Sunday, February 26, 2012

Land payment

I had to get back to Melbourne for what was going to be a reasonably straightforward meeting - signing some contracts.  This time, for the land.
My solicitor had already been over everything, and they had a mountain of paperwork ready for me to sign - three copies all up.  Basically the process involved going through various bits of the contract, initialing every page of inserts, initialing anywhere they had added details, and signing various pages.
Three times.

But that effectively means it was all sorted on the land side - I finally have a block. Well, sorta.  It still has to be paid for.  And for that, you need to arrange a loan from the bank.  Unless you're paying with pennies.

As a little gift I was also given, as they explained it, "so you can have a picnic on your new block" - a nice cooled/insulated picnic basket, rug, picnic plates, cutlery, cups etc.

Now I just need to get the finance-types to work their magic.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Picking the facade (and build deposit paid)

Made an appointment to finalise things on the way over to Adelaide - that means that while I was over there I'd have plenty of time to read through glossy brochures for tiles, roofs, bricks, electrical plans, and a few other bits and pieces.

At this point the biggest part of it all was picking the façade.  This is where it gets a bit confusing though.
We had worked out a few options for an alternate façade based on some of the estate requirements - eg, that it needs to have a 4m^2 portico minimum for example.  That means that by going to some different façades, it would then only be a small amount more than if we put a complete one on a traditional façade.

What most people don't realise is that if you look at some of those screenshots they give you for certain facades, there might be anything up to 40 grand worth of extras on there, maybe even more.  Cladding, render, decorative brick - basically anything that isn't basic brick - that's all extra.  What you're actually paying for is the shape of the house and the window positioning, not the construction material.

With it explained this way it actually makes my job a lot easier - the master bedroom in the Delta 21 is already plenty huge, and doesn't need more space.  You might get an additional 50cm length by going to a different façade.

At this point another option was given, as it was currently available as a promotion - using Hebel instead of brick.  This would allow giving a rendered look to the entire front of the house (and the rest of the house - more on that later), at 1/4 the price.

So for now, that's what's been put in the budget.

On the way back through on Sunday I'd have to finalise any structural changes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


No different to other areas, there's a requirement that you have landscaping done within 6 months of moving in. While the time period varies from estate to estate, it's pretty much rule these days that you've got to have a nice looking garden with certain requirements.

Some people will happily spend 4, 7, 10 grand on landscaping, which includes someone getting in and doing all the work.  Fortunately, I have parents who have an interest, so they're actually keen to make it their own little project.

Part of the requirements are that you've got to have at least one tree that's at least 2 meters in height at the time of planting - a selection that was decided straight up, a Crepe Myrtle that will require little maintenance.  We just have to be careful though that it doesn't get out of control and overgrow the driveway like our current one does, else my bikes will keep ending up looking like this:

I want to be completely clear that that is exactly how the branches got stuck there themselves, there was no manipulation involved :P

The problem with Crape Myrtles is that in that red, I can barely make out what's flower, and what's leaf (yeah, I'm rather colorblind) - so I had to find one with a lighter or brighter colored flower.  We've ended up with one of a significantly lighter color, though if only they came in a bright yellow or azure blue.

So we've already got a small garden of plants in pots sitting out the back being watered and grown, ready to be planted.

While I don't have photos, if you head in to Chadstone via the entrance near Tiffanys, you'll get a good idea of what we have in mind - a row of low, small bright flowering plants, backed with some grasses that are growing (either Dionellas or something smaller), backed my a small hedge.

The base of the crape myrtle will be done using a nice pattern of coloured pebbles - we'll get designs on paper for that in coming months.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Deposit paid

Paid the initial deposit today.

Okay, that's a pretty concise summary :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Found a block

Looks like it's barely taken 24 hours before for another option to come forward - this time a block that fit both the size and budget requirements!

It took a few days before we could get out there to investigate, but the short version is the location is fantastic!

Just a hundred meters to the east is Malcolm creek, and the walking/running track that goes basically the whole way around the Highlands area.  And if it's groceries or coffee anyone's after, that's just a 500 meter walk across the creek - so it's not like it's a major thoroughfare for traffic.

Plus, we're adjacent to a corner block, so I don't anticipate there being cars parked all over the place on one side.

The street is already partly built up down the other end, so we already have neighbours; the other end, on the other hand, is completely bare land, as is the case for most of the streets around this area.  It seems like most of the houses already on the street were Henley Ready Built homes, which we'll have to look in to when it comes to deciding on facades.

Oh yeah - and our nearest current neighbours have already found a flagpole.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Stockland Highland

Off to the land sales office.

Here's where we're at:  Metricon have said to us "okay, give this lot number to the sales rep, and we'll see if w can go from there".
First thing we do - "Hey, is this lot still available?"
Bugger - no it's not.  Yeah, saw that coming.

Okay, so what else do we have available?

We were given another option of an equivalent size blocks, which was apparently the only one left, but it was opposite some town houses - wasn't terribly appealing.  That was a problem for the time being.

Fortunately the prices we were being given on other blocks were reasonably similar - but we still had to find a block that actually works.

The other thing about both these blocks are that they likely wouldn't be ready to title for maybe six months.  Not really a big problem at this stage.

Problem we found out almost straight away though was  that we had discussed a slightly larger version of the house build after the initial quote - and it wasn't going to fit on the blocks we discussed.

Doh.  Guess that means that for now there's nothing immediately available.

Introducing Metricon

The next stop was to be a meeting with the land developer, but the person I had to meet was busy, so made arrangements to drop by later.  That allowed time to have a look around some other displays, so the others went through the two large-ish displays Metricon had open at Craigieburn, while I got talking to the sales guys.

Their attitude was a whole lot better - and started from the right way, with a "how much would you like to spend?".  Giving a "ideally $360, but max $380", that gave a good starting point, with the rep able to say "okay, here's some options to make that easily doable".

The design we mostly started talking about happened to be one they had on display and I'd been through, albeit a smaller version - the Delta 24 being the one on display, and the 19 being what we got talking about.  They were able to also find a lot for that to fit on with a listed price, so that when I went to talk to the developer I could details on its location etc.

Heyley designs

Henley's displays gave us some good ideas for what worked well, and what to look for in any future designs.  For example, the Sienna has this awesome configuration of Bedroom 3 and 4 separated by a study.  It's a shame it's only really done in that single design.
Study area in the Henley Sienna Q1

It also reminded me that taking my brother on these visits isn't always the smartest idea :P
Non-standard option: Idiot wearing a prop as a hat.

The Henley Lexi 3

After dropping in to the Henley display, where I previously hadn't considered Henley at all, their designs grew on me quickly.  While there were quite a few that were nice, the ideal one was the Lexi 3.  Question is, was the budget anything liked what they claimed.

The Henley Lexi 3

I made an appointment to sit down with one of their reps and go through the numbers, to see what an advertised price really meant.  They had initially told me to allow $30-40,000 on top of the listed price.
In short - when you see $x, you certainly can't budget on it being anywhere close to that - even before you start adding options.

In pricing, we decided to be more realistic and look at the Mode 4.  Ultimately that wasn't going to help much though - with a $154k base, we were coming up with figures just over $200k, and that's just the basic version with no options.
The Henley Mode 4

What annoyed me about Henley's pricing was that the "inclusions" required an amount be paid just to get those "inclusions".  This to me screamed of so dishonest that it was likely to be the case all through the process, getting stung for everything left, right and center later on in the process.

Walking out of the Henley meeting and display had me a little dejected that the prices were so unrealistic - I decided to walk across the road to have a quick chat with Metricon, where things were quickly turned on its head.

Aston visit

The concern with some of the prices I'd seen listed in Craigieburn was the variation.  Why were some blocks $234,000, yet others were $180,000?  It made no sense. Ultimately a lot of that comes down to block size, but some of them could be identically sized and be significantly cheaper.

On the way to my meeting with Henley, I decided to drop in to the Aston land sales office.  I just hoped the land wasn't going to flood like the car park for the sales office was, forcing me to dance over what had practically become a lake :D
The short version is they had requirements that were a little higher than Highlands, so construction costs were going to be a little higher, but nothing extraordinary.

Friday, February 3, 2012


When it comes to the finance side of buying a house it's going to quickly get overwhelming if you've got no experience with this kind of stuff.  All this talk of LVRs and LMI, how much they'll let you borrow, the actual rate you'll get offered versus what they list, comparison rates versus standard variable rates... and then you have to figure out if you want a split loan, if you want any of that amount fixed, whether you have or want income protection...

To say it's confusing is an understatement.

Now because I can't give any financial advice, and explaining all this would result in a very long and boring post, I can only recommend you do what I did - go speak to a professional.  A quick on-the-spot meeting with  someone at NAB told me I'd have no real problems borrowing an amount in the ballpark of what I was looking at - which at that time was around 250k.  Of course, that quickly grew :)  More on that later.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Obviously whenever given a price, it's best to at least look around and see if you're getting an okay deal.  The prices I'd been given for Highlands were all over the place - a similarly sized block could seemingly vary anywhere between $180k and $235k!  I didn't understand why, so kept digging.

During my digging, I came across the Aston estate.  I'd seen the stage 3 release, but then one day happened to visit the site while I was at work.  What's this, a stage 4 release open soon (18th Feb).  But this is strange - there's a complete list of prices.  And these ones appear more reasonably priced.

I called the rep, and found out what was going on - to say it was a bit of an "oh crap" moment on their end would be an amusing understatement.  The short version was he wasn't aware they had been published, and had to then chase up getting them removed from being publicly listed :D

Being me, I of course copied all this info down before it disappeared, so I was looking at info a bit more like this:

Release Stage 4 Round 1 Lot 410 333m² 14m
Release Stage 4 Round 1 Lot 411 313m² 12.5m
Release Stage 4 Round 1 Lot 412 313m² 12.5m
Release Stage 4 Round 1 Lot 413 350m² 14m
Release Stage 4 Round 1 Lot 414 350m² 14m
Release Stage 4 Round 1 Lot 415 350m² 14m
Release Stage 4 Round 1 Lot 416 313m² 12.5m
Release Stage 4 Round 1 Lot 417 313m² 12.5m
Release Stage 4 Round 1 Lot 418 350m² 14m
Release Stage 4 Round 1 Lot 419 400m² 16m
Release Stage 4 Round 1 Lot 420 350m² 14m

Much more reasonable prices to work with.  But more importantly, prices I could go back to Highlands and talk about with.