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?