Ten key things to know and do before touring a display home, according to industry experts.
Deciding to buy a plot of land and build a brand new home - your own personalised haven - is one of the most exciting decisions you will ever make. But before you rush off to the nearest display home and start planning your colours, cabinet styles and where your sofa will go, there are a few important things to think about. According to industry insiders, these are the 10 essential steps to take before visiting a display village.
1. Know your budget
Ah, budget. It may not be the most exciting word, but it’s probably one of the most important ones when it comes to happy house buying. You need to know precisely what you can afford before visiting a display home. “Know what your repayments will be,” says Simon Mongan, the general manager of the Homebuyers Centre, “and make sure you’re comfortable with that before you go out there shopping.”
Talk to banks and lenders, and shop around, says Mongan. “Not all banks are created equal and not all brokers are created equal.” Choosing a company or individual who specialises in construction finance is your best bet.
2. Research your builders
The next thing to put on your house inspection checklist involves the people who will actually be making your dream house a reality, brick by brick. “Choose your builder before you choose your home,” advises Mongan. “Tap into online forums, your own networks, friends and family. Everyone knows someone who has built or knows of a friend who has built.”
Things to look out for include: how long they’ve been in the business; build quality; range; customer service; warranties and guarantees. There has to be a good rapport and trust, after all, your dream home is in their hands.
3. Determine your needs
Before booking an appointment to visit a display home, you need to really think about what you want and need in a home, both now and in the future. Are you considering adding to your family? Will you have regular guests? Are you a minimalist, or someone who needs lots of storage? Are you into gardening or not so bothered? Think about where you could compromise.
“Making those decisions before you go in will stop you wasting a lot of time,” says industry insider Peter Langfelder, Metricon’s general manager of Victorian Housing. Leave no stone (or brick) unturned.
4. What to take with you on your visit
Once you’ve done the groundwork on your budget, builders and needs, it’s time for the fun part: actually visiting a display home or village. Go armed with a pen, paper and camera/phone so you can record details of the designs and builders you like, and take lots of photos. “Take your time,” says Langfelder. “This is a big decision and you want to learn as much as you can.”
5. Ask questions
Bear in mind that display homes are the best examples of what’s on offer, often kitted out with top-of-the-range fittings and extras. “Do not assume what you see on display is what’s included,” advises Mongan. Spend time with the sales consultants and don’t be afraid to ask questions about what comes as standard and what are the extras.
6. Keep your budget in mind
For first home buyers, visiting a display home is a wonderful source of inspiration, after all, one of the greatest advantages to buying a brand new home is the fact that you can customise it to your own tastes. But do make sure you don’t get carried away and start going over budget. As Mongan says: “Be careful about being swept away by a display home. $10,000 to $15,000 worth of upgrades could mean you can’t obtain the finance and could potentially end the whole project.”
7. Get a feel for the house
What to consider when visiting a display home is the general feeling you get when you walk through the door. Take your time and imagine yourself in the space. How does it feel? “Before you enter a home, the street appeal is the first thing you’re going to look at. Are you looking at a modern, contemporary home or a more traditional home?” says Langfelder. “Then when you enter the home, the sense of entry can be very important. Do you want a large entry into the home? Is it important for you to see right through the home?” You know when something feels right to you. Trust your instincts.
Spend time with the sales consultants and don’t be afraid to ask questions about what comes as standard and what are the extras.
8. Use all the resources available
Visiting a display home is essential, but some builders also offer exciting additional ways to explore which design is right for you. Metricon, for example, has GeoSite. “It’s a great tool that shows how the home fits both in 2D and 3D, so you get a really good idea of the streetscape and how the orientation works with the sunlight,” explains Langfelder.
When it comes to interiors, you can visit colour selection centres to assist you in choosing your scheme. Metricon has Studio M. “Walking through a display home only shows one example,” says Langfelder. “Studio M will give you a full array of choices and fixtures and fittings.”
9. Know the best time of the week to visit
Weekends might be the most convenient time for planning your visit to a display home, but try to visit during the week. Weekdays are quieter meaning the sales consultants will have more time to devote to you. Plus you’ll be able to enjoy the atmosphere more. If you’re getting close to making a decision about a design, Langfelder suggests arranging a one-on-one appointment with a sales consultant.
10. Enjoy yourself
Buying and building your first home is a big deal, and yes you need to be sensible, but do take pleasure in the process. “Choose your builder wisely,” says Mongan. “It can be daunting, a bit scary, but if you saddle up with the right person it can be an absolute ride so just enjoy it.”
For many of us, choosing a brand new home is the culmination of a lifelong dream. So slow down, make thoughtful decisions and enjoy watching that dream becoming a reality. Soon it won’t just be a display home you’re walking through, it’ll be your very own house.