Building your first home


Get smart lights if you really enjoy the thought of having to wait for an update to download and install before you can turn on a ■■■■■■■ light.


Ah. I’m take it for granted the Panels will just be there as a matter of course these days. With the subsidy, there a virtual no brainer at this point I would have thought.

And unless you’ve got six kids or something, 1 battery can/will generally suffice with a properly designed and equipped home.

(Solar passive/thermal mass, 5 star plus appliances, double glazing led’s, on demand gas HW and heating if actually needed, evaporitive air cooling if needed. etc.)

Good eco design is key though.


Several of those things don’t apply. There’s no gas available, only bottles; my heating will be principally wood stove with electric supplement, and cooking and hot water will be electric. Another problem is that Beech Forest can be without sun for days on end in the cooler months.


So someone with more experience know the process of buying/making an offer for land?


Basically exactly the same as buying a house.

If it’s rural land it really pays to take your time, check the websites every week to see what’s sold and what hasn’t. It’s the only way to learn to recognise a really good block when you see it. It also helps when making your offer; you’ll learn what’s good value in your area and what isn’t.

Watch the zoning and be sure to check with the Council whether you can build what you want. Check what services are and are not available and make enquiries about the cost of connection.

Talk to lots of people, preferably those who have done what you want to do and can tell you the problems.

Again, take your time. Learn the locality and the local market. Wait till you know you’ve found the block you want.


How much is acceptable to offer under the asking for a price of land? 5k? 10k? and if it’s in decent demand?

The plot of land looks good and is selling decently around it, it’s the actual process which is doing my head in right now. We make an offer that’s under and it’s rejected, then what happens?


Make an offer that you think is appropriate. Don’t try to screw the vendor. The agent is legally bound to present the offer to the vendor but will probably make some comment when you make the offer if it’s really off the mark.

And if your offer is rejected, the agent will probably say something about the level that might be acceptable to the vendor or may even put a firm price to you. You don’t have to accept that and there’s no limit to the number of offers that either side can make. So you can decide whether you want to increase your offer and by how much.


The agent asks the vendor, vendor tells the agent it’s not enough, agent asks if you can offer more, you offer more.

It’s essentially a very, very, very slow auction.


My issue is not knowing exactly how much is “screwing the vendor”. For something that is 165K is 155K screwing or is 160K more appropriate? Start low and work up slowly?


I usually go by the 10% rule. There’s usually 10 percent wiggle room. I’d offer just outside of 10% and if you end up just on the other side both parties have done ok. Saying that, if it’s a land release that is popular then they may not move at all. My wife and I had our heart set on a block that was going to be very desirable so we ended up paying full price. We were prepared for that. If it’s been on the market for a bit you’ll have more flexibility.


Klawdy is right. $155 for an advertised $165 is not too low. In fact $150 would not be too low. The advertised price is usually a bit above what the vendor is hoping for and probably a bit further above what he or she will accept.

And remember, the worst thing that can happen is that the vendor just says a flat No and nothing else. If that happens, the first thing to do is ask the agent what the vendor will accept. If the answer is $165 and not a cent less, then you’ll know where you are. If the answer is that the vendor would probably consider $160, offer $160.


My block was advertised at $215K.

I offered $200K and was quickly told that the vendor was in no hurry to sell and just would not accept anything below the asking price.

I said “fair enough” and paid up.

Most of the other available blocks were either

  1. Too far from the centre of town
  2. Too close to South Beach which falls prey to the strongest winds
  3. You’d need Sherpa Tenzing to negotiate the back yard.

Mine was a decent size (815 sqm), only had a fall of about 1.5m from back to front, but what I hadn’t accounted for was all the bluestone just below the surface and the three sides of retaining walls.


Mine was advertised at $90. I offered $75. The agent said the vendor wouldn’t consider anything much below the asking price. So I offered $86 and he took it.

I’m hoping building will start in three weeks


I’d be intrigued to meet someone who hadn’t been told this by an agent.

I’m pretty sure I overpaid by about 5k or 10k on our house cos Mrs P accepted the “vendor wouldn’t consider…” line at face value.

You have to realise that they’re most likely paying a mortgage, and hence losing money, for every month they’re not selling.


Different situation. The block was owned by a local businessman as an investment and he was under no pressure to sell at all. I figured he would wait it out till someone paid what he wanted, and I wanted the block, so I went close to his asking price.


That was my situation. The guy who owned it was the guy who developed the whole estate, and there were still a few vacant blocks (still are).

There was one other block I was interested in. It was flat, but it had three lock-up garages on it which hadn’t been removed for sale. My suspicion was that they were full of asbestos, but before I could investigate seriously, it was snapped up.

There were also two or three battleaxe blocks in good positions, but the access paths were narrow enough to make building less than ideal.


Isn’t that near Dean’s Marsh in the Otways? My Grandma was born there. Have you thought about getting a stove with a hot water jacket. You can also run copper pipe around the flu. If you are going to burn wood you may as well get your money’s worth out of it. You are going to be sort of self sufficient?

Are thinking of building passive solar with a northerly expose. Perhaps double glazing on the windows. Really good insulation will save you money and is the cheapest part of the house. We used an air cell product sort of like bubblewrap, sarking paper and bats. It saved us a lot of money later on not paying it out in heating and cooling.


Beech Forest is the other side of Colac and much nearer the coast (closest main town on the coast is Apollo Bay). I’m definitely doing the insulation top, bottom and all sides, and all windows will be double glazed. I’m not doing anything special with the hot water; it’s just standard solar-boosted electric. I haven’t specified solar panels yet but I’m thinking of it; they’re not as effective down there as it’s cloudier than Melbourne, but on the other hand one side of the roof faces due north, and it’s pitched, so installation would be easy.


If you are intending to have a wood fire for heating, think about putting your copper water pipe around the flue and inserting a water jacket. If you are burning wood for your home heating why not heat your hot water at the same time, its not going to cost you anymore money once you set it up. Good curtains are also worth the money because they really do make a difference in terms of maintaining your heat. Gets mighty chilly down there in the winter months.

What an exciting time for your family.


So…we intended on building with DFH but found us having to structurally change their designs and also found them stunningly lax with getting back to us at this very early stage. I guess they don’t want our money? Due to our original Sales Consultant not getting back whatsoever to a basic email before X-Mas, we went back into them in the new year and this person wasn’t there… a new girl took us as our Sales Consultant and would help us she said. Anyway, she helped enough, so all good…then we get an email from her saying our original girl has taken us back. Which whatever…fine. Anyway, we get a walkthrough of a same design we originally thought about building, turns out we think it’s way too small and don’t care for having to upgrade literally everything. She then promised to send us stuff by the weekend and…nothing again. Basically we’ve both decided to give them the flick as we were very unimpressed by the whole process with them and if it takes weeks to reply to basic emails I don’t like what might lay in store if we did build with them.

Moving on, we’ve found a design we love and it’s heaps bigger, possibly too big but eh… they’re a custom builder so does cost a fair bit more. They already include most upgrades so maybe not as bad a difference as first thought but the standard is way, way higher and we have to change nothing structure wise. We might be stretching ourselves a bit for this, is this a wise move? Should we go for it or take a cautious approach money wise? Take the plunge or get my eye in first like Stoinis?

Also we don’t have kids yet (as stated early on in the thread) and don’t have dependents to drag us down.