Critical questions to ask when building on acreage

Building a new home is one of the biggest undertakings any individual, couple or family will make in their lifetime.  Consequently, it goes without saying that it’s a highly involved and overwhelming process, without the added stress of having to build your new acreage home with a less than capable building contractor.  When choosing your acreage home builder, it is important to ensure that you’re completely comfortable with your choice – your building partner will be on your home building journey with you (usually for a number of months).

So, what constitutes a “good” homeowner and builder partnership you say?

It’s simple – trust, transparency, and good communication channels are critical to a stress free and enjoyable home building experience.

There are many deciding factors to consider, all of which will impact your overall experience and ultimately getting you into the home that you envisaged (and paid for).  So, before you sign any contracts and lock yourself in, you may want to ask your new acreage home builder a few questions to gauge if they are the right choice for you and your biggest investment.

Expertise and Insurance related questions

Are they a licensed builder?

This may seem obviously, but don’t assume that every contractor you approach is licensed. Acreage home building 101 (and home building in general) – always, always work only with qualified and licensed tradesman. This will ensure that your new home will be built to the highest Australian standards and will be built to last. Even if you only ask one question, this one should be at the top of your list.

Do they have experience building on acreage?

Another somewhat obvious question perhaps but understanding the complexities and nature of an acreage construction project is of the utmost importance. Ask to visit a recently completed home, or display home.

Do they have the appropriate insurances?

With building a home there are no guarantees, and the sheer scale of the project means that there is the possibility that certain aspects may not always go to plan. Ask your builder to issue you with a certificate of currency for Home Indemnity Insurance – this protects you in the event that the home builder is unable to complete the project or become insolvent etc.

Does the insurance cover loss of deposit, non-completion and defects?

Once you are certain that your new home will be built with an appropriately licensed and insured building partner you can get into the more detailed aspects of the build.

Do they provide workmanship warranties?

Be sure to confirm with your builder what warranties are offered (if any) and also the validity term of these warranties. Generally speaking, a long warranty period is your builder’s way of backing their standard of workmanship and will tell you a lot about their experience and quality – giving you peace of mind.

What is the building maintenance period?

Quite possible one of the most useful pieces of information to take note of is the duration of the building maintenance period.  This is the period following completion of a home building project during which the contractor/builder is responsible for certain maintenance issues. It is not uncommon to get caught up in the excitement and emotion of seeing your completed home (at the final inspection) and miss certain defects or updates that are needed – so this maintenance period can sometimes be your saving grace.

Finance & pricing related questions

What is the build project going to cost?

Standard process for most reputable acreage home builders is to draft a contract once your plans and specifications have been decided. A thorough contract will include the responsibilities of each party as well as a progress payment schedule. Your payment schedule should outline (among other things);

  • The deposit to be paid
  • The amount of the deposit withheld should you not proceed
  • An estimate of the final price
  • In some instances, you may already see the final price – this follows having an itemised list of the specific elements that will be included in your home.

More significantly, is knowing that you are well within your rights to ask for amendments to be made to the contract before signing, particularly for things that safeguard you from being “taken for a ride” as they say. Always read and re-read your contracts and have it looked over by a solicitor if you can.

If there is anything that you are unsure of or don’t see in the contract you feel should be there, ask and be sure to understand all aspects. The most important thing you can do as a new home build customer is to be an informed buyer. It is then your building partner’s responsibility to address any questions and concerns you may have.  This also affords you the opportunity to assess the acreage home builder’s competencies and professionalism to ensure they are indeed the right fit.

Questions about the land

Due to the nature of the location (pun intended) the land is in many instances somewhat “untouched”. Building on acreage is a bit more involved than building in the city and suburbs, as such, due diligence needs to be taken throughout the build process to ensure a safe and functional acreage home ensues. For this reason, important site checks and assessment is needed before any ground is moved.

Useful areas of consideration include;

  • Has a soil test and property report been conducted? (if and is sourced by the builder)
  • Are there any restrictions/limitations that we should be aware of concerning developing this piece of land?
  • Will a normal slab suffice or does the land require engineer designed foundations – this is become known following the property report and soil tests.
  • Do the utilities need to be implemented to the property? If so, what are the costs thereof?
  • Will the land be termite protected?
  • How far back will the home be built?
  • Are there any protective covenants on the land at present?

Questions about the build process

Building a home is a journey, but not just any journey, it will test you and often challenge your resolve for what is ultimately the great Australian dream – Home ownership. Thankfully though, you don’t actually go on this journey alone, your home builder will (and should) be with you through every stage of the build. Having all of the experience and having gone through many home build projects before, your acreage home builder will be able to outline the process and give you a clear indication next steps through each stage.

Common questions pertaining to the home building in journey could be (and I know I would want to know this if it were my home);

  • What can you expect over the coming weeks? (this is where a reputable builder will walk you through the stages of the home build and what is required)
  • How will you be kept informed throughout the build?  And how often can you expect to hear from your builder or project manager? A clear line of communication is essential, so make sure you ask this critical question.
  • Who will be your main point of contact on site?
  • How will the quality control of the build be managed? And how frequently is it reported on?
  • What are the next steps?

Acreage house design related questions

A prime piece of land is a home builder’s dream – acreage is the ideal blank canvas upon which your dream home can be tailor made to suit your needs and lifestyle. One of the biggest perks of acreage home designs is all the space you get to enjoy, and you aren’t bound by as many limitations when it comes to the actual house design. The ideal acreage home design gives you the luxury of space with all the modern conveniences, making your new home as functional as it is aesthetically pleasing.

An acreage home is a significant project and requires specialist attention with regard to organically balancing the house design with the land and its natural surroundings.  You will the right team to work with you to build your perfect home.

Here are a few things you can ask your builder to gauge suitability;

  • Do they have acreage home designs in your range? (having a few acreage homes under their belt is a good sign)
  • Is there an option to modify/customise an existing plan? (flexibility shows an experience and appropriately qualified team who don’t just build cookie cutter homes)
  • Would they build to pre-designed house plans? (provided the house design is suited to the land purchased)
  • What is included as part of the “floor area total” in your acreage home design plans?
  • Do they conduct a site inspection to assess feasibility of a particular design on acreage lot?
  • What is included with a specific house design from your range?
  • Do they offer design consultation services and access to designers as part of the build?

For more information on what constitutes a well-designed acreage home, you can read all about it in our previous article here (link to blog 1)

Questions about inclusions

This is extremely important to confirm right at the starting line. Don’t sign any contracts or give anyone access to your land until you have confirmed and agreed to what is included in your building project and what is not. (Do not pass begin and do not collect $200) until you know exactly where you stand on the inclusions in your new acreage home build.

It may be worthwhile asking yourself the following questions;

  • Is your quote comprehensive and easy to understand?
  • Does your contract include and itemised quote?
  • Can you explain to someone else what is not included? (this will let you know if you do in fact understand the terms of the contract)

There is no such thing as a stupid question, especially when it concerns one of your biggest financial investments. Here are just a few things you can ask your builder about the inclusions;

  • What is included in the build?
  • Can they provide you with an itemised quote?
  • Can they provide you of a list of things that are not included in the build? (for clarity and to avoid any confusion)
  • Does the contract include and provisional sums?  If so, what are they?
  • Are relevant land tests and property reports included in the quote?
  • Is the connection of services/utilities included? (Being an acreage block, it is not always a given that services are connected to the location.)

Technical questions

Do your research about what it takes to build a home from the ground up and especially on rural acreage. You may not fully understand every technical aspect but try to know enough so that you can ask a few of these technical questions to your potential builder. More often than not, an experienced acreage home builder like Avondale Homes is able to comfortably answer these questions and better yet, can explain it to you so that you understand the process yourself.

A few such technical questions include thing like;

  • What is involved in the preparation of the land stage?
  • Is the supply of concrete pumping included?
  • What insulation will be used on the home?
  • What plumbing will be implemented?
  • What is involved in adding gas heating etc?
  • Is trenching and conduit for services connections included?
  • What options are there for the house frame? (steel or wood and are the experienced in dealing with both)

The key takeaways

Building a new acreage home is a huge financial and emotional investment. Do your due diligence and allocate the time to do a thorough check on any prospective builder, their workmanship, references and credentials.

Do not sign anything with your builder until you have read all the fine print. If there is anything that you are not sure of, ask for advice from an independent builder, a consultant, or obtain legal advice. Ensure that everything important is confirmed in writing and keep a copy.

Price alone should never be the deciding factor when choosing a home builder. The building of your home is not the place to chase a “bargain” – working with a build team that understands acreage is of the utmost importance.

To note:  once you have signed a building contract you cannot normally back out if you change your mind. There is no ‘cooling off’ period. The team at Avondale Homes would love to have the opportunity to answer any further questions you may have. Contact our team today for a home building experience that is second to none.