A standard house in ordinary soil with good weather would be easy to predict for a build duration, but as well as your own choice in the size and style of house, there are many unknown and uncontrollable factors.
Soil, weather and unexpected delays all play a part, and these delays can accumulate on top of each other.
And of course, Mornington and parts beyond have their own share of challenges, the hilly terrain being an important one.
Here we hope to give you a fairly accurate estimate based on the factors that you DO know.
So much of what you plan affects the amount of time it takes to build. Careful planning before the build is crucial, and it is better to take more time at this stage than to make any changes after it. See the Gilpip pre-build cost and process guides for more on this.
For the purposes of this article, let’s set the clock from the day you break ground.
1. Size of the house
This is fairly obvious – the bigger the house, the longer it takes.
A small, single-storey dwelling can be complete on site within six months, whereas a large, two-storey home is more likely to take up to 10-12 months to complete.
2. Is it a pre-designed plan, or custom?
A standard, off-the-shelf design of a house as built by volume builders who have made exactly this house before can be made – some builders claim – within five months if everything goes precisely to plan.
Planning for this kind of build is somewhat quicker, since as long as the land and the location are right for the build, not as many individual design decisions need to be made for a standard-pattern plan.
Custom builds, however, take careful planning in the design stage, for which you will need to allow plenty of time.
As the owner of a custom build, you will need to spend plenty of time in decision and negotiation with your designer and your builder, making clear your intentions for the shape, function and attributes of the house, as well as accurate selections of materials and finishes.
Doing one or the other – accepting a standard build with no alterations, or to meticulously check every last detail of the plan before the builders are booked – will drastically reduce the amount of time, fuss and money needed for a build.
Compare this to making late changes to decisions. The paperwork of plans, permits and insurance will need to be reviewed, then cancelling and rebooking contractors can halt the job entirely as they may be booked for other jobs, creating a cascade of delays to your build, shortage of materials and unfavourable seasons in which to build.
Pre-planning either custom or standard, making decisions early in the planning stage rather than late, will greatly affect how much time in spent on the build itself.
Many sites on the Bay and down Mornington Peninsula have their own unique landscape, which means it is more likely that you will need a custom design.
3. Volume builders and Custom builders
As mentioned above, some builders excel at building the same stock houses at a quick pace, requiring less communication than custom builds, and making a number of presumptions along the way unless informed otherwise. Speed and efficiency take priority. Ideal for the owner who has a flat piece of land, just wants a standard house built quickly, and isn’t bothered by non-standard options.
A volume builder, however, may not have the expertise with non-standard blocks of land, such as you find the further past Mornington you go, or other hilly or coastal areas.
Here is where you need to be wary of the quotes from well-meaning volume builders – their quote is based on the shortest, most efficient build with little left to custom. The more variants to this, especially if discovered late (which is also more likely), the more that initial build estimate is likely to blow out beyond your budget.
Adding custom elements to a volume builder’s plan also presents a broader margin for error in completion time – they may not have as much experience with a particular feature, and can’t accurately estimate issues that may hinder progress or the time needed to complete them.
Custom builders have often encountered a huge array of site conditions and architectural design features, and will have the resources, suppliers and contractors who are able to carry out such tasks available at their fingertips to ensure that the build time does not exceed their estimate of time and budget.
Specialists in custom-built houses tend to have the mindset where every detail is communicated to you for your decision. The more custom, the less is left to assumption.
A custom builder who loves paying attention to detail, can foresee issues and opportunities, and can communicate this with you for your consideration, is ideal for the more individually customised house.
4. Land slope
Slope – such as you will often encounter on the Mornington Peninsula, is more than merely a case of simple excavation and a few retaining walls. The foundations and materials will need to be engineered, and there may be accessibility issues.
See here for our previous blog on building on a slope.
If you need or want stronger materials for your house, there may be some delay in obtaining them, especially if wastage needs to be accounted for.
There will first be your foundation. Your build might need only a simple slab-pour which is relatively time-efficient, or it may require a multi-stage process of excavation and bored piers, which will take more time.
Your house’s design will determine the quality and amount of steel required for the frame, availability of these materials may be a factor, and this will need to be accounted for.
Rare, seasonal or hard-to-source materials will need to be determined well before construction commences to allow time to manufacture or ship such materials, else the completion of the job will be waiting on their delivery.
The Mornington Peninsula can certainly present some challenging terrain.
From steep, sloping land on the varying hillsides, to rocky and unpredictable blocks near old quarries, there are areas where roads are still unmade, and increased traffic is felt at certain times of the year.
Low-lying power lines and steep unmade roads are obstacles for trucks and skips that need to get to site, and accounting for this is a matter of local knowledge and the ability to source inventive solutions.
7. Installed items
Similar to sourcing non-standard material, your choice of unique exterior and interior features ought to be sourced well ahead of time so that, when all other building is finished, there is no delay in installing and completing any items.
Choosing features that are rare, not readily available, or discontinued may represent a delay before work can be completed.
Experienced builders offer a thorough design review and material selection process, which ensures that all building elements are well considered, accounted for, and available well before the time that they will be required.
8. Changing your mind
Take a look at the budget side of changing your mind in our last article here, and how important it is to put the time in to selection early in the planning stage. A change of mind once the build has started can be a disaster, potentially causing huge budget and time delays, which can push the build into unfavourable weather as Autumn pushes into Winter.
9. Seasons and weather
Weather is unpredictable on the Peninsula – there’s nothing anyone can do about that, and rain and storms can easily delay a build.
Strategically choosing the season of your build, however, can improve your odds of favourable weather and fewer delays. In particular, it is preferable to not be pouring a slab as the worst of Winter sets in. Heavy rain and high winds can also delay the framing carpenters from attending the site, particularly if the site is completely open to the elements.
10. Land preparations
Once all is planned, designed and estimated, the unknown of the underground can still present some surprises.
I have covered this at length in my last article but the short of it is that the land needs to be well investigated, soil reports completed, and multiple site inspections carried out once the site has been cleared.
This does not completely eliminate all possibility of uncovering the unexpected, but it certainly gives the best opportunity to have allowed for any unforeseeables.
If old structures and trees need to be removed, this can destabilize the soil. Knowing what soil type you have can eliminate a lot of guesswork, but still work needs to be done to prepare the site before building can even begin. A good builder will have all pre-construction milestones in place to ensure every possible investigation and site analysis has been carried out.
11. Budget available
Some people are surprised when asked by their builder to provide written finance approval, or to show evidence of adequate funds available to carry out the project before it starts.
This is for your own protection as much as theirs.
To protect the builder and the owner, the builder must ensure that stage payments can be made, job flow not impacted and build times can be met.
No one wants a build to halt unfinished, unable to progress until finances become available, their dream home slipping out of reach.
Depending on the nature and size of your build, we can estimate the build time for a standard house to be between 5 and 12 months for a project in Bayside Melbourne. The more you customise your build, the more you can expect that time to be longer, and the later you make your decisions, the longer still.
However, thorough, careful planning throughout all the pre-construction stages remove much of the uncertainty, therefore a great deal of anxiety, and allow you a much more accurate and achievable time-frame for your build.
Call me at Gilpip
To get your home build off to a timely start, call and come and see me at Gilpip Homes, specialists in home construction and renovation throughout Mornington and the Peninsula.