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.

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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