Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Colours: pre-appointment

Colour Appointments apparently don't include the landscape plan. Our plans will be forwarded to a landscape architect who will be in touch with us to discuss the plan - most will be done over email or phone (read as 'email' to have proof of all correspondence!!).

So, for anyone interested, heres what Day 1 of the big appointments ought to involve a 9am meeting which should go for about 6 hours and cover these areas:
  • External colours (brick, roofing, garage door, gutter, fascia and cladding)
  • Driveway - I believe they offer stencilcrete, paving or a simple coloured driveway. We'll likely go the coloured concrete. 
  • Front Door style
  • Internal doors
  • Door handles
  • Internal paint colours
  • Kitchen and vanity design and colour (For this we have an allowance regarding the vanities, and we're pretty sure we are going to upgrade to a nicer stone benchtop in the kitchen. We took out our kitchen appliances. We got less than $1000 credit. Over the weekend we went to Masters where we saw them selling Venini products...one of which would cost more than the amount we are getting back. But we can't complain too much. At least we are getting something. For the price they asked for, to upgrade to Baumatic, we weren't won over by the quality. Stephen has a few contacts at work (he does kitchens) who can hook him up with some cheaper appliances. At least by buying direct we will save on some of the mark ups.)
  • Sinks and basins  
  • Tap ware and accessories - I just want to avoid chrome soapdishes. I cannot stand those things (when they age and get the scratchy black surface on them)
  • Toilets  
  • Wardrobe fitouts (This should be unnecessary for us. Stephen is going to build our wardrobes, wardrobe doors, kitchen pantry etc)
  • Free measure and quote from Abbey Blinds.As much as we like shutters, it may be in our best interests to order through blinds online. We used them for the last house, and the quality was good (we only bought a set of verticals, metal venetians and a few rollers), but as long as you get the measurements correct, it's too easy. They will send out samples too.
  • Apparently on the day we will meet with someone from Kitchen Culture. I feel bad for this person already. Stephen's going to rip them apart. Having worked in shopfitting/kitchens for so long, he's pretty anal about getting things done right. Which is a good thing. We're going to get whatever is standard and he'll sort out the rest later on. Overhead cupboards are not standard. Neither are pot drawers. He'll do these after handover for a fraction of the cost.
Day 2.
  • Tiling and Carpet. Oh...Hello cornstarch carpet. Would you like to come home with us (in 10-12 months time)?
  • Electrical - lighting, powerpoints, phone points.
  • Optional: fencing and water storage
I think day 2 is going to be an expensive day. Everything that is nice, is an upgrade. You want a downlight? Decent underlay? Another powerpoint? Our hope is that we can get just a couple of downlights installed in the main living area, then Stephen and his dad can get around to adding in the rest. If we are looking at having a couple of dozen throughout the house, at over $100 a pop, I don't think it's worth having them install them. We'll see what they think at the appointment I suppose.

Tender accepted - Was there ever any doubt?

Firstly, we accepted the tender on Monday 19th. $2,500.00 later and its time to get the ball rolling. Basically there's three weeks between tender acceptance and the drawing up of the plans and contract. The plans will be sent to us a few days before our contract signing in early December. We have since made a few changes, such as an upgraded brick being downgraded again to one in the standard range. I always liked 'mocha', we just LOVED chocolatto and I don't think we can justify $2000 being spent on brick colour - regardless of its awesomeness. Plus there's the potential issue of the bricks chipping and the natural colour underneath being exposed. I know the slurry stuff is somehow baked onto the brick, but do they make a kind of touch up paint for bricks in case they do chip? The mocha is the same colour throughout. Either way, not the end of the world, but there are other places I would rather put the money. We made up our mind on the weekend after another visit to PGH, to speak to Lyndal. She has been great. A real credit to the company.

As soon as we accepted the tender, we made an appointment to sign the contract, as well as our colour appointments at Home Option Gallery (H.O.G). For the colours etc, you need to put aside two whole days. Thank goodness for flexi time at work! They don't offer weekend appointments unfortunately. It is recommended that people visit PGH and dilorenzo before these appointments. After this coming weekend we will have been to dilorenzo 3 times, and PGH 4.

Oh...this is (more or less) the house. The study will be closed off to form another wardrobe ;)

Saturday, 17 November 2012


Yesterday we were supposed to accept our tender, however due to a couple of amounts still missing, we have been given until Tuesday to decide if we are going to accept. For anyone interested in Eden Brae, the $5,000.00 rebate will continue until the end of the month.

At present we are grateful we did not go with the builder we were certain we would build with. I believe ProCorp has brought in administrators (I'm not quite sure how it all works) but people on the homeone forum have mentioned (and we have seen in Oran Park) homes incomplete, with fencing and portaloos removed. Very sad to see. 

This (a builder going under) was one of my fears at the beginning of our journey. How do you know how well a company are doing? How can you trust people you don't know, to be completely honest with you? Would they even be aware if the company was doing poorly? The HIA website offers media releases. One which may be of some interest, is located here

The info that may be useful:

Today we went via Home Options Gallery and DiLorenzo to have another look at the tiles and carpet we are keen on. We're pretty sure we have made the right decision.

For the main bathroom (and grey tile to go in laundry also): 
 For the ensuite:

After DiLorenzo we visited Oran Park as the latest release went on sale today. Sales staff said about 20 or so lots were sold. We also noticed that all but 2 or 3 lots in our release have been sold. In exciting news, they are starting to work on services in our area. Gas, NBN, Water etc. Plus we noticed some additional pegs in the soil. Not sure what that's all about but any progress is exciting for us.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Tender Presentation

Today we travelled to Norwest for our Tender Presentation with Eden Brae.We've been assigned someone we've read about on other blogs - all positive feedback from others and we were very impressed as well. It seems like she went over everything very thoroughly (we probably forgot to add a few things which we will confirm over coming days). She read through every piece of information in the tender ensuring we understood what was meant by each part. If she saw something she didn't think was correct, she would follow it up (within a 2 hour appointment, she was in touch with all the people she needed an answer from. If we didn't get an answer, it was because we were waiting to hear back from others). Based on our experience so far, we would definitely recommend this company. We have been lucky to work with two very professional staff so far and I hope this trend continues.

We have one week to confirm we're going with Eden Brae and pay $2,500.00, and three weeks after that to sign the contracts after making final changes. We left with a bunch of brochures for the companies that are contracted to work on Eden Brae homes. There are so many things to consider.

Some interesting points from today:
Upgrade of bricks is approx $2000 from standard to Group F (Vino, Espresso, Chocolatto). Yowser! The standard bricks are ok, but we like the colour schemes we can work with, with the upgrades. (Plus if we want a coloured door it will suit a darker brick). 

There is currently a $5000 Eden Brae New Home sale. $5K rebate for building with them but they are trying to wind it down so if you're keen to take advantage, better look into it.

I think we'll probably cop it when it comes to floor coverings.The carpet we like is an additional $30/sq with a 25yr guarantee, and $8/sq underlay. And I just added it all up >.< I've entered all the costs into a spreadsheet to try to keep track of where we can save money here or there. Hopefully it helps us save money and prioritise the things we should do now, as opposed to things we can do ourselves (read "Stephen" :-/ ) later.

Overall a very exciting day and at this point I think we should come in around our budget (however I haven't looked at tile pricing yet! :'( )

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Colour Selections (pre-tender)

Today we were out of the house for 9 hours because of 'house stuff'. First we had to meet with a solicitor to complete some paperwork for the NSW New Home Grant. $5K that will take some of the sting out of Stamp Duty. Looking forward to getting the first of a few rebates!

As we were already almost an hour away from home (and have our tender presentation next week), we figured we would look at the companies Eden Brae works with, to view their selections. The first was the (PGH Bricks) CSR Display Centre at Schofields. The moment we walked in the door we were welcomed (are these blogs going to be about customer service or will they provide any useful info!?!). The lady that helped us was great. She asked who we were building with and after handing us a list explained which bricks came as standard for Eden Brae. It has become increasingly obvious that the 'standard' will almost always be a really crappy option (In our opinion)! 

We have found an upgraded brick that we really like however we are so far unaware of how much it would cost to upgrade. The 'standard' we can tolerate is Mocha. However we do like a few others, which are painted. Chocolatto, Espresso and Vino. Only problem with these is that if you chip it or go nuts with the Gerni a few too many times, you will reveal the natural colour of the brick. If we went with Mocha for example, it's the same all through. If you chipped it, you wouldn't know any better. With the painted bricks you also need to get a mortar finish, that will ensure the natural colour of the (inside of the) painted brick, is not exposed. You'd bring the mortar right up to the edge of the brick. Naturally, this is not standard :) Standard colour mortar is 'natural' which tends to have a slight greying tint to it. You can pay more for off-white or a yellowish tint. After seeing the three, I'm surprised the yellow is not the standard!! CSR let you take samples home with you. Don't be fooled, taking home a free brick is actually exciting. We took home Mocha, Gravel  (before we saw a house in gravel and decided we hated it) and Chocolatto.

While at CSR the staff member gave us a better idea of the colour schemes we could use to go with Mocha or Chocolatto. You need to consider the colour of the tiles or colorbond roof, gutter, fascia, eaves, garage door, porch, downpipes, water tank, side reticulation/portico, window frames and driveway. She wrote down the two schemes we liked, and attached samples to take home with us. Just great customer service. We spent over an hour here. They will also give you a list of houses in the colours you select, so you can see for yourself what they will look like. We were lucky enough to find a house in Oran Park that has the facade we lke in more or less the same colours we like. I think we creeped out the guy living there when we drove past. We gawk at peoples facades, gardens, fences. Be careful of that when you get to this stage! 

Next up we visited the Home Option Gallery. People have raved about this place (It's more or less opposite Hillsong at Norwest). We only saw what they had downstairs. Looked good but I wasn't overwhelmed. Maybe we missed out on the 'good stuff'? Will write more about it when we are presented with our tender. Let's just say there is a very good chance we will be upgrading the stone benchtop in our kitchen. The standard New Cairo is fine but when you surround it with dozens of more aesthetic stones, and you want to do something funky with the kitchen doors, it doesn't seem like the right option. Budget will dictate I suppose. We were in and out in ten minutes.

Lastly we went to DiLorenzo  for tiles and carpets. We had no expectations as we had seen several negative reviews online. Our experience here was very positive. The first lady we spoke to explained how it worked-what was standard for EBH, to look for the 'yellow dot' which indicated our builder, and explained a few of the surcharges. Feature tiles will cost more as they are trickier to lay. Large tiles will cost more as they are trickier to lay. We found a few variations we liked. Glady, we managed to cut it back to three preferences for bathrooms, and the overall floor tile colour (a lot of the floor tiles are also available in an exterior finish, with greater grip). We are planning to do tiles everywhere other than the home theatre and bedrooms. 

bella vista

We had a look at the carpets, the standard builders range. It is pretty ordinary to say the least. I could have made do with it until we were advised the stuff might last you 5 years if you're lucky. She also advised us on the underlays. Ranging from an additional $5m2 to $8m2 (before the builder mark up I suppose?), if you feel this product (top of the range), you will want to get it. It's amazing to feel the difference. Stephen asked what you would get if you went up a range in price. We were shown a range between $40-$55m2. They had one carpet I fell in love with. Now normally I don't care for carpet this much, but this was an environmentally friendly carpet without stain resistant products, it has corn starch in it to keep it clean. The carpet is amazing. You don't need chemicals to clean it, just some soapy water. It's suitable for heavy use, has a lifetime (25yr) warranty, and is so soft. Plus it's Australian made. I will not rest until I have the corn carpet.