Saturday, 27 October 2012

Finding a Builder

This has been the hardest part of it all so far. Before we picked a block we had been casually looking at builders for up to six months. We've changed our minds 4 times I think. So far.  Our "must haves" were an alfresco, home theatre, walk in pantry (being vego I have a few appliances that need to find a home!).
After an hour or two, all the houses look the same. You remember things you liked, but where were they? For me (Kristen), and this might sound silly to some, but part of the difficulty had to do with finding a salesperson that:
a) knew their stuff
b) was not an arrogant douchebag who refused to make eye contact with the female (me) in the room.

There was one who topped them all. We met him twice. The first time 3 months ago. After we viewed the homes, we sat down to chat. We were there for maybe an hour. From the start you could almost see the arrogance ooze from him. He referred to me as the missus; implied that Stephen had to do whatever made me happy (I took it that he was getting me a house?) and I was demanding, needing a wardrobe for all my shopping purchases, and a decent sized kitchen. It was painful. I don't know how you reveal that you are sexist and racist to strangers so quickly, but this guy did it. "Nah you don't want to live out that way. Too many Indians. And what about all the Asians!". Just because we have 'aussie' accents, doesn't mean we are bogan racists. 

We saw him again a few weeks ago-he did not remember us. This time around I was referred to as the little lady who would get up early to make Stephen his bacon and eggs. At this point I could have put on my best houso and told him to 'get f*****d'. He also made the assumption this is our first home and after we told him we had bought land in OP he scrunched his face up and proceeded to tell us another nearby suburb was the place to buy. He told us OP would be too big, and that works on Camden Valley Way hadn't begun yet (then why are there trees cut down all along the side of the road?). Pray tell, what would be the difference between living in OP, or anywhere else nearby, if you STILL have to use that road to get to work?! Sometimes you have to wonder how people get their job - and keep it. All other staff we have come across from this company have been a great help and very professional.

Anyway this is who we were looking at:

1. Beechwood. Beautiful houses!
2. Allworth (awesome sales rep who worked for them/Package Central! He taught us a lot but then had to leave the company. We are still in touch with him occasionally). When you're at the early stages of looking at homes, these guys give you a good idea of how much you'd need to pay for upgrades to take the house from the base model, to the one on display.
3. ProCorp. They have some lovely and very practical houses. We were going to go with Monash Caprice. We got to the point of drafting up a tender but at the last minute we panicked a little and bailed.The best thing about ProCorp, other than having stunning and unusual looking houses (raked ceiling) and them taking care of everything from the fences to the letterbox, turf and clothesline...was their sales team. The team at Oran Park were absolutely brilliant. Nothing was too much trouble and they kept in touch with us all along even if only to touch base.
4. Eden Brae. All along Eden Brae have probably had some of the most well finished homes. They were all very impressive, but our concern was that they had too many living spaces (especially for two people!). The gentleman we are dealing with has been very helpful to date. We have our eye on one of them and I hope we stick with them!

Holding Deposit Taken

In August, we got serious about finding a block. The house had been sold and we had a few weeks to move out. On September 1st we took a spin out to Vantage Point, Elderslie (lovely!), before heading to Oran Park, knowing that a couple of weeks earlier they released a new stage. We didn't go with intentions to buy. We had done this many times before...go to the sales office, take a look at their computers to get an idea of price and see which lots are selling quickly etc. 

In the time that we had been (seriously) looking at land, we had a better idea of what we wanted. I wanted a decent yard, but I also wanted a light-filled house. I didn't want to pay an insane amount of money for land, and because of our requirements, corner blocks came into play. They seemed fairly reasonably priced as well - works for me. So we spoke to Craig in the sales office and he took us out to see the 3-4 blocks we were interested to see. We were pleasantly surprised to see these blocks were quite flat. One of them was without retaining wall, sewer, substations...the stuff we wanted to avoid but wouldn't ruin us otherwise. Here's the street we were looking at:

Oran Park Town Centre (Sales Office) in distance.

That evening we talked about little other than the block we preferred. This stage of Oran Park seemed to be selling fairly quickly so if we wanted it we would have to make a move soon. We decided we'd wake up early on Fathers Day and put down the holding deposit. For Oran Park they take a non-refundable $500 deposit which gives you three days to change the block if you decide you prefer another, and I think thirty days to sign the contract to purchase the land. (And they give you a couple of golf umbrellas. Who doesn't need those!?) I always liked stickers as a kid but this sticker is probably the best I've come across:

The contract for the land may as well have been written in Spanish. There were many parts that were incomprehensible. Get yourself a good lawyer who knows which parts of the contract are most important!

In The Beginning...

It all started out as a bit of fun.

We noticed the abundance of new display home villages not too far from where we were living. As children, our mothers took us through Display Homes (think Masterton at Warwick Farm in the 90's). You remember how exciting it was..."this is my room!" in every single house. We thought we'd take a look, just for fun. The two of us had just spent a decent amount of money updating the gardens and some of the interior of the old house so we had no intention of moving any time soon. The excitement of display homes and the frequency of 'dodgy' activities (and some unsavoury characters) in the area we lived, were enough motivation for us to get things done. Besides, this was Stephens house, and it didn't feel like 'home' to me.

One thing led to another and we were talking to someone from LoanMarket to see how much we could borrow from the bank. Once we had that sorted, we found ourselves a good real estate agent to get things under way.We had already looked around at the areas under development. There are two major growth areas in Sydney at present. South West (out past Campbelltown/Liverpool) and North West. We started by signing up to the regions websites to obtain land price lists.

Gledswood Hills
Gregory Hills

Oran Park
Spring Farm

Gledswood Hills was not ideal location wise, and was not serviced by public transport. I will need a bus to get to work so this was never going to work. If I recall correctly we weren't too keen on the pricing either. It didn't help that my biggest priority has always been to get a decent sized yard for dogs and future kids to play in.

Gregory Hills was actually pretty good. We loved the elevation and the lots weren't bad, it just didn't impress me the way Oran Park did. Basically all these places looked good, but for me OP ticked all the boxes. I want to be near trees, parks, and close to amenities.

Right away we fell in love with Oran Park. So much promise for the future, and aside from being so large, it looks as though it will have a great community feel. We were worried however that it may prove too expensive. Forgetting that Oran Park, unlike many other estates, offered $10,000 worth of rebates (based on meeting landscaping and design guidelines).

Initially we felt Spring Farm offered the best value for money. The Development company I work for has done a lot of work on Spring Farm, and for some reason that seemed to turn me off wanting to buy there (is that weird?). I was also a little unsure of the nearby tip, substations and amount of fill in the blocks. The land we were looking at also had a lot of fall. We hoped to find a block that was relatively flat.

Entrance to Oran Park