Saturday, November 27, 2010

House Demolished

With the power lines raised, the demolition could at last take place 4 months after we purchased the block. The tiles and anything else of value had already been removed, but now they could move some machinery onto site.

Finally on Friday the 26th, the house was demolished.

The garage has to wait until there is a site surveyor on site, since the garage wall is on the boundary with our neighbour. After that they should be able to remove all the trees and we can order the second soil test. Its not until we have the second soil test that they will know what sort of slab is required and we can sign the contract.

At this stage it looks like we will get the pool installed (did I mention we are getting a pool?) just before or shortly after the Christmas break, and then the slab laid in late January.

The Shed

Settlement for our old home was late October. After 5 months there was a minor hiccup at the last minute (from the buyer's side) that delayed it a few more days, but at last is was settled and its no longer our home.

For the duration of the build we are living in what we affectionately call "The Shed". Its a 1 bedroom studio apartment above my sister-in-laws garage which they built when they were renovating their house. We formed a second bedroom with bookcases for us, the kids get to share the separate bedroom.

The rest of our stuff is either in our mother-in-laws garage or a storage unit. I put down a false floor of bricks and chipboard in the garage to get as much as I could off the floor to try to keep things dry.

So far The Shed has been OK. Location wise it is in a fantastic spot for the kids to get to school and me to work. With the cousins right next to us, the kids are playing all the time on their Rip-Sticks, walking the dog, etc. We have found we are sitting around together reading far more than we ever did before. And we are watching far less television.

The only negatives so far are the single bathroom, including toilet and cat litter tray. That's taking some getting used to after living in a house with 3 bathrooms.

Power Lines Raised

With so much going on I kept putting off updating the blog. But now with some real tangible progress...

Late in September we had our colour selection meeting. It seems so long ago now that we can't remember what things looked like, you just keep your fingers crossed that you made some good decisions.

That was shortly followed by the tender meeting where we first learnt how much of a problem the power lines would be since they did not even clear the minimum required height above a driveway of 4.6 meters. The builders need 6m clearance to avoid the need for spotters, another cost that adds no value to the house.

Kate pestered the power company continuously to get some action, including escalating up. I have no doubt that if she had not done that if would have taken 2 months longer to get resolved. They presented back two options; relocate the neighbours power line to a pit and have a trench dug to reconnect it to their power meter, or get it raised to the minimum height required. The former would cost over $2000 for the pit and then the cost of the trench and reconnection would be determined when someone went to have another look. The later the power company would do for free, but not until 2nd week of December.

After speaking to an electrician who indicated the trench and reconnection could cost a few thousand, he said he could arrange to have the power line raised much faster than the power company. Finally early this week that was done using a extension pole on the neighbour's roof.

The phone and foxtel lines were also move to a pit and reconnected. The strange thing with those lines is that they never talked to our neighbour. They just returned home one day to find they had been moved. Telstra were also able to do this without digging up the front yard, they must have used some kind of boring machine that did not disturb the fence or garden.

Our neighbour has been very understanding and even though we try to pop by when we can to update him, he is surprised at what tradies have done without any paper work and direct approval. As are we.

The power line issue has delayed us about 5 weeks, but if Kate had not nagged it could easily have been over 2 months.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Finally jumped off the cliff

Two weeks ago was settlement for the new property. The tenants decided to leave straight away, so a few days after settlement we finally got the keys and went to have a look at the original house. The tenants had already disconnected the power so we had to explore by the light of our mobile phones. It was a lot of fun, but it was a few days later in daylight we really got to see the house. All thoughts of renovating quickly evaporated, I'm sure it would be possible but it would take a lot of work.

We finally made a decision and what to build and went with Fairhaven's Barwon 352 with only a few minor modifications.

The first big decision was to stick with the original plan and build a single house. Financially it would have made more sense to subdivide, build two townhouses and sell one, but we bought here for the location to live here a long time. We wanted to build our house and our block.

Then we decided against Burbank's Barrington (lack of parent/living/kids zone) and Henley's Lexington after looking more closely at the Talise Q2. In the end the lack of a display home anywhere for the Talise and the need for several changes to the floor plan that we could not picture led us to pick the Barwon.

Kate got her huge kitchen, laundry and colorbond roof and the kids got their WIRs. This Sunday we are taking the kids to see the display home since Asher has not seen it yet.

Now onto selecting bricks, taps, tiles...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Checking alternatives

This weekend I've been looking at house options from Henley to compare layouts and value for money.

Two house plans appealed to us, the Voyager Q1 and Lexington 993 Q2. Both of these plans have the potential to combine the 3 kid bedrooms into 2 larger rooms with WIRs between them.

The Voyage we really liked because of the three separate living areas; parents, kids and common. It would fit on our block, just, in terms of width, but when we added eaves it was too wide. It also lacks any storage outside of the kitchen, just a tiny linen cupboard in the Laundry, and the island bench is not wide enough for people to sit out without blocking the main passage.

The Lexington is a more traditional design and lacks the zones, but overcomes most of the other limitations.

So we now have a Burbank Barrington and a Henley Lexington quote to compare. Burbank just came out with a new set of "included options", which suits us better and should save us about $5000. Henley are about to come out with their new offer this week, so we put initial (refundable) deposits down on both so that we could choose.

Looking at the quotes Henley appears to include more, in fact we seem to be about $20K ahead with Henley. The dilemma about higher ceilings with Burbank is not an issue with Henley, higher ceilings are the default. We have included all the flooring, a fireplace, the solar power option and its still cheaper than Burbank.

So if only Henley could provide the kids bedrooms/bathrooms like the Barrington...

Next step is to go and visit the Lexington again and walk through with the agent and discuss all the options. We might also go visit their selections centre since its just down the road in Mount Waverley and they have tours. We heard the Burbank equivalent was too busy for tours before your appointment.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

So what do you get with the base price?

It turns out not a lot. You certainly do not get a house, there is at least another $20,000 in site costs that you cannot avoid before construction can even start. It would appear other builders (Henly as an example) include far more in their base price, but it is also partly due to the fact that we are doing a knock-down and rebuild.

We are planning to go with the traditional facade, the extra cost for the premium does not seem worth it to us:

From Chattertons Build a New Home

The options we are selecting include
  • Alfresco
  • Extend the backhalf of the house by 600mm
  • 4-leaf Bi-Fold Doors to Meals
  • Evaporative Cooling
  • Solar Hot Water
  • Water Tank plumbed to toilets
  • Double Glazed Windows
  • 450mm Eaves
These options will make the house very energy efficient.

We still have two issues to decide. The first is whether to raise the ceilings above the standard height. Its not cheap, would make the house less energy efficient, but would look better inside.

The second and larger issue is the driveway is on left hand side of the block, but we want the living areas to be on the right-hand side (West) to get the evening sun. The Barrington has an option to mirror 2/3s of the house (kids bedrooms and living areas), but this greatly limits themain bedroom  ensuite options. We have asked Burbank to see if we can overcome these limitations to get more than just a small shower and two vanities in a large ensuite space.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The kids see their future

Today we took the kids and Granny to the Cascades on Clyde display centre to the Burbank Barrington 3100 home.

Originally we were planning the build the Henly Eclipse Q2, a nice double story home, but this was when we were looking at cheaper land options in Chadstone/Ashwood. In order to afford the block in Mount Waverley we decided that the location was very important to us so we started looking at single story homes.

We like the Barrinton design mainly for the kids bedrooms. Almost every single story home plan has the kids bedrooms sharing a common corridor and separated by the laundry and main bathroom. The corridor seems like a waste of space and the bathroom does not cater for teenage boys and girls competing for bathroom time in the mornings.

The Barrington 3100 has a WIR and a vanity for the 2nd and 3rd bathrooms, and then access to the shared bathroom (shower, bath and WC). Although we would prefer the WC was separate as well, this design at least allows teenage girls to be doing her hair in private while teenage boy has a shower.

It also has a nice open living/meals area, study nook for the kids and a another bathroom for visitors. So it ticks most of our requirements that we were looking for in a two story home.

The kids and Granny all liked it, so Kate and I are meeting with a consultant on Wednesday to walk through the options in more detail.

We bought a block in Mount Waverley

After looking for 2 months, flip-flopping between buying an established home or a knock-down, we finally decided on a block of land in Mount Waverley where we had hoped to live, much to the relief of the kids and relatives who were sick of us living on

The property is a short walk to Jordanville station, not much further to Mount Waverley shops and station. The block overlooks the Riversdale golf course and the Glen Waverley train line, so there is only parkland opposite the house.

The vendor wanted a short settlement, August 18, so we are going to have to get moving with our house plans. There are tenants in the house so we will give them notice once the permits have been approved.