With loads of people taking advantage of the new home builder government grants, I thought I would share some tips on where to spend money during PreStart. We completed our Pre Start about 6 weeks ago with Homebuyers Centre and I know first hand how overwhelming (but exciting) this part of the building journey can be. So relax and take a breathe, I have a few insightful and informative tips that might help ease the pressure, or highlight an area you haven’t thought about yet.
Electrical and Cabling
The most obvious area to budget for is the cable and electrical plan. Most people will add several more GPO points and change locations of the current ones to suit their day to day life. For additional points- think about:
- Where you charge your mobile phone frequently, outside of the bedroom.
- In the broom or linen cupboard for a cordless vacuum.
- On the island bench.
- In the corner of the living room for a floor lamp or your Christmas tree lights.
- Where you sit and use your laptop outside of the study area, to easily recharge it (eg dining table or next to the couch.)
- Either side of a bed in each room.
- An extra one in the garage for high pressure cleaning, gym equipment, power tools or to easily vacuum the car.
- If you don’t have a microwave box in your kitchen cabinetry, one in the pantry is handy.
- In any long hallways so the vacuum cord reaches into the bedrooms.
- We added a double GPO in the alfresco at 6c, for possible speakers or bar fridge.
- An additional one in the study if you have more than one computer. We have built in cabinetry spanning 5 meters in our study so I added another GPO for our second computer, then a hidden one in the cabinetry for my printer, scanner and camera battery charger.
Another handy tip is to move the fridge GPO higher to sit behind the overheads above (if you have any.) This way the fridge sits further back in the recess and doesn’t stick out as much- Check how long your fridge cord is before committing to the higher location though.
On your cabling plan you will need to budget for additional costs to have your TVs wall mounted and conduits provided. This will create a channel in the wall to run (hide) the cables, cords and wires from the TV to the data points and GPO below.
An easy upgrade decision for me was to change our ducted aircon zoning pad to a MyAir smart system. It’s user friendly, easy to navigate and will be perfect for our family! You can see these management control pads at all the Homebuyers Centre display homes and it was one of the first upgrades we confirmed in our PreStart! You can read up about them here.
Most people will also add additional downlights to their plan. From memory Paul and I only added 2 down lights- one in the walk in shower and an additional one in a long hallway. However we did put 3 fan base plugs in the roof where we intend on having feature lighting. Fan base plugs are essentially just a power source for future pendants to minimise cords running through the roof. This was super handy because I haven’t chosen our feature lighting yet and didn’t want the added pressure of choosing an exact location for installation before the furniture goes in. More than one pendant can be connected to each fan base so we got one put in the ceiling above our dining room, master and kitchen. This info might only be relevant to single storey homes though- double storey might be different if the roof space is not easily accessible on the ground floor.
Another lighting area to think of before finalising your electrical plan, is to decide whether you want any internal wall lights. This needs to be put on your plan with a specified height because it cannot easily be done afterwards, unless it is located on a cavity wall. So if you are planning on having wall lights in your ensuite or master bedroom- PreStart is the time to add it in.
It’s a vital area to think about when building a family home and the chances are your wardrobe fitouts will be fairly basic unless you have included a custom design in your contract variations. In our master bedroom we chose to completely remove the rail and shelf to have something customised after handover. You can either get this done through a cabinet maker/ wardrobe specialist, or have a crack at designing one yourself using the Ikea PAX system (which is also fairly customisable.) Below is an example I have started designing on the Ikea website and it is a fraction of the price a custom one would cost. This whole setup amounts to only $1560.00, whereas a custom made one would be roughly triple the price.
To improve function and maximise storage in your cabinetry designs, some areas to consider upgrading are:
Add in overheads in the kitchen, fridge recess, laundry and scullery if they’re not already included in your build. If your cooktop is below overheads, the overheads will meet up to a range hood. However, if you want the overheads to run the full width, you’ll need to upgrade and get a pull out rangehood.
Drawers are so handy and can be upgraded from standard doors throughout your home. Drawers create more accessible space in your cabinetry and minimises having to stack high piles of kitchenware like pots, pans and tupperware. They can also be added in the centre of your ensuite or bathroom vanity, however to avoid substantial costs, your vanity ideally needs to be long enough so that the drawers avoid the basin plumbing. Drawers can be customised around the plumbing, however this usually incurs a large cost because of the labour and materials involved.
A microwave box is really handy to have somewhere in your kitchen design, if you have the space. For a flat upgrade price Homebuyers Centre can include a box surround (matching your laminate selection,) factor in a GPO and add a pot drawer below. Having a microwave box will maximise bench and pantry space in your new kitchen and your PreStart consultant can guide you on it’s ideal location.
Lastly, before this post get’s too long, an expense that most people are often shocked by is custom window coverings. It’s an area to definitely budget for if you want to upgrade your selections to quality products like sheer curtains and plantation shutters. We opted to remove all the window coverings included in our contract at PreStart so I can organise them after hand over. It’s hard to predict how much to set aside for window coverings of a full home because it completely depends on how large the windows are, how many, fabric and product selections etc.. but they can easily amount to 10K (plus) if you’re including sheers in majority of the rooms. In saying this, some banks/ home loan lenders require the home to be turnkey ready which means the property is ‘move in ready’ with flooring, window coverings etc (so removing is not an option.) If this is the case, I would suggest getting roller blinds as a blockout, then after handover you can invest in some beautiful sheer curtains in addition to the covering you already have.
So in a nutshell here are a few key points that I personally think are worth upgrading at PreStart, oppose to doing yourself after handover.
- Electrical- additional GPOs, downlights and fan base outlets.
- Cabling- conduits and tv mounts.
- Flooring- quality carpet and underlay.
- Functional storage options in cabinetry designs- drawers, microwave box, overheads.
Things you can do yourself, after handover or in the future:
- Window Coverings.
- Wardrobe Fitouts.
- Change internal passage and privacy handles.
- Internal door profiles.
- Alfresco flooring.
- Internal painting.
As always, if you have any questions please comment below or send me an email. I hope this post is useful to anyone beginning their new home journey. Good luck and enjoy the ride! T x
Homebuyers Centre WA has kindly sponsored this blog entry, based on my experience as their decorator and our own building journey. All thoughts, design work, styling and written content are my own.