The Ultimate Guide to
Building a New Home in Perth
So…. You’ve made the decision to build a new home in Perth?
When you build a new home from scratch, you don't have to worry about adjusting your lifestyle to fit someone else's preferences.
Instead, you can design every room in your new home to perfectly fit you and your families lifestyle.
Don’t worry - the process doesn’t have to be daunting. With a little bit of education and preparation the building process can actually be an effortless and enjoyable journey.
Still, building a home isn’t all fun and games, there are a lot of things to address and think about - finding the best home builder is only one of them.
The good news?
We've got it all covered.
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In this guide, you'll learn everything you need to know about building your dream home in Perth within your given budget and without the typical ‘building-headaches’.
We’re going to show you how to:
- Find out how much you can borrow and how to get the best deal on your home loan
- Come up with an accurate budget (without missing some of the ‘hidden’ costs)
- Decide on the best house design and layout (while avoiding typical beginner mistakes)
- Choose the best builder to bring your vision to life (while avoiding all the horror stories)
- Understand building contracts to keep the legal side of things under control
- Keep track of each stage of the construction process
... and so much more
Start by developing your list of ‘Must-haves’ and ‘Nice to haves’. This will help you in developing a picture of what you need in your new home design and serve as the basis for all your research.
For most people, the home building process will come down to these two major things:
Type of Home
Building the home of your dreams primarily means coming up with the perfect design to fit your ideal lifestyle. What exactly do you need? What do you want it to include and within what limitations (i.e. money, location, block size, etc.)?
Start a list of ‘Must Haves’, ‘Nice to Haves’ and ‘Definitely Not’. This will serve as your goal posts throughout the design and building process. It will make your decision making process a lot easier!
Finance and Budgeting
First things first, before you can get down to the ‘fun part’ of building a house, you need to figure out how much the project is going to cost.
Or to put it differently, how much you can realistically afford to borrow (and spend) on your new home.
Additionally, keep in mind that paying the builder to build your new home doesn’t usually include ‘everything’. There’s a lot to think about with your budget. So let’s get started...
Start with a
The first thing you will want to do is to meet with a mortgage broker.
Let's face it; with all the financing options available today and the different types of ‘terms & conditions’ that each of them comes with, it’s easy to get lost.
A good mortgage broker knows their way around everything related to home loans - regardless of whether those loans are for existing homes, or for the construction of a new dream home.
A mortgage broker can save you some serious time and money by making sure that you get the best deal on your loan from a bank. Plus the type of loan that’s most beneficial to you (not the Bank).
As with everything, before deciding on a final broker to work with, it can be very helpful to ask a few questions.
Here are a few questions to ask your mortgage broker for a ‘quick’ quality check:
- Are they licensed? If your finance broker isn’t licensed, then you might be required to do more background research on them to ensure you are truly dealing with a professional.
- Do they have a wide panel of lenders to choose from? The more lenders your mortgage advisor has connections with, the more likely they are to find you a fantastic deal. Ask them which lenders they typically work with and why.
- Do they understand how construction finance works? Have they financed homes to be constructed before? This is important because the process and the requirements are different to normal home loans.
You can check whether or not your mortgage broker is registered by searching the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s professional registers here. Or, if you prefer to call, their phone number is 1300 300 630.
Budgeting & Costs for
Your New Home
Everyone has a budget that they need to stick to when it comes to building a home. Figuring out how much you can afford or wish to spend is an important step to ensure that you don’t waste time working with a builder to design a home that you ultimately will not be able to afford.
You’ll also need to make sure that your budget extends to the things that aren’t included in your new home quote - such as landscaping and finishing touches.
It’s a good idea to make sure you know what you’re agreeing to pay for from an early stage, to avoid any nasty surprises later on.
Remember, when you visit a display home, what you see is what you CAN buy - if your budget allows.
However, not everything that you see will be part of the standard inclusions. Landscaping is an extra expense that you’ll usually need to pay separately, as are site works cost, fencing and some finishing items like internal flooring.
The extras that you’ll need to buy on top of your initial quote will vary from builder to builder. Make sure you know exactly what you’re going to need to pay from day one.
Ask your builder to cover (in writing) everything that's included in the price, such as:
- Paths and driveways
- Flooring - Carpets, Tiles, Timber.
- Window treatments - curtains, blinds, etc
- Fencing & Gates
- Air conditioning
- Retaining walls
- Light fittings
- Power outlets
- Security system
- Data point outlets
- Outdoor kitchen / BBQ facilities
- Wall painting
- Swimming Pool
- Landscaping & Reticulation
- Your specific requirements
On top of this there is of course the cost of the land and settlement costs - unless you are buying a house & land package.
Ask your builder if they can assist with a budget planner.
Make sure you know before you get started what you can’t afford to leave out of your contract with a builder. This will help you avoid costly mistakes before work even begins.
That's quite a lot to keep track of with your budget, which is why it's so important to be aware of what you can reasonably afford to pay before you begin browsing the marketplace for potential builders.
Additionally, some prices may vary depending on different factors. For instance, the cost you need to pay for your land will depend on the area you want to build in.
Nice suburbs close to the coast or new up-and-coming areas may cost more, but they might be a better investment in the long-term. This might also include locations that are closer to Perth’s CBD.
Questions to ask the mortgage broker.
1. Are you licensed?
2. What loans do you offer?
3. Who pays your commission?
4. Will I have to pay fee?
5. Who is on your panel of lenders?
6. Which lenders do you typically use and why?
Can You Get any
If a glance at the items you're going to need to buy is filling you with a sense of dread already - don't panic. You might be eligible for some extra help from the government.
If you've never purchased a home before, then you might be able to place the money offered by the first homeowners grant towards the purchase of your new home.
You’ll have to meet some basic criteria to apply, including:
- The applicant needs to be a person, not a company
- You need to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident
- You and your spouse can't have previously had the FHOG payment
- You'll need to be at least 18 to apply
- The property you build must become your primary place of residence
When you're building a home with a first-time homeowner's grant, you'll also need to enter into a contract to buy or build the property you want within a certain length of time. You can find some more information on your grant options online.
Choosing Your Home Design and Layout
With your funding locked down, the next step is to start thinking realistically about the kind of home you're going to build.
This is where you'll really start making some big decisions about your future, and the type of lifestyle you want to lead. Here are 15 great questions to ask yourself that will help you gain clarity on the perfect home design for you and your family.
There's more to building the perfect home than just choosing the right number of bedrooms or bathrooms. You'll also want to think about the following:
- Do you plan on having more children soon - will you need a nursery or space for them to play in?
- If you decide to factor in a yard, are you going to be able to use and maintain it?
- Will your teenagers need a place to hang out with friends - like a theatre room?
- How much space for cars do you need in a driveway or garage?
- Are you often bringing your work home with you? If so, do you need a home office?
- Are there any hobbies that you're passionate about that need an extra room?
- Will you need a shed or an extra storage space?
- Do you need a spare room in case anyone visits?
You will be given numerous choices in terms of the home’s facade. When choosing your facade, while you obviously want something that is unique to you, it is important the facade also creates street appeal.
Looking at the Aesthetics
Probably one of the most exciting parts of building a new home from scratch is the fact that you'll be able to decide on what it's going to look like from the ground up.
Obviously, that means that you get to bring some of your own sense of style into the mix. However, you'll also probably want to think about the kind of design that's going to give the most value to your home in the long-term.
A cohesive and visually pleasing appearance both inside and outside of your house will help you to get the most out of your new home.
If it helps, work with a professional builder designer to make sure that all the features of your design, from the brickwork to the textiles and materials, work together perfectly.
A good builder will be able to assist you with this - just ask them!
Doing Your Research
You probably already have a few basic ideas of what you want your new home to look like. However, if you need some extra guidance, the best thing you can do is research.
Start looking for inspiration for your new home from the comfort of your couch with your laptop or smartphone.
You can browse through building and architectural websites that give you some fundamental insights into what's available.
If you're building in a specific area, then you might want to try mimicking the design of the other homes around you. This could mean that you blend in better with the rest of the neighbourhood.
Find three or four homes that you love, and spend your time assessing them. Check out the options that are available online first, then make an appointment so you can get the full attention of a dedicated sales consultant.
To help you find the right home, here’s a list of our current display homes in Perth - including location and opening hours. So you know where to go and also at what times you’ll be able to meet with one of our sales consultants to ask any questions you may have.
Visiting a Display Home
Your time in a display home will be the best opportunity you have to get some inspiration for your new home. You can walk around and get a feel for the finer details of the home. Make sure to take note of fixtures and fittings that you like, and measure anything that you're interested in and take some in-depth notes.
If it helps, try to visualise yourself living in that home. Imagine sitting and standing, visiting the kitchen to grab a glass of water, or sitting at the dining table. You can even try to visualise your furniture in the space around you.
Try to keep in mind that display homes are a form of marketing. They're designed specifically to impress you and give you an insight into what your dream home could look like - rather than what everyone can afford to make their dream home into.
Additionally, some display homes will be fitted with "extras" that you don't realise come with an extra expense until you ask a few questions.
For instance, you might be looking at the $420,000 design, but if every possible feature on display is included, the cost could be significantly more.
That's why it's such a good idea to have a sales consultant to talk with. They can tell you precisely what’s included as the standard fittings and fixtures and what isn’t.
Other questions to ask your sales consultant include:
- What kind of upgrades are available for fittings and features?
- How much can I customise this house?
- Is there a set of alterations that I can consider?
- What other finishes and materials are available?
You might not have too much choice if you’re building in a greenfield estate.
Greenfield estates are planned communities built on rural or previously undeveloped land, and in order to maintain a consistent appearancte throughout, there will be Development Guidelines that every home built there must follow, which limits things like facade colour selections and materials. Ditto roof and fencing.
Ask your chosen Perth home builder about any limitations in your estate or build area.
You’ll have numerous elevations and designs to choose from when building your home. Make sure that you pick something that adds to your street appeal, while showing your personal sense of style.
Planning Your Home Design & Layout
With your research in hand, it's time to look at your design choices.
Here are some things to think about:
Street Appeal & Exterior Appearance
Make sure to consider the outside of your home just as carefully as the inside. Street-appeal can make a big difference to the long-term resale value of your property.
Every time you arrive home from a long day at work, you want to make sure that you feel pride and joy seeing your property.
Aside from giving you something extra to brag about, a stunning exterior for your home also means that when the time comes to sell your property you'll have a much easier experience.
Street appeal can be the difference between someone buying your property or driving by it to check the next one on their list. Make sure you consider the future of your new building right from the start.
A great looking house sells itself.
Interior design is a big factor to consider when you're making choices about your new home. Make the wrong choice here, and you could end up costing yourself a great deal more later on.
Be mindful of making any choices that might only be relevant because of a current trend. While it's easy to get carried away when looking at the latest architectural and design experiments in the market, you need to remember that this house may be with you for a very long time.
Something that seems to be "in" now might not be as appealing a few years down the track.
The good news is that as long as you don't make any substantial structural decisions about your new home’s design, it should be relatively easy to change the look of your home when the time comes to sell.
Many real estate agents recommend painting your walls a neutral colour and getting rid of anything too bold. Most people looking to buy a new house are searching for a blank slate, so it helps not to do anything too dramatic.
When it comes to choosing things like benchtops, cabinets, splashbacks, flooring, and other things that aren't as easy to replace, see if you can stick with things that would suit anyone's taste - not just your own.
It's safe to say that building a house is a pretty huge investment for most people - if not the biggest they will ever make.
If you don't have enough money to do everything up-front, then you might be thinking of doing things in stages instead.
While some things might be easy to add later on, others might be a lot more difficult and more expensive if added after the house has been build.
If you're planning on making further changes in the future, then it’s best to account for those now. This is particularly true if you're thinking about adding a pool at a later stage.
This is something you want to let your builder know in advance, as they'll need to be aware of that.
It's also crucial to make sure that your pool is fenced and follows building code regulations according to your local council.
One of the most challenging parts of building a house from scratch is trying to visualise everything clearly. However, taking a forward-thinking approach can save you a lot of work and money in the long-term.
This could include thinking in advance about whether you might want to install air conditioning or smart wiring solutions. It's safe to assume that just "adding things in" later will rarely be as simple as it seems.
Choosing a Builder for Your New Home
By this point, you've got your vision of your perfect home in mind, and you're ready to start making some real progress. However, before you can turn your ideas into a real home, it’s time to choose a builder.
This, for many, is a tough process. You want to find someone you can trust to bring your ideas to life.
In some cases, you’re also looking for a builder that can knock the old house down before starting to build your new home.
The good news is that builders are usually quite easy to track down in Perth. Head online and check out things like:
- Google searches (make sure you include your region)
- Social media and Facebook Groups
- Online listing and comparison websites
- Trade association websites
- Building directories
Offline, there are also plenty of places you can search for builders too. For instance, you can consider asking your friends for their recommendations if they've recently had work done, or you can speak to your mortgage broker too.
Most real estate agents and mortgage brokers will have a network of people that they can connect you to in their local area.
It’s worth asking to see previous projects and talk to previous clients. This way you get a real life sense of the workmanship and the opportunity to talk to people who have been through the process prior to you and learn from their experiences.
Getting to Know Your Builder
One of the most important things you can do when you meet your potential builder is ask them plenty of questions. Ensure that they're a good fit for the kind of home you want to build.
Spend some time with your builder face-to-face, as this will help you to determine whether you really feel comfortable with them.
This is particularly important in case you are running into some difficulties or problems throughout the building process. How easy (or not) is it going to be to overcome those problems with the builder you are considering?
Remember that building a new home can take a lot of time - there are many factors that determine how long it takes to build a home in Perth. This means that you really want to trust your builder, as you will be with them for a long period of time.
Making Sure you Choose the Right Builder
There are plenty of things you can do to boost your chances of finding the best builder for your new home.
Ask for references or check out whether your builder has any testimonials written about them online. This will give you more of a behind-the-scenes look into what you can expect.
Your builder may also make suggestions on how you can customise the design to make it more efficient. It's useful to get a general overview of energy-efficiency options available with your new home design.
What about other ‘green features’, such as solar panels and battery power, recycled water or solar hot water systems? You might want to keep an eye on the construction of your building throughout the process - even if you're confident that your builder can be trusted.
If you have a site manager, ask them about the set meetings you will have on site so you can make sure that you can view and check on the property regularly. Ask who you will be dealing with throughout the construction process.
To help you make the right decision when choosing your builder, ask yourself the questions on this builder checklist (and make sure to read this article):
- Are they licensed and qualified?
- Do they have experience building your kind of house?
- Do they offer a high quality of workmanship?
- Is their design strategy suitable to your needs?
- Do they have a wide variety of fittings and materials to choose from?
- Can you customise the design according to your needs?
- Will they work according to your budget?
- Do they have quality assurance checks in place?
- What is their average build time, and is it appropriate?
- Are they friendly and informative?
Ask your builder whether they can show you any of the previous houses they’ve built. This will give you a behind the scenes look at the quality, longevity and service you’re going to get.
Choosing the Right Land In Perth
When looking for land you could ask your builder for help, check out a few developers or even get an agent involved.
You’ll want to think carefully about a number of factors when choosing the right block of land for your new home in Perth.
For instance, are you searching for something close to work so you can reduce your morning commute? Or something further afield so you get more land for your money?
It's also helpful to choose an area that has plenty of nearby amenities that you can take advantage of, such as shopping centres, schools, parks or the beach.
The more research you can do, the better off you'll be.
Choosing Land Shape, Topography and Orientation
Finding the right location for your new home will also affect the kind of elevation you want for your new house.
You'll also need to think about whether the design you have in mind is going to suit the shape and topography of the land.
If you're purchasing a house and land package from a land development company, then many of the things you'll need to think about will already be taken care of.
However, if not, you'll want to consider additional elements like:
For most builders, the designs used for homes aren't intended for sloping blocks, so you'll need to be aware that this is going to add to the site costs. Sloping blocks can present a range of engineering problems and require structural engineers to be available on your site. If you're on a sloping block, there are also additional landscaping issues to consider, such as retaining walls. If your block is severely sloped, then access might be an issue too, which adds further time and expense to the build. Ultimately, it's going to cost you a lot extra to build on a sloping block rather than a flat block. It can be a very nice feature to have of course, but your price will likely increase. At Novus we specialise in building on tricky sites, and can share some of our previous builds with you to show what we can do.
You'll need to think about the orientation of the new home that you're building too. If you have the choice, see if you can build your house so the main living areas are north-facing. That way you'll catch the sun during the winter and avoid too much heat during the summer. This helps to save money on energy bills, not just because of passive cooling and heating benefits, but because you won't be putting your air con and heating on as often or using your artificial lights as often.
Are there any trees and bushes on the site that you want to keep, or are you building your home close to neighbouring homes? In this case, you might need a crane to transport building materials and machinery safely in and out the property.
The depth and breadth of your land compared to the footprint and size of your house will be crucial. You'll need to think about whether your home will comfortably fit on the block you're looking at.
Orientation can also be affected if there are any easements to consider on your land. An easement is a section of land that's registered on your property title, which gives someone the right to use your area for a specific purpose, even if they aren't the landowner. For instance, council access to storm and sewage water pipes might be necessary. Permanent structures can't be built on an easement because they must remain clear for easy access, should it be required. Your final slab design may also be affected by easements on your neighbour's property, or on your own property.
Spend some time considering the right orientation. This can make a huge difference not only to the energy bills but also to how comfortable your new home will feel.
Signing Contracts for your New Home
Not all of the stages involved in building a home will be fun, there is a bit of paperwork involved too!
While it's great to plan what your house is going to look like and play around with things like aesthetics and interior design, you're also going to have a bit of admin to work through too.
According to the Housing Industry Association of Australia, a building contract is just as important to the construction process as plans and materials.
The contract that you have in place for your builder will lay out all the rights, roles, and responsibilities of every party involved. First and foremost, speak to your builder - that’s always the most important step to ensure an effortless building process.
The Construction Process
With your contracts officially signed, your builder can get to work!
This is where the exciting stuff happens. Reputable Australian builders will follow a set sequence of milestones. There are a number of milestones that are achieved during the course of your build.
It is not retcommended to proceed with demolition until you have your building permit.
Following are the main steps you can expect to encounter during the construction process:
Once the house is fully built, the last stage is for your builder to organise a practical completion inspection (PCI). This process allows you to walk through the home and see all of the work that has been done.
If you notice any issues or defects, then your builder will need to rectify these problems before arranging handover.
You and your builder will need to sign off on the PCI document when this stage is completed.
You don't have to proceed to the next step until you feel comfortable. Some builders will offer a period of maintenance that can last for a certain time, which will cover any defects that arise in your home after you’ve settled your payments. Talk to your builder about how this works.
Welcome to Your New Home
With the inspection fully completed, the last things to do are the hand-over and moving in.
If everything is officially approved, you'll get the keys and finally be able to move into your new home - built just the way you wanted it.
Building a new home is a huge job, but it's also a wonderful opportunity. You'll have created something special of your own that you can enjoy with your family for decades to come.
Now, the fun can start when you begin to implement your personal finishing touches.
- Change your address with Australia Post.
- Set up insurance for your brand new home.
We hope that this guide has given you the information you were looking for to move ahead with confidence and start the process of building your dream home.