Building your dream home can be a hard road.

With the benefit of experience, we investigate the top 7 things people wish they knew before starting their new home build. We hope there is something of value for your to take away and apply to your own building project.

1. How much it’s really going to cost

What is more important is the transparency and confidence from your design and build team to design within your budget. With so many possible combinations and varying factors, some pretty substantial expenses can all-too-easily remain hidden.

The most important thing is to know how much you want to spend. First, work out your budget and then make sure you understand exactly what you can get for your money. It’s also crucial to ensure that anybody you discuss costs with, understands all the many factors, in both design and construction, which can influence the overall cost. When discussing your project they MUST include everything in their estimates and projections. There’s no point getting an estimate that doesn’t include earthworks if you later discover they’re going to cost you another $100,000 because your section is on a slope. This is where combining design and building knowledge together really helps clients.

As a general rule of thumb, to build a well-specified home with quality fittings in January 2019 will be in the vicinity of $3,000 to $4,000 per square metre. This includes all the fit-out, from appliances to flooring to wardrobes.

When it comes to design, expect to pay 6% to 15% of your build budget. Once again there are many factors involved and the more complicated the design the more time it will take to draw. Also, other consultants may be required depending on the site and design; GeoTechs, engineers, surveyors, fire engineers and CCTV drainage inspections can all add up. Every consultant used will add costs during the design stage, the build stage and, as a rule, increase the cost of your build for compliance. So it’s in your interest to use a designer that takes these things into consideration and designs smart to minimise the number of consultants required

When a company wants to present a cheaper sqm rate, halving the number of lights, power points and switches is a great way to do it.

2. What’s actually included in your estimated square metre rate

This is the key to understanding the many different sqm rates that get thrown around so that you can compare them fairly. We can break it down into two parts.

1. Get What You Need

Does the square meter rate you’ve been given include everything required to complete your build? The biggest omissions we see are build cost sqm rates that don’t include earthworks, sometimes not even the building’s slab. When Home Design Company estimates a square metre rate we are including everything from the site works to finished fit out.

2. Specifications

The second biggest overlooked item when people are trying to understand and fairly compare sqm estimate rates are Specifications. Take a close look at the quality of the fit-out in any estimate you’re given. A cheap tap might be $100, but a quality tap is $300 and the one you want is $500. Does the estimate include solid core internal doors (something that can have a huge impact on acoustics)? What type of switches, lights and power points do they use? Will dimmers be included as standard? There are many small amounts that can add up to increase the sqm rate. An estimate that includes cheaper products might seem great now, but lower quality products will need replacing earlier than quality ones.

Next, find out what quantity of each product the company considers to be standard. Most of us have felt the frustration of living in older homes without enough lights, power points and switches – and that’s the last thing you want in your new home. But when a company wants to present a cheaper sqm rate, halving the number of lights, power points and switches is a great way to do it. This approach could be used in other areas of the house so make sure you are really clear on the number of fixtures you want.

3. The length of the design and consent process

The design and consent process is broken down into six stages: feasibility, concept design, detailed design, consent application, the council request for further information (commonly know as RFI’s) and finally the granting of the building consent and ‘stamped plans’. The time it takes to complete this process can vary greatly from project to project and boils down to several factors.

We all want the process to be as speedy as possible, but not at the risk of sacrificing attention to detail in the design and specifying. Mistakes and omissions will cost you time and money in the long run, so it’s important to strike a balance between being time-efficient and being accurate.

Remember, the primary influencer in the design and consent process is you, the client. Ask yourself, do you know what you want and can you accurately convey that vision to the designer? The design itself can be driven either by the client or the designer, so it’s also important to think about how much design freedom you are willing to give them. You need to work through a well thought out scope of design so that the design team can put your vision onto paper efficiently.

4. What you should be providing to the designer

At the very beginning of the Design and Build process, you need to help the designer understand the kinds of products and the style of home you like. To help them get a clear idea of your preferred exterior and interior feel, I always suggest supplying pictures of 3 to 4 homes that you like the appearance of. Then supply images or details of the products you want to use. These pictures and details will give the designer a good insight into the style you’re aiming for.

You should also be able to provide a detailed list of the rooms you want in your home. Do you want a scullery, a walk in wardrobe in the master bedroom – or in all the rooms? How about a study? And do you want the laundry to be part of the garage, the scullery or a separate room altogether?

With this information, the designer should be able to draw up something that you like without having to come back and ask lots of time-consuming questions or, more importantly, present you with a concept that doesn’t fit your vision. But remember the designer can only work with the information you provide. Always have a clear line of communication with the designer or consultant – and make sure they take you through a comprehensive list of options for your home.

5. How to get what you want, not what the designer wants

It’s important that you get exactly what you want – and if your designer listens to you, they’ll be able to create a unique home that you’ll love. You’re ultimately in control of the design, after all, it’s you that’s going to be paying for and living in the home, so you have to be happy. Having said that, your designer’s experience will have given them insights that you may not have even considered, so it always pays to listen to their ideas. At Home Design Company, we believe that great home design is a coming together of the designer and the client.

6. Whether your designer knows what it costs to build

Unfortunately, most design companies don’t have a good working knowledge of the costs involved in the build process. This makes designing to budget pretty much impossible. If they aren’t involved in the construction, then they get paid whether the house comes in on the budget or the budget is totally blown out. So it’s important that your designer works hard to ensure you can actually build the home at the end of the design exercise.

Home Design Company bridges the across both design and build and this unique end to end service will give you more certainty in your build.

7. The availability of products your designer wants to use

Delays in construction due to labour or materials are common but can be minimised by ensuring that the products the designer proposes are readily available. It can cost a lot of time and money if a product has to be substituted once construction has begun, so be sure to ask your designer about product availability during the design process.

When you value ‘value’…

Don’t get left wanting thanks to a cheaper build price. It’s about making sure your build estimate or quotation dovetails with your requirements and preferred specifications.