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The Ultimate Checklist for Building a New Home in Australia

building a new home checklist

Building a house can be one of the most satisfying, rewarding and long-lasting endeavours one can undertake in life. Just imagining the possibilities and dreaming about life in a new home, designed to cater to your every need with modern comforts and convenience, transforms the imagination into a landscape of possibilities.

For most people, building a new home is a first time experience. The process can quickly become costly at best or even a major, time-consuming disaster if the correct steps are not followed in the right order. To avoid unwanted surprises and budget blowouts, it pays to sit down and create a comprehensive checklist of what your goals and objectives are with a new home.

While a good builder with a strong reputation and verifiable references will certainly be able to sit down with you and help bring your dreams alive in the form of a well-drafted building plan, it is still necessary to have a very good idea of what you want in a new home beforehand. When building a new home you should prepare a checklist to help you create a comprehensive and manageable plan.

Builders discussing house plans.
The key to success when building a new home is to plan thoroughly and thoughtfully. Entering into any kind of endeavour with vague ideas, just hoping that the right things will come up as you go along is a recipe for disaster.

Steps to Building a House - A Comprehensive Checklist

There are many steps that mesh and tie in together when planning the construction of a new home. Unless you’re an experienced investor or have built before, it’s best to rely on professionals so that the order of planning, work conducted and legalities are properly and thoughtfully executed. You will need to maintain forthright and open lines of communication to ensure this process goes smoothly.

Checklist for Building a New Home

Chat With a Mortgage Broker for Advice on How to Get Your Finances in Order

When considering the steps to building a house, a comprehensive checklist is paramount. The first thing you need to consider is financing. Have a chat with a reputable mortgage broker, because they will almost always be more helpful, open and informative than speaking to a bank. Banks tend to keep everything cut and dry and will typically expect you to apply for a loan before you know how much they will lend to you.

On the other hand an experienced mortgage broker will give you a reasonable figure on what they think a bank will lend you - and they’ll provide invaluable advice on how to prepare your finances before you apply for a loan. The proper preparation of your finances is also imperative.

Mortgage broker handing over the keys to a house.
It’s a misconception that mortgage brokers do nothing but compare loans. Many of them have been in the business for decades and they know ‘every trick in the book’. Speaking to a reputable, veteran mortgage broker is an absolute must. Especially if you are a first home builder.

Do Some Research Before Selecting a Builder

With the Internet at our disposal, checking the reputation of a builder is quite an easy task and should definitely be high on your checklist for building a new home. However, it is a crucial step that should not be overlooked.

The first point of call should be Google Reviews. Keep in mind that most companies are always able to garnish some positive feedback from their clients; even terrible companies. Similarly, every business has its detractors - previous customers with a gripe that are almost impossible to make happy. Keeping these factors in mind when checking reviews, look to see if there are a large number of negative reviews that seem to be authentic and genuine.

Even a company that does the right thing by its clients will always attract the odd negative review, but if there are a lot, then that should be cause for alarm. Take a look at social media - again, keeping in mind that will be heavily moderated. Do a Google search for the company name - or even the owners of the company to see if you can find any complaints or even lawsuits. Unfortunately, in spite of all the amazing builders, there are some very unscrupulous players out there.

Pay Attention to Detail Regarding the Home Construction Contract

Once you have the building contract, it should be provided to your lawyer or solicitor before proceeding further. Additionally, a copy should be provided to your lender. Your legal representatives will look for restrictions and covenants and help to inform and advise you on whether the contract meets reasonable expectations.

You should already have created a comprehensive list of what you want with your home. Some of the things you might have on your list will be:

  • Driveway and footpath to the front door.

  • Paving to the clothesline.

  • Patio and any fittings that might be required, such as for entertaining and outdoor cooking.

  • Finishing colours of paths, gutters, fences.

  • Alarm systems, TV antenna and telecommunications.

  • Window covers or roller shutters for sun protection.

  • Landscaping and edging.

  • Watering systems.

Compare your list with the building contract to find out whether the house will truly meet your expectations. Don’t leave anything to chance or assume that your builder knows what to do and will have your needs covered and best interests in mind.

Most builders are great, passionate about their profession and will automatically take care of a lot of things that you might not have thought of. However, as with everything in life, there are always those who are just out to make a buck and won't think twice about taking advantage of new home builders - especially those that seem naive or ill-prepared.

Get Involved With the Specifications of the House

To help you make decisions about - and to understand the construction contract, do research about the possibilities of building a new home. Visit display homes and ask about prices. Ask a lot of questions. The more informed you are about design possibilities, what different builders are offering and generally just having your finger on the pulse of current trends, the better equipped you will be in both reviewing and understanding the construction contract.

Australian house under construction
Ask your builder a lot of questions before you start discussing the contract. How the builder responds will give you a good indication on whether you’ve selected the right construction company. A professional, experienced and ethical builder will not only be glad to answer your questions - but will provide you with answers that truly satisfy your requests and concerns.

Keep the Resale Value of the Home in Mind

Traditionally, for most people building a new house, the purpose has been founded in building a life-long home with dreams and visions of raising a family and growing old. You know - picket fences and roses. However, in modern times, we think a little differently.

A lot of first home buyers - especially and including young couples, consider that the first home they build might only be a stepping stone into a larger and more luxurious home in future. Other people are looking to purchase a ‘rent stopper’; a humble and affordable home which serves the purpose of entering the homebuyers market while not getting too far into debt.

When building a home, it is important to consider the resale value of the property. If the house is being built as a stepping stone, then spending too much money on creature comforts and extras might not be a financially astute or viable idea.

Double Check the Construction Plans

While you will rely heavily on your lawyers and solicitors who should be very well versed with construction contracts, it is always a good idea to review the plans yourself. Even if for no other reason than it will equip you to ask questions, both of your legal representatives and the builder.

No question is a silly question. Even the most simple question can open up a whole dialog and renew your understanding of many factors that you need to know or learn about when building a new home.

Ask your builder about using cheaper alternatives such as brick slip cladding systems, instead of full brick for various parts of the construction, where it makes sense. Be frugal when selecting materials, but not to the point of using lesser quality, unsafe materials. For example, make sure non-combustible materials are being used, according to Australian regulations. Even if the materials cost a little more.

Monitor the Progress of the House Construction

While most builders and trades people are extremely professional and in most cases you should have nothing to worry about, it will pay you to conduct periodic site visits of the home you are having constructed.

If there are any potentially costly problems developing during construction, especially in relation to damages, it will help you to know who's been on the construction site and what’s been going on. That way you won’t have to rely on people's good faith or honestly.

Man taking photos of a house under construction
When you visit the house while it is under construction, keep a watchful eye and take notes. Take videos and even close up photos of anything that looks out of place. While careful not to nit-pick, of course, discuss these findings with your builder. If you have truly found a problem, your builder will likely be as grateful as you to have found it.

Checklist for the Completion of a Newly Constructed Home

Once your new home is completed, it is important to conduct a walk-through inspection taking note of every flaw you find. It is a good idea to conduct this inspection with a camera. For finer details, photos should also be taken.

With the end of construction inspection, you will be specifically looking for blemishes, cracks and scratches; the minor details. Take a look at the paint while the sun is up or the rooms are otherwise brightly lit. Check to make sure you can’t see the cutting through the paint. Some painters have been known to apply less coats in places where it’s not obvious in order to save time and money.

Make sure that the appliances that were agreed upon were actually installed - and not cheaper or lesser brands. Open and close cupboard doors. Check all door handles, switches and knobs.

  • Conduct walk-through inspections.

  • Take notes, photos and videos.

  • Look for blemishes, cracks and scratches.

  • Check the paint on every wall, including and especially behind doors.

  • Check appliances and electricals.

  • Take notice of the brands used.

  • Open cupboard doors.

  • Check door handles, switches and knobs.

When selecting a builder, you’ll find that custom builders are willing to discuss options and help you to install the fittings, brands and appliances that you truly want. Some of the larger ‘cookie cutter’ home builders offer a much less personalised service. They’re often not a lot cheaper than the smaller home builders that offer a customised service.

Must Haves When Building a New Home Australia

There are a few must-haves when building a new home Australia. If you do some research on this topic, you’ll find that different people have varying ‘must have’ lists. These lists are often truly subjective and highly dependent on the needs and tastes of the people compiling the lists.

A typical must have list might include things like:

  • A modern kitchen

  • Designer lighting

  • Rumpus room

  • Smart Device integration

  • A pool

A more objective and useful list is one that every house truly must have - but can actually be overlooked. These can be subtle things that aren’t always thought of right away:

  • Quality faucets: Don’t cheap out on the faucets. We use them all day every day. Good quality faucets not only make using water a joy, but are a major factor when it comes to the resale value of a house.

  • Insulation: This might seem like a no-brainer, but with the extreme temperatures we get here in Australia - not to mention the rising cost of power, every house must be properly insulated. Insulation should be on the non-negotiable section of your list.

  • Large windows: The days of cottages with frosted windows are long behind us. Don’t pass up the opportunity to install large windows - preferably even floor to ceiling windows. Natural light benefits the home in ways that are almost too numerous to mention. And who doesn’t love a view?

  • Outdoor living space: Land prices are ridiculously expensive these days, so it’s understandable that houses are being built closer together, but who wants to live in a box? If the land you're building can't facilitate a patio or alfresco area that overlooks some kind of grass area or garden - it’s too small. Cross it off the list and go back to the drawing board. Don’t be talked into building on tiny lots of land. This will also significantly reduce the resale value.

Modern kitchen with floor to ceiling windows
Wall to ceiling windows overlooking an outdoor area from a central area of the house brings functionality and modern design characteristics to any home.

Building a New Home Checklist Victoria & NSW

Building a new home in high density population centres such as Melbourne, Victoria and Sydney, New South Wales tends to be more expensive than with other states - particularly as you get closer to the cities where land prices have skyrocketed in recent years. When building a new home, a checklist for Victoria and NSW should take costs highly into consideration to mitigate budget blowouts.

Some of the costs to investigate and include on your checklist, that typically make building more expensive in Victoria and NSW include:

  • Permits

  • The cost of land

  • Rates

  • Cost per sq metre

The cost per square metre is highest in QLD and NT due to a lot of those places being further from ports and industrial centres. However, the total cost for Victoria and NSW are higher when location is taken into account - as most houses are being built closer to cities.

New Home Costs Can Add Up Quickly

For some people building a new home is the realisation and fruition of an often long-held dream. For others it’s just a business experience ; an investment with the sole objective based firmly on profit. Regardless of why someone is building a new home, one objective is consistent: lower the cost!

How much a new home costs, is highly dependent upon the expertise that’s going into the planning and construction. Land price and materials are not the only factors. The very best way to reduce costs is to meticulously plan everything. Budget blowouts are the worst thing that can happen, because they ironically cause even more costs which exacerbate the blowout and cause even more costs.

How Much Does a New Kitchen Cost in Australia?

The kitchen is the centrepiece of a house. If you’re building a new house to live in long-term, and not as an investment, it is paramount that you invest in a kitchen that will serve you for the long term; especially if you have plans to grow your family.

Kitchens are not always easy to replace - especially if the room that the kitchen is installed in is small. Extending the kitchen in future might very well require a house extension. The kitchen is definitely not a room to skimp on in your budget as it’s not a quick-fix to replace it.

There are also other associated costs such as wiring and electrical outlets. But how much does a new kitchen cost in Australia? A kitchen can range from a basic hardware store DIY model costing only hundreds of dollars, to designer kitchen brands that can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

There’s no simple answer to how much a kitchen will cost in Australia. The real question is not: ‘How much does a new kitchen cost in Australia?’ The question is: ‘How much will it cost in future if I don’t think ahead when building a kitchen?’.

Related Questions Regarding New Home Construction

It is common for new home builders to feel anxious or even to lay awake at night, worrying about the entire process. A lot of that apprehension can be dealt with by knowing you’ve been meticulous in your planning and understand everything that’s happening.

Step by Step Building a House Australia

For many new home builders, the process of building a new home may seem elusive. There are a lot of things to consider and take into account, so a step by step list to building a house in Australia is very helpful.

Building a New Home Checklist

If you are building a home, this basic checklist will help get you started on the right track. Use this free checklist for building a new house to help you make the right decisions from the beginning of the process

What is the process for building a new home?

  • Research the market and current trends.

  • Discuss your options with a reputable mortgage broker before speaking to a lender.

  • Seek out a reputable lawyer or solicitor and keep them in the loop from the very beginning of the process.

  • Be sure to submit contracts and building plans to your legal representatives before you sign anything. This is paramount. Don’t sign anything unless you know what you’re signing.

  • Ask a lot of questions from the builder, both before and during construction.

  • Visit the building site as often as you feel is necessary.

  • On completion take notes, video and even photos.

Should I Get a Building Inspection on a New Home?

A common question that is asked is: “Should I get a building inspection on a new home?”. It is important to note that building inspections are typically done before the purchase of a house, whether it’s brand new or established.

Even if you get a building inspection after building a new home and problems are found, it is unlikely that anything can be done about it - aside from legal action. While it wouldn’t hurt to get a building inspection after a house is built, for your own peace of mind - the idea is to ensure the house is built properly in the first place.

The information provided in this article will go a long way to helping you ensure that your new house is everything you dreamed it to be. However, the best advice you can adhere to boils down to seeking out advice from reputable industry experts, meticulous planning, being present and knowing what you want before contracts are drawn up and signed.


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