Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Land Registration

Still waiting for our block of land to be registered it was supposed to happen the end of Jan and every time I ask for an update I get told hopefully the end of the week. Fingers crossed it goes through soon as if it doesn't it is going to create havoc with the bank loans!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Date for Final Contract

Have been informed that the final contract will officially be ready for 10th March which is good news. Bad news is we go away on holiday that very day (which really is great news) so won't be able to look through the contract before we go. Our SC tells us that as we aren't making too many changes to the prelim there is a chance the final contract may arrive a few days early. If it does we can check all is present and correct, get an idea of how much we have spent up to now and sign off on it if we are satisfied. This will also mean Metricon will want a 5% deposit before lodging the building application. I wonder if that also means we get the Metricon sign erected on our block?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Cost of Building a House

What will building a house truly cost? How to work out an approximate budget.
The best way to budget for this is, according to a builder friend of ours is to a) work out how many square meters you would like your home to be and b) what specification or grade of finish you want to achieve as a high grade finish is obviously going to cost more than a standard one. Then you can do a rough estimate sum as follows:

cost of standard finish per square meter approx $950
cost of average finish per square meter approx $1100
cost of high end finish per square meter approx $1300 (plus)

Multiply the cost per sqm for the finish you'd like to achieve by the amount of space in sqm that you want and hey presto you have a ballpark figure of what your house is likely to cost.

e.g 400sqm house with high end finish
400 x 1300 = $520,000

These figures have been roughly calculated from talking to friends who are either builders or have built their own homes. They also informed me that it pays to budget at least another 10% of what you think it will cost for all those little things like fences, hard and soft landscaping and the like.

Building off a builders pre-designed plan is usually cheaper than having your own design made up so it is a good idea to look at as many builders displays and brochures as possible, find a design that best suits you and then tweak it to make it really work. The housing market is somewhat flat at present so many builders are offering great promotional deals which include various upgrades for a fraction of the cost which means your humble dollar can stretch that much further. Definitely worth comparing what's on offer and doing your research on that one.

As this next house was to be our third home (not counting places we have rented) we felt there was no room for compromise, it just had to be perfect. After doing our sums it was a no brainer that building rather than buying a house was the best option as we could achieve the illusive perfect home and for a better price than paying top dollar buying a house that would need a further $100-200K spent on it for alterations to bring it anywhere close to what we had set our hearts on. 

I hope my simple house build calculator helps give you a rough idea of what to budget if you are considering taking the plunge.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Package Cost and Site Fees

The breakdown of the package price of $367,019 so we know what we get for the money:

  • Nolan 45 Chateau               $325,780
  • Site Works                           $11,075  (including Cut & Fill, Building Pad preparation, slab upgrade, concrete piering, retaining walls, storm water drains and surface drains, storm water rubble pit, etc)
  • Rainwater Tank                   $6,355   (including all connections, pump, concrete slab, etc Mandatory)
  • Additional Garage               $13,438
  • Grand Outdoor Room          $6,425
  • Butler’s Pantry                   $3,946
  • Total                                  $367,019
Some times Metricon offer to do fixed price site costs as part of the deal which can prove to be good value if you think your site may throw up unexpected challenges. We opted not to go with this as the block of land is so flat we knew we wouldn't need much cut and fill and we had a relatively good idea what class the soil would be from having soil tests done recently in the next suburb for the business renovations.  Initially we were quoted nearly $14,000 site costs so you can see in our case we made the right choice as we saved $3000. Our original construction costs also included a driveway at $11,200 we decided not to include this as we already have half a drive pre-prepared so can most likely get it done for half this price after the build is complete.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Amended Floor Plans

These are the preliminary floor plans for "The Rachel and Sandy Nolan" as interpreted by the draughtsman, not quite what we sketched but close. Phew it's a big house isn't it? There are a few modifications not shown here they will be drawn up when the final contract is prepared.
  • The gym has been made smaller to give us a storage/workshop area
  • The powder room door is to be relocated to the entry and the room has been reconfigured as it had a linen cupboard in it which we have taken out creating an alcove in the sitting room. Wall near WC has been shortened/removed
  • Laundry has been reconfigured but they have the sink and washing machine in wrong place
  • We have added another picture window so there is one on both sides of the dining room
Upstairs is basically as it comes off the plan other than the bathroom, we have removed the interconnecting doors to the bedrooms, moved the bath, shower and vanity area then added a second basin.

Still waiting for a quote on solar and a break down of what the site fees are. 
Note the plan diagrams have been removed at the request of Metricon

Monday, February 14, 2011

Our Block of Land

Our bit of dirt before building starts
This is our 1000sqm of land, it actually extends past the tree to the left of shot but I couldn't fit it all in on this snap.
Oddly enough no matter where we have lived we seem to have gotten a power pole out front. We don't mind too much though as this one also doubles up as a street light which always makes us feel more secure.
Due to a vegetation covenant council insists the house must be set back a minimum of 10m not the normal 6m from the front boundary and that the 10m wide strip must be planted with natives. We are not the most avid of gardeners and find it almost impossible to distinguish between a plant and a weed yet alone what is a native plant or not.
Can't wait to see our little Metricon board go up like on one of the other blocks. I wonder which house they have choosen?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

North Lakes Display

Kitchen and Butler's Pantry
 I think we are becoming obsessed with houses as we couldn't help but pop in to the new Metricon display at North Lakes on the way home from visiting family on the Sunshine Coast. There are 2 single storey homes including a Belize, a double (sorry can't remember which one) and another double a Franklin to be completed in March. This display is gorgeous the homes are beautifully presented with the most amazing furniture thanks to those clever interior designers and feature all those wonderful upgrades which sell the dream so perfectly.
Sandy and I used this opportunity to get a detailed look at the lighting, checking out configurations and seeing where it looks too dark, the walk in robe areas seem to suffer from a lack of light so I think we'll be opting for an extra fitting or two to compensate.

Powder Room

The sales staff were marginally more helpful than our last visit but have a total lack of interest once they either find out you have not bought a block of land yet, you are not after a house and land package nor are you wanting to build at North Lakes. Cynically we figure it's because there is no commission in it for them so why waste their time when there is so much fresh meat ready to buy and to upgrade to anything because they have fallen in love. At least I scored a new brochure today, the old one is only holding together by shear will power and much sticky tape after being thoroughly explore from cover to cover.

Family Room
Floor Tiles (definately an upgrade)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Prelim is Signed!

After triple checking the preliminary contract several times and agreeing everything we wanted was listed I noticed last night that the window in the reconfigured bathroom was ultra tiny and looked quite lost from the rear elevation. We have asked for it to be made larger and higher. Glad we caught that before the final contract as it could have cost us an extra $1500 in drafting and drawing fees. I knew there was a reason for waiting another week before signing off on it.

So with the fine tuning completed  and a flurry of initials we signed the papers and paid another $1000 - looks like we are building a house!!
It will take around 4 weeks for the final contract to be drawn up and then we will know what the spend is so far.

Couldn't help but go for a drive to admire our patch of dirt and grass afterwards, it's hard to imagine what it will look like in a few months time once the build is underway.

Friday, February 11, 2011

How Much?

We are working out our expected total build cost so have been researching how much our hard and soft landscaping is likely to be as we only have limited idea what to budget for. I can recommend going on forums (all though half the time it is people rabbiting on with little substance which I find annoying as I just want a simple answer!), getting quotes from tradies websites or finding out how much things cost per square meter and working it out from there. Obviously doing some things yourself like the prep work for the lawn can save you money as long as you have the know how to do it correctly.
This is what I have worked out so far:
Driveway $4-5k
Pavers and laying $10k. No idea what prep is needed yet or what that will cost so this figure is probably way out.
Fence $10k but should be able to get neighbours to pay their share.
Turf with top soil and laying approx $35/sqm. Looks like we'll need 400sqm.

We have a fairly large 1000m block and have taken a less than educated guess that to do the driveway, pavers, fence and lawns will cost up to $50k (gulp!). It will be interesting to see if we are anywhere near the mark when the time comes.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The House is Sold

At last we have a contract on the house! Our agent has had to work extremely hard against a falling market and nervous buyers. It is disappointing to have to accept an offer that is below what the house is worth but there are times when you have to face the fact that it is all people are willing to pay. Anyway on a more positive note settlement is due 6th April which is one week after we have to settle on the land so fingers crossed it all goes to plan. Then we can look forward to moving into a one bedroom studio apartment annexed to our business. Living over the shop in a space smaller than our current living's going to be fun!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pre-Build Timeline & Progress Payments

Here's a rough idea of how long the overall build process for a double storey is likely to take and when Metricon will want some of your hard earned cash.
  • So you've decided to go ahead with your build pay $1500 deposit then wait around 10 weeks while they do soil and site tests
  • Prelim Contract pay another $1000
  • 4 weeks to Final Contract (FC)
  • Minimum 10-12 weeks until Site Start
  • At this stage you should get a commitment from M as to how long they expect build to take - anywhere between 20-26 weeks or more
Progress Payments
  • FC 5%
  • Base Stage 10%
  • Frame Stage 15%
  • Enclosed Stage 35%
  • Fixing Stage 20%
  • Practical Completion 15%

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Heathwood Display

Another fact finding mission to the display houses at Heathwood near Forest Lake. The displays here show more of the standard finishes such as aluminium windows, basic cabinets, shower frames, doors and handles. Not much in the way of fancy CaeserStone, timber windows and flash upgrades but it's good to get an idea of the differences in quality and what you get for the money.
We have specifically come to look at the Newhaven as it has the timber, cantilever stairs which we have only seen n photos so far. When looking to invest $8k in something I want to give it a test drive first.
The Newhaven has been done to a higher standard than the other 2 houses on site and has the exact carpet we have picked out, shoes off let's see how it feels. Soft and warm but not very plush, in fact it feels like walking on concrete. Oh how disappointing, craftly lift a corner of carpet up to check out which underlay they have used, it only has upgrade rubber 1 which we thought would be ok but after walking on that we will be investing in the best underlay we can afford.

The stairs look smart but I don't like them in the pale finish and now I'm concerned that the balaustrade in the leisure room may end up looking like a cage due to the stainless steel bars. Must see if I can find photos of that to put my mind at ease.

Master suite wall with niche

Rendered portico - like the colour?

Stairs and stair lights
Recessed shower shelf

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Colours and Laminate Samples

Back to Studio M to go through more colour selections, will have to pluck up courage to face all those laminate samples again today. Best to start in the Tile Studio I think.

Tile Studio
There are 13 colours to choose from in the standard range, both the floor and wall tiles look more than suitable, we'll be able to create a fantastic look with those. We considered upgrading for a split second until we found out it would cost $50-$150 per sq meter to do so. Gulp!
Tile consultant explains most people choose their cabinet and paint colours first then do the tiles around that so there is no more putting it off laminex samples here we come.

Studio M
It's nice a quiet when we arrive so the atmosphere is much more relaxed and we can take our time to confirm our choices, make our way around each section and ask questions when confusion sets in. So this is what makes the list today:
  • Gutters, fascias and downpipes - Monument (colorbond)
  • Garage colorbond Dune
  • Cladding not sure if we can choose a style but will want to paint it similar colour to Dune
  • Carpet - sisal. Have 3 colours we like a lot will need help deciding. Will upgrade underlay to rubber not sure which grade
  • Confirm happy with promo taps, door handles
  • Wall hung vanities continue to look gorgeous and Sandy just "simply must have them"
How we choose cabinet colours - one goes off and picks all the laminex and bench top samples they like whilst the other sits and watches DVD's with the kids then we swap, if we have both picked the same sample it makes the top 10 and those that are single picks are left to be defended, justified and campaigned for once we get home after hitting the beach. Pretty simple eh?
Cabinet and Paint Colour Contenders

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fine Tune Prelim Contract

Popped in to the display homes at Underwood for another look seeing as Austral bricks is only a few minutes drive away and were surprised to see our SC Greg there on his day off, apparently he had swapped shifts. He suggested that if we waited an hour we could go through and make amendments to the prelim today rather than Sat morning as scheduled. No problem saves us another trip so I'm off to relax by the pool while Sandy goes and takes some measurements and more photos.

Upgrade doors on butler's pantry and powder room to 2340mm and change to timber with translucent glass
Provide eave over front of garage door and gym area
Remove laminate finish to bulkhead above overhead kitchen cupboards as we have changed our minds after looking at the kitchens this morning
Alter fridge opening to 1000mm and provide plasterboard bulkhead over
Fly screens to all openable windows and sliding doors. Approx $45 a window - good price.
Get a quote on 2kw solar system

This appointment took about 90 minutes as there are a lot of points to cover but it is worth it to make sure you get what you ask for. Once the plans go to final contract you will have to pay to have the plans redrawn if you make any structural changes so it makes sense to spend the time and effort getting right. However, there is no fee if you want to change cabinetry layout or design after this stage.
Didn't sign off on the prelim today as want to go to Studio M, Tile studio and the Heathwood display houses this weekend so felt it best to wait in case we get tempted to add, alter or remove more things.

See you next week Greg - hope we're not turning in to the Nolan build from hell.

Austral Bricks

Off for another family day trip to look at bricks and yes it's another sweltering hot, humid day thanks to cyclone Yasi pushing hot air from the north, odd that there is no breeze.
Have heard that the top upgrade clay bricks from Boral may have issues with lime leakage and Metricon will not be responsible for any inconsistencies. Worried about paying an extra $4,500 for smart bricks that may not meet expectations so want to check out Austral. The Austral display is only a few minutes from the display homes at Underwood so will pop in there after for another look.
I much prefer the Austral display it is really well laid out and has a couple of shaded areas to take refuge whilst making your choices.
Not impressed with the standard range brick it is just not contemporary enough for our taste, however the metropolis range is rather nice with a great choice of colours. It scores bonus points as it is only a category 2 upgrade (less than the Boral one we had opted for).
Headed in doors to ask a few questions, collect more colour samples and get out of the heat. The lady at the desk said if we waited the colour consultant would be here in a few minutes if we'd like a chat. Never ones to turn down free advice we said that'd be great.
Colour consultant gave us some great advice and several options which were very helpful and even gave us a free sample brick.
Just calculating how many times we would need to come back before we had enough free bricks to do the build?!

Metropolis in Stone

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Crossover Application

Sandy has been in to council today to ask if we can get a relaxation to have a double crossover and driveway as the front 10m of our land has a council native vegetation convenant on it. The provisional land plans show provision for a single drive at the far right edge of the block which will make it tricky to get in to the garage unless we set the house back even further and loose half the backyard. Cost $64 to lodge the application and someone from the council will ring us soon to organise a site meeting.
The land is still not registered at this stage as there have been delays due to the floods which is understandable.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

We have a new CSC

Received a letter today advising us we have a new CSC (Customer Service Consultant). Seeing we had never even spoken to the original one it can't be something we said. Hope this isn't a sign of things to come and that this one lasts more than 2 months.