We got everything together, and drove to my parents who were looking after the boys while we tried to get through my long list of To Do items.
First stop was driving to addresses the brick company had given me to look at finished homes that had "smoke" bricks. It was a worthwhile exercise because we realised that the brick had a grey tint and the dark roof tile colour we choose was way off mark.
Very happy with our choice of brick.
I had asked Eden Brae Homes to give us addresses of homes they had built so that we can drive past and see the finished product. Their display homes have so many upgrades, they are not a true indication of what they provide. We got a quick email back saying they cannot give out addresses of past and current clients for privacy reasons. We were not asking for people's names and tax file numbers! Strange that the brick company took the time to look through their records and were happy enough with their product to provide the details.
Our next stop was at a kitchen showroom, Dan Kitchens. We received very little help and were told that they didn't do just island benches because they might be associated with the rest of the kitchen which wouldn't have the same standard as theirs'. In other words, they wouldn't make enough money to warrant doing the job. Apparently (cue smug expression), "nobody does kitchens like Dan". Right. We were hoping nobody else would give us the same shoddy service as Dan.
Dan did however have beautiful kitchen drawers with an amazing spice rack insert.
We drove to Castle Hill and dropped into Creative Kitchens. We received polar opposite service and had an hour with the owner who gave us complete attention and excellent advise that changed our view of Eden Brae's associate Home Option Gallery. They had treated us like a production line instead of asking us key questions to find the correct layout and product choices for such an integral element in our new home. We also learnt that the island benchtop design they came up with was not properly supported for its length and weight. Then it came to pricing. All prices quoted were, at the very least, 50% less than prices quoted at Home Option Gallery. Their massive margins meant our limited budget wouldn't stretch very far to get the right design for our lifestyle.
Important tips from Creative Kitchens were
- Drawers 90cm and over should be avoided or have extra support for the weight
- Corian is softer and scratches easier than Essastone but has no seams and is a warmer surface
- All composite stone companies like Essastone, Caesarstone etc make the same product and you use their colour palette to choose who to go with
- The convenience of a drawer for plates, cutlery and cups next to the dishwasher
- Have Essastone edge mitred if over 20mm otherwise you get an ugly line all the way around
- Drawers cannot be retrofitted with soft close runners
- Any light coloured stone benchtop is dangerously easy to blemish with kids around
- The convenience of a bin drawer next to the sink
- Importance of supporting stone benchtops at the right spots
- The wrong and right shades of white in kitchens
In one hour, we learned how far off the mark our choices were with Home Options Gallery.
Next stop was at the Saville display home to walk through again and make sure we hadn't missed anything.
If we hadn't spent those hours looking around, there would have been a fair few regrets. It makes me happy but also nervous about how little time we have left to make the right choices.