Written by Jake Brady

Should Your New Home Be Single or Double Storey?

When it comes to designing your dream home, there are plenty of decisions to make. Which way will it face? How many living spaces will you need? What aesthetic will you go for? 

One of the most important initial decisions you will face is whether to build up or out – in other words, whether to create a single or double-storey home. As one of the South Coast’s leading residential builders, we’ve guided dozens of clients through this same question. Here’s what we’ve learnt. 

1. Work with what you’ve got 

The first element to consider when approaching the question of single or double-storey is to examine your existing block. If it’s narrow, going up may be the better option, but should there be plenty of space, sticking with the one floor may be suitable. There’s also the issue of approvals – some councils will have restrictions on how high, or how far out you can build, influencing what you can and can’t do on your land. 

2. Consider your needs

Every homeowner is different, which means your needs are too. For example, will stairs present an accessibility or mobility issues in the near future? Do you have a young family that would benefit from a larger garden space? Perhaps your children are older and would appreciate separate living spaces that an upstairs area would afford? 

Thinking about how your family will use your home will be the best guide for its eventual design. Another element to consider is the potential to introduce views of the wider environment. Depending on where your home is situated, this could result in additional value later down the line. 

3. Can you afford it?

Your budgets can play a huge part in your decision between a single or double-storey home. As a general rule, it is more expensive to build up rather than out, as more equipment, such as scaffolding, is required. It can also extend the length of the build, so if you’re on a limited timeline, opting for a single storey may be a better option. 

That said, while building up is more expensive, this cost may be offset in land price, as you can build a double-storey home on a smaller plot. 


Should you be thinking about building your new home in 2019, get in touch with Smartbuild South Coast today. We can assist with all types of custom homes, including single and double-storey designs. 

Written by Jake Brady

Everything you need to know about building a dual occupancy home

Over the last few years, we’ve noticed a rise in dual occupancy, or multi-dwelling developments. With large blocks of land, many homeowners are taking advantage of the additional space, utilising innovative design and construction techniques to double their return and introduce an investment property onto their land. If you’re looking to build in 2019, this could be an option for you. 

What is a dual occupancy home?

A dual occupancy, or multi-dwelling development, is the construction of two properties on the one block of land. There are a number of layouts but the most common are two attached homes sitting side by side (facing the street), or one sitting behind the other (with driveway access to the rear property). 

What are the benefits of dual occupancy?

New South Wales’ South Coast features lots of open space, making it the perfect area in which to build a dual occupancy development. Should you be building your dream home, a second property allows you to develop a secondary stream of income, to either sell or rent. If you are a developer, opting for a dual occupancy design means you have double the properties to sell, increasing your potential return. 

What to consider when building dual occupancy?

As with any building project, there are quite a few elements to consider when opting for a dual occupancy development. Here are just a few:

  • Size of block – minimum lot sizes and street frontages are the first cross check when looking at a site, each council has different rules on this so be sure to do your homework. Positioning – depending on your design, you will need to consider where to put access elements like driveways, taking trees and electricity poles into consideration.
  • Approvals – dual occupancy requires specific approvals from your local council, as the legislation is a little more complex. If you’re on a short timeline, this may be a turn off!
  • Costs – while there is potential to increase your return at the end, building two homes can mean double the costs! Finishes and furnishings will need to be multiplied by two, increasing your final bill dramatically. 

How Smartbuild can help

As local builders and residents, we’ve watched the rise in multi-dwelling developments over the past few years, and as such, have developed the necessary skills and knowledge to create a marketable dwelling for you. Whether you’re a homeowner looking to sell or rent the second house, or building investment properties, we can help bring your vision to life. We also have fantastic ongoing relationships with real estate agents and architects in the local market, meaning we can offer expert advice on how to attract the best buyers. 

Get in touch with our team today!

Written by Jake Brady

5 Reasons to Build on the South Coast

The South Coast is a glorious region of New South Wales stretching from the south of Sydney all the way down to the border of Victoria. Incorporating everything from beautiful beaches, to wonderful wilderness experiences and breathtaking aquatic wildlife (including whales and dolphins) can be found in this gorgeous area.

While it’s a popular holiday destination for many Australians, there are many reasons to build and live on the South Coast. Here are our top 5:

1. Seaside location 

The South Coast includes some of Australia’s most stunning beaches. Towns like Shellharbour, Kiama, Shell Cove and Werri Beach are blessed with white sandy beaches, rolling waves and sunny days for much of year. 

The seaside location of these towns means there’s something for everyone – there are adventures a plenty for the kids and family pets, while if you’re after something more relaxed you can enjoy walks along the sand or an early morning surf while you watch the sun rise over the waves.

2. Great cafes and restaurants

Image: The Hungry Monkey, Kiama

The region is home to a host of excellent food and drink offerings, meaning you’ll never be bored when it comes to trying something new. It’s also the sort of place where you find a local that becomes part of your routine, whether that be your everyday coffee spot or special occasion restaurant.

Some of our favourites include the Hungry Monkey in Kiama, Relish on Addison in Shellharbour Village and Crooked River Wines in Gerringong.

3. Community

Being a regional area, there is a great sense of community in each town along the South Coast. Whether you’re a member of the local golf club, an active participant in your child’s school board or simply a regular at your favourite cafe or local gym, there is something special about the feeling of belonging that comes with being involved in a regional community.

4. Proximity to big cities

Image: Sydney.com

The Illawarra region of the South Coast in particular is located less than 150kmfrom Sydney and 30kmfrom Wollongong, meaning you can enjoy the feeling of a coastal haven, while being close enough to the city if needed. This is perfect for those looking for a sea change, without wanting to completely alienate themselves from the hustle and bustle of the city just yet.

While the South Coast is very close to bigger cities, there’s also no reason to head in if you don’t want to. This picturesque area may be regional, but it is one of the most-well serviced regions in the country, with access to everything from supermarkets, cafes and restaurants to shops and schools.

5. Shellcove Marina

Shellcove Marina. Image: Frasers Property Australia

If you enjoy boating and coastal living in general, the soon-to-be-completed Shellcove Marina is an excellent reason to make the move to the South Coast. This world-class marina will offer direct access to the Tasman sea via a public boat ramp, which is perfect for weekend adventures on the water, as well as a lively town centre, foreshore restaurants and cafes, fresh food markets, playgrounds and parks. 

Locals and tourists alike have been waiting for the completion of this exciting attraction for around 20 years now and it’s expected to produce a huge tourism boost in the area. If you’re looking to make the move to the South Coast, this new marina makes it the perfect time to do so.


If you’re interested in learning more about the South Coast or want to find out how Smartbuild South Coast can build your dream home in this stunning region, get in touch with us today!

Written by Jake Brady

Take A Step Into Architectural Luxury

We’ve had an excellent start to the year at Smartbuild South Coast, having recently handed over the keys to a three-storey luxury home in stunning Kiama. This custom-built, architecturally-designed home was a big project; works included demolishing the majority of the existing home, apart from a small section on the right-hand side, and rebuilding from scratch with major alterations and additions. The completed home embodies the Smartbuild South Coast team’s commitment to attention to detail and exceptional-quality craftsmanship.

Our Kiama client approached us with a vision for an open-plan family home that would be well suited to entertaining. Naturally, they also wanted their updated coastal home to capitalise on the stunning ocean views surrounding the property. As essentially a Knock Down and Rebuild, we were able to achieve a design that was exactly to our client’s unique specifications. 

Step inside our stunning Kiama home with this virtual walkthrough…

There are flowing entertaining areas for the whole family, an entirely open middle floor and beautiful pool area in the back. We also recreated the kitchen, lounge and dining rooms and added a front deck and alfresco barbecue area, perfect for soaking up that South Coast sunshine. None of these communal spaces have walls between them, which adds to the flowing seamless feel of this luxury home.

In terms of materials used, this was a special project. On the outside we used striking Colourbond Lysaght Longline 305 cladding, which adds a dramatic statement to the home’s exterior. Hidden gutters add to the seamless feel of the home, while energy efficient aluminium Hanlon windows keep the space bright and open. We used a large number of steel beams inside the walls, which allowed us to obtain all of the unique cantilevers and created raked high ceilings and overhangs. 

Out the back, a glass pool window adds a bespoke and eye-catching element to a usually standard area. This is a huge visual standout of the home, along with the area where the roof cladding turns into wall cladding, which achieves a very high-end desired look.

We were very lucky to have the support of some excellent partners throughout this exciting project, including I Architecture, Paiano Design and Harvey Norman Commercial. To fully understand the stunning nature of this architecturally-designed home, you need to look closely at each space in this exquisite home. 

Let’s take a closer look…

Living Spaces

Each of the living spaces in this stunning home – including lounge room, dining and family rooms; are bathed in natural light. These family friendly, architecturally-designed areas include plenty of windows to soak up the surrounding ocean views and feature eye-catching hanging lights, geometric lines and a coastal-inspired colour palette. 

Beautiful sliding glass doors create a seamless connection between inside and out, allowing the home to be completely opened up when the weather is fine. 


Both the mid and top floor bedrooms take advantage of the beautiful coastal location of this home. The home’s architectural design is continued into the bedrooms with custom bedheads, a coastal colour palette (including a blue feature wall in the master) and a simple, open style. We worked closely with I Architecture on the bedrooms to ensure each resting place took in breathtaking views of the surrounds.  


Enter the spacious and open kitchen at Kiama and you’ll feel instantly at home. Designed and created by the team at Paiano Design, the kitchen achieves a harmonic balance between a coastal-inspired colour palette, timber finishes and high-end appliances. Complete with blue corrugated kitchen cupboards and eye-catching feature lighting, our clients were blown away with this new entertainer’s paradise.


Both of the clean and spacious bathrooms are equipped with luxurious baths for indulgent moments. The master bathroom also features a stunning tile feature wall in the shower, inspired by the ever-present coastal theme.

Outdoor Living

Each outdoor living space makes the most of the stunning seaside location. The ground floor includes a garage and gardens, while the middle floor includes an alfresco barbecue area and a stunning pool with glass window. There’s also a deck at the front of this stunning home so our clients can fully enjoy the views. Our Kiama project really does embody luxury coastal living.


To learn more about our Kiama project or to find out how the team at Smartbuild South Coast can help create your very own architecturally-designed custom home, get in touch today.

Written by Jake Brady

Demystifying the Construction Certification Process

The steps involved in pre-construction can be confusing and overwhelming. With so many planning, council and certification processes to complete it’s easy to get stuck knowing what to do next.

Luckily, your builder and designer should be able to guide you through the process, which is one reason why it’s integral to have them engaged from the very beginning. The two parties should work together closely right from the concept design stage to ensure your project is completed to your budget and specs.

Obviously, it’s important that you understand the processes involved as well. At Smartbuild South Coast, we find a lot of clients think once their Development Application has been approved they are ready to build. Unfortunately not – this is just the beginning and there are many construction certification documents to be completed before works can actually begin.


So what’s left to do?


1.Have your Development Application (DA) approved

A Development Application, commonly referred to as a DA, is a formal request for approval to carry out a development. Your builder or designer can take care of this and will lodge the Development Application on your behalf. This will need to be approved by your local council or a private certifier before any work can begin. Once submitted, the certifying body will assess the application based on applied community standards, planning and development legislation and council requirements.

A Development Application consists of detailed plans and drawings of the proposed development; a Statement of Environmental Effects; supporting documentation and a formal application form. Following approval of the DA, the next step is to appoint a Principle Certifying Authority.


2.Appoint a Principle Certifying Authority (PCA)

Every construction project must have a Principle Certifying Authority (PCA), who will monitor construction as it progresses to ensure it complies with your approved Construction Certificate (CC). The PCA will be the same authority that issues your CC, so they will be fully aware of your project and understand the works involved.

The PCA can be your local council or a private accredited building Certifier and is the same body that will issue you with an Occupancy Certificate at the end of construction, giving approval for the building to be occupied.


3.Gather Documents

Your approved DA will include a list of relevant compliance documents, which need to be submitted to obtain your CC. Before you begin on the next step CC, take some time to gather these documents to ensure you have everything you need. Without these papers, your CC application may not be processed and construction works on your project may be delayed.

For a standard home, the necessary documents will include the following:

  • Architectural Construction Certificate and architectural plans
  • Contract of Certification Work
  • General building housing specifications for the project
  • Structural and Hydraulic engineering plans endorsed by an accredited engineer
  • A letter of structural adequacy from an engineer (only applicable if you are building on an existing structure)
  • Section 94 Levy payment contribution
  • Long Service Levy payment for works $25,000.00 or greater
  • Home Owners Warranty insurance for the project
  • A BASIX Certificate

It’s important to note that this list will grow should your job be a multi dwelling or subdivision project.


4.Obtain a Construction Certificate

A Construction Certificate is an assessment on the construction of a proposed building. This certificate affirms that your construction plans and development specifications comply with the Development Consent, the appropriate Australian Standards, Council’s Policies and the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

You may obtain a CC from your local council or from a privately accredited certifier.


Are you eligible for a Complying Development Certificate?

You may be eligible for a Complying Development Certificate if your construction is a minor or routine development, which will have only a minor impact on the environment.

A Complying Development Certificate combines the functions of both development consent and a construction certificate and can be issued by either the local council or a private certifier. Note, you will still be required to appoint a Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) to monitor the construction.


5.Start work on site

With all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted, your construction can now begin! It might seem like a confusing process, but it is relatively simple in reality. Remember that your builder and designer are there to help you and should be able to answer any questions you may have about the construction certification process at any stage.


If you want to know more about planning, council and construction certification processes or simply want to find out how Smartbuild South Coast can build your dream home, get in touch with us today!

Written by Jake Brady

What Is the Difference Between an Architect and a Draftsman?

While it’s common to hear those not in the industry use the terms ‘architect’ and ‘draftsman’ synonymously, they are not the same thing. There are significant differences between the role of an architect and that of a draftsman and it is important to understand both so you can make an informed decision about which one to call upon for your next building project.

Architects and draftsmen play similar and important roles in the Australian building industry; both prepare CAD (computer aided design) drawings and both can work on construction projects. However, the two positions also have very different responsibilities and require different skills, experience and educational backgrounds.

Education and Training

 The major difference between an architect and a draftsman is the educational background. An architect must complete an undergraduate university degree (generally a three year course), followed by a two year Masters of Architecture. After this, the graduate is required to complete a minimum of two years of practical experience before he or she can register as an architect in their chosen state and be granted a license to practice architecture.

A draftsman on the other hand, is only required to complete a TAFE or similar course that will teach them CAD design. The study to become a draftsman is not nearly as rigorous as an architecture degree and the average time required to become a qualified drafter is two years, as opposed to seven.


With more time spent studying, architects obviously have more responsibility and are generally able to tackle more complex designs than a draftsman. An architect may be involved in a project from start to finish, helping out with anything from planning, design and documentation, to contract administration and project management.

In contrast, a draftsman is someone who produces drawings for construction projects, whether it is a brand new build or a renovation. They are specialists in the field, who work closely with clients to create clear and concise drafts for builders to follow. Some draftsman also get involved in the construction side of project on the more complex designs, this is always helpful for the builder when any minor issues arise.

Should I hire an architect or a draftsman?

If you’re looking to embark on a big construction project, particularly if it’s a commercial build, you should probably look to hire an architect. This is to ensure your construction is built safely, with the correct materials and abides by all necessary building regulations. However, if your project is relatively simple or you’re merely looking to renovate your home, an experienced draftsman can be an excellent option at a fraction of the price.

Ultimately, the decision of architect or draftsman should be a personal one and should largely depend on your budget and the complexity of your project. An architect undergoes seven years of study for a reason so if you’re looking to create something incredibly intricate or out of the ordinary, it pays to hire a trained professional. As with all parts of the building process, it always best to get quotes from both parties first and weigh up your options before making a final decision.


To find out more about the difference between an architect and a draftsman or for help selecting one, get in touch with Smartbuild South Coast today.


Written by Jake Brady

Why Builders Charge For Quote

When it comes to choosing your builder, you may need to collect a number of quotes, for which some companies may charge. While this may seem unnecessary, paying a small charge for a quote early on in the process can save a lot of trouble down the line.

Here at Smartbuild, we will not compete to present you the lowest price. While we are more often than not competitive in pricing, we won’t compromise our standards in order to win you over. That’s why we take an approach from the outset that lets our prospective clients know we are serious about our business, our customers and the outcome of their projects.

Our team always puts the highest level of quality and attention into everything we do, including tenders.  There may be other builders that provide free quotes – this is usually because they apply a m² rate and don’t go to the effort of producing a bill of quantities, or sourcing quotes from suppliers and sub-contractors.  This practice often leads to unnecessary variations, disappointment and disputes during construction, not to mention extension of the construction period, costing you time and money.

We like to provide a personalised and transparent service with a tender that will give you confidence and certainty that your project will be completed to an exceptional standard, on time and on budget. There is a significant amount of time, effort and expense that goes into preparation of a detailed and specific tender. In order to be able to provide this level of service, we require the payment of a nominal fee. The payment of this fee also means the quote belongs to you. We encourage you to source other quotes and invite you to compare us (our service, our past projects and resulting testimonials, our approach and our price) with other builders.

We offer two different types of tenders – a preliminary cost report and/or a detailed cost tender. I always encourage my clients to undergo a preliminary cost report prior to lodging a DA with the council. This ensures that the project is not outside your budget and that you don’t go through the entire DA process and all the fees associated to find out that the budget does not fit the design.

If we can flag this early, we can work together with the designer and you to ensure the budget is realistic and you can move forward to lodge the DA with confidence. This preliminary cost report is usually more than 95% accurate – note, it is impossible to achieve 100% accuracy at this point as we have no engineer details, selections and detailed plans.
The second option is the detailed cost tender. Once we have DA approval, geotechnical soil reports, engineer plans, specifications, selections, colours and detailed construction certificate plans and sections, we can then undergo the detailed cost tender. This is a fixed price quotation that is essentially the entire cost of the building work, down to the minor finishes like towel rails and toilet roll holders.

If you proceed to work with Smartbuild South Coast, all the preliminary/quote fees will be deducted off the first progress payment, meaning this service is ultimately free. Whichever builder you choose, requesting a quote is a great way to test their attention to detail and quality standards, giving a great indication of their work as a whole.

Written by Jake Brady

6 Ways To Spruce Your Outdoor Living Space For Summer

Outdoor living is such an important part of the Australian lifestyle, particularly during summer. To ensure you make the most of the warmer months, your home needs a stunning outdoor living space that’s as functional as it is beautiful, a space that’s equally as comfortable hosting a Saturday dinner party, as it is a lazy weeknight wine.

Just like you, we love spending time outside and our outdoor living spaces are ingrained in our homes. So we’ve put together six suggestions on how you can breathe new life into your alfresco area. Whether you have a small courtyard or a sprawling deck and pool, there is a way to spruce your outdoor space so you can enjoy outside all summer long.



 Lighting can make a huge difference to your outdoor living space, transforming it from a plain outside area to an ambient gathering spot. You could weave solar fairy lights through the beams in your roof or string them above the lawn for a garden party feel. A couple of statement pendant lights hanging above the dining table are also a trendy option.

Feature floor lamps can add to the vibe of your outdoor area, as can LED lights along pathways, under trees or around the pool. You’ll be amazed at what a little mood lighting can do for your outdoor living space and the best part – it doesn’t have to break the bank.


2.Composite decking

It’s true that timber decking adds warmth and character like no other material, however it is high maintenance. Most timber decks require frequent staining, lacquering or repainting and are time consuming to keep looking schmick.

Why not consider replacing your timber floors (or establishing a brand new decked area) with composite decking, which offers the same natural appeal as timber without the upkeep. Using a mixture of plastic and wood, composite decking is sustainable and requires little to no maintenance as it is virtually weather resistant. It’s the perfect choice for time-poor homeowners wanting to make the most of their downtime.



Overgrown plants hanging from the rooftop, large pot plants in unused corners, small succulents on side tables – these are all examples of how greenery can be used to add life to your outdoor space. It’s always nice to have a natural theme in an outdoor area and greenery can be a great way break up the monotony of a space, particularly if you have a lot of wooden features.

Looking ahead to next summer, you could even consider planting an ornamental grapevine along the roof. This will provide beautiful green foliage and natural shade in the summertime, while the leaves turn a gorgeous red in autumn.


4.Statement furnishings

If you’ve got everything you need but your outdoor area just isn’t quite there, consider adding some colourful cushions or patterned blankets for a pop of colour. A statement floor rug can also be a great way to instantly transform an alfresco area.


5.Fire pit

Fire pits combine practicality with decoration – a great way to fill in a space between chairs or to replace another table, you can also cook dinner as you sit back and relax.

They’re also a winner with kids, who love the novelty of being able to toast their own marshmallows over the flames. If you’re feeling crafty, you could even create a chessboard cover for the fire pit to add fun to daylight gatherings when the pit’s not being used.


6.Create a mini bar

 If your outdoor living space needs something further but you don’t want to commit to a complete renovation, why not spend a Saturday on a DIY project. Makeover an old cart or unused dresser, or stack a few old crates to create a cocktail station or mini bar.

Give your chosen furniture a coat of paint and top with an ice bucket, some glasses, basic spirits and mixers. Voila! You’ll have a brand new space to whip up concoctions for friends and family on balmy summer evenings.


For more ideas on how to get the most out of your outdoor living space, get in touch with Smartbuild South Coast today.

Photo by realestate.com

Written by Jake Brady

Types of Building Contracts

A building contract is an essential part of any construction process. It is a legally binding document that establishes the responsibilities of both the client and the builder and protects you in the case of mistakes or non-delivery.

You sign a residential building contract once plans are finalised, a budget is locked in and you’ve decided on a builder. Beware if a builder uses their own ‘custom-made’ contract. Housing industry bodies including the Master Builders and Housing Industry Association (HIA) have standard contracts for their members to use, which protect both the builder and the homeowner. Their documents have been drafted by lawyers and updated over many years in accordance with legislation changes. Therefore, there are no excuses for builders to present contracts that don’t follow these templates.

The two most common contract types are a Fixed Price Contract and a Cost Plus Contract.

Fixed price contract

This option is for clients wanting a quote from a builder where the payment doesn’t depend on resources used or time. If you opt for this option, you must make sure everything has been included, or at least ensure there’s a provisional sum provided for unknown items. Finance companies prefer this type of contract if the client is financed and knows the price. Negatives arise if the client wants to make changes mid-process as this incurs variations to the price and results in administration costs.

Cost plus contract

This is a flexible contract that can be set up in a variety of ways. This type of contract can receive a bad rap, mainly due to dishonest builders supplying an unrealistic budget and/or charging retail rates for supplied items. However, in good hands, this is a very flexible and workable way to build. Most finance companies will not finance on this type of contract.

There are two types of cost plus contracts:

  1. Cost plus a set margin on all expenses: You will receive an invoice from the builder, generally every fortnight for the cost of all materials and labour. A margin is then added – usually between 10 to 20 per cent depending on size and what is included. This margin is generally less than a fixed-price contract. For this type
of contract to work well, you will need to be in regular close contact with the builder and he will need your constant feedback. Some clients love being involved at this level, however if you don’t, I wouldn’t recommend selecting this type of contract.
  2. Project management: This is when the builder has a fixed price for his services, which should include all supervision, organising trades and materials, administration and overheads attributable to the construction. Your builder will need to do an accurate estimation of costs and supply you with updated figures along the way so you can see if you are ahead or behind budget. I find many clients, when presented with options of upgrades and the difference between the options, inevitably upgrade and go over budget. This is fine as long as you are made aware when expected costs for that item or trade have been exceeded. Your builder should provide all supporting invoices to show you are paying trade prices (i.e. what the builder gets it for).

Knowing what your builder is not including in your contract

When signing a residential building contract, it is essential that you take the time to understand exactly what is included in your agreement – and what is it. Before signing on the dotted line, you must check to see what you are responsible for and know exactly what the impacts will be, as this could be quite costly and quickly cut into budget contingency funds.

What you should check

Some things you should look out for are:

  • Removal of leftover soil from excavations may be excluded from the contract and this process can be very costly.
  • Retaining walls are often excluded from the list of builder’s responsibilities, which can leave you underfunded with very little access to build the retaining wall.
  • Inclusions such as floor coverings, light fittings, bathroom accessories, paths and driveways (things you would consider mandatory) are often forgotten.
  • Fencing and gates are often omitted from contracts but need consideration.
  • Site cleaning is a must for most diligent builders but can catch out the unwary client, which means a sizeable wastage and truck hire bill.
  • Landscaping is sometimes an assumed inclusion with a new home, but you need to double check this and have a contingency sum.

The team at Smartbuild can chat through the different types of contracts on offer for your building journey. Get in touch today to see how we can help!

Written by Jake Brady

What to Avoid in the Building Process

With decades in the building industry, we’ve seen and heard the full spectrum of building successes and disasters. We’ve also seen the mistakes clients make along the way, resulting in blown budgets, delayed works and most upsettingly, a construction journey they didn’t enjoy. In order to help you avoid this type of experience, we’ve collated all the things you should be avoiding when building your new home.

Avoid focusing entirely on price 

It can be tempting to focus completely on the price of your new home, but this is the most common mistake homeowners make. You need to understand what is included in the price and just as importantly, what the builder has excluded from the quote.

What does it cost to build a house in NSW? Some background information will help you understand where your money is going.

Let’s say you have a $700,000 budget to build a house. The following non-constructive costs will be dispensed before a building approval takes place (assuming there are no other issues LIKE town planning approval, building over or near a sewer etc)

TOTAL BUDGET = $700,000.00, minus…

10% GST
= 63,636.36

Compulsory insurance
= 5,347.59

Compulsory levy
= 3,325.00

Architectural design fee
= 31,500.00

Soil test and surveyor
= 2,200.00

Engineering design = 2,000.00

Plumbing approval
= 808.00

Building certifier fee & energy report = 1,980.00

TOTAL LEFT OVER: $ 589,203.05

A large difference in cost can be tied to the tradesmen a builder employs. A good builder will rely on handpicked tradesmen to deliver quality and craftsmanship, resulting in a home that’s of the highest quality. Remember this when comparing prices – ask what is included and do not base your decision on the cheapest quote.

Avoid getting too many quotes 

Seeking multiple quotes is common as many homeowners are weary of builders milking their precious savings. A detailed quote typically takes four weeks compile and involves input from the builder, multiple tradesmen and suppliers. If the builder believes they are only being contacted as a price check, naturally they are reluctant to dedicate time.

Do your research first and only select builders you feel will be the right ones for you. If you do not intend to work with that builder, please refrain from asking for a quote because that price is irrelevant.

Many reputable builders will charge a fee to prepare a quote for the homeowner. This fee is typically a fraction of the cost to prepare a quote. It ensures the clients are genuine and the quote produced will be accurate and useful.

Avoid being unrealistic 

Often the expectations of a homeowner don’t match what is achievable with their budget. It is in your best interest to be honest with the builder when explaining to them how much money you are hoping to align with your project.

If the quote is too high, consider removing certain features of the house or simplifying spaces. In our experience, it is far better to spend money on making a room feel right than to have a larger space, which feels empty.

Avoid skimping on design

For a custom-built home, it is a sin to skimp on the design fee. You can employ the best builder to craft you the best house but it won’t function properly without a smart design. A well-designed house will enhance enjoyment for the homeowner and add value to the property at resale.

Options to designing a house include engaging a draftsperson, a building designer or an architect, each of which brings their own benefits and challenges. They will be able to provide you with a considered design that addresses all your needs.

While the ideal project is a direct replica of an architect or designer’s drawing, it is almost impossible to build without variation during the process.

Avoid treating your Architect and Builder separately 

Another common problem for homeowners is when their fantastic architect-designed house is priced at twice their budget. Architects and designers are extremely talented in creating great designs but on some occasions, they can fail on costing.

A good architect will usually get the builder involved during the planning stage. This means that they can work together on ensuring the budget is realistic with the design and scope of work at hand.


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