We interviewed Amber about her recent build at Gregory Hills. The property is currently rented and she is hoping to increase her yield by building a granny flat on the same lot as an investment. We ask her how she did it and follow her journey with her second build.


Q: What made you decide to buy/build a new home?


A: I decided to build a new house as I found that this was a lot cheaper than buying an established home or buying off the plan. It worked out to be approximately $20,000 cheaper going through this process compared to buying a house and land package from a builder. This was because a builder would generally keep the uplift in price for themselves. This would be one of my biggest tips :). Also, the fact that you can personalise your house to how you want it, design and colour wise was the cherry on top.  The first home rebate and stamp duty exemption appealed to me and helped me save some money. I lived in the house for 6 months and eventually rented it out.



Q. If you could do it again, what would you do differently?


A: If and when I decide to build again, I think I would look more at the land which I would build on as this was a major factor in what I could and could not fit on the land (first time around). It was a little tricky buying land and house separately as a lot of the rooms I wanted to extend was limited due to the shape of my block which I found disappointing.



Q. What were the best things about building a new home?


A: The best thing about building was being able to choose all your own colours and internal features and to actually watch the house being built. It was such an amazing feeling moving into your own home which you designed (from scratch) and to know that it is just how you want it or imagined it would be. Every stage that the house progressed made me feel even more excited but also a little anxious at the same time (but good anxious).



Q. What did you find hard about building a new home?


A: I found all the hidden costs quite frustrating.  Especially when we were not told from the start that you would only get a limited choice of paint colour, brick colour and internal features. If you wanted certain colours or bricks etc it was all an extra cost which was very disappointing. I was super shocked to find out that overhead cupboards were not included. You go through the display homes which are absolutely beautiful and then you go to all your appointments and the builder tells you "this is extra and that is extra". The delays were also frustrating. Every time it would rain there was another setback with the build and with the registration of the land already being delayed, each day was costing us extra money. The hidden costs and delays were really the hardest part of the build process for us.



Q. How did you decide on your builder?


A:  Unfortunately, I didn't realise how many builders there were in NSW.  I only knew of this certain builder through my work place which I felt was more of an incentive for me as I trusted them and knew that they would do a good job. The floor plan was OK and suited my block but some of the design features could have been better.



Q. What would you recommend to other people building for the first time? 


A: I would recommend all first home buyers to search the market and see all the builders available. Visit as many display villages as possible and compare builders and prices to what best fits your budget and needs. Also don't feel ashamed to ask for help. Especially from friends or family who have previously built. They have a wealth of knowledge to pass on to you so you can avoid making the same mistakes they made in their first build.  

Also, I suggest you write out a list of what you want to be included and draw up a draft floor plan of what you are looking for and to make sure you search around for builders which include what you are after. Some buyers may prefer a turnkey package to avoid the extra headache. They can move in and not have to worry about fencing and landscaping or any hidden costs - but this is entirely a matter for the buyer. Everyone is different.



Q. What did you think was included in your build but was not?


A: I thought that certain brick choices and colours were included but unfortunately they were not.  My biggest surprise was finding out that blinds, certain doors and overhead cupboards were not included. I felt that this was a letdown as when it came time to choose everything and go through the plan it was all an extra cost to get these non-luxury items included. You would think that these common items are included but "no".



Q. How long did your build process take?


A: Altogether from exchanging on our land contract to moving into our house it took a total of two years. Our build took roughly 6 months from our slab being poured (not including the time it took for the DA to be approved) and our land took just over 1 year to register.



Q. What do you plan to do next?


A: The weird shape of our block meant that there was a large portion of the land that was unused. We were fortunate to have made some money on our first build (in equity) so we plan to use this to build a granny flat on the unused area of the property. The extra income from the granny flat will also help us pay for the mortgage. We had our granny flat plans drawn last week and we are excited to go through this mini build process.  I will definitely keep you guys updated.



Have you recently started building your new home? We want to hear from you! Share your story with us.