This is the question most often asked and the one most difficult to answer. To some extent it would be like going into a car dealership and asking how much their cars cost. Without knowing if you want the sedan, the 4WD or the sports car, there is no way of providing an accurate response – and that’s before you discuss the specifics of engine size preference, leather seats or if you want the sunroof.
Continuing on with the car analogy, the manufacturers that have a more limited range of highly produced cars will be able to respond to the ‘how much’ question with a more finite response, whereas the more bespoke manufacturers, with their ability to provide a huge variety of custom options to an already large range of models, will have dramatically different price points.
When building a house, much the same as you would when shopping for a car, you likely already have a good idea of how many people will be using the car (large family car, compact sports car etc), how it will be used (off roading, commuting, weekend toy etc), features that are important to you (in built sat-nav, parking cameras, flashy wheels etc) and the size of investment you are looking to make. This type of thinking will also provide a great starting point to develop a design brief when looking to build a home and the opportunity to confirm that expectations are achievable.
At Suncity Homes, through education, transparency and providing options, we are all about empowering the home owner to take control of where any square meterage rate finishes.
Although not as open-ended as the square meter pricing question, it is still subject to the specifics involved with each project. A single-level home with easy site access will no doubt be completed far more quickly than a three-level home with suspended slabs on a cliff face with difficult access. Having said that, the majority of homes that we are trusted to build, would normally be completed within a six to twelve month period.
There are however a number of steps to be taken before construction begins that need to be considered in order to provide the complete time frame from ‘initial thought of building’ through to ‘here are your keys’. Please refer to the ‘design and build process’ section below.
What we would like to highlight when it comes to construction time frames is how it relates to quality of product. Most clients share the same three major concerns: quality, time and price.
The easiest way of explaining how these are related would be to draw a pie chart with three equal size slices. If one of these areas is more important to you than the others, that is fine but it will normally come at the expense of one or both of the others.
For instance, time might be the crucial consideration, and with the assumption you want to keep price the same, then quality is likely to suffer, for example because:
- You may have several trades all working over each other at the same time but your tiler will achieve a better result if he’s not worried about the plasterer working above him, or the painter will provide a better finish if they aren’t working around the installation of cabinetry.
- Since most quality tradespeople get booked out in advance, a preferred sub-contractor may be tied up at another job, so someone else may be used. Using preferred sub-contractors maintains a building quality because both builder and sub-contractor already have an established track record and know what is expected of them.
- With the pressure of time being applied, the opportunity to consider a detailing option may be missed, or the quality assurance stage may not be as thorough. For instance, we like to go through a home we are about to handover on several occasions, and at different times of the day. This allows us the chance to pick up on any paint imperfection, for example, and get it addressed before handover, as opposed to intruding on the owner once they have moved in with sometimes messy rectifications.
For some, the savings in terms of time and dollars with selecting a ‘volume builder’ will be so attractive, that exploring the more personalised service and quality of product delivered by a custom builder, such as Suncity Homes, won’t ever be considered.
We believe an investment of this size, both financially and in creating a space for your lifestyle, should be one of indulgence. This process should be all about YOU:
- How to maximize the use of your specific block of land;
- What architectural style you find most appealing;
- What design elements need to be factored in to allow you to live how you want;
- What kitchen appliances or plumbing items you want – your choice of inclusions is endless;
- Are you happy to be one of many, or would you prefer a custom design where you can explore your own individuality;
- You are not a number. You will receive individual attention and be involved in the entire process. This will allow you the time to make informed decisions and have the chance to collaborate with an experienced team of professionals;
- In building a select number of homes each year, Suncity Homes is just as focused on delivering the quality outcome as you are.
- Your block of land and its unique properties – slope, aspect, outlook, shape, size, access, easements, bushfire requirements, soil properties etc;
Absolutely. We fully understand how exciting it is to watch the home of your future memories being built. We also consider the issue of site safety as extremely important, and therefore just require any site visit to be booked in with us in advance so we know our onsite safety policies are being met.
Absolutely, but there are a number of items to consider with this question:
Are you after a quote or an estimate?
Firstly, an estimate may have a price indicated, but will be limited on detail and can really only be considered as a guide. Estimates can vary significantly according to assumptions made and therefore they can be used by less ethical builders to indicate lower figures in order to continue discussions.
A quote on the other hand would usually take two to three weeks to put together and involves sending out detailed plans to suppliers for accurate pricing of each component. A quote will be detailed (often 20-30 pages) and should include everything from cabinetry drawings through to brochures of plumbing items so you are crystal clear as to what is included. Any item that isn’t known at the time or open to change may be nominated as a Provisional Sum (PS) or allowance. You need to know any Provisional Sums are sufficient to cover the value of that specific inclusion, as these allowances can often be used to show cheap prices, which can potentially blow out on you later.
Are the plans only at concept stage, or are they full working drawings?
A concept may have limited detail at best, and therefore an estimate or guide can only be given at this stage.
Fully detailed working drawings are what is required in order to provide a detailed quote. These drawings will indicate everything from window and door schedules, dimensioning, cladding materials, sections that show construction detailing such as ceiling bulkhead locations, electrical layouts etc.
The more detail provided, the more accurate a quote will be. If the plans have been developed as far as engineering being completed, energy efficiency assessments carried out and project specifics such as bushfire assessments completed, then quoting a fixed price will be achievable.
Suncity Homes takes the costing of plans extremely seriously. We aren’t here to sugarcoat any estimates to get you back for continued discussions, hoping that by establishing a relationship you won’t walk out the door when presented with the real price.
We will always include as much detail as shown on the plans and provide options to address budgetary concerns if required. Any such option will be discussed with you, so as to involve you in the educated decision making, rather than taking any liberty to take short cuts in order to show a lower price. We would rather create a foundation of honesty and trust that translates to an enjoyable experience on site.
Key things to consider when comparing quotes:
- Will your architect or designer help you to go through the detail presented in any quote or do you have the necessary experience to evaluate differences yourself? Don’t consider that having built once or twice before gives you enough experience to accurately compare quotes.
- What are you looking for in a quote? Check for confirmation that all the detail on the drawings is accounted for so you have confidence that the architectural vision is being delivered. Unless you are looking for the cheapest price. But bear in mind that the cheapest price can often be the most expensive, once you find out what hasn’t been included and additional costs that can arise from that. For example, cost of rectifications due to poor workmanship or, even worse, cost of longer rental periods as a result of the builder going broke and the resultant drawn out process of finding a builder to continue works. Unfortunately, this often happens when a builder in a poor financial position ‘buys’ a job with low margins trying to trade their way out of difficulty.
- Do you want quality or price? No matter how low a quote you receive, you will always be able to find a cheaper quote. Cheap doesn’t equal value, and any short-term saving is long forgotten when chasing a builder for rectifications.
Call us Suncity Homes – as soon as possible. An initial site meeting, even before you purchase the land, is a great time for a preliminary discussion. It’s a great opportunity to discuss your goals and how they may fit in with the limitations of your chosen block. We can even provide advice on what to do before you commit yourself fully to the land purchase.
You may not have plans or a concept in mind yet, but you will no doubt have requirements that need to be met, a budget in mind, perhaps a wish list of items. Together with some scrapbooking of ideas, either literally or through the use of an online site like Houzz, a design brief is established that can be added to with further discussions.
We have also developed solid working relationships with a number of local architects and home designers that allow for a collaborative effort from the beginning. Having client, builder and architect in discussion from the outset, provides the necessary checks and balances to make sure all aspects of the brief are considered through the preliminary stages. For instance, a client may come across a feature they want to add part way through the development of the plans. The feature will look fantastic and so the architect is happy to incorporate it, knowing the final product will reflect better on them. Having the builder involved in the discussion will perhaps allow the budget to be addressed and amended, some prioritizing of other elements may be done, or it may be moved to the ‘would have been nice if budgets allowed’ folder.
All too often the builder is involved late in the process and is left to be the bearer of bad news, meaning clients find out they can’t afford to build the beautiful plans, having already invested time and dollars in developing said plans.
We want to see your dream home built and enjoyed.
These are the four reasons that spring to mind immediately:
1. Limited range of plans
Project home builders usually have a range of house plans to choose from, that are normally designed to be as cost effective as possible. This sounds great but usually comes at the cost of creative design, specific client wishes and functionality.
For instance, say you wanted to build a 200 square meter home, a rectangular box (e.g. 10m x 20m) would be the cheapest, with a simple roof design and a limited amount of external wall and glazing. However, this would provide little in the way of aesthetics or imagination, possibly not suit your specific block of land, and have had very little input from a client looking to address their specific needs.
2. Pay their tradespeople less
With an increased volume of work, and with little time and thought required through repetition in design, a number of tradespeople will be negotiable with their rates. Often these tradespeople are less experienced or skilled, and are attracted by the consistent amount of work being offered.
However, quality tradespeople or sub-contractors, by virtue of the skillset they bring to a job, will already have plenty of work in advance. They will be more focused on the quality that maintains their reputation rather than getting in and out as quickly as possible to complete a job so they can move onto the next.
3. Cheaper building supplies
By having relationships in place with specific suppliers, the promise of a larger account size should translate to better pricing. This isn’t always the case, however, as custom builders are well-placed to seek several quotes from different suppliers to see who has the best pricing at that time.
However, having such formalized relationships in place with varying suppliers also means limited options for the homes they build and their clients.
4. More time-focused than quality-focused
By keeping timeframes shorter, they are able to maximize the number of jobs that can be undertaken. This often means they are more limited as to sites they can work on, be less open to client specific preferences, less willing to allow changes on site and are less interested in the quality of product and service the client experiences.
Even with a fixed price contract, there are potential changes that clients should be aware of:
- Rock clause – Even though a soil test is conducted for the engineering design, there is the potential for isolated rock deposits to be missed.
- Provisional sums and allowances – These are sums that are open to change once confirmation of selections are made. Therefore, it is essential to know that the sums indicated are in line with what you are after, and not just a nominal amount to make final pricing look more attractive – a common ploy of less scrupulous builders.
- Lack of detail in contract documentation – There may be a pivot entry door included, but without reference to a specific manufacturer, model, species of timber, stain, door handle, lock set, etc. Once you are aware of what the builder has included, there may be additional dollars required to get what you had in mind.
Whilst it appears that there is a lot involved, and there is, an experienced builder can help streamline the process and keep it simple and enjoyable for their client.
Some stages can occur simultaneously and some can be managed well, from a time perspective, through a considered approach. Below is an outline of the various stages:
- Initial Meeting – Often on site to look at specific features and attributes. It’s a good chance for both client and builder to openly discuss goals and ensure they are a good fit for each other moving forward.
- Design Brief – This is the establishment of goal posts for the builder and designer to work towards. It may be in the form of articulating thought on paper, or a collection of images compiled in a scrapbook or online. Ideally, the more detailed the design brief is, the more likely an initial concept will be well received. As many parameters as possible should be disclosed – architectural design styles, building material preferences, lifestyle requirements and budget are all a good starting point.
- On-Site Investigations – Together with the design brief, accurate site information is required by your architect or home designer. This may include a soil test, contour survey, confirmation of easements, supply of any building covenants and other job-specific items like slope stability reports and bushfire assessment.
- Concept Design – This is the first opportunity to confirm that the design brief has been interpreted correctly and for feedback to be given to further the design work in the correct direction.
- Preliminary Drawings – At this stage, the design is now more advanced, with sufficient detailing added for the builder to estimate building costs. This is an important stage as it allows for design elements or budgetary requirements to be taken into consideration with the refinement of the next stage of drawings.
- Advanced Preliminary Drawings – The plans are almost complete. They are ready for sending through to suppliers for quoting and for the engineering design to be carried out.
- Final Working Drawings – All feedback from various consultants is incorporated into these final plans, together with any last-minute client changes. Based on these drawings, our earlier pricing estimates are firmed up by way of final quote. They are then used for Building Certification and for construction purposes on site.
- Building Contracts Signed – We’ll help go through every last detail to ensure that everything discussed to this point has been included and that you fully understand the contents.
- Building Approvals Received
- Construction – Where all the magic happens. Our construction manager Ben takes each client through the entire project, providing communication and overseeing every last detail. Contract payments are made on completion of various stages and keep work on schedule.
- Handover – After we have completed our quality assurance procedures and are happy the finished product is a reflection of what the Suncity Homes name stands for, we schedule a time where a thorough handing over of the home can be conducted. An explanation of the workings of the home is provided, together with any product warranty information and of course, the keys to your brand new custom built home.
- Maintenance – We are here to help. With the many hundreds of suppliers, trades and materials involved in the building of a home, some maintenance items may appear as you live in the home or over time. We know how frustrating this can sometimes be and are keen to use these opportunities to create further goodwill by addressing any item in as timely a fashion as possible.