Building Your Own Home? Read This First.

This guide will take you through the steps it takes to build your dream home, without a building company.

Owners who end up creating the home of their dreams are educated, prepared and flexible throughout their build. But before you even start thinking about building your dream home, it’s important to ask yourself why you are taking on the responsibility of being an owner and a builder.

Is it because you think it will be cheaper?  After watching 6 seasons of your favourite Backyard-Reno-Blitz-Blast show are you thinking, I could do that?  Are you planning to work with your cousin Steve because he will cut you a great deal?

If you answered yes to any of these, here’s a few reasons why you might want to reconsider your options. Professionals cost more for a reason and you will definitely need a well devised plan to build your dream home without one. Unfortunately, television shows are never a great indication of the true reality. Steve (the crafty cousin) may cut you a great deal, but he could cut corners as well.

Successful independent builders set a clear strategy from the start.

While experience in the home and building market isn’t a prerequisite, it’s crucial that you have an understanding a number of important areas before you start.  Which brings us to our first step:

Before you even look at land, know your budget.

You will soon learn as an owner turned builder that your imagination knows no limit – except the limit of your budget. Most people who are ready to build have spent years collecting inspiration from magazines, Pinterest boards and open inspections. They are ready to bring it to life, and the wise amongst them know their finances will be stretched. The truth is, most builds go over budget. You can be the exception, as long as you start your project with a thorough estimation and building plan.

We recommend you seperate your funds into two categories. The first will be your preliminary budget and the second your working budget. Think of your preliminary budget as the source for all finance B.B – Before Build. This could include council approval, drafting costs, insurance for fire, theft and public liability and building certifications. On average, the ‘paperwork’ costs amount to around $10,000. Then there’s the overheads that vary for every owner-builder; are you taking time off work and need an allowance? Are you renting until you move in? These are all expenses that need to be catered for in the preliminary account.

Budget Calculation

Your working budget, at its most basic, is where you will pay for your home to be built. From a bank’s perspective an attractive lending prospect is someone who has had their build estimated by a professional. If the bank can see where every dollar will go, they will be more likely to guarantee you funds. While this isn’t always possible, the bank will work with you to put together a budget that you can afford in your situation. Use this as the backbone for your entire build; every fixture, every contractor and every installation will either make or break budget.

Establish a timeframe to give your project structure

The Backyard-Reno-Blitz-Blast Phenomenon has made building look quick and easy. The difference between those shows and real life is that your building project doesn’t have contractors, hardware stores, decorators and demolition experts on standby. However, if you create a realistic and achievable timeframe, you will be able to weed out the experts from the time wasters.

It’s advisable to break your build into stages with the projected dates for completion. Start with your move in date and work backwards. Working within the deadline of 12 months from when the block is purchased, your build checkpoints could look like this:

Building Timeline

Don’t blow out your budget! Keep your sanity by making sure you plan your dates realistically. If you don’t know your project timeframes, then you can’t expect the people you hire to know them either.

Research your contractors with confidence

The people you hire are going to become some of the most important people in your life until you move in. Without frequent, open communication, you might feel like you’re losing control of your own home. A good owner-builder relationship with contractors is based on a mutual understanding of your build including your budget, timeframe and their place in the project.

Before you hire a contractor, do your research. Ask your family and friends who they recommend, but try to avoid hiring family and friends. When you first start talking about your build with the potential company, remember that you are their priority and they should work with you to achieve your goals from the beginning..

Get inspired and then choose your suppliers wisely!

One of the biggest advantages of being an owner-builder is that you’re in the drivers seat. Inspiration has gone digital and for many owner-builders, a Pinterest board is the place to collect ideas. If you’re designing your dream home, it is unlikely you will be able to use a set list of suppliers, so have some fun but be prepared to adjust your budget.

Word of warning: If you buy those incredible Moroccan tiles for the bathroom, you might need to go for a more affordable splash back in the kitchen.

Moroccan Tiles

Splurging on tiles? Get ready to save elsewhere.

Working with different suppliers will make your home uniquely yours. Just do your research and listen to your contractors recommendations. They have worked with them before, know them and wouldn’t pass on their names if they hadn’t had a good experience.

There’s a lot to consider when building your dream home, but the rewards of owning and building outweigh the challenges ahead!

Home Together’s solution eliminates budget blowouts and deadline disasters with a step by step process that covers everything you must have in place as an owner-builder. Get peace of mind and real support every step of the way from our team of experts, who know how to make your build more successful than it would have been with a building company.


Want to chat to our team about building your own house?