Saturday, 27 December 2014

A fork in the road

We spent a good week tossing up what to do about Boutique Homes and the forged signatures.

We tried negotiating with them and asked them to remove the wall as a good will gesture.  Forgery aside, they had already given us 3 different measurements as the the minimum size this wall could be reduced to.  We had absolutely no confidence that Boutique Homes would get this wall right, so we figured the easiest thing would be to remove it altogether.

Boutique Homes would have absolutely no bar of this however.  In fact, they even tried telling us that doing things like that can send them bankrupt!  How often do they pay for upgrades themselves due to being caught out committing fraud that it could potentially send them bankrupt?

Either way, they were not willing to offer anything other than an apology. This was not good enough for us; on top of their fraudulent activities, it was also the way the managers spoke to us and the blase nature towards this issue that convinced us that Boutique Homes are not the builders for us.

So we've changed directions and have decided to build with Porter Davis instead.  Our new journey should be called "The road to Essex".  This is the floor plan we've chosen (Essex 27).

A few structural changes we've made/added:

  • Two way bathroom to Bed 2
  • Cavity Sliding doors to Home Theatre
  • Additional internal wall to Study
  • Grand Alfresco option

I will also be looking to have the the fridge space in the kitchen moved to the other end of the back wall as it seems really silly to have the fridge opening up onto a wall.

I can't wait to go and visit the Porter Davis 'World of Style' on Monday.

P.S. This isn't the end of the drama with Boutique Homes either.  We will be seeking advice from a Solicitor, demanding our initial deposit be refunded and reporting them to both the Housing Industry Association (HIA) and the Victorian Building Authority (VBA).

Stay tuned.....

Monday, 22 December 2014

A simple case of forgery......

December 11, 2014 was our long awaited colour and electrical appointment.

We'd spent weeks and weeks researching ideas on our colour schemes, even taking a long trip over to Geelong just to check out a floor.  I'd marked out on a plan where I'd like down lights, batten lights, power points and light switches.  I wanted to make this day as easy as possible.

It turned out to be anything but........

It was less than 2 weeks before our appointment and we still hadn't received a copy of our drawings to view.  I emailed our pre-start consultant for a copy and thankfully she was prompt in sending them through.

The first thing I notice on our plans is that an internal wall which we had specifically asked to be no more than 350 x 350mm was in fact 360 x 470mm. We took this around to our Sales Consultant who immediately remembered our wall request and said to bring it up at the colours meeting and if they have any issues to call him about it.  He has been absolutely fantastic throughout the whole experience.

We brought it up alright, it was one of the very first things we discussed at the meeting.  When I asked the consultant about it, she grabbed out a copy of our Preliminary Works Contract (PWC) and flicked to the page with the note about the wall.  As she was doing this, I grabbed out my own copy of the PWC (a photocopy of the original document) and immediately noticed something was different.  On our copy, the note about the wall was item # 14, on her copy it was item #13....."That's weird I thought".  Reading the note on their copy, I noticed it was also worded differently.

Our copy read:
LIVING - Provide 350mm gap between Dining Elevation D Stacker Door and Living Elevation C Sliding Door.
Note: Position pending drafting approval.

Their copy read:
Note: Sliding door to be installed 350mm approx. from internal corner between Living and Outdoor Living

After I read this, I turned both copies around to face the consultant and asked her to compare the signatures at the bottom of the page.  Her face immediately dropped........

She noticed the same thing I did; the signatures were different.  It was obvious that someone had changed the note and then forged our signatures on the bottom of the page.

After that it turned out to be a weird, uncomfortable day.  The only time my husband and I had to discuss the situation was whilst the consultant had run away to 'deal' with the issue.  This had all occurred within the first 15mins of the meeting, so we decided to press on; after all, we had already taken the day off work for this, we might as well do what we came here to do.

As we were fairly organised, the day went by rather quickly after that.

Needless to say it was a very interesting conversation in the car on the way home.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Finally getting somewhere in my last post on floors we (i.e. I) had decided on the colour floor we were going with.  A couple of weeks later after some arguing, agreeing, arguing again and then finally holding a family vote, we've settled on the colour of our floor; Provincial Smoky Dusk.

After the husband and I couldn't agree on which colour floor to go with; I wanted light, he wanted darker; we took it to a family vote and let our daughter give the deciding vote.  We're not changing our minds now. I'm sick to death of floors and just want this decision put to bed.

However, I wasn't about to just agree on the floor without seeing it in it's 'natural environment', so we decided to take a day trip over to Geelong (a good 1.5hrs drive from home) and visit Boutique Homes Fairhaven display as it had this very floor.

After visiting the display and seeing the floor in real life, I was satisfied that I could live with it.  I'd still prefer a light floor, but the votes had it.

Enjoy some floor photos:
In some shots, the floor appears grey and in others, more brown.
The more I look at these photos the more the floor is growing on me.
I like the above photo as we're going for an all white kitchen too, so gave me a good indication of how it would look.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

......floors, floors, floors

*Sigh* I'm so over floors right now.

So we headed in to Choices Flooring to take a look at what is out there at the moment.  Soooo many choices.  We initially started looking at the vinyl planks, then the laminate floors, then the hardwood floors; then back to the laminates after seeing the price of the hardwoods.

I honestly think both of us were a little overwhelmed and couldn't make up our minds between laminate and vinyl.  In the end we decided to go purely on colour/look.  We didn't take any notice as to whether we were checking out the laminates or the vinyl, we were only looking at colours.

I could not believe it when we BOTH decided on a colour that we BOTH liked. We both went for a lighter colour floor.

Turns out it's vinyl planks, which I was very happy about.  I really like it and think it would look great in a white kitchen:

Also turns out we picked one of the cheapest floors too, which is good and bad.  I'm a firm believer in you get what you pay for.  We were quoted $67/m2 installed; not sure at this stage if that's good or bad for the product.

The company that makes this product is Polyflor, and from all the research I've been doing they're a reputable company and it would be a reputable product.  My only concern with this particular product is that it has a wear layer of only 0.2mm.  Most other vinyl floor products I've researched have a wear layer of around 0.5mm.  So now I can see why this product was cheap.

I'm in love with this colour now, so more research needs to be done on wear layers and whether 0.2mm is reasonable for a residential, relatively low traffic household.

I've told DH that this is the colour we're settling on, even if I have to get it in a laminate timber instead.

Stay tuned.

Floors, floors, floors........

So.........the long journey from settling on a house design to choosing absolutely every single item that goes in to a new house. From floor options to placement of a frigging light.

I was telling everyone at first "choosing colours is the easy part; agreeing on them is the hard part". I don't even believe that myself now.  Every time I jump on the net or open a magazine I change my mind about what I want.

For so long I was dead set on having tiles through the house.  We've only ever had laminate flooring in the houses we've lived in and I dreamed of having tiles. Now I'm back on to the timber floor. For a while there I was looking at timber look tiles:
Moved on to floating floor:
And now I'm wanting Vinyl Planks.  They seem to be the next big thing on from Laminate Floor.  They sound better, feel better under foot and are water proof.  Heading out tomorrow to see what they look like in real life, get some more information on them and see what they cost.

The next issue we're having is agreeing on a colour.  Hubby is set on the grey tones (like Mist or Dark Grey above).  I liked those too......for a day or so, then decided I wanted even darker floors, bordering on black and now I'm wanting light floors, more along the lines of Venice or Milano above.

Our colour appointment is on 11th December, how am I ever going to make up my mind before then????

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Then came a house (design)

For us, this whole process has gone super fast.  From deciding to buy a house, to building instead, to buying a block of land and now here we are signing a Preliminary Works Contract (PWC) with Boutique Homes.  All of this in the space of 4 months.

I would not recommend to anyone who is building for the first time to do what we've done.  We've done very little research and made some pretty snap decisions.  It has left me feeling very stressed and excited at the same time.

Long(er) story short, we spent most weekend trawling the internet and going through display homes until we finally settled on the St Tropez 28 with Boutique Homes.
There were a number of reasons for choosing this particular design with this builder.

Firstly the design.  We had to have a study and the husband decided we needed a theatre room. This was a luxury item and was the first to go if we couldn't get exactly what we wanted.  In the end we decided on 4 bedrooms (instead of 3) as we thought this might add a bit to re-sale down the track.  Our daughter has already claimed a second bedroom as her own 'retreat'.  That works well for us as it will essentially be her own study for high school years.

Why Boutique?  Mainly because we found the sales rep David to be really easy to talk to and to get along with. He didn't once try and up sell us on anything we didn't need and in fact would convince us of removing things we could do without, or add after handover more cheaply. Being the first time we'd ever built too, it just seemed the list of inclusions with Boutique was greater than others meaning we didn't have to think too much about the extras that need to be added (like flooring).

We made a couple of minor changes to the standard floor plan:
  • Upgraded the entrance door to a 1200mm wide pivot door
  • Changed the ensuite shower to a double shower - bit of a novelty really, but what the hey?
  • Moved the WIR entrance in to the ensuite
  • Changed the window in the living area to a sliding door
  • Added cavity sliding doors to the theatre
  • We also added a few cosmetic things like square set cornices to the main living areas and a nice door on the pantry.
We really really really wanted to remove the corner wall between the dining/kitchen/living/alfreso so that we could have that whole integrated outdoor living thing going; but a cost of $6,500 to remove it kind of took that decision out of our hands.

Saturday, 10 May 2014


Only another week had passed and we'd decided to go back to Pasadena and put a holding deposit on our block of land.

As soon as we walked out of the office the nerves starting setting in.  We were due to go back the following Saturday and pay our 5% deposit.  I spent that entire week stressing about what we'd just done.  I had a solicitor look over the land contract; thankfully not finding anything of particular note.

I can't remember how many times my husband and I argued.  And by that I mean; I can't remember how many times I asked my husband if we'd done the right thing, are we absolutely sure we want to live there? I mean, it was only 2 weeks ago we'd decided to build.  With absolutely no other research done, we'd selected our patch of dirt where we expect to build a house and live for the next 6 years at least.

Anyway, another week down and here we are; in the sales office at Pasadena handing over our money. As soon as we'd signed on the dotted line it was like someone had stepped off my chest; all of my stress disappeared.  I said to myself "Too late to back out now, might as well just enjoy it".

We were now expecting the arrival of our first ever block of land; due in March 2015.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Where should we live?

The very next day April 27 2014; we spent the day driving around looking at blocks of land for sale in new estates going up around Cranbourne (East/West) and Clyde.  I distinctly remember the day because it was my 35th birthday.

We looked at Livingston and Parks Edge Estates in Cranbourne East and the Alarah and Ambrosia Estates in Cranbourne West.  After chatting with the sales rep in the Livingston Estate we came across a block of land at the end of a court only a short walking distance from our daughters new high school (literally across the road).  The  block wasn't actually for sale yet and was to become available in a later release that would be due for titles around March 2015.  We gave the sales rep our details and asked him to call us as soon as the block became available.

A week went by and we'd decided to go back up to the Livingston Estate to chat to the sales rep in a bit more detail.  On our way we noticed another new estate called Pasadena on the corner of Berwick-Cranbourne Rd in Clyde.  We had kind of dismissed it the week before as it was further away from our daughters school than I really wanted; but we swung in anyway to take a look.

Nabil, the sales rep, was a really nice bloke.  We talked to him about our shotgun decision to build a house and he wasn't pushy or tried the hard sell on us.  He showed us a few blocks of land for sale in their 'Hill Farm' release gave us some information about the estate, then let us be.

One of the blocks in that release got our attention however.  It was just the right size for us (450m2), at the end of a court, backed on to a reserve, so no neighbours behind us and faced parkland, so no neighbours in front of us.  The block was more expensive than we wanted to pay ($217,000), but I think my husband was in love with it already.

I had a couple of issues with it.  It wasn't walking distance for our daughter (about 4km) and just on the other side of the reserve behind us, was a main road.  It's only a 2 lane road at the moment, but I heard rumours that it would be duplicated.  I spent hours researching and could not come up with any evidence this would be done anytime soon.  At least not in the next 5 years.

Neither of these issues bothered my husband and this is where we hit our first disagreement in the building process (not a good sign).

We settled this disagreement like we settle most in our family; we put it to a family vote. The location of the block also affected our daughter so it was only fair that she was included in the decision of were we live.  She was presented with both blocks; the block walking distance at the end of a court, or the block that is a short bus trip opposite parkland. She voted for the block opposite parkland and so it was decided.....

We were going to live in the Pasadena Estate in Clyde.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The very beginning

The very beginning starts in February 2014.

We (my husband and daughter) had moved to Melbourne from Bendigo and have been renting in Narre Warren Sth for the past 4 years.  Our daughter is due to begin high school in 2015 so we had decided it was time to start looking for a house to buy and settle in for our daughters high school years.

We'd settled on sending our daughter to Casey Grammar school in Cranbourne East and so in March this year we decided to start looking for a house to buy close by the school (either a short bus trip or ideally walking distance).

We spent a couple of weeks going through open houses each weekend, but just didn't like anything we saw. Everything needed work of some kind (and we are not the DIY type).

My workmates were constantly on me about building a house instead and I kept brushing them off saying that it would be too difficult and that we know nothing about building a home and if I was honest with myself, I was scared to attempt it.

One Saturday afternoon after we'd been through our 4th open house for the day we decided to wander through the display homes in Berwick Waters.  It was just around the corner from where we live and so thought we'd just stick our heads in.

Well, that was it for us. We spent a good hour chatting to a lovely lady in the Hotondo display home there and when we walked out we decided that we're going to build a house now.

That was April 26 2014