Are you a first home buyer trying to work out whether to buy or build? HomeStart’s John Oliver has these top tips to help.

FAMILIARISE yourself with the State Government grants to see how they could affect your deposit.

Then find a lender who will accept the grants towards your deposit, fees and charges as not all do.

CALCULATE what your Stamp Duty will be and include this into your overall costs to see how much you will need up front.

The amount of Stamp Duty you will pay varies and will depend on whether you buy an established house, build a new one, or buy an off-the-plan apartment in the City and Riverbank precincts where the State Government is offering Stamp Duty concessions.

Find out more about Stamp Duty at the RevenueSA website.

AVOID paying Lenders Mortgage Insurance to help keep down the cost of your deposit. Most lenders charge this on loans of more than 80% of the property’s value, which can add many thousands of dollars to the cost of your loan.

Instead, at a loan where your insurance is by a Loan Provision Charge, which can be considerably less.  

DETERMINE where you’d like to buy by measuring the space you will need. If you want a house with a few bedrooms and big backyard, you may want to consider living in the suburbs where larger blocks of land are more readily available.

On the other hand, if you want something compact and cosmopolitan you may prefer to live in the city. Both areas offer options to buy and build but the costs will vary accordingly, and this may help you narrow your choices. 

CONSIDER your travel arrangements. Do you want to live close to the city in a ‘Go Zone’ where buses come every 15 minutes or are you prepared to drive to work every day, perhaps on a transport route designed to cut down travel times?

Working out how long it would take to travel to work each day could help you establish your preferred location.

You  could then see how this may affect any other arrangements you have such as picking up children from care or participating in sporting groups.

You may also want to see how long using public transport would take, if you were unable to use your car or parking was unavailable or too expensive.

WORK out when you want to move in. Do you want to move in to an established home straight away or are you happy to wait while your new home is built?  

In general, it can take up to nine months to build a new home, when the amount of time needed for council approvals and design plans as well as weather related delays are factored in.

If you are not sure about what the building process involves, ask a local builder to explain the process and how long it could take.

Some builders offer fixed price contracts that include a guaranteed build time. 

MAKE sure you include the cost of all your extras when calculating how much it would cost to build your own home. While many items are offered as standard, choosing ‘extras’ or ‘upgrades’, such as landscaping, pergolas and air conditioners, can cost more.

While the idea of having everything new to suit your personal taste can be exciting, it is important to include all the additional items when calculating the cost of building a home to work out how much you would actually be paying to see if this fits within your price range.  

WORK out if you want to renovate. If you are keen to do some renovations to an established house, consider what you are willing to take on.

Renovation shows may make it look easy and tempt you to tackle a home renovation, but this can be hard work and prove to be expensive to fix if anything were to go wrong.

Also, work out if you want to do small things such as removing carpets and painting walls, or if you are prepared to live in a building site while a team of licensed tradespeople, work around you.

Don’t forget to add renovation costs to the cost of purchasing the home.