Solo Build: The Metricon Homes Experience
Luxury style meets affordability – it is possible! What else is possible? A solo build in your 20-somethings! If you’re in doubt, you’ll want to continue reading our exclusive interview with Emma from the successful Instagram account @lifeinlawson.
Emma is 25 year olds, originally from the UK and she has just completed her journey through her solo first home build with Metricon Homes! For all the finance tips and building tricks to achieve a luxury build on a budget, keep reading!
What influenced your decision to build opposed to buying established?
At the time I decided to build, I honestly hadn’t considered it prior because I didn’t think it was possible for me to do so by myself. I’d looked at renting / house sharing, but ultimately I didn’t want to share the space with someone I didn’t really know and when one of my best friends told me that she was building, by herself, it made me realise that owning my own home might actually be a possibility.
See, my parents built their house here, having moved us from the UK 15 years ago, and I knew that they would be an incredible help (I daresay that this is the understatement of the decade) throughout the process. Owning my own piece of Australia and building my home to my liking ultimately made me hardly consider buying established, at all.
How has your experience been building with Metricon? How did you go about choosing a builder that you can advise others to consider?
Many weekends were spent visiting the local (and not so local) display villages, to not only establish my style and the right house plan for me (and future renters/buyers), whilst also being incredibly conscious of the fact that I was, indeed, limited to a strict budget and burdened with expensive taste, haha.
Initially, I looked at the builders who were offering free upgrades, payment plans and were marketed towards people like me. Ultimately though, when I considered the quality of the build and the expected build times, Metricon came out on top for me and looked after me every step of the way. I had a truly amazing pre-construction team who were always on hand to answer questions and make amendments, and my Site Manager was amazing. I genuinely believe that without her, I could not have moved into my home in the very short time frame that I did.
To build a home on your own in today’s market is a true accomplishment! Do you have any advice or tips in terms of saving money and financials to help others in their 20’s wanting to build on their own?
Thank you! I recognize that whilst building my own home is an amazing achievement and I am so proud of myself for having done so, I also speak from a position of privilege and acknowledge that this is not a path open to everyone. My family were my biggest supporters and living at home with them meant that I was able to save all my pennies without the additional expenses of rent and greater bills than what I had. If you can do the same, I encourage you to do so.
I will say though, that the lure of having the latest and greatest gadgets as well as AfterPay and other ‘pay in installment’ incentives are designed to target my demographic and they can seem like an easy option with no interest re-payment terms. Avoid these at all costs, as it’s easy for it to get away from you, which is why I have always worked on the basis that if I can’t afford to easily buy it in full 3x over.
With so many decisions that there are when buying land and then building, being your first build on your own did you seek advice or support during the process that you can recommend to others?
My greatest advice would definitely be to research your mortgage broker and meet with them to discuss your goals. It doesn’t cost a thing upfront and the fee is included in your loan after. Switching to a different broker part way through my process took away a lot of stress and anxiety and was the only factor that got my application over the line, having had them rejected previously due to a clause in my encumbrances which the banks, LMI and the vendors could not agree on.
I would also get really clear on the encumbrances of your estate and what is required, as you could end up paying more than you need to. Make sure that when you are choosing your builder, that you ask about their communications process. Metricon ensures that you are able to be in phone, email and in-person contact with your Site Manager throughout the process, but there are other major builders out there who allow you access to an allocated Admin person only who are not always informed of your build’s progress and stages.
What has been the hardest challenge of your building journey in your experience and how did you overcome this?
The hardest challenge of my build journey was the most surprising and disappointing, being the reaction of some when I announced the news. Tall Poppy Syndrome amongst some wasn’t what I was expecting when I shared what I had worked so hard for, but I was met with some distaste at how I was able to afford it and why I was ‘given’ the opportunity and not them.
It took me a long time to come to terms with the idea that ultimately you can’t change people’s perception of you, you can only continue to quietly work hard to accomplish what you can, stay true to your values and celebrate with those you love.
Your page is all about creating a luxury look for less, where did you choose to cut costs on your build without compromising on the aesthetic of your home?
With my home, I don’t so much feel that I cut back on anything, I just didn’t splash out on some things. I saved when I chose to swap my fourth bedroom for a study, making my home more open plan, as I opted for a bulkhead instead of a wall and robe. I also opted to not have my kitchen splashback tiled by the builder and to include a stone porcelain slab tile instead. This allowed for me to have a really luxury looking kitchen, without going crazy.
Are there any upgrades when building a home that you personally felt are unnecessary that others could perhaps allocate to the budget elsewhere?
The biggest upgrades that I personally wouldn’t include again would be concreting the driveway and perimeter paths through the builder. I wanted to extend my concrete out but as the concrete was on the master plans, I was told it would cost several thousand to extend it out just a small amount due to the fees or re-configuring and drawing up my master plans. I’m personally not a super big fan of stone benchtops either, I’d much rather take the extra money and spend it on nicer carpet – trust me, the budget carpet that builders include does not have that nice, squishy feel. It is flat as anything, so definitely upgrade!
Do you have any other tips for those about to build on how to best decide where to cut costs and where to spend?
For my next build, I’d definitely do floor-to-ceiling tiles in the bathroom and ensuite, as it gives it a really lovely luxe feel. I’d also definitely encourage others to spend as much time as possible in display homes looking at paint at different times of the day. My paint is Brume Half on the walls and Lexicon Half on skirtings, architraves, cornices etc. The contrast is stunning and the grey isn’t harsh at all, it gives my home a lovely and light feel. I get a lot of compliments on it!
And what if any, were your non-negotiables when building that you had in mind from the start of your building journey?
My non-negotiables included having a 3 bed, 2 living, 2 bath and 2 garage home. I knew that this would make my home that much more desirable to rent or buy, and living in the zone for a desirable school would give me an excellent chance to make a profit on my build when I come to sell in years down the track. Being near parks would be great for kids / dogs to play, and having a decent sized backyard meant that I would still get a taste of the outdoors whilst being in the privacy of my own property.
You have just moved into your newly built home, congratulations! Do you have any projects that you will be working on in the new year?
I LOVE a good project and whilst my knowledge and experience is definitely not up there, it’s something I really enjoy and love to learn. I’m going to paint my feature walls in a dark grey limewash in my theatre room, master bedroom and guest bedroom, and add stained timber slats to the feature wall in my theatre room also.
My Pinterest board is: www.pinterest.com.au/lifeinlawson
And how will you be keeping these projects affordable while still looking high-end?
I love a good DIY and I’m always scouring marketplace for second-hand furniture that is either in new condition, or needs a new lease on life. There are also some really stunning products in stores such as Kmart, Ikea and Target these days which are super affordable and look fantastic within many homes, particularly easy if they are neutral as mine is.