Building your own home – the truth

Building your own home is about desire, fantasy. But it’s achievable; anyone can do it.

Kevin McCloud

Thanks Kevin! You made me think anyone can do it!

What would I say to myself 3 years ago when Simon and I started looked for an empty block that would be perfect to build our forever home?

Firstly I would say you are going to run out of money. And the budget you set yourself will be more than doubled. And finally at the end you are going to vow that you will never do this again.

Over the last year and half while I write this blog and post photographs on my Instagram account of the home I have had various new home hopefuls write to me and ask me about the building process and our experience.

The fact is that my answer is not new. In fact I think its like childbirth – it doesn’t matter what people say or even what your experience was – somehow women every day keep doing it – and the reason is simple – the result!

So here are some of my thoughts on what you need to keep in mind when building a house as an owner builder.

The first reason budgets blow out is as easy as getting the estimations wrong. Don’t rely on the designer to tell you what the estimations are for trades – go and find out for yourself. Secondly, understand that the more you dig the less you knew. The reality is that we were almost immediately over budget by $30,000 because of the earthworks. So you must factor into your budget the likelihood of something going wrong. If it can go wrong it probably will. Thirdly, if you are not going to be on site everyday then make sure you have someone you trust who can manage the trades and ensure that they turn up and then get the job done well. Tradies talk their own language and work in accordance with their own timetables. And don’t get me wrong – just because a Job isn’t done when you think it should be done does not mean that nothing is being done. I remember the many days on site doing my little bit and feeling like at the end of the day I accomplished nothing. At certain stages of the build it almost feels like your work goes into a vacuum and then suddenly the end hits you like a sack of potatoes. This was probably the hardest part of the project for me – not knowing when the end was. Nevertheless, we were really fortunate to have some exceptional artisans and skilled tradies on the block and the results are very clear. Finally, If you are going to ask favours then also be prepared to wait and wait and wait for a Job to get completed. After all its only fair – favours mean that the person is going to have take a cut or make some sort of sacrifice that needs to be balanced with other jobs and priorities.

I am aware that many undertake the build on a tight budget because they have no choice. In the beginning you may be even confident that you will get the house to lock up or the interim certificate stage and then go to the banks for an easy to get loan to finish the rest of the house with a soothing confidence that the banks will walk away dazzled by your project and give you what ever money you need. Um no. We now have learnt that banks, unless they have been with you at the start, don’t wont to lend money to owner builders until the house is actually done, and I am talking about a full completion certificate.

The funniest thing is that it doesn’t matter what I say. You will build your own home. You will cry. You will stress. You may even start to doubt you will ever finish. And then at the end you will look at what you accomplished and all the pain will become a distant memory.

So – my best tip – enjoy the journey and may your design dreams come true!

Oh and Kevin – you are right – anyone can do it!


The entrance flooring
Garden Tools
Le Corbusier Lights
The pavers at the front of the house
The young garden is in!
Another perspective of the garden
Custom Made Garage Doors
Still a site
Internal Panelling to the WIR
Shower Screen
Aaron Graf our local Landscaper putting in the driveway
My brother in Law Scot on site to put in the lights
Light Man
Flos String Lights!
The driveway is done





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