Frequently asked questions about country homes
These Country homes have a science behind the designs that give them timeless character and style. There is an instant sense of accord and recollection with the homes of the early Australian era but with a touch of uniqueness that is the crowning touch.A few particular defining features are: steep roof pitches, feature gables, and classic window and door styling, giving your home signature class. We have a very keen interest in the end result of what your home will look and feel like because we love seeing our homes align and compliment the beautiful rural landscape Australian landscape. We believe your home should become a classic country icon that can be left as a family legacy!
We have 2 offices in victoria.The Ballarat office is located at 9413, Western Highway, Warrenheip, Vic 3352 with our display home. Email or call (03) 4333 0504.
The Hamiton office is located at 979 Hensley park road, Hensley Park, vic, 3300. Email or call (03) 55748255
It’s a good question…. Yes & No.. 🙂 Because we are striving to be the best at country homes and building homes that are in keeping with the research and science that have been put into them, we have to say ‘no’ to full custom homes that would not give the customer the best experience and style they want and would take us off the ideal. We would like to be able to be ‘all things to all’, but it’s a known statistic that it often results in being mediocre to all. One of our customers put it best regarding their new home “This is not the home I would have designed but it’s the home I wanted and is perfect for the landscape that it’s in! It just feels right!All things considered, we also realize that you and your property are unique and you will have particular considerations to allow for and we are fully prepared to work with you on these. So, we are happy to discuss these with you and we’re sure we can create for your needs and style.
Those who build with us, enjoy a no fuss, transparent process. If a planning permit is required, we use an accredited specialist in planning, environment and local government law to prepare the planning report, lodge it with council and track it until the permit is received. This service costs between $1,000 to $1,200 + council fees (about $1,200), and is paid direct by you to the council, but we arrange everything on your behalf to make it as smooth and quick for you as possible.The team recently set a record of 4 days to receive a planning permit!
We get it: all the paperwork and technicalities surrounding your home build can be a bit overwhelming. Contracts, finance approval and permits… not to mention the 101 decisions you must make when planning the home itself! However, we’d like to assure you that even though it’s an emotional and exciting journey, the team at Hensley Park are here to support you every step of the way.Most customers require additional finance in the form of a bank loan to be able to complete their new home. This is perhaps one of the most important steps in the initial building process, and one that can be rather daunting, especially if building is a new experience! Over the years we’ve noticed that the concept of signing the home contract in conjunction with getting finance approval seems to cause confusion in the minds of some of our customers, so we’re taking the time to explain these two points here – we want to ensure that you understand and are comfortable with every stage of your new home build, from start to completion.
It’s important to understand that when a bank gives pre-approval for finance, this is only calculated on a set of basic criteria such as current earnings, potential equity position etc. It doesn’t take into consideration a lot of the fine details such as accurate pricing, the building company, the method of the build and permits, all of which are necessary for the bank to process the loan application and progress it to a full finance approval.
Here’s how it works:
Your bank will require a signed contract to grant unconditional finance. We understand that you may feel hesitant to enter into signing a contract without guaranteed funds, however it’s super important that you understand that Hensley Park’s home contracts are subject to finance approval: i.e. your home contract is not binding until you receive confirmation of your unconditional finance from your financial institution.
So, once everything is sorted (including plans, specifications and planning permit) and everyone is happy to take the next step, the contract is signed by both parties (Hensley Park and the customer) then it’s the customer’s job to go back to the bank with the newly signed contract and apply for unconditional finance to get the home build underway. The bank processes the application and approves it, then the customer pays the 5% deposit and the contract is actioned: from here it’s all systems go!
To summarize, it’s critical to understand the two separate steps of signing and paying the deposit: signing the contract simply means that both parties agree to and lock in all the relevant details of the home (plans, specifications, pricing, terms & conditions etc.) whereas paying the deposit is the means by which the contract is ratified or activated.
Typically, banks take several weeks to process and approve finance. Our contracts include a minimum 21-day clause for finance approval, however, if the wheels of progress are moving slowly, we can handle that too: the key is good communication between us and the customer, so we know where the approval is at. If the approval process is really dragging out (e.g.: upward of 3-4 months) and the home price has increased slightly, it may become necessary to cancel the initial contract and re-sign a new one, however, this situation is rare.
Just another point to consider: sometimes customers require their bank to fund the initial 5% deposit, for which the bank will require a building permit. However, as the builder, we can’t even apply for a building permit until the contract is ratified by the deposit. We understand that this situation is a bit of a ‘catch 22’ however, the key is to be aware of it and discuss it with your banker or finance broker early in the process. Generally speaking, the situation can be worked through and a method of funding the deposit worked out between the customer and the bank.
As always, a clear understanding of each stage of the process and open communication between all relevant parties will ensure a smooth and enjoyable home building experience. And the team at Hensley Park are here to help you create and enjoy a home that exceeds your expectations!
In recent years, we’ve made some changes for the better here at Hensley Park Homes, and one of these changes is that we now build our homes on site from scratch – we no longer build our homes in a factory.
Some of the people that approach us today about getting a new home still think that we build transportable, so we thought it would be good to put it down on paper why we changed.
The original goal of the business was to build a home that offered the benefits of quality combined with speed and value. We figured that building the homes in a controlled environment would be the way we could achieve the package of these benefits, so that’s the road we went down.
After many years of developing the pre-built system, we stood back and realised that there were still challenges that we weren’t mastering, and that they were inherent with the transportable concept. Just to put you in the picture, when you design a transportable home, you have to design and construct it so that it can be transported, which imposes many design limitations, and in a market that demanded classic styling and good flexible design, we realised that there had to be a better way.
Of course, the principle of building homes under intensive supervision in a controlled environment out of the weather still applies, and it’s done with success in some parts of the world where the market is substantially big enough to limit the variances of design and style and achieve the economies of scale. But not here in Western & Central Victoria, unfortunately.
And the whiskers were starting to grow in a few other areas as well, such as the cost of transport due to OH&S; the prejudice of banks against transportable homes; land covenants by developers that prohibit transportable homes; access issues due to the size of the home modules that were being delivered, and duplication of trades in the factory and trades on site.
And then it hit us – we suddenly understood that the market loved our classic style of yesteryear with the beautiful chimneys, soaring rooflines and expansive verandahs, and having it built in a factory quickly wasn’t the point – it didn’t carry any value or significance to them.
So we changed. But only the method changed – we’re still focused on craftsmanship, and we’re still bent on giving you a beautiful home in the country.
And since we made the change a couple of years ago, we haven’t looked back. Quality is up, costs are down and the homes are more beautiful and stylish than ever.
From time to time we get asked about the permit side of things for demolishing an old home to make way for a new home. In fact, sometimes we get the question as to why on earth a permit is needed to simply demolish a home, so we wanted to outline a couple of points on these questions.
Demolition involves a change in the composition or form of the building as a result of works done on it, so, weird as it may seem, demolition work is considered building works under construction law.
Of course, we’re talking about houses here. If you want to demolish your chookshed and cubby house, then don’t bother reading this article, you could head straight out there now and start work because you won’t need a permit to demolish things that small.
So we’ve probably just given the game away in the last paragraph – yes, you do need a permit to demolish a home. But you won’t need a planning permit, only a building permit, and only a building demolition permit at that. By the way, just a heads up on the difference between a planning permit and a building permit – the first one looks at what you’re planning (ie, is it ok to build a new home on this land), and the other one looks at what you’re actually building (ie, what are the details of of the structure, etc).
A demolition permit is for either knocking the structure down, or transporting it away. Technically, the first one is called demolition and the second one is called removal. Not that technical really. And the permit is applied for in the landowners name, but the person who is doing the actual work of swinging the sledgehammer to knock it down is listed as the ‘builder’ and must hold a licence to do such work.
Your local council or even a private building surveyor will provide various forms that need to be filled out and returned to them with an application fee, which is generally a few hundred dollars. How long they take to assess it and approve it is as long as a piece of string, but it’s not an extensive application so it’s generally not a drawn-out process. Seasoned demolishers will often handle the whole permit process for you.
So the long and the short of it is that yes you need a permit but no it’s not a big drama.
Yes! a soil test is definitely included in the price of your new Hensley Park Home.
After the initial design session payment is made and you’ve attended a design session, then we arrange for a geotechnical engineer to visit your site and take samples of the soil so we know what’s going to be involved for the design of the house (and verandah, etc) footings.
A full copy of this soil test will be provided to you in our Blueprint document, which is yours to keep.
One clarification – this soil test is different to a Land Capability Assessment, commonly referred to as an LCA. An LCA is also done by a geotech engineer, but is for the design of a septic system – it’s not to do with the house footings. And this test – or assessment – isn’t included in the price of your new home.
So if your site doesn’t have mains sewer (also known as town sewer) then you’ll need to get a septic system installed, which means you’ll need an LCA so that both the plumber and the health officer at the council know the ins and outs of what design the septic system should be. We typically see costs of around $1,100 – $1,500 for this LCA, and you pay this direct to the engineer – there’s no point in running it through our books!
At the design session, we’ll discuss whether an LCA is needed, and if it is, then we can arrange the engineer to do this on your behalf at the same time as he does the soil test for the footings.
And by the way, the soil test for the footings can’t be used for the LCA – it’s a different type of test, and the samples go through a different laboratory.
If you’re technically minded, and you want a heap more detail on the soil test, see our separate blog here.
Ok we try really hard to be transparent and upfront about everything, so straight off the line, no, we don’t have a pricelist to hand out. Whether this is good or bad is probably a matter of opinion, but we did want to quickly point out why we don’t offer this.
The simple reason is because we don’t know how much your home will cost. No, serious, we don’t yet. Every site is different, and every home is different, and of course, every single person is very unique. We’ve never built 2 homes the same and we don’t ever expect to.
What we see so often is that when our customers go through the design process with us, they end up with a home that is tailored to suit them and their tastes – different appliances, window combinations, tile patterns, hanging lights, size of verandah – and the list is very long.
So you’re probably asking how do we cost our homes then?! Good question! Once the plans and inclusions are finalised, our team carefully works out everything that’s going to be needed, right down to the last stick of timber and hour of work, and then adds up the price, and that’s what it is. No airy fairy guessing or all-inclusive metre rates or plucking figures out of the sky. Just good old fashioned maths.
So how do you get an idea of our prices to know whether we’re a mutual fit for each other? Simply chat to us – we’ve had years of experience and once we’ve got an understanding of what you’re wanting we’ll be able to give you a price range to work with that we know will be accurate and meaningful. And bear in mind that we don’t try and offer some ridiculously low price to entice you in – we’re realists and we’ll discuss the full kit and kaboodle straight up front with you.
Of course, once you invest in a design session, then after about 4 weeks you’ll have a full and thorough document that gives you the price down to the last dollar.
Over the years, we’ve had the question put to us as to whether we’re a registered builder, and so we wanted to put it out there for you in writing – Yes, we are absolutely a registered builder practitioner.
In fact, it’s an interesting question, because the law is very clear that if you get paid money to do building work you must be registered with the government to be able to do such work.
So every builder has to go through the process of registration, which involves the following –
• Gaining the necessary qualifications to be a builder. In earlier days, this involved an apprenticeship for 3 or 4 years, but nowadays, you need to have a diploma or a degree in building & construction – the criteria has become far more rigorous as the industry has suffered from ‘dodgy’ builders, causing the government to up the ante on being qualified.
• Complete a registration application with the relevant government department. In Victoria, it’s the Victorian Builders Association. This is quite a substantial application, involving more than 1 lengthy document as well as references and experiences and insurance.
• Pay the application fee. Apparently the government doesn’t believe in letting you become a builder for free, so there’s a hefty application fee to pay along with the application.
• Undergo the gruelling application review process. This can involve interviews, phone calls, additional information and a patience-testing wait for the government people to do their part to make sure everything stacks up with the application.
• Get the certificate to say you can be a builder, woohoo!
Of course, it looks a bit simplistic when it’s listed out like that – it often involves years of hard work and experience to get to the point of being a registered builder. And for good reason: building a home isn’t like making a cup of tea – it involves a lot of knowledge, skill and practice to pull it all together to get a great outcome for the home-owner.
So every single builder out there in the big wide market place must be a registered builder to be able to legally build your home, period. And we strongly recommend that if you have your doubts, then research them on the VBA (or relevant) website. And if they’re not, steer clear of them like the plague – there’d be a jolly good reason why they’re not registered.
And one other comment – a builder has to pay an annual fee, and maintain the relevant insurance policies to stay a registered builder. Which means staying relevant and trusted.
Reach out to us.
We’re here to help.
Looking for more in-depth info? Check out our blog!