty price for this service, so be smart and get it sorted for free (well at least included in your build cost).
Know your electrical, heating, plumbing fixtures, floor finishes (tiling/carpets/wooden floors/polished concrete) and fittings, etc. requirements and get firm fixed numbers in place before proceeding- it will save you thousands down the line.
It's also a very smart idea to have most of your basic interior design requirements known/planned/paid for before getting started on-site.
I understand it's not always easy to know exactly what you'll want in a 'finished space', but the more you know before you start - honestly, S-O much better!
Also, make sure Council connections for plumbing/drainage/electrical are included in your contract price.
4. Shop Around For The Right Builder
Tendering is a costly exercise for Builders, but it's far more costly for home owners if they don't shop around.
It doesn't matter if the Builders is a family friend, trusted acquaintance, old school mate, first cousin seven times removed or your brother, sister, father or wife.
All Builders are the same - they're business people who will be looking to maximise on ze kachinkies (profit).
Get a minimum of three prices and use that QS to do an in depth tender analysis to ensure that you're looking at all of them on a level playing field.
Different Builders will have different tricks to make their tender offer more appealing - have your own gun slinger to ensure you don't get reamed before even putting pen to paper and signing a contract.
Ensure all Master Build Guarantees, etc. are also included in any upfront contract.
Honestly, a decent QS will pay their fee back 10 times over during a build if you have the right QS in place.
5. Think Long Term
Make sure that if you're building a 'home' you consider the area, house size, layout, functionality, aesthetic, maintenance requirements, etc.
If this is going to be your family home for 10+ years and you have 1 child but planning on having more - don't build a two bed/one bath 110m2 house on a 1000m2 section to save costs.
Use that God given talent most of us have called common sense and ensure that you approach your build from a pragmatic perspective and build for your needs rather than your wants.
The above are only a few items that that need to be considered before buying, but there are many many more.
Other Things To Keep In Mind
A few other things to consider;
Re-sale value (estimated) v build cost (don't go spending $1.5million on a build that will be worth $1.2million after the fact);
Wish list products v alternatives (you can get quality products at a fraction of the cost, that will match and sometimes surpass the rolls royce products);
Programme duration (another sneaky one that can cost you many more $'s);
Client supplied items (shop around and source your own light fittings, plumbing fittings, etc. and get this written into your contract);
Type of contract/payment terms/retentions/warranties/maintenance & defects period/etc;
Can your relationship handle a new build?
Don't be fooled people - even with the best Builder and the sharpest QS there's always going to be shit that crops up that will cost you money along the new build journey.
No one has a crystal ball when it comes to building and a simple fact of life is - shit happens.
So, the final note from me on this one, be risk smart and have a minimum 5-10% contingency plan in place to deal with the unknown little surprises as and when they rear their ugly heads.
Anyways - hope that may help any of you looking to build over buying. Feel free to hit me up by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org if you think I could help with your own personal journey.