Growing up in a family of builders, Build in Oz founder Natalie Stevens assumed that all Australians knew what she and her parents knew – that you should be able to construct a home for less than it costs to buy one.
“If you use a process and you eliminate some of the risk, I think that rather than making money for someone else, you should be making that money for yourself,” Natalie told host Bushy Martin on the Get Invested podcast.
A school teacher by trade, when Natalie starting helping people in her home town of Warrnambool who were thinking about buying land and building a home, she quickly learned that for many, the fear and uncertainty around the planning and construction process soon put them off the idea.
“I think the main fear comes from the uncertainty. You hear the horror stories, or you hear where people had a bad experience. And I believe that experience has occurred because people haven’t known exactly where they should be starting… the number one biggest mistake that I believe people make when thinking about building a house, is they start with the builder.”
Natalie believes that starting with the builder before a budget has been set means many people fall in love with a dream they can’t afford.
“If you were going to build your dream home, sure you might overcapitalise… but if you’re building to maximise your budget and get the very best home that your finances, environment, and personal circumstances will allow, then there’s certain rules that you can follow that will enable you to create instant equity.”
“What I tell people and what my Home Build in a Box system tells people is that before you do anything else, whether you’re a first time owner, an upgrader, and investor, it doesn’t matter who you are, whether your budget is $300,000 or $3 million, until you have set a budget, don’t even bother… because the budget sets the scene for every single decision that you make.”
As a former architect and property investment specialist, Bushy agrees. “Get your money right first,” he says. “Property is a game of finance. So, if you don’t get really crystal clear on not only what you can afford to spend, but more importantly, afford to repay… then you’re setting yourself up for failure.”
After guiding many people through the land acquisition, planning and construction process in her home town, Natalie decided to build a platform that would allow her to take her formula to potential home builders across Australia.
“If I can help this many people in a small regional town of Warrnambool, why can’t I help everybody anywhere? That’s when I started thinking, I’m going create something that no matter where you are in Australia, I can help you plan to build a house and avoid any of those big mistakes, the fears, the risk, the uncertainty, the money wasting, the time wasting.”
The platform she created is Build In Oz, an online tool to assist in planning and building a new home. Nailing down the budget is just one of the principles Natalie shares with her subscribers; Build in Oz also helps subscribers set priorities, avoid costly bells and whistles that add little value, choose the right land and design a floor plan.
According to Natalie, choosing a builder is another crucial point in the process where investors can make costly mistakes.
“The very best way to choose the right builder is of course to get a recommendation from somebody who’s built with them, but, that can be really hard to do because you might not know anyone,” Natalie says.
“So, one of the things that Build In Oz is working on at the moment is a partnership with a group of really experienced builders who have been in the industry for many, many years who are, similar to how Build In Oz wants to help people plan to build a home, they want to help people to build a home. They want to walk alongside them. The baton will get passed from Build In Oz to them, and they can help (our customers) choose the right builder.”
For Natalie, Build in Oz is all about making the build process easy, exactly as it should be.
“People think that to build a house they need to know about building a house. You actually don’t need to know anything about building a house… but what you do need to know is how to plan to build a house because it’s during the planning phase where the biggest mistakes are made, and where all the big decisions are made.”
Listen to the full interview on the Get Invested Podcast now.
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