Buying a first home is an experience we will probably remember for a long time. A time of feeling that a long held need had finally come to pass. In reality it was the first step of a continuing journey. Now this journey both good and bad, is a real learning curve.
There were a lot of things about buying and owning a house that I did not know or was not told. It's amazing how quickly you learn when you have to.
From the start my wife and I decided to get a new house built. I would have to say that from the time we first started looking at display homes from the countless house builders, until the time we signed off to have our house built would have been a good three years. The reason why it took so long was that I wanted to pay off our car loan. Purchase the major things we needed like white goods, basic furniture and other electrical goods. This was on top of saving for an initial deposit for the house.
Looking back out of all the financial products I could buy, I wished that I had not bought that car – it was such a lemon, a great financial loss and basically a major set back. I could have used the money that it devalued by, towards the house. Knowing what I know now, if I was in that same situation again I would buy a car that I know would last me a good ten years. The last thing you need when you are buying your first home is a car that needs constant repair or attention.
Have you heard the saying champagne taste on a beer budget? Well if you had not, although we did until we started looking at display homes. Basically the saying means you do not have enough money to buy what you like or what you are looking at. It felt like that with nearly all the houses we looked at. I guess listening to all the people who said it's impossible to get your dream home, all my life, I had almost started believing them. I had the small grass hopper mentality.
That mentality that I could not do it had to go, it was holding me back from even deciding on what houses I liked. That all changed when I saw I was going everywhere fast and we would be stuck in the same situation forever. Then one day after much thought we sat down and decided what type of house we would want and how we were going to manage to afford it. Now the type of house design we wanted was decided, this would eliminate looking at homes that did not meet our initial criteria.
Our next step was to look at the type of houses that fitted the criteria that we decided on. Now one thing became identical by looking at countless display houses is that for any given price the ultimate choice comes down to two elements. Ready for some important information! The two elements basically boil down to either size or features. This finding would mainly apply to people who are buying a spec house or a display home.
Regarding size or features of the house, means that if you want a house full of features you will be absolutely buying a smaller house. If size is all that maters, do not expect all the bells and whistles (extras) to be included in the price. It can also be a compromise where the two meet in the middle. Think of it as a sliding scale with a small house with a large number of options on one end and a large house with very little or no options on the other. I went more for size then extras figuring that we can do them ourselves later. This really is an option if you have a lot of patience (as we discovered later) and do not have I want it now mindset.
The other reason why we chose a larger more basic house to start off with is that we have the space we need. We know without a doubt that we will not need to extend later on. After asking a few builders or home remodel contractors on their thoughts, all told us it is cheaper to have the size built in at the start then to have it done later on. Finishing off items like tiling, flooring etc. in certain areas, I knew I could do later on or to organize instead.
Look out for later posts on financing, getting the house built and moving in.