So often a person looking to build is so interested in the ‘right now’ of what it is they want, they neglect to think about the maintenance costs or the future-proofing of the building they are looking at.
Instant gratification with as many m2 as they can possibly afford seems to be front of mind, although hopefully with the tiny home movement there might be a shift in perspective, although I’m not sure its to see my point of view or simply to have less impact on the environment and a trend for minimalism!
What would I ask when someone is designing a home?
- How long are you going to live in it? Is this a quick flip? Or are you planning on staying here for the next 50 years? Have you finished your family? No? How much more room are you likely to need? Is this where you would raise them? Is this where you want to retire? These questions then lead to further enquiry…..
- If you are going to retire here, have you thought about accessibility? Is it worth widening a few doorways and creating a bedroom space downstairs as well as upstairs for all eventualities? A small cost now – a big cost later!! Throw in a walk-in shower maybe?
- If you are flipping it, then keep it neutral! Don’t impose your personality onto a new potential owner…. AND while you are flipping, make sure the house complies with the new Healthy Homes requirements. I’ve seen lots of brand new places where they have had to install an extra heat pump to meet the new regs, so if your buyer is gonna rent the joint out, you don’t want them to have any excuse not to pay top dollar because the compliance isn’t in place!
- Not finished having kids? Might need more room? There are ways to design that mean adding on later can be easier…. Also, multi-purpose spaces are super handy here too, an extra lounge space they might not need right now, but could be turned into another bedroom or two at a later date. ALWAYS cheaper to allow for this sort of thing at the front end, as doing it later means double handling.
- When choosing products to use for the build, being aware of all the maintenance and warranty costs is extremely important, and is probably the biggest thing that people gloss over. Painted weatherboards? What is their life span? How often do they need to be painted to maintain the warranty on them? What will it cost to paint them again when they need to? How often should the roof be cleaned? Will you need scaff to do it? What will that cost? Because I’m an uber-nerd, I'd be looking at putting all of these costs for maintenance and replacement into a spreadsheet so I knew how much the house was going to cost me across the longer-term…. The exercise might mean that different choices are made that may cost slightly more at the outset, but a lot less over the long term.