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!