How long does it take to build a house? - Owner Builder Club

How long does it take to build a house?

How long does it take to build a house?

If you're here, chances are you're embarking on one of the most thrilling adventures of your life – creating your very own home. It's a journey filled with dreams of future BBQs, cosy evenings, and spaces that reflect your personality. But let's be honest, especially if you’re an owner builder, it can also have you biting your nails wondering, “Just how long will it take to build a house?”

Building a home is like crafting your masterpiece. You've probably imagined every nook and cranny, from the perfect kitchen splashback to the serene backyard where you can unwind. The anticipation of seeing these dreams materialise is palpable, but so is the uncertainty that comes with navigating timelines.

You're not alone in this one. It's a BIG step! So, let's talk about how long it takes to build a house in Australia, and what factors might speed up or slow down the process. It's not as daunting as it sounds.

The Big Question: How Long?

When it comes to the timeline of crafting your dream abode, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. Much like choosing between a flat white or a long black, the “build time” varies depending on your preferences and plans. 

  • House and Land Package: 6-12 months
  • Custom Home Designs: 10-14 months
  • Knockdown and Rebuild: 8-12 months
  • Single-storey Homes: 4-7 months
  • Two Storey and Multi-Storey: 8-12 months
  • Rural builds: 6-9 months

Remember, building a home is a journey with several stages. And like any good journey, it can have its share of delays. The key to keeping things smooth is planning ahead, staying organised, and choosing the right team to bring your vision to life.

So, “How long?” depends on a mix of choices and circumstances. But one thing's for sure, the wait leads to a place you can call your own, and that's something truly special.

But, what influences the timeline? Let’s talk about it in detail.

Pre-Construction Phase

Before the first brick is laid or the first nail is hammered, there's a bit of groundwork to be done. And I'm not just talking about the physical kind! The pre-construction phase is where the seeds of your future home are planted, and it's a stage that can greatly influence the overall timeline.

Land Selection and Purchase

Picture this – you're on the hunt for the perfect plot. 

Do you go for the flat block that promises an easy build, or does the charm of a hilly vista win you over? 

The choice of land doesn't just dictate your future view; it also impacts the construction timeline. Flat blocks are generally simpler to work with, potentially speeding things up. On the other hand, sloped blocks might require additional work like excavation or retaining walls, adding time to your project. 

It's a bit like choosing the route for a road trip – scenic paths might take longer, but oh, the views!

Getting Your Owner Builder Permit

An Owner Builder Permit is a permit that's issued by the State Government. The rules to get an Owner Builder Permit differ from state to state so it's important that you get familiar with your state building authority and understand what's required. You can also check out our recommended training organisation for a few quick answers!

The most important point is that you need an Owner Builder Permit before you can obtain a Building permit (issued by your local Council) – we'll cover this next.

Securing Building Permits

Ah, paperwork – everyone's favourite pastime, right? 

Navigating council permits is an art in itself. Depending on where you're building, this process can be a breeze or a marathon. Each council has its own set of rules and timelines, so it's a bit like waiting for a kettle to boil – some are quicker than others. 

It's crucial to factor in this step, as securing the necessary approvals can significantly influence your project's start date.

Design Phase

Now, here's where dreams start taking shape. 

Are you envisioning a sprawling mansion or a quaint, cosy cottage? 

The complexity of your design plays a BIG role in how long this phase lasts. Simple designs can be whipped up relatively quickly, whereas more intricate plans might have you and your architect burning the midnight oil for weeks or even months. 

Each of these steps can vary in duration, influenced by factors like decision-making speed, availability of resources, and, let's not forget, the unpredictable Australian weather. The pre-construction phase is a crucial time to get everything in order, setting the stage for a smooth construction process. 

So, while it might feel like you're eager to get the show on the road, remember that good things take time. After all, we're laying the groundwork for your future home sweet home.

Construction Phase

Alright, we've navigated the pre-construction phase. Now, it's time for the rubber to hit the road – or more accurately, for the foundations to hit the soil. The construction phase is when your plot of land starts transforming into your future home.

Laying the Foundation

First things first, a solid base is crucial. It's the unsung hero of your home, ensuring everything stays upright and in place for years to come. Depending on your design and land, this could be a slab of concrete, stumps, or something a bit more complex. 

Think of it as the roots of a tree – out of sight but fundamentally important. This stage can move along swiftly with good weather and a straightforward design.

Framing to Lock-Up Stage

This is where the magic happens. Suddenly, there's a structure rising from the ground, and what was once a dream begins to take physical form. It's akin to sketching out a picture before filling in the colours. 

During this stage, walls go up, roofs get on top, and the house starts looking like, well, a house. Speed here depends on the complexity of your design and the size of your build. It's an exhilarating phase but remember, Rome wasn't built in a day!

Fixtures and Fittings

Here comes the fun part! It's time to see your vision come alive with the addition of fixtures and fittings. 

Choosing taps, tiles, lights, and doorknobs might seem minor, but these details add personality to your home. It's like adding spices to a dish – they might be small, but they make all the difference. 

Depending on how decisive you are, this stage can be a breeze or a bit of a journey.

Potential Delays

Now, let's talk about the unpredictable elements.

Weather plays a big role in construction timelines. A surprise downpour can turn a construction site into a mud pit, slowing things down.

Then there's the possibility of supply issues – sometimes, what you need isn't readily available, leading to delays. It's a bit like waiting for your favourite band to come on stage; anticipation builds, but the wait makes the experience sweeter.

The construction phase is a rollercoaster of progress and pauses. Watching your home take shape is incredibly rewarding, but it's important to stay flexible. Delays can be frustrating, but they're often just bumps on the road to creating your dream home.

Navigating Aussie Weather Patterns

When it comes to construction, Mother Nature plays a bigger role than you might think. The changing seasons, with their unique weather patterns, can significantly impact the progress of creating your dream home.

Understanding and planning around Australia's diverse climate can make a big difference in keeping your construction timeline realistic. Here are a couple of general tips:

  • Flexibility is Key: Weather is unpredictable. Having a bit of wiggle room in your schedule for weather-related delays will save you a lot of stress.
  • Season-Smart Scheduling: Align specific tasks with the seasons that best suit them. For example, heavy groundwork might be better suited for dryer months, while interior work can be saved for wetter or hotter periods.
  • Stay Informed: Keep an eye on local weather forecasts and plan your weekly activities accordingly. This proactive approach can help minimise disruptions.

Summer's Sizzle and Construction

Ah, Aussie summers – they're all about beach cricket, barbies, and unfortunately, some construction challenges. 

High temperatures can be tough on workers, leading to shorter workdays to avoid the hottest parts of the day. This can stretch out the timeline a bit. Then there's the risk of sudden storms, which can not only delay work but also potentially damage materials left exposed to the elements.

Tip for Summer Builds: If you're planning to start your project in summer, consider scheduling indoor work during peak heat periods. This could include interior framing or plumbing installations. Also, ensure your site is storm-ready by securing materials and having a clear plan for those unpredictable summer squalls.

Winter Woes in Construction

Winter in Australia might not bring snowstorms countrywide, but it does come with its own set of challenges. 

Shorter days mean fewer daylight hours to work, slowing down progress. In southern parts of the country, where temperatures can dip quite low, certain tasks like pouring concrete become trickier and sometimes need to be postponed due to freezing conditions.

Tip for Winter Builds: Take advantage of the cooler months to do groundwork and other outdoor activities that are less affected by cold temperatures. Planning tasks that are more weather-sensitive for warmer periods can help keep your project on track.

Sure, while we might not have control over the weather, a bit of strategic planning and flexibility can go a long way in ensuring your project moves forward, come rain or shine. After all, adapting to the great Aussie climate is part of what living Down Under is all about!

Final Steps Before Move-In

As the construction dust settles and your dream home stands proudly before you, it's easy to think the journey's over. But hold your horses – there are a few final steps to ensure everything is absolutely perfect for move-in day.

Inspections and Certifications

First up, it's time to make sure everything's up to snuff. This means inspections and certifications. Building inspectors will take a thorough look around to ensure all work meets local building codes and regulations. 

It's like the final exam after months of hard work, where every nook and cranny is checked to ensure safety and quality. Passing this stage means you're one giant leap closer to moving in.

Cleaning and Snag Lists

Next, it's time for the big clean-up and going through the snag list – a checklist of minor fixes and finishes that need addressing. This could range from a dripping tap to a sticky door. It's all about polishing your home until it shines. 

Think of it as prepping for a grand debut, making sure everything is in tip-top shape for the curtain call.


And there you have it. If you're feeling a mix of excitement and exhaustion, that's perfectly normal. As an owner builder, taking the first step towards building your dream home is a bold move, deserving of a pat on the back.

Good things, especially homes built with love and care, take time. There might be delays, unexpected turns, and days when it all seems too much. 

But then, there will be that moment when you unlock the door for the first time, step inside, and know it is all worth it.

So, here's to you, future homeowner 🏡

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I handle unexpected costs that arise during the build?

The key is to have a contingency fund set aside for just such surprises – typically, around 10-20% of your total budget is recommended. Communicate openly with your builder about any concerns regarding costs. It's also wise to review and approve all changes in writing before proceeding, ensuring everyone's on the same page.

How do I ensure that my home build stays environmentally friendly?

Communicate your desire for a sustainable home from the get-go. This can include specifying energy-efficient appliances, sustainable materials, and water-saving fixtures. Consider incorporating solar panels, rainwater collection systems, and proper insulation to reduce your environmental footprint. It's also worth looking into any government rebates or incentives for eco-friendly building practices.

Thinking about Owner Building? Unlock your potential and gain the right insights that will help you make an informed decision about becoming an Owner Builder. This resource will empower you to confidently embark on your journey into the world of owner building.

Elevate your owner builder journey with our online resource. Providing you with a step-by-step roadmap to meticulously plan and prepare before breaking ground. From design to permits, equip yourself with the essential knowledge to ensure a seamless and successful building experience from the start.

Confidently embark on your owner builder dream with this online resource. Developed in consultation with two registered builders, this stage-by-stage build process will guide you through the entire build. You’ll also get access to key quality checks, trades and materials at stage to help you build your vision with precision, ensuring a rewarding  experience.

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