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29thOct2020

IGTV: 5 Questions To Ask Your Builder

  • Article by: Samara Amadi @ homeshelf
video talking about building a new home


TO WATCH THE VIDEO CLICK HERE


Samara:

Hi, welcome to our Insta live. I'm Samara from Homeshelf. It's approaching contract time for many of you looking to get the home builder grant. Before you sign, I want to go through today five questions you should ask your builder. These apply to any build and not just for the home builder grants. I'd like to invite George from Giorgos, a building agent in Adelaide, to join the chat today. Hey George...

George:

Hello. How are you?

Samara:

Good.

George:

That's good. 

Samara:

I'm sure you can add some valuable insights for everyone today into the discussion.

George:

Absolutely. 

Samara:

For those that don't know, you work with some of the major builders in Adelaide. You've been really busy the past couple of months?

George:

Absolutely. We work with a variety of builders to suit different types of projects. So it's really refreshing, this new way of signing up to a build.

Samara:

Yeah, absolutely. Now let's go through some questions. So if you're looking to get the home builder grant nationwide, you have until the end of the year to sign the contract. The builder has to start the build within three months of signing. In Victoria, they've extended that three months until the end of June, due to our restrictions. I'll just jump straight into it. The first question you should be asking your builder is, how long does it usually take from signing to build start? George, what's an average time with most builders you deal with?

George:

So it changes per builder. So every builder is a little bit different, and the reason why is because they've got certain systems in place, or they've got a lot of projects on the go at the moment. They're the kind of fundamental components that really sort of change the timeframe, but generally, it's between five and six months. And the reason why I say five, six months pre-construction, is purely because you've got things like council approvals, architects, engineering, surveying, fixed pricing, selections. There's a lot of things that happen, and there's a lot of moving parts to starting construction. You can't just pour the slab.

George:

And the other thing is, is getting financed. So generally, builders don't like starting until the finance is done. So sometimes we find, at the end of the process, the builder might be ready, but there might be a couple of new delays where the finance takes a little bit longer because maybe the bank's a little bit slow because of the amount of applications that they've got, or it's simple as waiting for the home to be demolished. So sometimes there's a subdivision happening and then they've got to wait for the vendor to knock down that property so they can start.

Samara:

Yeah, sure.

George:

So about five or six months.

Samara:

Okay. So a lot of builders would be quite busy trying to get these home builder grants through at the moment, or maybe they've already closed their door.

George:

A lot of them have, because they don't want to over promise and under deliver. So they want to make sure that clients are looked after 100% and they know that they can guarantee the client that it's going to go to site. But at the moment, a lot of the builders at the moment are saying, "Look, it's challenging." So they can't say yes, they can't say no, but it's case by case basis at this stage.

Samara:

Yeah, sure. All right. So the next question that rolls on from that one is, how long it takes for the build itself once they start on-site?

George:

So once the slabs been poured.. depending on the type of project, if it's a two-storey home, it generally takes a bit longer. With a single-storey, probably about five to six months construction, once the slabs poured. Sometimes it's a bit quicker depending on the complexity of the job. If it's a really simple, three bedrooms, single garage, two bathrooms set up home, with a bit of an Alfresco, beautiful open plan family meals room, that generally could take anywhere between four and five months. Maybe it's a family home, maybe it takes another month after that. And it also makes a difference on what the actual builder is actually doing in the project. So if they've got to do things like concrete driveways, perimeter concrete, stormwater, they're going to do the air conditioning for you, the footpaths, they're going to do the flooring, so timber, laminate flooring, carpet bedrooms, all of that sort of stuff, depending on what you get them to include as part of the build, will determine how long it takes.

George:

So for a single-storey, I say five, six months. And for a double-storey... Look, sometimes the two stories do take a bit longer. So I'd probably say anywhere between nine and 12 months, roughly. It's very approximate. And the reason why a two-storey takes a bit longer is because they generally build the structural elements first, then they go up, they finish the top and then they come down and finish the bottom and then they seamlessly connect the two floors. So it's a bit of a process, but at least that way, you get a very, very good quality build.

Samara:

Yeah. And usually.. it'll say that build time listed in that contract.

George:

It will. Yeah, it will. Sometimes they put approximate, but depending on the agreement that you've got with a builder.

Samara:

Yeah. Yeah. And they've got to stick to that time then.

George:

Exactly. Yeah.

Samara:

Okay, so moving on. Third question to ask would be, who will I be dealing with during the build? To give you some peace of mind, it's always good to find out who their dedicated site manager or maybe who their customer liaison is there. Will you be meeting them at the start of the build? When are site visits allowed? That kind of thing... Would you recommend it?

George:

Yeah. I think it's very, very important to first ask the builder or whoever you're working with, is who's going to be involved, because it's broken up into two stages. So there's pre-construction and then there's the construction. Pre-construction, obviously it's all the admin, it's all the paperwork. So the pin pushing, the council approval, the engineering. So you're going to find out, who's going to be that one point of call through that entire process. Generally speaking, all the large building companies generally have admin teams behind the scenes that liaise with everybody, right?

Samara:

Yeah.

George:

You can speak to your consultant as well. So someone like myself, if you have any queries throughout the whole process, I can be one of those points of call. So there's a lot of different people that can actually help you. People don't realize that there's a lot of help behind the scenes, so if you need assistance, they're just a phone call away.

George:

The other thing is, is there are different people in different categories of the building process. So there might be the council team that might take care of that project, which you might get a call from them. But generally, there's an admin consultant that handles that pre-construction process. And then obviously, us as consultants, we're part of that as well....What you will find, is that.. there's an introduction of those admin consultants, a face-to-face introduction. So generally what happens is, there's little things like meeting you when you get your final costing. So once you get your fixed pricing and you're going to sign your contract, once you get that, you actually meet those people, normally.

George:

So generally you meet them, they say, hello. You've been speaking to them over the last couple of months, maybe three months, and then you meet them halfway through, face-to-face. And then after that, you progress through. And when you get your final loan docs, sometimes the builders want to say, come in, we'll have another chat about the whole project. Let's talk about what's happening, what's going on, what we're going to do now. So you will get face to face touch points with a variety of different people, not just the admin consultant. So when your construction happens, you will get your site supervisor, generally. They generally step in after the slabs been bought, because then it gets to the nitty-gritty. The hardest part of the nitty-gritty is making sure the quality of workmanship's there, quite high. So they're there to overlook all of that.

George:

Laying a slab is actually not a difficult job, so your site supervisor is not really required there because they're only going to look at some concrete, but it's more the details that need to happen. The other thing is, is when you got your supervisor, you will normally get an introduction to the builder about that supervisor. Their name, some builders offer their phone number for you to give them a call. Everyone works a little bit differently.

George:

So a lot of the builders that I work with, you generally see them all the time on site. If you go through the middle of the day, they'll be there. They're not there every single second of the day, because they've got a few jobs on the go, but at least that way, you can see them, you can meet them and can talk to them about what's going to happen next. And they're always friendly. A lot of the builders are really... They always want to employ the people that are quite friendly as well, because they do understand that this is a big investment. They don't want just someone just to rock up, quickly have a look and leave. It's not really about that, it's more about making sure that people feel sort of warm and fuzzy and also understand the process more, because that's where you start seeing your dollars come.

Samara:

Yeah. It's a bit of a hands-on job. Looking after the build and the customers at the same time, making sure that everyone's happy, everything's good.

George:

Absolutely.

 

Samara:

So usually you're allowed quite a few inspections throughout the build?

George:

You are. You are. And you can... A lot of builders actually favor you to go and get building inspections done, but generally, you don't normally need to because it is a brand new home. And especially if you're working with a builder that's got a big name for themselves, they've got a lot more at risk, so they do want to make sure the build quality is quite high, especially from a construction perspective and a structural warranty perspective as well. Because a lot of the builders offer structural guarantees and all that sort of stuff, so they need to make sure the bones are perfect.

Samara:

Yeah, I guess we can go on to the next question... What's the maintenance period and structural warranty normally for builds?

George:

Every build is so different. So you've got a maintenance period first when the house is finished, and then you've got the warranty. Sort of the guarantee, if you want to call it, over the life of the home. So what happens is, when you first build, you get a completion certificate. Once that completion certificate comes back, at that point, they normally have a three or six months probation period there, where you can actually live in the home, move in, and that's the best time to pick out everything. And the reason why they actually incorporate these times is because you're not going to pick up everything the minute you walk in. You need to live in the home a little bit. You need to sort of let the home get adjusted to you guys and let the home get adjusted to the site and the land and let it move a little bit, and let it get established.

George:

And then at that point you can, over the three months, you can then turn around and say, look, can you fix this? Can you fix that? Can you fix this? You can get your own tape, put your tape on your walls as well. At least that way, they can come back after that three months or whenever you discuss with the builder, and they can fix the rectified issue. So then that way, they can keep moving forward on the next job. But generally, you only need about three months, to be honest with you. You don't need any longer than that, because any longer than that, it's starting to get into the territory of wear and tear. Because what happens is, the minute you start building, the home should last you for a long time without having to do anything. But if you've got kids that are running around and smacking things on a wall and that those type of things, that's part of the wear and tear.

Samara:

Yep. sure. You see some builders offering structural warranties, 25 years, 50 years. Some offer 60 years. I guess.. you're going to know pretty quickly, your house isn't going to fall down within the first couple of years. Is there a benefit or whether you get a 10 year or 25 year warranty? How have you seen that play out?

George:

Yeah. The longer, the better, of course. That's a given. But I think, if you stick around the 25 year mark, that's totally normal. But I've seen builders go up to 50 year warranties as well. 50 year structural guarantee, where you've actually got the peace of mind for 50 years, and at least that way...you can feel more confident with it. Depending on the products they use and a whole range of different things, but generally it's a 25, 50 or I've seen also, a lifetime. So when you get into lifetime, that is the next level again. But 50 year warranty is a great number, but 25 year is a pretty normal timeframe.

Samara:

All right. Well, the last question I've got relates to the nitty-gritty, going into the price a little bit. There's a lot of talk these days around fixed-price contracts. I think one of the questions would definitely be to ask, is this a fixed price contract, and are there any provisional sums included? Provisional sum, for those who don't know, is a term that might be included in your contract. It describe something when items aren't fully included. For example, site fees, sometimes come under that kind of ballpark. We've got a few blog articles that go into this in a bit more detail. But from your experience, would you say the majority of builds these days are using fixed price contracts?

George:

They are. They are, because a lot of builders, especially the large building companies, they know for a fact, that they want a good reputation. So they want to sustain that fixed pricing, so they have happy customers. A lot of the builders that I work with actually fix the cost before they sign a contract. So in other words, you get your fixed cost before you've signed... you actually get a fixed price. At least that way, you have the confidence to say, great. I know what the price is, let's move forward again. So there's actually two phases of moving forward. It's the pre pre-construction, and then there's the pre-construction. So there's this sort of the first part, which is getting all that information, things like your engineering getting done, your master plans and getting the whole project fixed.

George:

Provisional sums or allowances, if you want to call it, they're basically... They are the cost that builders don't know what they are yet, but they've got experience in and they know roughly what it's going to sit at. And the reason why they put them in, is because at least clients know an idea of what it's actually going to cost. Has a rough idea at least, because if you don't have a bit of an idea, you don't know whether you can sometimes afford it or not.

Samara:

Yeah.

George:

So having these provisional sums, at least it offers the clients that opportunity to be able to say, at least the footings have been allowed for. They've looked at maybe what's been built before in the area, looked at the size of the house, looked at the design of the home and they've put an allowance based on what they've done before. And that is the best way of doing an allowance.

George:

I think it's an educated guess and I think that's the best way to tackle it. But always, always, they will get you a fixed price on that, just so then that way, you can move forward on the contract. And you know what? The good thing about it is that, let's say for example, the footings blows out. Let's say, for any reason at all, right? Let's say there's an old pool that's been underground and they've found it or something like that. Or let's say, for example, the soil activity of the soil is a bit too... The movement is a little bit hard and it's called YS value. And the home moves up and down by a hundred millimeters, which is a crazy amount. What you will find is, potentially that could change your price and you've got a way out. So if you didn't want to proceed, look, all you could lose is a bit of deposit, but that would be almost worst-case scenario.

George:

But I think the biggest thing here, is just discuss with your builder, work with them, because I think that's crucial. And because they're also trying to do the right thing as well. They want to please every single client. They want to make sure everybody is looked after, really happy and that's part of us. So they want to make sure that they've looked at every little detail and they don't want to start building, and then asking you for money later. So sometimes that can happen, depending on the type of project you're building. So if you're building on a hill face and there potentially could be rock or something like that underground, potentially that could be a cost later, but that's generally picked up during the footing digging. And the reason why, is because no one's a magician. They can't think of the future. If we would have that power, we wouldn't be doing what we're doing. So no one knows what's underground, so they've got to put these sums. But as long as the builder explains these things for you, that will give you the confidence moving forward.

Samara:

Yeah. So just check that with your builder, before you sign the contract. What it is and what it isn't. You wouldn't expect one of the majors to start adding on any more cost down the track.

George:

Exactly. 

Samara:

Yeah. I guess the only exception would be if you, as a customer, decided to make changes later or start fiddling around.

George:

I've seen that happen many times before. I had one client that got some extra money and wanted to add another level on top, so we had to redesign the whole house and basically start again. But to be really honest with you, it was a simple process and it worked. So once the slabs down, yes it's a bit too late to make some changes, but before that, it's never too late.

Samara:

Okay, that's good to know. Well, I think that covers about everything. We've gone through all the questions today. Thanks so much.

George:

Oh, that's all right. At least it gives people a bit of an opportunity, if they're thinking about building or even looking at designing their home, they've got a bit of an idea on what potentially it will cost them. Even if they're looking in two years time to build, at least it gives them an opportunity to be able to know a little bit about it, have some tools behind them.

Samara:

Yeah, and some great info. Is there anything that you'd like to add about Giorgos and what you do?

George:

Oh look, at Giorgos, we basically help you with all of that. So we basically go through a process of, we are your new home consultant. So what we do is, we try and bridge that gap between good design and getting that budget that you need to be at, so try and seamlessly connect the two. And the reason why we do that is because we design our homes from scratch for every single client and by doing so, we're actually able to use some of the area that matters to you the most. We look at every single space individually. So for example, do you need a walk-in pantry? Yes, maybe this plan has a walk-in pantry, but do you need it? They're like, no. Well, let's use that area in the family room. So we're trying to really utilize and understand the lifestyle of people first, and really emphasize that a lot more.

George:

I think that's really the crucial point. But the point of difference that we've got is, we work with a variety of different building companies. So we design the home and then we help you match your project with a builder that would suit the type of project that you're building. So it makes it a lot easier that way, so it does save you going through all these different display homes, but I still encourage doing that because at least you can get the feel of, a bit of an idea on the quality workmanship and all that sort of stuff. And it really gives people a bit of an opportunity to see with their eyes, rather than just on paper what you can do.

George:

We also offer private walkthroughs as well, with display homes. So we can take clients through the displays on the weekends or during the week on opening hours. At least that way, they can get our perspective on it and get a bit of an understanding on what they can get for their money and that can give them our ideas and get inspired by the homes as well. So it's a bit more of a refreshing approach.

Samara:

Oh, that sounds great. More of a custom design, which always helps.

George:

It is. Custom design, without spending too much money.

Samara:

Yeah. Sounds good. Well thanks so much, George. I'll be posting this on our Homeshelf blog. There's lots of info on our blog in terms of building topics, design tips, and all that kind of stuff. Also, if you're just starting looking at building, take a look at our build guides. There's one for Adelaide and Melbourne as well. So thanks so much, George.

George:

Thanks so much, Samara. And thank you so much guys. And thank you so much for the audience too.

Samara:

Thank you.

George:

Thank you so much. See you guys. Bye.

 

Publisher Website: www.homeshelf.com.au
 
Published: 29/10/2020
Author: Samara Amadi
Company: homeshelf
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