Monthly Archives

July 2019

custom home builders - questions to ask

Custom Homes: 5 Must-ask Questions for your new builder

By | Architecture
custom home builders - questions to ask
Finding and contracting a custom home builder can be a very challenging task. There is a lot to consider, least of all whether the builder you ultimately decide to work with is even capable of executing on your design vision. There is a lot at stake. This is your future home, a place to settle down in, and you want to make sure that you get everything right the first time, rather than getting caught in a never-ending cycle of chasing repairs.

We’ve worked with enough people to have gained a fairly good idea over the years of the biggest issues facing those who don’t personally know a good custom home builder. Below, we have put together a quick checklist of the questions you should be asking any potential builder before you engage them.

Ask to see their past builds

This is fairly oft-repeated advice, and for good reason. Getting a good look at the past work of a custom home builder can give you a fairly good idea of the quality of their builds and the effort they put into ensuring their work stands the test of time.

If you can, speak to the owners of the homes. Ask them how the process of working with the builder went, from start to finish. Ask for insight into the builder’s response to problems or complaints, how they managed the build schedule, how they left the site at the end of the job and whether they fulfilled all basic commitments of the build.

Naturally, any long-term contractual relationship is going to run into the odd snag, so you’ll likely hear of a few issues. However, try and get a good grasp of whether the issues you’re hearing about are standard or deal-breaking. Generally speaking, if someone has had a terrible relationship with a builder, they will very emphatically let you know about it, in no uncertain terms.

Ask about the products they use

Unless you are very deeply involved in every aspect of the build, there is a good chance your chosen builder will have quite a bit of latitude in terms of their choice of products. There are choices to be made at every stage of a build, and naturally many builders will aim to find a good balance between quality and cost in order to be able to effectively compete for new jobs. If quality is more important to you than cost-cutting, speak with your builder about the materials that will be used during construction and ensure you understand the costs involved.

Ask them where they cut corners

You’re unlikely to get an honest answer to this one, and some of the best custom home builders will be genuine in saying that they don’t cut corners. However, many builders will develop “efficiency hacks” over the years and may share this information with you. If a builder is upfront about where he thinks you can avoid additional expense, or things that simply don’t need to be done according to plan, then they are likely to be open about any issues with the build as it progresses. 

Ask them about communication and due dates

Having clear communication channels in place prior to beginning a build can help avoid future problems. Ensure you know everyone’s areas of responsibility and the issues that you should be discussing with your builder. Knowing how to approach issues to avoid a breakdown in the relationship will ensure relatively smooth-sailing throughout construction.

Establishing a timeline for completion is also highly recommended. There is always give and take on either side of the equation, and in any build some issues may crop up which will set back progress. However, most custom home builders will gladly work with owners to develop a timeline for delivery to ensure that everyone has clear expectations from the outset.

Do your research online

This is an important factor in any major purchasing decision. Get online using your favourite search engine and do some research around the builder’s name, their business name, and their ABN or ACN. Pay attention to any reviews or mentions of their build quality by past clients. Keep in mind that reviews can go both ways – some people will always find something to complain about, while others might be willing to overlook things which you will consider more important.

If you can, check out their social media or website and any images or galleries of their past work. A good custom home builder will have a portfolio that you can view to get an understanding of the kind of work they’re capable of producing.

Contact us for a consultation

Still have questions?

Get in touch with us. We have been the trusted custom home builders for countless Australian families over the years. With a large number of builds under our belt, we know how to get the best results for you and your family.

Call us on (07) 3358 9704 or click here to email us.

Sloping Block Builders - McCarthy Homes 2000x1000

Sloping Block Builders – Things You Should Be Aware of

By | Architecture
Sloping Block Builders - McCarthy Homes 2000x1000
Sloping block builders are the saviours of any home project that’s encountering difficulties with an unlevel site. Many people building their first home deliberately avoid building on a sloping block, and for good reason. It presents a whole new range of challenges, throws a range of traditional housing structures out the window, and can rapidly become more expensive than building on a level block with an ordinary, easy to prepare pad.However, it’s not all bad news. If you work with the right sloping block builders, they can spin some magic and help you build a home that is both unique and extremely liveable. We’ve compiled a few broad strokes on what you need to consider below, but at the end of the day, you’ll gain a lot of value from consulting with a professional, experienced sloping block builder.

Architectural Design

Stepped Design

A stepped-design allows for a shift of about two metres across the housing site. It’s a great way to take advantage of a bad situation with a clever house design that, utilised correctly, can really improve the feeling of space in your home.

Multi-Level Design

Multi-level designs are generally appropriate for a slightly larger difference in height across the housing site. A multi-level design allows you to really flex your own approach to designing a home (in concert with a professional, of course) and develop a unique living environment.

Split-Level Design

Split-level designs have two entirely separate levels, often with one half of the home having two storeys while the other has one. These types of designs are ideal for homes that have over three metres of fall across the site, such as on extremely sloping blocks.

Knowledge and Experience of the Builders

Naturally, when you’re undertaking any home build, the knowledge and experience of the builders is going to play a large part in your decision-making process. However, if you’re contracting a sloping block builder, taking a look at their past projects and how those jobs have stood the test of time is critical.

Ask for references and ask them if you can speak with past clients. Most sloping block builders will have a couple of extremely difficult projects they’ve worked on where they’ve been able to knock it out of the park, so you should get to see some of their best work. If you know anyone who has worked with them previously, or anyone in the industry, speak with them as well. The more feedback about their knowledge and experience you can get, the better.

Site Evaluation

Carrying out an adequate site evaluation is the first and most important step of the process of building on a sloping block. We strongly recommend that you contract us prior to purchasing the land. We can advise you on the possibilities for construction and the additional costs you are likely to incur with respect to design, build and materials.

Site Preparation and Foundations

Regardless of the talent of the specific sloping block builder you’ve recruited, there’s almost certainly going to be some work required on the site. A bit of cut and fill is ordinary on most jobs, and on a sloping block some more than usual might be required.

Some other things you may need to expect are the need for extensive drainage works, retaining walls, and possibly the need to blast or drill through rock (very prevalent on many sloping blocks), although most good builders will try to find ways to work around this issue and prevent the need for expensive excavations.

Your foundations are going to be key. Many homes built on sloping blocks will need stumps or piers to support part of the structure. Your foundations may need to be driven deeper than that which a home on level ground would require. Drainage and erosion control measures may be required to protect your foundations. 

Surrounding Environment

The fact is, many of the most stunning locations in Australia aren’t flat. Whether you’re looking to build on the hills behind the dunes, in the hinterland or sheltered from the wind halfway up a spur on a mountainside, you’re going to need to deal with building on a sloping block. The surrounding environment will play a part in house design and even site access, particularly with regard to rainfall, soil type and drainage and erosion challenges.

Contact us for a consultation

Get in touch with us to learn more about the options available. We have managed builds on hundreds of sloping blocks in the past and have become very adept at overcoming the challenges associated with these types of projects.

Give us a call and we’ll chat about your options. Regardless of your future plans, we’re always happy to help new home owners get the best possible outcome.

Call us on (07) 3358 9704 or click here to email us.