Tips For Building Your First Home

Building a house is exciting, but at the same time it’s daunting as hell. Especially when it’s your first house and first mortgage! I remember feeling so overwhelmed with all the new terminology and things I needed to know. I’m the type of person who researches and googles absolutely everything. This is sometimes to my detriment, because I quickly build up a list of all the negatives on any given topic and read far to into it.

quote google via we heart it bw

My number one source of information throughout the build, but especially in the early stages, was the HomeOne forum. It’s such a great space for like-minded people building or renovating in Australia. No question is deemed silly, and if you don’t want to ask a question – you can easily just do a quick search and more likely than not, you will find someone else has already asked what you need the answer to.

I’ve shared some tips I’ve learnt along the way:

  1. SAVE! And save more than what you budgeted to save. Easier said then done, right? Also, don’t believe the sticker price of a house when you’re researching online or talking to sales reps, try to add at least 10-15% to this and then some! Our Sales Rep was always upfront and transparent with this – so we knew what to expect.
  2. ADD all the “extras” during the pre-contract stage. Do not accept the standard spiel “oh you can add that in at pre-start”. During the pre-contract stage you have the upper hand – they want your business. At Pre-start you have already signed your contracts so you have less bargaining power.
  3. Together with the HomeOne forum, Pinterest is your new best friend, as is Instagram when it comes to choosing finishes and a style for your home. Once you have an idea of what you like – search #hashtags across social media to see other candid shots of your selections. This is especially helpful for looking up your benchtop choice (#essastone #newcrystalsalt) and paint colours (#duluxaus #solverkittygrey etc).
  4. Start buying homewares, now. Yes, you read that correctly. I know #1 said to SAVE, but honestly, if you don’t buy them now every other purchase is going to take priority when you move in. I am so glad I had a stash of goodies that I had collected over the construction of our house. I actually got a majority on sale too, as I had the luxury of time on my side and didn’t require anything immediately, so could shop around!
  5. Swallow your pride. Yes, it’s your first home and yes you see everyone’s beautifully styled homes on Instagram, but people offering second hand furniture and other items are helping you. You don’t have to keep the items forever. Think of them as keeping the spot warm until you can afford the items you really want.
  6. NEUTRALS are your best friend. Especially if you’re like me and change your mind every second week. Give the permanent fixtures of your home longevity by choosing neutral colours and textures that won’t date as quickly. You can then change up the look with inexpensive homewares and decor.
  7. PAY EXTRA off your home loan. Okay, it’s a no brainer, but if you’re in a position to do so, pay above your minimum repayments during the construction of your loan. We were very, very fortunate to be living with our parents, rent free! (I think we will forever be indebted to our parents for this – it helped us massively with pulling together the 20% deposit to avoid mortgage insurance and we are so, so grateful for it). With our house still under construction we were only paying interest. So I made sure we paid the minimum repayment we would be paying on our full loan amount. This means we now have surplus in our homeloan account. It also meant we are used to paying our full mortgage amount and don’t have to adjust now that we are in our home.
  8. Order your window coverings now! We measured a good two months ago and only ordered our blinds today. OOPS! We now have a 10 week wait for our shutters and 3-4 weeks for our roller blinds. Hello, newspapered windows!
  9. Befriend your neighbours! We are so lucky on this front. Our neighbours behind us are bloody legends and let us use their power when our site wasn’t energised. This saved us over $1000 in generator hire through the builder. I have also “virtually met” our neighbours directly next door on the HomeOne forum and another neighbour who is building in the next door estate to ours.
  10. Read your contracts, and read them again. In fact, have them read by at least 3 people.
  11. Get everything in writing. I mean everything. I used to speak on the phone to our sales representative and Client Liaison Officer, and then, immediately after send an email asking them to confirm what we just spoke about. This means you always have a record and go back to it, if required.
  12. Lastly, ENJOY every minute and try to stress less. Yes the wait is annoying, and you just want to be in right now. But you’re going to enjoy your home for much longer than it took to build. So just take a step back and enjoy the process. I am so proud of what we have achieved together and cannot wait to start this new journey in our new home.

Do you have any tips you can share?

P.S – Today is handover day.

I will write a full post on how it went next Friday. But until then, if you want to see a few happy snaps and progress shots – follow me on Instagram! @HouseAmour

Instagram - House Amour


House Progress: Practical Completion Inspection and a Handover Date

I still cannot believe I am writing a PCI post? After 51 weeks, we are finally at the pointy end of our build with our second PCI meeting scheduled for next Friday! Which means this time next week we will officially have the keys to our home.

For those who aren’t familiar with the term, Practical Completion Inspection (PCI).  It generally means the point where all building work is complete or all but completed, in accordance with the contract, and the house is reasonably fit for occupation (more info can be found here

Items to be completed prior to PCI

  • Organise Home & Contents Insurance. We ended up going through RAC as they were the most competitive.
  • Tip: ensure your insurance PDS includes *new for old replacement*

PCI Overview

PCI went better then expected. If you read my post a couple of weeks ago you would know that we decided not to engage an Independent Building Inspector. I’m still a little unsure if this was the right thing to do… But overall, considering we visited the house almost three times a week, every single week since the slab went down, we’re confident everything is fine.


Ensuite Bathroom with Laminex Sublime Teak Cabinets and EssaStone New Crystal Salt Tops.

8:45am: I arrived to the house early so I could have a walk around and take photos. I hadn’t been inside the house for a few weeks. Josh manages to get in at least a few times a week because he finishes work earlier. However, even after 50 freaking weeks – he still can’t take a decent photo!?! He definitely isn’t an #instagramhusband….

9am: Met our Site Supervisor (Chris) who was awesome! He immediately apologised for the state of the windows. They were meant to be thoroughly cleaned early that morning but unfortunately the cleaner’s child was unwell so they couldn’t make it. Life happens! It didn’t matter, just as long as they are cleaned prior to handover.


My absolute favourite part of the house. Our front door stained in Wattyl Red Cedar.

9 – 11:30am: We walked around the house inspecting every single room. I had a notepad and paper with me (of course) and was noting down all our items so I could match them with the list the Supervisor was making. Our Supervisor had already noted a lot of defects down himself, which was reassuring.


Kitchen and window splashback. Our cabinets are Laminex Polar White – Silk Finish and the stone top is EssaStone’s New Crystal Salt.

Items on our list are mainly to do with aesthetics:

  • Lots of paint patch ups to the doors
  • A few screw pops to the ceiling
  • Extra grout to the wet areas
  • Patching to walls
  • Fix the roof flashing
  • Air conditioning panels to be installed
  • Fix the stone benchtop in the kitchen – it hasn’t been installed correctly and has a slight bow under the window.

The builder generally allows 10 working days to complete the above items. Once complete, a second PCI meeting is scheduled where we will walk through our house again and ensure all items have been rectified. Once this is complete, we can schedule a meeting at the builder’s head office to organise payment and pick up our keys! (WooHoo!)

Items to be organised after PCI

  • Receive final progress payment document from the builder
  • Send progress claim document and your Insurance Certificate of Currency to bank and request a Bank Cheque (I just called our bank rep at BankWest and requested this)
  • A Bank Cheque is the preferred method of payment over an EFT as it means the transaction and paperwork has already been processed by the bank. The cheque can simply be handed over to the builder at time of key collection.
  • Before they will issue the funds the bank does a valuation of the home. This is organised by the bank on your behalf.

Tips for PCI

  • Take your time!
  • Be prepared – we had been visiting the house and taking note of items we wanted fixed at PCI
  • Write your own list whilst walking through the home so you can check it off against the supervisors at the end of the inspection.
  • Stress Less! This isn’t a test, and it’s certainly not the last opportunity for you to spot any defects. You still have a warranty and the builder still needs to comply with this even after you move in! Plus there is the 6 months maintenance period.

House Purchases

Our poor bank account has been getting a work out of late (on the upside, at least something is. The wedding crash diet and exercise regime is yet to commence – haha).

We got the Maine Dining Chair from Domayne at the mid-year sale. Reduced from $179 to $116 each!

A living room floor lamp from Freedom Furniture (Titan Floor Lamp – Freedom)

Freedom Furniture - Lamp

A polyvore mood board featuring our Maine Dining Chairs from Domayne, Titan Floor Lamp from Freedom, Jute Rug and Print from Adairs

And less exciting – but oh so practical. We bought a washing machine!

I also had a voucher for Adairs and with 30% off I couldn’t resist the beautiful Soho Console Table. Unfortunately this was the last of my purchases – as I’ve now been put on a strict budget!


Stay tuned for next weeks update! #keys