Home Owners Warranty Insurance is an insurance issued by the Home Building Compensation Fund (HBCF) in NSW. It is issued by iCare HBCF, a NSW government statutory insurer. It is compulsory and is there to protect home owners, as any standard product warranty does, for six years on any structural defects or incompletion of the construction and two years coverage for any non-structural defects. In NSW Home Owners Warranty Insurance must be obtained for any contract work over $20,000.
The kitchen is the heart and soul of the home, you cannot afford to get the design wrong, literally! Being (generally speaking) the most expensive room in your house.
Its easy to get caught up in the look of your kitchen and forget the simple more functional items. We have compiled a small list to get you thinking about how you kitchen will work for you and your family as well as how it will look and feel.
Plan carefully and allow flexibility in your budget. The more effort you put into the planning and estimating stage, the more likely your kitchen will come in on budget. If you are unrealistic with your budget, you could find yourself overspending or running out of money halfway through your build.
What’s your style?
Whether it be contemporary, French provincial, modern etc? You really should start here. Once you have decided on style the following steps will be a little easier. Remember, the style of the kitchen should complement the rest of the home. If the style of your kitchen is most important to you, design the rest of your home around it.
Start from the bottom up. Flooring is the anchor of your design, laminate, tile, wood, which should you use? Is this an investment property or your dream home that you plan to live in for the rest of your life or a good while in any case. If it is an investment property, you may choose laminate flooring or cheaper tiling to save on cost. If it is your dream home, you will likely want higher end tiles or a warmer French oak floor or solid timber floor. Other factors like children or pets may influence your choice.
Colours & textures.
Here you have an important choice to make. Do you want white or light grey, warm or dark colours. Dark coloured cabinetry always adds an element of depth but if you do not have a lot of light coming into the kitchen, try to avoid them. This is where you will have to make a decision on the colour of your window frames as well.
Always remember the triangle rule. Your cooker, fridge and sink should form an easy access triangular form. Avoid putting the fridge or sink around corners or on the other side of a bench or island. When cooking you ideally want an unobstructed path between all three. Remember to keep your dishwasher near the sink also. The longer the distance between the two and the greater chance of leftover food and sauces dripping on the floor.
Bench Space, Storage & Shelving. The kitchen is generally the heart of the home. Ensure that you have plenty of storage and shelving, liveability is important. A butler’s pantry is desirable and extremely convenient. Leave yourself plenty of bench space. Nothing can be more frustrating than running out of room to prepare while you are in the middle of the cooking. Ensure that you leave enough space around the cooktop also. This is an area that you are forever putting pots and pans on and off, chopping and adding things to your food. The more space you have the better.
At the very least, decide what size fridge you are going to buy. Ideally, decide on the actual fridge as their dimensions can vary somewhat. A fridge space too large can be a little distracting but a fridge space too small could be disastrous. It is not unwise to leave a little extra room to future proof for a different fridge on an upgrade on size as the family gets bigger. Don’t forget a water outlet on the wall behind the fridge for that cold water dispensing and ice making machine on your fridge?
Size Up Your Sink
Think carefully about the size and quantity of sinks you need or want in your kitchen. This is a personal preference and the more often you cook and spend time in your kitchen, the more you may need or want. An extra sink can be used as to put all the dirty dishes into before they get washed. The more the merrier is my philosophy.
Gas vs Electric Cooktop
Again this is a personal preference, ceramic, gas or induction. Ceramic cooktops are declining in popularity and models as a result. The two most popular are gas and induction. Some people love gas and others prefer the accuracy, safety and speed of the induction cooktops. The cooktop itself never heats up and is easy to clean but don’t look as impressive as a gas cooktop. The only drawbacks to induction are an extra breaker/electrical line and potential expense of buying new pots and pans, if you do not already have them. Check to see if your pots and pans are induction compatible?
Splashbacks serve not only to protect your wall from getting dirty, they can be a highlight of your kitchen also. Mirrored, stone, tiles or exotic glass, they can really impact the look of your kitchen. Note, they can be expensive so a compromise between look and price might be wise.
Rubbish & Recycling.
The rubbish and recycling bin are often neglected. They should be in an easy and convenient place to access, not too far from where you prepare your food, and be discrete. A cabinet slide out style is ideal at achieving this.
If your kitchen has limited natural lighting, ensure you make up for the difference with adequate artificial lighting. Downlights, pendant lights or chandeliers or a combination will come down to personal preference and the ambience you are trying to achieve. Use LED lighting for economic efficiency and environmental friendliness. Think about the colour of lighting you are after also, cool, daylight or warm, there are often many options to choose from. Mood lighting and under cabinets LED strip lighting for effect should be considered also. Another area often neglected is your cooktop. When cooking, you are often looking for changes in colour as a trigger to add more ingredients or to reduce temperature etc. So make sure you have plenty of light aimed in that area.
Whether you choose a hooded style or slide out rangehood, check the rated power and ensure it totally covers your cooking area. Ideally, have the rangehood ducted outside. There are dishes who’s odour can linger for longer than you would like and dishes that are very smoky. If your rangehood is under powered and or undersized, you may have to cook with the doors and windows open!
Power outlets. Aside from your cooktop and oven, kitchens are often filled with modern day electrical appliances to make life easy for us. Microwave ovens, blenders, juicers, toasters, coffee machines, kettles, rice cookers, bread makers, sandwich toaster, dough makers, mixers and the list goes on. Ensure you have plenty outlets available. Position them strategically around your kitchen. You don’t want 12 appliances in one corner on one bench. Spread them around and don’t put them all on the one line or you will be forever tripping the circuit when trying to make coffee, toast and use the microwave at the same time.
The position of the kitchen in your home is important and where you put it may change based on the type of person you are. If you do a lot of entertaining and have an alfresco or backyard, you might want to locate the kitchen near them for convenience. The kitchens is often filled with noise and smells so avoid putting it next to bedrooms.
One of the most asked about topics that often comes up when starting the planning process is “What’s the difference between a Development Application (DA) and a Complying Development Certificate (CDC)?
It is important to note that before any work can commence on your new development, either a DA application needs to be lodge with council or CDC application needs to be lodged with an approved private certifier, and approved by either entity you lodged with.
What are DAs and CDCs? And what is the difference between them?
DAs (A Development Application) is the application made to your local council seeking consent to carry out a development.
CDC (A Complying Development Certificate) is an alternative method of obtaining a consent to carry out a development.
There are two major differences between DA and CDC. One is speed, the second is flexibility, or the lack of it. Some people refer to CDC as a fast track approval process. Once you have all the required paperwork ready for submission, a private certifier will generally provide you with CDC approval within a week. This is great when you have a straight forward build that meets the CDC guidelines. After all, time is money. Please note CDC guidelines are a little more restrictive than council guidelines, in general, but not overly so. They are rigid, totally inflexible and there is no avenue for exceptions to be made. If your plans meet CDC guidelines, they will be approved. If they do not meet CDC guidelines, they WILL NOT be approved.
If your dream home falls outside the scope of CDC guidelines, you will have no option but to submit your application to council for a DA. Fortunately, most councils have improved their time frame for approval down to 4 to 6 weeks but some people have experienced approval times of up to 3 months. Hence, if you can design your dream home to meet CDC guidelines, you will save a significant amount of time on the approval process.
You should also note that CDC guidelines are universal throughout NSW whereas Council guidelines can vary from council to council. Even though these guidelines may vary, they will generally not be large variations. So what may be a suitable for one council may not necessarily be suitable for another council.
Council guidelines may be a little more generous that CDC and council, with valid reasoning, may allow exceptions that exceed their guidelines but please note, approval outside their scope is not guaranteed. Council may still reject the application, especially if your build excessively exceeds their requirements.
In conclusion, if you want a quick and relatively easy approval process, design your home to meet CDC guidelines. If you require a design that does not comply with CDC guidelines, there is a good chance you will be able to get it through council, within reason of course.
How do you know which avenue is the most appropriate for your build?
Any professional build should be able to quickly determine whether your home will meet CDC guidelines and advise you accordingly.
Alternatively, if you have gone to an independent (professional) architect, they will have designed your home to meet one of these guidelines. If you want to avoid the trials and tribulations of dealing with council, let your architect know that you want your home build to CDC guidelines.
If you go directly to a professional builder, they will advise you of everything mentioned above and guide you accordingly. Sometimes, this is the best way to move forward as professional builders will have or be aligned with an architect that specialises in meeting these codes. Please see “why you shouldn’t use an independent architect”.
When do I need to decide which path I will go down for my development application?
The decision for a development application will need to be finalised in the early stages of planning your development. It is advisable but no essential to decide on which path to take at the beginning of the process. If you design your home and discover that it does not meet CDC guidelines, you will have no choice but to move forward with a DA through council or potential add cost to have your design modified to CDC standards.
As mentioned previously, if you go through a professional builder, your home will be designed to meet the appropriate code from the beginning, saving you time and money.
Is there anyone who can help me with my development application
If you decide to build with a professional builder, the good news is they will guide you through the entire building process from beginning to end. If your chosen path is CDC and you use your builder’s designer, they will often complete the process on your behalf, as part of the service, leaving you free to concentrate on colours and finishes, worry free.
In fact, it sounds counterintuitive… But before you look for an architect for your new custom designed home, choose your builder first.
Well, did you know 80% of architectural plans never come to fruition?
You see, some architects focus on what a home will look like. The design. The problem is, some rarely factor in the costs. So what you end up with is a design that can quickly become very expensive to build…
Think about it: architects are trained to be visionaries. They ‘live’ to create the ‘perfect house’. That’s what you pay them for. But, they are not always focused on the practicalities of building – how much extra time and money certain design elements may take.
It would be unfair to generalise the architecture industry so broadly. There a many factors which account for designs not progressing, we as builders know this all so well. We certainly do recommend using an architect, benefiting from a practical architect who will make the most of the space, orientation and client requirements. Good design is worth more, so resale on a well designed home will be greater then a volume builder where the plan is designed to simply fit on your block.
Practicality is the first thing your builder thinks of. They constantly question if and how they can do it for you.
And the reality is, architects get paid for the design they create, whether you end up using it or not.
There is a way to fuse vision with the practicalities of building. With a few small modifications, you can often achieve the same ‘design result’ for a lot less money.
When your builder and architect work together, you get the best of both worlds…
You get a design that is beautiful and functional and a design that is affordable for you to build.
So it’s best for you to choose a custom home builder first. Then find an architect. And get them to work together.
Most professional builders already have designers, request to see their work. Take your time to figure out who will suit you best. Designer and builder should be talking constantly throughout the design and work together to meet you requirements.
After exhaustive research, you’ve finally narrowed your list of potential home builders. The next step? Meet with the shortlist of candidates you’ve chosen. The builder you choose will become your partner for the next year, so it is important to pick someone you trust and who has the right qualifications.
Here are four things to accomplish in/before your first meeting.
1 Research builders.
Refine your builder list. Before you meet with a builder, be sure to view their online portfolio and drive by some of their houses. See what you like and what you don’t like about their work. Have they built homes that are similar in size and style to what you want? How do their homes look? Ask the builder details about a specific project (e.g., time, costs, challenges, things they do differently) and be prepared to point out features you want incorporated in your home.
2 Ask questions, Lots of Questions..
Meeting with a builder for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. Bring a list of questions such as:
- How long does it take to prepare an estimate?
- Who will be in charge of our project, and how often will we meet?
- Do you strive to build energy efficient homes?
- Do you use sustainable, long-lasting building materials?
- How long will the project take?
- What flexibility do you offer?
- How customisable is my project?
3 A picture is worth a thousand words
If you’ve been surfing the web for inspiration, this is a great time to show the builder what you’ve found. Bringing actual visuals of what you want in your home will help your builder and designer get a sense of what details you want early in the process. The process of sharing visuals will also help determine if the builder is capable of sharing your vision
4 Ask to take a tour.
Though beautiful photos in portfolios may be appealing, it is essential to see the builder’s craftsmanship in person before moving forward. Ask to see both a recently constructed home as well as one that has been standing for a few years. Pay attention to the details and look for any obvious moisture damage such as water stains on ceilings and cracked paint or flooring. Ask the owners what they learned through the experience and what the builder could have done differently.
Building a custom home is an exciting process. Like any big decision in life, it’s helpful to consider options. Meet with several builders before you make your final decision. This will help you determine both what you want and need in a builder.