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Architecture

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.

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.

Difficult Block Builders can solve your land-use problems

By | Architecture
Challenging sites for home building can involve any number of factors that create issues for the builder or future occupier. There are a range of issues that can present challenges for builders, usually stemming from physical constraints on the land. Some of the issues that personify difficult blocks include:

Steep slopes or undulating land raise issues with having an appropriate, level site for a straightforward build. Many slopes are relatively straightforward to deal with, but without an experienced difficult block builder you may find yourself outlaying more expense than you need to. Any ground with a gradient beyond 30 degrees is generally considered to be a steep slope. In these situations, it may be extremely cost-prohibitive to cut and fill, requiring other solutions.

Existing structures may also create roadblocks for construction. These structures can be built structures that may need to be demolished and removed. In some rare cases, these structures may have legislative protections and will need to be maintained, requiring some imaginative work to build around them. Natural structures can also present challenges, particularly if there is no simple or cost-effective way of removing them, requiring other workarounds to make the block work.

Sometimes, environmental concerns need to be accounted for when building a new home. The risk of flooding or low-lying water must be considered, particularly in flood-prone areas. Stormwater runoff too is something that needs to be assessed and addressed if need be. Contouring and drainage works may be required to adequately direct stormwater runoff away from your home. Working with the right builder can greatly reduce the costs involved in managing water runoff.

In some situations, bushfire risk must also be assessed, and fire breaks or removal of trees and scrub will be required beyond the area in which construction will occur.

Soil conditions can place some restrictions on design and construction. Some soil types, such as clay, are very challenging to build on. Other soil conditions, such as exceedingly rocky ground, can make it difficult to carry out any earthworks prior to the build.

The region in which a home is built may necessitate taking different steps to ensure a structure’s stability and longevity. Coastal areas may be more exposed to wind and storms. Flatter, more open regions may also be more susceptible to large, fast wind gusts and thus the design and robustness of the home will need to account for this. Other considerations can include increased exposure snow or hail, tropical storms, ambient temperature and a range of other factors. Working with an experienced difficult block builder gives you the benefit of exposure to years of knowledge and experience building homes in a range of different conditions and environments.

A reasonably common challenge is space and how that is distributed throughout the block. Narrow blocks, triangular blocks or other oddly-shaped blocks require some imagination when it comes to siting a home. Added to these difficulties are legislative constraints, such as the requirement of a setback from the boundary and other factors that may influence walls and the placement of related structures such as sheds and external garages.

How to build on a difficult block

The first step is perhaps the most obvious. Engage a difficult block builder, who specialises in working with unfavourable landscapes and has the experience and skilled team required to help make your block work for you. Generally, difficult block builders will follow a similar formula when assessing how to go about building on your land.

A good builder will leverage the block into an advantage. Slopes can be used to create space under a home, or to expose the home to more air, light or great views. Further, you can take advantage of the topology of the land to design a home that really stands out, with different levels, balconies, split levels and more.

Contact us for a consultation

It doesn’t hurt to gather a few opinions. We’ve built on hundreds of difficult blocks over the years and have developed a powerful arsenal of tools to help manage with any challenge that your land can present us.

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.