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Building your own home

Friday, June 22, 2007

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By Pam Walkley, Money Magazine, June 2007

Building your own home is not for the faint-hearted. You may end up with the house of your dreams, but you could encounter a few nightmares along the way.

A young couple, Money readers, want to know what is involved, how long it will take and the pros and cons.

The biggest plus of building, rather than buying an existing property, is that you can choose exactly what you want as long as it’s within your budget.

You have the opportunity to build a "green home", designed to passive solar principles, so you will not only help save the planet, you will save on running costs. The Housing Industry Association’s "Green Smart" initiative makes it simple to find builders and others who can help you. Go to www.hia.com.au.

A major plus of buying something already built is that you can see exactly what you are getting, when you will get it and exactly what it costs. With a new home the basic choices are a project home, a kit home or having an individual home designed by either a draftsman or an architect. Costs vary dramatically, raw figures showing that the cheapest project home costs around $750 a sq m. A one-off architect or custom designed home can cost over $4300 sq m.

Buying a project home is one of the easiest and most economical routes to take. There are many reputable project home builders in all states. And there are display villages where you can see the finished products before you buy. Many project homes are now also building to green principles. Some are sold as house and land packages in new subdivisions, but bigger project builders will usually also build on people’s own land.

Kit homes are the cheapest option. A very basic 65 sq m two-bedroom, one-bathroom home will cost from $25,331 from Affordable Steel Kit homes (www.askhomes.com.au). This does not include electrical, plumbing, building or site works or items such as kitchen cupboards.

These suit people who have the ability to take on the role of owner-builder. Getting your very own dream home designed from scratch by an architect or a draftsman is the most costly way to go, but often it's the most satisfying. Hiring an architect to design and oversee the construction of a home usually costs 10% to 15% of the total expenditure.

They argue it's money well spent, as a good architect will maximise the value of your land and make sure building work is high quality carried out efficiently. Bespoke homes usually take longer to build because they are not mass produced, so allow up to a year after approvals.

The two keys to success are choosing a good builder and getting the contract right. This should deal with all major issues of concern to the owner and builder, including price, time for completion, allowable causes of delay and treatment of unforeseen conditions. Such a contract is based on a lump sum price, with the builder agreeing to specified work for a specified cost. Because good contracts can be clearly understood by everyone concerned, disputes are less likely.

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For the complete story see Money Magazine's May 2007 issue. Subscribe now.

28/11/2014 21:55Sydney, Australia. 28 November,2014
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