Home ownership is the goal of most people, a dream they nurture but one that they find quite a challenge to fulfill. Budget constraints and tedious processes often make them leave these dreams in the back burner until the right time to bring it to the fore comes – and it has, by way of kit homes.
With the real estate so unpredictable these days and buyers being hesitant to part with their hard-earned cash, kit homes seem to be the only thing that is weathering the bad economy well. Being the most affordable and quickest option for new homeowners, the fact that you can get high-quality homes at very friendly prices and be able to build them in the shortest time possible is something first-time homeowners find quite hard to resist. Whether you choose simple, pre-cut materials that are ready to install or pre-assembled units just waiting to be placed on your preferred site, you will find a cost-effective ranges that suits your personal tastes and preferences.
Kit homes are essentially the plans and components of a house, along with a few exceptions that is delivered to a homeowner’s preferred site, ready to be constructed either by the homeowners themselves or by a registered builder. Regional areas are a favorite site for kit homes because the lead times are shorter and also because they are less expensive to build there than traditional homes which are more expensive because of the distance to the main cities. With a kit home, one trip is all it takes to bring everything you need.
Before finally committing yourself to getting a kit, it is important to get a copy of the inventory and building manual. Since not all kit homes have the same inclusions for the basic price, you need to check whether items like footings, slabs/floors, wiring/switches/electrical accessories, plumbing/taps/fittings, built-in kitchens, sanitary wares, tiles and paint are included. Talk to previous clients and ask them how the building went, the quality of the work that was done and any out-of-pocket expenses they had to pay and basically how they would rate their building experience.
Choosing suppliers is also something you shouldn’t take lightly. Your kit home suppliers must be licensed with the Office of Fair Trading and if your kits cost over $12,000, a certificate of home warranty insurance must be given to the homeowner before taking any money in the contract and before delivering supplies. Otherwise, you will be responsible for general insurance (eg. fire and theft).
You have the option of building kit homes yourself as owner-builder or by a sub-contractor hired by you, which you can do only after you’ve obtained an owner-builder permit from the Office of Fair Trading, or by a licensed builder contracted by you. Know as well that if you choose to use a builder, you can double the price of the kit to have it built.
Some kit home companies will have a build option where an approved builder puts the house together and it is an option most homeowners prefer since it is more reasonable in cost. Make sure that if you choose this option that the total amount is indicated in the contract and that home warranty insurance is provided. When selecting builders, nothing beats personal recommendations and referrals from friends, relatives and neighbors who’ve recently had work done. In the absence of contacts, you can call the Master Builders Association or the Housing Industry Association as they have shortlists they can provide.
And lastly, there’s the building contract. This is not only the actual contract document or building agreement, but will also include the architectural plans of the house, the specifications that describe the quality of the building and possible tender quotes. Take note as well that any job over $1000 is required to have a written contract that includes the following:
- Name of the builder and consumer and the signature of both parties
- The builder’s license details including license number and name
- Plan and work description as well as specifications of the project
- Statutory warranties
- The contract price and it should be prominently displayed on the first page with a notification if it is subject to change
- Evidence of title to land
- Date of commencement and completion
Knowledge is power and you’ll want to ensure that your first venture in homebuilding will be a resounding success. Make sure you do thorough research on all the processes involved and ask your kit home supplier all the necessary questions and you’ll be on your way to building the home of your dreams in no time.