KDR Journey – Post Handover Items

There are some great tips here regarding things that can be completed post handover if one budget concious. It also explains a few things about items I know very little about.

Driveway / concreting

Brinthapan ParathanSeptember 7, 2020

A full turnkey build is a dream of every Australian. It definitely reduces the headache of finding tradies to install additional items post handover.  Most of the builders offer full turnkey solutions to their clients. But, there is a catch! Most of the major builders in Australia act as project managers for your build. They simply contract tradies to coordinate the build. The fee for this coordination is nearly 10% – 20% of the actual cost. For example, if an electrician quotes $1000 to supply and install 10 downlights. The builder will charge $1200 from you. The markup won’t be mentioned in the price provided to you by the builder. Some buyers choose to complete some additional items post handover. That is after the builder completes the construction and hands over the keys to you. You can do the following items to save money if you have time and patience.

Driveway can be colour on (cheapest), colour through or exposed aggregate (expensive) driveway. Builders charge anywhere from $4,000 to $5,500 for 35m2 of colour on driveways. You can save nearly $1,000 if you do it post handover. You may be able to get an exposed aggregate driveway for the builders price for colour on driveway. Also include the sideways (narrow paths on either side of the house) when you do the driveway. You may want to extend the floor of the alfresco, include this too when you do the driveway. This could negotiate a better per/sqm price for concreting. 

DIY recommended? No, unless you have prior experience. 

Flooring

Another major cost saving option is flooring. Builders provide basic category one flooring when they offer you free flooring or flooring packages. Category 1 may not have the colours or materials you like. Most of the time it will be laminate flooring or tiles to entry, family, dining and kitchen area and carpet for the rest. Upgrade to engineered timber or good quality tiles will cost you more if the builder does it for you. Complete the internal and external flooring post handover. Some buyers reported nearly $10,000 in savings. 

DIY recommended? Yes, for laminatevinylengineered timber and carpet. Professional installation is recommended for timbertiles and natural stones.

Electrical installation

Another major area to save cost is electrical installation. Often, the builders have limited choices when it comes to pendant lights, external lights and fans. Some builders would install the fittings you purchase from your preferred vendor. But they will still charge you an installation fee. Compare the cost of each component between the builder and external installer and choose the most economical option. Most of the things can be done post handover. However, if you are building a two storey house make sure to request your builder to complete all ground floor installations. Doing the ground floor post handover will be difficult. Electrical appliances (dishwasher & oven) can also be done after handover. 

DIY recommended? No. All electrical installations must be performed by a qualified electrician. 

Fencing

Your preference could be COLORBOND or timber paling fence. Most of the times your landscaper would bundle the fence in their quote. On average builders charge $100/m for fencing. Whereas the national average is $75/m. The final cost will depend on the size, material used and complexity of the work. But, doing it post handover would save you at least a 20%. 

DIY recommended? No, unless you have prior experience. 

Wardrobe inserts

Standard inclusion for your wardrobes/ walk-in wardrobe is one shelf (melamine or wire) and one hanging rail. Which is not sufficient. You may want to add additional shelves, drawers, shoe racks and jewellery boxes. Unfortunately, builders charge a fortune for your dream setup. Luckily, major vendors like IKEA, Bunnings and Freedom offer the same features for a cheaper price. They come flat packed, therefore you should be handy with tools to assemble it. You are guaranteed to save some money even if you hire someone to do it. 

DIY recommended? Yes.

Butler pantry fitout

Butler pantries are making a comeback in Australia. They are a good option to hide your mess from the visitors. Adding a sink and cooktop would help you prepare your meals while keeping your main kitchen clean. However, a full butler pantry setup might cost a lot if you plan to go with your builder. Furthermore, it may not be your immediate priority. Get gas provision, hot, cold & wastewater provision and install the butler pantry when you are ready. A cabinet maker or flat pack vendor would charge you less than your builder.

DIY recommended? No, unless you have prior experience. 

Landscaping

Some local councils require landscaping before they can issue an occupation certificate. Only very few builders offer landscaping as an upgrade package or for free. Often the upgrade is very basic and may not meet your requirements. Hiring a professional landscaper or DIY is the best option. Try to include a post box and clothesline in the landscaping to save more money. 

DIY recommended? Yes, if your site doesn’t have any complexities. 

Window coverings & Fly screens

Window treatment would be costly if provided by the builder. Similar to the other items mentioned in this article, they may have limited choices and obvious builder markups. Same applies to flyscreens. You can either measure and order your window treatment online or get a professional to do it. Temporary blinds made of plastic or polyester are available if you are tight on budget. 

DIY recommended? Yes

Security systems

All modern homes have security cameras and alarms. Video calling bells are also present in many houses. They increase security and act as deterrents for intruders. You can get provisioning from the builder for PoE (power over ethernet) cameras and then install them later. Another option is to go for battery operated security cameras. Some of them can last for 6 months with one charge under optimal conditions.

DIY recommended? Yes

Decks & Pergolas

You may be dreaming of having a nice expansive deck with pergola. Doing it after handover gives you more time to plan and assess the need. It is obviously cheaper to do it using a contractor. Some contractors specialise in certain types of decking material (composite, PVC) and these materials may suit you better than timber.

DIY recommended? Yes

Internal & External wall decor

Eyeing on a feature wall? Like to have a rendered column? Or is it the stone cladding that keeps you awake in the middle of the night? Plan it and do it post handover. Once again more choices, more time to decide and cheap. 

DIY recommended? No, unless you have prior experience. 

Also consider the following items. Some of them are not available through the builder. 

  • Roof storage
  • Laundry fittings
  • Outdoor kitchen/BBQ
  • Retaining walls
  • TV Antenna
  • Security Doors
  • Internal wall decor
  • External wall decor
  • Solar panels

Doing some items post handover would save you money. However, you should be prepared to accept the additional time and effort required. Also, make sure to check your builder’s terms & conditions for their warranty. Share your post handover experience with us on our Facebook page. 

Concrete driveway

Brinthapan ParathanOctober 7, 2020

The driveway is easily overlooked by the first time builders. Most of the builders do not include it in their standard inclusions. Only a basic one is provided even if it is included in a promotion. Doing this is a good option. You can save money and get a better product. Cost of the final product depends on size, slope and the material used. As with any other part of the house, there are multiple options available for the this.

This is the most common type of driveway in Australia. Concretors will lay steel reinforcing mesh or bars to the size of the driveway and then pour concrete on it. If your council allows, you may stamp or stencil it. Concrete driveways may crack over time. Therefore, good maintenance is essential. Concrete has a curing time therefore, you must wait before you can use the driveway. 

Colour on and Colour through concrete will look alike – © Adelaide Concrete

Colour on concrete

This is the cheapest concrete driveway option. Plain colour concrete will be poured to construct this driveway. Then a colour powder or paint is applied to the top. Finally, a seal will be applied to protect the colour from fading. Homeowners report that this needs repainting after every two years.

Colour through concrete

Colour is mixed with concrete before it is poured. The colour will last longer compared to colour on concrete. However, only a limited number of colours are available. You can choose between tints of brown, red or grey.

Exposed aggregate driveway

This is the most expensive concrete option. The supplier will mix different small size natural stones in the concrete. Once poured a chemical retarder is applied to the top to keep the top wet while letting the core harden. Once the core is hardened, a high pressure water wash will remove the concrete on top exposing the beautiful aggregate below. This is a time consuming process and would require a professional to do it. 

Exposed aggregate driveway – © MAC Queensland Concreting

Paved driveway

If you don’t like the look of the concrete driveway you may go for a paved driveway. Brick, concrete or natural stone pavers can be used to create a paved driveway. It is also possible to combine different colours and sizes to achieve a unique look. This is a good DIY option as it does not require any specialist equipment. Pavers are unlikely to crack and require low maintenance. There is no curing time for pavers and the driveways can be used as soon as the pavers are laid. You may encounter weed issues in the gaps between the pavers. Pavers do not have a bonding material, therefore they may move out of their position with time. 

Paved Driveway – © Just Pave

Asphalt driveway

Asphalt is a mixture of asphalt cement, sand, and rock. It is a softer material. It would be a good choice if you are in an acreage property and require a long driveway. Asphalt mixture is laid on top of the crushed gravel and then a steamroller is immediately used to compact it. You can only get one colour which is deep black. This colour may turn into dark grey over time. Asphalt is cost efficient compared to concrete or pavers. They are soft therefore less prone to cracking. However, it could take asphalt months to fully cure. Asphalt in the curing process may release an oil like substance. You may track this into your house which would then require additional cleaning. 

Asphalt driveway – © T & L Asphalting

Gravel driveway

This is the cheapest option of all. This is a good fit for long driveways. Most councils will not allow this in areas classified as urban. Therefore, it’s a good fit for rural acreage properties. It is easy to maintain. You have to just top up the gravel once in a while. Repairing does not require any special tools. However, gravel driveways are prone to sinkholes and they produce more dust than any other driveways. 

Gravel driveway – © The Little Digger Company

When deciding a driveway type consider the initial cost and ongoing maintenance cost. Some types of driveways are costly to install but require little or no maintenance. Driveways are required to meet certain gradients. It should also be able to withstand the traffic. An attractive driveway will increase the value of the house. In some cases, you need a driveway to be completed before obtaining the occupation certificate. Check with your council for more details. Follow us on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest to get regular updates. Subscribe to the newsletter to receive weekly updates to your inbox. 

KDR Journey – Tender Process

We are almost there! well at the tender process anyway. Choosing the right floor plan that will fit under your budget is probably one of the hardest things you could possibly make a decision on when it comes to building a house. There have been sleepless nights and tension in the household due to frustrations when reviewing and making floor plan changes to our chosen floor plan. We have learned quite a bit about building a house in general but there’s still so much more to learn.

We shortlisted three builders based on our budget, floor plan requirements and standard inclusions. They are Masterton Homes, Clarendon & Fowler Homes we also had Wisdom Homes in our list from the start however we just could not find a floor plan that suited us and our preferred inclusions would have put us way over budget. Clarendon’s Sherwood design was a front runner at one stage however we were disappointed when the estimates had come through as it was about $20k over. We attempted to make it work by choosing a smaller design and adding a lifestyle option but unfortunately we arrived at the same amount. The deal breaker was the addition of a rumpus and alfresco for $27k that didn’t include the flooring and $10k to remove the rumpus wall to create a more open plan. For the $37k we get additional 40m2 but not much else included. They had also estimated quite a high amount for non standard site costs which was quite significant and would not have left us much for upgrades for big ticket items such as ducted air-conditioning, kitchen cabinetry and electrical.

Fowler Homes was a dark horse and had only come through in the late stages of our shortlisting process. They seemed to have a great inclusions package and their floor plans are very similar to the Clarendon Sherwood. We had a initially looked at the Portofino design which was had a grand staircase and a void feature on the formal living area. Again we couldn’t get the estimate to an amount that we were comfortable with so we turned our attention to the St Tropez 40 which had the floor space that we wanted however the rooms were on the small side. Our daughters will be in their teens in ten years time and we want them to have a good amount of space.

I liked the Fowler Homes offering and it deserves its place as our second option but what probably changed our minds was the staggering non standard site cost estimate which was the highest of all builders. Some would argue that it’s best to overestimate than under but for first time home builders especially for a KDR this is a scary amount that has to be factored in which in essence decides which house you can build with your budget.

This brings us to our chosen builder and design. Today we paid our tender acceptance fee with Masterton Homes and in the next few weeks the building contract will start to get drawn up and will be presented to us. I believe now we are in Step 3 of their building process but we’re still finalising our variations and inclusions, we are expecting a revised tender in the next week to include provisional allowances that we have discussed. The design that we have chosen is totally left field and a design that is not very popular because the way that is has been presented as it appears dated. We find it strange that they have not made a MKII version of this design to suit a more modern taste. Our chosen floor plan is the Santorini Entertainer 41 which has been heavily modified it looks almost nothing like what you see below. The Santorini is one of the bigger floor plans that is in their two storey build collection but in recent times it is probably the least popular design due to its angled doorways and walls which is such a 90’s look.

After 5 revisions to the tender, I think we may finally have a the final revision which can go straight to planning. It has been a long drawn out process and something that we have spent a lot of time on considering this process had started back in February. One thing I will say is that unless you have previously done your own research and planned the house you’re going to build expect to spend at least 6-8 weeks perfecting the tender and the floor plan. This delay in this process is not necessarily the builder’s fault, there have variations to the tender that we requested to be put in and then take out out the two weeks later. This is mainly due to budget constraints and prioritising other variations above others that are less important. Always prioritise structural changes above anything else because this cannot be done post handover and it also cost a few thousand dollars which you may have to take away from something else if you are budget conscious.

We extended the Bedrooms 3 & 4, the Garage by 700mm and the first floor living room by 500mm. We should have done this from the beginning of the tender luckily there was enough funds in our provisional allowance that we were able to sacrifice to make these variations.

KDR Research – Finance

Let’s face it, most of us mere mortals do not have the cash liquidity to be able to finance a KDR project ourselves which means we have to turn the banks to lend us the hundreds and thousands of dollars to make our dream a reality. I think you can only truly call your “dream home” your dream home because you chose to start from scratch and chose a builder to build it for you. This is not to say that there are people that have purchased established homes as their dream home but there’s something special in being able to decide on every aspect of a house design from tiles, kitchen, power point locations, size of the walk in robes down to the millimetre. Those fine details of your dream home costs dollars…lots of it.

KDR Journey – The Builder Search

The search for a builder and that specific floor plan that suits your family’s every want and needs are an exciting part of the KDR journey. From my personal experience it would be a good idea to take a GoPro or your phone to take a video of the designs that you like during a walkthrough and make actual notes about that design that you like and don’t like because after two weeks of looking at floor plans the builders seem to morph into one. It’s hard to recall from memory which builder it was that had the biggest bedrooms or which one had offered floor to ceiling tiling etc.

KDR Journey – Dream or Nightmare?

Three years ago we had explored the option of knocking down our existing home and rebuilding. Sadly, 2017 wasn’t quite the right time for us financially and we would have struggled to find a bank that would finance what we wanted to do. What we did instead is self-financed a home renovation out of our savings and rented the property out while we searched for our forever home. In 2021 this is clearly not working out for us and our growing frustration with the overvalued houses in the market has forced us to explore the knock down rebuild option once again.