A Project or Volume builder can offer buyers a relatively cost effective path towards home ownership, making the “turn-key” project home option an attractive proposition to those trying to get onto the property ladder.
As with any home purchase, there are ‘pros and cons’ to consider when opting to buy through such builders. It is in your best interests to protect yourself when planning a new home purchase, so knowing all the pros and cons is a good idea before setting foot on this path. Consider the following factors and apply them to your own situation. You choose who wins – it should be you!
Pros of a Volume Builder
Financial and time constraints are two of the most common reasons that home buyers choose to purchase through a large volume or project home builder – achieved thanks to their size and economies of scale. These types of builders buy their materials in larger quantities, and build many houses, therefore saving costs, allowing them to pass these savings onto you. A volume builder often works in shorter time frames as well but they do try to secure a fixed date of completion.
You won’t have to put too much effort into choosing a home design, as volume builders typically work from a set palette of standardised designs, producing a range of recurring property designs throughout an estate, with replicate floor plans, general designs, and fixtures and fittings – allowing for only small variations in your personal design choices, which may suit some buyers who are overwhelmed by the thousands of product choices available in the marketplace.
Volume builders offer pre-built presentation or ‘show-homes’, open for viewing in onsite ‘display villages’ so potential customers can see the layout and interior design of prospective homes firsthand before deciding to commit to purchase. If possible, you should ask around previous customers to make sure you’d be working with a reputable builder if you are considering a volume built property.
As part of the purchase agreement, many volume builders offer a range of inclusions and upgrades and their salespeople will guide you through the design selection process to help you in making your choice of desired modifications to their standard plans. That salesperson is then usually your key point of contact for construction progress updates as an additional element of the purchase agreement.
If you are purchasing through a company that is established in the volume building industry, updates are more likely to be timely and accurate. These builders have likely produced hundreds of properties using the same blueprints so, barring any unforeseen delays, you can be assured that the timelines you are given will go according to plan with a reliable builder.
Cons of Volume Builders
On the other side of the coin – design, layout and site considerations are also key considerations. Essentially, you are left to choose your home from a brochure, which may not work for many home buyers. You should seek assurances for any information you are given on planning, as buyers are normally given little scope for making design changes with a volume builder once you’ve signed the contract. Avoid ‘estimates’ or you may find out the true cost of minor customisations when it’s too late.
You should also be aware that the ‘show homes’ you’ve viewed before buying often feature non-standard fittings which won’t be included in standard properties without incurring additional costs. Be aware of builder ‘guarantees’ which, in fact, are simply meeting the minimum building regulations requirements.
Careful consideration needs to be given to the site location and orientation of your home when selecting both the site and the design. Site suitability is an issue that continues to be a thorn in the side of homebuyers who choose to purchase from volume builders. Make sure that you have full details of the property, and how it is orientated relative to other properties and, in respect to the direction your living spaces, ideally faces towards the greatest degree of natural light, which for southern Australia, is North-facing. Give some thought as to how you want to live in the space, how you will access both indoor and outdoor spaces and the impacts of the climate and seasons.
While well established, professional volume builders will take the site orientation into consideration, and adjust or vary their designs as necessary, there is always the risk that the builder will largely ignore these considerations or do the bare minimum to make adjustments in building design. Some volume builders are more concerned with maximising space for profit, rather than providing homeowners with a property that offers liveability, energy efficiency and a pleasant aspect.
Quality not quantity
There is a heavy sales element linked to volume built properties. Volume builds are like the fast-food of the real estate industry. Quality is often sacrificed in the push for mass production, and slick sales tactics may be used to promote a product that can’t live up to the hype. Unlike fast-food, however, home purchases involve a considerable cost and you cannot simply walk away halfway through the meal if you are not satisfied.
When dealing with volume builders, make sure that you get everything in writing so that you have proof of any promises made by the volume builder. You can also employ the services of Houspect for Construction Stages Inspections to help ensure the property is compliant with the relevant building regulations and free from any major defects.