Brooks Reach Building adventure

Come with us now on a tale of the mighty house building.

Stop, Tender time!

December 7th 2011
What an ordeal that Tender meeting was! Unfortunately for us most builders have their main business in the Sydney area so we had nearly a 4hr round trip to Clarendon Homes at Baulkham Hills. (Thankfully I have been to many Hillsong conferences/events over the years so I had a general idea as to where we were heading as Clarendon’s office is right near Hillsong Church!)

We had arranged my uncle to meet us there for the tender meeting as this is our first home buying/building experience and he has an engineering background so we thought it might help. Hubby & I are considered quite young to be building a new home too so we wanted an older presence in the room .. and boy are we glad he was there! We waited about 20 minutes past our scheduled appointment time before heading into Mr T’s office (for privacy’s sake that’s what we’ll call him). It was quite a lavish office with lots of tribal pieces that kinda freaked me out, so that didn’t help me feel at ease. The other thing that got us offside was he continued to state that he’d rather be playing golf or be anywhere than with us in that meeting.

The meeting got off to a bad start with Mr T saying they had lost our file so he didn’t have it with him. He left the room to go and search and another 20 minutes later he returned and exclaimed how great it was that he had found the file. The next 15 minutes or so was spent with him reading over our file and reading through the Tender document someone had put together for him to deliver to us.

One of the first questions my uncle asked was ‘how much overhead do you get?’ and all our jaws dropped when Mr T mumbled ‘at least 25% on each product/service’ etc. Firstly, that is a huge amount! It was good to know that as we got down to the gritty details. Before our Tender appointment we studied our developer’s guidelines and read up on council requirements in our area and tried to arm ourselves with as much knowledge as possible. One of the first things we discussed was our floor plan. We had to point out to him that the design as it currently stands does not meet our developers guidelines as there needs to be a break in a wall if it has a run of more than 12m (ours runs about 15m). Mr T tried to question us as if we didn’t know what we were on about. We advised that Deb was aware of these guidelines too as she was the first one to hand them to us! Mr T then made one of several phone calls he’d make during our time there and left the phone awkwardly on speaker phone. Mr T left the room with the plans and returned 15 minutes later saying he had been in with draftsman and that they had solved the problem by extending our ensuite by 200mm, giving us the break in the long wall. He said that due to the changes and what they have to do with the roof it would be an additional $3300 – we were instantly devastated to say the least. Before we could speak my uncle piped up and reminded Mr T that this is Clarendon’s fault, not ours. We signed initial paperwork and paid a deposit based on different information. Hubs & I also pointed out to Mr T that we had signed documentation stating that our house package would be compliant to the Developer’s guidelines. Ahah! We had him, or so we thought. He obviously had to agree that we were not at fault and not responsible to pay, but in the next breath he said they wouldn’t be doing any of our turf for us. It was apparently only a verbal agreement when we signed on with Clarendon that they would turf our front lawn for us. Mr T confirmed via phone call (again on speaker phone, speaking badly of us while we were in the room) that out in Brooks Reach there was an agreement in place for turf. But as we didn’t have it in writing Mr T said they are not going to turf our lawn. It is interesting that future home designs & packages from Clarendon out in Brooks reach all mention that Clarendon will turf their lawn. We’re better off not paying for the plan change though and dealing with the turf when we arrange the rest of our landscaping.

We added a few things on to our tender – like locks for the bathroom door; why they don’t come standard I have no idea! We also moved the toilet from the main bathroom and made it separate. We also had to pay for an exhaust fan in the room as it does not have a window. In total around $600 for that small change, but we definitely wanted the toilet separate. Another change we made was to put a door on our ensuite. YES A DOOR! Apparently a trend in the house designs at the time we chose ours was to have an open ensuite (and not just from our builder, most builders were doing it). I think it is just another way of getting money out of people. So we argued with him as to why we wanted a toilet door, though you think it’d be obvious as to why .. even though we’re married we need privacy sometimes, ya know?! He then tried to suggest we need a door on our walk in closet! I nearly laughed in his face. He said we need a place to hide Christmas presents when we have kids, and it looks better with a door. We continued to decline his reasons for us needing one until he moved on. We also added two sliding doors to our theatre room and made the wall in that room a complete wall rather with arty holes in it.

Most of the things included in our tender were pretty standard overall. He advised us that we could easily remove items from the tender/contract as we need to but there would be a $2200 admin fee for each major structural change after contracts were signed. We didn’t really have the opportunity during the tender meeting to ask for a free dishwasher or things like that. Our tender presenter was not really a people person and we didn’t get on well with him at all; we were worried if we asked for any inclusions he’d take more things away from us!

Provisions included in our Tender(things that might not be needed, but an average price to give us an idea as to what we could be paying):

  • $8000 for BAL 12.5 bushfire requirements
  • $1500 for stone bench top upgrades (This was one of the worst miss-quoted items. Our benchtops ended up costing around $4000)
  • $7500 for rock excavation, additional piering, import of fill/export of soil as required
  • $2000 allowance for stormwater to hydraulics engineers details as required by council

Items in our Tender we would later drop:

  • $1210 for a brick letterbox
  • $10500 Brivis 6.5HP ducted air con
  • $7335 driveway pavers
  • $8210 Builders range of quarry tiles
  • $2940 Builders bronze range of carpet
  • $550 landscape concept plan

We had 7 days to sign the tender but signed it on the spot at the conclusion of the day as we were content with what had been presented and we were happy to proceed with Clarendon. We also paid an additional $4000 to secure the tender. We left the meeting with a copy of our signed tender (expiation date of September 2012) a sample copy of the formal contract and our ‘Clarendon Create’ folder.

Next Step: Contract signing and part 1 of our Clarendon Create appointment on 6th January 2012

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Land Contracts

November 7th 2011 marked a special day as paid the initial deposit on our own lil block of land. Stockland advised the next step in the process was for their people to send our lawyer the contract of sale for the land. Our friends had previously used Lucinda Hick from Cause Conveyancing http://www.causeconveyancing.com.au/index.html to help purchase their apartment and recommended her services. We engaged Cindy and she sent us a quote right away; $990.00 to cover our land contract and ensure the settlement goes smoothly for us. Cindy was one of the few people that actually responded to our enquiry and was certainly the most affordable. *Note: our land contract was pretty straight forward we didn’t need to hire a lawyer.

Our land contracts were sent for review to Cindy on 17th of November 2011. The meeting was quick (around 45 minutes or so) and Cindy answered all our questions. The only concerns that really popped up were that in the contract Stockland had advised they have until mid year 2013 to release the land to us. Cindy stressed this was to cover any rain delays and in the circumstance of finance being an issue to fund development on the estate. Stockland has completed many developments in the past and are a well established company so we know finance won’t be an issue. With all our worries put to rest we signed the contracts.

On the 21st of November we paid $9,000 as the final deposit amount. Contracts were exchanged on the 28th November. I assume Cindy is hanging onto the contract until settlement as we haven’t really received any paperwork from her since.

Settlement is due around June and when we officially own the land we’ll pay Cindy her fee.

Now, onto the Tender process!

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