Wednesday, December 21, 2011

On the first day of Christmas, my builder gave to me...

.... a permit and a start date!!

That's right folks! It has taken two years and two builders, but we finally have a building permit and a site start date! Found out this week that they are looking at doing set out in the week commencing January 9th, with drainage to follow immediately afterwards. Finally, something is happening - what an awesome Christmas present.

On that note, we would like to wish everyone a happy and safe Christmas, and hope that everyone has a great New Year!

Love from Isobel, Ben, Oscar and Kody

Monday, December 5, 2011

Colour Up Appointment

So on Wednesday last week we had our colour up appointment where I finally got to meet our builder, Pat, face-to-face for the first time. It took us over an hour and a half to drive to Hoppers Crossing for the 9am meeting - the Ring Road is terrible of a morning...glad I get the train to work! And after all that work I did designing our electrical plan, of course we were about an hour into the drive there when I realised that we left it sitting on the desk at home...

In terms of progress, final engineering has come back and plans have been sent to council for approval. We will definitely not be getting our site start this year, but Pat assures us that we will be the first job 'off the blocks' when they return from their extended Christmas break in late January. We really weren't expecting the site start to be this year after all that kerfuffle with the final engineering, so that wasn't too much of a disappointment.

Next came the fun part - choosing our selections! Being a smaller builder, Keogh don't have a big flashy 'design studio' set-up like some of the larger builders. Instead, we sat in Pat's office with a huge pile of catalogues and went through each decision one-by-one without even leaving our chairs. Although it wasn't flashy, it was straightforward and simple. In some ways I even like the fact that you don't have an entire warehouse of choices - I tend to find that the more choices you are presented with, the more confusing it can get.

I expected to be choosing things like external colours, windows and so on, so we went in with some idea of what we wanted in this regard, which helped to speed things up. What I didn't expect is the the number of minor decisions to be made - all of those tiny details, even down to the colour of the window winders - exhausting! You can see all of our external selections here, and our internal selections here.

We will update these pages as we make more selections - tiles, cabinetry, electrical, etc. As mentioned in a previous post, we chose the tiles separately through Hynes The Tile People in Hoppers Crossing. We will meet with the cabinet maker after site start to go through the kitchen design and pick our colours for the cabinetry in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry. Carpet will be done by us after handover. I like the fact that we get to choose our tiles at a tiling store, carpet at a carpet store, cabinetry with a cabinet maker...this means that we can get the assistance of people who are professionals in their area. We have been very pleased with the assistance of Deb at Hynes Tiles - we were wandering around quite lost until she gave us some assistance, and she was able to quickly pull together an entire 'look' based on one style of tile that we said we liked.

One other issue discussed in the meeting was that of the timber flooring. One of the main features we loved about the Premier houses was the 'firestreak' flooring:

The good news is that we managed to track down their supplier, Master Plus Floors, and contacted them for a quote. The quote for Master Plus to provide the materials and lay the flooring has actually come out about $500 cheaper than Keogh have allowed for in our contract, so we decided to make a variation to credit the flooring allowance back and we will deal with Master Plus directly to organise the flooring. Very happy - it's going to look beautiful!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Just a quick update...

Just a quick update as not much has been happening over the past few weeks.

We have been in contact with the draftsman, and apparently the final engineering drawings were completed last week, so they should be making some action on the permit soon. I still suspect they are going to try and drag it out a few weeks so they don't have to make a site start before Christmas...

In the meantime, we have booked in for our colour and electrical appointment this coming Wednesday, the 30th of November, so at least something is happening! In preparation, we made a visit to Officeworks to pick up lots of coloured stickers and have a crack at the electrical plan. Here is the result:

This will probably change once we actually talk to the electrician, but at least it gives us a good starting point. Will update with more news after the meeting on Wednesday.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Boys and girls, the word of the day is COMMUNICATION!

So, it has now been a month since the contract was signed. The loan has been approved and the documents have been signed and sent off, so this week we thought it was time to check up on what Keogh was doing....

In our last post we wrote that Keogh had told us they were waiting for the final engineered drawings, so we thought that the plans should be with council right now, right? Wrong....

Turns out that when Keogh told us two weeks ago that they were waiting for the final engineered drawings, they meant that they still had to give the draftsman the go ahead to start the drawings. This would be fine, except that the designer thought that the builder was following this up, and the builder thought the designer was following it up. End result? No one was following it up and nothing has been done - grrrrr!

So now it will take anywhere from one to three weeks to have the final drawings done up and checked, then another week or so to put together the council permit application. We asked about the likelihood of having a site start by Christmas, and the builder only said it is "probable". I think "probably NOT" is the more appropriate response, but maybe I am just being pessimistic.

One thing we did not want to have to do with these builders is ride their backs every week to make sure things were happening, like what we had to do with Premier, but now it looks like we are going to have to. We will be giving them a call again at the end of the week to make sure everything is on track again, and perhaps talk about scheduling in the electrical appointment and/or colours appointment sometime soon. I would just like to have something "housey"to do again - I think I am having withdrawals.

We did go and have a look at a beautiful open house on Saturday which helped to curb the housey urges a bit. The property in question is on a similar-sized block to ours, and the styling and look of the house was very much in line with what we want to achieve, so we thought it would be good to go along and see what ideas we could pick up.

Front view

Kitchen and family room - quite like the fretwork separating the kitchen

As expected, the house was beautiful inside, but I also love what they have done with the back deck and backyard. We are still going to need to put up another retaining wall between our house and the backyard once the house actually goes up, and it would be great to do something like what they have done. Got some great ideas from this excursion, so it was well worth the trip.

Backyard - like this retaining wall and how they have done the steps into a wide lawn area

Like the look of this deck area too

In other news, we have now been blogging about our house building experience for 12 months - seems to have gone quite fast (although we still don't have a house!). In that time we have signed contracts with two builders, terminated the services of one builder, and visited more display homes than you can poke a stick at!

We have had over 2,600 page views since starting the blog, and thanks to our widely-travelled friends, we have had visitors from the US, Germany, the UK, New Zealand, Latvia, and even Mongolia! Wow!

Here's to the next 12 months - and our house finally getting built :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Loan approval and some light shopping

Got a lovely email from the bank on Friday to say that the loan has been approved, pending acceptance of the First Home Owners Grant (which I don't see us having a problem with since it has been accepted once before!).

Ben called Keogh today to let them know of the loan approval and to find out how they are going with the permits and so on. Turns out that they are still waiting for the final engineered drawings before they can apply for the permit, but they are expecting them this week sometime. Once that has all been submitted, they will be scheduling the colour selection meeting and the electrical appointment....can't wait!

In the meantime, we thought we would go have a look at lights to give us an idea for the electrical plan. We had already purchased this light earlier in the year from Recollections, to go over the bench in the kitchen in our original Premier house design - luckily it will suit just as well in the new house design!

"Portia" Servery 3-light from Recollections

So given how much I like "matching" things in life, we thought we would go back to Recollections to see what they had in terms of pendant lights - just to look mind you, not to purchase. However, it turns out this 'Portia' range has now been discontinued - BUT, they happened to have ONE 6+3 pendant chandelier left, at 50% off no less - bargain! Definitely couldn't pass that one up.... this will look lovely over the dining table.

"Portia" 6+3 pendant light

Then, when the customer service assistant was ringing up the purchase, she helpfully offered to check the availability of the other sized lights in other stores. Turns out that the Mitcham store had one 6-light pendant left (also at 50% off!), so we raced over there and snapped up that one too! We are planning to put this one in the family room.

"Portia" 6 light pendant

Inspired by our bargains, I had a look on eBay to see what else we could source....

Unfortunately I couldn't find any matching "Portia" lights, but I did find these similar lights that I think would go well in bedrooms 2 and 3:

Lights for Bedrooms 2 and 3

We successfully bid for and won these items (another bargain!), and we pick them up next weekend.

So that is almost half of our lights sourced for the house in one weekend - now we just have to try and squish them into the storage locker.....

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ding, dong the contract's signed!

I keep wondering what is going to go wrong, because everything seems to have gone off without a hitch this week....

Ben was working in the Tarneit area on Thursday and Friday this week, so he dropped into the Keogh office on Thursday afternoon to see if the contracts were available yet. He was told to come back on Friday and they would be ready then. The next morning he gets a call at...wait for it....6.30am (!) to say that the contracts were ready to be picked up! Hooray!

We poured over them on Friday night ahead of our 9.30am meeting on Saturday morning. The HIA contract part was easy, because we have gone through all of that before. Specs were good too - we couldn't find ANYTHING wrong with them at all.

So, we then rocked up to the meeting on Saturday morning with no changes to be made - Frank had set aside 2 hours for the contract signing, so about half an hour of that time was spent actually signing the contract, and the other hour and a half was spent talking about his recent trip to the NT and all of his tips for the building process.

After leaving the Keogh offices we decided to stop in at The Tile People just up the road to get started on researching what is available. After wandering around for 15 mins feeling a bit overwhelmed about all the choices, a lovely sales person named Deb really helped to narrow things down. Even though this wasn't a "tile selection appointment" as such, she spent about an hour with us showing us all the options and pulling together a nice theme for the bathroom and en suite.

We have decided to put a feature wall on the wall separating the shower and the vanity in the en suite:

I want it to have a similar effect to this (but without the bath in between):

So these are the colours we have chosen so far for the ensuite (clockwise from top left):

  • Wall tiles in shower / above vanity
  • Stone tile for feature wall
  • Laminex samples of the vanity bench ('Stipple Seal') and vanity cupboards ('Moleskin')
  • Floor tiles (I think these were called 'Millenium Black')

For the main bathroom we are going to have the same tiles for the walls and floors, but in the shower we are going to use the following as a feature stripe down one wall:

We didn't get the names of the tiles yet as Deb is going to put together a list of all we have chosen and email it through to us on Monday. We will still need to go back and make a formalised tile selection appointment as we didn't get to doing the laundry or kitchen, but at least we will have a good idea when we go.

Deb gave us samples of all the tiles except the stone one to take home. When I was having a closer look at the floor tiles this afternoon, I got a very familiar I dug out the samples from the original tile selections that we had done with Ultimate Tiles for our Premier house and...low and behold, they are the same tile! I guess no one could say we aren't consistent about what we like!

Same tiles - the little one up the top left corner is the version we had originally selected with Premier, and the large one is the one we selected yesterday for our Keogh house

So what are the next steps?

  • While we organise getting certified copies of the contracts to the bank, Keogh will be organising the final engineered drawings, applying for the council permit, and so on;
  • We will meet with the builder and electrician in a few weeks to finalise our colour selections and electrical plan;
  • We are going to be providing most of our own light fittings so we are going to be researching our options in this area before the colour and electrical meetings to make sure everything ties in with the overall 'theme'.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Side fence + back fence = our property is now half fenced!

Came home last week to an interesting letter in the mailbox - the rear neighbours are almost ready to move in and want to start putting up fences! Seems like this house has sprung up overnight...I'm sure it was only a few weeks ago that they had just started bricking!

In any case, we gave our new neighbours a call to discuss the fencing. Turns out he is a chippy and wanted to put up the timber fence himself at cost price through materials sourced through work. We were hoping to put up a Colorbond fence rather than timber, but our new neighbours were set on timber so we acquiesced. The fence bordering the existing houses is timber too, so at least the new fence matches in (although we will need to get some of the existing fence replaced as it is in quite a state of disrepair).

He is a fast worker, because a few days later we got a call to say it was all done! Given the warm weather on this weekend just gone, we made the trek from Watsonia to Kilmore again to check out the quality of his workmanship. I must say, it is looking good...although it has skewed my perceptions on the actual size of our block - it makes the block look a lot shorter in my opinion, although Ben assures me that we will still have about 30 metres of backyard for the dogs to run around in.

Our new back fence

While we were there we also took along a copy of the plans, some string line and our big measuring tape so we could mark out the house. Two hours later and we were able to walk through our "house" - very cool! It is a bit hard to see the string line in these pictures, but some of the markers should be visible.

Marking out the house

In other news, final plans have arrived in the mail and it is still looking like a go for final contract signing on the 24th of September. We hope to see the contracts in the mail this week....hooray!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

We have plans!

We received a very special package in the mail yesterday - our plans! It's very exciting :) The building process is finally starting to feel real again, like something is actually happening....

Ben ran out to Officeworks today to make some big copies so that we can go over everything with a fine-tooth comb. He got some done up in A2, then decided that wasn't big enough so went back for an A0 version - it's huge! It's looking good so far, with only a few little things that require changing.

Frank from Keogh gave us a call to follow up on the plans today, and we have made a tentative booking for a meeting for the 24th of September to sign the final contracts, giving us a few weeks to make any changes to the plans beforehand. With any luck, we may actually have something done on site before Christmas!

In the meantime, we have started to think about what colours we want for the outside of the house, so we stolen your idea Linda and made a trip to Bunnings to get some sample pots so that we can have a go at colouring the house plans. We are going to attempt this over the weekend, so will post up our efforts in a few days time.

Here are the plans as they currently stand though - click the images to see a larger view if you wish.

Floor Plans

Site Plan - heaps of room in the backyard for the doggies to run around in!

Front Elevation

Side and Rear Elevations

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Let's talk about price, baby!

Let's talk about price, baby!
Let's talk about you and me
Let's talk about all the good things, and the bad things
That could be...
[Sung to the tune of 'Let's Talk About Sex' by Salt 'n' Pepa - pathetic, I know!]

We received the preliminary quote from Keogh via email on Monday evening, and this was followed up by a face-to-face meeting on Saturday morning. As for the price...drumroll please!......we have come in at about $10,000 more than our initial Premier contract.

However, this is primarily driven by the fact that this quote includes provisions for Keogh to provide the outdoor decking and Caesarstone benchtops in the kitchen, neither of which we chose to include with Premier. The question is now, should we cough up the extra $10k and keep these options, or move them onto our list of things to do after handover? Decisions, decisions.... 

So far the biggest components of the quote are the stumps/site costs and the timber flooring, which are to be expected. The other big cost is the kitchen. We are going to style the kitchen on Premier's Delatite / Jamieson kitchen, with white vinyl wrap cabinetry and a country mantle. However, the actual shape of the kitchen is a little different - more of an 'L' shape and then a separate island bench. Somehow, I think we might have just enough storage space in the kitchen - at last count, we are up to 15 pot drawers!

Refresh: This is the kitchen in Premier's Delatite

There are still a few small things that we tossing up upgrading throughout the house, and I don't really see anything else that we could cut out apart from the deck and the Caesarstone benchtops, so if we want to keep close to the original contract price then these are the things that are going to have to go. That, or we scale back the kitchen in some way.

What are your thoughts on having a double vanity in the ensuite? The bench in the ensuite is 1800mm long, so it is definitely long enough to comfortably fit two sinks, but I don't know what the advantages or disadvantages would be for this set-up. I like the look of having two sinks, but what does it really mean in practical terms? How does this affect the storage space in the cupboards underneath, having all that added sink paraphernalia?

Today we continued the house-oriented weekend by visiting our storage locker, as we needed to confirm the measurements of the fireplace and hearth that will be going in the family room - I had forgotten how big the mantle actually is! Should come up really nice in this room though, especially once we get the insert sandblasted and repainted and put in our pretty flowered tiles.

Pretty fireplace

So what are the next steps?

We have scheduled in the next meeting with Keogh for two weeks time, so we have until then to decide what changes we want to make to the current specs. If everything is okay, we will then sign the Preliminary Building Agreement and proceed to drawing up the contracts - hopefully this process will go much quicker than it did with Premier!

P.S. We have also updated the pic of the house in the header, as this is a more accurate reflection of what the house will look like now (except for the dormer window). We are thinking of using a similar colour scheme, and we will be having the same archwork as shown here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

First Draft of New Plans

After dealing with Premier for 8 long months, with all of their delays and "it will be available next week" comments, it is very refreshing to have Keogh say to us on Saturday that he will have the first draft of the plans to us "next week" and then have them arrive on Monday night!

So here they are. We will probably change a few little things, like swapping around the linen from the study into the family room and maybe widening the fridge space, but on the whole I think we are actually almost there. Let us know what you think, as now is the perfect time to incorporate any of these changes because we have another meeting with Keogh first thing Saturday morning. We would appreciate any advice or comments that we can take with us to our meeting!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Second Meeting with Keogh Homes

We had our second meeting with Keogh Homes yesterday, and it is looking quite postive indeed. We took in our initial sketch based on our discussions from the first meeting - he was very impressed with our scale drawing! Over the next 2 hours we then went through this in detail, tossing around ideas and improvements.

It was quite interesting to hear some of the things the designer came up with, and being an accredited energy rater he has a really good understanding of how to best make our block work for us, in terms of both energy efficiency and actually living in the house. We have decided that this time we are going to go with a weatherboard design, in order to allow us extra room on the width of the house. We also feel that weatherboard will fit in with the style of Kilmore a bit better. We were thinking of something along these lines:

I really love that little corner gable on the verandah in the first picture, and with our current sketchings we should be able to incorporate something like this. Once we decide on a design for the outside I guess I'll have to update our blog header picture!

We put down an intial "design deposit" with Keogh yesterday. Basically this means that this week he will put together our intial house draft and preliminary costings. If we are not happy with this, we can walk away and get a refund on what we have paid so far. If we decide to proceed, the money already paid will form part of our final deposit. He thinks he will be able to have this ready for us in the next week electronically, and then he will post out a scale version in hard-copy. We have another meeting in two weeks time to dicuss. We are still not 100% decided on Keogh until we get these drawings and costings, but we do at least know the ballpark figure so things are looking good.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

So long, and thanks for all the fish

Big things have happened since our last update. When I last made a blog entry, we were still waiting for the contracts to arrive that Friday. Well....5pm Friday came and went, and we had all but given up on the contract when we received a phone call at approximately 8pm that night. Apparently there was a problem - a big problem...

I won't go into too much detail here, but suffice to say that there were some major issues in our original site cost estimations. Our house had been costed to go on a slab, when from day one we have said that we will need to go on stumps. We weren't happy, Onley wasn't happy, and Premier wasn't happy. After much consideration, we decided that it was all too hard and notified Premier that we no longer wished to re-sign the contract with Onley. We requested a full refund and left it at that.

Then on Thursday we received word back from Premier - they don't want us to go! They offered us Prime Construction instead, and offered to provide us with a 45 day site start. It seemed like a fair offer so we considered this, but when push came to shove, this still doesn't resolve the costing issue. And after all the delays we have experienced to this point, frankly we are a little bit over it all. So on Saturday we notified Premier that we were rejecting their counter-offer.

Where does this leave us now?

Essentially, we are back to square one - back to the drawing board. We had a meeting with Keogh Homes on Saturday morning to investigate what they can do for us. Keogh are a much smaller project builder, but they specialise in period homes and the quality of their work is outstanding. The designer gave us a lot of helpful points to consider in our new design, so we have been busy putting together an initial sketch of what we want. We have another meeting in two weeks so it will be interesting to see what he can do for us then.

We have also been looking at Highview Homes again, as it turns out they CAN build on stumps (they just prefer to build on a slab). They have some really nice weatherboard cottage style houses (the Seachange series in particular), and include a lot of the period features as standard. It just comes down to whether or not they have a floor plan that suits.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tomorrow never comes....

Ben dropped in unannounced on the sales guy today to check on the progress of our contracts and our other queries. He was told "tomorrow, Friday at the latest", however given past history we are expecting not to get anything until next week.

Apparently they have taken so long because they thought we were building on a slab, not on stumps, and they have been putting together "costings". I certainly hope these costings will not be passed on to us as the stump costings have already been detailed and agreed to in our original contracts.

On another note, we requested the Onley suppliers listing over a week ago but still have not received anything so Ben asked about this too. The sales guy sent an email then and there to chase it up. It looks like Onley have a "warehouse" type situation for their selections, whereby you go in and do all your selections at once - but they are only open on a Friday and only for a limited time of the day. Makes it difficult when you work full time. We purposely visited all the weekday-only Romeo suppliers when we were on holidays during March so we wouldn't have to take time off work to do so. Also, since Romeo didn't require most of these selections until lock-up, but Onley requires them ASAP, we are going to have to do something about this soon - something they didn't think to tell us until we pushed for the suppliers list. We keep trying to contact Onley to get the details of what we need to do and who we need to see, but we are getting nothing but brushed off.

We are also trying to find out whether we will still be able to do our own networking and sound-proofing on site as we had originally organised with Romeo. Given the difficulties we have had even getting a suppliers list out of Onley, I am doubtful.

I'm also doubtful about the June site start bandied about last week since June is next week, we don't have a signed contract yet, and the bank requires up to 21 days to complete the finance approval.

Combined with the conversations I have been having about Onley with other Romeo clients in the same situation, all of these small points are beginning to stack up and weigh quite heavily on our minds. We're getting cold feet here Onley, and you are not helping to warm them up...

Monday, May 16, 2011

So we have decided to go ahead with Onley...

So last week was pretty challenging....after initially hearing that we were going to be assigned to Onley we were feeling quite dissappointed in the whole situation, particularly as it was the quality of Romeo Homes that was the main reason we signed in the first place.

Got a call on Thursday to say that Onley had our revised contract ready (quickest turnaround from Premier yet!), and we picked it up on Friday. The contract was supposed to be a direct copy of our original Romeo contract, but we did find a few discrepancies between the two documents - mainly in terms of the payment terms and the electrical allowances. Put together a detailed document with the differences for discussion with the sales representative on Sunday.

In the meantime, we started having a look at what else is available, keeping our options open just in case. Turns out there is not much available in the Northern suburbs in terms of period home builders - at least not in the same price range as Premier. Basically, we have Premier and Highview Homes as the two key options - all the other period home builders are located in the south-eastern suburbs and are not willing to travel. Highview are nice, but they don't build on stumps unfortunately (our site is cut to suit stumps now, so going on a slab is not an option). In the course of my research I did find a really nice home by Lentini Homes called the "Queen Anne" which looks very similar to the Coventry. However, I called up to enquire about the price and found out that the starting price of the home is more than $100,000 over that of the Coventry by Premier - WOW!

The "Queen Anne" by Lentini Homes

My learnings from all this additional research is that there is definitely a space in the period homes market in the Northern suburbs if ever I saw one! Builders take note...

Feeling pretty disenheartened, we decided to travel down to Narre Warren and Berwick on Saturday to have a closer look at the Premier displays that have been built by Onley (the Canterbury Cottage, the Grange and the Loft). Turns out they are not half bad, so we left feeling more open-minded towards Onley.

Then came our meeting with the sales representative on Sunday. He was pretty apologetic about the whole situation, and assured us that our case had been placed on the "critical priority" list. Given that we had already received our revised contract at this stage whereas I know of other Romeo clients who had only just found out who their new builder would be, we were actually inclined to believe him for once. He also told us that it will be the owner of Onley Construction who will be overseeing our build, not a site supervisor. Apparently he has already been to visit all the Romeo displays to get an idea of the types of features Romeo customers are looking for from their build. Seems like a pretty good way to handle things.

So where are we at now?

We are going to move ahead with Onley - we just love our floorplan so much, we have been working so hard on it for over six months now and we really can't stomach the thought of starting the process all over again with someone new...we just want in this house already!

Apparently our council permit was only one or two days away from approval when this situation happened, so Premier tells us that everything should move along quite quickly once all of this new documentation is organised. Don't want to get too hopeful at this stage, but a June site start was mentioned...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

All Over Red Rover...

We were very excited on Monday as the loan documentation and FHOG approval arrived in the mail - hooray!

Then came the bad news...

On Tuesday morning, we were contacted by our sales representative at Premier to inform us that unfortunately one of the directors at Romeo Homes is very unwell and while they are going to finish off any homes currently under construction, they will not be starting any new homes. In other words, our home. Of course we feel very sorry for and sympathetic towards the director, and the rest of the staff at Romeo, but it does put us in a difficult position: what do we do now?

The good news is that Premier say that they have found us a new builder already, Onley Constructions. They have said that we can re-sign a new contract with them at the same price and the same specs, by the end of the week. Sounds easy, right? That being said, we will still need to start the loan approval and FHOG approval again from the beginning again, which is very annoying (and extra expense).

However, having seen some of Onley's products on their website we are not 100% convinced that we still want to move ahead with them: their houses are of a very different style to the Coventry by Romeo, and we are not sure their end-product is up to the same standard. To make matters worse, Ben rang Onley today to ask some questions about where our council permit was left and which suppliers they use for tiles and cabinetry, and was basically told "we don't want to talk to you until you sign the new contract".

Hint to Onley: not a tactful way to convince someone to do business with you who is already having cold feet!

We have forwarded these queries on to the sales person at Premier to ask on our behalf - he has promised to give us a response by tomorrow, so we will see what happens then. Apparently he already has the new contract ready for us to pick up tomorrow, but we want some answers first before we do anything. We are also tossing up whether we leave Premier altogether, and have started to have look around at what else is available. We will wait to make a decision until after the weekend when we visit some of Onley's display homes.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

And we have bank approval!

Got word from the mobile lender yesterday afternoon that the construction loan has been formally approved - hooray! Now to chase up Romeo and see where we are with council approval....

In the meantime, Ben is going to be having a very busy day tomorrow organising and putting in the retaining walls. There is about 40 metres worth of walls to be retained before building can start, but hopefully we can get it all wrapped up by this weekend. Apparently my job will be to help shift the 50 kg sleepers into place - we'll see how successful that is, shall we?! Pictures to come...

We also went to the HIA Home Show last weekend and got lots of great ideas about what we can do in terms of home automation - we will definitely be following this up before our appointment with the electrician. I also found the most comfortable chairs / pillow-clouds for the rumpus/theatre room - it feels like sinking into a cloud. Check out Bag2Bed for further info. As the name suggests, they convert to a bed too, how ingenious is that?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Signed, Sealed and Delivered!

Well, it's been a long time coming but the final contracts are now signed, certified and on their way to the bank and the council!

We had a few dramas getting there, as upon reading through the contract I noticed that they had double-charged us for the kitchen. We had to wait two weeks for the sales guy to get his ass into gear and get us the variation sheet for the new contract price - not happy Jan! Honestly, I think that if we hadn't taken the initiative of contacting Romeo ourselves, we would still be waiting and twiddling our thumbs!

Had an interesting conversation with Romeo Homes while chasing up these final contracts...apparently, contrary to what the sales guy has been telling us, all of these delays have been in them waiting to receive documentation from Premier. For example, despite signing the request for variation sheet on Saturday the 2nd of April, this was not given back to Romeo until 4.30pm on Thursday the 7th of April - almost a week later! And apparently we are not the only clients of this sales guy who are experiencing similar delays...Given our experiences in how promptly Romeo communicates with us vs. the sales guy at Premier, I am inclined to believe their side of the story more somehow...

In any event, now that the 5% deposit has been paid and contracts signed, we are now done and dusted with Premier. The staff at Romeo seem quite lovely, and have been excellent in answering all of our queries so I'm looking forward to dealing with them in future. Plans are now on their way to council and the bank, so [fingers crossed] we are on our way!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sneak peak our house (via at the Coventry display in Cranbourne)

It's going to be at least 12 months before we can put any pictures of our final finished house up here, but in the meantime we have some sample pics from our adventures to the new Coventry display located at The Avenue estate in Cranbourne.

The floorplan is a bit different from our final plans - the main change being the entry to the master bedroom and the lack of a walk-in pantry in the display. Everything else is fairly similar.

Here is an outside view of the house:

Formal living area:

Entry to the master bedroom through the formal living area (we changed this - now we enter from the front hallway entrance):

Redgum kitchen (not having this one - getting the one from the Delatite display):

View of family room and rumpus room from the kitchen:

Meals area:

Cut-out window in the study - we would like to do this too so we can get more natural light in the study:

Hallway / study / formal living area:

Front entryway from the outside:

Colour Selections and Tiles:

In terms of colour selections, the carpet in the display is fairly light-coloured, so we will probably be going a bit darker so the wear and tear isn't as visible. We like the wall colours though ('Antique White USA' by Dulux), so we will probably stick with this. We will also be going with the Burwood Blue bricks and the terracotta roof tiles like this display.

Even though it is not quite up to that stage yet, we did our tile selections the other day while we were both on holidays. Our selection is not as shiny as the ones in the Coventry display - we went for the ones that are similar to the Delatite display. The sales guy at Ultimate Tiles was a big help; they have so many selections that it would have taken all day otherwise! Will take some photos of our selections and upload when we get the chance.

Been a long time coming...the next update

Well, we have definitely been a bit slack with updating the blog, considering the last post was made in early December 2010!

At that stage, we were eagerly awaiting the preliminary building contract (given we were on week six of the expected 6-week timeline). If you had have told me then that we wouldn't progress to the next stage until mid-Feb, I don't think I would have believed you...but low and behold, so it was.

As of 5pm today, the final contract is due to be ready first thing tomorrow morning, but given Premier's previous track record with following up on their promises, we shall see what actually happens then....

In the meantime, I thought I might upload some of the pictures of the initial site cut to give you an idea of the depth of the house due to the backwards slope of the land. We visited the block again on Sunday and it looks like those heavy rains we had in February have washed away some of the top soil. So it looks as though we may need to go over it again before the builders get on site, just to even it up a bit.

Site Cut Pictures:

Here is the block with freshly mown grass before the site cut (photo taken 11/10/10):

And here is a view from the back corner. Notice how the block slopes down quite sharply at street level, then meanders back with a lesser slope throughout the rest of the backyard:

Big escavator digging up the dirt (photo taken 26/10/10):

Moving dirt:

Making the battered ledges at the front of the house to lessen the chance of a landslip. These will be nicely landscaped in the end since this is what we will look out to from our bedroom window:

Ledge looks pretty deep in comparison to Ben's van...

This shot shows how the actual house site is built up and then falls away quite sharply in the backyard. The deck will also be part of this built up area: