Sunday, June 26, 2011

Coming close to what we want

So after going thru a pile of brochures, house floor plans, design and architecture magazines, price lists (most important!) and more visits to display home centres far and wide and revisiting the same home display again and again, are we getting close to what we want to build?

We both agreed on the Nolan 45. We liked it.  We'll lose the rumpus room, and maybe go for the smaller version - the Nolan 41.  Have you seen the Butler's Pantry?!? Wow!!! We'll take that.  Double car garage workshop extension? Oh, yes, please.  Look at the staircase. That's what we call a staircase. How much is the base price again, I'm sorry? Not bad, but ... it's probably higher than what we're willing to go for.  Now we're wondering if there's a house design we missed that really is just the perfect fit for what we want.

Then the salesperson muttered ... "Have you been to our Arena Estate Display Centre?"

Arena where? "In Officer" ...

The House that M Built

After trawling thru most of the display home centres that we can humanly go to, we have short-listed 2 house designs that we liked - the Nolan and the Laguna.  Both from M.

These home displays ticked all the boxes from our home criteria list.  See them for yourselves.  Especially the Nolan, almost all double-storey houses that we see being built by M is the Nolan.  Our favourite blog, the source of most of the insights and information about building with M, the one that kinda egged me on to start our own blog, built a Nolan.

See them for yourselves ...

Sold !!! Another Metricon house sold at auction.

As part of searching for that dream house design (and in our case at the moment, waiting for site start), we looked at already built houses and go for open day inspections, if possible.  Why is it that once you decided on something, in our case, build a house, you start noticing other houses being built and being sold. Isn't it amazing, that considering we live on an established suburb, we have more than 5 new M houses being built within a 5 kilometer radius from us.

Yesterday, a Metricon-built house was sold at auction.  Here's the agent's spiel about the property (I've changed identifiable landmarks to protect the innocent):

Friday, June 24, 2011

Status Update #1

When we first created this blog (14th June 2011), our old property have just been demolished. At this point in time, we're just waiting for M to do another site survey and second soil test.  But we would like you to come and go thru this journey with us from that "one day" we started to make the dream real. We're hoping that we'll be able to post most, if not all, of our building notes, in logical and chronological sequence, before the actual "Site Start".  Before then, we're posting some "Status Updates" from time to time just to let you all know where we are really currently at at this stage of our "building our home" journey.

 "Approvals and Permits" should actually be yellow or "Complete". It's just that my CSC has forgotten to mark the "Tree Removal" bit as "Completed".

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Search continues ...

PD's Santana was one of my top choice. Everything was just perfectly in place. It's got the right width and length that will suit our block, too. But as we go up and down the stairs, we realise, this type of staircase is not really that suitable for a family with active little ones! It's also the very first thing you'll see as you enter the house from the front door.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but you have to have a darn good-looking staircase as this becomes a centrepiece of your house.  And it's not cheap.

We'll park the PD Cremorne for now.  Maybe we can have the design varied to remove the rumpus room and maybe replace with an extended outdoor room.  We did say we didn't want to have a rumpus room before, right?

Focus on what you want for your house.

And the search continues ...

Let's try M, their display homes look quite contemporary and classy.

Searching for the "perfect house" ...

And so we looked "far and wide" for "the house" that we would like to build.

We originally started just looking at PD's display houses first. They came quite highly recommended, too, by friends in the know. I even downloaded their iPhone App just so I can look at the floor plans while on the train on my way to work. A number of the designs quite stood out better than the others, and we looked at two designs much more intently - the Cremorne and the Santana.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Which Home Design

Now that we have kinda limited ourselves to only two volume builders, we can now concentrate on just looking at the display homes they offer, locally.

Picking a Home Design is not as easy as what we thought it would be.  Most especially if you're really in the process of building your own home.  We used to go to display home centres before this, just to dream. We just look, admire, wish and dream, and that's it, you go home after, throw those brochures away, and just forget about it.  "No strings attached".  If you're planning on building, there seems to be that thought - "what if there is something else better out there ...".

Which Builder - PD, M or GV?

We did have a look at several builders' display houses, some are good, and some are really good. But there's just so many. And we didn't have the luxury of time to go thru each and every one of them, unfortunately.

We thought we'll limit ourselves to a couple of builders - M and PD. It may just make it easier to choose the house we want.  Why M and PD?  No scientific formula here.  Sometimes it just comes down to an emotional feeling (gut feel, some say), or word-of-mouth, or friends' recommendations, or simply just first impressions.  But aside from just liking what you see, there's also that valuable first-hand experience, an insight, of others who've been there, done that, and who may or may not do it again. But which builder will actually provide some references and give it out freely without infringing ones privacy? That's where "Google" (or Bing, if you're a Microsoft tragic) really becomes your friend.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Display Homes ... near and far, but always far

You know you have been to enough display homes when your child says "not another display home, daddy; I'm tired looking at display homes".

We have been to see so many display homes, that we had, at least, at one time, a 2-foot pile of brochures, plans, and price lists on my bedside.

We've been to Cranbourne, Keysborough, Lyndhurst, Officer, Point Cook, Craigieburn, Lalor, Mernda, Doreen, South Morang, Balwyn, Glen Iris, Kellyville Ridge, Carnes Hill, Epping, Geelong, Torquay, etc.

And we've looked at the following display homes - Brooklyn, Cayman, Chadwick, Cremorne, Marina, Santana, Sandarah, Waldorf, Wembley, Hudson, Imperial, Laguna, Liberty, Lindrum, Monarch, Nelson, Nolan, Promenade, Riva, Stanton, Sycamore, Tribeca, Whittaker, Mornington, Bellmore, Fernhill, Albion, etc.

And from the following builders - Glenvill, Porter Davis, Metricon, Carlisle, Clarendon, Symonds, to name a few.

We didn't have to look at all builders and all display homes from each of the locations we've been to.  We skipped the single-storeys and some lesser known builders.

For a chosen few, we did have to visit or look for the same display home, albeit a different facade, from different locations. And spend more time looking at it.

Just so many choices, so little time, and not to mention, with a toddler in tow.

We have to make a choice on the builder and narrow our display home choices.

It's not easy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

To Build or Not To Build

Should we build or should we renovate? That was an easy question for us to answer.

We want to build. We want to build a double-storey home, with at least 3 double bedrooms, with ensuite on masters bedroom, walk-in robes, additional toilet/bathroom, a powder room downstairs, a big kitchen, with a sizeable pantry and enough cupboard space to store all the stuff, pots, pans, gadgets, etc, a family room, open plan, maybe a guest bedroom/study, a double lockup garage with internal access, an entertainment area at the back, maybe with some decking, some backyard space, to put a cubby house, play area, and so forth and so on. Yes, we want to build.

Our Old House

This is the original house. A 1960's brick-veneer house. It originally has 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a small kitchen and living room with an open fireplace. I built the picket fence, together with my brother-in-law. My wife and I painted it. It took us at least 3 months (weekends only) to build this fence. I may not be able to make it then as a fence contractor.

The original house didn't have a garage. This detached single lock-up garage was built by the previous owner. It's got a workshop at the back, too.

Got this cubby house together with the house when we bought it. It's got a sandbox underneath. My nephew and niece never got to use it much or not at all as its been dilapidated and rickety.  There's a swing set, as well. All backyard features. Never had the chance to have it repaired. Bad landlord!!! :-).
The original house was extended by the previous owner to have a big family room and dining, extra bedroom, and a huge laundry with a second toilet and bathroom.  With polished floor boards, too.  Sad to say, large cracks were beginning to show throughout the house, with the ceiling showing signs of caving in. House looks to be structurally unsound after so many years. Would cost more to have it re-stumped, under-pinned, and re-wired. Thought will just have it demolished, instead, unfortunately.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Welcome! It all starts here ...

Our journey (or dream of building a new home) actually begins quite a while back when we decided to buy an investment property out in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

This was no ordinary investment property as we have decided to build our home here one day, hopefully, with a couple of our kids running around, a couple of cars on the driveway, a bit of a backyard where the dog can run around and the kids, with their friends, having some fun time together.

We did say "One day...", right? Yes, that was ages ago. But before that "One Day" comes, we thought, we'll leave the newly bought house as is and rent it out. To our family. They just arrived from overseas then and our current house - a 3-bedroom unit, two in a block, was not big enough to accommodate us all.

Our family rented and looked after the house like their own. Everyone is happy. Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months and months turned to years, our nephew and niece grew up, they went to school, my sister-in-law finally got her licence. Happy days.

And then one day, we decided to be more than a couple.  And years later we had the little one. A little one who's more than happy to sleep and play in her own room. The little one's happy "planking" in her own cot. Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months ... from tummy to crawling, from crawling to walking, from dada to daddy, from mother's group to child care ... and the little one has grown ... running around ... talking a lot ... climbing furnitures ... asking a lot of questions - "Can I have a dog?"; "My friend has got a cubby house, can you build me one, too, daddy?"; "Can I get my friends to play with me in the backyard?" ... uh, what, sorry, whose backyard?

And that "One Day" came.