I was ready. With secure finances and a dream of a new home, I was ready.
At least, I thought I was. How hard could it be?
Have money – check.
Have dream of house – check.
Able to articulate this dream in the language of designers? …not so much.
So I took myself to some display homes to get educated.
Lesson 1: Be Realistic
Maintaining scope is important.
The more you lose focus chasing an unrealistic dream, the more budget for time and money will blow out.
Resist getting carried away by desirables and keep your feet on the ground. Speaking of ground:
Lesson 2: Footings
The depth of the soil under a display home might be very different from your desired plot of land.
The footings – the foundation – need to sit on foundational earth, so if the soil is deep, digging becomes more expensive.
If no soil at all, it becomes expensive as you need to dig through rock.
So – know what you’ll be digging into.
Lesson 3: The Land
Building a model home on a non-standard plot will likely cause problems to the functionality, and fail to make the best use of that afternoon light.
Especially important if you like entertaining outdoors!
As well as being more expensive to build on a slope, you’ll need to watch out for drainage.
If your plot is in a valley, you’ll get flood water.
You don’t want your subfloor (the space under your house) to remain damp due to poor drainage, especially in a basin, else you’ll get damage, damp and mould.
A particularly steep slope will affect the shape of the building.
Perhaps a more elongated design along the slope, with a balcony, might afford a good view, or rooms beneath the main floor for two-storey space.
Lesson 4: Design
Open plan houses look breathtaking when you walk into them as display homes, and are fabulous for entertaining if that is your lifestyle, but if you have children you might want to provide a separate area, else their playing while you are trying to watch TV may drive all of you to distraction pretty quickly.
In pursuit of display homes with a bigger, more impressive chamber which look great on display, some designers only allow for bedrooms so small that they don’t fit a queen-size bed, or passageways so narrow that you can’t move your beloved couch down the hall!
This is well worth considering in case you’d rather not have to buy your furniture all over again.
Lesson 5: Check the builder
Any home looks great in the short term, but a few years later, the work of a quality builder will show itself above others.
Things such as good electrics and plumbing, well-waterproofed flashings on the roof and in the brickwork to avoid damp, and regulations about building anywhere near council-owned easements.
All things a good builder should know!
So first make sure they have all the relevant licences, not only for the quality of work, but so you are covered by insurance. You can:
- Follow Consumer Affairs Victoria’s handy guide,
- Look them up via the Victorian Building Authority
- Search on sites like Licenced Trades,
- Check their reputation on sites like Always Check Your Builder.
- Or contact Gilpip Homes. We’ll help!
So have a look around display homes – there are plenty of display villages across Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula.
Make notes and make use of the directory at Gilpip to find of with the things you like, then decide how much to customise the design of your house before building.
I found this an exhausting but rewarding experience. I hope you do too!