READY TO BUILD
OUR GUIDE TO CHOOSING THE RIGHT BLOCK FOR YOU
Blocks of land come in all sorts of shapes, slopes and sizes, and you would be hard pressed to find one that ticks all the right boxes in the suburb where you want to build.
While there are some minor land irregularities that can be overlooked in favour of living in your desired suburb or setting, it’s important to know how much it will cost to prepare your block for building.
McDonald Jones Homes’ director of sales Phil Haigh says saving money isn’t always the end objective when building your dream home, and homeowners who want to take in views will obviously want to build on an elevated block.
“The only thing we would say is, you need to know what you are getting into from the very beginning,” says Phil.
“Most people we come across are looking to make it easier for the builder and the landscaper to do their job efficiently.”
For some, the perfect block of land is pancake flat.
“In our industry that’s what we call a completely flat block that will save you money because you won’t necessarily need retaining walls, edge beams or piering,” Phil says. “There are all these hidden costs you have to pay for if your land is sloped.”
Land that has a slight fall is manageable, because machines can be brought in to contour the land to create a level pad.
But most people will steer clear of blocks with large trees, even though Phil says there’s no real reason to.
“Trees are not a huge obstacle,” he says. “You can put in an application to move trees within 3m of the house going up.”
If you’re building with a developer on a subdivision, they would have already cleared the land of trees, ready for a slab to go down.
Phil recommends buying a block of land well away from bushfire zones if you’re on a budget. Building costs will spiral as homes have to be built to a certain standard — and sometimes in a certain location — to comply with state regulations.
“The closer you are to the bush, the more expensive it will be to build,” he says. “In fact, if you buy land in a flame zone (the highest level of fire danger), a lot of builders won’t take that on. “That would be a very expensive exercise.” Another issue to consider when buying a block of land is site accessibility.
You need to ask yourself how easy it is for materials to be delivered and dropped off and whether everything from heavy machinery to wheelbarrows can move around the site.
“Being aware of these issues when deciding on a block can save you money,” Phil says.
If there is limited access from the main road, or if the land is too steep for trucks to access the site and cranes need to be hired to transport materials, the building costs will be jacked up.
If you’re buying a block on a main road, check with council about costs associated with traffic control. “It all comes at a cost to the clients,” says Phil. ‘‘Some places have No Stopping or limited parking. If we need several hours to offload materials, where are the trucks going to stop?”
When you’re considering the aspect of a potential site, Phil says thinking about where your living spaces will be can help.
“We recommend clients look for northern light at the rear,” he says. “As builders, we wouldn’t buy a block unless it had a rear north-facing block,” he says.
“In new home designs, most of the living areas are at the back of the home.”
“You can’t have sun on all sides of the house at all times, so having sun-soaked living areas would be the most ideal.”