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October 26, 2006

'Bank Pack' Received

Huzzah! We received the 'bank pack', contract, and final drawings. It took 83 days and $1500 from signing the contract to get to this point. We can now take the documents to our bank and get final loan approval. We can also take the drawings to various contractors to get quotes to submit to the bank along with the documents from the builder.

Here's a couple of pictures of the house plans for those of you interested (click on them for bigger images).

The to-do-list for this week is:

1. Make appointment with kitchen sub contractor for kitchen fit out selection
2. Make appointment with interior supply company for selection of interior fitout of bathrooms/laundry/appliances etc.
3. Send out floorplan to carpet/tile suppliers for preliminary quote on carpeting and tiling
4. Send out site layout to landscape companies for quote on paving the rear and front driveway installation
5. Send out site layout to earthmoving companies for quote on installation of retaining walls and storm water.

Posted by mnemtsas at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2006

Landscaping / Retaining Wall Quotes Received

We got a couple of retaining wall quotes back today and one for the paving/stormwater.

Firstly, the good news, the paving/stormwater will be around $10,200. I was expecting $10,000 for the paving alone. So this is a good thing.

Now for the bad news. I spent 30 minutes on the phone to one of the retaining wall contractors and he detailed out the problems with retaining walls in the area we are building. Most of these problems seemed to involve rock and the trouble with shifting it. If they do hit rock when putting in the walls the cost of a drilling rig to get through it is $190/hr. Ouch. Anyway the two quotes we received were:

$17,500 + allow up to $10,000 for rock drilling
$27,800 (with no allowance for rock drilling so I guess these guys are expecting it).

These quotes are $10,000 more than I was expecting when we started this whole process. Unfortunately there's absolutely nothing to be done about it as the level of the house (and thus the height and nature of the retaining walls) is determined by the local council. Of course Murphy's law prevailed and they picked the worst height for the site they could have. Oh well.

Posted by mnemtsas at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2006

Footings Variation Received

I haven't posted for a while, simply because nothing has happened. It's been 9 weeks since we signed the building contract and today we received the engineers soil report and footings design.

The quality of the documentation and exactly what we were to do with it left a lot to be desired. I'm a professional engineer and I've got to say the drawings and report were thoroughly confusing to me, I'd hate to think how someone with no technical background would interpret them. The financial impact is an additional $1000 for footings (we had allowed $10,000) and another $500 for a site survey because there are no marker pegs on the site.

On the variations schedule there were 9 points and I had to ring up and get clarification on each one. The two that concern me the most are the level the council has chosen for the house. It means that retaining walls are now required around the whole block. Bummer. The other thing that bothers me is a cryptic mention of 'rock encountered' in one of the 5 bores taken on the site during the soil test. The contract variation just says 'owner to take note that rock encountered during soil test'. On asking this means that we *could* end up being charged more for the site to be cleared.

Our responsibilities duing the whole process are quite vague as are the order in which things are to be done. If I hadn't phoned the builder I would have had no idea that it is our responsibility to remove all soil from the site after they have levelled it out. I also am very unclear as to when we can have the retaining walls installed. To me it makes sense to have them done after the block is levelled and before the foundation is layed to allow access to front end loaders and so on. However, the person I spoke to on the phone at the builder suggested we don't put down the retaining walls until after the house is built.

This doesn't sound right to me.

Posted by mnemtsas at 04:08 PM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2006

An Interesting Phone Call Part 2

So I jumped on the phone and called the builder about having the retaining walls installed before the house is built. They put me through to someone who was a 'project manager'. He basically listened to my spiel, agreed with me, and then said it was up to me to negotiate this with my 'site supervisor' when we were assigned one. Blah.

Posted by mnemtsas at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2006

An Interesting Phone Call Part 1

One of the retaining wall contractors rang me just a short time (kudos to him) after receiving the request for quote. He was strongly emphasizing the need to have the retaining walls installed before the house was built or costs will be considerably higher. This goes completely against what I was told by our builder here. The retaining wall contractor said 'under the act' that we were to be given reasonable time to install retaining walls between levelling the land and preparing the land for laying the foundations.

I need to call our builder immediately and get this sorted out.

Posted by mnemtsas at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)

Floor Coverings Quote Received

We've decided to go with hard floor coverings (tiles or floorboards) in the living areas of the home and carpets only in the bedrooms. This will wear better if we decide to rent the property.

We got a quote back today for this:

$1600 for carpets
$4400 for tiling/floorboards

Total Cost: $6000

When we get closer to the house being actually built we'll decide on the actual floor covering we want.

Posted by mnemtsas at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)

Building Contract Signed

Went and saw the salesman in his office today to sign the building contract. First piece of good news was that the house plan was given the preliminary go ahead from the local council despite the problems I discussed yesterday. Of course there is a chance that they may change their mind and we may end up having to alter the plan to comply with some bureaucratic requirement. This could potentially mean more costs.

The building contract we signed was the standard contract offered by the Housing Industry Association here in Australia. Using the standard contract, written in plain English makes the whole process a lot easier to understand. The salesman was great and took us through every section of the contract and explained its purpose and potential effects on us. Key things that came out of it are:

  • The contract includes a 48 hour cooling off period.

  • The payment schedule was laid out. It's in 5 equal installments with the first payment due after the concrete foundations are paid. Interestingly the contract includes a provision to allow the last payment to be held over until the client is happy with the home. 'Happy' (according to the contract) means that the standard of the new home is at least that of the display homes presented by the builder.

  • Fairmont Homes seems to offer a fixed price contract, and discards the section of the contract that allows for changes in contract price and the builders costs change. The allowable change was something like 2% per month of the contract.

  • The Housing Industry Association outlines the mediation process between the builder and client clearly in the contract. The HIA actually mediates this process themselves and provides both parties with advice if a fee is paid (presumably to stop trivial complaints).

  • The contract does include some time lines but there doesn't appear to be any way of enforcing them and no mention is made of time taken to get the concrete foundations down, just time to build after this happens. 130 working days after foundations going down is the expected time period.

  • The builder warrants the home for a period of six months. The salesman tried to tell us this was not transferrable to a new owner but this sounds like it would contravene Australian consumer laws so I'll need to look into this.
  • The whole process took a bit over an hour and included some preliminary selections for the house such as the shape of internal archways. It would have taken longer but the salesman's printer ran out of ink and some of the paperwork was not signed. This will be mailed to us in the next week.

    In spite of not signing some paperwork with the main contract signed and the deposit paid the actual process of building can start. This will include drawing up a site plan, conducting soil tests and writing engineering reports, and submitting the plans to council for development and building approval. We've been told 3-4 months from today we can expect the foundations to go down. Here's hoping it's only that long!

    Posted by mnemtsas at 10:53 AM | Comments (3)

    October 04, 2006

    Getting Quotes

    OK we're back from holidays today. I spent a couple of hours marking up copies of the house/land layout for faxing out to suppliers for quotation purposes. I had four marked up plans showing:

    1. Retaining wall positions and height plus including the design table for the walls as supplied by the engineering report.

    2. Areas of the house to be carpeted and areas to be tiles.

    3. A site layout showing likely stormwater drainage and including a total length of stormwater likely to be required.

    4. A site layout showing the total area to be paved and the area of the driveway to be paved.

    Once I'd prepared these drawings I faxed each one to several suppliers asking for quotations within 7 days. These quotations will help with our own budget but will also be supplied to the bank for finalizing the loan process.

    Posted by mnemtsas at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)