Professional Advice by Brent Hailey, Orchard Property Group
From advice on what to look for when selecting a builder and the hidden costs to look out for, through to the pros and cons of buying land from an experienced industry professional.
Top 3 Tips for Selecting a Builder for Your Block of Land
First and foremost, reputation. In some ways it is like a job application, I often say “can you give me your last four jobs”. This is so that I can talk to the engineers and developers of the project that they have worked for. It’s a good way to know if that builder has delivered on past promises. You should also do your obvious research with the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) to make sure that the builder hasn’t got any dissatisfied clients or unresolved matters.
Secondly, you want to look at value for money. You want to make sure that you haven’t picked on a building that will produce a good product, but for a gold-plated price. Most of the mainstream project home builders have finetuned their pricing and their home designs, to make sure that they do have an efficient outcome and that you get value for money.
Third, is points of difference in terms of their designs. You don’t want to necessarily be in a cookie-cutter house. You don’t want to go into an estate where 16 people have built the same looking home, because when you go to sell that home you may be competing with three or four of those. So, you want to try and find a point of difference to make your house your own home.
The Pros and Cons of Purchasing Land
As with everything, it comes down to your particular lifestyle choices at that point in time. Certainly, the benefits of land are that you have a lot more freedoms. You get to choose your home. You get to choose your block of land; where you get to sit within that development. You get to choose how you approve your land, whether you put a swimming pool in the backyard or build a beautiful BBQ.
The drawbacks are, you have to mow the lawn every couple of weeks or pay someone to mow the lawn and maintain the garden. There is also continuous maintenance after a period of time depending on the sort of finishes you put into your home.
Essentially, the land is your blank canvas giving you the flexibility to do what it is you want to do, but you don’t have the value of having the painting finished. Land goes hand-in-glove with house and land. So, you might secure your land, but then you have to go through the process of having to then choose your home and go through the whole building process.
The Hidden Costs That May Arise When Purchasing a House & Land Package
One that I see all the time – and I rarely get involved in issues with buyers and their builders, but whenever I do it is always about – builders and their variation around the foundation costs. The easy trap to fall in to is the headline price from a builder.
The builder says, “you can get this 200m2 house for $220,000 with all of these included”, and you say “absolutely, fantastic.” Then the builder will say, “these are the inclusions and this is what it is based on.” If they have put a soil classification as the basis of their foundation costing and it is unrealistic, then the first thing that they are going to do is come back to you and say, “unfortunately, your foundations are going to cost you $8,000 more or $10,000 more.”
You could imagine as a land purchaser you may think ‘well the builder has made an assumption and the land is not in as good a condition as the builder assumed’. What we find is that builders will make an unrealistic assumption of the ground quality conditions in order to keep their headline price low. Knowing full well, that in Queensland 90% of the land doesn’t fit that particular quality.
For the builder it is about getting the person in the door and see from there what they can afford. You need to know that upfront. You need to say to your builder, “before I’ll sign a contract, go and get a soil test.” You just wouldn’t sign up to an unconditional arrangement.