Building a new home should be an exciting and rewarding period, but it can also be incredibly stressful and nerve-racking. At Rolfe Constructions we aim to do everything possible to ensure your new build runs smoothly, and being informed is one of the best ways to avoid confusion. Below are some points to consider when looking for a block and deciding on your home design.
Block or Design?
Which should come first? A good question with no definite answer! It really depends on the result you’re after. If you want a particular style of home, that might influence the type of block you buy – do you want views, for example? A split level or elevated design? Or an easy-access home that requires a flat or gently sloping block? Or perhaps you want to live in a particular area with a limited choice of blocks. Depending on what’s available in the area you might be contending with features of your block which restrict or dictate your design choices, such as slope, size or orientation.
It comes down to whether design or location is most important to you.
If you can tick both boxes, great!
Tips for Choosing a Block
Location seems a straightforward consideration when choosing a block, but it’s not just about choosing your favourite neighbourhood. Think about the amenities that your family needs and whether they’re available. Are there any potential issues around your proposed block such as commercial or industrial sites, train lines or parking lots? Even a suburb that you love will have less desirable areas and this has to be considered and weighed up. Or you might have your heart set on an area but find you need to cast your net wider to find suitable land. For example, many of the most desirable coastal locations present a range of challenges for construction that can add considerably to the cost of your build. If you want that stunning water view the extra cost and inconvenience might be a worthwhile trade-off. But if you are on a budget, finding a more suitable block in a nearby suburb might save you in construction costs and give you a more suitable home and lifestyle.
Before purchasing a block make sure you know what utilities are available. Newly released land or rural blocks may not be fully serviced and this can affect construction and costs. Obviously most established blocks should be fully serviced, but it’s worth finding out what power and communication options are ready to hook up.
Zoning, Encumbrances and Covenants
Check with your local council to make sure the zoning of the block allows you to build the home you want. Some areas have classifications concerning flood levels, bush fires or protected areas which can impact on your design choices. Also check for any encumbrances such as a neighbour having a right of access through your block, or easements, drainage or sewerage lines, as these can all affect where you position your home. Covenants involve any restrictions on materials, colours, styles or building heights and are in place in some areas.
Shape and Slope
Typically, a good quality, flat, level block will cost a little more. You’ll usually save some money initially on a less desirable block – one with a steep slope or irregular shape – but you’ll usually find that construction costs will be higher on these blocks and this needs to be considered when choosing a block. You can also often get a more dramatic result with a “challenging” block. Another thing to consider.
The ideal block for building is a flat, rectangular block with a wide frontage providing easy access for construction. Irregular-shaped blocks can cause issues with both design and construction, but a good designer or architect will ensure you utilise your block to its full potential. Likewise, an experienced, quality builder can anticipate problems with your block and work with you to keep costs and construction time down.
Construction on steep sloping blocks is usually more involved, and more costly. But don’t dismiss them – they can often present a great opportunity for creating a unique and beautiful home. You can take advantage of views, create a dynamic, multi-level floor plan and even access extra space under an elevated home. Sloping blocks can often require excavation and retaining walls which can significantly increase costs. Make sure you take this into consideration when shopping for a block.
Soil Type and Orientation
Different areas have different soil types and this can have an impact on construction. The best way to know what’s happening on your block is to organise a soil test which will accurately assess the soil, determine the stability of the block and the type of foundations required. Light, sandy soils can require reinforcement while rocky soils or thick clay can mean extra excavation. Both would result in extra costs and it’s best to know this before commencing construction.
Orientation refers to the direction your block faces. It’s not just about positioning your home to take advantage of sun direction. For example, consider whether a block is dark and damp with poor drainage, or if it’s exposed and windswept. Orientation can often work in tandem with soil type to create issues, with damp conditions exacerbating clay soils and wind creating erosion and instability in sandy soils. Ideally you want a block that gets adequate sunlight throughout the day, with space to position your home to maximise a northern aspect, some protection from strong winds and good drainage.
The considerations listed above will be important when it comes to designing a home for your block. Every block comes with its own unique assets and challenges, and working with your land rather than against it can help you save money and also ensure that your home is functional as well as beautiful.
Your next step after purchasing your block will be working with your builder, and a designer or architect, to come up with the perfect home for your budget, block and lifestyle. This is where the fun starts! There’s a huge range of options when it comes to home design, and engaging experienced professionals makes all the difference in maximising your block’s potential.
At Rolfe Constructions we have designers and architects with whom we work on a regular basis, and we’re more than happy to recommend them. We aim to leave all our clients with a home they love, a home that exceeds their expectations. If you have any questions regarding purchasing a block or building on a block your already own, give us a call.