Navigating Custom Home Building

February 28, 2019


Blairgowrie Hansen Living


In our line of work we develop some of Melbourne’s highest quality homes and employ only the most skilled and experienced trades people.

Unfortunately, we hear a lot of horror stories within our industry. There are some instances where both home owners and trades people feel the pressure of deadlines and budgets and make poor decisions based on these two major factors.

Take our friend *John for example (this is a factual story). Our friend John had a beautiful home but he needed some guttering fixed and quickly. Rather than engage with a qualified tradesman to solve the problem for him, he sourced an independent trades person who provided the cheapest quote. This decision was motivated by timeframe and budget – the two biggest deciding factors when it comes to anything to do with our homes. Now, with some heavy rain fall, more problems arose for John and his guttering issue.
Fast track to today and John has outlaid over $100,000 to reverse the water damage within his home caused by the cheap quick-fix he opted for. Sure, this story might sound extreme but the reality is all too real for most of us. How often do we go for the cheaper option and regret it? We all have our own “John” story.

Here’s a thought. If you were seeking medical assistance would you seek the cheapest quote? Or the best person for the job?
Similarly, if you had three identical cars lined up together and one was significantly cheaper, would you pick that one? Or question its quality and longevity?

Common mistakes made when choosing a builder:

– Accepting a quote on the basis that your builder can source materials at a cheaper rate than another. For independent builders, pricing is very similar.
– Opting for the lowest quote without considering the experience of the builder.
– Believing you can self manage a complex build in order to save money.
– Appointing a builder who is not experienced in detailed and high end building (there is a big difference between simple building and high end custom building).

How important is your home to you? How important is the investment you’re making and can you afford to fix things down the track if they aren’t done correctly the first time? Here’s why we need to rethink the way we look at BUDGET and TIMEFRAME and start to focus more on the end goal.


The following are items you should consider when employing a builder or trades people to develop your dream home:


Be sure to talk about your expectations with your builder. A common pitfall for home owners is when builders provide an unrealistic quote and win the job based on this alone. We often hear that the cheapest quote goes the furthest over budget (no surprises here) – therefore you could have gone with the builder that gave you the best “feeling” and design experience to begin with. If a quote sounds too good to be true, it often is. For example, if someone undercuts quotes made by fellow builders, this is a time to be cautious. Ask yourself, where are they cutting these costs that others can’t? Or better yet, ask them directly and talk about the small buffer within the budget and always ensure your contract protects you.

Be wary of cheaper quotes and understand that these are the quotes that blow-out the most.

If high-end quality finishes are important to you, then hiring a builder who specialises in this is important. Working with someone who cuts corners and uses inferior materials to deliver your home within their overpromised budget may not be the best building partner for you.

Tip: When sourcing a builder, request a more detailed quote. This is where things are itemised to a point where you can fully understand where your money is being spent. This is a good exercise for both you and your builder to better understand the job and will also demonstrate their commitment to providing excellence.


In our blog, Build Your Melbourne Dream Home, we talk about timeframes and what is realistic. A realistic time frame for an architecturally designed custom built home is roughly 48 weeks. If you are building a custom-built, architecturally designed home, anything less than this may be too ambitious. If you receive a proposal to build your home in anything less than this ask your builder for examples of their work.

Some other questions to raise include:

– Are they experienced in creating homes of your standard?
– Do they have the manpower to carry out your job in time?
– Do they manage multiple home builds at once?
– Will your build be their main priority for the forecasted timeframe?
– Have you spoken with a previous client of theirs to understand their strengths and weaknesses?
– Do they have raving testimonials on their website?
– Do they get a lot of their business through referrals?
– Ask them of an instance where a job hasn’t gone to plan and why.

What you really want to avoid is a compromised job. A compromised job will lead to poor finishes, compromised quality, and lots of potential disappointment for you, the home owner.


Hansen Living custom builder

If you want to know more about how to choose a credible builder, see our article: 5 ways to check if your potential home builder is credible.

If you are interested in building or renovating with a focus on high-end, high quality design delivered within budget and on-time, please contact us today. We are more than happy to offer a free 20 minute phone consultation with our Managing Director or Director of Design.

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