Monday, December 12, 2011

Electrical Selections (check check check!)

Due to the Christmas holidays, our Electrical Selections can only be scheduled on Jan 2012, deym! Luckily someone pulled out on 12th December, and we got the slot! This is a blessing because it will allow us to include the variation to the bank for the construction loan approval.

As usual, we went to the meeting prepared and aware of exactly what we wanted. Thanks to my hubby whose second name is forum, and his persistence to discuss with me almost everyday (tee hee!!). We are very much conscious of spending unnecessarily for top of the line and innovative technology of today (a ducted vacuum would have been a nice gadget to have!) And as much as we want to live the dream, we have to be realistic and strictly limit ourselves with what is essential plus a just a little bit more for good measure ;)

With Christine's help (she is such a darling, very patient and we had an easy session), These are what we have come up with:
1) 20x wiring for future downlights in hallway / family room / kitchen
2) 37x double power points all over incl outdoors(it maybe overkill but what the heck!)
3) alarm panel system
4) 4x 2-way switches
5) 2x 3-in-1 fan-heater-light for bathrooms
5) 2x TV, pay TV, antenna, phone points, reinforced walls
6) some other minor miscellaneous stuff

Regardless of how much we were careful, we still ended up with a total of $8.5K for electricals. This brings us up to $80k on top of the base price. This reminds me of the earlier conversation with the sales people - they have given us a realistic figure back then. Mind you, this additional 80k includes the minor variations that were later on required by the council before they could approve the plans. So far, our experience with McDonald Jones has been pleasant to this day. Hope this will always be the case all throughout the building process.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Building Contract Signed!

About a month after the color selection, we received the building contract (with plans and consolidated tender) for signing. We reviewed it for a week and found a few significant mistakes that could affect our bank loan, the most significant being
(1) our names are shortened - I have three first names and Bjorn got two!, and
(2) the flooring was not included in the quotation.

It took about 3 weeks for both parties to sign the contract as well as the variations. We are running out of time to finalize the building contract, and so we can then submit our construction loan application to the bank. We are concerned that we won't be able to get our bank loan approval within the timeframe we are bound with to start construction. The construction companies are so clever, we have to start construction within 150 from the date of deposit (april 30 2011 in our case) beyond which we would have to pay additional 1K for each month od delay. It makes sense considering that material prices will most likely increase by then. Our 150th day is on nov 30, I don't think our construction loan will be approved by then, we'll probably be ready to start by mid-december. But again, it's Christmas holidays and chances are construction companies will be closed for 2 weeks (xmas and new year holidays). My gut feel tells me we will only be able to start construction in January and we'll have no choice but to part with another 1k or 2 as penalty. Hopefully McDonald Jones will give us some grace period.

The moment we received back the signed contracts, we immediately contacted our ANZ mobile banker (who I highly recommend for being not a "hard sell" and a really good customer service), to get the ball rolling for our construction loan. He's been to our House fives times, without qualms of going back again if we needed to see him over some minor things! Quite a nice and sincere chap, and we are quite comfortable with him. The bank interest is going downhill so we couldn't be any happier to conclude these financial matters at this time of the year. The downside is, in a matter of months, our hard-earned savings will all be wiped out for sure. But I guess we'll just have to bite the bullet and let tomorrow take care of itself ;)

Inclusions and Upgrades Review

Demo homes play with your head, and is indeed the best marketing tool out there. For a moment, you begin to envisage that you will get the exact same house for just a little above the base price. And then you go through your consolidated tender and you are way over budge! It also doesn't help when you are in the showroom for your color selection. How nice it is to have all the best things in life! Suffice it to say, we initially planned on getting upgrades on almost everything that will look better. But at the end of it all, we had to scrutinize every nook and cranny of the tender and just upgrade whatever is really essential, or is it? So here it goes -

1) upgrade to McDonald's impressions package totally free (promotion)
2) reverse cycle a/c @ 8K (discounted) plus another 3K Easter discount which essentially brought down the a/c price to 5k only. Not bad huh?!
3) went with steel frame + colorbondroof which is included in the impressions package

... And basically indulged on the following at a cost:
4) sarking and anticon blanket for the roof - this has something to do with thermal insulation and condensation control
5) upgraded bricks
6) half-rendered facade
7) increased ceiling height to 2.7mm from standard 2.4mm, since we are only building one-stores house
8) door to master's b/r walk in wardrobe - to minimize those nasty dust
9) trilock for the front door
10) stainless steel shower hobs for 2 bathrooms
11) laminate flooring to entire house (except the wet areas) - it took us a long time to decide on this. But based on our calculation, the savings if we get it outside is not that significant considering that we have to pay the builder to soft nail the skirting. Doing it ourselves is out of the question right now as we are both busy and besides we may not have a knack for it lols!
12) kitchen splash back to full height! Since we chose this magnificent metallic black (inclusive in the impression package), why not go all out for that glittery look ;)

All in all, we are up by $69K from the base price. I say it's not that bad at all, we estimated 80K based on initial discussions with consultants and we did well. This gives us some budget for electricals and driveway, the landscaping will just have to be done slowly with the aim to get that 5K rebate.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Color Selections

Our color walk-through in July 2011 is supposed to be a sneak peak of the final colors that we would be choosing today. But we have gone completely 180 degrees and I'm glad we did. Indeed this is one of the most critical part of the building process and you have to be happy with the final colors you choose. We have gone from loft colorbond to monument, from November leaf facade color to smoke haze, from red splashback to metallic midnight (black), etc etc. And we couldn't be any happier!I guess my hubby's dedication to always talk about the color schemes, our constant bickering and disagreement about colors, has led us to a neutral ground, i.e. Grey, black and white tones. To some, It may seem bland and boring, but we agree to disagree that the color is minimalist, timeless and versatile. In fact, I think we took one step further from whatever little creative bones left in our body by going for a really dark brick color (austral blackstone) and trend metallic midnight (black!) for a splash back. Craig (the color specialist) had been all praises for our dark color selections. I'm not certain though if he really mean it or he just wants us out his way sooner lols!

Honestly, the red splash back had been really really hard to part with. I don't fancy red in fabrics but I am crazy about it when it comes to decors (my sofa is in red which I know my hubby
secretly hates!). Today however, I listened to reason and went with my next best thing - metallic black. Overall it was a pleasant experience just because we went to our final color selection today knowing exactly the color palettes we want to go with. Craig has been a good help putting things together. I came out feeling that the colors really flow well inside and out. And to top it all off, hubby was feeling generous to get me an iPad2 to cap the big
day today. The apple service in the castle hill shopping centre sucks, but that's another
story to tell.

This is what we have come up with...

Roof - colorbond / monument
fascia - colorbond / surf mist
Gutter - colorbond /monument
Garage Door - colorbond / monument
Bricks - austral / blackstone
Bag and paint - taubman / smoke haze
Door - color similar to surfmist

Flooring - Armstrong Supreme Laminate (forest select) / brushbox
Wall - taubman / white pearl
Skirting, architraves, doors, ceiling, cornices - taubman / illusive white

Island Bench Top - Caesar stone / white shimmer
Cupboards & kick board - laminex / polar white, silk finish
Splash back - glass / trend metallic midnight (black & shimmering!)

Bench top - Essa Stone / new crystal salt
Cupboards - laminex Blackened Linedwood / Natural Finish#338 - vertical grain
Kicks - Formica / Brushed Silver Velour Finish
Flooring - Augusta Espresso / Grout Color - charred ash
Wall - Tempo Ice / White Gloss

This is how the facade should look like (but the white part should really be a light brown/light grey hue)

Bathroom and Wet Area Color Pallet


Some 6 Months Later

I have been very busy working/baking/cooking/sightseeing that I didn't really have time (or the interest) to update this blog. I know my hubby can't wait for me to get back in the groove. You see, he has been the one researching and patiently reading the forums for any information about house building. And I am the one who will always scrutinize the ideas (as if I have been doing my research too! Ha!). It took an iPad gift today plus a color appointment to make me want to write again =D

We have been looking at display homes since December 2010 - fallen in and out of love with AV Jennings, McDonald Jones, Clarendon, and Master Homes. The deciding factor really was the fact that we got a small lot & McDonald Jones has the best open plan concept that fits and maximizes our land. On April 2011 we have made another big decision and parted with our hard-earned 3K as a deposit for McDonald Jones Bordeaux (13m), with a Balinese Tropicana facade. Subsequently we have accepted the consolidated tender 2 months later. We went for impressions package (which is always on discount anyway), a/c at a "special discount price, sarking beneath the color bond roof, and increased the ceiling height to 2700mm for a grand total of some $200K! This is excluding the flooring, electricals, driveway, landscape, and other small upgrades.

House Design: Bordeaux
Facade: Balinese Tropicana
Building & design Consultant: Aaron Lyod

Saturday, February 12, 2011

First Love Never Dies

At this very moment, I and my hubby Bjorn have reserved 2 residential lots at different locations in New South Wales. How it happened is kinda long story, so I'm gonna try to write the gist of it.

Having had to rent an apartment that sets us back 1.4K a month, we decided to seriously look for a place of our own, hoping to put that rental money into good use. And just like any newly married couple who are both decently employed, we have our goals set high thinking that we are "invincible" and are able to afford to build a modern house in a thriving suburb. Armed with this clouded thought, we set off to see display homes in Kellyville, The Ponds, Oran Park, Warwick Farm, Sunnyholt etc etc. We spoke to a few builders whose display homes caught our fancy, but realized we have to secure our land first before we can go further with them.

The Ponds have always captured our hearts, not only for it's catchy name but because of it's new, well-established and thriving community. This is where we first shopped for that piece of OZ land. But to our disappointment, the cost is beyond what we are prepared for & this practically woke us up from the Australian dream bubble! We started looking more closely at our finances & we totally got disillusioned. We were thinking that if we go through this path, our life as we envisioned it, would totally take a 180 degrees turn. Gone are the days of shopping, travelling, and dining out! At this point, I would convince my hubby to just go for a 2-bedroom apartment so we won't feel the pinch so much, and still be able to live our lives the way we want it. I somehow managed to convince him until one day, out of the blue we decided to check out Stonecutters Ridge. Boasting of a Greg Norman designed 18 hole golf course and a masterplan exuding resort-style luxury & urban community, we just can't resist the beaconing oasis that is Stonecutters Ridge (SCR)! Without so much of a thought, we parted with $300 to secure an unregistered 480 sqm land and went home happily with renewed plans for the bright future. Yey!

We are given two weeks by SCR to exchange contract & pay 5% deposit, and the balance to be paid on Novemeber 2011 (the expected registration date of the land). This gives us a bit more time to save as much as we can so we are feeling fantastic about our decision. My hubby started to research day and night about the property & it's neighborhood so much so that as an informed buyer, it brings us new things to worry about. Also at this time, I would start to doubt again our ability to pay and I'm feeling resentful about the sacrifices we have to make. We found ourselves taking one step forward & two steps back by looking at apartments & old houses again. We just couldn't decide! And for some reasons our solicitor told us that he need more time to discuss the contract with SCR to clarify certain things, which gave us another week of needful time to make up our minds. Finally, the inevitable has come. Today, Feb 12 2011,  we had to pay the 5% deposit to SCR. As a final shot to indecisive us, we set off early in the morning to see Bunya Living (which according to a colleague has just opened  for land sale) hoping that this will make or break our decision. Unfortunately, the land being released has no pricing yet so it looks like we are destined for SCR. Then my husband suggested we pass by SCR first (since we are nearby), then visit the Ponds for a last look before going to the bank to get the cheque for SCR. As we pass by SCR, we felt differently from 3 weeks back for a lot of different reasons which I will not divulge here. Off we go to The Ponds but unlike SCR we still felt the same like we did before ~ a case of first love never dies indeed! Two lower priced lots were put back in the market today, and we managed to snag one, but not after going back & forth to the Land Sales & our builder of choice (at the moment). We parted with another $300 to reserve the land till exchange of contract, went home feeling good and confident again and hoping that this love affair with The Ponds will last forever :)

P/S My hubby will do the dirty work of talking to the solicitor & cancel the transaction. I hope he won't charge us anything since we wish to engage him again in this newfound love nest :)