How can the HomeBuilder scheme help me renovate my property?

November 13, 2020

Construction site of new home

In response to the economic impacts of COVID-19, the government implemented the HomeBuilder grant to help boost the construction industry and bolster the Australian economy. Beginning in June, the $700 million package has provided eligible homeowners with a $25,000 grant to go toward renovating an existing home or building a new one. 


HomeBuilder: A renovation success story

Besides the initial bumps in the road due to an influx of applications, the HomeBuilder scheme has so far been a success, with a huge boost in renovations in particular. According to Ratecity.com.au the increase in renovation loans over $150,000 has meant the average renovation cost has risen by 24% since 2019. 

Builders are reaping the rewards of the scheme, reporting an increase of inquiries for renovations large and small. Director of Mitcon Build Queensland Mitch Picklington told Ratecity.com.au that his company has been inundated with requests for quotes for a variety of jobs whether it’s renovating one room in the house or making plans for a larger scale renovation to utilise the government’s Home Builder scheme.

The subsidy has already successfully helped several people make their renovation dreams come true. Kristian Lawrence from the Perth suburb of Cockburn told the

ABC that the scheme was the incentive he needed to get started on some much-needed renovations. The generous scheme allowed Mr Lawrence and his wife to upgrade their home for their young family. 

For those looking to renovate and wondering if they too could benefit from the HomeBuilder scheme, we’ve compiled a list of everything you need to know. 

Are you eligible for the scheme?

To be eligible for the government initiative you must be 18 years or older and an Australian citizen. The HomeBuilder grant is means-tested with a $100,000 income cap for individuals and $200,000 for couples. Whether your application is successful also depends on the type and cost of your build. 

What types of renovations are eligible?

Renovations on both houses and apartments are eligible for the scheme, but only ‘substantial’ renovations are eligible for the grant. Each state and territory has specific criteria of what substantial’ renovations entail, but the Federal government define them as improving the accessibility or safety or liveability of the dwelling. It cannot be for standalone granny flats, swimming pools, tennis courts, and structures that are not connected to the property (i.e. outdoor spas and saunas, sheds or standalone garages).

As the aim of the initiative is to build up the construction industry, owner-builds are not eligible. In some states, a friend or relative can carry out the work as long as they are a licensed builder and named on the building permit. The government will safeguard themselves from any shady dealings between friends and family, by ensuring your contract is commercially reasonable during the application process.  

What is the price cap for renovation and builds?

Houses or apartments with a combined land and house total exceeding $1.5 million will not be eligible for the scheme. For new builds, the combined total of the land and build cannot exceed $750,000. Considering that an average kitchen renovation costs $20,000, the HomeBuilder grant is clearly not intended for minor renovations. As previously mentioned, to meet the $150,000 – $750,000, homeowners looking to renovate will have to be making substantial changes to their property. 

What policies are in place across the state?

Some states and territories have committed to extra grants that can be used in conjunction with the Federal government’s HomeBuilder initiative. In addition to building initiatives, there are a variety of concessions and grants on offer for first homebuyers first homebuyers, including the First Home Super Saver Scheme and the recently established First Home Loan Deposit scheme. The government intended the new initiative to build on existing schemes, and whether you’re building new or buying and renovating, there is potential for big savings. 

States with additional grants for renovations or building a home

Tasmania

Tasmanian locals can enjoy both the HomeBuilder scheme and the state government’s $20,000 grant for owner-occupiers to build a house. The construction must be complete within 18 months and commence 3 months after the contract is signed. The contract must be signed between the 4th of June and the end of December. 

Western Australia

The state’s Building Bonus Package’, is a $20,000 grant reserved for new builds. Both owner-occupiers and investors are can apply, and types of dwelling include builds on vacant blocks and single-tier developments. The contract must be signed between 4th of June and the 31st of December.

Queensland 

Queensland’s initiative aims to boost construction in regional areas, so is only eligible for new builds in Townsville, Cairns etc. Houses, units and townhouses valued less than $750,000 are all eligible for the $5,000 grant. The contract must be signed between the 16th of June and the 31st of December. 

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How and when can you apply?

All states and territories are now accepting applications for HomeBuilder grants through their respective State Revenue Office (STO) websites. In most cases, applications will only be accepted from those who have already entered into a building contract. The contract must be signed between the 4th of June and the 31st of December and construction needs to commence within three months of the signing date (unless you’re in Victoria, where the commencement date has been extended by 6 months due to COVID-19 restrictions). 

The application process varies from state to state and there have been differing reports on the ease of each state’s application process. The deadline for applications is the end of December, but make sure you check your government’s STO website for a specific date. 

What documents are needed to apply?

As previously mentioned, the application process varies between states and territories. Generally, an applicant would need documents that prove: your an Australian citizenship, you’re using a licensed builder, your income, the value of your existing or planned home and that your building contract does not exceed the price cap. For a detailed list of the required documentation visit your local STO website. 

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How long does it take for the scheme to be approved?

Approval times in each state and territory have varied considerably, so it’s impossible to pinpoint an exact timeframe. However, with the high volume of applicants, your best chance at a speedy approval is to ensure you provide all relevant documents with your application.

When will you receive the HomeBuilder grant?

Your government’s STO will pay the HomeBuilder grant directly to you. When you receive the payment is dependent on the type of build and dwelling. If you are building off the plan, your grant will be deposited into your bank account upon your name being officially registered on the title. To receive your grant for a new build, you will need to have made the initial progress payment to your builder, and the foundations must be laid. Renovators will receive their grant after the construction has commenced and at least $150,000 has been paid of their contract. 

How can we help you?

For more information on the scheme please refer to the HomeBuilder fact sheet or the Treasury’s FAQs

Words by Nell Matzen

Sources:

HomeBuilder grant

Renovation loans of $150k as HomeBuilder lifts development

HomeBuilder coronavirus renovation scheme welcomed by WA builders, but not everyone is happy

Average renovation costs $86,000 less than minimum $150k HomeBuilder criteria

HomeBuilder fact sheetEconomic response to the coronavirus: HomeBuilder

Get in touch if you are looking to apply for the scheme or if you’re unsure about your eligibility. Our home loan professionals can help you understand your options if you think a renovation could be in your future. 


Written by Refinancing.com.au

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