You’re just about to become a home builder! So, what do you need to know to make this process as smooth as possible?
We interviewed Ivan McRobb, CEO from Chatham Homes and Geoff, Foreman from Impact Homes, to give you some insights and tips on working through this process. We share our thoughts too! Between Ivan and Geoff alone, they have over 50 years experiencing, building, surveying and designing homes in Australia.
Topic 1: Holding up the build process will cost you more money. There are things you can do to ensure the process runs as efficiently as possible.
Anissa (Eda Property): a team will be allocated to your property development. Your team will include us, your conveyancer and your broker. We will all work together with you to ensure that all parties are on the same page. All communications will be written in an email trail and will include everyone involved. This means that any questions that arise, will be answered as quickly as possible and everyone will receive the most up to date information.
The following are the sorts of things that come up that will require your immediate attention:
- Need to change design due to the council and or development standards. Generally, these are all small things such as a slightly higher door frame. The main consideration here is that the builder has asked you to pay for the change. Under our fixed price contracts, all changes are included – even upgrades (unless you ask for them). If the change is due to development and council requirements, the builder is the one that takes the risk. As long as it’s an upgrade and there is no cost associated, we will always advise to accept it quickly.
- Change to details that require a signature such as a newly appointed building surveyor or a tile colour match (because the ones you selected have been discontinued). We also advise accepting these changes if there is no significant change to your build.
- Requests for instalment which require your approval. This is why we like to include all parties involved – including your financial adviser – in all communications. Your advisers will be made aware of this request and can submit the instalment to the bank. There is very rarely a reason not to approve an instalment. If the work has not been completed, the surveyor and the financial institution will not approve the stage payment anyway.
Geoff (Impact Homes): Echoing Anissa’s advice, make sure you are in contact with the builders regularly and respond to their administration requirements. There are so many different contractors required in order to finish the build. Our process is carefully marked up on a project management system and people are booked in advance. Even the smallest change can delay a contractor who may then not be able to return for weeks. It is our job to manage this but swift communication with us helps enormously.
Ivan (Chatham Homes): An organised builder should be able to complete a single-story home in 16 to 20 weeks, depending on size and inclusion, and a double in 20 to 26 weeks. Weather and trade shortages are really the only things that should hold up a job once it has gone to site. The key is correct paperwork from the very beginning, so the job is ordered correctly by the builder.
- Check your emails and respond to requests ASAP to avoid delays
- Ensure the paperwork and your job order is correct from the get-go.
Topic 2: The biggest impact on the structure during the build process.
Anissa (Eda Property): We look at the number of builds a foreman looks after. Generally, anything over 25 builds can be tricky to manage properly. The foreman or site manager is really responsible for the overall quality of the build. Contractors do their job and do it to specification. But if no one is specifying or managing the build, the job will not come together. If a manager has too many sites to look after, they can’t possibly be available daily and when needed. In these cases, we find overall quality slips. We’ve gone through the process of assigning the right builder for you to ensure quality is never compromised.
Geoff (Impact Homes): Every site manager will have their way of doing things. They will have a process that they have developed over time and will manage their team to that process to deliver the best possible results. The experience of the site manager is critical. I would always prefer an experienced builder to manage my site than someone with technical expertise alone.
Ivan (Chatham Homes): There are 2 structural components of any new home. This is the base and the frame. Everything else is cosmetic. In terms of what you need to know – the base will be inspected twice by the building surveyor so as long as it has been checked correctly, it should be fine. The number one issue people have after moving in is discovering slab heave. Slab heaves occur when water gets underneath. This is often due to broken stormwater pipes. To make sure this doesn’t happen to our homes we carry out 2 drain camera inspections, one after the slab has been poured and another towards the end of the job. The camera inspections will pick up any breakages, so we can fix them prior to landscaping, keep a record on file of repairs and where any breakages were.
As for the frame, it will be inspected by the building surveyor so it should not cause any structural problems. We use MGP10 pine which is a higher structural grade timber compared to what other builders use.
- Working with foremen responsible for less than 25 builds ensures that the quality of your build is not compromised
- Every foreman or site manager will have their way of doing things. Go for someone who has years of experience as opposed to only having technical expertise.
- The two structural components that make up the integrity of your build will be the base and the frames. Your builder will pick up any breakages or cases of slab heave and will rectify. The frames will be inspected by a building surveyor so rarely a problem will arise.
Topic 3: The most important thing to focus on when considering finishes
Anissa (Eda Property): don’t pay for anything that is not needed to achieve strong rental interest. Pay only what is required. In our experience that is, lots of light for a larger home, a larger cooktop, benchtops and flooring. These can help the rental process but will have little effect (if any) on capital growth. The only thing that increases in value is the land – everything else decreases so if we spend any more that is required, your money will be wasted.
Ivan (Chatham Homes): A 3-coat paint system is important. Most investment builds use a 2-coat system to save on money. If you go ahead with the 2-coat system, then the brand matters. We use Haymes which we believe to be the best on the market. Plumbing fixtures are also important. Anything Australian made is recommended and of course, will be easier to get parts for when maintenance comes around.
- Don’t pay for anything that is not needed to achieve strong rental interest. Pay only what is required.
- A 3-coat paint system is preferred but if you want to save on costs, a 2-coat paint system is fine too. Just ensure you use a quality brand like Haymes.
Topic 4: The advice we’d give to our family if they’re building
Anissa (Eda Property): There are three points of advice I like to give:
- Ask yourself, are the owner-builders or marketers? If the latter, run a mile!
- Look at their suppliers. Are they using the cheapest international products or do they care about quality?
- Ask one of the senior managers or directors these questions we’ve answered in this article:
- What can hold up the build process?
- What’s the biggest impact on the structure in the building process?
- What’s the most important thing I should focus on when it comes to finishes?
- What advice would you give to a family member if they were building?
You will soon work out who is passionate about their process. Passion is an indicator of quality.
Ivan (Chatham Homes): To only build with Chatham Homes, of course! Hahaha
My advice is to:
- go to the display home
- check what is included in the base price, try and have your site costs fixed so you don’t have any surprises
- understand what brands they are using
- See if there are any promos running
- Check out who they use as a building surveyor to make sure your mandatory inspections are being done correctly
- Look at some builds that are currently under construction.
If you have any questions about your upcoming build, be sure to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.