Homebuilding Grants – Jump Now!! or Wait…

Anyone who has been thinking about building will have certainly heard about the Commonwealth and WA grants to stimulate the home construction sector, so I won’t rehash all those details here.

But let’s address the big question… should I take the plunge and build??

If you’ve already been negotiating with builders, seen a design you love and have some indicative pricing, then yes, jump on board! I do have some concerns (keep reading), but generally you should consider this a windfall – a once in a lifetime opportunity – and make the most of it.

Of course, ensure to send me your plan and quote to review before you sign the contract, so you can optimise your investment.

The concerns? Well, I had a few, and after a visit to a display village today and speaking with sales representatives, some more emerged.

Customisation

I pride myself on helping clients improve the functionality and utility of their design. In the current market, however, builders are less inclined to spend their time tweaking the design when they’ve got more customers on the phone (excited about all these grants) ready to sign a contract straight off the plan. This doesn’t mean you won’t have a say, but it does mean “shopping around” may yield less benefits for you than it would have in the last 5 years; you’re unlikely to get the result you want by asking for multiple pricing options on more significantly re-designed elements of the home.

If you’re not going for a fully custom or architecturally designed solution, but still had a clear idea about the layout you wanted, my recommendation is that you hunt for the design you most love – one that would require fewer layout amendments – and then start dealing with that builder (and/or a competitor) with that design in hand, so they know you’re serious, and ensure any changes you’re requesting are fairly minor in terms of what the builder would accommodate without too much effort.

Feel free to send me an email or give me a call for a chat about this matter and formulating a plan of attack.

Timeframe

Put simply, this myriad of grants has led to a sudden increase in demand which will inevitably create a bottleneck for the builders (even if they say it won’t). Coupled with global supply chain issues arising from COVID, there will be delays in sourcing materials and this will impact completion.

All in all, I expect the average build time for the typical house to increase 12 months, from 6-8 months you might traditionally expect. Now look, you’re getting significant financial kickbacks with these grants, so you should be happy. But please factor into your financial assessment an extended period of rent and/or making mortgage payments on the house before you can move in. Make sure you’re covered.

Pricing

It seems that builders are increasing the prices, by about $5000 across the board. While a casual observer less familiar with the industry might allege this is extortion and unethical behaviour, I can understand the rationale and I think the hike is modest. Builders in Perth have gone through their own quasi-recession since 2015 (prices flat, refer AIQS building cost index, falling well behind 4.6% CPI increase in the same period), and the industry needed a price correction. This correction was upward. In the context of grants totalling up to $69k*, I’m not alarmed if builders are finding some relief. I mean, these grants are intended to stimulate and support this sector of the economy after all. Please don’t abuse the sales reps!

What does all this mean for you? It means that if you’re already close to signing a contract, then avoiding the price hike is another reason to consider jumping now. But if you weren’t already up to this stage in your deliberations, then don’t rush. The grants are still very generous, and they’re around for owners who sign their contract before the end of this year. In this case, avoid the scramble and take your time to ensure you settle on the solution for you.

In summary?

If you were pretty close to signing, then go for it. Register with me to review your plans and contract, to ensure you’re getting best value, then enjoy the ride! If you’re not as far along the journey and the grants have piqued your interest, that’s awesome. But in this case I would suggest waiting, really work out what you want, and plan to sign up sometime around October/November when there is less hype around the place.

*https://www.wa.gov.au/service/community-services/grants-and-subsidies/apply-new-home-construction-grant

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