Selections vs. Inclusions in Custom Home Building

  • 6 November 2018

Before getting stuck on the topic of selections vs. inclusions for your home, we need to start by differentiating custom home builders from project home builders who advertise building custom homes.

Project home builders use a model that’s all about selling lots of houses based on only a few design templates. It’s the McDonalds of the building industry, and the result is cookie-cutter houses—but hey, there’s a place for that in the market, and it’s a good solution for some people.

However, others want a more unique home, have an unusual block or have interesting requirements, so they seek a custom home builder or building designer/architect.

Custom home builders with an in-house design service, like GN Williams, start from scratch for every home. A blinking cursor, a blank page, a clean slate, however you like to think of it, custom builders begin by getting to know you then designing a house with and for you—and only you! They then build that house, working with you all along the way to create a fully bespoke house that, as we like to say, fits like a glove.

Now, the word ‘custom’ is used a lot, often by project home builders. These building companies can only offer a very limited customisation of their templates under the basic cost of the build. You might be able to move a wall a little, for example, but it’s not custom. It’s minor customisation, and you pay for anything beyond the very simple. There’s really nothing truly custom about it.

It’s important to understand this core difference in the various types of building companies—between ‘custom’ and ‘customising’—as this is at the heart of how the process of selections/inclusions works.

Large custom home bathroom

A custom home is a home that fits like a glove


Selections: The personality of your home


One of the key areas in which working with a custom home builder is starkly different from working with a project builder is what’s called the ‘selections’ for your home. These are what project home builder might call ‘inclusions’—things such as taps, benchtops, appliances, wall finishings, windows and the list goes on and on. Basically, it’s everything except the construction itself!

These selections are what give your house personality, character and a level of detail completely unique to you, or at least, that’s what we believe they should do.

Project builders try to use the one-size-fits-most approach, so you have very limited options available. With us, at GN Williams, the selections process is completely flexible and is certainly not about giving you an inclusions list—you know the one, it often comes on an A4 flyer promising ‘Pay $5,000 and Get XYZ Inclusions’. We know that you have your own style; you don’t need someone else to pre-select everything for you.

Be sure not to be fooled by that term ‘inclusions’. You’re still paying for each item, but the cost is worked out in one, simple figure.

We do have our own selections list, but it’s used as a starting or reference point from which to work—as you can imagine, with so many decisions to make, it’s essential to start somewhere. It helps to start forming ideas around the costings of the build. Some people end up choosing some (or even all) of the selections on the list, some choose none and either way is fine. We will never tell you that you have to have anything. It’s only a way to start the discussion.


Flooring, window type and colour, lighting and cornices, all totally up to you!


When options aren’t really an option


With a project home builder, you can choose to ‘customise’ by slightly upgrading or downgrading certain items, but that’s about the extent of it. The variety is very limited, and it needs to be that way for their business model to function properly. It’s understandable; they need to do this. You can imagine that trying to build homes on a large scale needs systems, materials and processes that can be repeated time after time to limit mistakes and such.

With a custom builder, your selections are (almost) unlimited. We have suppliers, retailers and brands that we’ll recommend based on our many years of experience in the industry. You’re welcome to pick whichever brand and style you like; your only limitation is ensuring that it’s practical and makes sense considering the space available, or in other words, that it will work!

The beauty of this custom model is that you can choose to prioritise the selections that are important to you. For example, you might choose to save money on laundry tapware so that you can splurge on the bathroom, or you may opt for a basic oven in order to put that money towards a state-of-the-art microwave (hey, no judgement).

Another example would be a staircase, which might cost $5,000, $25,000 or anything in-between, depending on the design and your budget. We would never tell you which staircase to have. They are your stairs; you choose.

The only time we would strongly caution against a particular selection would be in the case of using a no-name brand from overseas that is not up to Australian standards, with which we have no relationship and for which there is no warranty (or the warranty/the supplier is not reputable). Honestly, we’ve never come across a client who wants to go for an option like this anyway.

You’re free to make selections based on your taste, budget and the constraints of the space for which you’re selecting.

As a company, it can be time consuming for us to work with you in deciding on every single selection in your home, but it’s worth it. After all, it’s your home (not ours), and we want you to be delighted with every decision you make.

Custom home staircase

A staircase can be $5,000 or $25,000


Get started, but don’t sweat the small stuff


The first stage of the selections process is to not worry about it! You have bigger fish to fry: your floorplan. As tempting as it is (for some people) to focus on taps and handles, it’s vital to get the room configurations, the flow of your home and good design principles (including passive solar design and natural ventilation) locked down before you move on to considering the finer details.

At GN Williams, you begin the process of building your new home with a ‘Design Meeting’, at which you discuss the requirements for your home and from which an initial floor plan is developed.

Although you’re encouraged to bring along ideas for your home, particularly as they relate to floorplan and exterior finishes (facades), there’s no need to come with any information about details like tiles, tap-wear and so on. Save those on Pinterest so you can refer to them when the time comes.

In order to submit your house plans to council we need to have locked down some of the exterior selections including:

  • an exterior finish (e.g. brick, cladding, render, etc.)
  • an exterior colour (no need to choose an exact colour right now, a general indication is sufficient)
  • door and window sizes and colours
  • the type of front door
  • other exterior elements, including things like a water tank.

If you’re building in a new housing estate, you may also need to submit more detailed plans for landscaping and other elements that affect the look of your house from the street.

custom home builder wollongong

The exterior selections including door and colours will need to be chosen first


Getting down to the nitty gritty


Once the plans have been submitted to council, you can begin thinking about the rest of the selections for your home.

During this stage of your project, we’ll work with you closely to assist you in deciding on many selections for your home, including the following elements:

  • windows (the style, final colour, type of glass, locks, flyscreens, etc.)
  • plumbing (extra gas or water points, position of the shower heads and taps, etc.)
  • electrical (types and positions of lighting and power)
  • alarm and intercom systems
  • kitchen design and finishes
  • bathrooms (tapware, toilets, shower heads and screens, tiling and other accessories, including their positioning so that it suits the way you live in your home)
  • insulation
  • staircases (stairs, balustrades and handrails)
  • cornices (a square set is the standard starting point for us)
  • architraves and skirtings
  • internal doors
  • internal paint colours
  • flooring
  • any extra items you want to include, such as air-con, a fireplace, solar power, elevator, decking or a pool.

That’s just scratching the surface! Over the course of your build you will need to make hundreds of decisions, both big and small, on personal selections for your home. When combined with the usual commitments in life (work, family and so on), some people, understandably, find it a challenge; it can feel particularly stressful because these are decisions that you’ll most likely be living with for a long time!

For this reason, we think the idea of giving you only one day, half a day, or as little as a couple of hours in which to choose every selection in your home—yes, this is what you would need to do with many project home builders—is far from the best way to ensure you’re making the best decisions possible.

With a custom design and build service like GN Williams, selections are made over a much longer time period, giving you the opportunity to browse different options, to do some online research and, most importantly, to take some time to think!

We enjoy assisting clients with their selections, and we do so by providing the following perks:

  • a brand new, specialist Design House Studio in which you can browse different options the same way you might in real life, with digital showcases and even in the virtual world with VR goggles;
  • a client services manager to walk you through each stage of the process;
  • a complimentary two-hour, personal session with our in-house interior designer;
  • timelines indicating when you’ll need to make key selections decisions so that you can plan ahead and
  • a checklist of excellent ‘starting-point’ selections for quick and easy decisions on items not worthy of any overthinking.

Although some people absolutely relish the selections process, for others who aren’t as fond of making decisions, there is enough support to get you through the design process with minimal stress!

We hope this sheds some light on the inclusions vs selections topic and makes it clear that it’s all about flexibility! If you’re happy, we’re happy, and we’re here to support you at every step of the journey as you create a beautiful, unique and on-budget home for your family.