Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bought the land

26th September 2007

We past our cooling off period today so we're committed to our patch of Australia in Peakhurst NSW. We had some last minute worries about whether drainage pipes had been laid in the easements dictated by council as part of DA Approval because our site slopes and has to drain water away from the plot to the street.

Noone seemed keen to give us paperwork showing that the work was completed, and the solicitor didn't want to chase it so I ended up making various calls. The vendor had said weeks ago that pipes were in, but couldn't provide evidence. He then said Sydney water had done it.. they assured me that they hadn't and don't do this sort of work anyway. Council said pipes go in after a build anyway and that no esxcavation permits had ever been granted on the site so it was unlilkely it had happened. To cut a long story short Clarendon guesstimated that the cost would be 1500-2500 to put these in after the event and we sort of decided to go with it.

I get the impression there's going to be alot of that.

At the moment Clarendon are controlling what happens when and we are booked to sign off on the elevations on 5/10. I know sometime after this there is the Colour Scheme wotsit but I don't know if this is the trail round the Your Home centre of the sit down and choose tiles and bricks session or both.

We've become fixated about getting these narrow dark bricks used on the Springvale at Glenwood although despite various mails noone seems to bothered to tell us which ones these are. Plenty of time till brick buying time anyway.

All I know after 3 visits to the Castle Hill Your Home centre is that its no fun with a toddler and there's alot of decisions to be made. Nothing has prices on either which is very frustrating. I've ended up choosing as much as possible from Clarendon's known suppliers offline and I am going to go in there armed with my 1st and 2nd choice of fittings knwoing that one might be totally out of fact in our current situation anything we choose will be out of budget.

Our baby is due in 3 weeks...phew.. we have alot on.

Friday, September 14, 2007

14 September 2007

Its scary we've got financial approval for our land purchase and home building mortgage. We'll exchange contracts on Monday. The vendor wants settlement over 28 days instead of the usual 41 so lets hope the bank can do things quickly.

We have both Stamp Duty on the land at $6.5k and also a yearly land tax duty of $300.
Fortunately we knew about both. Stamp duty is much reduced because we're first time buyers, but also obviously because its a land purchase.

When the contracts came through we had some last minute questions. When you see stuff in black and white it's amazing what occurs to you. All along we have known they were drainage easements on the land to drain the rear block accross the natural slope of the land to the front - what we didn't think of were whether these drains really had water drains already in them to drain the plot from front to back, or whether this was suddenly going to be part of our site costs which are already high from having being slightly sloping. Anyway its all sorted the drains are there.

I've just this minute booked our next tender meeting with Clarendon Homes in a couple of weeks where we get to sign off on the architectural plan, building contract and tender.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

May 2007

We visited some townhouses in Oatley. There were decorated really nicely and were on the market for $640-700k. On top of this there were ground rentals of $300. We were sorely tempted, maybe with one kid it would have been an option but with another baby on the way they weren't spacious enough for us and the mortgage would have been through the roof.

At this point we started looking more seriously at the ads that were coming through for the St George and Sutherland Shire area.

June 2007

Mum and I visited the plot that we had found in Peakhurst, and took plenty of photos.

July 2007

We visited Homeworld in Sydney and trooped about lots of different show homes equipped with a bouncy toddler and an enthusiastic grandma. AV Jennings homes stood out as being modern, and within budget however further investigation showed that they have high out of area fees that would have really stretched our budget. Despite visiting lots of homes Clarendon came accross as the most consistently helpful, being available for discussion on all of the occaisions we needed them, and replying quickly to our e-mail enquiries.

Our initial thoughts were to build as big a house as possible, swayed by wandering around the Crestwood at Glenwood with its giant ensuite. Once we'd seen the house footprint on our plot in a sales meetingwe realised that there would be very little yard space and I've never liked the idea of a massive house with no yard. We also had a strict budget, and are trying to complete the house for around 300k, and there were smaller cheaper houses we could go for. We swapped to a Sacremento.

Clarendon offer lots of different facades - I think the Sacremento has about 6 to choose from. Again budget came into play. We liked the modern bagged acrylic look but again on some houses we'd seen this looked quite thin, and it also costs alot more. We decided to go for bricks and decided to investigate whether we could have a facade like the Mornington Coventry.

We signed at the sales meeting to commit to $600 for a site survey which would identify the all important site costs and then we had to wait for the report 3 weeks later. If estimated costs blew out on site we wouldn't be purchasing the land. If the plot isn't level there are cut and fill costs. At this point we knew nothing about site costs but had roughly budgeted $30k towards this. Our site costs include sewer connection, stormwater connection, water connection, earthworks, retaining walls slab construction, electricty connection, tree removal. Then there's site condition costs of council zone allowance, site handling, drop edge beams for a slightly sloping site. (In total these came to $30,000.)

August 2007

We also began to organise finance at this point. This was all running very smoothly until as partners in a small business venutre we realised we were going to have to provide current tax returns which at that point in time were not completed, and to wait on them would cause long delays. We changed to a Lo-Doc building loan with St George where finance is released in stages according to the build.

At this point I had a spreadsheet up and running of everything I could think of and its rough cost.

When you go to a project builder they give you a base price for the house, but there are plenty of other costs to consider in addition. The inclusions in house base price needs to be carefully considered and compared between different builders. Many have upgrade offers to tempt you which often involve internal fittings. The big costs though are often related to the plot you choose and the services that are available on it. Ours were unknown because our plot was in a residential area outside the normal Metropolitan build Zone of Western Sydney.

My list so far includes solicitors fees, mortgage set up fees, council fees, tree removal costs, landscaping and driveway costs, internal lighting, air conditioning, upgrades to bathrooms to get square basins, tiling and carpeting, and of course the costs of covering rent and build at the same time. It takes 9 months to build the house and we have to submit plans to council , which adds another 3 months.

31 August 2007

We met with the tender presenter at Head Office today and had a 3 hour meeting going through the financials and real costs of building. The base price of a Sacremento (also known as Watervale) is $184,880 . Cheap huh! Well the real cost of building it on our plot is going to be $255,085. We had $39k of variations which includes facades, mods to garage which had to be sited lower because of a 1m slop to the plot, enlarging the ensuite to include a bath, adding a few doors and air con.