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September 25, 2006

Spec Home Design - First Looks

Much walking around of display homes today. Before I get into the houses we've looked at I'll just quickly discuss the market that we see our home targetting and the requirements we believe these segments have.

1. Two mid level income couples with no children or 1-2 very young children.
2. Couples looking to downsize with no children at home

With these two segments in mind we see the primary requirements of the house as being:

1. High street appeal, a front elevation that is fashionable and attractive. But nothing too 'leading edge' that may look dated too quickly.
2. Internal fixtures that give an impression of quality without going too over the top. The suburb where we are building will not support a house that is fitted out with the best of everything, but certainly some improvements will be looked for by younger couples looking for some 'wow' factor. These improvments will largely be confined to the kitchen and bathrooms, as these allow for the greatest amount of individualization.
3. An internal layout supporting either a young family, or a couple with diverse interests. To us this translates to a 3 bedroom or 2 bedroom + study configuration. It also means that a separate master bedroom bathroom (en-suite) and living area are vital.
4. 2700mm (9ft) ceilings for a feeling of extra space.
5. Covered outdoor entertaining area.
6. Low maintenance modern garden.

Based on these requirements, and the size of the land we found ourselves looking at the villa homes (suitable for a 8.5-10m (28' to 33') frontage) and courtyard (suitable for 38' to 43'frontages) homes. The width of our land (11m, 33') means we are restricted to single garage versions of the courtyard homes which are almost universally double garage designs. We are happy to settle on an existing design of a contract builder as we believe this will lead to the house being completed faster and will lower the overall cost of building.

The two designs we saw today were the:

Heathcote 180 - AV Jennings

This is a nice design, a courtyard home and with a single garage pretty well suited to the size of the block. I particularly like the way the bedrooms/bathroom are separated from the living area. The only real downside to design of the house is the width, the courtyard down the side of the house would be quite small. The other major downside is the price, the base price is $105,000, which is a lot more than what we wanted to spend. It does, however, include a lot of things as standard that other builders charge extra for.

Hamilton - Fairmont

This design is the real minimum of what we wanted to build. It meets all of our requirements but the front lounge feels small and we did not like the bedroom doors coming off the main hallway. However, the price is right, just $89,000 for the base price.

No need to make a decision yet. We're still waiting for a lot of design brochures to arrive from different builders, I'm sure we'l find what we want.

Posted by mnemtsas at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2006

Land Contract Settles

The contract on the land settled today. As of 12:00pm we are the proud owners of another 330 sqm (about 3700 sq ft) of vacant land. It all happened today without any interaction on my behalf, other than receiving a phone call from the real estate agent, the home loan broker, and the conveyancer all telling us the contract had settled.

Posted by mnemtsas at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2006

Checks Paid

Dropped the payout check for the land into the conveyancer. Other than having a car accident on the way it all went smoothly.

Posted by mnemtsas at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2006

Final Payout Figure Received

We received the final payout figure on the land, $64,034. My wife went to the bank and drew a bank check for the amount. Man I could buy a nice car with that money ;-).

Posted by mnemtsas at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2006

Loan Documents Received

BankWest couriered the loan documents for the land to us today. We duly signed them and couriered them back to their lawyers here in town. So that part of the loan is closed out.

I was notified by phone that the refinance for our existing home went through with no problems and we should see the $65,000 less fees in our account by close of business today.

Posted by mnemtsas at 09:48 AM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2006

Weighing up the Designs

My wife and I sat down and did a decision matrix on the three designs we're considering. It became pretty clear that the Heathcote (AV Jennings) and the Portland Mk2 (Fairmont) were the two we would be choosing from. The other design just feels too small, and the bedrooms coming off the main hallway is a real negative to us. The outcome of the session was that price would likely be the final deciding factor. I should say that the price is not just the building price, but also the likely time to build and the associated interest costs. My wife will call both builders during the week and get some ball park prices on the upgrades we will need.

Posted by mnemtsas at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2006

A Spanner In the Works?

Made a phone call to the salesman today to make an appointment to sign the building contract. He returned the call and said that there were some potential problems with getting the house approved for the land we'd bought.

Firstly, the council has a 40% coverage rule, meaning the total under main roof area of the house must be less than 40% of the land area. Secondly, they have a minimum of 60 sq m of private open living area as a requirement (this means the back yard must be at least 60 sqm). Thirdly they are not allowing any construction that requires retaining walls of more than 500mm high.

Our chosen design includes an 'alfresco', which is basically 16 sqm of outdoors area covered by the main roof. If the council is silly they will include this in the total area of the house. If they're not silly they'll recognise that this is exactly the same as a verandah or pergola added later and they won't include it. Exactly the same argument can apply to the minimum open private living area requirement. In both cases we comply comfortably if the alfresco area is not considered to be part of the main house structure.

I'll address the 500mm retaining wall requirement separately because of the sheer ridiculousness of it. Firstly, none of the vacant land in our development would be able to comply with this rule, hence according to the council, all this land must remain vacant. Secondly, 90% of the existing homes in our development are therefore, illegal. How dumb is this!

The outcome of all this is that the salesman has put our site plan through to council for a preliminary approval just to see if we are completely wasting out time putting the final plans in. We'll find out more tomorrow.

Posted by mnemtsas at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2006

Another Look at Spec Home Designs

Another trip to a housing display village. A worthwhile one too! We went through a house today that pretty much met all of our requirements without being too expensive. As a bonus it also had what the builder called an 'alfresco'. This was simply the main roof of the house extending over a courtyard on the back corner. The courtyard was a decent size, perhaps 3 x 4m (10x13.5ft). This would save the trouble of putting up a pergola/verandah on the house when it's built. A saving of perhaps $3,000. Anyway here's the design:

Portland Mk2 - Fairmont

As you can see it meets all of our requirements. Again I liked the main bathroom/bedrooms being partitioned away from the living areas. The wall in the main living area has an interesting bulkhead built into the wall, it certainly is a feature and grabs the attention of someone first entering the room.

Posted by mnemtsas at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)