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What to Look for in ‘Standard Inclusions’

Are you confused about what to expect in the ‘standard inclusions’ list of your building contract?

How are you supposed to know what to look for when every builder is different?

When it comes to custom homes and additions, ‘standard inclusions’ can be one of the most confusing parts of the process. You want the process of designing your project to be as stress-free as possible. You want the best quality inclusions you can afford and you certainly don’t want your builder to use inferior products. But what exactly does that list look like where there’s a balance of both?

The truth is that sometimes, ‘inclusions’ aren’t always clear and if you are not sure what you are looking at, the information provided can be quite overwhelming. If you approach a builder and they don’t have standard inclusions, be wary as this will make it incredibly difficult to receive an accurate price for your project. These types of builders will often offer a price per square metre, PC Items and PC Sums which are extremely generic and filled with risk.

This is why it’s important to work with a builder who provides a comprehensive list of inclusions, before you sign the contract. This way, you’ll know exactly what you’ll be getting in regards to the quality and you’ll know exactly what you’ll be paying for them. With more than 60% of new home and home addition projects going over budget, some of the major causes can be linked to variations and changes to the contract due to unclear inclusions, PC Sums and PC Items. To pay the price you sign for, it’s important to understand what’s included.

Don’t Get Caught Up In The Excitement, Pay Attention

Some builders (especially volume home builders) will offer a limited number of inclusions with no option to move outside of them, often including generic or imported items. This can be frustrating because it doesn’t give you the amount of detail you need to make an informed decision, and even more annoyingly, if you want to make a change, it then comes with an exorbitant variation fee even before you’ve started construction!

If you don’t understand the quality of the products you’re receiving, can’t research where they’re coming from, or have no idea of how it affects your warranties, then how can you be sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck?

Knowing What To Look For

Generally speaking, a list of standard inclusions should be detailed without looking far-fetched. You want to find a builder who values you and their work enough that their idea of standard far exceeds the norm.

Has your builder specified the items included or have they provided a PC Sum? A professional builder will specify each item and its product code so you can see exactly what it is and research its quality and price. This way, you know that they will only use products from reputable local or well-known suppliers.

If you want to change one of the selected items, can you? And if you can, what are the costs involved? Hint: It should just be the difference in cost between the items without an overhead fee; this is of course, prior to signing the contract. It is always best to have your selections decided before you sign, this way, your fixed price is locked in and you’ll know exactly the type of look and finishes you’ll be getting.

A show-stopping kitchen should include show-stopping design! Make sure your floor plan and standard inclusions have received some thoughtful consideration. You’re not going to get the feel of a luxurious bathroom without a clever layout, much like you’re not going to get a functional, high end kitchen without two pack doors and panels, soft close drawers and stone benchtops. Has your builder included joinery plans as part of the design process?

Is your builder going above and beyond? Is their customer service and communication excellent? Are they offering one-on-one consultations with interior designers or selections consultants? All of these are a great sign that their inclusions are most likely to be transparent, too. If your builder hesitates at any of these questions, you should too.

Knowing What To Avoid

Will your builder allow any changes to the standard inclusions? A lack of flexibility when it comes to changing fixtures and fittings is a clear sign that you may be dealing with the wrong builder. If your builder won’t allow changes prior to starting construction then it’s a sure sign of things to come. There’s no point going with a custom home builder if all they offer are the same generic inclusions with no room to meet your individual needs or preferences. That’s not custom!

Does your contract include PC Sums/PC Items? It’s always best to avoid signing a contract with PC Sums. Sometimes this can’t be avoided but it’s not detrimental to you if you understand what you’re signing. The reason you would sign a contract with these included could be

  • If you’ve got a time limit on your project and need to sign the contract as soon as possible
  • If there’s a particular scope of work that can’t be determined prior to signing; or
  • If you simply just can’t make up your mind on certain selections!

Like we said, if you understand what you’re signing and are making an informed decision then it’s not detrimental having these in there.

What if there is no set of exclusions? A fully transparent builder will also tell you what’s not included in their price, and that’s just as important. Make sure this list is visible and easy to find for your peace of mind. Hint – This should all be detailed in your comprehensive specification that comes with your construction proposal.

If you’ve already signed the contract, avoid changing your mind at the last minute. This could be a very costly exercise for you. An example of this could be if you change your mind about the type of taps you want in your bathroom. If the plumber hasn’t been to site yet, it’s a simple swap. However, if the plumber has already installed the ‘standard inclusion’ tap and you change your mind, this means they will have to remove what they’ve already done and reinstall the new item – this will surely be a variation, costing you far more than it needs to if you had made that choice from the start..

And finally, get everything in writing! Don’t ever assume that a verbal discussion with your builder means that it’s included. If it’s not in the contract, you’re not getting it. Some builders will offer the world just for you to sign the contract, only to hit you with variation after variation often topped with a variation fee for each change. That’s why it’s all the more important to understand what you’re signing; only the inclusions and exclusions that are clearly identified in writing, will be in the contract.

To help you avoid becoming the victim of a budget blow-out, and to show you what type of builder you should be looking for, you can download a copy of our guide, 7 Things You Must Ask Before Signing, right now.

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