Stage 1. Is building right for you?

If you’re in that whole thinking stage of – do we buy an existing home or do we buy a block, here’s a great place to start reading before you take the leap and buy that block.

Stress levels

Buying any home brings with it a measure of stress (and excitement) – but building can emphasise these feelings even more so. I always say that a real estate transaction should give you those butterfly feelings in your stomach – BUT – if it feels like it’s making you feel sick in your stomach then it’s probably worth reassessing. So if you’re really looking for the stress free way to get into a home – building probably isn’t it.

The details

Secondly, how detail oriented are you? You’re going to need to not only have a great eye for detail in terms of picking things up as you go along this process, choosing your fixures and fittings and also a decent amount of vision to see the finished product before you get there.

Time frames

Building is slow. Most time frames blow out in one area and if you’re the type to get easily frustrated or you have a finite time you need to be in a place, building may not be for you.

Cost blowouts

The sad truth about building is that there are often cost blowouts. Now most banks will want you to have a fixed price building quote which will help minimise this – but changes along the way (variations), extra engineering issues and a whole manner of other things can see you out of pocket.

What’s not included

The bank will not fund all the costs associated with your build and as such you’ll need to have funds set aside to contribute some funds yourself. Here’s a rough estimate of things that may not be included:

  1. An initial deposit your builder or architect needs to look over the project and/or quote
  2. The cost of having your plans drawn up

Council approval fees, engineering fees, building surveyor fees and other costs in terms of getting your land ready (ie: blasting rocks can be very costly, as can gravel fill for winter/wet weather builds on steep driveways)

  • Tip – get estimates of these from your builder at the first meeting.

Also not included “the vibes” good or bad from the previous owner, one client said this about that part of the process: “The other thing we’ve noticed is that it’s taken a while for the house to become a home – everything is new and needs to be created (you don’t inherit the warmth from the previous owner). Not really a downside but new houses take a bit of warming up!” 

And remember – DO NOT sign a contract for land or your building contract without it being subject to finance (you’ll hear us say this a fair bit – it’s important!)

Then it’s important to try and figure out what is NOT included in your build cost, examples of this can be things like:

–       Curtains, blinds, drapes

–       Driveways

–       Fencing

–       Landscaping

–       Additional fixtures or fittings you may want (and bear in mind some of these are better to get prior to your plaster going on – great tip from a client of ours)

These can be expensive, so if you don’t have the budget for them, now’s the time to think about how you’re going to afford them (because Mr and Mrs Jones across the street have let us know they want you to have curtains in your bedroom!)

One of our clients (after their build) said: We regret not informing ourselves more around the cost of landscaping and fencing. We have 4 large fences that all need concrete plinths. It’s about $9,000 in fencing our share.

Another client gave this tip: “Landscaping is more expensive than you think! It’s easily forgotten but can make the process of settling in etc drag out if it’s left un-done. ” Their landscaping was completed in the 6-12 months after they moved in.

Owner builders

Want to build your own home? Owner builder homes these days are done by very very few banks and you must have equity or cash such that you only want to borrow 60% of the build’s valuation. Owner builds are not welcomed by many banks and as such are very difficult to finance. Applicants who are licensed builders are seen more favourably by some lenders, but the choices are still very limited. If you’re interested in building your own home, please stop and speak to your broker now.

Kit Homes

If you want to build a kit home, you must have equity or savings so that you can purchase the kit up front and then a fixed price building quote must be submitted by the builder who is going to erect it for you.

Homes mid-completion

If you’re extensively renovating a home do not be tempted to start the process before you seek finance. Almost every lender in Australia is not keen to accept your property as security if you’ve already partially built or gutted it. It is much more advisable to seek your finances prior to commencing.

First home builder’s boost / First home buyer’s grants

Now is the time to check your eligibility (carefully!) for any government assistance in this form. Note appropriate time frames and cash benefit and if there are deadlines looming do not leave anything to the last minute as the process of building often runs longer than you are told it will or your own conservative estimates.

Note that the first home builder’s boost or grant is paid to the lender (typically) and released at the base / slab stage after the valuation inspection is done.

And in summary:

Please don’t think of this as me trying to talk you out of building, more just to prepare you for what’s to come! It’s a big process and one we love to help with, but our job is as much to educate you on what’s to come as it is to help make it happen!

And just to show you that it can all be so worth it, here’s what our client Jane has to say Building rocks because you (mostly) get what you want without compromise. The hard work is worth the end result every time.”

Here’s what Cynthia had to say about her experience building a gorgeous waterfront architecturally designed home “Here’s what we wish we had been told before starting”¦ Go see Kirsty first rather than trying to get any financing yourself!!! Working with Up Loans made things much easier due to the responsiveness, professionalism and openness of Kirsty. ”

If you have any questions along the way, please just yell out!  I’m here to help and as I always say, there’s no silly questions!

Happy thinking!



‘Kirsty has been amazing during the process of organizing finance to build our first home. She has stepped us through each stage and gone over and above to answer our many questions. The communication from Up Loans has been a stand out with constant updates and advice and both Carrie and Kirsty have met with us on several occasions outside of normal business hours which has been so appreciated. They have really made the whole process as convenient and straight forward as possible. We would be more than happy to recommend Up Loans!’

Kyra and Maurice