SINGLE STOREY FAQ’S
A. First step is to consider three important factors:
- Have you selected a block of land to build on?
- How much are you prepared to spend?
- What style of house you would like to live in?
Next step is to engage a trustworthy Perth builder, one that is registered with the Housing Industry Association (HIA), has up-to-date insurance, and can support its advertising and marketing claims with tangible building experience, preferably in Western Australia.
Building a home is a big investment so you need to be assured that the company you engage to construct your new single storey home has experience and expertise in this highly specialised field. The building professionals at HomefinderWA can answer all of your questions and provide the information you need to put your mind at ease.
Q. What are some of the common building terms I’m likely to hear during this process?
A. Final Plans: Architect drawings that include all the agreed modifications HomefinderWA will use to construct your new single storey home
Home ID: The unique HomefinderWA reference used to identify your home building project
New Home Administrators: Staff members specially trained in the process of preparing and building single-storey homes
PPA: The Preparation of Plans Agreement is the initial paperwork that begins the building process
Preliminary Plans: Includes the foundations for work-in-progress drawings, and the plans required for the Prestart Meeting
Pre-start Meeting: Decisions such as window sizes, house siting, external colours and minor structural changes that ensure your new single storey home achieves a 6 Star Rating are finalised here. (The New Home Administrator prior to this meeting will address significant structural design changes)
Site Inspection Report & Survey: This survey includes essential building features, property boundaries, and levels of the land
Site works: Outlines virtually everything that does not directly involve the building process, such as setting up the site office and toilets, and providing secure storage for tools and materials
Specifications: This technical document contains a list of the work to be carried out, the items that need to be supplied and/or installed by the builder, and the way in which certain work is undertaken
Q. How does the Preparation of Plans Agreement (PPA) differ from Contract?
A. The PPA is a written agreement where initial paperwork is signed and an agreed fee is paid to commence the building process. This standard document is also used to communicate specific design needs to your chosen building company. Builders will generally provide the client with the opportunity to make design changes up to contract stage
The Contract is a legally binding agreement, which means that the client (that’s you) has accepted the final design and price. This ultimately requires the client to fulfil the financial requirements, while the builder is required to commence and complete construction.
Q. I found an affordable single storey house design I like but need to make a few changes – is this allowed?
A. Put simply, yes. Builders in general will happily cater to design input from their clients. Keep in mind that there may be costs involved when altering the initial design, which a reputable builder will be transparent about through the process.
Q. I’m unsure about air conditioning – do I need to decide now or can it be installed later?
A. It’s better to plan early so you have a wider range of options to select from. Features like climate control in each room, energy-saving functionality, touch-screen and time control may not be compatible (or cost effective) with the electrical and design specifications of your home if you install at a later date.
Q. What is a six-star energy rating?
A. Akin to star-rated household appliances, the energy efficiency of a home features a nationally rated system. The more stars on a scale of one to ten – zero being the worst and 10 the best – the greater the natural comfort level of a home, and the less energy (and money) it uses.
This rating system takes a number of design aspects into consideration, including: the direction or aspect of your home, external colour choices, roof type, floor coverings, and windows. Room are individually calculated to achieve an overall rating.
Owning a 6-Star rated home will not only reduce your lighting, heating and cooling costs but also reduce your carbon footprint. Once you have selected a block, HomefinderWA will offer a number of existing 6-Star single storey house designs to suit your existing block.
HomefinderWA will also recommend an orientation that best suit your preferred home design and optimise your overall energy rating if you haven’t already picked a location.
Q. Can I demolish my existing house and then build on the same block?
A. Yes, and this is why it’s a great idea to do so. Property prices have risen sharply in WA over the past few years, which have resulted in older properties experiencing higher overall land value. This is great news for property owners who want to demolish their existing home and build one that better suits the block and their lifestyle.
Benefits of Demolish & Build:
- It has become too costly to maintain an ageing home
- The children are happy in their local school
- Your neighbours are friendly and you have close ties to the area you live in
- It can be difficult finding a similar block in another suburb
- You have outgrown the current layout of your home
- You would like a more environmentally sustainable home
- You want to avoid spending thousands of dollars on stamp duty and agents fees
- You don’t want to buy someone else’s problems in an already established home
Q. Do you have single storey designs that suit the narrow lot I purchased?
A. HomefinderWA has the experience to design your dream home regardless of lot size or shape. Choose from an extensive range of small lot, narrow lot and cottage lot designs with 10-metre and 12-metre frontages, all of which can be customised to suit your individual needs and tastes.
Q. Will HomefinderWA help me choose the correct colour choices?
A. Your New Home Administrator is highly experienced in helping clients design the interior of their single storey home, from floorings and paint choices right through colour palettes and ceiling fixtures.
Q. What makes a block difficult to build on?
A. There are a number of traits that can result in increased building costs so carefully consider these before you purchase a block:
- Falls or rises in slope – there may be local Council restrictions in place or objections from neighbours concerned about invasion of privacy
- Clay soils – deeper and stronger footings may be required to prevent structures moving over time due to clay’s tendency to retain water
- Limestone and rocky soils – may increase excavation costs and delay building deadlines
New land developments reduce these risks as the majority of site preparations are already completed.
Q. Can I alter house plans and, if so, are there design rules that need to be followed?
A. Yes, on both accounts. Your New Home Administrator and the builder’s design team will assist with your proposed changes prior to the start of construction. They will also ensure that the final design is compliant with the Residential Design Code of Australia (R-Codes) and the National Construction Code (NCC). R-Codes determine how the builder uses the land while the NCC ensures the appointed builder constructs a home that will stand the test of time.
Q. Is there a package available where I can move into a finished home?
A. HomefinderWA has a wide range of options that include features such as landscaping, painting and window finishes, which you will be able to include in your finance. Speak to your builder if you need any of these to be included in the building contract. Be mindful that items like air conditioning are cheaper to install during the build.
Q. What is a Prestart?
A. The Prestart usually involves a number of meetings where decisions such as window sizes, house sitting, external colours and minor structural changes are made. Your sales consultant prior to this meeting addresses major structural design changes.
Q. What is the Maintenance Period?
A. Also called Warranty Time, this is the four-month period after the day of practical completion where defects are noted in writing and amended by the builder. A checklist-style form is usually supplied to help you outline maintenance matters.
Q. Are there single storey house and land packages available, and can I build in a particular suburb?
A. House and land packages can be an economical way to build a new home. Builders usually have a number of options readily available but can also create one especially for you. Some Perth builders are more successful than others in sourcing a block in popular areas, so discuss this with the sales consultant.
Q. What is a progress payment?
A. Progress Payments are made at the end of each construction stage. When a bank finances the build, each Progress Payment is made when the builder’s invoice is provided.
Q. What can I expect during the Handover stage?
A. The handover stage involves meeting with your construction supervisor to go through a Practical Completion Inspection (PCI). A list of items will then be submitted for the builder to complete prior to the keys being handed over.
Q. How long is the approval process and what is involved?
A. This is dependent on the design of your single storey home. In general, a Planning Approval is required from the respective local government authority before applying for a Building Permit. This takes roughly two months while the Building Permit can take an additional three weeks. Depending on the location of your new home, a Developers Approval may also be required. Builders typically manage all of the approvals, keeping you up-to-date throughout the process.
Q. Why is it important to set a budget before signing a Contract?
A. Banks may not agree to lend you the full amount so you need to build within your budget. A comfortable repayment plan should allow for living expenses, decreases in income, increases to interest rates, post-construction items, and finishings.
Q. How can I help reduce delays during the building process?
A. Communicating any changes or concerns to your builder as soon as they come up will help reduce costly delays. Wait too long and things may take longer and put pressure on your budget. The clearer you are at the beginning of the process will help the builder place the necessary material orders and eliminate potential delays.
Q. How can I ensure I am paying for what I actually want?
A. In order to compare ‘apples with apples’ be mindful of the size and style of the kitchen bench, available cupboard space, whether bedrooms contain walk-in robes, location of toilets (and if they have doors), and whether an alfresco area is included or costed as an extra.
While a minimum price is always quoted, not all builders offer the same design features and inclusions. When a builder uses “from” in its quote, it usually means a base specification, base design features, or a reduced version of a different house design.
Q. What are ‘site works’ and what does this encompass?
A. Every site needs to be properly prepared before a home is built to ensure that there are no structural issues down the track. The costs involved in site works vary depending on the level of work required to prepare the site for construction. Your builder should be able to give you an estimate on any costs involved but won’t be able to give a definitive answer until the site is examined.
Q. What types of materials will be used to build my new home?
A. Most new homes in Perth are based on double brick construction, which features a larger clay internal brick wall, a single brick face as the external wall, and timber components in the roof framing. However, the innovative building companies associated with HomefinderWA are renowned for using the latest construction techniques and materials.
Q. What is a Variation Order and will it increase the build price?
A. This is when modifications or additional work are added to the building after the Contract has been signed. Variations typically increase the build price due to the process involved in making these changes, such as redrawing plans, estimating time and costs, and amending orders that have already been scheduled.
Q. I am interested in installing a spa bath – do you have any advice?
A. Spa baths and swim spas, which are available in inground or portable models, are commonly made from acrylic using a vacuum formed mould. They’re popular for a number of reasons – hydrotherapy, fitness, relaxation – and range from simple two-seater styles to sophisticated swim spas.
There are two main types of bathroom spas: one draws water into a pump then pushes it out in a jet to provide a powerful, invigorating massage; while the other blows air into the water creating a soft, gentle massage. Some spa systems feature a dual system that combines hydro and air systems.
It is important to note that the position of the spa pump needs to be confirmed at the time the spa bath is ordered. While pumps can be installed up to 3-metres away, pressure is compromised the greater the distance.
Common Spa Terminology:
Adjustable jets allow you to control the directional flow of the water.
Air Control is a pneumatic switch mounted on the rim of the spa that turns it on and off.
Bodyguard Release Valve is a safety valve that stops suction when something is caught in the pump.
Electric On/Off Switch allows you to turn the heater on and off while the pump is in use.