Building your first home


If you’re comsidering a kit home, then possibly also consider a transportable. Your story sounds quite similar to my own. I built a beach house in a town called Robe in SA. I considered local builders, regional or nearby, and also the kit home option (constructed by a local). But when I looked into the advantages of a transportable for my type of project there was no comparison.

First was the financial benefit. You put down a minimal deposit. In my case it was $2k on a $133k house delivered. Because the bank won’t secure a loan against a house that is not “fixed” at the property, the builder assumes all the risk until the house is delivered and fixed into the footings (which a good company will also manage with a local trade). You then pay a lump sum at settlement on the day of delivery. This had specific benefits in managing thr cash flow and also meant that I could time the liability of the debt to coincide with the holiday rental season income.

The second was risk management. It avoided the risk of stage payments on a project that I live far from and couldnt supervise. It meant that the risk of unmanagable time delays from builders/trades was eliminated. As this was the first time I had done something like this, eliminating these risks as an unknown was a relief.

Third was that the electrical and plumbing aspects of the project were self contained and very manageable by you from a distance. The key was getting the individuals that you could trust. The rest flowed seamlessly.

Fourth would be the warranty. Given that the house was built, delivered and installed to site by a single company, all the standard warranty periods apply. If you owner build, then you no doubt encounter potential uncertainty with that.

Finally, there is also plenty of flexibility in design. I was able to fit 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, kitchen dining and living into a 20m x 6.9m rectangle, and it is exceptionally comfortable. It was delivered on the back of a semi into a tight location. I was in awe of the crew that did the delivery. They seem to go around in teams and just hit the job with seamless expertise.

You can tell from the street that it’s a transportable because it sits 600mm higher than the neighbouring houses which are built on slabs. But I dont care.


With house/land packages a lot of the hard work is done for you as you can only choose from a few floor plans. I’ve bought land and then designed the house to suit 2 times and the first time it was a bit daunting. The 2nd time we had to really trust the builder because they just say give us your budget and a rough idea of what you want from your house and we’ll design it to your budget. It’s not very transparent but they have an awesome rep. and we’ve been in for 12 months now and very happy.


I did think about that but only superficially. Where do you look to find what’s available?

One thing I do like about the kit building is that it’s my own design and specs. So I choose cladding, insulation, everything. It’s designed specifically for the site taking account of sun, weather, views, slope of the land, everything. I’ve heard of transported homes being very good but you don’t get any of that.


Actually you might be happy to learn that the only thing not customisable in a transportable is the shape of a single lift house…ie a rectangle. I chose cladding, insulation ratings in ceiling walls and floor. I chose all the inclusions etc. The roof has to be colourbond as tiles obviously wont travel. I can pm you a link to my house on the holiday rental site if you wanted to see the finished product.
I went through a company called Rivergum. There are several other reputable ones. You would like the look of Sarah Homes also Im sure. Look for one that has a wide geography for delivery. One thing to note though is that the listed price on websites doesn’t include delivery which is is/was about $35 per km as it will include wages for the crew whp install it to site.


Here’s a question, how much did people leave in reserve after their deposit? Aka back-up money?


I think people recommended 30% on average.


I had a 20% deposit then 40% of that for back up.


Stupid question but is that 40% of the total house price you had in reserve after the deposit, or 40% of what your deposit was? So say your deposit was 80k you had a further 30 odd k in reserve?


Sorry, I wasn’t clear. I had $120K deposit and about $40K for emergencies etc.


So we’ve gone from initial mortgage broker stage (says we’re in a great position) and we were leaning towards Dennis Family Homes or Metricon at this early stage. Once we’ve decided on land then we’ll take it further with the broker.

Looking at the house designs can be overwhelming as after you look at 2 or 3 they all look the same after a while. I have no idea what actually makes a good design…yes I want bedrooms and no I don’t want a study nook…We went into a display home and got a basic price on a build design, emailed them later on in the week for some more estimates but have literally heard nothing back. I don’t know if this is normal but one would think they’d want my money down the track. Is it more worth while going in person to get some proper estimates or will they email back soon?


I am a builder and draft all our plans. One of the most important things with the design is to make sure your it’s situated correctly on the block. Your Living and alfresco should take advantage of northerly or Easterly aspects. Don’t put your shed on top of your entertaining area. Keep unsightly things like clothes lines out of sight from these areas. Draw yourself the block to scale and work out how everything will fit together.

Does the plan flow, are the rooms big enough. Most project builders have more rooms but they are tight. 3.2m x 3.2 min size for a bedroom. Is the garage wide enough to fit 2 cars. 5.5m is not wide enough.

Think about how your furniture will work in living rooms where will u place the TV etc.

It can be very difficult to correctly find a plan that suits a block, and have all key points covered. To many people don’t think the details through.

Biggest thing with project builders is what they aren’t telling u. Don’t assume anything. Go over every detail. Pay someone to do this on your behalf if u have too. Don’t sign anything until u are 100 percent sure on what u are getting or not getting.


One of the most frustrating things when checking out houses. Ours is 7m and with all our crap we can still only get 1 car in there.

Back to @Crazy_Bomber, you want them to be attentive. If the sales dept. seem tardy then it’s not really a great start.


6.0 min


This is the way to go if they are a reputable builder. By the time u spec up those project built style homes to mid range, you will be paying similar to a custom built and designed home.

If u want a budget box a custom smaller builder can’t compete on price with the big project builders. If u want a quality, custom built home that takes advantages of the blocks aspects. Ask around and seek the better builders. They will be the busy ones, and may scare you with price for a start. But they won’t be hiding things from you. With clever marketing tactics to get u in the door.

If u can afford to do this u will be rewarded with resale value down the track as well.

If the builder doesn’t draw there own plans use a quality draftsman who will draw something within your budget. Liase with builders throughout the process of the drafting. Also ask for detailed specifications so that when u get builders to quote u are comparing apples with apples.


One thing of note is to make sure a transportable is allowed on the block u intent to buy or have already brought.

I actually know robe well, beautiful town. The folks built a holiday home there. Some areas allow transportable and some don’t.

Many newly developed blocks throughout aus will not allow transportables.


Does my head in trying to figure out how much land is enough or too much. Basically we just wanted a decent sized house with a good backyard and trying to scope other places to try get a feel for how much room we want. Initially we thought 600m2 was more than enough but then it went to 650m2 and then 700m2 but now we’ve gone back to thinking around 650m2. We want good value for money but it’s a feeling of “just a little more, just a little more”… There’s only two of us but maybe more with the possibility of kids down the track so we don’t know if 3 or 4 bedroom is the go.


A lot, nay most of the designs from Dennis Family have their garages at 6.0 x 5.5 m. I’ll have to go measure our current rental to see what it’s at but we fit two cars in easily and it wouldn’t be any bigger than that. I’ll have to see what Metricon and others have their designs at.


That’s true, although I’ve emailed a few and all seem slack tbh and also the land developers are slow in responding too. Not sure if it’s due to the x-mas period… One would think they’d want my money?


We had it in our head that we wanted a decent backyard, especially as we’d pushed out further than we originally wanted suburb wise.

Our block is about 750m2, and the house is double story so there is a pretty healthy patch of grass out the back. Which is nice… In summer.

We barely go out there in winter, so I’m just left with a big grassed area that is a pain in the ■■■ to mow all the time.

Total Space isn’t really the question, it’s usable space you wanna look for. Sometimes a bit of extra yard takes away more than it gives.


Try find a block where the back faces either north or east. Single story homes are usually cheeper to build per square. I live in a country area so bigger blocks are not uncommon here. Best advice I could give you is don’t buy the block then try fit something on it. Have a look at several blocks, work out what fits, and make sure it suits your needs before buying it. Also check that the block is not on a sloping or problem site. Slabs can vary tens of thousands of dollars if its a problem site.

You don’t want living/alfresco areas on top of fences, try and keep them at least 3m away from the fence at a min. Try keep sheds, clothesline split systems etc away from this area. Have a dead side of the house gravel it and put all your unsightly stuff here. A small well thought out yard, that has a nice feel is better then a great big ugly/unmaintained yard.

Landscaping helps with this, have mowing edges as transitions between garden beds and lawns. Put in automatic watering systems for lawns and garden beds. consider artificial lawn out the front. Keep things as low maintenance as you can, without sacrificing the look of the place. All these costs need to be factored in before building.