Contract signing!!!

Posted by Cath Swan |


Last Wednesday we had our final contract signing. It took about 3 hours, but was great for getting a bucket load of info.

As the plans were all drawn up for final checking we found a few alterations that had happened at the drafters discretion that we hadn't asked for, so it was a good thing we could go over everything like a scene from CSI.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that the Bi-fold doors that were an upgrade with the package we got, were actually added onto our family area. We had thought that they would replace the standard sliding door off the meals area, but it turns out that we could have the sliding door off the meals 'as well as' the bi-fold doors. Meaning that our whole living area could be opened up on a nice day or if we had a party!

As we only found out about this at the contract appointment, we opted to keep things as we thought they were; but after having a night to think about it, we both decided having 2 doors would be a better option that would give us more flexible living space.

So where you see the couch in the family room, will now have bi-fold doors across that wall!

We also had to check door openings, a couple were opening the wrong way, and on the draft they gave us, the garage internal door was opening into the foyer. We have asked for an internal door to open into the mud room(off the laundry).

Overall we were very happy with our final plans, a few changes had to be made but generally all is looking good. We are now on the home run to our house being started.

Very exciting!

Monday we had the arduous task of choosing all our colours for our Porter Davis home inside and out, as well as our electrical appointment.

Electrical first was interesting. Who would have thought that we would pick where every light switch and power point would go, which ones would be on the same switch etc. We made sure with power points that we had plenty in the kitchen, and also put 2 separate power points in each of the kids bedrooms. You can never have too many power points!!

The colour appointment took a few hours as expected. We finally got a very nice look through the house with neutral colours of chocolates and coffee.

The outside we have gone with a red/brown brick called 'Ripponlea' with light render to the bottom of the house with casing above it. We have also picked the colour of 'Ironstone' for our colorbond roof, gutters & downpipes, and also our panel lift garage door.

I fought to have a red entry door, my husband wasn't so sure but with the designer on my side and agreeing that it would look good, we have a nice red double entry door!

Overall we are very happy with the final look we have chosen, and now with that all locked in the only things left to do is pick our floor tiles and sign the contract. January being the start date is not all that far away!


Hopetoun Interiors

Posted by Cath Swan |

To Hopetoun Interiors we ventured to on Saturday. For anyone who doesn't know what this is, it's the showroom for all Porter Davis colour choices, from bricks right through to your choice of toilet bowl!!

We had been for a quick browse once before, but once we took a look we realised we would need some dedicated time to choose.

This time we had all three kids with us, but thankfully Hopetoun has a kids room with movies, toys and nice couch so they were occupied for most of the 2 hours.

As Tender is this Tuesday for our beautiful Camberwell 29 home, we had to have some decisions locked in on how the house will look. (Tender (1) A complete signed proposal to perform work for a nominated amount of money. A tender is submitted in accordance with the tender documents. (2) An offer showing a willingness to buy or sell at a specific price and under specific conditions).

Picking the bricks have been a most difficult choice, because that really sets the scene for the whole look of the house. When we found the brick we liked, we then had to match it with the Colorbond roof, render, and gutters and downpipes. Not to mention the garage door and even window frames! Scary stuff when you realise what you pick you will have to live with!

We're going with a lighter latte-ish coloured brick, and a dark grey/blue colorbond roof, and we're still boxing over the render colour. We would love to find a house that we can look at that has those colours so we can get an overall look at the finished product.

It's a mix of excitement and apprehension as we finalise how our home will look. We have spent hours pouring over websites, magazines, and display homes, so hopefully our research will pay off when we see the final look of our home!


Facade choice 2

Posted by Cath Swan |

After being disappointed at missing out on our 1st choice (see previous post), we were a little concerned that no-one had called to arrange any more colour appointments to keep the ball rolling. Turns out they were waiting for us to get back to them with our new choice of facade.

So yesterday we hastily picked our new choice of facade, all going well. We have chosen the Oakland! I really wanted a portico and this design has normal brick everywhere except the front pillars of the portico. I think it looks stylish. Of course a lot will depend on the bricks we choose.

We are now furiously trying to find a date where we can both go and pick our colours, and get everything ordered and ready for the build. Start date on the house is January, and although we're only at the beginning of September, I have a feeling that the next few months will be a blur.

Stay posted!! ;-)


Facade-ing away!!

Posted by Cath Swan |

We were a little saddened to have to change our facade yesterday. My husband got a call from our Porter Davis rep to say that where we're building in Laurimar, you can apparently only have 1 in every 5 houses with the same facade.

It just so happens that one of our neighbours (across the road, and 3 houses down) has already built with the facade we had chosen which was the Balgowie facade.

I drove down to have a look at this other house. And yes it had the same facade, but it was built down the hill, and you could only see from the windows up. But I guess rules are rules (even if they're dumb ones)!

So we are back to picking facades. Annoying given we really liked the Balgowie!

I want a portico! So we're trying to find a facade that includes a portico, (not a port-a-loo)!!


Those Batts in your roof!!

Posted by Cath Swan |

Two days ago we went and signed our contracts with Porter Davis and went over the inclusions built into the contract.

A very interesting process!

When the inclusions say that they include carpet and tiles etc, you think 'great' something we don't need to pay extra for! Well how wrong I was.
The inclusions allow only for the very bottom standard of carpet and tiles, and this goes for things like bricks, insulation, and the list goes on.

The standard insulation included for your roof, is the spray insulation which is just basically foam stuff that lies up there. But if you ever need someone to get up into your roof, this stuff moves, and if it's not placed back where it was insulation is useless.

The other scary thing is that if you have downlights, they put some cardboard around each light to stop this foam reaching it, but it doesn't take much for it to move. So if it gets on your downlights it can be quite flammable.

We have opted for the Category 3 insulation batts, that are solidly fixed to the beams, and there's no way they can move.

This is important stuff to know, but unfortunately unless you ask, they don't offer you this information. It was only because my husband had talked to a builder friend and he said "don't get the standard foamy stuff in your roof".

So ask lots of questions about what 'inclusions' actually include!!


Builder locked in!

Posted by Cath Swan |

We have finally locked in a plan, a builder, and paid a deposit.

The builder is Porter Davis, the plan is the Camberwell 29, and the month set to start construction is January 2010!

After a couple of months of deliberating over builders and plans, ironically the first builder we looked at was Porter Davis, so after going through all the other builders we've come full circle. Our initial deposit has been paid and contracts are the next step. We've gone through the plan with a microscope and put everything we wanted into it. The only thing we wanted to change about the plan was putting an extra door from the garage into the 'mud' room and moving the laundry door to the 'mud' doorway (apparently a lot of people are doing the same).

The Camberwell is only a new release and is selling like crazy, so we're very happy it's taken us so long to decide otherwise we would have missed this new home.

For us walking through the display sealed it for us. It had everything we need for our growing family. The big appeal was the rumpus at the end of the house that had a doorway through to the kids bedrooms as well as the family room, so it makes it kind of like a kids retreat. Which is what we were looking for.

As our kids are heading for their teens, zones are very important for us, and the Camberwell offers this very nicely.

So much more to follow in this process, and I will post a plan up as soon as I can work out how to.

We have decided this is the week!! We will make our decision on our builder and lock it in. At this stage its between Henley Homes and Dennis Family Homes.

Both are offering great standard inclusions and lots of extra luxury inclusions. Henley successfully confused us on floor coverings, by saying the ensuite, bathroom, laundry has standard tiles. If you just glance over the inclusion list you'll realise that carpet is not included and tiles to the rest of the house is not included. (have to read the fine print).

The same is with Dennis Family Homes, they have a current deal that includes carpet & tiles for a price, but that ends this week. After that carpet & tiles are extra!

So very important note: READ THE FINE PRINT!! The luxury inclusions always look great and shadow the inclusions that kind of matter the most!!

Stay posted!!


Further research on Ashford Homes

Posted by Cath Swan |

On further study well into the hours of early this morning, I found a few threads that disturbed me about Ashford homes, but I wanted to really read what other customers are saying as there isn't much about Ashford in reviews i've searched.

I found this thread on Homeone a home building resource website with some good customer conversations about their build process.

If you can take the word of a customer, then it appears that Ashford homes is a nightmare after you sign on the dotted line.

I'm beginning to wonder if there are any builders out there that actually do a good job and complete it when they say they will? Whatever happened to being a 'man of your word'?

Research will continue!!


Ashford Homes

Posted by Cath Swan |

Ashford Homes is a little known builder gaining more notoriety. Under the umbrella of 'Home Australia' it has been building across the country for 30 years with different company names in each state.

Ashford are custom builders and although they have standard plans, basically anything can be re-designed.

They are on the upper end scale of price and don't offer any 'specials' or upgraded inclusions, but what they do offer appears to be quality.

In our quest to find a builder, Ashford Homes is on our short list.
Expect to be updated.


Corner block & Custom builders

Posted by Cath Swan |

Custom builders are great if you have a specific idea of plans for your home. If you're happy to just go with the standard plan, any mainstream builder will help you out.

But what if you need to move walls, add a room, or fit the plan to your block? Something we have learnt along the way is that if you make too many changes to a standard plan, you need to check that you are still eligible for the luxury upgrades so many builders include in their advertising. If there are too many changes to standard plans, it's then classed as a custom build, and you may lose the luxury inclusions.

We have a corner block, its around 19m wide and 32m long, its a 600m size block. Not huge but not tiny either. But because this block is on the corner, we lose a couple of metres of the front corner.

So whatever plan we choose, it has to fit on the block with the garage to the left and enough room for the corner.

The other thing that is a requirement for having a corner block at Laurimar, is we have to address the corner. Which means that whatever facade, windows, render etc we have on the front of the house, has to carry to a certain percentage of the corner and side. This can make things a little expensive, we have to allow about $3000 to our budget just for the corner treatment. Ultimately it will look great, but it's also finding a plan that has a good corner layout to fit our particular block.

For us we are looking very hard for a custom builder who will help us to build our home and not shoot us if we want to change the plan a little. As for luxury inclusions, you don't get something for nothing, so my advice is to always read the fine print and make sure you are aware of all costs hidden or not, because luxury inclusions will have to be factored into the overall price somewhere.


The Land Has Settled

Posted by Cath Swan |

Our land in Laurimar has settled!!!

What a good feeling to know our land is approved and settled. This happened a couple of days ago, and Saturday we went out to see if the for sale sign had a 'sold' on it. Still no sign, but it was quite a liberating feeling to know this little piece of land now belongs to us.

Houses are going up very quickly around us. When we first looked at this block there were no other houses in the estate, now they're all going up very fast.

I think the time it's taking us to find a builder, we'll be some of the last to build in the estate, but I guess the perk of that is that we won't have to live through the noise of houses being built next door. (sorry to our new neighbours)!

I continue to breathe sighs of joy, everytime we visit Laurimar. It is such a beautiful estate, and they haven't even finished developing the lakes and parkland yet. It will be a very beautfiul place to see my kids grow up.


AVJennings, JGKing....

Posted by Cath Swan |

AV Jennings have been around for a very long time, I remember as a young girl moving into a rental home built by them that was only a couple of years old. Everytime the AV Jennings ad came on TV we would sing to it and be happy that we lived in one. It was a nice place to come home to.

With those memories in mind I of course have been interested in looking at 'AV' as a prospective builder. Their display homes are of course beautiful, with many designs to choose from. But are they still as good a builder as they were many years ago?

As in my previous post, we checked out 'Product Review' for anything on Av Jennings, and disappointingly it wasn't pretty. The same old story of bad salespeople, follow through, and taking ages to complete a build.

But to put things in perspective, the volume of building a company like AVJennings would have probably equates to only a few negative experiences, and 'Product Review' probably only attracts those who are bitter and twisted about their negative building experiences, and those who are very happy with their new home forget to mention their happiness and continue on with their lives.

JG King is a builder we're currently looking into. The idea of building with a steel frame compared to a timber one is interesting in itself. I was told by a friend that building with timber means a wall can never be perfectly straight, depending on the type of timber etc, and the actual builder whether your wall will be vertically perfect. But steel is steel and its only ever going to be straight. The downside to steel is you can't nail a picture hook into the timber frame, but apparently they give you special hooks for steel.

On the above 'Product Review', they had lots of reviews, and surprisingly were on average quite positive. A few niggles, and a few unhappy customers who swore to never build with them again, but after reading so many other builders, JG King actually look angelic.

Will continue to look JG king over more thoroughly.


Product Reviews..

Posted by Cath Swan |

A site we've found very useful, but also enough to put you off building, is a site called 'Product Review'. There you can find practically any builder on the market and comments from customers who have dealt with them. And believe me it is not pretty.

Builder after building company is spread across this site, with tales of shoddy workmanship, contracts and red tape that take months, desolate building sites, and promised dreams never delivered.

I think maybe the building industry needs to take a good hard look at themselves and deliver what they promise. After all building a home is one of the most major decisions you will make in your life and surely it should be a much calmer experience.

It seems that with most of the reviews of building companies the incompetence comes from salespeople that don't tell you the whole truth, through to the builders, and then back to the sales contact staff once construction has started.

If I could find a building company that was consistent from start to finish I would write endlessly about them, and I know that people talk, which would cause more business to come their way.

One thing I know, you treat people badly they will talk, but if you treat people with kindness and give them more than what they want, they will also talk... very well!


The Search goes on...

Posted by Cath Swan |

There are so many builders!

The market is dominated by the 'big' building companies like Henley, Metricon, Porter Davis, Simonds, National Builders and many more. With the first home buyers bonus being used as bait, these large builders are making the most of the market with offers of luxury upgrades on many of the standard inclusions.

All of these builders have numerous plans to choose from, and the power to offer extras because of their size. But we have got the impression after going through so many display homes, that most of the big builders offer 'cookie cutter' homes. You know the sort, the standard garage door with panels, front door and front loungeroom window all with varying facades. Standard plan inside, 3 bedrooms, family room and 'home theatre', and an occasional variation on that.

Not to sound cynical, because these type of homes are great for first home buyers and you will eventually trade up. But for us being a first home 'builder', and having already bought our first home, we are looking for something with a little more character.

Henley has a Bible size book of plans, offering variations within those parameters. They will colour outside the lines and make changes within reason. When we asked if we could add in a possible granny flat onto an existing plan, it didn't really make a great impression. Henley would make a change, but were not open to a major plan movement.

Porter Davis met all our requirements, and did a great job on the altered plan we toyed with, but when push came to shove they were a little expensive and the main turnoff for us was they couldn't start a build until December. That was 7 months forward, meaning we'd be paying extra rent & mortgage for a long time.

Metricon has beautiful homes but we found their offerings out of our price range. Simonds had great plans and competitive prices, but again they couldn't even begin a build until December.

National Builders has many plans and is a favourite with first home buyers. They have a lot to offer with homes budgeted at the lower end of the market. We found after looking through a few display homes and seeing someone we know build through them that they tend to do things on the cheap and you get that feel walking through them.

So our search continues to find the right builder with the right home for the right price!


Plans, Plans, Plans....

Posted by Cath Swan |

So now that we on the way to securing our land, we have begun scouring the display home villages in search of that perfect house plan.

Our pile of brochures is growing very quickly, as building companies seem to spare no extra expense in loading us up with their latest glossy offerings. Some companies give you the plans, the inclusions, extra specials and basic prices. I love to read the fine print and just find out what is 'actually' included and whether or not simple things like floor coverings make the 'standard' inclusion list.

It's either very clever or sneaky how building companies rig their inclusion lists. For first home builders its very easy to think you have everything included in your build package when unless you ask the questions the builders won't offer you information on basics.

I've made it my mission with every display home we visit to ask a lot of questions about what their inclusions are, what is the earliest date they can start and how long their build generally takes. These are all important questions, because ultimately if those answers are not in our favour, we are the ones who will pay out big money to do the basics, pay extra rent, and have to budget for unforseen hidden costs.


Laurimar Town Centre

Posted by Cath Swan |

I did a search on the Delfin Laurimar website to see what the new Town Centre was going to look like. I was pleasantly surprised to see the artists impression and virtual tour.

Laurimar Town Centre looks like it will be a beautiful tree-lined estate with sparkling waterways and manicured landscaping.

Definately in my opinion, a nice place to come home to.


Sign on the dotted line!

Posted by Cath Swan |

Over the past couple of weeks we have looked around at other blocks of land, compared prices etc, and still we are in love with the block at Doreen. All the others blocks of land just seem boring with no views and with nothing to really attract us.

So my husband has put in an official offer on this block of land and today we went in to sign our lives away, pending on getting our finance.

We have bought this block for $172,000 which is pretty reasonable for the area. It kind of felt surreal signing up for our own land. Im not really letting myself get excited until I know the finance comes through. At least we have a signed contract, so all going well this baby will be ours!


Land ahoy!

Posted by Cath Swan |

We have started the wheels in motion! Our financial planner (Martin) has begun the search for the bank that will lend us our dream.

We live in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, and have been looking to the outer suburbs, we're a bit tired of the city rush and we're hanging for some country air!

A friend who lives out at Doreen told us to call into the Delfin office in the Laurimar Estate. Doreen is beautiful, with views to the surrounding mountains and then back to the city skyline. Kangaroos roam freely throughout the rolling hills.

We casually went for a visit to the office and spoke to the salesman who told us there was not much left in the new estate. But he showed us a block on the map which was around 600m2 and offered to take us up to see it.

As we drove into the new estate, my husband and I both agreed this block, being one of the last, would probably be the worst block in the estate, in some dark valley no one wants. As we drove up a hill, our salesman turned into a nice new street and stopped and got out. We followed and thought it would surely be the block going down the hill, but we were very surprised as we walked onto the block right at the top of the hill.

The views were beautiful, the block was relatively flat, and we were blown away.

We both fell in love with it instantly, and after much pacing and dreaming, we told the salesman we were very interested.