There’s a special excitement when we come to that time in life where we decide that the next home we build will be our forever home – literally the last word in lifestyle choices. Of course, with this excitement comes the need to pay special attention to the choices we make if we’re serious about the home being a place where we can be content to live forever. From the onset, we’ll set out to eliminate any of those little annoyances we’ve lived with in the past and do our best to build the perfect place to live. So let’s look at some decisions we’ll need to address along the way.
Despite the magic that we often see on TV shows, renovating can be inconvenient, tiresome, and works out on average to be more expensive per square metre than building. There’s also the very real danger that what starts with a reno of just one living area leads to a room-by-room renovation that eats up funds and leaves your family in a state of constant flux that’s anything but relaxing. It’s natural to be emotional about the place we’ve lived for many years, but often that special sense of place is as much about the neighbourhood as the home
Goals – who, when and why?
Lives and families change over the years, and these changes are often the catalyst that leads to the planning of a forever home. Couples moving into the ‘empty nester’ phase of life often find themselves reflecting on their changing needs and the desire for a home that represents a better fit. Sometimes this involves considering a smaller home. Now and then, what’s planned is a home with a different lifestyle in mind – for instance, a focus on more open living spaces or perhaps more outdoor living space. And then there are the families that find themselves part of the growing movement towards homes that include independent living spaces for ageing parents. Life is full of surprises, but it’s important to plan for the future as carefully as you possibly can when considering a home that you intend to live in for the rest of your life, doing your best to incorporate into the design features that can cater for all the changes you feel might happen as time goes by.
A forever home starts with the perfect block of land in the right area. While the first step many people take is searching out the perfect block in the right suburb, the answer to what you need might be right under your nose. If you have a connection with the area you currently live in, the best option might be to demolish the home you’re living in at the moment, do away with the compromises it imposes on you and build your forever home on your existing block. A good builder will be able to show you how to take maximum advantage of the space that you have available, cleverly incorporating all the features you want.
The knock down, rebuild approach is cost-efficient, and does away with the risk that you might otherwise purchase a block and build your dream home on it only to find that the area you have moved to isn’t what you expected it to be.
Before you go out and start browsing through display homes, invest some time online and in leafing through magazines to earmark the features and looks that you really love. Compiling a ‘wish list’ and a collection of reference photos is always a good idea. It gives you a solid starting point, rather than beginning with a blank slate, which can lead to confusion and frustration. A solid idea of the space you want, the rooms you need, mandatory features and looks will help guide you towards the right design.
Likewise, the right builder will be ready to act as a partner towards your forever home. Look for a builder who takes the time to listen to your ideas and has the flexibility to accommodate them. Likewise, if the builder you’re dealing with advises against some of your ideas, he or she should be able to offer solid reasons why they won’t work in the context of the overall plan. Look for somebody who is unhurried and offers common-sense advice.
Display Homes are an opportunity for builders to show off their best work. For this reason, you can expect them to have some features that might not necessarily be standard. This can apply to small details such as high-end tapware and premium paint finishes, as well as big things like ceiling heights, special cornices and skirting. Planning a forever home means putting plenty of thought into every feature, so be sure to ask the builder what’s standard about the display homes you visit, and what isn’t. A good builder will be right up front about details like these, knowing how important they are in helping you to budget accurately.
Budgeting for your forever home means beginning with the end in mind, from the size and placement of rooms and outdoor areas right down to the finishes you want inside and the landscaping you want outside. Paying attention to detail at every step means you’re less likely to suffer budget blowouts that can be caused by issues such as:
Most of us will own just one or two homes in our life. It’s a big commitment of time and money, even more so when you’re planning a home you want to be happy with forever. By far the greatest advantage you can have on your side through a journey like this is a builder who is willing to invest time listening, really getting to understand what you’re trying to achieve. For you, there’s the prospect of creating your ultimate living space. For the builder, a project such as this should be a chance for them to show off their best work. It ought to be a genuinely exciting process for both parties. So take your time, plan carefully, and settle on a builder that really feels like a partner. With everything in place, the process will be streamlined, and your forever home should be an amazing place to live.