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How to Choose the Right Colours for Your Exterior

Choosing the exterior colours of your new home can be one of the most challenging decisions that you make during your home build. You want your home to have street appeal and establish your home’s personality and the best way to achieve that is by choosing the right colours and finishes. But choosing the right colour for your exterior extends to more than just deciding what paint colour to use. Aspects such as the overall impression the house will make, planning the driveways, entrances, the fencing and landscaping. The exterior materials of the building including the roofing along with other materials all need to be considered when choosing your exterior colour palette. How these work as a cohesive story and how they work in the local environment, how they are maintained and therefore withstand the test of time. 

While there are no hard and fast rules to choosing the right colours for your home, we’ve put together a list of the key things to consider when choosing a colour scheme that works for you and your home’s surroundings. 

Choose the right colours for your home’s surrounding environment

One of the most essential elements to consider when choosing your exterior colours is your home’s environment. 

Not only does the selection of exterior colours play a vital role in setting the aesthetic of any street but taking cues from the surrounding environment can help you choose shades that match the streetscape. Treating the whole exterior palette including the landscaping; can make your home more and be aesthetically pleasing whether it’s for your enjoyment or to ultimately help retain the resale value.

The colours and style of your exterior should set the palette for your interior, helping the flow from outside to inside. The colours, the materials & the style should be a reflection of your taste but working with the needs of the environment help enhance your comfort level.

Here at G.J. Gardner, we pride ourselves in building liveable houses and when choosing your exterior colour palette, we urge our customers to consider your area’s environment, climate and the surrounding elements you’re building around and becoming a part of.

Trees and tree canopies help keep the environment cool so anchoring your colour choices to the area seems more relevant to use deeper colours. When there is no established landscaping and there are long periods of high-temperature days, lighter colours will help reflect more of the suns heat on your roof on those hot sunny days.

In hot climates, like in Western NSW, Queensland or the Northern Territory, choosing lighter colours like whites, soft greys, or warmer beiges and taupes for your roof will help reduce the temperature inside your home. 

These colours are good at reflecting the sun’s heat from the home and absorbs less of the sun’s energy than darker colours, which can help cool off your home. This will also help your house be more energy-efficient and could help reduce the need for cooling systems.

In contrast, a darker roof will keep your home a few degrees warmer during winter. In cooler climates like in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, deeper colours such as charcoals, navy and deep browns will give a stronger yet cosier look while keeping your home warm.

COLORBOND® steel’s range of roofing colours are designed especially for Australian homes and have a wide range of colours available offering a solution for all environments.

​It incorporates Thermatech® Solar Reflectance Technology and is designed to increase the solar reflectance properties of COLORBOND® steel and reduce heat absorption. It is available in 21 of the roofing and walling colours as well as all of the standard colours for COLORBOND® Ultra steel and COLORBOND® steel Matt.​​If you are looking for a lighter colour roof to keep your home cool, COLORBOND® steel’s colours such as Evening Haze®, Surfmist®, Classic Cream and Shale GreyTM will be the best options. On the other hand, if you are looking for a darker coloured roof, COLORBOND® steel’s Ironstone®, Monument® and Woodland Grey® are the better choices for you. 

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What is your desired aesthetic?

The desired style of your home should be one of the most significant influencing factors when choosing exterior colours. Consider if you want the house to have a particular aesthetic, as most home designs and trends will have a particular colour palette associated with it.

Whether you want to stay true to the initial style inspiration or change it up a little, look at examples of popular house styles.

The popular Hamptons styles were inspired by beach lifestyles so cool greys, whites, taupes, navy and charcoal accents of dusky blush, red & eucalyptus green.

Use the Australian homestead inspiration of warmer and deeper greys, taupes, warm whites & earthy reds as well as grey/ greens as accents as a more Australianised take on the popular home style.

On the other side of the home-style scale, urban or more modernist designs can work with the extreme contrasts of stronger bolder charcoals, cool mid-toned greys, taupe and white. 

Of course, all of these colourways incorporate materials to contrast or enhance the schemes: bricks, render & concrete, timber and stone.  

Textures and colours work hand in hand and softer more matt textures are making an impact on exterior selections with curves, rustic or reclaimed looking bricks, honed or rough-cut stone and aged timbers making us give our homes a more lived-in more nature-inspired look. 

Ultimately, the colour of your home needs to suit your personal style and the desired look, feel and style of your home. 

Here at G.J. Garner, we have a range of home designs and facades to suit any style – if you need help choosing which facade you want for your home, get in touch with our G.J. experts.

Consider what other materials you are using

Alongside the colour of your roof, you should factor in any other materials that you are using on your home’s facade or during landscaping. Often the opportunity to use natural materials and their colours as part of the palette for a home’s exterior is overlooked.

Before choosing an exterior colour palette, you should look to consider any elements like brick, stone or wood; as well as any landscaping features, like tiles, fences, paths, cladding and driveways. 

All of the external features provide an opportunity to enrich a colour palette and can work together to improve the overall cohesiveness of your home. 

Talk to a G.J. Gardner Consultant

Choosing the right colours for your exterior is a massive decision to undertake on your own. That is why working with G.J. Gardner Homes Consultants is the best way to find the home design for your budget and lifestyle. Contact one of our friendly team members today.


1. Thermatech® technology is not available in Night Sky®, or non-standard colours, and is not available in COLORBOND® Metallic steel, COLORBOND® Coolmax® steel or COLORBOND® Intramax® steel. Results will depend on roof colour, level and location of insulation, type and location of building shape and function. COLORBOND® steel, BlueScope, the BlueScope brand mark, ® colour names and ™ colour names are registered trademarks of BlueScope Steel Limited. ™ colours names are trademarks.

How to Choose the Right Colorbond Roof?

In Australia, we wear our homes like a badge of honour. We want our suburbs, our streets and our houses to be the best they can be. They become a reflection of ourselves, our families and our lifestyles.

Nature and the surrounding environment can be part of the story but there is a culmination of essential factors that are a part of this pride.

Looking at the area, the materials, current trends and then combining it with the colours you love, can help make it YOUR STORY.

Where do you start?

What makes a house a home? What evokes feelings of home?

It used to be just a place to head at the end of a workday. Now our home has become the place where we spend our recreational time, a place to work or even a place for schooling. Our pride in our homes has never been more important as it is today.

We all have a different story but a very similar journey.

Whether you’re a first home buyer, are looking for more room for the growing family, or if you’re looking for a change of scenery to the city or the country, there are the same considerations. Once you decide to build or renovate, next come the different considerations. The exterior, layout and front façade holds some of the most significant design considerations. These are some of the things that give your home life.

Consider exterior surroundings and colours

Firstly, for your home’s exteriors,  take inspiration from nature around you: the landscape, the area, be it mountains, the beach, the trees, the local area history. Whatever the inspiration is, make it the start of “your story”. Your story is the palette of your exterior.

One of these choices is your roof, so the colour, shape, size is important as the beginning. The roof choice can be the anchor to a cohesive scheme. A Colorbond® steel roof gives you a diversity of choice: in colour, texture & style whilst still meeting the needs of the harsh Australian climate from extremes of heat and cold to dust, rain, wind and hail.  It’s for this reason that COLORBOND steel is assessed at outdoor sites around Australia, as well as in accelerated laboratory testing.

There is a range of exciting COLORBOND® profiles and choices to choose from. Taking inspiration from our Australian landscape, they enhance the linear feel and look of the roof. 

The need for sustainable, lower maintenance materials is a driving factor in roof choice. Having a roof that will look beautiful, but will also stand the test of time is an integral decision for any home builder.

How to choose the right colour

Your colour choice is integral to the style, whether it’s a hip roof, a skillion or a flat rooftop. The colour of your roof can complement the surrounding areas and ensure that your home works cohesively with nature. 

Deeper colours work beautifully to anchor in lush surroundings and can work well with the native colours of the tree canopy,  landscaping and tree trunks nearby. Popular colours for lush neighbourhoods are Colorbond® Monument, Woodland Grey®, Wallaby®, Dune®. The echoes of the colours in nature are unmistakable and combined with warm natural materials like timber and stone, brings them to life.

Paler colours drawn from the coastline particularly inspired by our famous rolling, dunes, shells, spinifex grasses, the water itself are on-trend. This aligns with lighter, more coastal oriented designs and the added bonus of Thermatech Solar Reflectance technology which keep our houses cooler. Colours such as Basalt®, Windspray®, Shale Grey™, Surfmist®, Dune® are great examples.

With the technology increasing the visibility of new and different looks, we have become more open to global exploration of the potential.

Our need for more tactile, natural materials, more openings into and out of our living areas, courtyards to bring in a little extra greenery have introduced the colours which create a cohesive flow from outside to inside. In light of global upheavals, it is no wonder that the trends in colours for interiors and exteriors are becoming expressions of a new hopeful, more sustainable view on building materials.

With trends leaning towards more harmonious, warm colours and textures, we have seen more customers gravitating to stone with irregular patterning – cladding, a feature blade wall, pillars.  Cement in blocks or polished softly for flooring but terrazzo with its chips of granite, marble & glass and softly rounded and washed out renders, perfectly imperfect. Timber combinations in small amounts as accents to give a little warmth are an addition to complement the schemes.

Looking at these combinations, the new theme? Texture! Soft, nature-inspired, natural curves, lines, colours.

How do we put it all together?

Start at the top and work down to the building is my recommendation. The balance of colours, materials, textures is all about proportion. If your roof is large, this will be a dominant part of your scheme.

Combine and put it together on a board for a better overview of the entire home’s style and design. The story is about your home, how you tell it is there for all to see on your façade, your colour choice, material choice and how it’s delivered in the overall design.

Rules? Not really any rules except balancing it. I like to give this guidance:  Not too much of one colour or if you like one colour then make it about different textures.

Bring a little bit of your inspiration from the exterior design to the inside styling e to keep the overall flow of the home cohesive. After all, we have learnt to take advantage of our outdoor spaces and even including internal courtyards.  

The other and most important rule is to enjoy the process, from looking for inspiration, researching and obtaining samples. Put them all together and the colours and textures will speak for themselves as a visual prompt. This is the start of your journey.

Find the right roof for you!

If you have any questions or want to get started on building your dream home, contact your local G.J. Gardner office today for exceptional and friendly service.

Single Storey vs Double Storey Houses.

Single storey vs double storey homes, which should you choose?

Should you build a single or double-storey home?  

At the beginning of any new homebuyers’ journey, the decision on whether to build a single or double storey home is a major one that could impact your family’s lifestyle for years to come. It is essential to do your research before choosing the right house design for your family’s current and future lifestyle.

In this article, we have outlined a few key considerations that will help you choose between building a single or double storey home, including building costs, floor plans, land size, and the block’s aspect. Making the right decision based on these elements will help improve your family’s lifestyle, help maximise the features of the property, utilise the block better, and even help improve your return on investment over time. 

Location and block size

When deciding whether to build a single vs double storey house, the first consideration, and potentially the most important consideration, is the size of your block of land. Over the past couple of years, property prices have soared in both the inner city and suburban markets – leading to homebuyers spending more money on smaller block sizes.

For this reason, many home buyers are deciding to capitalise on their new smaller block size by building a double storey home or even a triple story home to create the living space that many families desire. When there is no room to build outwards, the only option left is to build up. 

However, when moving away from high residential locations, there are more opportunities to own and develop a large block of land. As we move further away from the city, we see larger blocks of land with one-storey homes. These properties and home designs are still a very popular option for families and downsizers.


When considering the cost of building a single storey home versus a double storey home, it should be no surprise that building a two-storey home is more expensive than staying grounded. On average, you can expect to pay 30% more when building a double-storey home than a single home of comparative size. For a 250m2 home, this could be at least another $45,000. 

Additional costs when building an additional level to your home can include:

  • Plans and permits to satisfy local laws and regulations. 
  • Scaffolding to aid in construction.
  • Steel manufacturing to support the additional leave.
  • Inclusion of multiple staircases and balustrades for safe access to the second level. 

You can also expect the build to take longer and the potential for unexpected extra costs during construction. 

However, it is also worth considering that with the added construction cost comes the benefit of selling the home for more. This simply leaves the decision about whether it is worth the value for the money and level of investment up to the customer.

Maximising your property

Whether or not you should select a single or double storey build also depends on the aspects of the property and what will maximise your block of land. 

For example, many home builders prefer a two-storey home design so that their home can have the best view possible and to ensure that trees or other single story homes don’t block their view. Views also add value to any property, whether your home looks out over city skylines or ocean waves. 

If your property has beautiful surroundings, this may be a deciding factor in choosing to build a two-storey home build. The invaluable respite and connection gained from a view can often be one of the main reasons people will add a second floor. 

Assess the layout of the home

Another design aspect that needs to be considered is the desired layout and floor plan for the home. Single-storey floorplans are great for achieving an open plan house that has large living areas and great flow. 

On the other hand, double-storey homes can be more flexible in terms of layout and are a great option for allowing for more privacy for family members. They can provide zoned living arrangements or separate spaces for entertaining and living.  

Consider your family needs and lifestyle.

Every family situation is unique and has different needs to best suit their lifestyle. What may work for one household will not necessarily be the best option for yours. 

You should consider how you like to spend your free time if you require more privacy to work from home, have teenagers who want to entertain, or if you want to have room for children to play. If a family has children, the greater privacy and sense of separation afforded by a double-storey house is the best way to go. 

Alternatively, if you live with elderly or disabled family members, it may be beneficial to keep everything at ground level to avoid difficulties walking up and downstairs. This should also be a consideration if you are building a house that you plan to retire in. 

Single storey and double storey house plans

G.J. Gardner Homes offer a great selection of both double storey and single storey house plans. Some of our single storey house plans include: 

  • Our Vista 285 includes elegant spatial flow with some private spaces and a centralised living area. 
  • Our Oceanside 255 home design contains a stylish interior and a flowing open plan area that leads seamlessly from indoors to outdoors.
  • Our Rochedale 412 house plan is a popular pod-style home designed for large lifestyle blocks.

Some of our double storey homes include: 

  • Our Freshwater 400 home is perfect for large and growing families with its abundance of space over two functional stories. 
  • Our Elwood 353 design is a stunning example of form and function while providing elegant separation of spaces for entertaining and privacy for all. 
  • Our Esplanade 367 home is designed for wide sites and is perfect for large or growing families. 

Find out if a single or double store home is right for you.

If you have any questions or want to get started on building your dream home, contact your local G.J. Gardner office today for exceptional and friendly service.

The Home Building Process

Your Building Journey

The home building process can often feel a little daunting and stress-inducing, but at G.J. Gardner, we aim to bring the joy back into building your dream home. The G.J.Way is all about ensuring the home building process consists of a journey that excites and inspires. This is achieved through a lot of simple stuff that really makes the difference during this process, like having one fixed price with no hidden extras and our dedication to being entirely transparent with upfront billing. 

Your building journey is made up of many unique stages we have detailed in this article, all of which will be stepped through thoroughly with your friendly G.J. Gardner builder.


The research stage is one of the most important stages in building a home since it sets the foundations for your project. In this initial stage, you will choose your builder, the location of your home, and the house design that will help your dream home come to life. 

Once you have chosen your builder, you will be able to work with them to select a block of land and go through the building construction process from start to finish. All G.J. Gardner builders have plenty of experience and can advise you of any extra costs or potential issues with the land, for example, a driveway on the wrong side of the block or aspect issues. Your builder can also help you find the best block of land that will maximise your value for money. 

Our G.J. Gardner builders are dedicated to building relationships with every customer, so they can work towards your desired outcome with you. 

It is during your research stage that you will also need to confirm and organise your finances. This is so you can also organise which home loans are applicable to your situation and any grants you may be eligible for ahead of time. 

Make The Home Yours

After the initial research, it is time to work with a friendly and experienced G.J. Gardner expert to make the home uniquely your own. An important consideration to start building a home is being realistic about your expectations and budget. A great method is writing a list starting at one all the way down to 100 (if you have that many items!), with the top 10 things being your absolute must-haves in your home, the next 1o items being your nice-to-haves, and so on and so forth. This will allow your builder to have a clear vision and understanding of the best way to maximise your budget so you are exceptionally happy with the end result, as well as helping you create a clear picture of the features you would like in your home. 

This will also be when you and your G.J. Gardner builder can ensure that the house’s design is as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible. This will have a big impact on how comfortable your home ends up being since things like ensuring you are getting sun in the morning can have a big effect on liveability. It also includes considerations like how your house will perform day to day, its flow, and privacy considerations. It is important to carefully consider how each design aspect works and how you achieve centralised living zones. 

During this stage, colouring, feature, fixture, and façade decisions will also need to be discussed. Your G.J. Gardner builder can help you choose a thoughtful colour scheme since it will directly impact the house’s performance and feel. Having a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing colour scheme will make the home design feel better and more unified. Additionally, making any decorating and landscaping decisions that will settle the home design and make it uniquely you. 

Construction Begins

Now that all of the big decisions have been made, it is time to see it all come together. At this point, the team at G.J. Gardner will be hard at work ordering all materials, scheduling labour, pouring the slab, and beginning to build the frame. You will be able to see your project commence over the weeks right up until the roofing and plasterboard is installed. This also includes all of the indoor elements like the installation of linings, timber skirting, and architraves. 

The Finishing Touches

Now that your house is built, we can start putting together the finishing touches to make it truly home. This means it is time to complete the final construction elements, including painting, tiling, and utilities like electrical and plumbing installation. It is also when you get the opportunity to add that extra personality to your home with all the additional features you may have chosen, like mirrors and splashbacks. 

After all these finishing touches are complete, your G.J. Gardner builder will take you on a final walkthrough of the property to ensure that everything they want has been included and that they are happy with the flow of the house. 

Handover Day!

Once you’ve given your G.J. Gardner builder the go-ahead that you are completely happy with your new home, it is time for the most exciting stage of the process! As a customer, you get to see your dreams come to life as the keys are handed over upon settlement. A truly memorable moment will ensue as you walk into your brand-new home that is now all yours to begin your life in. 

Post-Handover Care

The service won’t stop there; even after the keys have been handed over and the initial home building process is complete, the G.J. team will still be there to support you. We will be happy to handle any building defects that become apparent after handover so we can ensure that the house is absolutely perfect for you and stands the test of time.

Want To Know More About The Building Process?

To learn more about the building process, you can contact your local G.J. Gardner office today for exceptional service and home building capabilities.

Understanding a Floor Plan

How to Understand a Floor Plan With G.J. Gardner

What is a floor plan?

Floor plans are in-scale drawings from a perspective of the relationship between the different rooms, spaces, and any physical features of a single level of a building. This allows you to view the layout of the home and gauge the circulation and traffic flow. Dimensions are also often included in floor plans to give an idea of the general size of each area. 

Knowing how to read floor plans is essential to understand for both professionals and the everyday buyer, as they indicate the primary inclusions of a home. From looking at a floor plan, you can gauge how many bedrooms, how many bathrooms, how much storage the home has. You can also get a top-level understanding of whether the home’s layout is open plan and how each room flows into and connects to each other. Understanding floor plans allow you to visualise how people will move through each space and if there is enough room for your intended purpose. 

Floor plans are different to building plans since floor plans only offer a conceptual starting point through a simple diagram demonstrating the layout. They show the big picture of what you can expect for your living, work, and alfresco spaces; however, they do not offer enough information for construction. Building plans need to include complete blueprints and construction-ready drawings that have more depth. Learning how to read buildings plans requires the more technical expertise of a developer. 

How to Read a Floor Plan

Since so many details need to be expressed within a floor plan, architects often use various symbols to indicate different house features. This set of standardised symbols and abbreviations are able to make the plan less cluttered and easier to read. Every floor plan you receive should include a symbol legend so you can figure out what each symbol indicates. There will also often be floor plan notes to provide additional context for the building. 

Symbols used on floor plans often fall within three categories: appearance (e.g., a toilet looks like a toilet), conventions (e.g., windows are denoted with three parallel lines), and labels (e.g., T stands for thermostat). 

Some of the most common symbols for how to read plans for a house include:

  • The scale. This will let you know if the floor plan is in feet and inches or uses the metric system. The top symbol is an example of a feet and inches scale, while the bottom scale symbolises the metric system.
  • The compass. The compass symbol will tell you what the orientation of the property is. For example, the symbol below indicates that the property faces North.
  • Walls: Walls can be represented by two parallel lines, the outer one representing the exterior wall and the inner line representing the interior wall. 
  • Fireplace: The symbol below represents a fireplace against a wall.
  • Doors. Different door symbols can represent various styles of doors. In the example below, from top to bottom, the symbols represent a single door, double door, sliding door, bi-fold door, and pocket door. 
  • Windows: Three parallel lines denote windows if they are single casement. 
  • Stairs: Stairs are indicated by a series of lines, and an arrow, the style of the symbol can indicate whether the stairs go straight up, change direction halfway, or are circular. 
  • Kitchen fittings and appliances: These symbols represent different kitchen appliances, including a sink, sink with draining board, dishwasher, oven, cooktop, and refrigerator. 
  • Bathroom fixtures: The following symbols denote a bath, corner bath, shower, sink, double sink, toilet, and a bidet. 
  • Wardrobe: Within bedrooms, a closet is represented similar to a protruding door with a dotted line to represent the rail. 

How To Read Floor Plan Measurements

You can understand room sizes either by the width x height detailed in the middle of the room or next to the wall along a line with an arrow at each end. 

Common fixtures to look out for include a bath, shower, sink, and toilet in the bathrooms, a sink, dishwasher, oven, and cooktop in the kitchen and the washer and dryer in the laundry. Want to know how to find the right floor plan for you? Check out our guide to choosing a floor plan.

What can’t a floor plan tell you about a home?

Though you can gather a lot of information from your floor plan, they are one dimensional and don’t demonstrate what’s happening with the house from a liveability or design perspective. 

When house designs used to be designed in a stock standard fashion on a basic block, floor plans were a far better indication of how the home would look. As housing design trends and capabilities have evolved to be more unique and creative, floor plans became a less reliable way to express the feel of a home design. That is why home designers have begun creating 3D models that allow you to better visualise how the home will work for you and your lifestyle.

If the only visual information provided is a floor plan, people often don’t understand what the house will look like once built, causing them to change the positioning of doors and windows. Now, floor plans are simply step one, while walkthroughs and display homes showcase houses more accurately. Looking inside a display home can give you the best insight into what the actual home design will look like and allow you to visualise the space as your own.

Talk to a G.J. Gardner Consultant

Floor plans are a good starting point but moving past these flat diagrams is important for allowing you to choose the best home design for your specific property and needs. That is why working with G.J. Gardner Homes Consultants is the best way to find the perfect plan for your budget and lifestyle. Contact one of our friendly team members today. 

Construction Loans Australia: What are they, and how do they work?

Looking to build your dream home in Australia? If so, it is essential to understand the specific loans that can help you on your home building journey.

What Is A Construction Loan?

Construction home loans are a specific form of home loan intended for people commencing a new home build or undertaking major renovations instead of buying an established property. These loans were specifically created for home builders to withdraw instalments of money from a pre-agreed loan amount at various stages of construction. These instalments are commonly referred to as progressive payments or progressive drawdowns. 

How Do Construction Loans Work?

Construction loans and traditional home loans are intended to serve the needs of different customers and therefore operate differently. When purchasing an established home, the purchaser needs a single payout of money to purchase a property. This is why a traditional home loan is a single lump sum of money borrowed from a financial institution, specifically for financing the purchase of an established home.

However, due to the nature of building a home, the financial needs associated with the purchase change. When building a house, customers require different amounts of money at different periods throughout the construction process to pay for the various contractors, suppliers, and trades used. For this reason, construction home loans assist the borrower by providing progressive payments at determined stages of the construction process. 

G.J. Gardner. Home design - Hamilton 266, a small lot house.

Hamilton 266

How Do Progressive Payments Work?

Once you have been approved for your construction home loan and the building has commenced, lenders will make progressive payments throughout the various stages of construction. These payments will typically be paid directly to the builder after each stage of the build.

Stages of construction:

1. The slab down or base stage – This progressive down payment is to help lay the foundation for your build. It can include measuring out the site, excavating foundations, pouring the footings, under slab drainage, and moisture barrier protection.

2. The frame stage – This loan amount is to help raise the frames of your house. This stage can include erecting external and internal support structures and trusses and running conduit for electrical and plumbing services.

3. Lockup stage – At this stage, the money loaned is intended to secure the property. This includes finishing the external walls and installing windows and doors. After this stage, the house should be able to be locked and is safe for the internal tradesman to enter the house and begin the internal fit-out.

4. Fit-out or fixing stage This amount of money is to complete the fit-out of the home, including all internal fittings and fixtures. This can include plumbing, electrical, plaster boarding, initial cabinet installation, tiling, and architraves.

5. Practical completion – This drawdown amount is for the conclusion of all contracted items such as finishing all carpentry, electrical, plumbing, painting, detailing, and cleaning. Effectively after this stage, you should be able to move in and live in your new home.

In some instances, a builder may request a deposit before any planning occurs, so it is feasible to negotiate with your lender an advancement on your first progressive payment. We would recommend having additional funds on standby to keep the construction moving forward.

What Are The Benefits & Costs Of Construction Loans?

Benefits of a construction loan:

  • Reduced Interest Payments: You only pay interest on what you have borrowed rather than the entire loan amount. For example, if only $250,000 has been drawn down on a $400,000 loan by the third progress payment, you will only be charged interest on the drawn down amount and not the additional $150,000.
  • Financial Protection: A construction home loan allows a controlled release of funds that are to be used for the corresponding phase of construction. This ensures that you do not draw down more than you need and that you do not exceed your construction budget.
  • Additional Payments: Lenders generally allow additional payments into your construction loan, enabling you to reduce your balance and pay less interest. 

Cons of a construction loan:

  • Availability of Funds: Unexpected costs can arise that require additional capital expenditure to rectify. If you have limited funds budgeted for these, it may be challenging to request early withdraws from your progressive payment plan, leading to a halt in construction.
  • Building Delays: Work carried out will usually need to be assessed before a release of payment, creating time delays and frustration.  
  • Additional Requirements: Due to the increased complexity of a home loan, the time taken from applying for the loan and being approved for the loan could extend over a long period of time. This time will also involve back and forth between yourself, the builder, and the lender. 

How To Get A Construction Loan?

Obtaining a construction loan is different to getting a traditional home loan and requires additional documents and approvals before a loan is granted.

Typically, you will need to provide the lender with documents including various council permits and plans, a copy of your fixed-price construction contract and any insurance documentation. Like a home loan, you will be required to provide details of your income and expenses to satisfy the standard lending requirements of your lender.

Following this, a property appraiser will usually assess your constructions plans to estimate the expected value of the dwelling. This is to provide the lender with detailed information on the value of the property upon completion of construction. This will be considered in approving the loan. Further property assessments and inspection may be required during construction.  

A loan offer will be given if your loan is approved. A deposit will then be required like other home loans – the minimum is 5%, and if your deposit is less than 20%, you will be required to apply for a lender’s mortgage insurance.

During construction, you will be required to confirm that work has been completed at the respective stages of the build. In some circumstances, you may be requested to provide an invoice for the cost of the job done.   

Constructions Loan FAQs

  1. What per cent do you have to put down for a construction loan?

The minimum is 5%, and if your deposit is less than 20%, you will be required to apply for a lender’s mortgage insurance. 

2. What is the average interest rate on a construction loan?

Average construction loans are around 2.5 – 5%, which are typically higher than traditional home loans. 

3. How do banks value construction loans?

Bank’s value a construction loan on either the completion value or the land price plus construction value – generally whichever is lower.

4. Is it harder to get a construction loan than a mortgage?

Yes, obtaining a construction loan is usually more complicated. This is because more requirements and permits are needed to be obtained. 

5. How long does a construction loan take to approve?

Since council permits could take between 1 – 4 months to be approved, constructions loans could take up to 6 months.

6. What are the qualifications for a construction loan?

Requirements include: a signed builder’s contract, a quantity surveyor report, the council approved plans, builder’s insurance, and normal home loan lending requirements.  

7. Do you make monthly payments on a construction loan?

Before construction is complete, you only make interest repayments. Once the building is complete, you will begin to pay monthly repayments like a traditional home loan. 

8. What is an owner-builder loan?

An owner-builder loan is designed for people that wish to build/renovate their own home without the expertise of a licensed builder. 

Building Your Dream Home

If you have any more questions about construction loans or are looking to build a home that perfectly suits your lifestyle and needs, contact your local G.J. Gardner office today.

How Much Should it Cost to Customise a Standard Plan?


If you’ve been browsing home designs online or visiting display homes, you will probably find yourself liking a bit of this and a bit of that—a bedroom from one display home and a bathroom from another. As an individual you have the right to change your plans to suit you and you shouldn’t be penalised for it. After all, it’s not built yet!

Most builders will accommodate change. The question is—at what cost? It’s understandable that there are costs that come with customising a standard plan, but many people are unsure of how much they should be paying for customisation.

Understanding customisation costs

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to say exactly how much it should cost to customise a standard plan. After all, it is completely dependent on your builder, the plan you have chosen and the modifications you’d like to make.

As a general rule of thumb, we believe you should be able to change things like paint colours and tiles at no cost within certain ranges. More significant items like appliances and bathroom fixtures may involve a relatively low customisation cost, depending on your selection.

Finally, changes to things like facades, layout and room sizes will almost certainly involve a customisation cost, however these costs should be detailed and line-itemed (rather than charged as a lump sum).

To ensure that you aren’t being charged unnecessarily for ‘customisation’, you should review the standard inclusions of the plan. You need to make sure your builder isn’t charging you extra for features that other builders would include in the standard plan price. For example, at G.J. Gardner with a G.J. Designer Plan, you will benefit from:

  • An innovative floor plan that has been carefully designed to maximise usable space
  • A choice of facade—the majority of our home designs have different facade designs to choose from, including styles like “Hamptons” and “Urban”
  • A degree of personalisation e.g. choosing fixtures, fittings and colours (this will depend on the design you choose and your local G.J. Gardner office)
  • Expert advice from your new home consultant in regards to layout, positioning on your block, etc.

Keeping costs down

Even if you’re unable to estimate the customisation costs upfront, there are a range of rules to stick to that will help you keep customisation costs down. 

Plan range

By choosing a builder who has a large and diverse range of home designs and floor plans, you will have a better chance of finding a design that will suit your style and budget, without having to make a large number of changes.

Land fit

When choosing a plan from a standard range, watch that it really does optimise your selected block of land, and is not just the closest fit. If—when taking into account the view, north/sun direction, privacy and site slope—you’re compromising to use a particular plan, consider whether this is the right type of plan for you.

Lump sum vs actual cost

Ensure the cost for changes is relevant to the work done and not just an inflated lump sum.

Get a fixed price

If you do want to customise a standard build, get any modifications fully priced up before committing to them (and make sure they’re included in the contract). In reality, at some stage you may have to compromise, either on price or on what you want included. If you leave this until after paying a deposit or signing a contract, you could find yourself trapped in a home that is not your own. Read more about the benefits of a fixed price quote.

Align on suppliers

Choosing a builder who traditionally doesn’t supply the fixtures and finishes you want is not likely to be the most cost effective choice. It will require them to go outside their normal suppliers and tradespeople which can lead to increased costs, complications and mistakes.

The first step

The first step in getting a feel for customisation costs is being upfront with your builder about your desire to make changes.

You should take in and show the builder all your ideas, including: 

  • Clippings and inspiration boards (e.g. Pinterest)
  • Floor plans and renders you like the look of
  • Any plans you have had drawn up, or architect sketches 
  • Concept designs

Any builder worth their weight will take notes of your wish list, and try to include your items in their quote. It’s important to discuss this in detail very early so that they can guide you as to how it can fit into your final budget.

A good builder will be flexible and open to your individuality without making you pay exorbitantly for it.

Learn more about G.J. Gardner Homes’ approach to custom home designs.

The 2021 Federal Budget – What does it mean for home builders?

First home buyers, downsizers and single parents were among some of the winners of the 2021 Federal Budget. Treasurer Frydenberg’s Federal Budget 2021-22 commits to “supporting construction jobs” and includes multiple grants and schemes aimed at “helping more Australians realise their goal of homeownership”.

In his speech to parliament, the Treasurer stated that while last year’s HomeBuilder Scheme had been a success so far, “in this budget, our housing measures go even further”.

The schemes included the introduction of the Family Home Guarantee, an extension of the New Home Guarantee, the strengthening of the First Home Super Saver Scheme and an extension of the HomeBuilder program,

Read more to determine how the new and extended schemes could help you on your homeowner’s journey.

Extension of the First Home Super Saver Scheme

Initially introduced by the Australian Government in the 2017-18 Federal Budget, the First Home Super Saver (FHSS) aims to reduce pressure on housing affordability.

Since the scheme was initially introduced, first home buyers have been able to make voluntary contributions of up to $30,000 to their super fund. They can withdraw this amount (plus earnings, less tax) to help with a deposit on their first home.

However, in the 2021 Budget, the scheme was amended to allow first home buyers to save for a deposit faster through their superannuation. From 1 July 2022, first home buyers can make voluntary super contributions of up to $50,000.

With average property prices increasing across Australia, the increase of voluntary contributions reflects the changing market.

Am I Eligible for the FHSS?

To be eligible for the FHSS, you must be a first home buyer, and you must also:

  • Live in the premises you are buying, or intend to as soon as practicable.
  • You intend to live in the property for at least six months within the first 12 months you own it after it is practical to move in.

To find out more about the scheme, your eligibility and how you can save in your super, check out the ATO’ guide to the FHSS.

10,000 New Spots Added to the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme

From July 1st 2021, an additional 10,000 places will be released to first home buyers to buy a new or existing home as an expansion of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme’s new home program, the New Home Guarantee.

The FHLD scheme allows eligible first home buyers to build a new home or purchase a newly constructed property with a deposit of just 5%. The government acts as a guarantor for the remaining 15%.

Am I Eligible for the First Home Loan Scheme

Both singles and couples are eligible to apply for the scheme. However, there are several criteria that you need to pass to determine your eligibility, including :

  • an income test
  • a prior property ownership test
  • a minimum age test
  • a deposit requirement, and
  • an owner-occupier requirement.

Take the eligibility test for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme here.

Family Home Guarentee

With property prices forecasted to increase by up to 17% through 2021 across the nation, as reported by the  ANZ Bank, entering the property marketing is becoming harder, especially for single parent homes.

With the Family Home Guarentee grant, the Government plans to help alleviate one of the biggest barriers to entry for single parents, putting together a home deposit.

Within the program, single parents will now be able to access a Family Home Guarantee which will allow 10,000 applicants over four years eligible to purchase a home with as little as 2% deposit. This  would see the government act as a guarantor on the loan, therefore removing the need for lenders mortgage insurance (LMI).

The Family Home Guarentee extends to both new and existing homes, and isn’t limited to first home buyers.

Extending Access to The Downsizer Contribution

With the goal of freeing up more homes for first time buyers and families, the government has extended and altered the requirements for downsizer contributions.

Treasurer Frydenberg announced that from 1 July 2022, the minimum age for the downsizer contribution will be lowered from 65 to 60, allowing Australians nearing retirement to make a post-tax contribution of up to $300,000 per person, or $600,000 per couple when they sell their family home.

Budget papers stated that “this will provide greater flexibility for people to contribute to their superannuation and to access their housing wealth”. So far, around 22,000 Australians have already made downsizer contributions under the existing rules.

12 Month Extension of HomeBuilder

In the 2021 Budget, the Federal Government announced an extension of the popular HomeBuilder program to give people who have already applied an extra 12 months to start their renovations or builds.

HomeBuilder was introduced to boost the private construction sector and to motivate people to significantly renovate existing homes or build new houses.

The HomeBuilder initiative had over 121,363 applications as of its close date in April 2021.

To find out more about the HomeBuilder grant or get in touch with your relevant state about your HomeBuilder application, head to

Things To Know About Builder Promotions And Offers

If you’re doing research on building a new home, you’ll know that many builders offer promotions and giveaways. You may have seen offers for “free” rooms, “bonus” appliances, $x in value, and even buy now pay later arrangements.

These types of promotions can be both exciting and tempting, but the truth is, they are mostly designed to get you in the door and signing a piece of paper.

Is it too good to be true?

In most cases, yes.

Builders that offer promotions worth tens of thousands of dollars are likely recouping their profit elsewhere. If it’s not in the initial price then it may be in high costs for variations and extras you may want (or you might need them due to site conditions). It could even be on commissions from third party suppliers or finance providers that you will be forced to choose. At the end of the day, you aren’t actually saving money, rather just paying for the ‘saving’ somewhere else.

The alternative is the potential that the business is running with very low or no profit. This, of course, is unsustainable. If the business folds before they complete building your home, you may end up having to deal with significant delays and additional costs.

Why do these promotions work?

Humans love the word “free”. Science shows that even the sight of the word releases large quantities of dopamine—the happy chemical—in our brain. Offers that use the word “free” are designed to motivate you to sign a contract or put down a deposit.

Many of these promotions are also accompanied with a time or quantity limit e.g. “Hurry, only 3 available!” This tactic is called scarcity bias—as the availability of something decreases, the more desirable it comes.

It’s important to be aware of these biases when you are making decisions.

Should you say ‘yes’ to a promotion?

Building a house is such a significant investment of time and money, and it can be daunting when you start to think about the size of the commitment. It’s therefore completely understandable that new home builders are looking to save money at every available opportunity.

But really, there are better ways to be smart with your money when planning to build a new home:

  • Do your research and choose a reputable builder
  • Order a soil test, site survey and detailed property report so that you can have as much information as possible about your land
  • Use the information from these tests and reports to secure a fixed price contract from your builder
  • Work out what you want and get it priced accurately early in the process 
  • Receive multiple quotes and compare them

If you are interested in learning more about a promotion or offer to test it’s real value, we’d encourage you to get a full quote with no options for increased costs. This means that everything is included and there are no prime costs or provisional sums allowed. Then a comparative quote. You may find that the cost of that “free” master bedroom is hidden in an inflated price for something else.

Also, if you’re required to use a particular finance company with their offer, be sure to check out the interest rates, set up fees and insurance costs in comparison to market rates. You should also ask if the builder receives a commission on your loan.

The Rise in Multi-Generational Living and Homes in Australia

Multi Generation Family Sitting On Sofa At Home Watching TV

The Rise in Multigenerational Households

Multigenerational households refer to homes where multiple generations of people live under one roof. This can simply be adult children living with their parents, through to the addition of grandparents and even great-grandparents. 

Intergenerational living is by no means a new concept, in fact it is a very traditional way of living and considered the norm in many cultures. For example in Italy, more than 65% of people aged 18-34 live at home with their parents according to the latest data from Eurostat. Across the Middle East and Africa as well many young adults live with their parents since familial bonds are so highly valued. It is also customary in many of these cultures for young adults to live with their parents until they are ready for marriage. 

Familial traditions aren’t the only reason many cultures choose to embrace a multigenerational lifestyle. Financial practicality is another common reason, for example in one of the worlds most expensive cities of Hong Kong, where 76% of adults aged 18 to 35 live with their parents due to housing prices. 

So, what is influencing the influx here in Australia? An older population that is living longer alongside an economy that is requiring more than one person in the family to work full time, is fostering the need to support one another. The impact COVID-19 has had on the economy has pushed more families to stay living under one roof, not just in Australia but worldwide. This is happening since more young people are struggling to afford to leave home, alongside their grandparents who are perhaps experiencing similar financial stress. 

This being said, multigenerational housing was rising in Australia many years before COVID-19, and was initially influenced by immigration trends, with migrants over the past 5 years bringing many aspects of their lifestyle to Australia. This also means a trend can be seen for increased multigenerational living in Sydney and Melbourne, since these cities are the most popular destinations for immigration. 

What Are the Pros & Cons of Multigenerational Living?

The encouragement of living situations shared between young and old is still relatively nascent in Australia, but it offers many great positive and practical outcomes. It can minimise segregation, stress, feelings of social isolation, all while encouraging social connection and wellbeing. 

Multigenerational housing can offer unique benefits to each generation involved. For older generations living with their children and grandchildren, the greatest benefit can be related to social isolation and healthy aging. Seniors who lead rich social lives are found time and time again to be healthier than those who live in isolation. This presents a societal challenge since it becomes more and more difficult to stay socially active as we age. 

Multigenerational housing provides daily interaction without having to leave the house or access a home visiting program. This not only benefits older generations but also young adults and adolescents who are observed to experience similar issues with isolation. Subjective loneliness tends to be high in adolescence and young adulthood, decline through middle age, then rise sharply again in old age, meaning pairing seniors with young adults in multigenerational households provides benefits to both parties.

Another substantial pro to multigenerational living arrangements is financial, both for aging citizens as well as young adults saving for their own home. Not only do many seniors prefer the idea of aging in their own home, but it can also be the more cost-effective solution by reducing costs associated with care facilities, in-home assistance programs, and unnecessary visits to the hospital. For young adults on the other hand, with such high rental prices its unsurprising that intergenerational living offers such an attractive alternative to the average rental costs. 

While living with your family for longer than completely necessary has its distinct advantages, there are also some cons that are worth considering. These downsides are often more related to lifestyle and are unique to each individual family dynamic. The most common issue for many adults living with family is the lessened degree of privacy. Multigenerational houses can also lead to legal complications in instances of disagreements. For example, when purchasing a home with family, but then having one party wish to sell or move elsewhere.

What Floor Plans Work Best for Multigenerational Living?

Multigenerational housing can be made significantly easier with the right home design and set up. Some home designs better lend themselves to this way of living, allowing for added separation and privacy. Some of the features that allow for a more pleasant living experience include multiple master bedrooms, larger kitchens and living rooms, or alternatively multiple living areas. 

Zone-style homes for private areas also allow for a higher degree of independence. This means choosing a floor plan that has different designated sections, for example, a “kid zone” where the kid’s bedrooms, a kid’s lounge room, and kid’s bathroom is all located with another area of the house where the master bedroom, additional lounge area, and main bathroom is situated. 

Another solution can be choosing a floor plan with a finished basement or granny flat. This way you all are able to live on the same property without sharing all of the same general areas, allowing for a more independent lifestyle. 

Coolum 225 plus Granny Flat Floorplan

Example Floorplan: Coolum 225 plus Granny Flat

How Have Our Home Designs Changed to Meet the Demand?

At G.J. Gardner Homes, we have always offered personalised services to modify existing plans to suit any family situation, for example, adding granny flats for family members with differing requirements. This way, our home designs can meet more specific niches and be designed for specific client requirements. 

Home designs created specifically for intergenerational living will also be released in May 2021. These home designs will include features such as two master suites on separate floors and large living spaces. This will allow for home designs that can suit any family’s unique needs and lifestyle. 
To discuss a home plan that perfectly suits your lifestyle or enquire about the best multigenerational homes Australia has to offer, contact your local G.J. Gardner office today.