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You’re doing it. You’re actually DOING it! You’re about to build your dream home!

You’re full of excitement and let’s be honest — your Pinterest is in overdrive. You’re also completely and utterly overwhelmed. Floor plans and fixtures and finishes — OH MY! There’s just so much to think about. 

If only there was an expert in the industry who could advise you on what the most important things to consider are as you enter into such a significant project… 

Well fancy that — we have just the person!

Alongside her husband and head builder, Troy Klemm, Carmel Siciliano-Klemm is the lead interior designer for the multi-award-winning builder Klemm Homes. We’ve been lucky enough to pick her clever little brain on everything ‘building!’ 

Carmel has over 20 years’ experience in the design and construction industry and has had the privilege of being involved in countless builds over the years. So it’s fair to say, she really knows her stuff!

Throughout her years of firsthand experience in the process of designing and building, Carmel has kindly created a list of her top 10 tips of things you need to know before you build. If building is something you can see happening in your future, we highly recommend you take the time to read this advice from such a respected expert in her game.

Over to you, Carmel!

1 . Your schedule is a “guideline.”

Builds can take over a year. Sometimes they can be finished in 9 months, sometimes 16 months. Be prepared for timeframes to be used as a guideline.

New builds previously had a shorter timeline, but in the current climate it’s more difficult to have accurate and fast-paced schedules. Bad weather, building issues, shortages of materials and scheduling contractors mean timeframes are sometimes out of the builder’s control.

When building a house, it’s best to choose a reputable builder that has an abundance of experience and knowledge and who also gives you regular and honest feedback as to what stage the build is at. Good communication is key.

2. Hire the right people. 

I really can’t stress this enough.  Especially if you have no previous experience building.

This is the single most important decision you’ll make because you’ll be working so closely with your builder and architect throughout the process. Do your homework before you make your decision. Interview and meet with a number of builders and ask for referrals. I also recommend you ask for the contact details of the last three people they built for to get an accurate view of how their client’s felt about their building experience with them.  

Also look for someone you connect with. Get a designer that understands your vision and a builder you can trust and who makes you feel like you can pick up the phone and speak to a member of their team at any time.

3. Design for your future.

Your lifestyle often evolves over time and it’s important to consider this when planning your build.

Are you planning to have children? Do your plans accommodate this? Is there an open tread staircase? Do you have open fireplaces? Will an elderly parent live with you or will you have guests coming to stay from overseas or interstate? Will your home adapt to teenage children?

The pandemic was a game-changer for working from home as almost all new homes now have a dedicated space for work. Do you have a separate study that you can close yourself off from the screaming kids and take conference calls? 

In the space of 10 years, our lifestyles can change dramatically. Consider the scenarios that may relate to you and design your home accordingly. 

4. Plan, plan and plan some more. 

I can’t stress enough how much more smoothly the process will be if you have a good idea of what you want in your home before you start building. Once the process starts moving there will be a whirlwind of decisions being thrown at you daily. 

Time is money when you’re building a house and it’s extremely detrimental to slow everything down just because you can’t decide on the tile you would like in the kids’ bathroom!  Be decisive and pick out as much as you can before you start. Use the professional expertise of the people surrounding you to help make your selections. This can help to avoid material delays or issues with timelines.

5. Use locally sourced materials, suppliers and labour

When your great grandparents built their family home, chances are the materials needed for the home came from within a couple hundred kilometres of the house location. 

It can be tempting to order products from overseas to save money but often a local alternative can be sourced more affordably. Buying locally also allows you to inspect the quality of the goods before purchasing and removes long lead times from the production and manufacturing process.

At Klemm Homes, we love using local timber suppliers, brick companies, door hardware and local stone quarries as well as using SA family suppliers to bring your build together! 

6. Be kind to everyone involved in your building process.

Carpenters, concreters, brickies, electricians, painters and tilers. Get to know them!

At Klemm Homes, using the best trades and providing quality workmanship is part of our ethos. Our trades are always happy for a chat and love to feel welcomed and appreciated.

When clients show appreciation and kindness to their tradies it really does go a long way. I hear time and time again how much our construction workers have appreciated acts of kindness shown to them while on site. It could be as simple as offering them a coffee or sharing some homemade muffins, but I promise you — it does not go unnoticed.

7. Invest in fixtures.

It’s overwhelming choosing where to allocate funds when building a new home. There are plenty of trendy items that are tempting to throw money towards (decorative pillows, anyone?), but in the end, it’s better to invest in fixtures.

For example, go without those pillows for several months and put in solar panels or underfloor heating that will make the cost of your home cheaper in the long run. 

By investing in higher-quality fixtures, such as better quality taps and appliances, it means your home will have longevity. You won’t be replacing your oven in 10 years time or changing leaking taps. At Klemm Homes, we have preferred suppliers because we have trust in them and know they will come to the party if there are any issues with a product down the track.

8. Go neutral with colours and materials

In today’s market, with many materials and design options fighting for your attention, natural stone stands out as the perfect choice for meeting all of your needs while also enhancing the sustainability of your home.  

Natural materials such as stone and timber and resources like leathers for example, not only look good now, but in 50 years. Consider the materials of the home before rushing into fashion driven, artificial materials that will date quickly and opt for materials that will leave your build looking timeless and elegant!

9. Listen to professionals but know when to trust your gut.  

There will be many things during your building process that you are unsure about or don’t understand. That’s when it’s time to listen to the people you trust — your architect, builder and designer. That being said, I also think it’s SO important to know when to trust your gut. Listen to that little voice inside of you who knows what you really want, but might be afraid to say it. 

I remember someone telling me that a curved kitchen wasn’t a smart idea. They said they weren’t ‘in’ and that I’d regret doing it in my home. This curved kitchen design ended up winning us a national award! I had dreamed about it for years and I love how people gather easily around my island. Yes it may date, but I wake up every day and smile when I see it!

Remember that at the end of the day it is YOU who will be waking up in this house each day. YOU who will actually live with all of the decisions made.  All of the people helping will move on to other houses. If your gut is telling you to go this way instead of that, trust it! 

10. It’s stressful but rewarding.

Everything you’ve heard about how building affects relationships is true! We often joke that if you’re able to make it through building a home together, there’s not much else your relationship can’t survive! Building is a never ending tug-of-war between wants, needs, and compromises.

It’s easy to let the stress get to you, especially when you’re debating the merits of fixtures, finishes or floor layouts. But if you keep the main goal in sight — a home where you can live, grow and love, it’s easier to see what’s really important. Pick your top three building deal-breakers and prepare to make compromises on other choices.

While there will be mistakes made and stressful days, there will also be days of complete joy and excitement. It’s an amazing thing to see your vision come to life right in front of your eyes. Remember how fortunate you are to have the opportunity to create this future home for you and your family and enjoy the little things during the process that make you happy.


Building your own home isn’t for the faint hearted, but for those brave enough to take on the task, the rewards are immeasurable. By choosing a building team, like the team at Klemm Homes, that you feel comfortable with and who communicates openly and honestly with you along the way, you will be putting your best foot forward from the get go! Thank you for sharing some of your wisdom, Carmel x 



Carrie Raymond

Carrie Raymond

Carrie’s aim is to provide you with helpful content for all things ‘Adelaide’ — so no matter what info you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find it on our website.

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