Clare gives us an update and great insight to her experience so far … in her words.
Each fortnight, I send Clare and Darren a set of questions that they kindly fill out and send back, and their answers – plus my feedback, advice and involvement – are what I post about. Clare’s latest response is such a great outline of where things are at with this instalment, that I thought, this time, I’d leave it in her words. Where relevant, I’ve added some info.[Read here to catch up on where things have progressed so far …. and if you just want a brief summary – head to the Hit List here.]
So, where things are at …
- their sale has gone unconditional
- they’ve gone unconditional on their purchase
- they’ve arranged for simultaneous settlements on both – this is stressful as timing has to come together not only for your bank and lawyer, but for the other parties’ banks and lawyers. It does avoid bridging finance (where you settle on your purchase before you the one you’re selling, so you have an extra big loan until you do) …. Or not having any security on your mortgage as you’ve sold your house – so money is in limbo between the sale and purchase settlements. There are workarounds for all of these scenarios, but simultaneous settlements are ideal.
- They’ve been hunting for a rental and finally had one approved
I asked Clare “What’s been your involvement in the last 2 weeks?” This was her answer …
We visited a recently completed home by Landmark Builders, who will build for a $$/sqm that is similar to that of a project home builder.
The house we visited was complete, but not yet being lived in. The builder had built the home for $1,180/sqm. The home was on a flat 405sqm block, it included a pool, and thad a double garage, 4-bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, 2 living spaces and study space. Very similar to what we anticipate building (just not the same layout that we would like).
The finish of the home was very good, and to the same quality that we had seen in display homes by Ausbuild and Metricon. We felt more confident though, as discussed a lot of items in detail with the builder whilst we walked around. Also this building hadn’t been built for ‘display purposes’, so it wasn’t ‘up-spec’ed’ or anything like that.
Discussing the ‘inclusions’ in terms of what is covered by the $$/sqm rate, the builder confirmed that the engineering and building approval plans are all included, and everything that we saw right up to handing over the keys for us to move in. This included ducted air conditioning, the internal vacuum-aid system, integrated doorbell system, alarm system and internal fitting in robe spaces.
Another bonus seems to be that the builders are also pool builders, so they would construct the pool as part of the housing contract. What we had found problematic with the project home builders was that they do not construct pools, so you have to contract a separate pool builder to do this. And with a small lot it is most sensible to construct the pool first so that access to the pool location is easy. However, most project home-builders seek you to build the pool afterwards, or they add in additional costs as their health and safety requirements require them to fully deck across the pool space during the construction period. So, this was another tick in the right box for us.
I had also envisioned that building with an independent builder would take longer as well, compared to the 20-26 week build time the project home builders offer. This home had been built in 15 weeks.
We talked to the builders about their company and how they operated. They build about 80 homes a year, and all their builders are fully employed by them. The teams move from one home to the next. The quality of the workmanship appeared to be very good, and the house felt solid.
These are great conversations to have with your prospective builder, and an honest operator won’t have any issue answering them. You can use this as a good gauge of good company operations and an experienced builder.
Following the house inspection we spent a good amount of time talking through the various options that we had to consider. Ultimately we decided that appointing Amelia | Undercover Architect to design a home for our specific site would result in a more efficient home for the land, rather than finding a project home.
As we had already been seeking advice from Amelia | Undercover Architect on the layouts of various project home builders, Amelia already had a sound idea of what we were looking for in our new home.Amelia | Undercover Architect promptly provided us with design options to review.
The second version of the layout was almost right on the money in terms of design. Our feedback was limited to some door types and a couple of small items.
When I compare now the layout that we have come up with through using Amelia | Undercover Architect, to that of a project home builder standard layout, I can see that we are already winning. Our kitchen is the hub of our home where all the action is. I am also a bit of a freak when it comes to everything having a place, and as such lots of storage is a big requirement for me. (This isn’t freakish Clare – I would recommend this for any family home. A place for everything, and everything in its place makes easy, functional and calm living!) What we have achieved with Amelia | Undercover Architect ticks all these boxes for us. The kitchen spaces in many of the project homes (including the higher –end Kalka homes) were not meeting my ideal of a useable, working kitchen for our family.
And Clare, is there anything you’re nervous about?
“That the cost of the build might come back far too high. All research and discussions have said this won’t be the case, but its an unknown … we’re already into this with our hearts and our heads. In my mind I’m already moving into our new home!”
What advice would you offer others at this point?
“Explore all options! Keep asking questions. Really thoroughly talk about what’s important in a home to you and your partner. Remember what your bigger plan is, don’t lose sight of that (sometimes we do and have to refocus). Remember that you won’t live in the house forever, so do think about the next family that will, and build in things that perhaps you don’t necessarily need, but might make the place sell well in the future.” Couldn’t have said it better myself Clare!
And anything else you’d like to share?
“Working with someone to design your own home isn’t that scary. It’s actually really fun, and the differences that can be achieved, even by simply moving the location of a door, can make a massive difference to how a space functions and feels.
I’m so glad that I engaged early with Amelia | Undercover Architect about the project home layouts that we were looking at and sought Amelia | Undercover Architect’s opinion on them, and how they would work on the site we had acquired.
If I hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have explored the options of whether we could build for a similar $$/sqm as the project home builders and wouldn’t have got to where we are now, having worked up a layout for a home that really works with the land, that will also work really well for our family.”