Victorian builder Swenrick Constructions says that over the last 12 months it has had a 25 per cent lift in inquiries about its kit homes.
“We have had hundreds of inquiries about kit homes,” says director Gary Rickard, whose company builds completed and partially completed homes in country and urban fringe areas.
“Most of this inquiry level comes from people who can’t afford to buy a fully completed home or an existing property,” Mr Rickard says. ”They can’t afford the repayments if the average loan is $420,000,” Mr Rickard says.
“That is out of the reach of many people. Our general contract price for completed three-bedroom kit homes in outer suburban and country areas is between $240,000 and $280,000 (house and land). Done to lock-up stage it is between $71,000 and $140,000.”
The Swenrick spokesman says kit homes, which generally come with plans and materials, can save those building them tens of thousands of dollars, especially in labour costs.
“Generally the price for lock-up is half the cost of the same home if it were completed,” he says. “In a new house 60 per cent of the cost derives from materials and 40 per cent from labour, so by doing it themselves owner-builders are making a major saving on labour.”
Mr Rickard adds kit homes have strong appeal for those “who have time and a little bit know-how”. ”Ninety-five per cent of them we build to lock-up stage which means the windows, doors are fitted, the roof is on, the external cladding and floors are done and the internal stud walls are in,” Mr Rickard says.
“We try to make it as simple and as straightforward as possible for people to own their own home This (the lock-up stage kit home) comes with a six-year guarantee and means they can sell the house if their lifestyle changes.”
The Swenrick director says only a small proportion of its customers build the kit home from scratch, and he recommends that anyone contemplating doing so have building experience or have someone involved in the process who has the appropriate knowledge and skill base.
Mr Rickard adds that while building a kit home can potentially save prospective home owners a lot of money they need to be aware of key factors involved in constructing a home.
These include the possible need for temporary fencing, arranging public liability insurance cover for the site, ensuring everyone on site complies with occupational health and safety regulations, having a reasonable knowledge of state building regulations and being able to obtain a council permit.
“An owner-builder has to apply to the relevant building authority for an owner-builder consent. It costs about $90 and takes about two weeks to get before you can then make the relevant application for a building permit from the council.”
Most people “are not familiar with jumping through these hoops” and so they engage a registered builder to build their kit home to lock-up stage, so they can then finish the house off to completion as an owner-builder.
“When the home is constructed to lock-up stage it is correctly sized, level, plumb and watertight,” Mr Rickard says. “They (the owner-builders) will have to do the plumbing roughing, electrical roughing, insulation installation, plastering and then the fitting out of the fixtures and fittings such as ovens and cooktops.”
Master Builders Association of Victoria chief executive officer Radley de Silva believes people seeking to build their own home or complete a renovation should “do their research and invest in quality, reliable builders and tradespeople”.
“This will save them stress and money in the long run and ensure that the quality of building work in Victoria continues to improve,” Mr de Silva says.
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