Hicaliber Team

Connecting Indoor and Outdoor Spaces: Styling Tips for Your Home

Considering the societal shift towards spending more and more time in the home, it can be especially important to feel as connected to nature as possible. 

Not to mention the gorgeous Australian climate that makes us so inclined to embrace indoor-outdoor living in our homes. This is why so many Australians are looking to blend the lines of their interior and exterior home design. 

Exposure to nature is proven to boost our overall wellbeing and happiness, and regardless of whether you live in an urban or regional setting, increasing the number of natural elements and embracing indoor-outdoor living in your home will always have positive impacts on the overall atmosphere and feel of your home design.

Become a plant parent

The most obvious indoor-outdoor living design idea is to invest in a range of living greenery for inside your home.

An indoor plant is one of the easiest ways to bring a natural green to your living space. We recommend using a range of sizes, with many different plant’s options being suited to being indoors in lower levels of direct sunlight. 

If you’re feeling a little intimidated by the extra effort, a succulent only requires very little maintenance while still adding life to your home.

Bedroom 1
Small pops of green can make a big difference: Vista Display Home, NSW

Not only do plants help bring the feeling of nature indoors, but they have a proven positive effect on your mental health. Research demonstrates that viewing plants can reduce stress and is scientifically pleasing to the human eye.

Fresh flowers are your friend

Similar to potted plants, flowers are another way to bring nature into your home, and they don’t even have to be a weekly purchase! Orchids, for example, are a semi-permanent installation of flora — if tended to carefully, they will reflower every year.

If you are able to refresh your floral arrangements regularly, we recommend opting for fresh cut flowers en masse to make a statement.

Ensure you choose flowers that reflect the mood in your home as one size doesn’t always fit all. Take styling notes from the existing components of your house and find flora that suits.

The general rule of thumb is that you should match your floral choices to the type of interior you already have.

Ensuring visual cohesion

When you’re designing a new home, you can also take ‘bringing the outside in’ literally and echo the same materials in the interior of your home as you do the exterior. An example is the stone fireplace from the Freshwater Display Home in Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

For an expertly crafted finished house, you should consider how the interior and exterior of the house combine together.

Made from the same material used for the home’s façade, this fireplace makes an incredible statement in the living space, adding architectural interest and connecting the home’s interior to the exterior.

Carrying these similar materials and elements from your outdoor area to your indoor living space will create a harmonious flow and connect the spaces more seamlessly. A decorative example would be to mimic timber detailing for both indoor and outdoor furniture choices. 

Using similar colours, materials, and tones inside and out is one of the most effective ways to connect the two living areas. This can be done subtly by using the same-coloured throw cushions on both indoor and outdoor lounge settings or decorating tables with the same style of table settings. 

Timber, stone, and concrete are some of the best materials for creating a particularly modern indoor-outdoor living environment. These materials can be easily incorporated into both spaces and can be weatherproofed for the outdoors. 

Laying the foundations

What about if you’re building a new home?

There are a few different considerations for those looking for indoor-outdoor living design ideas, with the most obvious being alfresco living. Open-plan spaces with alfresco dining will help you feel closer to your backyard. Not only is this an appealing choice for modern indoor-outdoor flow, but it also provides you with an additional living and entertaining space for your home. 

To ensure this flow, make sure you keep the dividing space uncluttered to allow the two areas to feel like one large open space when the exterior doors are open. This means arranging your furniture and decorative elements so they don’t create any visual blocks or obstruct the natural pathway outdoors. 

Not only that, but this type of design will also naturally increase the amount of natural light in your home. It really is true that you can’t have too much natural light. After all, you can always add blinds or shades later if you’d like some darkness.

Do this in the home design phase by looking for every opportunity to remove barriers between your home’s interior and the light that hits the exterior of the building. This can be achieved through a clever home design that takes into account your block, geography and surrounding environment.  

If you’re looking for some guidance, our G.J. Gardner home builders are experts in modern indoor-outdoor living and are happy to work with you on a home design that fits all of your needs.

Dreaming of a new home that blends indoor and outdoor living? With over 36,000 quality, customised homes built over the past 35 years, we can find the perfect home for your lifestyle. Get in touch with a G.J. consultant today.

House and Land Packages – What You Need to Know.

G.J. Builder at a construction site

How Do House and Land Packages Work?

Firstly, what is a house and land package? House and land packages combine home and land loans into one package to provide an easy and affordable way to find the best property to suit your needs – allowing a buyer to secure both a block of land and the construction of their home in two contracts but one streamlined process. These are popular in Australia since buyers can know the combined price of their home and land from the outset. 

House and land packages often come in fixed price packages that lock in the price for the construction of the home as well as the land, meaning there are no surprise additional costs. House and land packages allow buyers to get the best of both worlds by choosing their perfect location and still being able to design their dream home.

In essence, home and land packages allow customers peace of mind, along with a quicker and easier cost-effective alternative to organising location and construction separately. The buyer can be assured that the best possible home design has been chosen for that house and land shape when purchasing together. This appeals to many first home buyers, downsizers, and investors who want to be guided through their home buying journey. 

How Does Financing A House & Land Package Work?

The biggest difference between purchasing a house and land package compared to other options is how the financing works. For example, when purchasing an existing home, you only need to take out a regular mortgage loan, while with the house and home packages, you are required to take out two loans that are generally bundled together as part of the fixed price. These two loans include a regular mortgage on the land and a construction loan for building the house. 

Repayments on your mortgage land loan will need to start being paid as soon as the ownership of the land is transferred after settlement. These repayments will be only regarding the land itself, and since the house is not built yet, only stamp duty on the land component of the fixed price will need to be paid. 

Your construction loan is paid in increments at the end of each stage of construction and consists of interest on the amount of money you have paid thus far. 

First homeowners’ grants can also contribute towards purchasing a house and land package and is a popular option for many first home buyers. The same can also be said for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, which can assist with your loan deposit. 

Are House & Land Packages A Good First Investment?

House packages are often popular choices for first-time investors since they are an incredibly cost-effective option that still allows for plenty of assistance. Buyers are able to build a home that meets all of their specific needs with plenty of help from builders advising on the right land and right home design for the block of land chosen. There is also the financial incentive of potentially reduced stamp duty. 

Land and house packages are also a good way to ensure strong rental yields – this is mainly because brand new homes attract high-quality tenants that expect to pay more for a premium property with no wear and tear. This allows you to choose from a larger selection of tenants and charge premium rent for a better return on investment. 

At G.J. Gardner, the team can take all key considerations of home design into account during construction. This means analysing the block of land and choosing the best design for the specific size, aspect (e.g., if it is north facing), and liveability. 

How To Find A House & Land Package? 

G.J. Gardner has a wide range of house and land package options, with a package to suit every family’s unique needs and lifestyle. To build the perfect dream home in the perfect location, it is best to work alongside a friendly and experienced G.J. Gardner builder.

Discover If A House & Land Package Is Right For You

To find a house and land package that perfectly suits your lifestyle, browse our packages online or contact your local G.J. Gardner office today.

G.J. Gardner Homes Works with Fifteen Trees to Reduce Carbon Footprint

G.J. Gardner Franchisees planting trees with local community groups

In close partnership with Fifteen Trees, G.J. Gardner works with community groups to give back to the environment.  

For over nine years, our G.J. Gardner franchisees have worked closely with Fifteen Trees and local environmental groups to plant over 76,711  trees to reduce the overall carbon footprint created by building homes.

Across Australia, our dedicated franchises have turned out year after year to give back to their communities and uphold the G.J. Gardner Homes values. 

Our values and the G.J. Way of doing things aren’t just limited to building you a quality home but also extend to servicing and positively impacting our local communities. Our builders are a significant part of their local communities. They collaborate with social groups like Fifteen Trees to ensure that we are doing our part to make their local areas an enjoyable place to live for many generations to come. 

Want to find out more about Fifteen Trees and how you can support the cause? Find out more below.

The Fifteen Trees Story

With core values such as permanency, transparency and credibility,  Fifteen Trees embodies the true Aussie spirit of giving back.

Founded in 2009 by then high school teacher Colleen Filipa, Fifteen Trees has continued to grow and flourish. 

With a background in environmental science and experience working with her local LandCare and other sustainability groups, Colleen knew that environmental group always had to fundraise to buy trees and heavily relied on volunteers to get the work done.

She wondered if companies could help pay for the trees and work with these community groups to help the environment. From here, Fifteen Trees was born.

Alongside teaching full time and having small children, Colleen started reaching out to companies asking how many cars they had in their fleet and would work out how many trees they would need to plant each year to reduce their carbon footprint. 

From here, the social enterprise continued to grow and evolve. Alongside their work with G.J. Gardner, Fifteen Trees also collaborates with functions, events, conferences, airlines and flights to plant trees and reduce their carbon footprint. 

The Fifteen Trees Impact

Fifteen tress logo.

To date, Fifteen Trees has helped plant over 200,000 trees across Australia and New Zealand and is now even helping plant trees in Uganda.

Established in 2009, the company operates with a small team of 6 and a host of native nurseries and community groups across Australia.

Fifteen Trees works with community groups, schools and local networks, where the locals can get actively involved with the tree planting and give back to their communities.

They only purchase trees from local and native nurseries to ensure that the trees get the best chance of surviving after planting. The local nurseries go out at certain times throughout the year to collect seeds from trees in the area. This ensures that all of the planted trees are indigenous to the site and will help the native animals thrive.

In collaboration with the local groups, Fifteen Trees plants trees on creek beds, sides of roads, reserves and even on private property. Wherever there is a need for local trees to revive the surrounding areas, Fifteen Trees can help organise a planting day.

So far, Fifteen Trees has helped plant over 250,000 trees in Australia and New Zealand but are working towards planting over 1 million trees.

The Environmental Impact So Far

With a focus on small communities, Fifteen Tree’s impact is felt Australia wide. Even a few trees in a small community can make a significant difference in the lives and animals in the area.

Fifteen Trees is continuing to grow, and its partnerships with companies like G.J. Gardner are helping the impact show Australia wide.

G.J. Gardner’s Partnership and Impact 

Kicking off their partnership in 2013, G.J. Gardner’s relationship with Fifteen Trees has continued to grow over the years. What started as a brief conversation with Master Franchisee Ross Morley, the partnership with Fifteen Trees has expanded to include over twenty-six franchisees across Tasmania and Victoria. 

From Launceston in Tasmania to southern Victoria and up through central Victorian – thousands of trees have been planted with the help of G.J. Gardner franchisees.

For every home that the partnering franchisee’s build, fifteen trees are planted in the local community to help reduce their impact on the environment and to help reduce their carbon footprint.

By the end of 2021, G.J Gardner will have donated over $380,000 to buy trees and will have planted over 76,770 trees across Tasmania and Victoria. 

With trees being planted in almost every state in Australia and New Zealand, the impact grows every year. In the nine years that G.J. Garnder Homes franchisees have been partnering with Fifteen Trees, we have collaborated with:

  • 26 independent native nurseries 
  • 45 Sites, including reserves, parklands, roadsides, school grounds, riverbanks & properties 
  • 30 Community groups

Not only do our franchisees donate money to purchase the trees, but they also join the community groups in planting native trees in their local area.

Alongside Master Franchisee Ross Morley, franchisees from across the country have picked up their shovel and have given back to their community. 

G.J. Gardner Trees Planted Per Year

YearNumber of trees

Want to Get Involved?

Learn more and find a local tree planting near you at Fifteen Tree’s website.

The Hidden Costs of Building a New Home

Building a new home is a great adventure. It should be a fun, enjoyable and stress-free process. After all, this is a time when your dreams come true. You’re building your future and life is good.

Unfortunately, the hidden costs of building a house can potentially jeopardise these dreams and your future happiness. As a new home builder, it’s important for you to be aware of the hidden costs of building a home.

Keep reading to learn about the different factors that will affect how much you pay for your new home.

Changes and modifications

One of the biggest traps in building a new home comes from the costs associated with changes and modifications. It’s so important to be aware of material upgrades that will add to the standard cost breakdown of building a house. If you upgrade items such as floorings, appliances, finishes and lighting—these will likely be additional to your initial negotiated cost to build, and your typical building costs will naturally increase.

If you start to make small modifications, you may not notice the cost initially. But it stands to reason, if you make a lot of small changes, or if you make large or structural changes to the plans or package, it could end up significantly adding to the cost breakdown of building your home.

Make sure you have an upfront conversation with your new home consultant or builder about the level of changes and modifications that will be included in your contract.

This is particularly important if you’re comparing a display home to a quote or estimate you’ve been given by a builder. It can be easy to fall in love with a floor plan and certain range of fittings and finishings, but often, the display homes you tour (whether virtually or in-person) will be a modified version of a standard plan. It’s therefore vital that you have a clear understanding of any gaps in cost. For example, the display home you visited may have marble benchtops in the kitchen, where your estimate may only cover laminate.

Builder promotions and offers

You’ll be amazed by the sheer number of home package deals available in the housing market. The thing is, many package deals promise the world but fail to deliver on the marketing hype. Simply put, many of these promotions are too good to be true, and are actually obscuring hidden costs in building your new home.

If you’re wondering if you should consider an offer born from a ‘deal’ or promotion, read our guide about builder promotions and offers

Site preparation

Site preparation is an area which is often overlooked by first-time home builders. Every block of land undergoes a site survey and soil test prior to construction.

If your block is difficult to access or is situated on a slope, your typical building costs will be higher. Likewise, rocky or highly-reactive soil will need to be included in your cost breakdown of building as they can increase your build costs due to needing different foundations. You also need to make sure that your sewage, water, stormwater and electricity connections to the street are covered in your cost breakdown. 

Although these costs are often unavoidable, if you uncover them early, you can better budget for your new home build. Read more about the three reports you need before paying a builder’s deposit.


It’s always tempting to cut corners to save money. In the spirit of being sensible, you might decide to forgo those extra cupboards in the laundry or install cheaper kitchen and bathroom appliances. What appears to be common-sense at the time can actually turn out to be “false economy” in the long run.

Cheaper appliances, fittings and finishes may require fixing or replacement in a shorter time frame and can affect the resale value of your home in later years. The moral of the story is: focus on quality and lasting value.


Where budget allows, make sure that finishes such as landscaping, driveways and window furnishings are included in your contract initially. These are not always included in building contracts and can add hidden costs to building your house.

Plan ahead

Within the building industry, it’s acknowledged that home renovations can cost significantly more (per square meter) than new home builds. That’s why a new home design should accommodate both your current and future lifestyle needs.

For example, if you’re a couple with plans to have children in the future, it’s much cheaper to build that extra room or two at the onset. The same can be said for kitchens, bathrooms, garages and storage spaces. Obviously a lot will depend on your budget, but always try to think long term.


Costs associated with delays are a great example of hidden costs in building a house. These can be caused by you as the buyer through changes and modifications, or if you are late in paying stage payments.

Delays can also be caused by your builder, who may not have prioritised your property over others they are completing. Delays may also be completely out of your control or your builder’s control, such as weather or contractor availability.

The weather… well there’s not much we can do about that! But some careful contract clauses can help avoid these hidden costs of building a house. Make sure you ask your builder about the costs associated with delays, and what is being done to mitigate these.

Change of mind

Finally, if you’re looking to avoid hidden costs, we’d recommend avoiding making excessive changes to your plans or build. Not only do changes of mind often attract additional drafting and material and labour costs, they can also cause costly delays.

Beyond Square Metres: Accurately Estimating The Cost Of A Home

If you’re going through the process of costing up a new home build, you’ll know that there is no shortage of opinions and recommendations on almost every aspect of the process. But beyond the complexities of choosing the ideal location, organising financing, and making design decisions, estimating how much it costs to build a house can be an incredibly difficult process.

The cost of building a new house is reliant on a number of factors that many builders may be unintentionally leaving out.

The most common thought is that the cost to build an average house should be based on  ‘per metre square’ or ‘per square’ basis. However, when using this as a house building cost estimate, problems can arise as buildings with the same square meterage can vary greatly depending on their floor plans.

A better approach to estimate the cost of building a house is by considering additional parameters such as the perimeter and style of roof. These elements, while not obvious at first, can often result in costs being driven up considerably.

Perimeter length

In the diagrams below are an example of three different floor plans – Houses A, B and C. While all are shaped differently, the square meterage is the same for all. The difference between all three lies in the perimeter length which ranges depending on the design.

House ‘A’ has an area of 100 metres squared, and a perimeter of 40 lineal metres
House ‘B’ also has an area of 100 metres squared, however it has a perimeter of 50 lineal metres
House ‘C’ also has an area of 100 metres squared, however it has a perimeter of 52 lineal metres

If you estimated the cost for these three buildings based on square meterage, you would assume that they would cost the same. However, House A’s perimeter measures 40 lineal metres, while House B is significantly larger at 50m. Comparatively House C’s perimeter is the largest of the three, measuring 52 lineal metres.

Due to the alcove, Design ‘C’ has a significantly greater exterior wall length, which is likely to drive up the cost. 

Roof design

While you need to consider the linear perimeter measurement as one part for estimating building costs, the roof design also plays a significant part in providing a more accurate representation.

Generally, there are two styles of roofing that are used – hip roofing and gable roofing.

A hipped roof – three or more sides slope downward

A hipped roof has three or more ‘sides’ that slope downward from a ridge at the top over the walls of your home.

A gable roof – two sides slope downward

By contrast, a gable roof has just two sides that slope downward. The cost of the gable style is generally much less than that of the hip option. Floorplan ‘C’ would require a hipped roof, where you could choose a gabled option for floorplans ‘A’ and ‘B’.

How to accurately estimate the cost of your home

So what do you need to know when looking for an accurate estimate for the cost of building  a house? In short, this depends on more than just the ‘per metre square’ cost. Without taking into account additional costs for the perimeter walls and choice of roofing style, both of which the house cannot exist without – it can be more or less expensive than originally quoted.

It’s therefore important that you ensure you get an accurate quote from your builder, rather than try to estimate and compare house prices on a ‘per square metre’ cost.

If you want to know more about how builders quote, or have a question about the cost to build a new home, contact us to learn more.

The North Point: Designing A High-Performance Home

One of the key features of a liveable home is a floor plan that is optimised for both the movements of the sun during the day, as well as throughout the seasons. The main factor in determining the relationship between your home and the sun is orientation, specifically the position of your floorplan in relation to the northern winter sun.

Every home design by G.J. Gardner Homes has a recommended north point. When our building designers are creating floor plans, this north point informs factors such as room layout, internal wall positioning, window type and orientation and even materials used.

New levels of comfort

By taking into account the north point when planning your build, you will unlock new levels of comfort and liveability. Orienting your floorplan correctly means that your home will be optimised for interaction between the indoors and outdoors—resulting in ample natural light, a better ambient temperature and more usable space.

This is particularly important during winter, where sunlight is more limited. Choosing the correct north point will ensure you are maximising the amount of winter sun that flows into all living areas of the home. A properly situated home will benefit from:

  • Morning sun in your kitchen and dining area
  • All-day sun coming into as many rooms and spaces as possible
  • Evening sun in your key living areas

When it comes to outdoor living, focusing on the best north point for your floor plan will also ensure that your outdoor entertaining areas—such as courtyards and decks—are usable. If you’re going to use these types of living and entertaining spaces in the winter, you want to consider shelter and indoor-outdoor flow.

The majority of our home designs feature a courtyard or indoor-outdoor entertaining area that, if oriented correctly against the north point indicator, should face the sun. These sheltered spaces are designed to catch the sun and heat in the winter (particularly the afternoons) but are also protected from the sun’s rays during summertime.

A more sustainable home

As well as considering comfort and liveability, it’s important to understand that orienting your home correctly is also a sustainable choice.

One of the most obvious sustainability benefits of having a home that receives optimum sunlight is saving money on your power bill—you won’t have to run the air conditioning or heating as often. There are also lifestyle benefits to less artificial air. As soon as you turn on the heating or cooling, you shut your home from the outdoors and contain your lifestyle. A house with an optimised north point will mean that you can have the windows and doors open, letting natural sunlight and fresh air in.

Often, new home builders aren’t aware that a well-positioned home will also likely lead to more affordable construction. This is because there are energy standards in every state, often in the form of a star rating. If you don’t get the north point right, you will likely have to spend more money on things like insulation, glazed windows and heating and air conditioning systems in order to meet your state or territory’s energy requirements.  

Optimum site use

When you’re building a new home, there are only a handful of things that are inflexible—your land size and view both cannot change. Your floor plan, on the other hand, is completely your choice.

At G.J. Gardner Homes, we believe we have an obligation to make the most of your block of land. One of the best ways we can do this is by helping you choose the home design that makes the best use of your site’s north point.

If you choose the right floor plan for your block, taking into consideration the north point, you will get the best out of the land that you’ve chosen. 

The end result is a home that feels like a resort, made up of spaces that you will enjoy being in every second of the day.

How To Choose A Floor Plan That’s Right For You

If you are planning on building a new home, you will have likely come across a range of different options for floor plans. A home floor plan is a drawing that shows an overhead view of a house and highlights the relationships between the rooms and spaces.

When designing a new home, floor plans are an invaluable tool. So, what makes a good floor plan? And what do you need to consider when choosing a floor plan that is right for you?

Key Characteristics Of A Good Floor Plan

A good floor plan is the foundation for a well-designed home that is a joy to live in. Choosing wisely means there will be great solar gain (or shade in warmer climates), good flow between spaces, noise management, and it is likely to increase your home’s resale value.

A good floor plan should:

Have a highly-considered room configuration

For optimal flow and enjoyment, rooms should work together. Bedrooms should be far away from entertainment spaces, bathrooms should not face common areas such as a dining room and kitchens should open out to a dining or living room.

Be versatile and flexible

Versatility might not be something you consider when planning your dream home. However, choosing a floor plan with flexible spaces means that an office space could easily be converted into a bedroom or vice versa. This is particularly important if you are planning on selling in the future or if you change your mind on the layout of your home.

Consider size

Every area in your house should be considered carefully so that there is enough room to move around and complete desired activities. It sounds simple, however this is one of the main areas that people fail to consider. This is one of the benefits of choosing a home from a proven catalogue of home designs—your rooms will be just the right size for your needs, and therefore highly functional.

Choosing The Right Floor Plan For Your Home 

When choosing or designing a floor plan for you, it is important that you also consider the following:

Block layout 

Start by considering the size and layout of your block. The size of the block may determine the size of the house you can build.

Determine house size 

In some situations, the size of the house will be dependent on the restrictions of the block. For example, a sloping block restricts the size of a house that can be built on it. A common house design for a sloping block is a single-storey split level home. If you have more space to work with, you should consider the needs of your family and your lifestyle. This will help determine your floor plan size, and number of storeys.

Restrictions & regulations 

Before proceeding with your floor plans, you may have to check with your local council and other relevant authorities about regulations and restrictions. Restrictions such as house heights, home sizes and environmental considerations may limit your options.

Lifestyle considerations 

This means considering the layout of rooms, size of rooms and other specific requirements for your family. Don’t forget to think about your daily activities such as doing laundry and cleaning the house—do you really want to walk up two flights of stairs to hang your washing?

Future considerations 

Think about what your plans are for the future. Will you be staying in this home for a while? Will your family be growing? Will your kids be moving out? Will you be selling in the future? These are all important questions to ask when thinking about designing your floor plan. As mentioned earlier, keeping rooms versatile is an important component for future planning.

For retirees, future accessibility should also be considered.Certain design features are much more cost effective to incorporate as part of a new home build, rather than through renovations later on. For example, you might consider:

  • A level front door transition
  • Larger kitchen and bathrooms
  • Wider halls

Make sure you know what you are looking at 

Finally, with multiple abbreviations and symbols, floor plans may appear overwhelming at first. It is imperative you understand measurements in terms of flooring, wall heights and ceiling heights.

Ask your building consultant or designer to help you understand and interpret these.

How Much Will Landscaping Your New Home Cost?

As Australians, we’re lovers of the great outdoors. There aren’t many better ways to spend time in the sunshine and fresh air than in your very own slice of paradise—your front or back yard.

A well-designed and neatly landscaped outdoor space can offer much more than just a private outdoor sanctuary. Your outdoor spaces can be transformed, adding significant monetary value to your home as an asset for years to come.

While planning for the landscaping aspect of your new home, you may be finding it a little difficult to estimate just how much of an impact it’s going to have on the final price.

Landscaping a new home can include any combination of elements such as earthmoving, lighting, decking, paving, turf laying, retaining wall construction and planting. The list goes on! These all involve a number of trades and specialty skill sets.

There is therefore no easy calculation that can be used to give the exact cost of landscaping your new home due to the complexity involved. As a very broad rule of thumb, you can expect to put between 5 and 10% of your house cost towards landscaping.

If you set aside this much of your budget, you can establish a good baseline for a full landscaping project that can easily adjust to fit the needs of your specific preferences and budget.

Calculating The Cost Of Landscaping A New Home

For example, if you’re paying $400,000 to build on a new lot, you should consider putting somewhere between $20,000-$40,000 aside to put towards landscaping. 

  • By establishing a figure in your mind that you would like to spend on landscaping, you can seek out expert advice on the finer details of how this will look. 
  • Through consulting with an expert, you can then start to get a little more specific in your requests in terms of key features and project scope. 

This method can be applied whether you’re looking for a simple, low-maintenance garden project or an outdoor living area with all the bells and whistles!

There are also a number of factors you can consider to try and estimate the price.

Factors Involved in The Cost of Landscaping Your Home

  1. The size and complexity of the project you had in mind for your new home plays a huge role in how much it ends up costing. This may sound obvious, but the disparity in overall cost for small and large projects can blow out to be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Make sure you are realistic with your needs and expectations!
  2. As much as a lot of us would like to see ourselves as accomplished handymen, there is a lot that cannot be done in a landscaping project without expert help. As a result, labour makes up a good portion of the overall cost.
  3. Plants and materials also make up a significant portion of the overall project cost. Your plant selection in garden-heavy designs; as well as where you source them, can play a lot into your landscaping bottom line.
  4. The location that you pick to build your new home will also dictate a portion of the cost of landscaping. Regional areas may not have the same access to resources and can result in a more lengthy and costly project. 
  5. The type of planting will dictate what sort of irrigation (if any) will be required. This can alter the overall cost dramatically.

Budgeting For A New Home Landscaping Project

As the last thing to be done in the construction process, landscaping is often the unfortunate casualty of budget cuts. This is why it’s so important to set aside a portion of your money for landscaping, to avoid having to sacrifice this essential addition to your brand-new home.

Try to get your landscaping costs included in a fixed price quote before you start, so that your funds for your beautiful garden and outdoor area are protected.

A Guide To Downsizer Contributions Into Super

What are downsizer contributions?

Downsizer contributions are voluntary superannuation contributions that have been targeted towards older Australians looking to downsize from their long-term family home. 

They can help you significantly increase the account balance of your superannuation account, as they provide the opportunity for tax-free payments that can total up to $300k per person.

Why were they introduced?

Australia’s downsizer contributions to super accounts were introduced as part of the 2017-18 budget in an effort to relieve some of the pressure on housing affordability. It aimed to free up housing availability through encouraging older homeowners to downsize, moving into houses more suited to their needs once kids have moved out.

Eligibility for downsizer contributions

So, are you eligible? Here are the conditions that you must meet in order to make a downsizer contribution:

  • You are 65 years or older at the time you decide to make a contribution to your super fund
  • The total amount you are contributing originates from the sale of your home and does not exceed the total sale price of the home,
  • Your home was owned by your or your spouse for 10 years or more
  • Your home is not a caravan, houseboat or other form of dwelling
  • The money you have received from the sale of the home is exempt from Capital Gains Tax, or would apply for exemption but was acquired before 20th of September 1985
  • You have filled out the relevant downsizer contribution form and supplied that to your super fund
  • You have not made a downsizer contribution before
  • You make your contribution within 90 days of receiving the sale proceeds.

If you meet all these conditions, then you are eligible to make a downsizer contribution to your superannuation account.

The benefits of downsizer contributions

There are a number of reasons that make downsizer contributions an exciting opportunity for older Australians. It varies a great deal from other voluntary superannuation contributions, a lot of which have restrictive measures placed on them:

  • No work test or age limits apply in this case. Normally voluntary contributions are not allowed at all for people aged over 75, and those aged between 67 and 74 have to pass the ‘work test’ (where you have worked a minimum of 40 hours over a 30-day period).
  • Annual caps on concessional and non-concessional contributions are usually capped at $25k and $100k. They are capped at $300k in this case.
  • The normal limit on after-tax contributions to superannuation accounts with a total balance of $1.6m total does not apply. However, it does contribute towards your Transfer Balance Cap (TBC).
  • There is no requirement for you to buy another home. You are under no actual obligation to move into a smaller house or any other specific living situation for that matter.
  • You don’t have to have lived in the house for the entire 10 years, but it must qualify as a ‘main residence’ under Capital Gains Tax rules.
  • Both spouses (even if only one is on the property title) can make $300k contributions, totalling $600k. However, the total contribution cannot surpass the total sale price of the home.

Extra things to consider before making a downsizer contribution

You may want to take the time to consider the following before committing to making a contribution of this type:

  • A downsizer contribution can affect your eligibility for the age pension. 
  • Time limit extensions only apply to circumstances out of your control, so don’t delay if you’re interested!

Everybody’s financial circumstances are different, and this advice is  so we recommend you consult with an expert before you decide on making a contribution such as this.

The House Building Process: Advice For First Time Buyers

Building a house is one of life’s biggest projects and it’s incredibly rewarding to see your beautiful dream home take shape.

Not many people do it more than once in their lifetime, and it can be a very daunting process, particularly if you are not familiar with the process of building a house.

If you’re a first time buyer, it’s important to stay on top of things. You need to be fully briefed so you’re ‘in the know’ with the process of building a house, and not flying blind.

What Are the Steps to Building a New Home?

Generally, the house building process can be split into seven steps. These include:

  1. Finding Finance
  2. Locating Your Land
  3. Create Your Dream Design
  4. Contracts and Approvals
  5. Constructing Your Home
  6. The Finishes
  7. Final Sign Offs

Keep reading to find out in more depth what each step involves and you will be well and truly on your way to building your dream home!

Step 1. Finding Finance

Designing your dream walk-in wardrobe might be the fun part, however understanding your finances must come first. Having a clear budget from the very beginning helps to avoid blow-outs and unmet expectations.

To work out what you can afford, research home loan options so that you can make informed decisions on land and design. You may want to speak to your bank or work with a financial adviser or mortgage broker to help with this stage.

Step 2. Locate Your Land

Finding a location you love is a critical step. Location is a lifestyle decision, as you must consider things like your neighbourhood, commute and schooling options.

Your chosen location will also affect your home design and budget. The results of your soil test, site survey and detailed property report will inform the foundations needed on that land, fill/scrape recommendations, home design, aspect, and more.

Listed below are three major options for locating your land. A good lawyer/conveyancer  is a must—they will help with the contract and conveyance, ensuring you’re ticking all the right legal boxes before proceeding with creating your dream design.

Buy the land separately

You can buy the land separately and then engage a builder to build your dream house. Once you have found the perfect block of land, you will need to negotiate the right price (where you can) and complete the purchase. It’s a good idea to talk to your likely builder as they will know of available land and likely cost associated with building on the land.

Choose a house and land package

Another option for locating land is to find a house and land package, where the builder will give you an end to end or turn key cost that includes land and home build. If you choose house and land option, you may be required to enter two contracts one for land and one for the building.

Knockdown rebuild

Keep in mind that your land doesn’t have to be a blank canvas—knock down rebuilds are also popular ways of building a new house, particularly in metro areas.

Step 3. Create Your Dream Design

Designing your dream home is an exciting, yet sometimes overwhelming, part of the home building process. The best first step is to start collecting inspiration. Instagram and Pinterest are a great first step, combined with looking at home designs online add in link. If you can, you should also visit display homes to see, feel, touch and experience the home design for yourself.

When you’re ready to select a design that suits, it’s best to meet with a new home consultant as there are a significant number of things to consider. Should one of your builder’s available designs not fill the requirements, the best way to approach your home is to customise an ‘off the shelf’ plan in partnership with your new home consultant or builder. This way, you will get all the benefits of a tried and tested design, and still be able to customise certain elements. Learn more about our approach to custom home designs.

Alternatively, you can bring your own plan or concept sketches.

Step 4. The Fine Print (Contracts and Approvals)

After you have decided on your dream home design, you’ll need to start the paperwork. Your builder should handle the project end-to-end by dealing with all the council and building authority requirements, using expert staff who can streamline the process of building a house.

Throughout the contract and approvals process, we’d recommend that you work towards securing a fixed price quote. Fixed quotes, and subsequently fixed contracts, provide assurance around the timing and cost of your home. This means you avoid ongoing delays, the pain of paying extra rent or mortgage, and the surprise of unexpected variations.

Step 5. Kicking Off Construction

This is where the action in building your house happens. Seeing the foundations being laid means your home is officially “under construction”.

Once the frame goes up you’ll really see it come to life. This is one of the most exciting stages of building a house. Next, your builder will put a roof over your head and complete the exterior walls.

Step 6. The Finishes

And then the fun part starts, the interior fixtures and finishes. Painting, colours, floorings, kitchens, bathrooms, lighting, window furnishings, tapware—all the details you have been dreaming of start to take shape.

After this, the next steps to build a home are just the finishing touches. Painting external walls or trims where needed, landscaping, driveways and fencing (if included in the contract).

Step 7. The Final Sign Offs

Once all the steps in building your new home are complete, your builder will organise the building and council approvals. It’s then time for the bank to complete a final evaluation, finalise your mortgage and mortgage release. Then before you know it, you are ready to move in.