How to read a floor plan: comparing apples and oranges.

For anyone thinking of building - whether that be a new home for themselves or for property development, the first step generally involves browsing homebuilder websites and visiting countless display homes to try and get a basic idea of what house you can build on your block or what house and land packages present the best value for money.

You might find two floor plans from two different builders which look pretty similar – both homes are a similar size, have the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms plus a gourmet kitchen but there is a $50,000 difference in price. How does that happen?

You might think by choosing the cheaper builder you are saving money. But the most likely explanation is that you are not comparing apples with apples. Nine times out of ten when you compare floor plans side-by-side you are not looking at the complete picture.

The trick when comparing floor plans is to remember you are comparing apples and oranges and you cannot make an informed comparison until you are armed with all the necessary information. 
So what else do you need?

Outlined below are eight handy hints that will help you identify which floor plan offers the best value for money.

1.    Never review a floor plan without the specification list

The specification list is just as important as the floor plan. It will tell you what materials will be used to build your home, how thick your windows are, what quality tiles and floor coverings are on the floor, your choice of fixtures and fittings, what brand appliances are in your home plus much more. This document alone identifies the difference between cheap and nasty or value for money. A $50,000 price difference in floor plans can often be explained by examining the specification  list. The devil is in the detail – so read it carefully!

2.    Consider the total area of the house relative to the design.

If you are comparing two floor plans and one offers four bedrooms, two bathrooms and the other features four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a games room plus study you may assume you are getting a bigger home if you choose Option 2. Think again. If both homes have the same total floor area you might actually be getting better value for money with Option 1. This is because with Option 2 they have simply squeezed more rooms into the same sized house which results in small, pokey rooms and a cramped home. Always remember, bigger is not necessarily better unless the total floor size increases too! 

3.    Never be fooled by the furniture.

Often when you are looking at a floor plan it will include basic furniture to give context to the design including a kitchen table, couches and beds in the bedrooms. It all looks in proportion and spacious until you realise the kitchen table only seats four people, the couch is only a 2-seater and the beds in the second and third bedrooms are only king singles, not the king-sized bed you had expected! A number of builders have been caught out with this in the past but it always pays to double-check. Floor plans aren’t comparable if the furniture is different sizes and the last thing you want is a home that doesn’t fit any of your favourite furniture.

4.    Always take the opportunity to see it for yourself.

Looking at a plan and reading the specification list is one thing, but walking through the home and experiencing it for yourself is the smartest thing you can do. If you have the opportunity to walk through a display home showcasing your preferred floor plan – take it! This will give you the best sense of proportions, spaciousness, quality, design and ambience. It might even give you some furnishing ideas! 
If you are comparing two different homes you might get quite a surprise after visiting the displays. A tour will often quickly highlight some clear differences between the two and help you to identify an obvious favourite.

5.    Never assume that what you see is what you get.

You are always encouraged to take a tour of the display but never assume that what you see is what you get. Most builders will usually choose to include all the ‘bells and whistles’ in a display home so make sure you understand what is a standard inclusion and what is an upgrade. This will help you to compare your favourite display homes so they are all on an even playing field.

6.    Don’t forget the floor plan is just one page of the sales contract.

Just as you are encouraged to never consider a floor plan without the specification list, it is important to remember the floor plan is just one page of the sales contract and there is plenty of other detail to consider which can have a significant impact when comparing the cost of different home designs. How many variations are you entitled to make? Is it a fixed price contract? What other fees, charges and penalties apply? Remember there is more than just one page to consider.

7.    Remember the value of the things you can’t see.

When comparing floor plans it is always important to remember the importance of all the little things you can’t see on paper – the ceiling height, the extra hallway width, the door height, the trusted suppliers and trades, the quality of the materials, the termite treatment, the quality workmanship, incentives, the full or partial water proofing and most importantly, third party quality assurances plus maintenance and structural warranties. When you build with Dale Alcock Homes you receive a 12 month service warranty and a 25 year structural warranty (whilst many builders only offer the 7 year structural warranty they are legally obligated to provide). These warranties add significant value to your home and must be considered when choosing a floor plan and a builder.

8.    What you build is just as important as who you build with.

Always remember, who you choose to build your home is just as important as what home you decide to build. You want to partner with a reputable builder who won’t go broke in the middle of your home building process. You want to build with an awarded builder who has significant industry experience and strong relationships with trusted suppliers. You can’t put a value on good customer service and a seamless homebuilding process is worth its weight in gold, especially compared to 18 months of potential anguish and headaches.

If you are comparing two floor plans and one is cheaper think long and hard about your expectations throughout the building process. You don’t want a stressful building experience to leave a bad taste in your mouth!

Remember, as Benjamin Franklin said “the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

If you are in the process of comparing floor plans for your new home and would like a helping hand, contact Dale Alcock Homes today.

Our experienced Consultants are available for an obligation free discussion and will show you what to look for when comparing floor plans.