Three things to look for when choosing a home builder

Three things to look for when choosing a home builder

When in search of a builder, you will come across:


– the volume builders,
– the custom builders, and
– quite a few clueless builders.

When you talk to people who have successfully built before, they speak of that good feeling when they have finally decided on their builder.

And while the feeling is all nice and good, you cannot skip due diligence (were we to check with those who struggled with their build, they too felt good at one point, when they had decided on their builder).

While there are dozens of things you need to look for when deciding who will build your home, we would like to point out three:

1. Care

Trust us. We care! – said every building consultant until they signed the contract.

It’s due to lack of care that a volume builder delivers a simple single-storey house that they have built dozens of times before with a virtually infinite list of defects and thousands of dollars in unexpected variation bills.

The problem with care is that you cannot teach it, and it is not based on experience.

Instead, it comes from a deep understanding that the builder’s work has a massive effect on the financial and emotional wellbeing of the homeowner.

A builder is not much different from an accountant in that they too have a fiduciary duty to their client. They must care to deliver what they know to be the best for the homeowner and charge a fair price for it.

As such, there is no room for an us vs them mentality. No builder should try and squeeze every cent from the homeowner, nor should the client attempt to push the builder to discount prices or giving things for free.

2. Knowledge

It’s terrifying how many builders out there have no idea what they are doing.

While some have field experience, having previously worked as carpenters, painters, etc., others drove trucks and mixed cocktails before getting their builder’s license.

The barriers to entering the building industry are a joke. A Cert IV with some online assignments is all one needs to get a builder’s license and start going around beating quotes in the hopes of getting some quick work.

These are the cowboys of the industry who, sooner or later go bust and cause massive troubles for their clients.

On the other hand, the builder that has been around for a couple of years will probably have enough knowledge and experience to deliver on their promise.

However, when it comes to building your house, specialised knowledge will serve you better.

Rather than a builder who claims to do everything (we were once that builder), you would benefit more from a building company that specialises in similar projects to yours.

3. Systems

Pen, paper and trying to remember everything is a formula for disaster when a builder has more than one or two homes going on simultaneously.

Building a home is so much more than putting building materials together.

From that first client meeting to months after handover, the project’s success is based on clarity of communication and the ability to store, organise, and refer to project information while ensuring the build is tracking on budget at every stage.

It’s only through well designed and tested systems and processes that a construction company can minimise mistakes and deliver quality homes on time.

The good news is that technology and specialised software make it possible for builders, regardless of their size, to implement systems that support their work affordably.

At HBC Homes, the key software we use to support our systems is:

– CostX for quantity takeoff and estimation (no per sqm quoting, ever!);
– BuilderTrend for project management and cost tracking;
– Xero for financial accounting;
– Google Workspace for emails and online file storage (Google Drive); and
– Foxit PDF Editor Pro for marking important information on plans and reports.

As we said initially, there are a dozen things you need to look for in a builder before engaging their services. And yes, you should also look for that good feeling when dealing with them.

But find out how they care for their clients, if they possess the knowledge to deliver on their promise and whether they rely on systems to support their processes, and you will be all right.

How much does it cost to build a custom home in Adelaide

How much does it cost to build a custom home in Adelaide

Some of the most common enquiries we get sound something like this:



  • How much for a double-storey 4 bedroom home?
  • How much for a 270sqm home?
  • How much do you charge to build a normal home?
  • How much … (you get the idea).

While most project builders will show you a catalogue of floor plans with a starting from price, as a custom home builder the closest we can get to providing you with cost information during our initial contact and without being grossly misleading, is by referring to the building price of our past projects.

And yet, by providing you with the building price of that exact home you saw in our video walk-through, we cannot help but still be slightly misleading. Here is why.

The problem with our past projects price

As a custom home builder, we take pride in the individuality of each home we build for a handful of Adelaide families each year. A lot of time and energy goes into each one of them and the end result is our clients’ happiness.

But for you to use these homes in determining your budget a few issues arise.

  1. Footing Cost

Did you know that the starting-from prices on project design brochures are often advertised without the footing cost? The logic goes that they are providing you with just the cost of the house. So long as they teach your house how to levitate, surely you can budget based on that starting-from price!

In reality, footing cost can be a big part of the total cost to build. Much depends on the soil test results, as well as the levels of your block.

  1. Inclusions & Irrelevant Upgrades

While it may look nice, that shiny porch facade will cost upwards of $500 per square metre surface (Hallo Alucobond!). While some homeowners will proceed to design with Alucobond cladding as their feature cladding of choice, most will choose a paint finish on rendered lightweight cladding and save thousands in doing so.

The same goes for tiles in the main living area, hardwood timber staircase, etcetera (some builders offer that last one as a free upgrade if you sign before you leave their office!).

  1. Time & Inflation

Even with the simplest of custom homes, it takes at least one year from the time our clients make contact with us, to the time the keys to their new home are handed over.

During this year the cost to build will soar (sometimes more than inflation). This is often missed by news outlets that are quick to point out the increase in the selling prices of finished homes while saying little to nothing about the cost of building those homes.

So, if the cost of our past projects is not the best way to budget for your future home, what is?

What determines the building cost

The cost to build a home–custom or project, past or future, prayed on to the gods of lowest price or not–is a consequence of 4 main elements.

And unless you are building the same dead-beat shoebox project home on the same block of land, the cost to build your custom home will vary depending on these elements:

  1. The size and complexity of your design

As a general rule of thumb, a bigger house will cost more in total, but less per square metre than a smaller one. Also, adding a bathroom will cost more than adding a study (think plumbing, tiling, etc.).

The same price variance presents itself once you break straight external walls into cosy courtyards and bin storage locations. As cute as they may look, those structural returns, add to the cost considerably.

  1. The nature of your land and the quality of its soil

Once you have purchased your block of land you have, in effect, agreed to spend a somewhat predictable amount of money in footing and external works.

A flat block of land with non-reactive soil, while it may cost more to purchase (depending on the suburb of course), will allow you to utilise more of your budget on the house part that’s seen, used and enjoyed (the house above ground and its finishes).

  1. The fitting and fixtures you choose

While you can easily budget on upgrading a kitchen sink or mixer, it does get more complicated when you go from cornices to square set, and from square set to bulkheads with LED feature lighting and pelmet returns.

At HBC Homes we start with our Essential Selections of high quality and reasonably priced inclusions, and from there give the home owner the freedom to upgrade the finishes they value the most.

  1. The builder’s gross profit

Before there was a virus, there were 10 SA home builders that went out of business in 2019. The legend goes that they all thought a $XY,000.00 of profit on a lousy square metre rate estimated project would afford them the latest pickup trucks, insta-worthy vacations, and of course the company overheads!

A home owner who thinks it is a good thing their builder is working on the cheap, must have a plan on how they will progress if that builder shuts the doors and leaves their home in sticks.

At HBC Homes we charge consistent and fair profit margins (no matter the level of building experience our client has) aimed at sustainability and long-term success.

The solution in our design and build process

Given that we do not have a brochure with designs and prices to choose from (no custom home builder should have), and given that our past projects cost can skew your budget planning due to their specific location, custom inclusions and time frame (designed and quoted many months prior to completion), how do you go about building your family home without blowing your family’s budget?

Here at HBC Homes we solve that challenge through our design and build process.

It all starts with understanding all there is about your dream home–i.e. size, looks, location, inclusions, timeframe, etc.–as a function of what you want to spend in achieving it.

After so many custom homes built, once we clarify the above, we will honestly tell you whether your goal is reasonable or based on widely spread misinformation used to “sign people up and fix them after”.

An inflexible budget doesn’t mean that you cannot build your home. It simply means that you have to design and build smartly, prioritise quality and maybe, forego some nice-to-haves to avoid jeopardising your finances by having to pay for variations you never saw coming.

And that is why when someone contacts us to find out how much, we do not have an answer until we have found out exactly what is being built.

P.S. If you are thinking about building your dream home, we would love to help. Feel free to send us an email to info@hbchomes.com.au or fill out our contact form and we will get in touch as soon as possible.

P.P.S. If you enjoyed reading this article, consider subscribing to our newsletter where all of our original content is initially shared.

Underfloor Heating for Your New Home

Underfloor Heating for Your New Home

Having complete control over the design and inclusion of your home is one of the main reasons homeowners in Adelaide decide to build rather than buy.

However, how do you go about choosing what to include as valuable home features and what to leave out as wasteful passing trends?

Energy efficiency is not just a document to obtain the council approvals. An energy-efficient home is a pleasant place to live in, allowing you to be more comfortable, active and at ease in your own space, particularly during the hot and cold months. Considering how cold the South Australian winter can get, let’s look into one valuable inclusion you should consider when designing and building your dream home.

With traces found as early as 5,000 BC, underfloor heating is nothing new to our need for warm living spaces. Imagine a cold Sunday morning, as you start a day of calm and relaxation, which part of your body feels the coldest? Now imagine stepping on warm floors, equally warm in every step. Seven thousand years after, in the Adelaide Metro Area, we recommend and provide our clients with hydronic underfloor heating.

A heating system that uses hydronic water pipes spread around the targeted area for an even heat distribution, with a variety of heat sources to choose from, and a 25-year warranty when supplied and installed by our hydronic heating specialist.

Benefits of Underfloor Heating

Comfort. Being able to walk around your home during cold winter days, barefoot if you choose to, without a trace of discomfort makes your home a more enjoyable place to live in. And when you step out of that hot shower, the comfort multiplies.

Even heat distribution. No more cold corners where no one wants to go to, even if they have to. No more privileged room spots where whoever comes home first gets to enjoy. Your home is equally pleasing to everyone and everywhere.

Great value for money. After the initial cost, there is almost no money to be spent when it comes to maintaining the system. Also, depending on the heat source, you could save over 15% in your energy bill. And if you sold your home, underfloor heating is a feature that any potential buyer will be happy to pay for.

Hygienic. From allowing you to breathe cleaner and odourless air to avoiding extra allergens that are a by-product of duct heating, especially at this testing time, a more hygienic home is a better home to live in.

Increased sustainability. A lot goes into an eco-home and yet due to its high energy efficiency, underfloor heating coupled with a sustainable heat source will decrease the carbon footprint of your home, allowing you to support the wellbeing of future generations while keeping your family warm.

P.S. If you are thinking about building your dream home, we would love to help. Feel free to send us an email to info@hbchomes.com.au or fill out our contact form and we will get in touch as soon as possible.

P.P.S. If you enjoyed reading this article, consider subscribing to our newsletter where all of our original content is initially shared.

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