Live While You Build – Location

When you are getting your new house built do you carry on living in your existing house or move into a rented house.?

We have only ever built new houses when we have relocated for work, so its always been easist to sell where we live and move into rental accommodation close to work, and the new house location.

Here are some advantages in selling up and renting near the site of your new house:

  1. Selling your existing house can release some cash which will help reduce the mortgages on the land and construction.
  2. You won’t need a bridging loan if you can’t sell.
  3. The kids can start going to the new school or childcare earlier.
  4. Its easier to check on the new home build often.

Obviously if you are still living with your parents. . . or could move back in with them, that can be the cheapest solution; although it may not be the most conveniet location

 

Have you found it better to avoid having a rental property?

For more posts about decisions like this see Starting Off

 

Placing Your House On The Block – 10 Things To Consider

There’s lots to think about when you are positioning a house on a block.

Here are some things that you should consider when comparing blocks and then deciding how to place your house,

    • Statutory Limits There are usually the following limits on where you can place your house:
    • Local Council Setbacks (the rules should be on the council website, it may refer to the building envelope)
    • Sewer or Drainage Easements (check your title documents for these)
    • Driveway Crossover Many blocks now come with the driveway crossover already constructed which causes further restrictions unless you want the expense of removing the crossover and constructing a new one in a different location.
    • Take Advantage of the Sun My aim to get most of the main rooms facing North for a solar passive performance and which helps with the energy rating performance (A good orientation can boost the environmental rating by at least one star).
    • Avoid Shading I like to place the house fairly close to the Southern Boundary so that the I can have a garden on the sunny side of the block which you can see from those North facing rooms. The wider garden also helps prevent shading from the house next door.
    • Overheating from Afternoon Sun Avoid or at least minimise West facing windows.
    • Welcoming Entrance Front doors should be facing, and clearly visible from, the street . . . it looks more welcoming and improves security.
    • Outdoor Entertaining Areas Decks and alfresco areas with a westerly aspect are good for having a beer in the evening while watching the setting sun.
    • Kitchen Views In our last house the kitchen window had the most interesting view. . . as that is the one you find yourself looking out of the most.
    • Storage Areas Do you want to store a caravan, trailer or boat on the site.
    • Pets If you have a dog does it have somewhere to run around without damaging your main garden? and somewhere where it can sleep away from rain and summer sun?

 

What do you think is important when placing you house?

Costs for Variations Compared with Retail Price

One area of annoyance for home buyers is when they want to vary something and the variation price is much more than the difference between retail prices.

For Example

An example is the builders standard oven may be $700 at your local discount store while the oven you want is $1100.

When you ask for a variation you may be quoted an extra $700 or more.

Even if you buy the oven and supply it to the builder he may only offer a cost reduction of $400 rather than the $700 you expected!

Why?

What’s the reason for the extra $300 over the retail price difference? . . . . . . .Well its not always the builder ripping you off.

A big builder is possibly buying over 100, or more of the same type of oven so he may be able to buy them direct from the manufacturer for less than $500.

When it comes to buying the different oven the builder is only buying one so he might be unable to get much if any discount.

The difference in price to the builder is thus around $600. Even if you buy the oven the builder only saves $500.

They may also have extra costs due to

  • Organising and administration of a single purchase,
  • Installation costs because the different oven may not build into the kitchen cupboards as easily as the builders standard oven.

I hope this helps you understand that some ‘additional’ costs can sometimes be justified.

Block or House First?

Should you choose the block, or decide on a house design first?

Cheaper Land

Well my preference has been to build on suburban blocks so we are close to shops, cafes, recreational facilities and public transport.

Blocks in these areas are relatively small so I’ve started by either sketching up the house I would like to build, or selecting a plan.

I then look for a block with good orientation that the house would fit on.

It means that I don’t even go and look at blocks that won’t fit my ideal house.

This has stopped me getting frustrated and have to start looking at a different house to fit an odd shaped block that I’ve set my heart on.

Expensive Land

With blocks getting smaller, and more expensive your approach may have to be varied.

Currently the price of the land close to cities is usually more expensive than building costs. This even applies to suburbs 40km or more from the CBD.

In can makes sense to divide your budget by two and see what size block you can get in an area you want to live in.

You are then able to look for designs that fit that size of block.

If you can’t find a block big enough for a single storey house of a size you want at an affordable price you may have to start looking for designs for a smaller house or a 2 storey house.

Rural Blocks

Of course if you want a rural or semi rural block rather than a suburban block the overall size of the block means that you can fit most houses on the block without any problem.

It therefore makes sense if you are in this market to look for blocks early.

You can then look to choose a house that makes the best use of the site.

These larger blocks do give you more choice with the house design because the additional space means that you can move away from the typical rectangular houses to square houses, courtyard layouts, or even round houses.

With these big blocks I have heard it said that you should move a caravan onto the site for a few nights or even camp there before you decide where on the block you will site the house.

That seems like a great idea to me!

For similar posts about buying Land see Blocks

 

Choosing an Area

So here is a map of places withing 50km of where I live now.

As you can see it covers City, Suburbs, Bayside, the Coast and Rural Areas.

Here are a few things you need to think about when deciding to look for an area to live:

  • How far is the area from your work? Will it still be convenient if you change your job?
  • Are there good road links to your work? Lots of traffic lights and railway crossings can add substantially to Journey Times.
  • Is there good public transport links? In some Melbourne suburbs being within easy walking distance of the station can put more than $50,000 on the cost of the house.

How close are the:

  • Shops and Supermarkets?
  • Restaurants and Cafes?
  • Pubs or Clubs? Saves worrying about the breathalyser!>
  • Sporting facilities? Most parents will appreciate this as most Saturdays can be spent running a ‘Taxi” Service.
  • Parks and playgrounds?
  • Doctors?
  • Hospitals?
  • How good are the local schools? Or will you be sending the childeren elsewhere which can brings up a whole extra range of transport problems.
  • Is it close to relatives? Close enough to babysit .but far enough to need to get the car out is my rule!
  • Is it close to the Beach or the Bush

What’s important to you?

 For Similar Posts see Choosing Blocks

 

Why The Lowest Price May Not Be A Good Idea

When looking for a builder or a tradesman we are often told to get at least three quotes.

If you do this, and then just accept the lowest price you are taking a big risk!

Sometimes your choice may be affected because someone can promise an early start.

Lowest Price

Here are some reasons why taking the lowest price may not be a good idea:

  • The builder hasn’t got much work due to being inexperienced.
  • The builder hasn’t much work due to having a poor reputation.
  • The quality of the workmanship will not be as good as the higher priced bid.
  • The quality of the materials will not be as good as the higher priced bid.

Remember that you may not be around to supervise, so shortcuts and defective materials can be covered up.

In my line of work I have had to frequently accept quotations.

I have often added on a percentage to the lowest price to cover the extra supervision I  think may be needed to make sure I get what I want.

Good Builders

Good builders and tradesman will generally normally have plenty of work so they don’t have to cut their prices, and because they are busy they won’t be able to start straight away.

They will use experienced workers and good materials, which will result in the best job for you.

That’s not to say the best builders are always the most expensive. Their bid could be low because:

  • They are closer to the site than others, saving travel costs.
  • Their skill and experience saves wastage and allows them to work faster.

My Recomendation

The best policy is to get at least three prices from reputable builders or tradesmen.

Make sure that when you ask for the price you have a written specification detailing exactly what you want.

If you, or people you know, don’t know enough about the builders or tradesmen be sure when you get the prices to get at least two references from the bid which looks the best.

Then follow up both the references preferably by visiting the site and talking to their clients.

For similar posts see Choosing a Builder

 

House And Land Packages – Are They A Good Idea?

You often see house and land packages advertised and they may have an attractive price . . . . . but are they a good idea?

Here are a few more things to think about:

  1. These sort of deals are popular with property investors who just want to get a new house built and get tenants in as quickly as possible. . . Wouldn’t you prefer to have the houses next door owned by occupiers who are going to be more likely to care about the appearance of the house and garden than a tenant who has little interest.
  2. It seems to me they are usually offered on the hard to sell and the least attractive blocks which is one reason why they are cheaper. Typical problems I have seen include:
        • On a major road
        • Poor orientation
        • Be an odd shape
        • Have access issues.
  3. They are often based on the smallest possible block that will fit the house. Often they will have the houses so close together they will look more like a terrace and the back yard will be minimal.

One of the Real Estate maximums is that the way to make money on a house is by buying the right house.

Make sure you don’t harm your chances of a good future sale by buying a bad House and Land Package.

Much more advice in the   anewhouse – Guide to Buying a Block   for only $2

For similar posts on buying land see the Blocks section

 

Country Or City

It’s not as simple as Country or City, there are a lot of areas in between.

In the country it can be sea change, tree change, a rural block, or in a small town.

In the city it can be inner suburb, existing outer suburb, or new subdivision.

To some extent it depends on your time of life.

Country Experiences

When we were younger we were happy living in a rural town.

Running kids to sport and going to social events etc was all fairly easy as everything was no more than 2 -3km from home.

I could cycle home for lunch in 10 minutes. We could even drive for 50km,or more, without seeing a traffic light.

A friend of mine lived out on a rural block because he said he knew what his teenage kids were up to because they relied on him for rides.

Even so he was still only or six minutes drive into town.

City Experiences

Since we passed 50 we see real advantages of living closer to the city.

Good public transport means we only need one car

As you get older the risk of having an illness needing a stay in a city hospital gets higher and how would we manage if living in the country.

We support a Melbourne based football team (the Mighty Saints) and try to get to most matches.

A 70km round trip from the suburbs is better than a 450 +km one which we did for a number of years.

Did you go for the country lifestyle?

See similar posts see Choosing a Block

 

7 Things To Think About Standing On A Block

So you have visited the Developers Office and been shown a site plan with some blocks for sale that are the Size, and Orientation, you want.

The next thing is to get a copy of the Title Plan and go and look at the blocks you think may be OK.

Here are some things to think about.

  • Find the Boundary Pegs Normally the actual boundary peg will be driven in so the top is at ground level, there is normally a tall peg next to it to help locate it. Once you have found the pegs you know the piece of land you are thinking about buying.
  • Manholes Sewers and Drains A lot of blocks have Easements for sewers and drains which will restrict how much of the site you can build on. (The Title Plan will show the Easements) If you can see a manhole you will also need to think about how this might limit what you can do in the garden.
  • Site Slope As little as a 1m slope from front to back can add $3-4,000 to your site cost. A 1m slope from one side to the other can add even more. The steeper the slopes the more the builder will charge for site costs.
  • Below or Above the Road Where there is a sloping development site some blocks will be above the road and others below. Sites above the road are less likely to flood and can be more private than ones below the road.
  • Effect of Building on Neighbouring Blocks. Shading and blocking views are common problems that can affect your proposed house and garden. If you are keen on building a solar pasive house you can minimise the effect if the block you choose is higher than the one to the north. Obviously if the surrounding blocks are already developed its easier to consider the effects.
  • Road Crossover Many blocks now come with a driveway crossover if this doesn’t suit your design it will cost quite a bit to get it changed.
  • Look Up One thing I didn’t notice on my first visit to my current block was the overhead power cables just outside the block. They aren’t big pylons or anything and the poles are some distance away so its just a single cable. It does however restrict the size of tree we can have in our garden.

 

You will be very lucky if you get a perfect block so you are probably going to compromise on some of the above points. Good Luck!

 

Also see Choosing Blocks

 

Community Title

Community Title Developments include;

  • Gated Communities,
  • Retirement Villages,
  • Eco Retreats,
  • Golf Course developments,
  • Marinas.

A Community Title it is basically the same as a Strata Title that would be used for a block of apartments.

These developments can look great……..but what are the issues of having a new house on these developments?

Body Corporate

Buy a house or block of land in a community title development and you immediately become a member of the community or neighbourhood association (body corporate), bound by its bylaws, and also the co-owner of the shared property.

Often schemes are subdivided into separate stages. . . .So the stage for your new house may have its own body corporate in a neighbourhood scheme, but this will be under an overall community scheme.

By-laws

Bylaws can include:

  • What you can put in your garden.
  • What pets you can have.
  • The appearance of your property (including acceptable colours).
  • Who can live in the property, which can make properties difficult to sell.
  • Not allowing washing hung out.

Facilities

Facilities can include; streets, pavements, parks, a “village green”, clubhouse, pool, tennis courts, etc.

However these “exclusive” facilities have to paid for and maintained, unlike the public facilities in a conventional development which are paid for by the council.

The extent and quality of construction of some of the facilities, for example road construction can sometimes be below the standards required by councils who insist on minimum standards for roads they know they will be responsible for!

Another typical problem is a lack of space for parking particulaly if residents don’t use their garages.

Costs

In addition to the cost of maintaining the facilities,you will be hit by body corporate management fees.

In some cases two fees; for your neighbourhood, and then for the overall community.

Its worth remembering that there is no saving on rates as these will still need to be paid.

I’m not saying don’t buy a block on a community title, just understand what it means.

For posts on issues to consider when buying land see Blocks