Monday, August 10, 2009

Going around in circles

Long time no post. Again no good news.

Start rant:
Arrggh is all I can say!!! Sales rep is on holidays at the moment, but didn't bother to tell us that.

We redesigned again during the last week of the school holidays (4 or so weeks ago) and Sales Rep didn't bother to get back to us with revised pricing. I called the office last week to find out he was on leave until the end of the month. Today I've finally spoken with someone who just told me the latest tender price which I'm not so happy about! I haven't seen a break down in costs but he said site costs were $61k and DEB's another $30k. Hmmmm what to do. We are way over budget now. It annoys me that out our first meeting we discussed budget and house size, but they are now saying that they can not do it in our original price range. (We are at least 50k over it)
I haven't been overly happy with them up until now, but keep telling myself that once I get through the sales rep process, they will be better (I figure the sales rep just doesn't know what he is talking about!). I think, like a friend on H1 said, I was kidding myself that when HH said they were the sloping block specialists, that I actually believed it!!! Again I think my jaded view is clouded by the sales rep's lack of knowledge.
End Rant!

I have been talking with smaller builders in our area for a custom build, but keep hitting roadblocks. One recommended builder does Tafe teaching now, another quoted $2k a sq m (which would be around $750k! -we don't have that budget!!! :lol: )

I'm now talking with W again, just to get a house built. My preference is HH's split level, but long ago I've given up on the dream home idea. I just want some stability for my family, as we have been on this journey nearly 2 years. You live and learn. What I thought initially was a flat block, well I know what to look out for next time!

Time to get a house built Belinda!!!

Onwards and upwards!!

Friday, July 10, 2009


It has been so long since posting on here, mainly because I still don't have any good news. I've been a bit down about the so called "build", and can't believe we are still having problems. The new builder, actually sales rep, just doesn't seem to understand how to build on our block. Yes, it is not a standard block, in a new estate, like he is probably used to. But, the KDRB market is a valuable one here in Sydney, and the majority of KDRB's would be on difficult blocks in some way. Anyway I digress, point of the matter is he doesn't know enough technical stuff to assist us, it's only when I kick and scream that he seems to get it.

So what's been happening.....
After the last post, we received a tender document with the revised changes, half splits etc, and the cost did increase a little but we were ok with it. It's at the top end of our spending so no fancy upgrades (we maybe a few!) but not upgraded to the max like the last place was. I'm happy with this, surprisingly. Long ago I've given up that idea of this will be our "dream" house. Nope, we will build that another time!

The sales rep wanted us to sign on the dotted line, but basically he couldn't answer my pressing questions. The conversation went something like this:
Me: I've spoken with Sydney water about the sewer line in the garage, and potentially accordingly to the drawing we could have a sewer suspended mid air in the garage. What are the floor levels etc to make sure this isn't happening.
Sales Rep: Oh don't worry about that, once we get to contract we will order a sewer pegout, and it will show it then.
Me: Ummm, bit of a show stopper isn't it.
Sales Rep: Na na just sign
Me: Don't think for one moment I will sign a damn thing when this might not even be the house we build. Why would I sign anything when I don't know what house I'll be building. Are you kidding.
Sales Rep: Umm are there any questions you have from the tender.
Me: Until we sort this out I am not signing a thing and not prepared to move forward. As for the tender I haven't even started on that. (!)
Sales Rep: Oh ok let me speak with the architect/designer.

Gets back to me a few days (!) later, and the conversation is:
Sales Rep: Ok we think the best thing to do is do a sewer pegout as we can not rely on a verbal from Sydney Water. I've spoken with "Management" who is willing to share this cost.
Me: (thinking ffs) Yep do it, that's what I've been trying to say

About a week later, still no pegout, so I chase and say when is it happening? To the reply of it's been ordered.

Finally I get a copy and we have answers.

But AGAIN I've have to question the design principles....the conversation.....

Sales Rep: We have the pegout back and we need to raise the level of the house about 1 meter.
Me: Riiigghhhttt, so aren't we going back to the initial problem. (See previous post about laundry issue, and full split vs half split). Why are you continuing to try and make this house fit, when we have asked you from day one to design it to our block and our requirements!!!! Argghh
Sales Rep: Oh, ok well I wanted to drop in the new revised tender with the amendments to the floor level, raising it up.
Me: (thinking are you for real) Fine drop it in, but we still have a fundamental problem
Sales Rep: Ok I'll drop it in.

About 15 mins later he calls again
Sales Rep: I've spoken with "Management" you know the Head honcho (Bel rolls eyes), and he said not to give you that tender as it will just get you offside with the increased amounts for Drop edge beams etc, maybe it is best you come in and speak with the architect again and design again.
Me: Yep (told you so)

So we are now waiting to visit them again for the 4th time (I think) at bloody Baulkham Hills. The worst part is that it's school holidays so I will have to take 3 kids with me. Arrghhh. Hopefully Mum (love you Mum!) will be free to take them for a milkshake!

Here are a couple of my goes at redesigning for the problems on the block. Anyone else got any ideas? BTW I'm not going to show them, I want to see what they come up with!!!

I didn't quite work out the upstairs bedroom areas in the 3 plans yet, but it's a start. I think the first one is my favorite at the moment - would probably work out to be most expensive! Argghh.

Oh - if you are still reading - Well done - I crapped on didn't I!!! ha ha ha :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Just give me a #@$% house!

Hi All,

It has been about a month since I've updated the blog - I've been busy with "stuff". You know the type of thing - kids, DS sleep problems (which we now have a diagnosis Yippee), me trying to find a new job, the list goes on!

Anyway, as you can see from the posts title, I'm getting so frustrated with this whole process.

Let me summarise what's happened in the last few weeks.

After we received the sketches, a few days later we got these - the revised sketches drawn up properly with our changes. I still am happy with these plans, and think we'll have a house that is a bit different.Might not be to everyone's cup of tea, but works for us and the block!!

Front Elevation

Ground Floor

Upstairs Floor

So like I said we were happy with the design, and the Sales guy wanted to meet with us the following week to discuss plans, revised costs and going forward.

In that meeting he came to our home after hours - I thought it was just because he didn't want the twins wrecking the display again :) lol! DH told me to give the guy a break and he is just trying to offer some service. Hmmmm I'm too cynical! Anyway what was presented was all good, in budget (just) and we agreed to sign the paperwork to go to tender.

Anyway that was a couple of weeks ago, and Mother's Day weekend, Dh was on the block trying to clear the 2m high weeds, and a surveyor from Huxley turns up to do levels. Great - somethings happening we think. Even though I had supplied 2 other builders levels, as well as the DA that had been previously approved, and everything else except costings.

Well on Monday I called to find out where the tender was, (why do you have to chase them Grrr) and to find out where we are at, and to organise to go through the display home up at Fern Bay (just past Newcastle on the way to Nelson Bay). I wanted to go to Newcastle on Wednesday, as DS was at school and goes to a friends in the afternoon (no pick up), and Mum could have the twins.
No, couldn't do it - they have a sales meeting in Sydney, so the local rep is here. Hello, can't ANYONE else show me the darn house. So annoying and I let him know it. It is so hard to organise no kid time to do stuff like this, I was soooo pissed off.

Then the sales rep announces that he needs to see us as there has been issues with the laundry and the levels. Ummm what's the problem I say - the laundry is about 2m off the ground!

So what ended up happening was that he came over again to show us the problems, and explained that the designer/architect when drawing the house used the levels that W had on their drawings, but when H did the levels they differed and there way of fixing the laundry off the ground issue was a set of steps to the backyard. Not ideal.

Then we started asking the sales rep about the whole design philosophy. Wow I know more about building than he does, either that or he's told not to say anything! I understand we have a difficult block - but our reason for going to H in the first place is because they building split level homes. They should have experience in this!!! Grrr. Basically it looks like they have taken natural ground level from the back of where the house would be, and built forward. It means we have a full split, and massive cut and soil removal. We tried to ask why this is the case, he couldn't answer. So off we went the next day to head office again, to sit with the designer/architect to do the design properly and to discuss levels/design better.

It seemed to me that they had a design that didn't really work, and instead of redesigning, they tried to come up with quick fix solutions.

They meeting was heated, but hopefully they understand we are not idiots and understand more than they think.

Also, looks like we will have half spilts, should suit the land better. You know, the fall over the building platform is about 3m. It is quite a bit, but isn't that why you have split level homes?

Will keep you posted. Hoping to have new sketches and a tender this week.

Had to share this picture with you - it reminds me why I'm on this journey (It is a couple of months old but who cares!) . We are coming up to 2 years since we sold the last place :(

Bel :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Draft Plans - yippee!!!

What an exhausting day!!!

I love the plan, very different to what I thought though. I was under the impression they would create from scratch, but they ended up modifying/using the basis of the house we liked which is the design we liked in the first place!!!!

They have suggested a full split, not a half split between levels, meaning the downstairs is a full flight of stairs. We had thought we would have a trilevel - 2 story at the front and the back level in between if that makes sense. This HH think is the most cost effective way for our block, rather than the half split. Fair enough I say. I just wasn't prepared for that!!!

When we were there, we added the study/workshop/MPR/walk in linen/reconfigured the kids bedrooms. I didn't get softcopys of the plans, "E" drew the revisions in front of us.

So here they are!!! Really quite hard to see - I've added some text so you can make sense of them!! Can't wait for you all too see them. Let me know what you think - and any suggested changes.

I love the kitchen - hated the last one! I love the raked ceiling in the meals/living - hopefully will be that 'wow' factor.

It's exciting again.

Edit - Can't work out the photos - if you click on them they will open up so you can see them.
Edit again - trying to fix photos

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Too many phone calls in one day.......

Yesterday was the phone call day from hell. Besides the huge amount of personal calls (!!! it is school holidays...) I had two phone calls that floored me, for different reasons.

The first was from Westminster Homes Michael Thurecht, General Mgr of the new home builds. Well that caught me out, my MIL and SIL and her troops had just arrived, my kids were screaming with excitement, and my mobile rings. It was a very interesting call, the cynic in me just says he is fishing around the "not yet signed a contract with Westminster, but has approved plans" people to see what business, if any, they will retain. I actually enjoyed talking to him, was very frank, and stayed calm (this is a biggie if you don't know me personally!). I told him we were shopping around, because at the end of the day, I just want a home built for my family. We talked about the administrators meeting, and some of the calls he has had, and I explained that you knew to expect that (don't cry poor me to me!). So I give him credit actually calling people, but he did want to gauge whether we were jumping ship.

The other call was late afternoon, I had just pulled into a girlfriends driveway - she needed to have wine with someone, while she fed her 3 kids, so thought we might as well do it together! My kids just jumped out of the car, while I was speaking with the sales rep "J" from Huxl3y homes. He wanted to advise that the first set of plans were ready, and E the architect/designer wanted to present them to us on Saturday if possible. Yes please. "J" said the plans look really great (well he isn't going to say you know - they look shit) but I did get very excited! So somehow on Saturday we need to get DS to 2 games of soccer locally, and get everyone to Homeworld at Kellyville by 12noon. Hmmm. Mum is still o/s with my sister, so Dad offered to help out with the kids but I'll see if a friend can take DS for the arvo. Then he will just have the twins, hopefully he can take them for a milkshake and a play in the park and we should be cool. Worst case he can just chuck them in the car and drive them around for an hour!!

Will keep you all posted!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Progress Update - Yes we have progress!!!!

Well I received an email this arvo from the Sales rep from Huxl3y homes saying that the draft plans are nearly ready and they'll be in contact very soon!! I'm pretty excited to see what they have come up with.

Oh, better tell you what has happened in the last few days to get to this point.......

Over the Easter break we decided that we would go ahead with the initial deposit and see what they came up with in terms of plans. We will receive floorplans, elevations, facade options etc. They also use CAD so I'm assuming that we will see a computer generated walk through. Better check. We had negotiated a lower deposit price that was a more suitable amount, so we thought we might as well bite the bullet and get something started again.

Will let you know how we go!!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Options Options Options

Yes we have options!

Over the past few weeks we have been in discussions with several other volume builders. Some have been helpful, others not so.

We went to a meeting with the salesman and designer from Huxl3y homes yesterday. They have quite a few floorplans that are split level that suit our needs and budget. However, the designer on looking at the block, council restrictions and our needs, thinks doing a custom design should be the way to go. I've always been wary of this option. However after the last few weeks, I am a lot more open to it.

It see it this way now - we get a house designed for our block, for our needs, on a volume builders budget. Sounds better already! They showed us the price per sq meter charge sheet, so we can build a home similar in size to the previous one, but will have rooms that we dictate (ie goodbye formal dining - don't need it).

The designer also talked about block orientation, something that wasn't even looked at prior (to be fair to W, they were just trying to get a house on the block!).

Looks like we might have a home that is quite different to the 'standard' volume builders home. By that I mean split levels, some living areas substanially forward of the garage etc. The blue shows roughly the old footprint of the house on the land, and the red is what was discussed yesterday. Using the block better :).

Lets hope it works out! I'm getting a little bit excited again!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Starting again

Well we have started the process of looking for a new plan/builder. There have been a lot of positive reports that Westminster will trade out of trouble, I just can't trust them anymore. I almost feel like a betrayed lover.

I'm such an educated buyer of a home this time - in so many different ways. I understand our block and it's limitations, understand our Council and it's quirks (wall articulation etc), understand our budget meaning I can look at a base price and know if we can afford it.

So we are looking around for that house and builder. It's still going to be what can we build on our block in our budget that suits our needs. But we are another day closer to the dream.

B xxx

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Frigging hell

Ok I'm allowed to say this as I've had the 48 hours from hell.

W3stm1nster Homes are having cash flow problems, and will know by the end of the week if they are to continue trading.

Arggghhh, I've spent hours crying over this - yes I'm an emotional person - I don't think this blog explains the full extent of what we have gone through in the past 18 months. It's basically been a waiting game, and we thought we had an end in sight.

So, what will we do.

I personally don't know how the Bank's extending the builder more credit will help with their problems. Isn't it robbing Peter to pay Paul??? Interesting enough on the ASIC website, someone in the company has either jumped ship, or joined. I'm guessing jumped ship to try and protect their assets before they go under.

Dave and I will look at all our options now.

Maybe because we are far more knowledgeable this time around, the process won't be so drawn out.

Hell at least this might be the catalyst to get rid of this terrible rental.

Oh, and themax - I might even get a builder that uses Dulux paints!!! (A bit of humour in a shit time doesn't hurt anyone)

Will keep you updated.

B x x

Edit - doesn't a few hours make a difference. They are officially under the control of an Administrator. Will post an update soon. Apprantely we will be receiving an email direct from the Adminstrator this afternoon. Off to check emails.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Are we there yet?

I feel like a child in a long car trip asking "Are we there yet?". Once more, you might have guessed it, I don't have a lot to report.

I think the demo guy is trying to do a dodgy on us, by saying we have asbestos under the concrete slab of the old garage. I'll be asking for proof of this, as I believe the garage would have been built not that long ago probably mid to late 80's.

The builder is still trying to get the final engineering reports, apparently one of our neighbours does not want the engineers to access their house, so they can't get the damn report done, therefore no construction certificate for us.

I have asked the builder to chase this report and they are calling me back tommorrow with an update. I think I've made it clear I'm over and want a house.

We have chosen White Smoke as our trim color, not our first choice but the closest to the look we are after. I'm sure once we are in I won't even notice it!

That's about it at the moment!

B x x x

Monday, March 9, 2009

We have a decision - almost!

After much investigating from my pal "themax" from Homeone, and myself, we have finally gotten to the bottom of our internal wall color dilemma.

We were told a straight out no to using a Dulux color, not even mixing the color in Taubmans paint. So I have been on a quest to find an equilivant color to Dulux's Hogsbristle. Well today I received a nice suprise in the mail from my pal "Southies" from Homeone, an A4 color swatch of Moonriver. I'm liking it :)

Here it is with the kitchen and bathroom stone and cupboard colors. You can't really tell with this picture (my photography skills are crap), but it does all go together! As a reminder, Kitchen is Quantum Quartz Luna White with White Gloss cupboards, Bathroom is Quantum Quartz New Mink with White Matt vanities. Have asked how much to upgrade vanities to gloss!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Not much to update

Well here we are in March, and lo and behold we aren't really that much closer on the start date.

I have been following up the demo guys to take away the skip bin, and clear the rest of the junk on the site.

Have also been waiting to find out how the engineering reports are going from the builder. I gather no news is good news! (Hopeful aren't I :) )

Still having troubles with the internal paint colors - I've been told by the builder the only real option is to go back into the display room at Baulkham Hills and pick the color from there. Hmmm with the kids it's impossible. DH might have to take the day off. Last time I went it took me nearly 2 hrs in Sydney peak hour traffic. Don't want to do that again!

Also not happy with the kitchen - think I'll ask to go to the kitchen company they use and get their design ideas. Kitchen isn't big enough for everything I want in there!

Also called a timber floor company, and looks like we will get solid timber floors downstairs in the entry, hallway, kitchen, meals and family. Will try and get out there Saturday with the troops to see the timber in real life!

That's all for now. Gotta go and met with an arborist onsite to see how much he is going to charge me to work to our tree management plan as part of our DA approval conditions. (More money *sigh* less upgrade *double sigh*)

Friday, February 20, 2009

More internal color decisions......

Today DH, the kids and I went to WK Stone, the makers (or importers?) of Quantum Quartz stone benchtops. I wanted DH to have some input into the house (!) and wanted to see the colors that I'd chosen in a bigger piece.

We are happy with the Luna White for the kitchen, and New Mink for the bathrooms.

While we were there, next door was a kitchen showroom, owned by WK. Apparently Wonderful Kitchens (WK) is owned by the father of the family, and the sons started WK Stone. Anyhoo, we get our kitchen through the builder, but through we would have look. Lovely kitchens, and the Blum pot drawers, pantries etc are too die for. Mind you, not in our budget!

We are a little closer with the internal paint color now also. My fellow H1 member "themax" asked the question I was thinking - what is the taubmans equilivanet for Dulux's Hog Bristle. I have a few to look at - Moon River, Village Cream, and another one I can't remember! I think it will work out just fine!

I have already changed the internal door handles. (Did that via email). But I am going to have to make a trip back out to Bella Vista at Baulkham Hills to finalise the colors. Argghhh so far away. (And the builders color consultant said just pop in when I'm in the area - which is never!)

Still waiting for our construction certificate. Hoping it will be issued in the next week or so.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

But whats on the inside? Just say upgrade!

Ok, so I'm still learning about this blog stuff.....

As I mentioned before internal colors had my head spinning. I thought I knew what I wanted, and I did, but just not in our builders range. For example I wanted Hog Bristle on the walls, which is a Dulux color. Nope can't have it. Oooook then, what do I have. Well it's still not decided!

This is what I did select:

Quantum Quartz : Luna White
Cupboards/Kickboards: 2pac Gloss Designer White
Splashback: Fixed toughened glass window

This is the look I wanted (thanks to the ever talented D@n on homeone)

Quantum Quartz : New Mink
Vanities: Designer White
Toilets: Upgraded to closed back bit (technical term as you can see)
Vanity basins upgraded

Internal: 4 panel
Front: Double solid door painted Ironstone

Ummmm I had to select a lot more but my brain is fried. When I go back through today's appointment will add some more.

But I don't like the ones with the red dots

If you are building with a volume builder, or have done so in the past you will know what I mean!

Today I got to do the "Color Selection". I thought I pretty much knew what I wanted - ha. Little did I know that everything I thought I wanted was the dreaded UPGRADE. The words I didn't want to hear. I seem to have a champagne taste on a water budget (don't we all *eyes roll*).

Also, the color consultant/designer,whilst she was really nice, is just a glorified sales lady. I could almost see the $$$ building in her eyes. (It reminded me of when you buy a new car, and you have to sit at the desk where they go through the paint protection and so on).

Anywoo - what did I pick. Well I'm so brain dead I can't remember it all!

Externals - we had preselected these as they needed to be approved in our DA for council.

Bricks: Boral Blackheath
Roof: Tiles Straitia Charcoal gray color through
Mortar: Off white, raked joints
Downpipes, Gutters, Front door: Ironstone
Fasica, Garage door, Windows: Surfmist

This image is from the Boral Bricks Boral vision software. Our facade is different but it gives you an idea of the look we are going for.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Plans

So you might ask, what house are we building?

OMG - we are up to our 4,378 set of plans, but these are what have been approved by council a few weeks ago. We had to redesign our plans around a tree, yes a tree. A Sydney Blue gum to be precise. As I read on a thread (thanks Stormy) on my favourite site Homeone, they look better on the floor than on my block :) !!! That's why we have pushed the house to the left (tree on right). We also had to meet council's wall articulation, hence some funny wall placements.

And so the blog begins.........

But the building journey started a while ago.......

Let me take you back 18 months, it was mid 2007 and our family had just expanded a fair bit. Along with DH and myself, we were suddenly parents of 3 kids. How did that happen? Ummmm, well we know that part, what we didn't bargain for was that we would have 2 at the same time! And our poor little double brick recently renovated (by us) bungalow wouldn't cut it for much longer.

What to do?

Build a house of course! Crazy? Yes.

It's a case of getting a (much) bigger house than buying established, in our desired suburb, and it's a NEW house (did I mention that :) )