Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Our $56 Fireplace

One feature we really liked from the Delatite display in Doreen that we wanted to incorporate into our home was the gas coal fireplace. Problem is...Premier wanted to charge almost $6,000 to have this - no bloody way! So, we are just getting them to provide a chimney and cavity and we will source the rest ourselves.

eBay has been a good friend so far...

First bargain - decorative tiles for the sides of the fascia. We had been watching these tiles for ages, since they were originally listed at $250. We kept watching as they received no bids and were relisted time and time again. Eventually they were listed at $50 - which we bid on and won! This includes two sets of five tiles, one for either side of the insert.

A short trip to Agnews and we discovered that these tiles are currently in store retailing for $125 for each side - in other words, a total of $250. Bargain!

Next bargain - cast iron fascia. There are a wide variety of fireplaces available on eBay - from complete sets with mantle, fascia, insert and so on...through to the individual pieces. We have been watching for awhile now, and it is very variable as to what everything eventually sells for. We started watching a cast iron fascia because it was listed at $5 - why not? We eventually won this for $6. Best part was it was local - so we picked it up the next day before the seller could change their mind!

When we got it home, we discoved that it is actually an original Federation piece, cast in 1903. Score! It has a little bit of surface rust, but nothing a quick trip to the sandblasters won't fix.

Cast iron fascia with the decorative ceramic tiles

So that is our $56 fireplace so far...next on the list is the mantle!


So...we put down the initial deposit for the site survey and final drawings on the 23rd of October 2010. We organised our site cut the following Tuesday, and informed Premier that we were ready to go on Saturday the 30th of October. When we visited the site the following weekend it appeared that the surveyors had already visited as there were pink markings everywhere and a few core sample drillings - very exciting! Making progress!

According to the timeline in the Premier brochure, we can expect to receive our preliminary drawings 4 to 6 weeks after signing the initial agreement....by my calculations that should have been this week sometime (accounting for the week's delay in having the site cut). We haven't heard anything, so I emailed them today and it looks like we won't have our drawings until next Thursday. As for their site cost estimates, they won't know until they receive the drawings.

That's fine - the problem is, their office is closing for the Christmas period on the 18th of December, just two days after we are supposed to receive our drawings. They don't open again until mid-Feb, so it looks like things will be coming to a standstill for a few months....very annoying as our pre-approval is only valid for 90 days at a time, so that will mean applying for pre-approval version #3! Grrr....

Might talk to them tomorrow to see what our options are in moving this forward a bit quicker (especially considering we will be on holiday on the other side of the country for the entirety of March 2011). It would be great to even have some supplier details so we can start researching our selections in Jan 2011. Will see how that goes...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Changes Made To The Coventry Design

The following is a list of all the changes we have made to the Coventry design. Each number on the list corresponds to the number in the plan below for easy reference.

Changes made are:

  • Living Room:
(8) Close off entry to master bedroom from living room.

  • Master Bedroom & WIR:
(10) Reconfigure and redesign entry and robes into Master bedroom.
(12) Increase Master bedroom from 3.6 x 5.0m to 3.6 x 5.5m.

  • Ensuite:
(14) Reposition toilet and shower against each other.

  • Kitchen:
(15) Series 5 Vinyl wrap doors as per The Delatite display in Doreen.

  • Meals:
(16) Delete double doors and replace with a window in lieu.

  • Family Room:
(17) Delete window and replace with glass sliding door.
(18) Delete sliding cavity door and replace with hinged door.
(19) Family room has been decreased in size from 4.8 x 4.3m to 4.8 x 3.6m

  • Theatre Room:
(22) Delete external double doors and replace with a brick wall in lieu.
(23) Rumpus room has decreased in size from 4.8 x 4.3m to 4.8 x 4.0m.

  • Bedroom 2:
(24) Increase in size from 3.6 x 3.0m to 3.5 x 3.3m.

  • Bedroom 3:
(26) Increase in size from 3.2 x 3.2m to 4.1 x 3.3m

  • Bedroom 4:
(28) Deleted

  • Study:
(30) Increase in size from 3.5 x 2.8m to 3.6 x 3.3m.

  • Laundry:
(32) Provide additional double linen
(33) Increase in laundry size from 1.7 x 3.0m to 2.0 x 3.0m
(34) Combination door in lieu of sliding door.

  • Toilet:
(35) Reposition door in main toilet to increase floor area.

  • Garage:
(37) Increase in size from 5.7 x 5.8m to 6.0 x 6.5m.
(38) Garage set back approx 700mm from study area.

Choosing a Premier House

So when we last left you in the story, we had just made the decision to build with Premier Builders. The next major decision was, which house design do we like best?
To aid this decision we visited every single current Premier display home available (all 25 of them!), spanning from The Hawthorn at Point Cook to The Jamieson Bungalow at Pakenham. We spoke to salesperson after salesperson about ­ bedrooms, kitchens, inclusions and pricing, and collected about 10 of the same Premier display booklets and printouts of about 25 different floor plans – talk about information overload!
Our main requirements at the time were:
  • Either 3 bedrooms and a study, or four bedrooms (with the intention of converting one to a study)
  • Separate ensuite to master bedroom
  • Double garage with internal and rear access
  • Walk-in pantry
  • At least two separate living areas
  • Traditional façade (although all Premier homes have the option of a traditional façade, on some designs this is an additional upgrade)
  • Ability to be built on stumps

Delatite in Doreen
By chance I was having another look at their website and noticed that they had recently opened a new display in Doreen, showing “The Delatite Cottage” and “The Carlisle”. One step inside the Delatite and we were blown away. The attention to detail and the level of the finish was amazing. We especially loved the kitchen and the firestrike floorboards. However, the problem with this beautiful house was that it came with a price tag to match! Back to the drawing board...

Eventually we stumbled across the Coventry design amongst Premier's previous collection. This design was no longer on display, but the floorplan seemed to tick all the boxes. By chance, we happened to come across a Coventry that was for sale in Doreen, so after sneaking along to the open for inspection, our minds were made up!

The plan did require a bit of tweaking - we weren't happy that the entry for the master bedroom required you to enter through the formal living room, but a bit of adjustment (and the removal of the fourth bedroom) and this problem was eventually solved. We have even managed to replace the standard kitchen with the kitchen from the Delatite. Initial deposit has now been paid, so we are full steam ahead!

Original Plan from Premier
Adjusted Plan

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Welcome - The Story So Far...

Welcome to our blog!

This blog will be a record of our adventures in building our first house. Hopefully this will be a good record for us to keep and a point where our family and friends can keep up with how we are going.

The story so far...

The dreams for our first house have been well over 2 years in the making. After living out of home for a few years we decided to move back in with Ben's parents to try and save some money for a house deposit - we knew that it was going to be impossible to save and pay rent at the same time!

The House in Macleod
We started looking around at the houses in the Macleod / Greensborough / Eltham area to get an idea of what the prices were like in these areas. We found the perfect little house in Macleod - renovated in a period style with a great old-style kitchen and bathroom. "It's great!", we thought, "it will probably go for around $500,000 though because the backyard is pretty small"...imagine our surprise when on auction day the hammer fell at $755,000.
Beautiful living area and kitchen
I think that was the initial kick-off for the pricing boom in Macleod and the surrounding areas - we would continually visit the open houses in our price range, only to find that they would eventually sell for $100,000 - $150,000 above their recommended range. It was very disheartening. I think the final straw came when a cute little 2-bedroom cottage around the corner from Ben's parents went for $630,000 - if that was what people were willing to pay to live down the street from hoons and lowlifes like the ones living next door to us, then we knew we were out of our depth. That was when we decided to start looking further out.

After previously having lived in Chintin for 12 months, we already knew that we quite enjoyed the "country" lifestyle. We knew we wanted to stay reasonably close to the Northern suburbs so that I could easily get the train into the city each day for work. We concentrated our search on the Wallan / Kilmore / Wandong / Heathcote Junction area. Given that most of these properties were offered under Private Sale rather than auction, the prices were a lot more reasonable. However, these properties just didn't have that "wow" factor...the feeling when you walk into a house and can really see yourself living there. Everything was a case of, "if it only had a garage...", or "I wish that bedroom was a little bit bigger...", or "why does that room smell like cat pee?". Call me picky, but we are planning to live in this house for at least a few years so we wanted to get it right the first time.

At this stage an increase to the First Home Owner's Grant was announced, taking the grant to $26,500 for newly constructed homes in regional areas. I think that was what finally convinced us that we would be better off building our own home.

After looking around for awhile, we managed to find a good-sized piece of land in Kilmore - our very own quarter-acre slice of Australia! It was then time to start seriously looking around for a builder.

First of all we looked at the big builders: Simonds, Metricon, Porter Davis, Henley, etc. While their homes are certainly big enough and have enough "special inclusions", we hated the modern facade that seemed to come standard across all the home designs. Then there was a problem in actually getting the builders to build in Kilmore...

Harkaway Homes
We did briefly consider building a kit home through Harkaway Homes, but although these homes are beautiful we eventually came to the conclusion that the effort and knowledge involved in going owner-builder was vastly out of our experience at this point in time.

Eventually we came across Premier Builders Group and were very impressed with what we saw - period styling, great floorplans, and best of all, they were happy to build in Kilmore!

Coming up in the next instalment: the process of deciding which Premier house to build!