Saturday, 28 March 2015

All roads lead to St Tropez

Just a quick post tonight.  I've been blah blah blahing for so long now, I'm sure you're all sick of reading my rants.


After speaking with David from Boutique Homes this morning I'm happy to say that we've re-signed our PWC with them and we're building our first choice in home all over again.

They were apologetic for what happened and were happy to honour the original pricing from last year.  I'm pretty comfortable they won't go forging any signatures again.  David has also promised he will check over everything personally himself also.  Absolutely THRILLED to be dealing with David again.

I feel like such a weight has been lifted and I can breath (and sleep) again.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

We officially own a block of land......meh!

Settlement went though at 11am this morning, after 10 months, we now officially own our block of land and I couldn't be less excited about it.

When I got the call from our conveyancer this morning congratulating us, all I could say was "Oh yeah, thanks"

I was hoping owning our first block of land would be exciting, but this whole process has totally drained me and honestly? I wish we had never bought this block of land.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Sleepless night...

I did not sleep a wink last night.  After receiving the bad news that our site works were going to cost us $40,000 I was up all night stressing about what we were going to do.

Our options as I see it?
1. Pay the $40k and build this house
2. Change house design and put a smaller house, or a double storey house on the block instead
3. Sell the block of land and don't even think about building a house ever again

The other issue we have to compound this problem is the promotion we received when we bought our block of land.  Our developer (Villawood) will pay our 5% builders deposit if we sign an unconditional contract within 12 months of signing our land contract; that makes it May 10th.

If we change house design, we need to start the whole process all over again (for the 3rd time).  Porter Davis were happy to remind us that if we decided to change house plans then we wouldn't make it in time to sign a contract before May 10. There is absolutely no way they could possibly help by speeding up the process, that would be just too helpful.

I was so stressed out that I couldn't go to work today.  I needed time to think this through.

The first thing we did was get in contact with our land sales consultant and told him of the issue we were now having with this new builder and that our contracts could be pushed out yet again. He was incredibly patient and said that we would still get our builders deposit.  He will advise Villawood of the issues we keep facing.  The service we've received from Nabil at the Pasadena sales office has been nothing short of exceptional.  This bloke deserves a medal.

As usual our Building Co-ordinator with Porter Davis was absolutely useless and couldn't help us with advice on how much we need to change our design so that it fits better on our block and we don't need to sell our first born to pay it.  We tried going back to the sales office to speak to someone but unfortunately the sales consultant was at a meeting.  We took some brochures home with us to look through more designs......we couldn't find anything we liked.

What came next was totally unexpected.....I suggested we go back to Boutique Homes.  We were unsure about this, but figured we could at least go and chat with our old consultant.  After all, he has been the most professional and trustworthy rep we have dealt with any builder.  Thankfully he was there and we had a chat.  He did not make us feel awkward at all and was really quite respectful.  He said he would drop everything and get in contact with his Manager and see if there is anything they can do for us.  He is hoping that we can just kick off were we left off, hopefully with all the same pricing.

He wasn't kidding either.  About an hour later we received a call from him just to let us know that he's been trying to contact his manager but hasn't had any luck as yet.  The customer service from this bloke is second to none.  He was calling us just to let us know he is still working for us.  In contrast with service from Porter Davis?  I've had to email, call and even rock up face to face, just to get a response from someone.  And finally when I do hear back, I get a standard response of, "Thank you for your email, unfortunately I am unable to assist with this...."

David (from Boutique) called me back again this evening to advise that he was able to get in contact with his manager, who was happy to hear we're thinking of coming back and will contact the General Manager to discuss our situation.

We're going back on Saturday to discuss the possibility of returning to Boutique Home.  I have a sickness in the pit of my stomach about this; after the forgery situation, I'm worried about trusting them, and I'm concerned they will try and take advantage of us for returning.

I guess we'll find out on Saturday.

Porter Davis upgrade costs

We had our Tender Appointment on Monday and because Porter Davis are extremely unhelpful when it comes to advising of any pricing before Tender, I thought I would post our upgrade costs to help anyone who might be reading this blog and building with PD also.

Our house is/was the Essex 27 - so for anyone building this or similar sized house.

1. Bushfire Assessment Level - $7,460 (I choked when I saw this)
2. Cavity sliding doors to Cinema Lounge - $1,076
3. Glazing to ensuite window - $96.00
4. Two 1800 x 600 wide awning windows (in lieu of standard) to family room - $447.00
5. Upgrade to Boutique Stacker sliding door to family rear - $1,268.00
6 Credit to remove 1500 x 900 window from Cinema Lounge - ($76.00)
7. Upgrade to sliding robe doors in all bedrooms x 3 - $504.00
8. Paradigm Square 005 Trade Satin Chrome deadbolt to front entry - $132.00
9. 600mm Satin stainless steel pull handle to front entry - $357.00
10. Privacy locks x 3 - $12.00
11. 2340 x 1200 clear glazed pivot front entry door - $1,835.00
12. Credit to remove melamine shelving from WIR - ($143.00)
13. Brickwork neutraliser - $138.00
14. Additional render to front façade (Griffith Façade) - $1,156.00
15. Cat 7 Brickwork to front Façade feature - 1,324.00
16. Stainless steel kickplate for freestanding oven - $163.00
17. Mizu Soothe chrome wall mixers - $122.00 each
18. Posh Bristol shower on rail in lieu of standard in bathroom - $41.00
19. Posh base sink mixer - $7.00
20. Capped cold water point to fridge space - $126.00
21. Kado Arc inset basin - $24.00 each
22. Mizu Sooth basin mixers - $46.00 each
23. Soundscreen insulation around WC - $210.00
24. Upgrade to digital thermostat for heating - $314.00
25. Stain for front entry - $91.00
26. Stepeco underlay to all bedrooms - $298.00
27. Silk finish to all kitchen cabinetry - $1,406.00
28. Underbench microwave space with drawer under - $425.00
29. 20mm overhang to overhead cupboards - $110.00
30. Set of 3 pot drawers to one side of oven - $213.00
31. Drawer for Bin (note: drawer only; bin not included) - $170.00
32. Base cabinetry and laminate bench to Galley - $1,400.00

If you build the Essex or another design that has a Galley, check what is included! We assumed (incorrectly of course) that the Galley was like the kitchen and would come with cupboards and a bench (Laminate). But during our WOS appointment we discovered that it only comes with 2 melamine shelves (like a pantry).

Also, don't let them try and tell you you have to upgrade to a Colorbond roof because of your BAL rating! (unless it's in your design guidelines) We were originally being charged an extra $5.5k to upgrade our tiled roof to Colorbond because our BAL was 12.5. I politely told them this is BS and our tender consultant had to go and check. They promptly removed this. Does not fill me with confidence that they tried this.

Things just go from bad to worse

We had our Tender appointment yesterday and lets just say it do NOT go well.

Porter Davis had not done the siting of our house on the block correctly.  I'm not sure what happened, but they had not taken in to account the fall on our land. I thought it was strange when the consultant said we were lucky to have such a flat block of land. I had to correct her and when she took a look at another plan she realised that the siting was wrong.

She swiftly took this back to estimating to price up our site works again.

In the meantime we went through the rest of the issue.

Our BAL rating is 12.5; this didn't come as a surprise as this is what it was with Boutique Homes, so I was expecting this.  What I didn't expect was that we were told we had to upgrade to a Colorbond roof to comply with the BAL rating, so they slugged us with the cost to upgrade the roof ($5.5k) on top of the $3.5k to be BAL compliant.  I questioned this, stating that we didn't have to upgrade the roof with Boutique Homes and that a work colleague of mine also has a BAL rating of 12.5 and he didn't have to upgrade his roof.  Once again, she was off to check this.......surprise, surprise, we don't have to upgrade the roof to Colorbond, but we do have to have sarking in the roof. The roof upgrade was taken off, but our Bushfire compliance went from $3.5k to $6.5k.  Come again? sarking costs how much?

We thought we had a little bit of a win when we discovered that estimating had not charged us for some extra rendering we had asked for.  That was promptly quashed however when our consultant efficiently advised estimating they had missed this; isn't she the best?

After we finished going through the rest of the Tender, estimating still hadn't finished our new site works quote, so we were advised to head off for an early lunch (11:30am) and should be ready to go in about another hour and a half; they'll give us a call.

3 hours later we still had not heard anything so went back anyway.  We were greeted with "There's been issues"; the last thing you want to hear.

Turns out they were having trouble fitting our house on the block correctly with all the fill and fall. They've had to move the house forward; meaning it now encroaches into the building envelope, place more fill in the rear meaning they are now 'building' over the easement and put retaining walls on both sides and to the front driveway side.  The really shocking news? our site works went from a $25k estimate to a $40k estimate.  On top of this, they reminded us that these site works are not fixed and could still change.

$40k to put our house on a block of land with 1.2m of fall?  I couldn't believe it. Our land sales consultant couldn't believe it either.  He said that other blocks in the estate with more than 2m of fall have been quoted $30k....$40k was extreme.

Needles to say we did not sign our tender and left the office on the brink of tears......why does this keep happening to us?

Thursday, 19 March 2015


Quick background story.

When we signed contracts for our block back in May 2014 our block was on Green Gully Road.  A few months later (around September), they renamed our 'Road' to Kaputar Way (where do they come up with these names?).  Makes more sense to call it a 'Way' as we live on a dead end street and there are only 4 blocks along there.

Anyway, fast forward to January when our very patient mortgage broker has organised our loan through Westpac.  He sends us a copy of the Letter of Unconditional Approval and the first thing I notice is that the bank has our block listed as Green Gully Road.  I immediately inform our broker who gets on to the bank to let them know of the street name change.

For whatever crazy bank reason, they advised that they will have to do a re-assessment of our loan.  It's the same frigging block of land, why do a re-assessment just because the sign at the end of the street has changed name?

Anyhoo, this seemed to take them a couple of weeks to do and I was starting to get nervous as time is ticking by.  Finally after our broker hounded them, they got the paperwork re-issued and sent to the bank.

Last Saturday, we went in to sign the updated documents.  First thing we notice?  They still have the street listed as Green Gully Road!?!?! are you freaking kidding me?  Of course nothing can be done about this because it's a Saturday.  I immediately call our broker who said he'll get on to the bank first thing on Monday.  Starting to freak out a bit as Settlement is in a week and a half.

The bank was trying to tell our broker that we'd have to have new contract drawn up showing the actual street name.  Thankfully our conveyancer now got involved and pretty much told the bank they're being a bunch of idiots (I'm paraphrasing) and this sort of thing happens all of the time with developments and to pull their fingers out and re-do the paperwork correctly.

Long(er) story short, the new paperwork (with the correct address) was re-done and we signed the documents today.

Talk about cutting it close; Settlement is in 4 business day!!

I've been promised that the documents will be escalated and will be ready in time for Settlement.......stay tuned.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Titles have arrived!

After 10 months of waiting, we found out today (via Facebook of all places), that our Titles have been issued!! Yay!!!!

Settlement is to be 25/03/2015.

Better get that bank organised.

Monday, 2 March 2015


For those of you who are interested our Electrical plan is below.  We kept it pretty simple, only having down lights to the main living areas.

In total we ended up with:
22 Batten lights
20 Down lights
1 pre wired batten point (to add a ceiling fan under the Alfresco at a later stage)
2 Flood lights (with sensors)
2 Under cupboard lights (under the overhead kitchen cupboards)
2 Exterior lights
4 Single power points
25 Double power points
1 Quad power point
3 Safety switches
1 Surge protector
1 Led Skylight in bathroom (this was later removed as we couldn't justify the nearly $800 expense)

All up, our electrical came to $3,800.  Pretty happy about it, but I'm sure we've missed a whole heap.

World of Style Appointment

We've discovered that Porter Davis do things rather differently to Boutique Homes.  I'd have to admit, despite forging our signatures, Boutique Homes were a little easier to deal with.  If we wanted a price on something, they gave it to us.  Porter Davis will NOT give out any prices until you have your World of Style appointment (colours appointment) and even then, they only give you 'what they can'.  Apparently the rest comes at your tender appointment.

Aaaanyway, we had our WOS appointment today.  It didn't go 'great', but it didn't go too badly either.

The kitchen and the electrical appointments were good.  The staff members there were really helpful, the colours lady just lacked any sort of personality and seemed to just want to get us through as quickly as she could.  Didn't offer up too many helpful suggestions.

Our biggest disappointment came during our kitchen appointment when we discovered that our galley doesn't actually come with a bench top. In fact it only has two melamine shelves and that's it (like you get in a pantry). We assumed (and our sales guy didn't correct us) that the bench was included (like in the picture below), so we opted to pay $450 to include under bench cupboards.  Our sales guy couldn't have got it more wrong.  Not only do we not have the bench, but to upgrade to a bench and cupboards ended up costing $1400 (only a mere $1K difference).  Fortunately(?) for us, the kitchen lady had misquoted and only ended up charging us $1,200, which she honoured even after realising her mistake.

Colour choices ended up as follows...(sorry for the really shitty pictures)

Flooring - Provincial Smoky Dusk (Cat 3)
Glass splashback - Western Myall
Overhead cupboards - Polar White (Silk finish)
Stone Bench - Crystal Chalk (Cat 1)
Under bench cupboards - Sarsen Grey (Silk Finish)


Construction: Hebel
Render Colour: Missouri Mud
Feature Brick: Zinc (Cat 7?....something stupid anyway)
Garage Door: Surfmist
Windows: White (in this picture), however we've decided to go with Surfmist to match the garage door
Roof Tile: Elabana (Cat 1) in Barramundi

In the laundry and the bathroom cupboards we've gone for Blackened Linewood.

Bathroom tile: Colorado Grey (Cat 2) with a feature tile in the shower niches; Teakwood Natural Dark Grey (not sure of Category)


Lava Stone (Cat 1).
Our carpet is the one thing we're very unhappy with.  Unfortunately the Cat 1 choices blow, so we've upgraded our underlay to Cat 3 in the hope this will help the carpet. The fact that we have a cat also is going to be a struggle for us, so I dare say we'll probably replace the carpets in a couple of years.
It was just an expense we didn't want at this stage.  So many other things we wanted to spend our money on first.

Finally, remaining choices. Some of these things are included as part of the 'Design is in our DNA Promotion', others were upgrades.
Bath (included):

Kitchen Sink Mixer (included):

Kitchen Sink (included):

Bathroom Basins (upgrade):

Basin Mixers (upgrade):

Shower heads (included in ensuite; upgrade in Bathroom):
Wall mixers (upgrade):

In 3 weeks, we have our Tender appointment.  I will do an updated post with costs to help others building with PD.

Oh, just an fyi....Porter Davis do not include towel rails or toilet roll holders as standard.  I cannot remember the cost to include towel rails but toilet roll holders were $45!! (or thereabouts).  It might be cutting off my nose to spite my face, but I just couldn't bring myself to pay them for including toilet roll holders.  I politely said "No thanks, I'd rather install them myself after handover then give you the satisfaction of forcing me to include them in my build"