Brooks Reach Building adventure

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

Apparently no one wants us to have a driveway!

It’s true. Or at least it feels like it. No one wants us to have a driveway.

Building your own home (especially your first one!) is meant to be a grand adventure, but at the moment we’re experiencing a lot of frustration – all over a little driveway!

March 10th we visited our lot to prep it for site excavation. We found this little surprise:

tree Wollongong Council had planted a tree at the front of our lot. Normally it wouldn’t be a big issue, BUT it has been planted right where our future driveway will be. We have had our house AND landscape plans sorted since January 2012. Our plans had been approved by Stockland (our developer) and Local Group (the company responsible for our Complying Development Certificate) prior to this tree being planted.

So why was it planted? We have no idea. I mean we assume that it’s to beautify the area, though it would have been nice to have been approached by council OR Stockland before they decided to plant a tree here. It’s also frustrating too as we don’t know what type of tree it is AND as part of our developer guidelines we need to comply with we have to plant TWO native trees in our yard post build anyway. FRUSTRATING!

We have been following this issue up with council and Local Group over the past month. Council’s feedback was ”Normally the removal or relocation of a street tree is considered as part of the DA process. If approval is granted appropriate conditions will be attached to the DA consent such as the following condition. “Compensatory Street Tree Provision  – Prior to the issue of an Occupation Certificate the developer must make compensatory provision for the existing street tree required to be removed as a result of the development.  In this regard, a mature plant stock of the same maturity and species shall be placed in an appropriate location on the road reserve.” As your dwelling was approved as Complying Development you should contact the Private Certifier appointed for the construction of your dwelling house to ensure all necessary approvals have been obtained including the street tree removal.”

So the next step was contacting Local. We sent various emails as it was something we needed to have in writing. After no response and several days passed, B called and spoke to Karen at the Wollongong office. She said that they had received our emails and that the person responsible for our CDC had been on site and done an inspection but had then passed our file back to her without letting us know anything. Karen said she would put it back on his desk to prompt a response (he could have at least called us though, right?!)
Again we waited. Another week passed and B called again. After 8 minutes on hold he was told someone would call him back shortly. Eventually the CDC man called and his response was that:

  • whether we remove the tree now or later it won’t hold up construction process.
  • removing the tree won’t be problem with him or Council as he is the one to sign off on the compliance of the lot and it doesn’t bother him if we remove it.
  • he suggested we could try and move it if we wanted but he didn’t think it would survive transplanting.
  • we can plant a new tree if we like, but we do not have to.

So i guess that’s some good news, though now we have to try and get it in writing from him. We don’t want to pull it out and then be hit with a fine or told we had to replant it or something.

External Drainage Installed
On the 12th April the external drainage for our home was installed. This included a 450mm storm water pit to the front of our house.. Right where our driveway will run! No one wants us to have a driveway!

stormwater pit FRUSTRATING!! So we actually knew that Clarendon would be installing a stormwater pit as it was part of the hydraulics report but we didn’t know where it was going to go as it was never indicated on any of our plans. The picture doesn’t show the location but it’s to the left edge of where the driveway will be poured. What we want to know, and what we’ve brought up with Clarendon, is why is it installed where the driveway will obviously be? Why were we never asked about where we’d like it to be, or at least told or shown on a plan that it would be installed there!!

Not only will it look ugly but it’ll make the price of pouring our driveway go up as extra care will need to be taken when pouring/stencilling etc. We will also need to ensure the drain is safe to drive over and if not, potentially pay to upgrade it. There is also the thought we may even have to have an ugly curved driveway to compensate. The fact the drain is so visible and near the front of the lot will hurt re-sale value too. I understand of course that it’s good for our driveway and lot to have the drainage but our frustration is just that it’s not in an ideal location and there was no communication with us about this!

B has tried talking to the SS but he said it can’t be moved and ‘it shouldn’t affect our driveway’, though we have visited the lot a few times now after the pit was installed and we are pretty sure it will. Whilst visiting the site we also noticed the sewer inspection outlet had been raised considerably.Sewer Inspection Outlet

The SS advised that it can be raised or lowered and we are even allowed to put a bird bath or something easily moveable on top of it. No real issues there. I think it’s just raised at the moment so they don’t damage the area surrounding it during the build.

We were going to measure the distance of the stormwater pit in relation to the garage today BUT (in good news) our frames were delivered yesterday so that prevented access. Aren’t they beautiful?!!

frames; blog



If the rain holds off next week they should take 2-3 days to install 🙂 Bring on lock up stage!!!


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 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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The beginnings of our home .. Land purchased!

Darling Husband (DH) and I had been looking and purchasing a home for some time before we decided we wanted to build. There were a few suburbs in the area we liked but the homes were either too much work to do up or way to expensive for us as first home buyers.

We decided we’d engage a few builders in the area, email them what we wanted in a house and what our budget was. We had already spoken with our broker and calculated ourselves what we could afford in repayments.

A few responded, though most didn’t. One company called us and told us to buy land first and then go and see them at their display homes in Shell Cove (even though they have an office in Wollongong close to where we work). We really liked the look of Wisdom Homes but unfortunately no one ever got back to us. Wisdom didn’t have any display homes near us and if they couldn’t respond to an enquiry we didn’t want to drive an hour or more to their show homes and then spend the building process chasing them.

Clarendon Homes responded quickly with some nice ideas and addressed most of our questions. DH’s boss had also built with Clarendon in the past which also gave us some peace of mind. We decided to set up a meeting with the consultant at Clarendon’s display homes in Haywards Bay. She was lovely, answered a lot of our questions and showed us some beautiful home designs. We were strict on our budget from the start, giving her the maximum we could spend on house + land. Not once did she try and push us for something that was above our means. She listened to everything we had to say and what we wanted in a house and by the end of the meeting we walked out with three possible floor plans to look over and an idea of how big our block of land should be if we wanted to build with Clarendon.

We had a lot of trouble finding affordable land in the suburbs we were wanting to build. If we found some potential land we liked, we would scope out the site, take some pictures and email them through to Deb and she’d let us know if it was suitable. Everything we found seemed to be too steep a gradient to build a one story house on. Deb suggested we have a ‘smaller’ footprint and build a two-story place. As much as we liked the two-story homes they were more expensive so the trade-off wasn’t really worth it. We became disheartened and continued to go to open homes across the weekends. We were lucky to have my ‘mum’ Nat along on some of the showings which helped with our confidence and knew an extra pair of eyes is always appreciated.

One weekend in November we contacted Deb about a new estate in Horsley that had just released several blocks for sale. She wrote back and invited us back to Clarendons display homes to discuss potential lots that might fit our need. We went over the price/size of the lots and picked out a couple to check out. Later that afternoon we went over to Brooks Reach estate and met with one of Stocklands sales people, James. We discussed our needs and the particular lot we had decided on. James put on his boots right then and there and walked with us to the lot. We loved it. There was still a lot of levelling to be done and at this point there were no roads or anything in place but standing there with Branden, looking out at the mountains I knew this could be the place to build our home. We walked back to the office with James and told him we’d take it. He laughed and commented on what an easy sale that would be! He didn’t want us to sign/pay right away, so instead he sent us home with some brochures to read through and sleep on it. He was holding the lot for us for two weeks but on Monday 7.11.11 at 12.12pm B called through to James and had him process our $1000 deposit on the land.

We were so excited we wanted to sort out our house plan right away! Deb arranged to meet with us at Haywards Bay after work that same day.. (to be continued)

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Land Registration Update

After heading out to the site at Brooks Reach on Sunday 11th March we heard that since November 2011 the developer has recorded 60 rain days … that’s huge! As such we were recently reissued with an updated estimate as to when our land may register and settle. Our lot is in stage 4 and we’ve known it would be at least June before our stage was ready, but the setback is still disheartening. Just one of those things we can’t control. Keep praying for warm, sunny days!

For lot details click here Brooks Reach lot plan feb 2012
Below is an updated post of all the land registration details we have had up to date:

Registration Update 8th March 2012

Stage 1: Registration anticipated June 2012

Stage 2: Registration anticipated June 2012

Stage 3: Registration anticipated June/July 2012

Stage 4: Registration anticipated June/July 2012  —> Our stage!

Stage 5: Registration anticipated July 2012

Stage 6: Registration anticipated June 2012

Registration Update 17 February 2012

Stage 1: Registration anticipated May 2012

Stage 2: Registration anticipated April 2012

Stage 3: Registration anticipated May 2012

Stage 4: Registration anticipated June 2012 —> Our stage

Stage 6: Registration anticipated June 2012

Registration Update 16 November 2011

Stage 1: Registration anticipated May 2012

Stage 2: Registration anticipated April 2012

Stage 3: Registration anticipated May 2012

Stage 4: Registration anticipated June 2012 —> Our stage

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