Monaco 28 with modified Contemporary Facade

Monaco 28 with modified Contemporary Facade

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Contract Signed

Congratulations, you have reached the front of the line! Now you can join the next queue!
We signed the contract yesterday. It feels good to have achieved a milestone.

We are told that it takes 3 weeks to prepare for council submission and then the council takes at least 6 weeks, then the construction certificate and mucking around with the bank, then the Builder has up to 4 weeks before they have to start. That lands bang on Christmas when they can have 5 weeks off! Then they can have up to 200 working days plus bad weather. At this rate we might be in at this time next year... Hopefully things go a bit quicker than that.

Colours appointment next week, very exciting, will keep you posted.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Positive Service Experience

Fowler have been pre-emptive and booked the colour appointment even though we are waiting on the bank to approve the loan before signing the building contract. Outstanding! Maybe they are responding to the bad press I talked about on earlier. What ever the reason, here's hoping it continues...

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Contract

Got the contract 2 days later than promised. It is a HIA standard contract and is written in the builder's favour. Then the Builder adds their own special conditions on top.
As an example of the bias, liquidated damages apply if the building duration exceeds the contract period. Sounds good but, the contract period does not commence until 4 weeks after the Construction Certificate is approved. Then, allowable extensions include all adverse weather and 5 weeks at Christmas. Then the Builder specifies a contract period that is close to a year. Therefore, the building process can take well over a year before the builder will compensate you for the rent and interest fees that you have been incurring, and continue to incur, over that 12 month period. By this stage you have already paid the Builder $5,000 non-refundable. What do you do, walk away?

Fowler's special conditions do not appear to be too bad.

I negotiated the contract period down, but not by much, and the liquidated damages rate up, but not by much. I also prepared a list of special conditions, of which about 70% were accepted.

We are now just waiting for the bank to complete a valuation and approve the loan before we sign the contract. More waiting! At least it's not the Builder this time.

I noticed that they have been getting beaten up pretty bad on and that they have been posting responses. It is a worry that so many customers are not happy. I will be interested to see if the service improves as a result.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The Plans (Pics)

We chose Fowler Homes' Monaco 28 design because we wanted a small footprint home to maximise the yard space for our little ones yet still get 4 bed, 2 garage, Alfresco, Cinema, Study, open plan kitchen, dining, family...  It is less than 16 m long, most are 19-20 m, and about 11.3 m wide.
This design is almost exactly the same as Wisdom Homes' Aspiration (and is from the same Architect).
I have included snap shots of some of the more exciting elements from the Plans.

Ground Floor Plan

1st Floor Plan

Front Façade Elevation
Compared to the original design we have:
  • Had to put a split because of the sloping site.  This was big dollars, mainly because the ceiling height had to be increased to 3450 mm in the front of the house.  Should make for a grand entry!
  • Converted the ground floor linen cupboard into a pantry (no pantry in original design)
  • Flipped the Home Cinema and the Study - no charge
  • Made the Ensuite Shower full length with two shower heads - this cost a bit too
  • Moved the Bed 3 and 4 windows to suit the view - minor fee
  • Added two piers and parapet over in front of the Home Cinema to jazz up the basic façade - this cost a fair bit
  • Made the Meals Room wall a recycled brick feature wall - this cost a bit

Monday, 5 September 2011

Facade Pic

Here is a façade I have mocked up in PowerPoint.
We went with the standard offering from Fowler Homes (Contemporary) and then added some piers and a parapet in front of the left side as a feature.  We are then going to render and paint that feature and the porch parapet.
Hopefully modern enough but still enduring and elegant...

Custom Facade

From Sign On to Drawings - Delays, Delays, Delays...

To finalise the Fowler Homes tender in order to make it accurate for the drawings took a couple of iterations despite me giving clear instructions each time.  After this we paid the first deposit of $5,000, negotiated down from $10,000 - Wisdom Homes only wanted $2,300 at this stage.

I had to ask what the next steps were as no information was offered.  I was told that the drawings would take about 4 weeks.  I follow up at 3.5 weeks and then again at 4.5 weeks and finally get them that night.
There are some minor errors and a few things I would like changed. It takes 4 days to get a variation detailing the amendments and changes.  I sign and return within 30 minutes.  I follow up 5 days later to find that the Rep did not realise I had returned it and she orders the drawings then.  A week and a half  later I finally complain about all of the delays and I get revisions that night with a promise for the Contract within 3 days.
I again follow up 4 days later to be told the boss is ill and it will come tomorrow.

As I had anticipated during the negotiations phase I have to chase every time in order to make progress.  I am hoping to be in by Easter 2012.  I think it is realistic but I also won't be surprised to be disappointed...

Have been pricing Solicitors to review the Contract.  Ranges from $500 to $2,500 so worth shopping around.  I will read it first to decide whether I think it is necessary or not.

In the meantime we have investigated a few variations:

  • Bowral Dry Pressed Gertrudis Brown and plain Bowral Brown Dry Pressed brick upgrades were super expensive and we will not be going there.
  • Austral Brick are having trouble supplying the Whitsunday range and are offering Metropolis in lieu.  Austral emailed me a spreadsheet of jobs completed in the Metropolis range and I have done some drive-bys.  It looks like we might go with Topaz.
  • We had Bristile Classic concrete tiles thrown in free.  Thought about Birch and Beach but all of the light coloured roofs I see around the place are covered in dirt.  We are thinking Gunmetal now.
  • We are going ahead with an internal brick wall in the Meals area done in recycled brick from the Recycled Brick Yard at Canterbury. Check out Google streetview of 46 Evans St Rozelle to see the effect.  Should look hot.
I am surprised that the Contract comes before the Colours and Electrical - doesn't make sense to me.  I have tried to estimate the likely variations for my budget. I hope that we don't get too many ugly surprises.

I will keep you posted.