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Designing a Home the Smart Way

It may shock you to know the high percentage of people who lose thousands of dollars during the home design process. The home design process meaning: concept idea through to final plans and engineering.

Smart House DesignDesigning a house is a project in itself and it takes skill and experience to do it successfully.

In just the last few months UBuild Homes have come across at least four different prospective Owner Builder/Kit Home customers who have had losses between $5,000 and $50,000 each on designing/creating house plans that they just cannot afford to build! Unfortunately, the drafting/architect service providers they dealt with did not properly assess their situation and took them down a misguided path that resulted in tragic outcomes. And that was before any ground was even broken!

It is important to complete some research before engaging a drafting, architectural or plan drawing service for your dream home.

Here are some tips that will point you in the right direction:

1. Don’t allow a drafting firm or an architect to be involved in estimating the cost of your home. Drafting people know how to draft plans. Only a very small percentage of these service providers can estimate the cost of a building accurately. The same goes for architects. An architect should only be engaged if you want an architecturally designed home with an open ended budget.

2. The first goal of any design is to meet your budget. You must be very clear from the outset what you are trying to achieve and ensure that your drafting service understands. Also be aware that during the design you will quite often focus on the things you “like” instead of the things you “need”. Always remember that the things you like may not be mainstream and as a result will cost more to construct – even if you are owner building.

3. Builders and trades generally do not like working with architects because they most often design something that is either very difficult or near impossible to build. Most builders and trades will describe architects as too creative and lacking in practicality. So unless you want a complex designed home and you have a hefty budget then stick with a reputable drafting firm. How do you find one? Ask UBuild Homes. You’ll have access to a panel of highly skilled, cost effective drafting professionals.

4. All costs associated with house plans, building reports, engineering plans, soil tests and energy reports must be fixed priced. Never engage any of these service providers without a fixed quote upfront.

5. The average home design process will need:

  • Budget and Finance to be pre-approved and fully advised to the drafting service. They must be under strict instructions that the cost of the home cannot exceed the budget provided. If they do not know what the design is going to cost then do not use them. 
  • Finance provision is a critical component. Do not get your design then go and talk to the bank. That is the wrong way around. If you are having challenges obtaining Owner Builder Finance then talk to us – we could have the solution you’re searching for. 
  • Before you decide on a house design service you will need a survey, contour plan and a soil test. If you need help finding a reputable service provider then let us know – we’d be delighted to help.

6. If you don’t understand the technical challenges of building a home then be wary of unique roof designs and roof lines. UBuild Homes recently had a set of plans presented to us (from an unkown third party drafting service)  that literally could not be built. These plans cost $5,000 and were useless. What a waste.

7. Try not to be too emotionally attached to the things that you “want”. These “wants” are sure to blow your budget. Unless you are not concerned about your budget stick to conventional rules in construction and the power of resale value. Sometimes a slightly smaller design with better use of space and design features will be a more valuable commodity than a giant box with a funny roof!

8. Consider energy, water, and the outside design of the total space being used. The first thing people see when they come to your home is the outside. They will also ask about water and energy efficient features of the home. Bear this in mind early on and you can design accordingly. Trying to fix this in hindsight is an expensive process.

By following some of these simple steps correctly you will have a more accurate and predictable outcome to your budget. Too many Owner Builders are unable to complete their homes due to poor quality up front planning. This is the main reason most lending institutions refuse finance to owner builders.

The Answer to Finding Owner Builder Finance

If you are serious about Owner Building and you need to get a loan in order to finance your project then you really need to read this article.

Owner Builder Finance Now AvailableYou may already have spoken to some banks and lenders and are feeling either confused or frustrated by the outcome. Or you may not yet have spoken to your bank and you are assuming that it is going to be a fairly straightforward process.

Here’s an important fact you need to come to terms with: Banks and Financial Institutions generally do not lend to Owner Builders.

Surprising, isn’t it? Especially considering the fact that Owner Builders make up a significant portion of the residential building market.

Why don’t Banks and Financial Institutions support Owner Builders?

The one word answer is: risk.

It doesn’t matter if you are Owner Building from scratch, or if you are Owner Building a Kit Home, please understand this: most (meaning more than half) of all Owner Builders fail to successfully complete their project on time and on budget. Because the finance industry know this, they are reluctant to lend to Owner Builders. Owner Builders are simply too high risk and cause problems for the financial institution.

Another important factor you need to be aware of is that the standard financier does not truly understand the needs of the Owner Builder. They lack flexibility in their approach and often fail to accommodate your needs, further supporting the ‘avoid lending to Owner Builders’ perception adopted by many financial institutions.

So what can you do about it?

Firstly, understand that as an Owner Builder your finance needs are very different to other borrowers. The process is not the same as that of a standard building contract with a project home builder. Owner Builders need flexible funding solutions to allow them access to the money needed to pay for their suppliers and trades as they work through the building project. As an Owner Builder you won’t get 30 day accounts to pay your bills. You will have to pay deposits on many of your purchases and then the balance upon delivery. Funding availability when you need it is critical. If you don’t have that then you are at risk of failing before you even start.

UBuild Homes recognizes this challenge and has been lobbying financial institutions to take a different approach when dealing with Owner Builders. Our pitch has been that customers of UBuild Homes should be treated differently because all of our UBuild Homes Premium Package Customers successfully complete their projects; on time and on budget. As a UBuild Homes Premium Package Customer the risks are dramatically reduced – for both you and your Bank.

Unfortunately the big banks have remained negative towards owner builders. It’s hard to blame them considering the statistics.

Owner Builder Finance is best left to those smaller lending institutions that have a sound relationship upon which to work. That is why we recommend working with our Finance Providers at Coastline Credit Union.


Because the Coastline Credit Union have recognised that if an Owner Builder is operating under a UBuild Homes Premium Package System then risk is minimised to a point where the Credit Union’s money is safer than virtually any other building process. This has been tested over many years and many loans and they now want to work actively with our customers. This is the only financial institution in Australia that is actively seeking out Owner Builders. But only if they are willing to use a quality, proven system.

This is a unique situation for the Owner Builder market, and one that UBuild Homes is proud to offer you.

Why not take this opportunity to chat to us about it. We can introduce you to people at the Coastline Credit Union who are properly and specifically trained to deal with the needs of Owner Builders. There’s no obligation and it could be your way of finding out the best finance option for you, and will help you on your path to building your dream home.

Just visit Owner Builder Finance to find out how to obtain your Owner Builder Finance.