Building a Custom Home in Melbourne

March 18, 2015

Many people dream of building a custom home. Designing and building a new home from the ground up gives you more control. You can ensure that it has the features you want, from the layout to the architectural style.

While building a dream home in Melbourne is an exhilarating idea, it involves a lot of planning. You need to find a custom home builder, set a budget, choose a block of land, and much more. With so many steps and options, building your new home may become a dreadful process. Use the following guide to eliminate the stress and help make your vision a reality.

Top Custom Home Builders in Melbourne

Finding the right builder is one of the first steps in planning your new home. It is also one of the most important decisions in this process. Your future home is in good hands with any of the following custom home builders in Melbourne:

Hansen Living

Hansen Living specialises in customised home design and building solutions. Led by Scott Hansen, a team of experienced builders offer years of experience building luxury homes and townhouses throughout the Melbourne area. Hansen Living delivers exceptional designs and beautiful results, working with you through every step of the process. You receive a home tailored to your needs and lifestyle, ensuring that your dream home matches your vision.

Carter Grange

Carter Grange is a custom home builder in Melbourne that offers design and construction services. The company has a long track record of providing reliable service, with a portfolio that includes single storey homes, two-storey homes, and dual occupancy townhouses. The team at Carter Grange includes interior designers and building contractors. To view their past work, show homes are available in Melbourne and the surrounding area.

Latitude 37

Latitude 37 is a Melbourne-based company with a staff of 60 professionals with specialisations in interior design, construction, management, and sales. The company was established in 2006 and has worked on a wide range of properties. Latitude 37 completes about 80 custom homes each year. This allows their team to focus on quality service and communication throughout the design and construction processes.

Glenvill Homes

Glenvill Homes designs and builds artistic homes with unique styles. The company has over 60 years of experience, designing homes in every style imaginable. Since 1958, Glenvill Homes has completed over 10,000 projects. Over the years, the designers at Glenvill Homes have continued to adopt the latest trends, bringing contemporary ideas to every new custom home.

Comdain Homes

Comdain Homes has crafted bespoke luxury homes in Melbourne for over three decades. The company is family-owned and operated. Established in 1987, Comdain Homes specialises in upper market homes. The design and build processes include architectural and landscaping solutions, ensuring that the interior and exterior of the property match the image of your dream home.

Hallbury Homes

Hallbury Homes offers custom home building in Melbourne with original architectural designs and a commitment to innovation. The company claims that it has never built the same home twice. To simplify the design process, Hallbury Homes also offers a variety of predesigned floor plans, which can be altered to suit your needs. The company has a display home in Meridian, Clyde North to highlight the quality of their work.

How to Build a Custom Home in Melbourne

Building a custom home is an exhaustive process with a lot of steps. Overlooking just one aspect could impact the quality of the build and your satisfaction with your new home.

Before you start down the road toward building a new property, take the time to complete the custom build checklist:

1. Design your custom home
2. Choose a builder
3. Determine your budget
4. Determine the time frame
5. Choose an architect
6. Choose the architectural style
7. Choose the features of the home
8. Choose the right block of land
9. Manage the build process
10. Review the completed home

Here is a closer look at each of these steps.

Designing Your Custom Home

Ensuring that your new home matches your needs is one of the best reasons to build a custom home. The design process is exciting, offering you the chance to select a layout and design that fits your style and taste. Start thinking about the features that you want. Some of the main details to consider include:

– The size of the home
– The number of stories
– The number of rooms
– The type of rooms
– The layout of the floor plans
– The architectural style
– Special design features

Keep in mind that you may need to revisit some of the decisions. You may end up with a flat plot of land, making it a challenge to add a walk-out basement. Depending on the location, the living spaces may not face the direction that you initially wanted. Size restrictions in different neighbourhoods may also limit your choices. The team that you assemble will offer their expertise and advice for selecting different features.

While most of your choices should remain flexible, you should start listing the features you want most. Create a list of the special design elements that you want to be incorporated in the design, such as custom shelving, higher ceilings, an upstairs laundry room, or a fireplace.

It helps to think about the features that you wish your current home offered. Certain design features may improve your quality of life. If you always find yourself running out of closet space, large walk-in closets may be a priority for your custom home.

Custom homes can also accommodate disabilities. If you have limited mobility, experienced home contractors can help design an open layout.

Compile your choices in a notebook or an electronic document that you can easily share. You may also search architectural magazines and interior design magazines for inspiration. Clip or save the photos that best match your dream home.

Choosing a Builder

Custom home building requires the experience of a skilled builder. A builder works with you throughout the home building process, helping to select the right lot and dealing with building approval and other items on the custom build checklist.

The first consideration when selecting a builder is their availability. Find out if they are accepting new clients and ask which regions they serve.

Another important detail is the quality of their work. You should review past property development projects to learn more about their capabilities. This may be the most expensive project in your lifetime, requiring you to take the time to select the best company.

Reliable builders are not afraid to showcase their past work and can answer any questions you have about the home building process. When you meet with a potential builder, ask as many questions as you can think of. During the initial meeting, you should also gain a better sense of whether the builder understands your vision.

Along with a custom home builder in Melbourne, you will likely need to build a team of professionals for specific areas of your home. This may include interior designers, plumbers, and electricians. Many of the top Melbourne home builders include these services, eliminating the need to compare and select contractors.

Determine Your Budget

Your budget influences the design and build of your new home. Depending on your budget, you may need to remove some of the features you originally wanted or limit the size of the home.

The average cost to build a new custom house in Australia is between $1,500 and $3,000 per square metre. However, a wide variety of factors impact the total price. Some of the details to consider in the budget include:

– Land cost
– Design fees
– Construction costs
– Landscaping
– Interior design
– Municipal fees

The size of the house and the features that you want also affects the cost. A larger home requires more materials and labour. The quality of the materials and the condition of the site are other details that can increase or decrease the final cost.

To get a better idea of how much you have available to work with, determine your financing. Unless you have access to a large sum of cash, you will likely need to obtain a loan.

Speak with multiple lenders and consider mortgage options to find the best rates. You may also need to review your credit report. If you have existing debts that you can pay down before obtaining a loan, you may receive a better rate or approval for a larger amount.

Most lenders will pre-approve you for a loan based on your income, employment history, credit score, and available equity in your current home. After reviewing your financing options and receiving pre-approval, you can set a realistic budget.

Determine the Time Frame

Building a custom home is a time-consuming process. The average Australian home takes 4 to 12 months to complete after the land is purchased and the design plans are finalised. When you factor in the time spent finding the right block and designing the home, your time frame may extend to two years or longer.

Along with the time needed to complete your project, you should also consider any factors that are impacted by the building process. For example, you may not want to move during the middle of the school year. Pregnancies, selling your current home, and career changes may also influence your time frame.

Inclement weather is another factor that impacts the construction time. Setbacks may increase the time needed to complete your home.

While you do not have complete control over the time frame, work with your builder to set a date that works best with your schedule.

Choose an Architect

Some custom home builders have inhouse architects for custom property development projects. If the builder does not employ architects, they may have several local architects that they frequently work with. When comparing your options, build a list of potential candidates. Use the following details to narrow the list:

– Experience
– Previous work
– Chemistry
– Availability

Focus your search for architects with lots of previous experience. They should have an extensive portfolio of past projects. Look at their previous work to determine if their style matches yours.

As with finding the right builder, you also need to consider your chemistry with the architect. During your initial interview, see if you can imagine yourself working with this person to design your dream home. You should feel comfortable with the architect that you hire and not be afraid to ask any questions.

Remember to inquire about their availability. If the architect has a lot of current projects, you may need to adjust your time frame to accommodate their schedule.

Choose the Architectural Style

Australian houses come in a wide range of architectural styles, from bungalows to expansive villas. Some people want a palatial estate with Federation revival architecture while others prefer the Pavilion style.

When considering different architectural styles, think about some of the main features that you want for your home. If you want a large, open floor plan, the Pavilion style may suit your needs. The ranch-style also works well with open plans and single-storey homes.

The location that you choose may also influence the architectural style that you choose. If you drive through some of the older neighbourhoods of Melbourne, you will find an eclectic mix of architectural styles. While the style you choose does not need to match your neighbour’s properties, you may not want a home that looks out of place.

Choose the Features of the Home

Before starting on the custom home building process, you likely have a good idea of some of the features that you want. The builder and architect that you choose can help determine which of these features are realistic based on your budget and time frame.

Start with your biggest dreams for your custom home. As you start to develop your plan, you can scale back some of the larger features.

Think about the size of the house, the rooms you need, and the type of floor plans that you prefer. Do you want an open floor plan or separate spaces? Do you want a two-storey home or a single-storey home? These decisions influence the rest of your choices.

Next, determine the rooms that you need, such as:

– Bedrooms
– Kitchen
– Bathrooms
– Living room
– Dining area
– Formal dining room
– Laundry room
– Garage
– Basement
– Attic
– Workshop

You may also want rooms to suit your recreational activities or interests. If you are an avid book reader, you may want a dedicated library. Musicians may enjoy a home studio with insulated walls. Sports buffs may prefer a home gym while movie fans may want a large media room.

After listing the rooms that you need and want, start thinking about their proximity to each other. You may decide that you want a master bedroom on the first storey near the living room or access to the garage from the kitchen.

The next step is to think about the design elements of each room. Do you want walk-in closets in the bedrooms? Do you want a linen closet in your bathroom? What features do you want in the kitchen? Do you want an island in the centre of the kitchen or a breakfast nook?

When you have finished deciding on the rooms and layout of the house, start thinking about your design preferences. This includes the height of the ceilings, the types of windows, the size of the hallways, and lighting.

Choose the Right Block of Land

Selecting land for your new home is one of the most important items in this custom build checklist. The orientation of the property, the topography of the land, the available sunlight, and the natural features of the landscape may change your design plans.

When purchasing a vacant lot, you also need to compete with spec home builders and real estate investors. Property developers that construct homes on the speculation that they may sell them for a profit are always looking for land with the best value.

Another potential obstacle is the time needed to evaluate the land. Choosing the right block of land involves more than just finding the right neighbourhood. You also need to account for the quality of the soil and landscaping features.

If the soil is difficult for the builders to work with, you may spend more on new home construction. Clay, boulders, and stones may increase costs by several thousand dollars.

The layout of the landscape may also impact costs and design plans. If the land slopes, you may need to pay to level the block. Properties in bushfire-prone areas and flood-prone areas also include extra costs.

Spec builders have teams of professionals to help evaluate the land. As an individual buyer, it may take you longer to review the same features, limiting your ability to make an offer quickly.

Your builder can help you explore these features when comparing potential sites for your new home. Rely on their expertise to find land that best suits your initial design ideas.

A custom home builder assists with the technical aspects of the block of land. You should also pay attention to some of the aesthetic features of the property, such as:

– The overall size
– The location
– Natural features
– Other houses in the neighbourhood
– The proximity of other properties

The size of the land should match your needs. If you want a large two-storey home with an outdoor pool, focus on potential properties that offer enough land.

You may also want to find a location near your place of employment or your children’s school. Some people want their new homes close to certain parts of Melbourne.

For example, you may want to build your home near a bus route that can take you into the CBD for fun evenings around Federation Square. If you frequently travel for business, you may prefer a location closer to Melbourne Airport.

Manage the Build Process

Building a custom home is a lengthy process. With the right builders by your side, managing the process is relatively straightforward. However, as the homeowner, you should keep track of the following requirements:

– Building permits
– Insurance
– Inspections
– Budget
– Time frame

The construction of your new home will include the need for building permits. You may also need building approval from the local council before starting your construction plans. The builder typically handles the permits. However, you may still need to sign paperwork. You should also double-check each permit to ensure everything is in proper order.

The general contractor handling the construction needs insurance, including general liability insurance to protect you and worker’s compensation insurance to protect workers. Ensure that the contractor has the appropriate insurance before beginning the project.

Local municipalities may need to inspect your property during certain stages of the construction process. Keep track of the results of the inspections. If anything goes wrong, you will want to deal with the issue quickly to avoid delays.

Your builder and the general contractor should work with you to help keep the project within your budget. However, changes to suppliers, designs, and other details may require your approval. Carefully consider any changes that may severely impact the total cost.

Monitoring each of the areas discussed should help maintain your initial time frame. Unfortunately, unforeseen issues tend to happen during every project. If you work with a professional builder, you should receive ample notice of any major setbacks.

Review the Completed Home

After the completion of construction, it is time to enter your dream home for the first time. Try not to let your excitement stop you from critically analysing the property. If you detect any defects or design errors, bring them up immediately instead of several months later.

When you are satisfied with the results, the site is cleaned. Typically, the builder handles the clean-up process, removing supplies, materials, and debris.

With the home finished and clean, you are ready to start focusing on the landscaping. Depending on the layout of the property, you may complete some landscaping during the construction phase. However, you typically need to wait until after construction to lay the new seed for your lawn or to construct decking.

The last step is moving into your new home. Pack up, move in, and start enjoying your new life in your dream home.

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