Consider taking on some of the planning yourself during a build - you can save a fortune.
Consider taking on some of the planning yourself during a build - you can save a fortune. Hans Hansen

How to keep the costs down when building your dream home

BUILDING a home is one of the biggest investments you can make and getting it right is the only thing that comes to your mind.

Rather than just finding a house plan you like and handing over your hard-earned cash for the next 30 or so years, consider some of these ways to save money on a house build.

A builder or contractor may add on things you actually don't want and here is where you can save a lot of money. You have to know exactly what you are spending on, even if you have no idea how to build a house.

GET CHUMMY WITH YOUR LOCAL COUNCIL: If you have chosen a block you like, before putting in an offer grab the details of the block (lot and plan number) and head to your local council.

Even though when purchasing a block or a house there will be a council check, it is best to check on the big items now to make sure you aren't wasting your money on a property that isn't right for you.

Questions to ask include: Is water or sewerage available on the block? Are there any sewer or water lines running through the block (you aren't allowed to build over the top - this could affect where you place your house). Are there any easements over the property?

If there are trees on the block that could get in the way of building, what permissions or obligations are required to remove them?

MOVING DIRT: Will you need massive excavation and drainage works to make your house sit on the block?

Site preparation costs are expensive. Whenever you need to remove dirt to make a house pad it is inevitable you will have ongoing drainage issues far into the future.

If you have a block that is slightly elevated, consider putting a house on stumps to avoid issues like drainage.

PLAN: Draw the plans up yourself before taking them to a draftsman or architect. When building, you need to consider your needs before your wants.

Resale value is also a consideration. Visit display homes and take photos of what you like and what you don't.

Consider all the space, as every single square centimetre of house will cost you money - so you want to make sure all space in your home is utilised.

SHOP AROUND: When hiring a builder, they will source all the materials themselves, with an appropriate mark-up on each.

If you have the time and a place to store everything, consider doing some of the sourcing yourself.

If you are totally out of depth with timber and bricks, even getting the fittings such as lights, carpets, flooring, fans, oven and range hood can save you a bundle.

If you tell your builder before you start (and sign) you can remove these from the overall cost of the build.

Jody Allen is the founder of Stay At Home Mum.