The Typical Timeframe: Buying or Building a House

Wednesday 4th January, 2017

Whether you’re making a new year goal to buy or build a house, just got into a new house, or were one of the unfortunate ones that was sure you’d be in before Christmas but missed out – we look at how the timeframes involved in buying or building a house are often under estimated.

Building and owning a house is a goal of many citizens, but how long does it actually take to achieve this goal?

As with most things related to property, nothing tends to happen overnight and the waiting game is daunting, but the rewards are definitely worth waiting for.  If you are setting a goal to be the proud owners of a new home by next Christmas, than the next two months would be absolutely critical to reaching that goal.  In 2010 the average time to build a house was 8 months, which has almost doubled since 2000 and the timeframes are continuing to rise [1].  This increase is the result of numerous factors, but the largest contributing factor is the increasingly regulated building industry.

Building is only one part of the process, another important part is planning your new home before construction – where the time frame is dependent on your council region and designer.  In 2015, average planning approvals with council took 87 days (about 3 months). This is right after you have gone through the process of developing the plans with your designer, which will take a minimum of one month and is something that you do not want to rush so you get exactly what you want and reduce the risk of contract variations.  On top of all that, if you don’t already own a block of land, than the process of the land purchase will almost certainly take another month at least.  So as you can see, that goal of being in your new home by next Christmas would rely on a number of things going smoothly and quickly and you would need to start the process now.  Ideally I’d recommend budgeting 2 months for design, 3 months for council approvals and 10 months for a completed build.

Ideally I’d recommend budgeting 2 months for design, 3 months for council approvals and 10 months for a completed build. 

When your house starts going up, it’s always shocking to see how fast the wall and roof go on within a few months and it kind of looks finished, but construction then seems to completely stop for months.  The reason being is that the internal fit out of a home such as the plaster, painting, floor, bathrooms etc take about the same time again as all the external work.  So even though it looks to have stopped, plenty is going on inside that you don’t see.

Buying a house is another lengthy process that is underestimated and definitely not a process that should be rushed.  Think of it this way, if you were planning your next car purchase, you would likely spend 1-2 days researching types of cars and about another 3 trolling through the internet and visiting dealerships, so about a week to spend about $20,000.  A house would set you back $600,000 at least these days, 30 times more than the car, so you really should be giving it 30 times more thought and research, especially given its importance to your life.  Then there is the purchasing and settlement period, usually this will take close to 2 months itself and you definitely need all that time to organise your inspections, have your legal team produce and review contracts and have everything lined up with you bank and financing.  So to be in before Christmas, you really have to be right in the thick of deciding what to purchase by the end of August.

There is often a lot of stress and anxiety associated with buying or building and the waiting game is the worse, but the results are worthwhile.  People can be overwhelmed by the decision to make and keep putting things off.  Time in the property market is always better than timing the market, so if you are ready, it is best just to take those initial steps, formulate and plan and push ahead. If you start the process today, you know you can look forward to the day when you are eventually settled and celebrating Christmas in your new home – this process will come quicker than you realise, trust me, I know. Below you can see a Gantt Chart of one of our most recent projects and the amount of planning and detail required for smooth construction and meeting all the required deadlines.

Gantt Chart – Click to enlarge


Written by Michael Whitehouse (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin)
Edited by Vivian Pham (Linkedin, Twitter)

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