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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.

domain property price report june commentary

Domain Property Forecast – What it Tells Us

By | Property News
domain property price report june commentary
Domain opens their June property report with a broad, bold statement – prices will flatten, on average, across our capital cities throughout the remainder of 2019, before reversing slightly and beginning an upturn in 2020. This is largely in line with expectations of other market observers and the general feel of market sentiment that we’ve been seeing (although we never like to make big calls based on a “feel” alone).

Domain have revised down their own predictions based on a slower start to the year than expected, attributed to ongoing fallout from the royal commission into the financial services sector, economic headwinds and uncertainty around the election and the economy broadly. We’ve broken down their report. It makes for some interesting reading.

Why the turnaround next year?

There have been a few big changes (and some yet to come) over the past couple of months that bode well for the property market – and Domain, like everyone else, has picked up on it.

Interest Rates

Money is getting cheaper, mortgage rates are dropping, and it’s getting easier and easier for people to get the financing they need to buy their first home or purchase an investment property.

APRA Lending Rules

In May, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) changed its standards surrounding loan serviceability. Rather than loan providers assessing mortgagees on their ability to repay loans at a rate of 7% (regardless of their actual rate), they are now recommended to assess loan serviceability at a rate of 2.5% above the actual rate – so as interest rates continue to drop, the number of people who may be considered able to meet their repayment obligations will increase. This will open up the housing market to new entrants, and more demand (in the absence of considerations of supply) tends to have only one effect on prices.

The Election and New Policy

The federal election eased a lot of uncertainty around housing, particularly with regard to negative gearing. Easing the fears of property investors and locking in certainty for the next few years should help to address some of the underlying turmoil in the housing market and will help reinforce the price floor (possibly higher than it otherwise would have been) once clearances and prices stop declining.

The Capitals

Our attention is often drawn to the capital cities when we’re analysing property price shifts, and rightly so – that’s where the bulk of our population lives. Australia-wide, Domain is calling a 1% increase in property prices by the end of the year (we’re willing to write this off as a rounding error – let’s call it flat) and a 2-4% increase throughout 2020. There may be minor downturns over the next couple of months, but by year’s end, Domain contends, we should see flat-to-positive price performance for 2019 as a whole. This data is reflected across the capital cities, broken down below:

Sydney

Houses:

2019 – 2%

2020 – up to 5%

Apartments:

2019 – 2%

2020 – up to 4%

Melbourne

Houses:

2019 – 1%

2020 – up to 3%

Apartments:

2019 – 1%

2020 – up to 2%

Brisbane

Houses:

2019 – 1%

2020 – up to 5%

Apartments:

2019 – 0%

2020 – up to 2%

Interestingly, Domain is predicting that Brisbane apartments may see zero growth in prices throughout both 2019 and 2020 – with a maximum of 2% growth next year. Houses, on the other hand, have a very positive outlook.

Perth

Houses:

2019 – 0%

2020 – up to 2%

Apartments:

2019 – 0%

2020 – up to 2%

Adelaide

Houses:

2019 – 1%

2020 – up to 3%

Apartments:

2019 – 2%

2020 – up to 3%

Hobart

Houses:

2019 – 0%

2020 – up to 4%

Apartments:

2019 – 2%

2020 – up to 5%

It’s very interesting to see a flatter prediction for Hobart house prices this year than Sydney or Melbourne. Domain places some emphasis on increased supply for their justification here.

Canberra

Houses:

2019 – 2%

2020 – up to 6%

Apartments:

2019 – 1%

2020 – up to 3%

Some Words of Caution

Domain concludes their report with an outline of some of the risks to their price forecasts. Upside risks include a stronger turnaround in investor sentiment than expected, a diving unemployment rate (combined with interest rate cuts) increasing wages and investment, and unexpected interest rate cuts.

The downside risks outlined by Domain include slower global growth than unexpected (possibly driven by an escalation in the trade war) and the potential for a rise in unemployment due to a construction downturn – somewhat of a double whammy. Further, investor sentiment might not respond as expected to the June rate cut and predicted July/August rate cut, resulting in flatter than expected prices or a delayed rebound.

The Big Picture

We’re facing interesting times ahead, but the fundamentals are reasonably healthy. Outside of retail, most of the Australian economy is chugging along at a modest rate. The property market isn’t diving, it’s correcting. We can expect to see more money continue to find its way into the market as the cost of borrowing becomes cheaper throughout the end of 2019. All things considered, now is a fantastic time to dive right in.

 

hampton-style house plans

Hampton-Style House Plans: Classically Gorgeous Homes

By | Architecture
hampton-style house plans
There is something to be said for timeless beauty. The kind of classical design that transcends trends and architectural eccentricity is something that many of us aspire to in our home. We want to live somewhere that will retain its visual impressiveness far into the future, something that we can be just as proud of on the day we retire as the day we bought it.Hampton-style house plans are a great starting point in the search for the kind of home that will deliver on all fronts.

Why are so many people searching for hampton-style house plans?

Hampton-style house plans have exploded in popularity in recent years. It has always been a timeless architectural style, but changes in accessibility and income have led to more people finding it to be more affordable and thus seeking it out as a design option for their own home.

Hampton-style house plans are the foundation upon which a truly beautiful home can be built. With a strong foundation (provided you pick the right designer and builder) you can expand into your own Hampton-style interior with the right balance of teal, navy and off-white hues. There’s a whole world of Hampton interior design out there, and it’s perfect inside a hampton-style home.

What to look for in hampton-style house plans

It might be hard to describe the ideal hampton-style house plan, but when you see it, you know it. A great Hampton-style house plan will acknowledge its roots and account for them. This means recognising that many of the things that make a Hampton-style home recognisable aren’t necessarily built into the frame. They include the furnishings, such as lantern-style lighting, and paintwork.

When you’re analysing the floor plans, look for open space, air flow and availability of natural light. Think of a stylish coastal home that has the doors and windows open through the warm summer months.

What are the best hampton-style house plans?

We’ve hunted through our archives to dig up some of the best Hampton-style house plans to share with you and get the ideas flowing.

Fairhaven

Fairhaven is the perfect blend of luxury and comfort, exemplifying the foundational features that define the ideal Hampton-style house plan. Fairhaven takes full advantage of flowing movement to create a home that just fits together perfectly, while sensibly-designed features ensure that it is a pleasure to occupy.

Fairhaven Floor Plan:

Key Features:

  • Four large bedrooms
  • Open plan living area
  • Large emphasis on outdoor life with two areas
  • Formal dining area
  • Luxurious master bedroom

Click here for more details.

Provincial

The Provincial is one of the most stunning examples of Hampton-style homes we offer. Featuring a grand staircase and an outstanding kitchen suitable for all occasions, this home is a pleasure to occupy.

Provincial Floor Plan:

hampton style house plans - provincial floor plan

Key Features:

  • Four sizeable bedrooms
  • Deluxe kitchen with butler’s pantry
  • Alfresco – perfect for entertaining
  • Double garage with storeroom

Click here for more details.

Polaris

The Polaris is a modern, sophisticated take on traditional hampton-style house plans. It is meticulously designed, with all the features that exemplify modern family living.

Polaris Floor Plan:

hampton-style house plan - polaris

Key Features:

  • Five sizeable bedrooms
  • Large alfresco for hosting guests
  • Large master suite featuring an ensuite and walk-in robe

Click here for more details.

Manor

When it comes to homeliness, Hampton-style house plans deliver in spaded. The Manor is the culmination of years of shifting home designs towards the perfect intersection of luxury and comfort. This is the ultimate family home for those who want to maximise the value of their time spent inside.

Manor Floor Plan:

hampton style house plans - manor

Key Features:

  • Great alfresco area for those early morning coffees
  • Separate study for full privacy
  • Double vanity in the master suite ensuite
  • Large open-plan living areas

Click here for more details.

It’s all about lasting quality

All of the Hampton-style house plans we’ve listed above have one thing in common: central to their design is the concept of long-lasting quality. A home should stand the test of time, not only in appearance, but also in liveability. All McCarthy Homes are built from high quality materials and designed to be robust, as well as visually stunning, far into the future.

Want unique Hampton-style house plans?

We can help you develop the perfect Hampton-style house plans that will suit your budget and personal tastes. If you have an idea of what you are looking for and some features that you would like to see included in your new home, reach out to us. We’ll sit down, have a chat, find out your requirements and budget and help develop a plan that will be perfect for what you’re looking for.

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

The Fairhaven Display Home is Now Open

By | Display Homes
Our latest display home is now open. The Fairhaven is one of our favourite family home designs, and we are very pleased to be able to present it as an open home for you to inspect at your leisure.

The Fairhaven is the ideal family home. It exists at the intersection of luxury and comfort, with four spacious bedrooms designed to make you feel right at home the second you walk in the door.

Open-plan living and entertaining areas ensure that The Fairhaven is a delight to live in, encouraging interaction among family and friends and ensuring that everyone feels perfectly at ease in a luxurious setting.

It’s the little things that make The Fairhaven an absolute delight to live in. An excellently designed kitchen complemented by a butler’s pantry make entertaining a large crowd as simple as creating everyday meals. There’s something to be said for having everything you need in a kitchen that is built for entertainment.

Upstairs you’ll find a separate living area, a comfortable study nook and three bathrooms to ensure that the whole family has some space to themselves. Come along to one of our open inspections to view all that The Fairhaven has to offer and gain an appreciation for the McCarthy Homes difference.

The Fairhaven’s Features:

  • Four large, comfortable bedrooms
  • Walk in wardrobes and ensuites
  • Luxurious master bedroom with large walk-in wardrobe and ensuite
  • Study nook
  • Open plan family areas including the living room and kitchen
  • Additional family room upstairs
  • Formal living area
  • Two outdoor living areas

Location

350 Oxley Road, Sherwood

Grand Opening Date

June 8th, 2019 at 10am

Viewing Times

Opening hours for The Fairhaven display home are:

Friday – Monday: 10am to 5pm

Tuesday – Wednesday: Closed

Thursday: 12pm – 7pm

Home Specifications

Width: 14.29m

Depth: 21.95m

Min Lot Width: 15.5m

Total Area: 419.69sqm

Click here for more details.

Click here to contact us.

McCarthy Homes New Website Blog Banner

McCarthy Homes has a New Website

By | Property News
McCarthy Homes New Website Blog Banner
Our brand-new website launched just recently and we couldn’t be more pleased to share it with you. The new website has been in development for months and we are extremely happy to see the finished result, we think that you will agree that it is both easy to use and beautiful!

The new McCarthy Homes website was designed from the ground-up to deliver an exceptional experience for our valued clients.

Branding

Some time ago, we recognised that our old website did not adequately reflect our brand. We construct beautiful homes that are a pleasure to behold, yet our website failed to communicate this effectively. So, the journey towards a new website began.

The Process

Our website design process began with intensive discovery sessions with our development teams. We had to delve deeply into what makes McCarthy Homes the respected and sought-after brand that it is today. It was insightful for all involved, and gave us renewed respect for our own brand, as well as a better understanding of our failure to adequately communicate who we are and how we should go about that moving forward.

What followed was months of design and website development. Throughout the process tweaks and changes were made based on user feedback, development hurdles and ongoing discovery.

The final stage of this arduous process, the reveal to the public, will be the true test of the quality of our new website.

Functionality and User Experience 

The new McCarthy Homes website leaves nothing behind that our previous website offered. We still maintain a range of functionality, including the ability to view house plans, sign up for our newsletter, interact socially and much more.

The major changes lie in our user experience. A far more intuitive navigation structure, smoother edges across the whole site and a simple experience ensure that using the new McCarthy Homes website is a pleasure rather than a chore.

Experience it Now

Please go ahead and explore the website. We welcome all feedback, however we are quite sure that you’ll have a great time navigating through a new site that we are immensely proud of.