Every one building a home has faced problems, some more than others. And these problems and challenges arise not just at the beginning of the project, but at every stage and level. Most often, it is the small expenses along the project timeline that can add up and snowball into a huge number at the end causing the blowout!
We’ve listed some of the common, the not-so-common and seemingly innocent causes that cause majority of the budget blowouts and few tips on how to avoid them.
1. Unrealistic budget:
The first and a major cause of budget blowout. We have seen many people who pull up a magical number from the hat and term it as their ‘budget’ to build a home. This issue is common across the board – for houses, granny flats and small homes! A good quality home build will cost a certain price, and that price has to be arrived at through research and analysis of the market, builders, material costs and the time needed. Builders are also to blame (partly) for this trend – many builders, especially the big ones, lowball the customers with those fancy, seemingly low-price ‘*from’ costs that do not cover many essentials.
How to overcome: Research, research, research. Check online, talk to friends who have built either a home or granny flat recently (after all, a granny flat is just a small home), talk to builders and get a true price indication. Do not just look at brochures and decide that the amount quoted is the price for the pictured design – the visuals usually include many elements and fixtures that come at an ‘extra’ price. Ask the builder for COMPLETE price for a featured design.
2. Putting all the money in one bucket:
A common error. But let’s face it, not all of us are experts in home building and not all of us will (or want to) become experts. Because most of us build a home or two for family, not for investment. And that is the starting point of the problem – we think only about the finished product– about how it should look, what it should feature, what finishes, what fixtures to use and the like. The result is forgetting other aspects such as site works and other essentials.
How to avoid: While a home is the end-result of the building process, don’t forget to think about what happens ‘behind the scenes’. Your budget should will need to be allocated for all the elements such as siteworks costs, electricity and sewer. If you live in a bushfire prone area, the costs for making your home bushfire resistant should also be considered. Again, talk to a professional builder for true price indication. Do remember costs such as siteworks – while some builders allow for in their estimate – is variable and depends on your block, lay of the land, orientation and environment. Keep aside a couple of thousand for additional siteworks or variable costs.
3. Poor planning:
Getting into a building project in a rush is a sure shot recipe for failure. That might sound obvious, but it is surprising how many people can fall into the trap easily! Spending time on researching, on planning and documentation can be boring when compared to exciting times ahead, but planning is the intangible foundation for your home! Poor planning leads to assumptions that you and your builder will make and budget blowout is the result of it!
How to plan well: Get your documentation right. From documents to submit to council, to asking a builder for their job schedule, every step and task has to be documented. Before starting the home build, talk to your builder and get a comprehensive timeline and schedule. You can refer to it at different stages to keep track of milestones. Proper planning and organizing can help you avoid many pitfalls and it will help you keep track of your costs. Keep a checklist handy so don’t forget the items that you need to tick off at every stage!
4. Making changes:
Changes can be expensive once your project is underway. Agreed, it is an emotional journey and your home is close to your heart, but while changing your mind about the house design is easy, making the changes in reality is not. Once you have signed off a design, try to not change the design, especially during the building stage as it can cost you valuable time and money.
How to avoid: Again, it boils down to planning and researching. The more time you spend researching and planning, the less changes you will have to make. Browsing through designs, documenting your needs and style will help you design your dream home right at the start. Proper planning will also help you understand the complexity of changing something, encouraging you to lay off the temptation.
5. Premium finishes and unique style:
It is natural for you to want a unique home – a home that would reflect your personality. But bear in mind, it comes at a price. And a high price at that. Aspects such as raked ceiling, premium finishes, premium appliances may make your home look like it belongs in a magazine photograph, but two of those designer elements can cause a massive budget blowout. [will need to be accounted for in your budget.
What to do: While it is okay want designer elements in your home, you have to account for these elements in your budget. If these are not counted at the start, it can lead to unexpected expenses later on causing a blowout.
Delays can either be because of changes you requested or because of the builder or most often, unavoidable reasons. Delays can be expensive, because with more time, you might have to pay more interest, or wait for a long time to get the fixtures and fittings you had selected, if they go out of stock
How to avoid: If your building project is financed through a bank, get all the documents ready right at the start. If the builder doesn’t get the money from the bank as it’s due, it can cause unexpected delays. Be flexible with your options and choices – if a supplier causes a delay for the delivery of the fittings and fixtures, try and look for another supplier or substitute products – your builder should be able to help you choose.
7. Other expenses:
Building a house can be exciting, but many people fail to consider the lifestyle impact it can have. Even though a granny flat is built in your backyard, it will have impact on your lifestyle. Some people prefer to move homes when a granny flat is being built. If you want to move home, you should consider the moving expenses as well. Ignoring these and other associated expenses can lead to budget blowout.
What to do: Consider all lifestyle changes your granny flat building project can lead to- additional interest, new house for rent, etc. Also consider costs for aspects such as clearing trees, or demolition of an old shed or anything that might have to be cleared.