Planning for your dream home is a massive job. For most people, it’s entirely new territory and there will probably be a pretty steep learning curve. While you’ll have various professionals, like builders and architects, to help you through, the final responsibility will be yours. And that is especially true when it comes to managing your money.
Designing and planning your dream home can be a lot of fun. However, keeping the budget in order can create major headaches. Delays and setbacks, cost overruns and a general lack of discipline and organisation can completely throw a budget out, turning your dream building project into a financial nightmare.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. We have some expert tips to help you create your home build budget and make sure you stick to it and avoid any nasty surprises.
One of the first things you’ll need to do is get a series of quotes. A common mistake that a lot of people make is getting free quotes from non-specialist builders. These may give you a general idea of the costs involved, but they won’t give you the kind of detailed cost breakdown you’ll need to plan a house build.
Talk to specialist home builders with experience building the kind of house you want. They will be able to more accurately quote for your specific project.
And be prepared to pay for your quote. Many specialist builders charge for a quote service. This makes sense from the builder’s end, given how much work needs to go into a good quote. It also ensures that you get a detailed and accurate quote that fully reflects the realities of your project.
Make sure your quote includes a detailed bill of quantities, pricing from all suppliers and subcontractors, and has the fewest possible provisional sums and prime cost items.
Having a comprehensive builders quote from the beginning will help you to draw up a reliable budget that you can follow step by step through to completion.
Factor in additional costs
The quote you receive from the builder may only cover the house itself. So it’s important to understand what additional costs may need to be budgeted for. These can include permits and inspections, legal fees, landscaping, fencing, site preparation, soil quality and testing, cosmetic finishes, moving costs, furniture and so on.
Keep a contingency fund
The likelihood that your build will come in under budget is pretty close to zero. No matter how disciplined and organised you are, there are uncontrollable factors that can lead to cost overruns. These include unforeseen land issues, bad weather, delivery delays and accidents. Be prepared for these situations by putting aside a contingency fund. This will provide a safety net for the project and hopefully reduce the financial stress associated with home builds. An experienced home builder will be able to recommend how much you should put aside for emergencies.
Avoid scope creep
Scope creep is the small, additional spending that can accumulate throughout the project. It could be a couple hundred dollars extra for better bathroom tiles or different cabinet fittings. It may not sound like much in the scheme of things, but this spending can quickly build up and put a serious dent in your budget.
Stopping scope creep is all about discipline. Choose your materials, fittings, fixtures and finishes at the start of the project and stick with them. If you need to replace an unavailable item, don’t go over the original costing. Don’t allow yourself to be upsold and don’t get carried away.
Since you’re building the home you may very well live in for the rest of your life, there’s nothing wrong with a little high-end spurgling. But splurge smart. Have a serious think about where you want to spend big and make sure it’s worth it. A top of the line water heater or hydronic heating system may not be sexy spending, but they’re smart investments that will save you money down the road.
But it doesn’t have to be practical spending. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of a beautiful marble kitchen countertop or premium hardwood flooring. Whatever you decide to spend big on, it’s crucial that you factor these expenses into the budget from the beginning. You can also look to offset these high-end purchases by making more budget-friendly choices in other areas.
Track your build and budget
The surest way to lose track of your budget is to stop paying attention to it. Don’t assume that everything is going to plan and don’t assume other people are sticking to the budget. Make sure you track and document all your spending and keep meticulous track of the building process.
It can help to work with the builder from the beginning to draw up a budget timeline. This will allow you to align the budget with the building progress. At each stage of building you should be able to compare how much you’ve actually spent with the quoted estimates. This will help you to quickly identify any potential overruns before they get out of hand.
There’s no doubt about it; building a home is a difficult and complex project. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With a little discipline and organisation, you can help to guide your home build through to completion without blowing the budget.