qld Blog 2024 2402 All-inclusive-guide-to-building-your-first-home mcp-ch-nevada-0224-017-2000x850
Building your home /02.02.24

All-inclusive guide to building your first home

Building your first home can be tell-everybody-you-know exciting ... but there’s a lot to consider, research and understand before we can mark out the site and break ground. 

Nervous? You’re not alone.
Over 69,000 Queenslanders have been where you are right now in the past eight years, finding out everything they possibly could about the home building process. And while they had to source their information from different sources, we’re here to help you with our comprehensive guide to building a special space for your family to live, grow and relax. 

Using this guide

We’re not going to assume where you’re up to on your home building journey. You may:

  1. Have your deposit saved and ready, with pre-approved funds and grants in your back pocket.

  2. Be on your way to a deposit, tossing up between building and buying as a long term goal.

  3. Feel curious about what’s out there and what kind of options you could explore. 

To make scanning easy - because we all do it - we’ve categorised our advice (or Recommended Reading) according to Ready to Go, On Your Way, or Just Curious. Curious people may want to read everything, while those with money saved and short lists organised can skip bits and bobs without missing out on anything.

Tip: Keep your eyes peeled for a jargon buster on words that have been both bolded and italicised.

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Recommended Reading: On Your Way, Just Curious

Let’s talk money

The most important, first step!

Reflect on your lifestyle

Questions to consider:

  • What’s important to you and your partner?

  • Do you have kids?

  • Do you work from home?

  • Do you entertain on weekends, or would you like to?

  • Are you on the quieter side, with books and more books piled high?

  • Would a media room be a must?

Sit down together (or by yourself, if you’re building solo) and decide on the minimum amount of bedrooms, non-negotiable areas (like a study nook or separate office), nice to haves (garage storage) and add it later features (detailed landscaping etc). Take note of proximity to things like shops, schools, public transport and other important infrastructure. 

Seek out professional financial help

We all want a butler’s pantry, a wardrobe the size of a small room or a double shower, but what we want doesn’t always line up with what we can service. Get advice from a financial advisor about how much you can borrow, loan types (fixed, variable, construction, land, combined etc) and things like wealth packages (payable add-ons that can keep long term costs down for term fee) and offset accounts.  Don’t talk to a single financial advisor or bank - shop around and get a range of opinions and insights. And while you’re shopping around, keep an eagle eye on house and land prices and play around with our online estimate tool to get a feel for how much your dream house would cost.

Finance jargon answered

What is serviceability?

Serviceability is about your ability to handle loan repayments. It takes into account factors like the loan amount, plus your income, expenses, and other commitments. This boils down to a number known as the debt service ratio – a measure of how much of the monthly income goes into covering the monthly debt expenses.

What is an offset account?

An offset account transaction account linked to your home loan. Similar to an everyday bank  account, you can deposit and withdraw funds whenever you like. The notable difference? Maintaining a balance in this account over time has the potential to reduce the interest charged on your home loan. It's a smart financial move that helps you save on loan costs.

Government grants are your bread and butter

If you’re a first home buyer building a house in Queensland, there are two government grants at your disposal (provided you meet the criterion). 

 First Home Owners Grant  If eligible, you’ll receive either $15,000 or $30,000 towards purchasing or constructing your first home.
 First Home Vacant Land Concession  If eligible, you could save up to $7,175 on land under $400,000.
 First Home Guarantee  If eligible, up to 15% of the property cost will be guaranteed by housing Australia. 

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Recommended reading: Ready to Go, On Your Way, Just Curious

Land (if you don't already have a block)

What if you already own a block? Skip to the next step!

House and land package vs private block

Buying the right block of land for your needs and dream design can be tricky if you don’t understand how certain layouts would look on a prospective block. Home builders can approach buying private land in a couple of ways: 

  1. By creating a shortlist of designs from your favourite builder and seeking out block dimensions that suit those measurements. Keep in mind every local council has rules around easements and setbacks (hint: Your 30m long block will not suit a 28m long design).

  2. Or buying  a block without researching designs and finding a layout to fit what you’ve already purchased. This can limit what you can build, particularly if you purchase a square block with a shorter length. Although, there’s something to be said for buying land and allowing it to gain equity, before reinvesting any gains into a construction loan.

If you do choose to buy land privately, always ask for a soil report, and don’t dive in before accounting for things like cut and fill costs on sloping blocks, retaining walls and expensive slab work.  

On the other hand, house and land packages have taken all the above into account. We work with you to ensure your vision and reality closely align, unifying things like budget (so there’s no need for two loans), satisfying any setback concerns with council, and streamlining paperwork pain so the process (and budget) doesn’t feel out of your control.

Affordable house and land for first home buyers - does it exist?

Yes! We know budgets are tightening around Australia, but it is extraordinarily possible to buy, build and live in a brand new home, without going out west. Curious? Start exploring, and we’ll be here to answer any questions.

Building site jargon answered

What is an easement? 

From the Queensland Government website: “An easement is a set of rights to use a section of land in a particular way. It gives someone else the right to use the land for a specific purpose even though they are not the landowner. Easements over land may be granted for a specific purpose, including access, drainage, sewerage, or supply of water or gas.” 
Easements also include things like:

  • Granting your neighbours the right of way to pass over your land to access their home.

  • Retaining and shared walls (easements of support).

  • Height restrictions (easements of light and air) - eg. some parts of the Gold Coast only allow for 3-5 storey apartment blocks. 

What is a building set back?

A setback is the minimum distance that a building or structure must maintain from the boundaries of a property. It's measured from the outermost point of the structure/design to the property line. Setback requirements hinge on the specific location of your property. Different areas have different rules in place.

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Recommended reading: Ready to Go, On Your Way, Just Curious

Building your home

Finding the right design

Take out the lifestyle list you made earlier, and enter your needs into the search bar on the Clarendon home designs page (if you choose to go with us), starting with house type (single, double or acreage), number of bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms and car spaces; and lot width, should you already have a block of land in mind.

Compare house designs that fit your needs

Curate a collection of house designs that align with your plans, and don’t forget the little features that can be found within - walk-in linen cupboards, larger laundries, walk-in pantries, separate living and entertainment areas and comfortable nooks for study, reading or relaxing are all popular lifestyle elements.

Feel out facades

Narrow down two layout favourites - and scroll through the facades of each - is there something that spikes your visual imagination? Is there a certain aesthetic you or your partner love? From the cladding of the Westhamptons to the modern Arden, each facade option imbues your future home with a different personality - and it’s up to you (and your budget) which trait takes centre stage!

Understand inclusions and promotions

Get to know what’s included with each build - the best way to do that is to speak to a consultant! While there are different inclusions with Clarendon Homes, depending on which collection you select (the Luxe Collection has Luxe inclusions, the Aspire collection has Aspite Inclusions etc), every single surface, finish and appliance is guaranteed to charm for years to come. Affordability is not the absence of quality! 

Speaking of making things more affordable, builders (including Clarendon Homes) run jaw-dropping promotions at different times of the year. 

Seek out experienced advice

We recommend not doing this part on your own. Speak to a friendly team member on-site at your nearest display home or on the phone.

Design jargon answered

What is the difference between building inclusions and seasonal promotions?

Building inclusions are the standard features that come with a home, like materials, surfaces, appliances and fittings. These are the basics you can expect, and they may differ from collection to collection. On the other hand, promotions are special deals, bundling things like amplified design, comfort upgrades (air conditioning, lighting upgrades and more, depending on the promotion), and premium finishes. Or, more simply, building inclusions are what you always get, while promotions are temporary extras or savings.

Choosing a builder

Breaking all the above down, choosing a builder is a huge decision. This company will have your home in the palm of their collective hands, so their commitment to quality, process and craftsmanship should be at the top of your list. Here are a few basics to consider:

  1. Check that your shortlist of builders hold current Queensland building permits and licences here: https://www.onlineservices.qbcc.qld.gov.au/OnlineLicenceSearch/VisualElements/SearchBSALicenseeContent.aspx

  2. Do they guarantee their work, and if so, when do those building guarantees run out? Opt for one that doesn’t. 

  3. Research things like lifestyle options, inclusions and promotions (see more information on these below). 

  4. Make a list of must-haves, nice-to-haves and negotiables - do their designs include your musts?

  5. Make sure your budget exceeds the base house price of your desired designs. 

  6. Put a face to the brand - speak to the team and get to know the people who may be building your home. 

Come and see for yourself. Find your nearest display.

Home builder jargon answered

What is a building guarantee and why is it important?

A building guarantee is a commitment from a builder to fix any issues in a new property within a set timeframe, protecting you from unforeseen problems. Some builders honour their work for 10 years, others 20 or 50… a house should last a lifetime, and that’s exactly what you’ll get with Clarendon Homes. A lifetime structural guarantee.

What is the base house price?

The base house price is how much the home costs without any extras or upgrades and non-design elements like complex siteworks, driveways, or engineered retaining walls. Understanding this basic price helps you make informed choices about affordability, calculating an extras budget with confidence. 

Or you can let us do it for you! Create an estimate online using one or more of our designs, up-to-date with the latest promotions and inclusions per build! 

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Curious about Clarendon Homes?

Find out more about what makes us one of Australia’s most trusted home builders, and get to know more about our homegrown ethos. Your building journey begins here

Own land? We’re here to help you find a design to fit your lot.

No land? Get the best of both worlds with our house and land packages.

First home buyer? We have a collection just for you.

On a budget? No problem.