Building 101 – Buying land in Tasmania? Here’s 3 simple (but vital) checks and tests to do before you buy.

Everybody’s talking about real estate in Tasmania. Prices are soaring for existing homes and competition to secure a block of land is high.  But before you sign on the dotted line, here’s a few tips we think are important.

If you’re keen to build a new home, it’s natural to feel pressure to sign a contract on a block, especially amongst the hype that’s happening at the moment.  But when you’re building a home (or investment property), your design possibilities and build costs literally rest on the land you buy.

Our advice?  Get informed.

Here’s 3 tests and checks you can do to make sure the block of land you’re excited about is as good as it looks.

  1. Get familiar with LISTmap (it’s free)

If you haven’t checked out LISTmap, head there nowLISTmap (LIST stands for Land Information System Tasmania) is an online tool that takes the guesswork out of analysing land in Tasmania.

We love LISTMap because it’s visual, interactive and FREE.  Search for the address/suburb title you’re looking at and get immediate information on zoning, coastal erosion vulnerability, bushfire danger and flood history. Simply select the information you want to see (e.g., zoning) and it will appear as a layer over the top of the map.

Even if you haven’t found the perfect block yet, jump on and have a play.  We’d suggest making a list of the areas you would like to live or invest in.  Then, spend some time researching each area on LISTmap. Your search might reveal ‘red flags’ (e.g. no access to town water or is prone to a landslip) that we can discuss with you.

  1. Book a block inspection with us (or your chosen builder)

It’s impossible to overemphasise the importance of a block inspection. You wouldn’t buy a car without knowing if it’s got aircon, so don’t buy a block that might not meet your basic needs.

At a block inspection, we’ll meet you onsite and talk about fundamentals like orientation (the way the block faces), slope and size. In reality, getting these things right can save you thousands. Plus, block inspections can be fun; if it’s looking good, we can walk around and start visualising the view from your loungeroom!

  1. Find out the soil type (and avoid blowing your budget on footings and foundations!)

A soil test is the single, most critical test required for the residential blocks we see. Why?  Soil type determines how much of your budget needs to be set aside for footings and foundations (surprisingly, it can be a significant chunk!)

When you enquire about a block, ask the landowner or real estate if a soil test has already been done and request the results.  If a test hasn’t been done, we can arrange for a geotechnical engineer to do it.

If you’re feeling the pressure to make an offer and a soil test hasn’t been done, don’t stress. It is possible to make a conditional offer based on receiving good soil test results.  This is a common condition on the contract of sale for land and blocks.

So there you have it, 3 vital checks to do before you sign that contract. Want more?  Make sure you read our past blog with 5 key questions to ask landowners or real estate agents here.

To stay up to date with future Building 101 releases?  Follow us on Facebook and Instagram

Blog post written by Karli Franks.  


Building 101 – Here’s why finance is the first step to building your new home

It might be surprising that finding a block isn’t the first step to building a new home.

Why? Because building involves two big purchases – buying your block and building your new home. As builders, one of the first questions we’ll ask you is, ‘what is your budget?’

So, we believe knowing what you can afford (in total) is the real first step to building a new home.

As some of you know, our offices are right next door to finance brokers, Revolution Home Finance, in Cooee. For this blog, we grabbed a minute with Revolution’s Director, Issy Reeves. Issy has worked with hundreds of clients building new homes.  In Issy’s experience, understanding finances and budget is a crucial step towards building a new home.

In short, here’s Issy’s top 3 reasons for seeing a mortgage broker (or bank):

  1. Knowing what you can afford (and if you have enough for a deposit) can help you set your building budget;
  2. You’ll suss out any potential challenges to finance (so you can sort them out before you miss out);
  3. It will give you an understanding of different lenders and their lending rules/policies (so you can keep this in mind when searching for the ideal block).

Here’s why these 3 things really matter.

Knowing what you can afford will save you from falling short of your dream.

In Issy’s experience, helping clients determine how much they can comfortably borrow for the total build is vital, ‘Buying a block is only part of building a new home,’ Issy says, ‘You don’t want to get stuck with land you can’t afford to build a beautiful home on.’  Alongside determining borrowing capacity and budget, Issy says it’s also helpful to get an understanding of different loan types and the process of taking out a loan.

Seeing a broker (or bank) will help you understand any challenges to financing your construction loan.

‘Lenders want to know you can service a loan (pay it off) comfortably. They’re going to look at how you spend and save your money, your credit history, and your employment circumstances.’ Issy says.

Lenders can also be picky about how you finance your loan deposit. For example, it’s common knowledge that Federal and State governments have grants available for first-time builders and/or owner-occupiers.  But, did you know lenders don’t always count grant dollars towards your deposit?

According to Issy, brokers can quickly help you navigate the grant schemes and bank requirements so your loan application is more likely to be accepted.  ‘It’s like setting up a favorable social media profile before applying for a job’, she says, ‘Talking to a broker can help you get your financial profile ‘just right.’

It’s a smart move because if you’re ready to borrow, you can comfortably talk to a builder about your budget  Then, when the right block pops up, building your dream home is one step closer!

Be aware of comparing apples with oranges. Get to know the different rules and policies of different lenders.

Issy’s final is tip is to be savvy when comparing lenders. We all know lenders have different interest rates, but did you know lenders have heaps of other different rules to determine how much they’ll lend you? Lenders will even consider the suburb you want to build in or the type of road your block is on!

Issy recommends seeing a broker (or at least speaking to your bank) and asking the right questions about their lending rules and policies. ‘It’s our job to see through the minefield of different rules and policies lenders have,’ Issy says, ‘understanding them can prevent you from missing out on funds or paying too much in interest or fees.’

So there you have it – 3 compelling reasons to sit down with your broker or bank today.

To keep in touch with more from Issy and the Revolution team follow Revolution Home Finance on Facebook or visit their website.

To stay up to date with future Building 101 releases?  Follow us on Facebook and Instagram

Blog post written by Karli Franks.  

Photography by Sam Guy @bowerpix



Building 101 – How long does it take to build a home?

One of the most common questions we get asked is, ‘how long will it take to build our new home?’

At Own-A-Home we build customised homes.  That means we help you design a home that’s tailored to you.  So, with that in mind, here’s our average timelines for a new home build. 

First, the design and approvals stage takes around 3 months.  Then, once we’ve got a ‘construction slot’ scheduled for the actual build, it takes our crew 6 – 7 months to build a single storey home or 7-9 months to build a two storey home.   

Right now (September 2020), thanks to federal and state government building grants, we’ve got more builds scheduled than average. So, to meet the demand we’ve had to schedule more time between completing the planning phase and actually starting the build of a new home.  

This post is the first of many planned for our ‘Building 101’ series.  It’s about just what it takes to design, build and move into your new home.  We’ll be posting on our blog, Facebook and Instagram (@ownahometas_builders) so, be sure to give us a follow and shoot through your questions.

Next in the series, we’ll be talking to local mortgage broker Issy Reeves about just how important it is to understand your building budget.  


2020 Tasmanian First Home Builders Grant extension and Federal HomeBuilders Grant – here’s what you need to know

There may never have been a better time to build a new home in Tasmania!

There’s up to $45,000 worth of grants available to build your new home with the announcement of new and extended Federal ($25,000) and State Government ($20,000) incentives.

So, what do you need to know?

We’ve collated the most up to date information for you right here (it actually took us a while to find it too!) so you can check your eligibility.

Aside from qualifying for the grants, another key ingredient is the signing of contracts and construction timelines.

You will need to sign a contract from today until the end of December and, construction must begin within three months.  Then there’ll be 2 years to complete the build of your new home.

We’re excited too and keen to talk through any questions you might have so please get in touch via our contact page.

Federal Government HomeBuilder $25,000

The Federal Government’s HomeBuilder will give eligible owner-occupiers (including new home buyers) with $25,000 to build a new home (or substantially renovate an existing home).

You will be able to apply for HomeBuilder via the Tasmanian Government.  We’ll keep you posted as more information about applications comes to light.

To see if you qualify jump onto the FAQ page.

Tasmanian Government First Home Builder Grant Extension $20,000

Premier Peter Gutwein has announced the Tasmanian Government’s First Home Builder grant of $20,000 will be extended to any owner-occupier (so you don’t have to be building your first home to qualify!)

Detailed guidelines are available via here

For the most reliable information about both grants visit the State Revenue Office Covid-19 webpage.

Want to read more?  Check out the local news announcements on ABC, the Examiner and the Advocate websites.

 Want to stay up to date with future blog releases?  Follow us on Facebook and Instagram

Blog post written by Karli Franks. 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels


5 key questions to ask real estate agents about every block of land (before you book an inspection)

It’s no secret that finding the perfect block of land is one of the first steps to building your own home.

But as the price of land increases, paying top dollar doesn’t always guarantee you’re getting prime land to build on.

Here’s 5 over-the-phone questions you can ask the real estate agent before you book an inspection.

What is the zoning of the block?

Zoning affects what you can and can’t build on a block of land.  It even affects whether you can knock down and rebuild a home.  In Tasmania, iplan provides interactive maps that can also tell you the zoning of a particular block of land.

Does the block have any easements?

Easements refer to ‘the right to cross or otherwise use someone else’s land’.  Easements may be in place to ensure other properties have access to services such as water or power.  If there is an easement on the block of land you’re looking at, it may impact your building ‘envelope’, or the exterior ‘shell’ of your home.

Is the block prone to bushfire, flood, coastal erosion, coastal inundation or landslip?

Building in areas prone to natural hazards may need additional considerations which can influence the design of your home and cost to build.  The iplan tool mentioned earlier also provides great information about areas prone to natural hazards in Tasmania.

Has a soil test been done on the block yet?

Soil tests determine what type of soil the block of land made up of.  Soil types can influence the cost of building a new home.  If you like the block and a soil test hasn’t been done, talk to us.

Does the block have connections to town water, power, and other services?

Finally, if you find out the block isn’t already connected to services it’s a good idea to contact service providers or, talk to us, about the cost to connect the block to power, water, sewage and so on.

A final tip…

As you can probably tell, it’s a great idea to get us, or your builder, involved early.  Plus, as vacant land is becoming harder to find, being flexible with your home design can help you start building sooner.

If a block of land seems suitable we’re happy to come along to an inspection with you. That way, we can talk confidently about the style, size, and estimated costs of building your home on that block.

But, if your heart’s set on a specific house plan or design, we can help you figure out what you’ll need to look for in a suitable block.

Knowing what you’re looking for saves you time (and disappointment) because you’ll only look at blocks with real potential. And, if you’ve got your criteria set, real estate agents can keep an eye out for suitable blocks too.

 Want to stay up to date with future blog releases?  Follow us on Facebook and Instagram

Blog post written by Karli Franks. 

Here’s how interior design will save you time, money and sleepless nights when building your new home

Introducing Savannah Denny, independent Interior Design Consultant for Own-A-Home

Woohoo!  You’ve decided to build your own home.  Perhaps one of the most exciting moments of your life.

Finance is approved and planning is in full swing.  You’ve got a block, an ideal floorplan, a vision.  It’s likely you’ve been simultaneously liking, pinning and sharing plans, rooms, and styles online.

So, it’s all coming together, isn’t it?

When you build a new home one of the greatest aspects can also be one of the most overwhelming.  Decisions – all yours, and lots of them.

But, as your builder we want you to build a new home. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to make sure you never feel overcome by overwhelm.

Tracking your build online gets us a fair bit of the way there because knowing when you need to make decisions and locking them in is so simple.  On top of that, we’ve got an amazing team of sub-contractors and suppliers (draftsman, roofer, joiners, painters, tilers, carpet layers) who care as much about helping you stay inspired and excited as we do.

Still, we’ve felt for a long time like something was missing. We wanted more ‘design flair’ in what we offered to you.

And now, we’ve found it (well, her!)…

Introducing Savannah Denny…

Savannah Denny Interior Design Consultant, Tasmania, Australia

Savannah is a savvy, professional interior designer who has just graced the North West Coast of Tassie with her presence (find out all about Savannah here)

As soon as we met Savannah we knew she was ‘the one’.

Working with Savannah will save you $.

What you need to know straight up is Savannah isn’t an employee of ours.  Savannah is her own ‘boss-lady’ (Savannah’s term!) so she’s not here to up-sell or increase our profit margins.

In fact, Savannah is here to increase your profit margins.

How?  When you build a home, you’re building it to stand the test of time.  Not just structurally but in the way it looks, feels and fits your lifestyle.  An amazingly designed home will reflect your style and personality but won’t date, saving you serious dollars in upgrades and more profit if you do need to sell.

What’s more, as any great interior designer does, Savannah will respect your budget and save you money along the way – sourcing fixtures and finishes that deliver the best ‘bang for your buck’.

Take your kitchen for example.

Not only is your kitchen the ‘heart of your home’ but it’s also the space that holds the most design decisions (and a relatively large chunk of your budget!).

It’s easy to pin photos that make your heart sing but a kitchen has to do way more than look good.

Imagine yourself in the space, does it need to withstand toddlers banging the benchtops?  Do you want to create exquisite meals with professional appliances, grand enough to take out the next season of MKR?  Or, will you welcome home a footy team of hungry teenagers covered in mud and vying for the snack cupboard every afternoon?!

Before your alarm bells start ringing, this is where Savannah comes in.

Interior designers offer a well-trained eye.

Spend a couple of hours talking to Savannah (instead of scrolling through thousands of photos and plans) and your dream kitchen starts to take shape.

Savannah will listen to your ideas, lifestyle needs and budget then use her professional prowess to design a space that really works (take it from the horse’s mouth, our own Karli Franks – author of this blog – is collaborating with Savannah on a kitchen renovation right now).

With product knowledge to match, you’ll also save time trying to compare products.  Knowing what you need, Savannah can narrow your decisions down to a manageable few by recommending the most suitable products and options for your space.

3D plans will give you priceless reassurance.

Have you ever walked into a room and known immediately that you don’t like it?  We all have, but it should never be in your brand new home.

Teaming up with an interior designer takes the guesswork out of decision making.

Savannah builds a virtual 3D plan of your kitchen (aka a 3D ‘perspective’).  Not only does the colour scheme come alive, you can also see important details often left to the imagination; what will the drawer handles look like?  How will a particular pendant light hang over your benchtop?  How will the light from your windows affect the room?

Every detail can be tweaked before a single tile is laid which means no sleepless nights lying awake pining over whether you’ve made the right decisions (let’s face it, card-sized samples are not big enough!).  Invest a little extra and you can practically walk through your kitchen with a 3D render.

Here’s a 3D ‘perspective’, a virtual image showing approximate finishes, materials and colours.
Here’s a 3D ‘render’, a virtual image showing complete finishes, materials and paint colours

You’ve got a whole team liaising on your home’s design.

It’s a team effort to deliver a kitchen that doesn’t take up unnecessary dollars in your budget (kitchens and bathrooms can be greedy without smart interventions at times!).  Savannah’s specialist design skills complement those within the existing Own-A-Home team.  Darrel, Brennan and your joiner will collaborate on the design of the space too.

So ultimately?  The kitchen you walk isn’t the kitchen you’ve been dreaming of, it’s the one you’ve already created.

Can you put a price on that kind of reassurance?

We don’t think so either.

Interior design is now a ‘standard inclusion’ in our contract with you.

Incorporating interior design services into our standard inclusions for every build is a sure fire way of adding value to your home.  It will save you time and put your mind (and ours) at ease that you’ll love the home you walk into (and so will your bank account!).

Soon, we’ll be stepping it up another notch with the opening of our own Design Centre – a space where you can meet with us as a team to discuss everything from ceiling heights to bathroom fixtures, even external cladding (don’t worry, if you’re interstate or working away Savannah has specially tailored e-design services  and we’re super comfortable working remotely with clients).

It’s all part of our mission to build you a home you’ll love because we really believe the best is achieved when ‘together we plan it, together we build it’.

Want to stay up to date with future blog releases?  Follow us on Facebook and Instagram

To keep up with Savannah Denny Designs check out Instagram and Facebook and Pinterest.  

Blog post written by Karli Franks.