In an effort to stimulate the construction sector as well as the economy at large, the Australian Government recently unveiled the HomeBuilder scheme. The package will provide eligible singles and couples with a one-time grant of $25,000 towards building a new home or doing a substantial renovation, such as an extension, to their current property. In other words, the government is offering to contribute 10 square meters to the size of your home, given that the average cost per square meter for a renovation is around $2500 per square meter. But how can you take advantage of this scheme and what are the best renovation ideas to add ‘livability’ to your home and ensure you’re making the most of the grant? Let’s explore!
What is the HomeBuilder package?
The HomeBuilder package is designed to restart the residential construction sector while saving jobs for tradies and propping up small businesses. It follows fears that the recent recession and worsening economic effects of COVID-19 will severely impact the volume of builds that builders have in the pipeline. Speaking to the press, the Prime Minister stated that without intervention, he predicted some 30,000 homes won’t get built beyond September. As a result, the Morrison Government announced $688 million will be placed into the HomeBuilder scheme. It’s hoped that this scheme will help eligible Australians put their $25,000 towards new builds or substantial renovations — with the potential to restore up to 27,520 projects across the country in the second half of 2020.
Who is eligible for HomeBuilder?
Just like the Government’s recent JobKeeper and JobSeeker schemes, there are a number of requirements that homeowners will need to meet in order to receive the $25,000 injection. This means you must be:
- An adult Australian citizen
- A current or prospective owner-occupier. HomeBuilder is not available to investors.
- A natural person, not a company or trust.
- Earning $125,000 per annum or less for singles, or under $200,000 per annum for couples (based on your last tax return, which can’t be earlier than FY18–19).
This is positive news for most Australians, as the income grade means around 90% of Australians currently earn below the cut-off amount, opening the package up to far more people.
What are the stipulations on the contract side?
There are certain requirements that the HomeBuilder contract must meet in order for the grant to accessible. These contractual requirements are important for both the client and the builder to understand:
- There is a time limit to this package — eligible participants need to enter into a contract (building or renovating) before the end of the year, 31 December 2020. Construction must then begin within three months of signing the contract. So if you’re interested and you’re eligible, you need to start planning what you want your renovation to achieve now.
- If buying a house and land it must not exceed $750,000.
- Renovators must spend a minimum of $150,000 and maximum of $750,000 on a project, with their home’s value not being higher than $1.5 million at the time renovations begin.
- Renovations need to improve the accessibility, safety or livability of your property.
- You can’t use the $25,000 towards a tennis court, pool, spa, sauna, shed, studio, granny flat or garage, for example. However, you can put it towards adding an upper floor on your property, or use it for any ground-floor extensions to give your home a more open-plan feel.
- All renovations must, of course, be carried out by a registered and licensed building service contractor.
- Your contract must be considered a fair market price — meaning you cannot ask a builder to increase their prices to meet the minimum threshold of $150,000.
- You should not have any special relationship with your builder, such as being related.
Where’s the best place to use the scheme?
That depends on a number of factors. It’s important to remember that if you’re looking to renovate your home, the value of those renovations must not exceed $750,000. Moreover, your residence must not be valued at or above $1.5 million before the renovations begin. That might be a challenge for those living in the inner suburbs and affluent areas of major cities like Sydney and Melbourne, but outside of that, it’s not overly restrictive. That means you won’t need to travel out to country areas to find value in the HomeBuilder scheme. Rather, if you are looking to build a new home, you’ll need to make sure the new-home build and the land is no more than $750,000 combined. While this may be difficult if you want to live very close to the CBD, it’s certainly not impossible.
Need some inspiration on how to best use the $25k for maximum return?
You might not be able to indulge in that eight-seater outdoor spa or splurge on a massive ‘smart’ garage, but you can put your HomeBuilder grant towards high-quality and durable building solutions. Great renovation investments with maximum return focus on expanding upon what you already have. Whether it’s creating a upper-floor extension with a Hamptons-style exterior or adding a new upper floor and utilising Matrix for ground floor extension to achieve a modern look, the options are endless. The easiest way to discover what’s available to you and your specific situation is to use our Find a Builder tool to connect with a professional in your area.
We created the Find a Builder tool specifically to help homeowners like you to choose reputable and experienced builders in order to fulfil your design dreams. Simply type your location and you’ll have access to a range of James Hardie builders within your area. James Hardie products are available through over 1000+ distribution outlets around the nation.
And don’t forget to share your Reno project with us at @jameshardieau