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choosing a builder

display villages australia

Now it's time to choose a home design and compare builders' quality, prices and inclusions.

TIP: Be sure to take the dimensions of your block with you when you visit display homes or architects' offices.

Choosing a planning team

Building a home is a big investment, so it is important to select reputable companies and contractors to help you deliver your dream.
The Master Builders Association provides details of builders operating at specific locations in your state. You should also check whether your builder is registered with the appropriate state authority.
The Housing Industry Association also provides information about home builders, including builders who follow green/sustainable building designs and practices.
Some states offer valuable advice and helpful guidelines about working with builders and building contracts through their Consumer Affairs departments.

Planning your home

Whether you’re working with a builder or architect there are some key questions you can ask when you start planning your new home:
Are you registered?
  • Contact the relevant state registration body to confirm your builder or architect is registered (and that the builder is registered to carry out all types of building work)
Can I see an example of a finished home?
  • If your builder or architect does not have a display home, ask for them to arrange a visit to one of their previous homes
  • Also ask previous customers if they were happy with the service and with the quality of their finished home
What are your inclusions?
  • Display homes often include items that are standard as well as optional extras. Once you select the features you’d like, you should discuss if there are any additional costs to meet your requirements. Ask about floor coverings, paint colours, tile specifications, bathroom and kitchen fittings, cupboards, door handles, light fittings, location of wall sockets, etc.
  • If you’d like to upgrade any of your home design features, ensure you can accommodate the cost in your budget
Do you have any special offers?
  • Many builders offer special bonuses such as air conditioning, smart wiring, painting or floor coverings.  Be sure to ask about your eligibility for these offers, as well as any conditions
What warranties do you offer?
  • Most builders offer warranties on their work, including structural warranties
Are my chosen materials readily available?
  • You might like to check whether the features and fittings you have selected are readily available. If not, it may cause delays in the completion of your home.
Is termite prevention included and what options are available?
  • Some areas are prone to termite infestations and it’s always better to prepare your home against termites than to deal with them afterwards
Do you have insurance?
  • The builder is required by law to provide ‘Builders’ All Risk’ and ‘Public Liability’ insurance cover while your home is being built. Check that your builder is providing this cover
  • The builder must provide a Home Indemnity Insurance certificate, in your name, before asking you to pay any deposit
 What are the payment terms?
  • Check if your contract requires the release of progress payments at various stages of construction and, if so, are the terms satisfactory to you and to your finance provider?

The building process

The prospect of building your new home can be very exciting, and occasionally stressful. Understanding what steps are involved in the building process can make it a lot easier!
Prepare contracts, plans and specifications
The first step in making your new home a reality is seeing your house plans on paper. This involves working with your architect and/or builder to develop detailed home designs, elevations, plans and specifications. Once you’re happy with the design, all these details are incorporated into a building contract, along with timeframes and the costs of building your ideal home.

Before signing the contract, it’s important to double check all the details in the plans and make sure they suit your budget and your needs, as well as any state or local building regulations and the estate’s building covenants.
Secure approvals
Before starting work, your builder will apply to the relevant local authority for a building licence and other approvals, as well as to the developer (where applicable) to ensure the plans meet all the necessary requirements. You may need to help with this process or authorise the builder or architect to apply on your behalf.  

It’s important to allow plenty of time for this step, especially in new areas where the authorising bodies will have lots of applications to review and your plans need to be approved by the estate’s developer. 
Pre-start meeting
A pre-start meeting with your builder gives you a final opportunity to confirm a number of important decisions about the types and colours of fittings and materials, particularly if your builder has provided you with a range of options.  

At this time you should make sure you’re comfortable with all the details and decisions before work begins.
The construction phase will see your dream come to life. The builder’s appointed site manager will manage the building process, but it’s important to keep in regular contact and raise any questions or concerns.

Regular site visits are also worthwhile. Periodically, a building inspector or surveyor may be required to check that the building is compliant with the approved plans and local legislation.
Practical completion
Once the building is complete, the building surveyor or inspector will need to make a final assessment. You will also be invited to conduct your own inspection to satisfy yourself that your home is as you specified in the building contract.

If there is anything you are not satisfied with, speak up at this time before signing the final documentation.
Congratulations! Your home is complete. At handover, you should receive the keys to your house and a copy of all relevant warranties and certificates.

It’s now time to settle in, and enjoy your new home!

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