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This is a relatively tough question and the answer is quite simple: it depends. The best way to answer this question is to look at the pros and cons of either approach, i.e.:
- buy land then select a builder (and in turn a design) or
- select a builder (and design) and then buy land.
So let’s consider each approach…
Land First, Builder Second
Freedom of Choice
If you decide to buy land first, you will get the choice to select any block that you want anywhere. You are not limited to building with a specific builder which allows you the opportunity to choose any builder you want, unless the estate you are buying in has some restrictions.
You can control the money you want to spend on the land and then the home. You also can choose to hold onto the land for as long as you want until you are good & ready to build your home.
Given that you own the land, you get a broader choice of builders and designs. You also have the opportunity to customize any design that your heart desires.
When you buy land first, you are less emotional (relatively speaking) when it comes to negotiating the price of the land. This is because you are not emotionally attached to a specific design that you are willing to overpay to get it…
Builder First, Land Second
If you do choose your builder and design the home you want first, you are far better prepared to buy the right block to fit the design you really want. You also have a builder in your corner to help you with the purchase, checking the block and making sure you are not making any mistakes with the land.
When picking your design and builder first, you will know how much it will cost you to roughly build your home. This will help you with sticking to your overall home & land budget.
If your budget is $900,000 and your home costs $500,000, then you know that you cannot spend more than $370,000 (don’t forget other costs like stamp duty, legals, etc…) and a buffer to do some upgrades, or you may need some extra cash for extra site costs. This will also help you plan better when obtaining your home loan.
Selecting the right builder first will ensure that you the right block of land for your chosen home design. The right builder will consider all site and associated costs so there are no surprises for you later.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing the builder first or buying the land first. If you are flexible with design, then I would suggest that you buy land first.
However if you are specific about your design, then I suggest that you select the design and builder first. The worst thing that you can do is buy a block of land; only to realize that you cannot fit your dream home on it.