Building your first home

So, me and the Mrs’ are looking at building a new home together sometime within the next year. Basically we’re at Phase 1 having not looked too much into things deeply, but we’re estimating from things we’ve looked at we’ll need to borrow around 400K give or take.

I’m just interested if there’s anything people wish they knew beforehand? Any tips? Anything you should look out for or try to avoid? What’s the process like? Would greatly be interested in any personal stories on how it went for them first time.

1.Tile your wet areas to waist height.

  1. Have a floor drain in your wet areas

  2. Get all your outside concreting (Paths, Garden shed slab, entertainment area) when the slab is done.

  3. Plan you landscaping and don’t wait too long to get it done…

Oh yea…plant a couple of fruit trees if you have the space…

Good luck & congratulations.


Factor in things like pathways around the house and retaining walls (if the block is on a tilt).

Extra 35 grand for me.


This may sound like a stupid question (I am a newb) but do you get the soil test done before or after you actually acquire the land? I’m assuming you buy it and then get the test done but I know certain types cost more if the ground is unstable, or as Noonan has said it’ll cost heaps more if the block is on a tilt. I have so much to learn.

Extra $70k for me. I nearly choked when I saw the quotes.

You should probably get a soil test done beforehand to determine if there’s likely to be any issue/how much fill is on the block but the builder would probably get it done too.

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Oh and that’s before purchase of the land. If you’ve already bought it and the builder is going to do it I wouldn’t bother.

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Don’t go with a big builder (Porter Davis etc). You’ll regret it.

Spend a lot of time going over the exact specifications. You’ll need to think in extraordinary detail. Where do you want the lightswitches? How many power points per room etc? Be very very careful because the extras is where you get stung.

If you’re building in Melbourne and it’s a standard 4 bedder you’ll need to budget 700. And that’s probably a lowish estimate.


So definitely avoid building on tilted land unless you want to fork out an extra arm and leg. Gotcha. I know a few people that built their house but then had nothing for landscaping, maybe better to build the kitty up a bit as a buffer for that?

Also curious to see who built with whom? Looking at Metricon in these early stages.

Make sure you check the insulation. We had ours just chucked up in the bags and signed off. The manager of the builds in our area didn’t check when he signed off on it. Appearently it’s not uncommon that builder’s dont climb up and check.

3 years later when we get an aircon in my son’s room the person installing it mentioned there was no insulation in the roof.

Got the builders back quick ■■■■■■ smart and they had to unpack the insulation and put it in. $5K given back to us to cover for the bills.

Also ensure you get flyscreens for free! We fought for that after they werent going to include them as they are not included in the build. We said “It’s Australia! You need them. Either they are included or we go somewhere else.”


We had a look at Porter Davis and honestly their style just didn’t suit what we were looking for. Flash yes, but equally unimpressive and felt very hollow (and a ton more expensive than everyone else.)

We’re in regional Victoria so obviously our prices aren’t as high as Melbourne is, thankfully.

Rosaleigh or Premier are ok.

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I’ve heard some horror stories which can be quite offputting, almost impossible to know which builders to go with. My sister went with Metricon and her house is great. We initially looked at Burbank but I’ve read far too many things like “they built 3 quarters of it and haven’t bothered for months” or finding tons of issues through the house or shortcuts.

Well whether it’s Porter Davis or Metricon or whatever, it’s the same issue. They offer you a really low price, build a low quality home and stick you on the extras. The advertised price will literally get you a shell and nothing else. If you want a nice home (not a great home, just nice) then your actual number will come in hundreds of thousands over the advertised price. Be careful my friend


Borrow more than the cost of the house and land to afford a driveway and landscaping

Display homes always have all of the upgrades on them so be wary when you go through a display home to get as per what you are seeing is an extra $35k+ to the base price

Power points - get extras you can never have enough

Hire someone to help you on your first inspection, you’re never going to pick up things like adequate number of clips on the gutter - they are worth the money!

Storage space - some builders just don’t put enough in their home design

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I work for a builder/developer.

If you’re looking to save money, and want to go with a high volume builder, get a bare bones package and no extras. Anyone can engage someone to put down carpet, timber flooring, landscaping and a driveway (but always get three quotes on this stuff minimum).

These extras are all cream for a builder. They typically have very little margin on their base price and make their profit on the add ons. You might be surprised by how little is typically in a base price. It effectively is only as much as is required to get an occupancy permit.


We managed to get the carpet and wooden floorboards cheaper. Our builder only offered laminate wood or dark red fire streak. We found Tasmanian oak cheap. The builder was happy to put them in as it was cheaper than what they offered.

Don’t use Metricon!

Agree with getting the inspections done by an independent building surveyor. They have new home inspections that cover 3-4 stages. They only cost 1-2k and they will happily pick all faults in the build, write the report and be the bad cop with the builder. Money well spent.

  1. Draftspersons are cheaper than architects and effectively do the same work - unless you are doing something out of the ordinary like putting in curved walls or lifts etc.

  2. Go over the plans in intimate detail. Especially the prelim plans. Make sure the plans reflect what YOU want, not what the designer thinks you want.

  3. Cabinetry, cabinetry, cabinetry. Understand what your requirements are.

  4. Don’t be afraid to build with newer materials. Sometimes a supplier will give you a discount if you’re willing to pilot a new material.

  5. Spend up on kitchen and bathrooms. Kids rooms, spare rooms etc don’t need any bells and whistles so spend on kitchen and bathrooms what you save on the other rooms.

  6. Electrical. If you are doing brick, make sure you understand exactly where all your switches and light fittings are going as once it’s built, it’s hard to change without spending a bit of money.

Good Luck.