Deciding to Build

Buying a new home is an emotional decision. The house you buy says a great deal about you, your income, your taste for risk, your goals and what you expect in the future. So making the right decision can be a very daunting task.

The decision to build for most people is the ability to obtain a home perfectly suited to their lifestyle that works within their means.

Many people look at existing homes only to become disappointed at what is available within their price range especially once they take into account the government stamp duties that are tacked on top.

When buying a new home off the plan there is generally only stamp duty payable on the land component so this in turn can save the buyer tens of thousands of dollars or easily equates to a new family pool!

Most people believe it is too expensive to build before discovering that it is actually easier and more cost effective than buying an existing home.

There are so many options available through banks and mortgage brokers to ensure you don’t need to impede your existing quality of life during the building process and the outcome is more rewarding knowing it’s your own new home, built to your needs and tastes; your dream that has come true.

Seasoned investors on the other hand love to build knowing that not only do they save on stamp duty but they also maximise depreciation, rental return and capitol growth. Perfect Bricks and Mortar investments!

Vacant land is a funny thing. Many people believe that if they buy a block of land and sit on it for a few years it will save them money but in reality vacant land costs money. Let’s say you purchase a block of land for a $220K, holding costs would be about $300 per week. However if you were to build on that land and rent the property out your holding costs could be halved. Furthermore, the capital growth would mean your asset has the potential to grow by $287K* in 5 years. How could you save that kind of money? Ask our consultant today!

* based on an average Palmerston growth rate of 10% current statistics 2010 11.2%, 2009 17.1%, 2008 11.8%, 2007 10%, 2006 34.3%

Selecting a Builder

Now that you have decided to build the next task is to select a builder, remember you will have an intimate relationship for a good 12 months so be sure you are comfortable with your choice.

We recommend you select a builder before a floor plan as most builders will have a plan that suits your needs. Falling in love with the right house and the wrong builder will cause major heartache down the track and will be the difference between a great experience or one that you would rather forget.

You will own this home, no doubt, for a vast period of time so you don’t want a constant reminder of a bitter divorce! Once you have narrowed down your preferred builders it will be necessary to make comparisons but ensure you are comparing apples with apples as standard inclusions vary from builder to builder. Some try to come up with square meter rates but this rarely works with the inclusions being vastly different, along with other major factors such as sizes of the kitchen and bathrooms (money rooms).

What you are looking for is value for money not the cheapest price, some get caught up in the moment and forget that a couple of thousand dollars extra over a half a million dollar project is usually worth spending if you are delivered peace of mind.

Choosing a builder is a daunting task and one that should be considered carefully to ensure you are not married to the industry cowboy. Following are a list of questions that we recommend.

Are they a qualified builder?

At Abode New Homes both the Managing Director and Construction Manager are qualified tradesmen with current builders’ licences.

With their combined wealth of experience and knowledge they are capable of handling any situation that may arise on site. Be aware of the unqualified builder, there are more of them out there than you might think! Also ensure that the person selling you the home is the same person you will be dealing with through the whole build process.

How many homes do they build?

Abode New Homes have built over 500 new homes in Darwin and Surrounding areas, all within the agreed time frame.

Builders that produce only a small numbers of homes per year don’t have the office, team or procedures in place to ensure a timely quality build, this generally equates to time delays and hidden costs for the client.

How long have they been in business?

Abode New Homes has been building project homes since 2002.

Be wary of the new comer as there is no proven track record for you to determine the quality and outcomes of their work.

Will my home be completed?

This is becoming a very real prospect within the construction industry.

Many people believe that a builder’s licence means a builder is qualified and financially stable. This is not the case; builder licences are provided to people with relevant experience and minimal financial backing. Even the proposed new home warranty insurance doesn’t protect the client against the amount paid versus value of work completed. If a builder is substantially cheaper than their competitors this is a sure fire sign they are robbing Peter to pay Paul, desperate times call for desperate measures as they say.

Today the Abode Group of companies holds a very large property portfolio, meaning the director and the clients can sleep soundly knowing there are no underlying bad debts and plenty of assets.

Are they a reputable builder?

The grapevine in the construction industry is an amazing thing. As soon as a builder is doing the wrong thing, the entire industry knows about it in minutes.

We suggest you find someone within the industry to discuss your preferred builder; a tradesman, industry supplier, Land developers/sellers, family and friends are all great sources of knowledge.

If you are unable to find any information then why not knock on someone’s door? Most people will be more than happy to discuss their experience and if they have recently built, they will understand your dilemma and only be too willing to help.

At Abode New Homes we are happy to put you in contact with any Clients, contractors and suppliers. Many builders will only provide you with the contact of their happiest client so it is always best to ask around.

What processes do they have in place?

Building a new home is a huge task; co-ordinating hundreds of tradesmen and thousands of dollars worth of materials can’t be done well if the builder doesn’t have a clear set of processes, policies and procedures.

This generally means clients don’t get what was agreed or they become their own project managers, checking on the site daily to ensure everything is going to plan.

At Abode New Homes, we are the only Darwin builder using “on-site” technology; which ensures that from the point of deposit to the end of the six month maintenance period, there is a clear and accountable process for all team members. So the end result is you receive the home of your choice, built to your satisfaction, with the selected upgrades, for the agreed price and importantly, on time. This is why we have won the Housing Industry Association NT Professional Builder of the Year for the last 5 years.

What deposit will I need to pay?

This is another area to be wary of in the construction industry; we have had many clients that have paid huge deposits to other builders to find themselves burnt.

Most builders ask for 5% of the contract amount upfront before any works are completed this can equate to as much as $30K-$60K depending on what you are building. At Abode we are strong believers in not being paid until we have done work. So in order for you to start the ball rolling and lock in a contract, all we ask for is $3,500 – this is ample for us to get you to site.

Why do standard inclusions vary so much between builders?

Inclusions between builders vary substantially and depend on the builder. A common practice of builders is to offer their homes at the cheapest possible price with limited inclusions.

More often than not the client needs to spend a considerable amount of money on additional items to achieve a quality build. At Abode we put ourselves into our clients’ shoes and imagine that every home is our own. The end result is the best that money can buy, aesthetically pleasing with the added benefit of longevity. The cost of sustaining the home is also a consideration. Standard inclusions are energy saving light fittings, solar hot water, inverter airconditioners, ceiling insulation and solar power panels which assist in reducing the ever increasing power bill. Manufacturer’s warranties accompany every product to ensure each client’s peace of mind.

How much do you charge per square metre?

If a builder quotes pricing on square meter rates RUN!!!

This is not possible to do, they are either going to charge you far too much or far too little but either option is not favourable for a client, remember you want your home completed! Each and every home varies in size, has a different roof design and features; a square metre rate cannot be established across a range of different homes. If you are trying to compare builders on that basis, remember specifications vary.

Why do you build with timber frames as standard?

Contrary to popular belief, timber is by far superior to any other product on the market.

Not only is it the ultimate renewable energy resource, it produces the best end results; beautiful bulkheads and niches, door frames that don’t rust with humidity, skirting boards to complete straight walls, minimal movement and that is just the visual advantages.

It is stronger than the light weight steel most builders use and dosen’t retain heat like block work. Plasterboard is easily repairable to new condition by any handyman, whereas render requires a tradesman, with any repair being costly and forever visible.

At Abode, we use laminated timber for increased dimensional strength and stability, which means less movement and cracking for the home owner.

One of the major problems in the top end with steel is it flexes in the heat, meaning steel trusses move excessively as they expand and contract throughout a standard day, leaving ceiling cracks that appear and disappear. Ever been in a home that makes creaking noises?

Blockwork is rumoured to make a home stronger; however most internal walls are non structural, therefore the blocks are only held together with mortar, which deteriorates giving beautiful zigzagging cracks running down the walls.

All timber used in Abode New homes is LOSP (Light Organic Solvent Preservative) treated which is a non harmful treatment that provides a 25 year guarantee against termites, mould, mildew and the like.

Unfortunately, a lot of people believe that only timber homes get eaten by termites, however this is not the case. The only way to protect against infestation is to install an appropriate Termite management system coupled with owner diligence by carrying out regular inspections (6-12 months) as part of a maintenance regime.

Termites love to eat everything from Wiring to Plasterboard to Palm Trees! If you are still not comfortable with timber, speak to one of our consultants for alternatives.

What is a site classification test?

A site classification test is carried out by a geotechnical engineer to establish what is underneath the ground.

Quite often the top of a block of land can look fantastic, but as little as 300mm or 30cm down, things can be dramatically contrasting from rock to an underground stream. Our standard inclusions cater for an ‘S’ class site which means the soil is stable. However if your site were to produce another classification such as ‘M’ Class (moderately unstable) this means you would require additional materials and engineering to your slab to protect your home against movement. The cost depends on the severity of the site; to put your mind at ease, to date, we have found 95% of sites fall within our standards.

How long before you can start?

This is a tricky question. Abode New Homes does have an exceptional reputation and therefore we are in high demand. Our advice is the sooner you pay a deposit the quicker we will be to site. In order to maintain our high standards, we limit our consultants to one new deposit each per week.

This allows us to regulate our procedures and ensure each and every home is given the same attention to detail, with clients generally moving in early. In times of high volume, getting to site may increase from our 8 week standard.

External statutory regulation requirements such as site classification tests, engineering, covenant approvals and certification make it impossible to start building immediately as other builders may promise.

At Abode we like to ensure that together we have every aspect of your new home perfect. You will know exactly what you are getting before construction begins to eliminate unexpected variation costs. Controlling our construction numbers ensures a smooth quality timely stress free build.

Some builders may start quickly, but the build time is extended due to needing additional information, variations to the contract or lack of key systems, costing clients thousands more in additions, repayments and time!

Can I make changes?

We welcome additions to our homes.

However, completely redesigning the interior of the home is not recommended; it alters the finer details that have been considered, converting the home from a project home to a custom built home, which then would have to be priced accordingly.

What do I have to do?

At Abode we simulate building a new home with having a baby…all the hard work is done upfront so all you need to do is sit back and enjoy watching it grow.

We do everything for you, your job was deciding to build, our job is to make that happen and in our world if a client is stressed then we are failing to do our job properly.

We have an awesome house thanks to awesome people and we moved in 8 weeks early!"

Alison & Scott

You can tell a good builder by the after sales service... yours has been great!"

Lee & Kathy

Our house started at the same time as our neighbour. We have had a dream run, moved in early and would build with Abode again. Our neighbour doesn't have the same feelings for their builder."