Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Journey so far

Building a home is like having a toddler. One day you feel like you're in charge and then the rest of the week, you realise that you're not.

I'm dealing with both. There's also seven-month-old Baby K on the scene. My toddler, B-Boy, has just turned three, so technically, he's now a "pre-schooler". There's no use explaining that to him though as he's still likely to have a meltdown because someone else is on the swing he wants.

I digress.. back to building and meltdowns on a grownup scale. We decided to build in Sydney's north west early this year after realising what we wouldn't get in Sydney's eastern suburbs for the same amount. Quite quickly, we decided on Eden Brae Homes as our builder and eventually settled on the "Saville 27" floorplan. I say eventually because I'm not great at sticking to decisions. I have a tendancy to keep looking for something better. We did have a decent look at several builders but the Saville 27 floorplan suited our needs best and that's what won in the end.

We went into the first meeting with an EB's sales consultant early on Easter Sunday thinking that it would be an hour or two. Four hours later, we called my parents who were babysitting and told them to have lunch without us. It was our first taste of the time and effort involved with building a home. Tummies grumbling, we went over the floorplan and realised the real potential of the Saville. We added a "playroom/rumpus" at the back that would have French doors leading to the garden, made selected rooms larger with the extra 2 sq meters promotion offered at the time, extended the laundry out to meet the garage, added a wash basin in the WC, and raised the ceiling height. At that early stage, we thought we had done a brilliant job with customising the floorplan. HA! That was round one of who knows how many before the final plan was signed off.

We initially thought we'd have a contract signed by the end of June. That's only just happened a few weeks ago (end of July). The delays have been incredibly frustrating but there have been several weeks added to the process because of the extensive list of "variations" we have requested. If we had decided on the standard design, it would have been a much faster process.

Many hours were spent with tape measure and "how-to" research via internet to try and pin down my ideas on paper. We provided facts, figures and pictures in simple terms via email and then again, face to face with the builder. The translation was lost and the "tender" document was full of discrepancies. Hard to imagine why when they were provided every detail to get it right. Instead the next iteration started with fixing up items from the previous. This process was long and time consuming. It involved a lot of time spent going over the tender and making sure that nothing was missed. In a way, my frustration provided more drive to get the floorplan exactly right. One thing led to another and eventually we ended up with a better floorplan. The longer I had to think about it, the more it evolved. Suddenly one of the rooms from the standard floorplan was deleted entirely and my dream kitchen was born.

We had stuck a copy of the floorplan on our fridge and it seemed everytime I glanced at it, there was a new improvement to make. I sent weekly emails with my ideas to our EB consultant (the lucky guy) and then changed my mind several times over. Eventually, we worked off one "variation" document that reduced all the confusion about what we were going ahead with.

Eden Brae just wanted us to sign. There was pressure but we wanted the correct floorplan. We have seen people walk into a project home builders office, see something they like, and sign a contract without reading it. We are the other extreme. We took a tape measure to the Saville display home and cross-checked it with their floorplan. There were discrepancies and due to our thoroughness we ended up with more for our buck.

The Product Review website gave us a heads up in regards to what to watch out for. There are many disgruntled people who have built with EB. As with most other builders. Also, reading blogs mapping building experiences from start to handover gave us a picture of the process involved. So with eyes open we researched, we put ideas forward, we read every detail of the tender and went through it the next day again with fresh eyes. You get the picture. Building involves lots of due diligence which if not done, will lead to disappointment. We want to know what we are getting. Down to the last millimeter.

So with contract signed, we're onto the next stage. Colour selection appointment is next week and its something new to focus on. How to make so many decisions and not change my mind afterwards? I'll let you know when I figure that out.

1 comment:

  1. hi, just found your blog via home one.. great reading... you write well, well done!
    Do you have a copy of said floor plan? or are you not allowed to put it on the net?
    if not, no probs. I will go and do a google search for it now anyway.

    cant wait to see your progress, keep up the good work
    nicky (kiwi on ho)