How to Save Money When Building

30 Apr 2018

Whether you are in Investor or Home Owner looking to build,  everyone wants to try and save money without compromising on quality.

It’s the age-old balancing act; when you see a full “Turn Key” package price from a builder and fall of your chair, only to go through the build quote step by step and come out the other end with a much bigger bill because you added so much more than the original inclusions.

Here is How I Design and Build a Budget

Do Some Market Research

The first step before I even talk to a builder is to get out there and do some market research. This process will be slightly different for everyone, depending on if you are an owner occupier or investor, and whether you know the block of land you want to build on or not.

All these variables need to be taken into consideration usually for me, I know at least the suburb I want to build in, so I start by looking at new builds or large scale renovations. The idea is to see what people are doing and what dollar figure they are achieving when it comes to renting or the completed valuation. When looking at other builds in the area, take note of their level of finish.

These sorts of things are the visual items that people will spot on an initial inspection: Ceiling Height, Flooring, Tiling in Wet Areas, Tap-wear, and Appliances that sort of thing, but its also important to consider SIZE, keep note of the amount of bedrooms, bathrooms, and living areas, and the overall size of the dwelling Once I have an idea of what the market is doing and I have a block shortlisted or already purchased.

Sit Down With A Builder

The type of builder I work with are custom builders, not project builders. That’s not to say project builders are bad, they just don’t match my style of building as there are very little flexibility and transparency. In addition, I like to work with a builder that has an in-house design or a close relationship with a designer. To me, this is critical for the next step of the process.

Concept Drawings and Ideas

At this point, you have a block, the builder, and the designer, and you can now start throwing around concept drawings and ideas. Before I meet the builder and designer to do this, I prepare a NEEDS and WANTS list:

Needs are must have non-negotiable items. Wants are things that you would love to add if budget allows.

On one of my clients’ recent builds, the property we were knocking down and rebuilding was located on the top of a hill with city views. Our market research indicated one of our needs should be to have a master bedroom and upper level sitting area with a view of the city. So that was on the list, along with at least 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and 2 car garage with rear yard access. There were several other needs and wants to be listed and this was handed to the designer.

Soil Test and Survey

At this early stage, there are two other things that I suggest you should do; soil test, and survey. This will cost some money, but trust me it will save big surprises later that could potentially cost a lot more and put it this way, it needs to be done at some stage so why not do it straight up.

Now, when you catch up with your builder and designer for a preliminary meeting, you want to look like you know a bit about what you’re talking about. But also remember if your the smartest person in the room… you’re in the wrong room; listen to their ideas.

Some of the design and building strategies I like to use include:

Wall Stacking – if you’re building a 2 level home, wall stacking can make a big difference to the cost of the build. Look at it like this, if the upper-level walls sit directly on top of lower level walls it’s a good chance it will be cheaper to build. This cost doesn’t change the value or appearance but can save thousands of dollars. Save money here to spend elsewhere.

Think Strategically – keep your wet areas (bathrooms, kitchens, laundry) as close to each other as possible, this keeps plumbing close together and can save money.

Explore Options – look at external cladding options to save money.

Use a Standard Floor to Ceiling Height – wall sheeting comes in standard lengths and widths. Keep this in mind and design floor to ceiling heights to match; 2.4m is the minimum habitable height, but try going for 2.55 or 2.75 if you want a high-end look.

Reduce the Need for Steel – put simply, timber is cheaper and easier to use than steel, so where possible tell the designer you want to limit the need for structural steel These strategies can assist with making the house 10% bigger for the same money, or saving you 10% on your dream design.

I hope this has helped. If you have any questions or want to get your next renovation or build underway, call or email the team at Hot Property Buyers Agency to have a consultation and get the exciting process started.

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