Thursday, December 17, 2009

HIA Contract signed...

I went back to Carlisle yesterday to sign the HIA contact. They've fast tracked the process a little so I could still qualify for the larger first home buyers grant (which is handy considering I missed out on the 32K thanks to Metricon). I also have another appointment with the bank to talk about my home loan.

I'm enjoying the process so much more with Carlisle, all the staff that I've dealt with so far have been nothing short of delightful. When mistakes have been made they've been quick to admit and remedy which is all you can ask for in something as complex as a house build.

I've been working stupidly long hours in the lead up to Christmas... yesterday started at 7am and finished at 11.30pm. I'm looking very forward to taking a break and stalking my block some more. It's amazing to see how quickly houses are popping up around me. Hopefully they won't get done too fast so I can hold onto the money for the fencing just a little bit longer.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tender Presentation

Apparently for once in my life I've managed to curb my expensive taste (slightly). My tender presentation with Carlisle wasn't half as painful as I thought it would be. I still within the budget I'd set for myself at the start of this process (although only just) and I have pretty much all the absolute "must haves" I'd decided I "must have" when I started looking for a house.

I'd still give anything for some of the tile upgrades I saw at the colour selection centre and if I had the money I'd have a ceramic bathtub instead of the plastic but these things aren't going to make me love my house any less. It's only a starting point, there is plenty of time to build houses with amazing tiles and wooden floorboards.

The only thing I really changed was the splashback - it started off as Toffee Fingers but after thinking about my colour combinations I realised I could stand to have a little less brown in this house so I changed it to Beige Royal in Pearl on Starfire glass and the combination of the pearl and the lighter colour should bring some life back into that kitchen corner.

Still settling on the right shade of turquoise to bring into the house in various ways but there is plenty of time for that.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The colour selection

Mocha Bricks

Toffee Fingers Render

Jasper Guttering

Braid - Feature Colour

Tsunami - Highlight

White Duck Half

Espresso Ligna

Metallic Silver Splashback

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Missing Pegs

Went and measured my block yesterday with my Dad (who is an absolute star when it comes to helping me with this whole process).  Everything seems pretty accurate although I'm missing a peg on the back right hand corner, so I'll have to take that up with the conveyancer on Monday.

There were quite a few people out doing the same on their blocks while I was up there as well - so I've at least waved to a couple of the locals.  There was a very cute young couple taking photos of each other on their block and hugging while trying to get each other in shot.  It was very sweet.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Land Settlement

Notice finally came through today that my land paperwork had come back from the titles office and my settlement will be the 2nd of December.  I'm exceptionally excited - it seems like such a long time since I first came across this piece of land and decided I could actually build a house on my own.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Westbury 26

The color selection was made a breeze by the lovely Jessica who was amazed at how decisive I managed to be (I actually surprised myself - as I'm rarely that decisive).

Bricks - Boral Mocha with Natural Rolled Mortar
Render - Toffee Fingers
Roof Tiles - Monier Traditional Tiles in Barramundi
Gutters, Fascia & Downpipes  - Colourbond Jasper
Garage - Tuscan Profule - Jasper

Floor Tiles - Luxe Mocha (Deep Chocolate Grey Colour with a small amount of light fleck through it)
Kitchen Cupboards - Espresso Ligna
Perspex Insert - Lucite Pearlescent Platinum
Benchtops - Ceasarstone Ice Snow
Splashback - Starfire glass in Toffee Fingers
Kickrail - Stainless

Floor and Wall tiles  - Luxe Mocha
Cabinets - Seductive Limba (Horizontal)
Basins - Square inset
Splash backs - White lined tiles in main and pearl lintel tiles in a chocolate in the ensuite (thinking I might change this)

Interior Walls
Ceiling, Cornices and Doors - Lexicon 1/4
Walls - White Duck 1/2, 

I'll further add to these myself after handover with White Duck Full, Columbia (still not sure about this one - but a deep cool brown for the rumpus room would be nice) and even something like Porpoise Place.  (The idea is to have cool grey browns, silvery beiges, cool whites and small elements of deep turquoise).

Kitchen and Dining Area at Lyndhurst display village

Discovering Carlisle

Through the Homeone forums I discovered a builder I'd never heard of by the name of Carlisle homes.  I looked through their designs and loved their houses and the feedback was generally pretty good about their processes (the occasional disgruntled customer but with evidence that they'd at least tried to rectify the issues).  Unfortunately it appeared they only built in the South and in the West of Melbourne.

So I started looking at the Porter Davis Heywood 25 - which was just slightly bordering on too expensive and another builder based in Doreen who were fantastic and the price was amazing but even with references seemed like too much of an unknown quantity when I was already so bitter and on edge about the building process.

One night as I was looking through the forums there was a post about how Carlisle were planning to start building in the North, so the very next day I hit the road down to Lyndhurst to check out the Westbury 26 - The layout was fantastic and many of the features that I'd been quoted a fortune for would be included.  So I got a quote and the process got started.

The Great "Invisible Tree" Nightmare of 2009

I was always one of these people that assumed that the vast majority of nightmare stories posted over the internet about the games builders play were people that were expecting way too much from a spec builder and overreacting.  Apparently I was very wrong (or expecting any sort of customer service is now expecting too much).

My experience with Metricon started off fairly poorly.  I approached Metricon in Mernda for a fixed price house and land package.  I think I was sent to look at 8 blocks of land that had either been sold just before I got to them (possibly 5 minutes down the road) or had been gone for weeks or months.  Finally found a block that was in my price range and large enough for the house I wanted to build and available... it was just that I happened to ask the land sales woman if the house next door (same house same facade) would be an issue that she quickly realised the sales guy should never have suggested that block as he did actually know the people that owned the house and that it was the same facade and wouldn't fit within the rules of the Metricon owned estate.

Finally a block of land comes up at Mernda Villages and the land sales woman was incredibly helpful.  Placed the deposit on the land as I was told to do for the house and land package and went back for all the siting information at the Metricon office.  Was then informed that the facade I wanted wouldn't fit within estate covenants without about 2,000 dollars worth of changes and I would be better going with my second option which would need no changes as it already fit.  I then went through the process of quoting up the additions and changes which all seemed quite easy at the time but as I went further through the contracts I discovered the pricing was quite incorrect.  The best example was downlights... I'd been quoted for 25 downlights but he'd assumed they were 25 dollars cheaper than they actually were adding an extra $625 to my electricals before I'd even started.

Starting with my finance - one would expect a Mortgage Broker would be able to answer his phone... while it might not be in the standard training one should be able to assume it would be required knowledge.  Unfortunately mine must have skipped that day.  The deadline for my land finance started to get closer and I still hadn't heard anything back from him, so I started calling and calling and calling.  Finally I got him to return a phone call to which he informed me that my first choice in bank had declined me and that he was doing everything in his power to try and get them to have another look at my file - but I was probably going to have to try bank #2.   I fill in loan application #2 and send it back to him and go through the calling him and getting no response again.  Finally he calls me back to say that I've been declined from bank #2 and I should have a look at another lender.  I'm almost ready to give up on the whole concept of buying land when I manage to start talking to a banker friend who informs me there should be no good reason I would be declined and pointed me in the direction of the Loans Manager at bank #1.  

I call the Loans Manager, explain what has been going on and he asks me to come in and we'll get to the bottom of the problem together.  When I arrive at the bank the first thing he tells me is that the reason he asked me to come in to tell me what he was about to tell me was that if he told me over the phone I "might just drive through the front window" of the first mortgage broker.  Apparently when he looked at my loan application it was full of notes where the bank had tried to contact him for more information but hadn't been able to reach him.  The original bank approved my loan in principal on the spot and had full approval within a week.

Started the process with the with Metricon's customer service who similarly were never available when I called and managed to double book and cancel my first appointment with them.  Managed to not pass the information through to my electrical appointment at all so when I turned up they had no idea who I was or what I was there for and then managed to send me a change to my tender document via email the day before I was supposed to sign it.

There was no information, no explanation and absolutely no warning.  When I phone up they told me that the $20,000 dollars worth of changes were due to a number of factors including a tree that was going to change the soil profile and changes to the facade to deal with estate covenants (If I had have known this I would have gone with my first option).  It was the tree that really annoyed me as I'd been to the block several times and no where was there any tree.  When I called up I was promptly informed that "site costs can change" and that trees sap moisture out of the soil.  This was the start of some of the most futile arguments I've ever had - I was arguing there was no tree, they were telling me their engineers don't get it wrong and it must be there.  

All the time with a fairly threatening undertone in the conversation of... "Well you're going to have to sign the contract anyway because you're a first home buyer and if you don't you'll miss out on the extended grant".  The Customer service girl even managed to try to convince me that the 5 day cooling off period would be enough to get it sorted out and I should sign the contracts anyway.  This was when alarm bells really started ringing - no one should ever sign a contract that they know is incorrect cooling off periods don't relate to mistakes in the contract.

Finally after a month of getting nowhere and the realisation that it just wasn't worth the trauma to get the grant boost I told them they could keep their house and restarted the process to look for a new house to build on my little piece of land in Mernda.