Building your first home


400k’s a lot of lego bricks.


polished concrete looks alright instead of floor tiles.
heaps easier to clean, doesnt chip or wear poorly. good option I reckon.

north facing living areas.
seperate loo from bathroom.
two shower heads in the shower and two sinks is the bit of the rage for the master ensuite.
highish ceilings.
centre island in the kitchen
quality benchtops.

oh and a wider entry door. paint it gloss. looks good.


If it was me, and I had to go with a volume builder for whatever reason. I would build it to barebones stage and do the things like carpet and tiles myself. Anyone can engage contractors for that.

I would also bring a builder friend with me along to observe and pick things up along the way and also to each inspection, you would be astounded at what gets let go these days.

I would also consider engaging a quantity surveyor to make the builders life difficult and ensure they do the right thing. A lot of these guys are sharks and you have to be so damn careful, the VBA is a toothless tiger so you need to be well informed.


Lot’s of great advice here. Here is some more.

Crossovers aren’t normally included in the cost of the build, if you want your driveway to meet the street, you need to pay for it. Normally you can then claim a rebate from your council.

Fences aren’t free, you have to share the cost with your neighbours.

Land rates will be payable to council as soon as you own the land, put money aside.
Same applies for water rates.

When looking at hot water systems, pay the extra up front for solar, either gas or electric boosted if the builder doesn’t already include it.

If you are getting ducted air, remember that for reverse cycle systems, the vents need to be near windows, as far from the door to the rooms as possible. If using evaporative cooling, the vents need to be near the doors.

Before putting down expensive carpets or flooring, make sure you have paving/concrete/decking at entry points so you don’t track mud, dirt etc into the house to ruin said expensive carpets and flooring.

Cabinetry is expensive, especially if you step outside the builders standard range of laminates. Save money by finding one of their range that you can live with. Use the money saved there to build more cupboards in laundry and kitchen if they don’t have enough.

Single power points are the industry standard. Start by up speccing to doubles at a minimum. If you have a home theatre setup with TV, media player, amplifier etc, even look at a quadruple power point. If you have an projector, get them to place a point in the roof. At a minimum, every bedroom should have two double points. For other rooms, 2 doubles should be considered the starting point.

If you have a refrigerator that has an inbuilt ice or water dispenser, or plan to but one, get a tap placed in the fridge recess.

Look for soft closing or even self closing doors on your cabinetry.

Flick mixers are very popular, but hot and cold taps are cheaper, and depending on the style of the house may be more suitable or more practical.

Garden taps, make sure that a standard 20m hose can reach all parts of your block from either tap. If they don’t, consider a third outdoor tap.

External lights. These days when sliding doors are popular on bedrooms, allowing direct acces to the outside areas, they don’t always come with lights, builder often only place them at the standard front and back door.

Where possible or practical, push walls out to the eaves. This is the cheapest method of gaining extra space because you are normally charged by the area covered by the roof, not the area contained within the walls.

Consider cavity doors, they are a great way to get more usable space because you don’t need to leave free space for swinging doors. Doable with brick veneer, a touch harder with double brick.


Be prepared to wait 18 months before they even start building.

Be prepared to pay an extra 20,000 more than what you originally planned.

Honestly building in Victoria is so ■■■■■■ if you dont already have titled land.


This is an interesting point. Because, despite the fact that what everybody has said about the big builders is true (I used to work at one), if you’re building regionally, somebody like Metricon specifically is not a bad option.

What region? Are you building on a new estate? If you wanna use a big builder in a regional area, look for one that has already done / is already doing a bunch of houses in the same area. If it’s the same estate, then bonus.

In the end, how well the house turns out has a great deal to do with how good the building supervisor is, which can be just luck of the draw, no matter where you go.

Oh, and don’t overspend on doors, but do spend the money on door furniture.


I built with Burbank four years ago, their designs and finishes are a lower spec to porter Davis etc but we got quite a good result. Fairly average build time, 6 months for a two storey, a lot depends on your site supervisor’s ability to manage the job.

One little thing I would recommend in any new house is a shower nook. Perfect place to put your beer while showering. Very important.


We built with Carlisle but they were only building ten a month back then.

Also wood is nice but aluminium is carefree on external Windows and doors.


If you have polished wood floors fibreglass the floor in your wet areas up the walls to a height of 100mm. Including your shower recess (mine cracked)

If you have floor to ceiling windows place a row of tiles beneath the curtains, catches condensation in the winter.

  • Understand how the financing works, settling land & building is different to a house and land finance (and can be treated differently by banks)
  • Make sure it is a fixed build contract and the progress payments are in line with HIA guidelines (some builders will push for say 20% deposit, if you sign off on that will cause financing headaches)
  • Understand the lenders policy and when they will release the FHOG (Nice $20,000 Grant) - if a package, can get released at land, some during the progressive payments. Some will not be approved agents and you will have to claim back after settlement. Depends on the lender
  • From a cash flow point of view, you will tip in the contributions on the build first then the bank
  • The build loan is Interest Only during construction (some banks will load a premium on that rate, some will treat at P&I pricing)
  • Depending on cashflow, do not be scared to go into LMI territory (this is capitalised to the base of the loan and amortized)
  • Better to have residual funds post settlement (put down a smaller deposit and incur LMI) vs borrowing a personal loan & maxing credit cards to pay for drive ways, new TV etc (the property is the best source of security)
  • If the builder is offering rebates, this will be stated in the build contract and will be reflected in the valuers reports. Banks will take the lower value (ex rebate) as the value to lend against. Also if in a new area, valuer can come undone finding like for like sales in the last 6 months and can return a different value than the COS.
  • Don’t be scared to take hand me downs when you first move in and upgrade over time


We built our first home with Simmonds. The build quality was as expected for the price. Here’s a few a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Sort out your own flooring for the living areas and bedrooms. We saved about 5K not using the companies Simmonds, or any builders for that matter, are aligned too. You can get the house handed over to you and then get your flooring done after.

  2. Same goes for any cooling you want to do. All new house come with heating but they rip you off if you want evaporative cooling or splits put in. Might also leave 3-4K in your pocket to spent on landscaping etc if you move in around winter.

  3. Make sure any email communication is replied too. We had an issue where we wanted the driveway allowance deleted so we could do our own. We sent the email but got no response. Next time we were there the driveway was poured!

  4. As for the soil test, if you are buying a house and land package the builders have normally done this. They will find a couple of blocks in an estate and reserve them cause they know the costs for excavating will be low.

If you want my number to talk about anything else then I’m more than happy to help out.


Most important item that I forgot.

Make sure you have a man-cave included in the design.:beer::tv:


Have a mains gas outlet installed to your outdoor area. Never have to refill a gas bottle again.

It’s a little thing, but it’s nice.


There are a number of things that can be done to mitigate this.

One of the key ones, as others have mentioned, is to ensure that the Builders has costed the footings based on your block of lands specific soil report which contractually should ensure the footings price is fixed. This is the major cause for increased price due to a forced variation. If the builder doesn’t have a footing report the footing price will be a “reasonable estimate” which is subject to change (plus margin) once the footing report is finalised and this can obviously create massive cost and trust issues early in the build process.

The best thing to do contractually to engage with a builder via a preliminary Services Contract whereby you pay for the soil report and house design to enable the builder to cost up their price. Some items may still be prime costed (ie an allowance) such as applicable etc but you keep these to a minimum. There can be copyright related issues by using this method and so IMO it is important that you play an active role in developing the design in concert with your builder (and have proof of this). The benefit of this method is the contract price should be much more accurate
Good luck


I used Metricon. Perfectly happy with them.


I used Boutique Homes and did a knock down rebuild. They did the house, then I got another builder to do the perimeter works.
Boutique did a good job and were relatively efficient once on site. It took longer to do the perimeter works than the house due to unfortunate weather.
We did our own planting which was relatively successful aside from one small troublesome area.

We only had the following problems:

  • we needed neighbours consent prior to beginning which effectively delayed things by 6 months because they refused to provide any comment. Council weren’t helpful because they needed proof that the neighbour was given adequate time to comment before they did anything.
  • our other neighbour was difficult to deal with. Caused grief with both builders.
  • the builder installed ceiling lights in a terrible location and wouldn’t budge. It took a month of arguments but eventually they shifted them where they could.
  • In hindsight, I’d have preferred the one builder to complete the entire works. It would have saved us a lot of time and we also wouldn’t have needed to get two building permits, etc.
  • Curtains were a ■■■■■■■ due to the size of windows. We got a few of them measured and installed but in hindsight, I should have just done them all measured and installed.
  • Key thing that I missed during defects…
    Request to check the walls out at night under internal light. the plasterboard and finishes look great in natural light, but as soon as you get artificial light on it, all the imperfections and patching is highlighted. They did well with the bedrooms but one of the feature walls is ■■■■■■ patchy and wasn’t noticeable until after moving in. I couldn’t get them to fix it afterwards.

I’d recommend Boutique Homes. Mates and family members have used Metricon, Glenvill, Symmonds and Porter Davis and were pretty impressed with what we got in comparison along with the speed at which everything got done once they were on site. They also had a lot more problems along the way than we did.


I built a new house once. Lovely place in Diamond Creek on a hill looking down the valley, massive block.
The whole deal was very stressful and a major reason for this marriage being farked. My Diamond Creek house was lost in the property settlement.

Builder was a pirate, and while he did a good quality job, the “extras” were incredibly expensive. We were young and naive, and had no idea about power point, lights, kitchen bathrooms and just relied that the “standard” would be OK. So before you sign anything, study every room, check power points, lights, windows, etc etc etc. and put everything in writing.

Good luck and remember to continue to tell your Partner that you love them.


Just completed a nightmare 16 months with a volume builder that I would steer well away from. Some good stuff in productreview my neighbour Dave posted ( same builder) . Not sure what area you are building in but Wright Homes are awesome up Gisborne way. Cheers

  • If you have a surround sound set up, or thinking of a home theatre room in the new place, do the pre wiring (yourself if you know how) before the plaster goes up.
    Having rear speakers hung on a wall with brackets looks so much cleaner with no wires visible, saves on floor space, and far more practical later when babies/pets enter the picture.

  • If a portion of your backyard is going to be a hard surface (ie, decking or concrete), consider getting some local guy with experience to lay coloured concrete with a pattern.
    Even having your side access paths done this way add aesthetic appeal to your home.
    Easy to clean, no grass to mow/maintain, more usable for a toddler/small child to ride a bike/ tricycle.
    Obviously leave some soiled areas for fruit trees, plants, herb garden etc…

  • Fly wire screens won’t be included, and nor will security doors.
    Save some cash by negotiating with a business that does both.
    Also, don’t skimp on the front security door in particular.
    Get a solid steel door, so that you will have the confidence of leaving the front door open on those warmer days, whilst maintaining peace of mind security wise.

  • Some other costs/features to consider…
    ** Roller shutters
    ** Solar Panels
    ** Evaporative Cooling or Refridgerated
    ** Doggy/Cat doors through the laundry door
    ** Granite bench tops instead of laminate
    ** Covering for your backyard entertainment area (lots of options like a sail for example)
    ** Think about how the garage will be used, and tailor it accordingly.
    If it’s a double, then it’s a big space.
    Put heaps of storage racking in the garage especially from the get go.
    You WILL use it, and you will be much better organised.


A few more things…

Exposed aggregate concrete driveways look fantastic when done well. Two family members have paid to get this done in the last 18 months and it hasn’t come up well at all.
I spoke to the concreter who did my joint and he said it is tough to do because at times the concrete mix can differ from pour to pour or the retardant isn’t evenly applied. Then the sealer choice can make a big difference. On one project, he had to put a colour into the concrete to make it look better.
I just got plain concrete and was happy with it.

Letterboxes. Get the bigger one if possible. While the small one looks sleek and neat, the extra brick size in height isnt going to break the bank.