Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tiles, carpets and McDonald Jones

Last weekend we got a rough quote drawn up for our chosen house: The Bordeaux from McDonald Jones. All looks good, we will be receiving a more accurate quote tomorrow.

We were told that it would be wise to sign a contract in December, as there is going to be a 2% increase next year (aprox $4k) - and there is a secret special about to launch which will save us $4000 in a week or so :)

For a 100% perfect quote we need to wait until the land is ready to be surveyed (est. end of December) - but the difference should only be minor.

Given that we have $27/M2 for tiles to our 'wet' area's (bathrooms, laundry) we were at Di Lorenzo tiles today to see our selections. The basic selections were OK, but I think we will spend a little extra on getting a tile we like. We are looking for a mushroom type tile for the floors but are still relatively undecided. The tiles we liked were $35/M2, which is not too much extra.

We are still disillusioned by the carpet choice - they all look very similar, and I think we will only be able to pick once our other colours are sorted out. Anyway - its early days, and we are just wanting to get a basic idea before we sit down with McDJ to make final selections.

We have another meeting scheduled with our mortgage man on Wednesday to keep him updated on proceedings. Given that westpac have increased rates well above the reserve bank rates, I'm getting a little nervous about what lies ahead in terms of interest rates.

Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Land has exchanged last friday!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Done and done

Had a meeting with our solicitor yesteday. All is good with the contact for the land. Today I parted with my hard earned 5% deposit.

Yay!!! - now we have to wait for the contracts to be exchanged (tomorrow, friday?)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Kansas Shuffle

So you may have read in an earlier blog post about the land we missed out on. Well we got a call this afternoon saying that the people that wanted the land pulled out!

Fantastic news, as we get 30sqr metres more for $5K and no longer have to shrink our preferred house to make it fit. So we drove up to the office and switched blocks.

I'm happy with the bigger block, it means we have a little more space and potential for resale with an extra room on our house.

Lets do the time warp.

You can look at houses for hours. We loved it, but you can't have it all.
Narrowing down the floor plan without being distracted with extra bits and bobs is hard!

How often are you going to use that spa bath? is that window to the ensuite bathroom really nescessary?
Will you really use both those alfresco area's?

We fell in love with a few designs, but only very few of them actually suited what we needed. I found that houses that offered a zillion rooms, but at what benefit? Its hard to see how you could use:

A family room
A rumpas room
A dining room
A formal lounge
A play or kids room
A sun room

All in the same house - and thats what it seems a lot of builders try to cram in. I know every single house I ever lived in, that we had unused space. How many times did you really use that formal lounge?

Finding a house without 'dead' spots or no-go zones is difficult. I'm not sure why, because everyone we have spoken to acknowledges that all that extra space tends to go to waste.
For our place, we decided that an open living kitchen is the way to go. We loved the designs with the 'family room' (couch and TV) and the dining room (place to eat formally) in the same area.

I suspect everyone is different, and some prefer the more traditional home. But it was hard to find a reasonably priced builder with these sorts of layouts.

One of the first places we looked was Allworth Homes. They came recommended as Anna's parents built their house with allworth almost 20 years ago. The house has been absolutely solid, and met their needs well. They are also really well priced, but when you walk in, you know why.

We were horrified with their houses at homeworld. It looks like the kitchens and bathrooms went out of fashion just after the first testiment was written. Striking that off, we went to the next 'value' builder - masterton. But again we were struck by how dated the designs were - I mean the bathrooms were not even up to date by standards 20 years ago. Peach fitting with aqua floor tiles - what were they thinking? To their credit, they have more updated and modern designs at warickfarm, where we will visit next weekend.

Even though the homes at homeworld were built about 6 years ago, you can find some builders that have kept up to date with the times. McDonald Jones for example has some fantastic houses. We have not fully scoped out the pricing and options, but I suspect they will be a little over our budget. They also have very friendly staff and and extremely helpful architect onsite.

Still - the houses at the ponds display village were more what we were after, moden fiscades, minial formal area's and open plan living.

Purchasing our block

Purchasing the block seemed easier than ever - but a few things first up.

Depending on where you are buying land, the land might only 'register' much later. For instance, our block is nowhere near being completed. The road is not done, there are no street lights, enterences, power connections etc. The blocks of land get snapped up way before they are ready to use.

To buy a piece of 'unregistered' land at the ponds is simple.

1. Put down a $300 depost to say 'Its yours' (this is where we are up to)
- All you need to do this is the money, your address and your solicitors details.

2. In 28 days time, you will need to put down a 5% deposit and exchange contracts with your land vendor.

3. Thats it until the council registers the land (march in our case)

So what do you get before it registers? In essence, you get time. We now have time to find the best house deal, to save up a little more, and to research our dream home and how to fit that into our budget.

Oh and thanks to the government we got a free hand powered torch and a natural wax candle? good to see those tax dollars at work...

Land, Land, Land- It don't come cheap.

Here is a bit of background to our land purchase.

After looking at house's in thousands of Sydney suburbs we could afford a 1.2 room house in woop woop that was at least 50 years old. So we looked down the path of building a house.
7 months ago we went to Homeworld- We loved every second house and were ready to move in. As soon as we started talking to the sales rep all was not as it seemed. The first question- Were are you looking at building? Have you got finance? what size will your land be? - all questions we could not yet answer.

What areas of sydney could we afford land and still be able to build a house and not live in a tent. Could we still get to work from this land? or would we need to leave 4 hours before sun up? Land seemed to be the most important factor..

After the depressing saga that is - we decided to go out to The ponds, which we had looked at briefly before. The Ponds is a suburb located north west of sydney, close to homeworld, where large residential and commercial developments are occurring. We made our way to the land office where we were met by nice lady.

The lady spent a bit of time going through what the ponds is all about. Just in a brief summary, the ponds is a new suburb about an hour from the CBD of Sydney, free from all the community fee's that typical estates have. The land is affordable, from about 265K to 310K (expected to rise with further releases) Instantly, we were attracted to the area. There are new schools, shops, community centres, sports fields, cycling tracks - you name it.

We were shown three blocks in particular, two smaller 13 metre x 30 metre and a large corner block. Prices at 260 for the smaller blocks and 270 for the corner.

However there were several problems with the corner block. The ponds has placed some restrictions regarding facades and other dimensional limitations to help preserve the look and feel of the community. Later on - we would find that hardly any builders could cater for the strict requirements, or could for much extra cost. Needless to say we ditched the corner block!

So around homeworld and the ponds we went, talking to every builder in sight. We narrowed down some builders based on their websites, community forums and some blogs others had written.


13m x 30m blocks at the ponds are virtually useless. Most of the designed would not fit or meet the building requirements. We could possible get away with a two storey house but simply did not want to spend that sort of moolah. Disappointed after a long hard day of walking up and down the display villages, we wondered into AV Jennings, a builder whose house we were really impressed with.

There we met a lovey staff member. She tried to cut and shape the house to make it fit on the small block of land we were looking at - but it was hopeless - the design would not fit how we liked it. Not discouraged, she slipped us a number for another land office, selling land at the opposite end of the ponds, called Kalina. We raced over and had a lovely long discussion about the area. There were 5 blocks left, two that fell in our price range. A 15 x 30 metre block for $280k and a slightly larger 15 x 32 metre block for $285k.

Being first home owners, we though that the cheaper block would suite our needs, being able to put that extra $5k into the house and finishes. The gentlemen kindly walked us to the block, and explained everything! I wont go into too much detail, but some things you never think of. Connecting the sewers, what kind of concrete slab needs to be laid, how the storm water system works. All those things that could end up costing you thousands if you bought the wrong block. The land office closed at 5pm that day, but we ended up saying our goodbyes at 5:45pm - that's service!

The next morning we raced back in to the office to buy the BIGGER block of land. We decided overnight that having the extra 2m at the rear fence could be really beneficial. Unfortunately, another couple had spotted it before us, so we ended up with our original land.

And so be bought it! our very own piece of Australia. Our own sand and soil.

First Things First


We are Damian and Anna. First time home anythings and a new, young couple. We have decided to build our dream house and let you know how it goes along the way. We found that there are so many *great deals out there, but it wasn't till we started reading blogs and listening to others experiences that we realised just what we could fall into. So hopefully our blog like others will help you along the way.

Please excuse any spelling or grammar mistakes. We are no means perfect writers!

- Damian and Anna