From blueprints to reality

By Danielle Kutchel

When you first enter the sales office, you’ll be confronted by lots of glossy pictures of elaborate house facades, scaled diagrams of interiors and panels of paintwork and flooring options. It can be a thrill, but simultaneously quite confronting: how do you narrow down all these choices?

The key is to have a firm budget in mind.

Sticking to a budget will automatically eliminate many of the options presented. Be clear with the sales person on the cost of each house and what that price includes – is that 900mm oven going to cost you extra? Do they pay for site costs or concreting on the driveway? What specials do they have on offer?

It’s also important to know what you want. It might help to have a list of inclusions that are important to you. In our case, given we enjoy cooking and baking and came from a rental with a tiny, old-fashioned kitchen, we were keen to have a bit more room for gastronomical flair. Kitchen inclusions were important for us – think glass splashback, stone benchtops and 900mm appliances. These cost extra but were part of a package on offer at the time of our purchase.

I’m not a visual thinker, so when it came time to choose our floor plan I struggled to visualise the house based on the lines on the paper. Luckily, our salesperson was extremely helpful and took into account our firm budget and plans for the future. He was clear about what was included in the two different specials on offer and let us consider what would be best for us without any pressure.

You’re not just buying a house for right now, so it’s vital to consider the future when you make this big purchase. If you’re planning on having children in the next couple of years, that cute two bedroom townhouse might not be the right one for you. You don’t want to spend all that money and time on building a house, only to have to move again in two years’ time – so think about the sort of future you’re planning for your family before you sign the contract. Measure your furniture too, to make sure it will fit in the new rooms. Similarly, if you’re downsizing, you probably don’t need four bedrooms anymore!

Some builders offer you flexibility with regards to the layout of the house. Say you like the design of this model, but would prefer to have the linen closet turned into a study nook – ask your salesperson if that’s possible. In many cases it won’t be an issue (but there may be an extra cost involved). In our case, we had to flip the layout to better fit the block, which our salesperson was happy to help with.

One of the best things you can do is walk through display homes. Bear in mind that these are usually kitted out to the max – all the inclusions, all the expensive fittings and trimmings. Unluckily for us, they didn’t have a display version of the floor plan we went with – but the house on display did have the accessories we were looking at adding, which allowed us to see what they would look like.But most of all, have fun!

You’ll know the right house when you see it.