Why Large Volume Home Builders Are Like The Fast Food of Homes

Why Large Volume Home Builders Are Like The Fast Food of Homes


When you think about it, the average mass production home builder is a lot like a fast food restaurant – their only concern is to satisfy your immediate desire. For the fast food restaurant it’s the first bite into a big greasy burger. For the home builder it’s handing you that first set of keys and seeing you cross the threshold.   

Don’t get me wrong, in both cases they can be very satisfying, but the satisfaction rarely lasts for the long haul. Once you’ve ordered a cheeseburger it’s very difficult to later turn it into a healthy salad. And it works the same way with homes.

It’s a time versus money battle. The very nature of the whack ‘em fast and cheap model is that there’s no space for considering how you as an individual person, couple or family is going to interact with the home, and how the home is going to adjust, change and grow with you in the future.  

This is not about beating up on large volume home builders. They fill a legitimate and useful part in the market. For some people, perhaps building their first home, on a very tight budget and or with a very tight time frame, large volume home builders make sense. But unfortunately they typically don’t have the customisation capacity to make it your dream home long-term.  

Before committing to a particular builder, home design or specifications list, it’s worth asking a few questions of yourself and your family, and potentially of your builder. It could save you a lot of money and heartache down the line.

What’s Important To You?

This can be a difficult question, but simply by asking it you can open up new perspectives that you might not normally have considered.

This is the first question we put to any client at SmarterBuildings. We find that homeowners we talk to typically fall into one of five categories: some are particularly concerned with home safety, others efficiency. The environment and sustainability tops some people’s list. While for others, it’s convenience, and for some it’s simply the wow-factor of the home.

But no matter which of these categories you might see yourself in, thinking about how you live day-to-day can really help inform your home building choices.

Are You Thinking Aesthetics or Functionality?

When you’re wandering a beautifully maintained display village, it’s very easy to be swayed by the latest wiz-bang feature or bright shiny object. After all that’s its purpose.

But are you thinking more about aesthetics than functionality? There are so many more things that go into a functional and happy home than just how it looks. In fact, focusing on aesthetics over functionality can be downright detrimental.

This can come in so many forms, but to consider an example: if you’re really busy people with demanding jobs, finding time to do day-to-day maintenance around the house can become an issue. Your dream home might have 25 windows because you love the light, but who is going to lock them every night? Who’s going to shut all the blinds? Who’s going to clean them? You might have half-a-dozen external doors. Who’s going to lock them each night? Will you spend your evenings micromanaging your home? These might be extreme examples, but it’s important to think about how aesthetic choices are going to affect your life.

Is Your Home Going to Grow With You?

As a thought starter, consider what does your life look like 10 years down the track? If you’ve got kids now, one day they’re going to be teenagers, and then they’re going to be young adults. Will your home meet your criteria for that? If you don’t have kids now, perhaps you will. Will that modern masterpiece that looked so appealing in the display village turn into a nightmare with a toddler around?

The nature of work is changing rapidly. Will you be running a home office some day? Does your future home have the space, technology capacity and quiet you might need to make a success of it?

It’s this kind of question of what is your life going to look like down the track that volume builders just don’t ask. It complicates things, and, naturally, they don’t want complication. They want to get in and get out fast.

How About The Long-term Safety Aspects?

Safety is a big issue for many homeowners, and it’s one that can have a real effect on people’s relationships. Does your new home really have the safety features that will satisfy you now, and what about the future as things change, especially when you have kids?

Retrofitting things like automatically locking windows and doors can be surprisingly difficult and costly after the fact.   

Is Your Home Sustainable? Is It Efficient? Does It Matter?

For some people safety is at the top of their home concerns. For others it is efficiency and sustainability. Are low running costs important to you? Are you conscious of the costs involved in running the home you’re constructing? Can you predict what those costs are now, and especially, what they are likely to be in the future?

If you’re planning retirement in the near-ish future, how are energy costs going to affect you on a strict budget?

What types of materials are being used in your home’s construction? Are they sustainably sourced? What kind of waste is produced? For some people it’s not at the top of their priority list. For others it’s hugely important.

Is Your Money Being Spent In The Right Spot?

No matter how much money you’ve got, everyone’s got a budget. And, perhaps not surprisingly, the more money some people have, the tighter the purse strings. But that’s by the by.

At SmarterBuildings we have a process that we run through to ensure the home buyers money is being spent it the right place. It’s crucially important.

To put it simply, there’s no point in installing all the technology for a beautiful home cinema experience, if no one ever sits down to enjoy it. This money could perhaps be much better spent on automated louvers at ceiling height that play an active part in cooling the home and saving money.

So too there’s no point putting in a $50,000 security system if the homeowners are happy to sleep with the backdoor open. The examples can be many and varied. And this is why it’s so important to ask yourself the question, what is important to me, and to us?

Interested in finding out more? Download the first chapter of Sam’s book Homes with a Heartbeat for free.