Wednesday, December 8, 2010

And the land is ours...

     As of 3pm yesterday, we are the proud owners of a block of land.

And now we're (well "B" is) investigating what's involved with retaining walls!  To look at it our block is relatively flat, or so it seems until you start to work out what's involved in having a nice, flat back yard. 

At the very back, we need to cut into it and have a 1.2m retaining wall and scary figures were being thrown around yesterday anywhere from $30,000 to $5,000 depending on materials and if we do it ourselves or get someone else to do it.

Of course, we don't just happen to have a spare $30,000 lying around so it will be a DIY job but there's a lot involved including applying for a DA with Council due to it's height, speaking to our 1 neighbour we have already met to see if they too plan to excavate their yard (no point in both of us having a retaining wall on shared side if both planning to excavate) and the logisitics and engineering involved to ensure it's a strong and stable wall!!

Poor "B" is quite stressed about it all where as I in my naive state relating to anything structural feel quite laid back about it all and have full faith in "B's" abilities.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Council approval!!

Just checked the council website and our plans have been approved!!!!!  Woo hoo!!!!!!

Things are moving along beautifully!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our land has registered!!!

Who knew you could get so excited about 'almost' being the proud owner of a bare patch of earth?!  Well I certainly am, after renting for the past 4 years I can't wait to be in our own home again!!!!!!!!

We received notification today that our land has now registered and we are due to settle on 7th December - just in time to watch nothing happen for a couple of months while the builders all go on holidays over Christmas.

Just waiting on Council now.  By all accounts our Council has a pretty speedy turnaround so hopefully we'll know something in the next week.

Friday, November 19, 2010

This is all really going to happen!

Today is another very exciting day!  ANZ have come through with the goods and formally approved our loan!!!  There is always a little thought in the back of your mind wondering what if we don't get finance and we've committed all this money & time etc etc.  But we can relax now and know it's full steam ahead.

So, now on to other pressing matters and deciding on the feature wall colours for our boy's bedrooms.  I have 2 beautiful blues picked out.  'B' thinks we should just do them both the same colour but I don't want their rooms to be identical.  Some nice greens to choose from too....

Oh well, if this is the worst of our problems, it's all good!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Last minute decisions!!!

Our plans are now with Council and we expect to hear back any time soon and our bank is assessing our loan application.

All decisions made, or so you'd think.... Knowing that this is our last and final chance to make any corrections or changes to our plans has seen us going over our plans & drawings - AGAIN - with a fine tooth comb.  Pleased to say we found 1 or 2 extra little things that needed to be corrected on the drawings.  Main one is that in our open plan living area some windows are 2100mm high and others are 2000mm high!  Ummm, why???  Wouldn't it look so much better having all at the same height.

In addition to all of this, I've had a niggling little thought in the back of my mind about the internal paint colour we chose - Antique Ivory (sounds dreadful doesn't it?! Why couldn't our colour sound cool like Dulux's Self Destruct or along those lines lol)  After much internet searching I just couldn't find any pics from anyone who had used the colour and instead came up with 2 other really nice colours that I could see photos of and had originally considered. 

Went and bought 2 more tins of sample paint yesteryday - one for Moon River and one for Nomadic Ivory.  We both decided we preferred the undertones of Nomadic Ivory and then low & behold realised it was virtually the exact same colour as our chosen Antique Ivory!!!! 

So, it was a good exercise to do as I now feel confident with our choices and thank god it all worked out because our flooring, tiles and all other selections tie in!  It has made us re-think our feature wall colour choices for the boy's rooms though so poor old "B" went back to Bunnings today for a billion more sample cards!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Something's starting to happen!!!

After what feels like forever, things are starting to happen!  It's been a week of high's and I'm hoping there's not a low waiting around the corner to bite us on the bum!

Our highlights

  • Land is looking finished, with street signs now up
  • Developer confirmed that land should be registered by end of the month and settlement to occur early December
  • Eden Brae have been granted access to the land and conducted soil and survey tests yesterday (don't believe anything out of the ordinary was discovered)
  • Street name confirmed!!!
  • Hubby met our neighbour and said they were really lovely!
  • Received official sub-division documents and our land is slightly larger than originally thought!!!
  • Developer has gone and put in a concrete drive-way up to the building envelope (we're in a battle-axe) - this was quite unexpected but very much appreciated!
  • Discovered my colleagues husband is a brickie with Eden Brae and was given the name of a Site Supervisor that they highly recommended - asked our Customer Service Representative if we could have him as a Site Supervisor and it was confirmed as a-ok!
  • In the process of organising our loan, we were told of the few banks that do an upfront valuation.  As I wanted to avoid any nasty surprises where possible, we went down this track and the valuation came in spot on for what we're paying (which is what you'd expect but doesn't always roll that way!).  Turns out the valuer has also built the same house!!  What are the chances?!
So as you can see, it's been a great week!!!

Official surveys etc will go off to council next week and our finance application was submitted yesterday - so fingers crossed things continue to go well.

Have to say - every step of the way (so far) with Eden Brae has just been second to none!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Our original kitchen colours just haven't been sitting right with me.  It's so hard to choose all your internal and external house colours a year or so before they're even put into the house.  So, lots of research and online kitchen designing has been going on this week and I'm pleased to say we've changed our colours and are now happy with our choices.  Our last kitchen I think would have been on the dark side which really isn't what we are after!

So here is what we've picked!  The mosaic tiles will be our splash back and it's a little hard to tell from the picture but there is brushed silver, white glass and a latte coloured natural stone which ties all the colours of the kitchen in perfectly (polar white cupboards, stainless steel appliances and latte coloured bench top).  Plus we thought it would add a bit of interest in the kitchen over all. 

We've chosen stipple seal laminex for our bench tops, polar white for cupboards / drawers and Alaskan for the back of the Island Bench.  Waiting on some quotes but if they come in ok, we'll go the polyurathane cupboards etc instead of polar white.

ETA: polyurathane ended up about triple the price through this particular company.....ummmm, no thanks.

I know it's a bit hard to see but here's our kitchen design (sorry it's a bit blurry).  

There are 4 rear opening storage cupboards on back of island, 3 pot drawers on either side of oven, 900mm freestanding oven and overhead cupboards with downlights shining down on bench.

In the pantry I have added an extra shelf so in total there will be 5 melamine shelves all the way around (wanted to maximise space) and you might notice at the front of WIP I have asked them to leave a handy space to hang a broom, mop etc for quick clean ups.  We'll also be housing our microwave, kettle & toaster in the WIP, you can see where I've put the arrow, so there is going to be a powerpoint there. 

The following pic is an example of the rear opening 'touch' cupboards we'll be having and the downlights under the overhead cupboards.

And here's what the cupboard looks like closed.  Love!

This is the Dorf Vege Sprayer tap we chose.  As the name suggests the tap extends out to act as a......wait for it.......vege sprayer!  I love the really tall dramatic looking taps but our sink is facing into the family room and I didn't want it to stand out too much.

This is the 900mm freestanding Technika oven we upgraded to.  As far as reviews go, not the best out there but it was only about $700 to upgrade so we were happy with that.  That's a drawer underneath the oven too, handy for baking trays.

And lastly, here's a computerised idea of all the colours together (for the life of me I cannot remember the software we used but google free kitchen design software and something will show up for you.

Very rough but it helps to give an idea... 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Electrical & Flooring Selection

We had our final selections yesterday for electricals and then tiles & flooring with Di Lorenzo.  Ended up being 6.5 hours in total which we weren't banking on!  However apart from some final amendments and of course waiting for a couple of new quotes, we are pretty much done!!  Yay!!  It has been fun choosing everything but I will be happy when there are no more decisions to make.


So, starting with our electricals we sat down with Craig at Home Options and he was great.  Nothing was too much trouble and he was really helpful.  I had a rough figure of $2000 in mind for extra electricals however it ended up being just under $5400!!!  Whoa!

However we have pretty much got everything except downlights as one of our Electrician mates will do that work for us after handover.  Not only do EB charge $107 per downlight which is crazy, but we'd rather give our money to a mate!  So, for our money we got:

  • Powerpoints in every spot that we want them (13 single, 19 double & 5 quads this includes 1 under the eave for future christmas lights and also 1 on the Island Bench in kitchen)
  • Surge protection for the whole house
  • 2 way & 3 way switches in places
  • Stainless Steel Fan Lights in each of the bedrooms
  • Wiring in place for all ceiling lights and future lights set up ready to go
  • 2 Foxtel points which include a phone point & provisions for wall mounted TV's, DVD's etc
  • An extra provision for another wall mounted TV
  • 2 Phone lines
  • Exhaust fan in laundry
  • 3 x heated lamp / lights / exhaust fans for bathrooms
  • Stainless Steel fan to Alfresco
  • 3 Smoke Detectors
  • Door bell
  • Junction Box for future outside lighting
  • Provisions for external sensor lights 
  • 22 Ceiling lights
  • Sensor light to pantry

I think the pricing for most of the above was reasonable except for the door bell.  That cost $257 and you can only choose between about 5 of the daggiest looking doorbells.  Next step up from there are about 3 x the cost (and the rest) for intercoms (we'll do that later with so many other things!) Each light baton cost $58 and each double powerpoint is $63 so it's a little surprising how quickly it all adds up.

Di Lorenzo - Tiles & Flooring

Next we went to Di Lorenzo and felt pretty confident as we'd done a fair bit of homework there before and pretty much knew exactly what flooring we wanted and just needed to make final decisions on bathrooms and splash back for kitchen.  Well 'C' our consultant was crap wasn't overly helpful.  Her favourite phrase of the day was, "yes but it will cost you extra".  Almost wouldn't matter what you asked, that was the answer!

We were told that anything with a yellow sticker is standard for us and even though our tile allowance was $24 psm, if it had a yellow sticker and cost $30 psm, we didn't pay extra however if you choose a tile without a yellow sticker then you pay the difference from $24 upwards. What we didn't know was that if you chose a bathroom floor tile that wasn't exactly 200 x 200 then you pay extra for labour which is an extra $18.50 psm! Wall tiles had to be 300 x 300 but we chose a 400 x 200 with a yellow sticker and that was fine.

Main Bathroom

Bathroom walls will be at 1200mm tile height with a 400 x 200 Gloss White Tile laid horizontally.  Floor tiles will be that tile in middle of the below picture 200 x 200 (this colour is not standard and is already $11 more psm so we couldn't justify going next size up).  The top of the 2 feature tiles shown is natural stone and is going to be on the whole bath wall including on top of bath hub (these will be laid horizontally).  We ummed and ahhhed about these as the feature tile over whole bath is costing around $1700 *cough* however after recovering from our shock we realised that it would be such a beautiful feature and we didn't go overboard with anything else in bathrooms so thought it would be worth it.  Our vanity will be white.

Floor tile DC4133 & Feature tiles VM126

Our ensuites will be reasonably simple, with the same white horizontal 200 x 400 tiles on walls up to 1200mm height and same 200 x 200 floor tiles.  We've decided not to do any feature tiles however we are having the below laminates for our vanities.

Pure Calcite for tops of vanity & Fudge Stream for actual vanity (laid horizontally)

I know the Fudge Stream is a little different however after seeing the following photo's we thought it could be really nice feature if everything else was kept simple.  The one below will be the most similar to ours with different handles and a squareform benchtop.



For our kitchen splash back we chose a beautiful 600 x 600 gloss porcelain tile with same coloured grout.  It will work out around $400 and look like a glass splashback but will be about 1/4 the price of a glass splashback.  Only grout lines will be between tiles as they're the perfect height.

Time Chocolate Polished 600 x 600

The main problem with Di Lorenzo is that a lot of tiles are fixed on the wall and you can't compare one next to the other so we found ourselves going around in circles a lot of the time which was a bit frustrating but hey, we got there in the end.  Apparently as of Monday though, Di Lorenzo will be in a new show room around the corner and will have a library of tiles which you can pick up and move around the show room to compare against each other which will be so much better.

Main Flooring

Moving onto our flooring, Elisa was great (also at Di Lorenzo but in the carpet section).  We decided that we wanted to go with a timber laminate for our main flooring with carpet in Living Room and all Bedrooms (except playroom).  We did have a moment of dread when Elisa mentioned that we'd have to check with EB if we could do this type of flooring as part of the contract but she checked and it was fine.  If money was no object we'd go with beautiful glossy hardwood floors but we just couldn't afford $150 psm so we found a lovely replica which is in actual fact much harder wearing (with kids and pets about) and gives the warmth of a wooden floor.  Our wooden laminate is costing us $55 psm fully laid so works out about $4200 we think - yet to get quote.  We chose a carpet from the standard range which is a 50/50 blend of wool and nylon (I think) and looks nice and will do us till kids are older and we're ready to replace. We did upgrade to the best underlay though which was an extra $7 psm.

Carpet is Savino "Forte" & Timber Laminate is UTF Diamond Tuff "Select Teak"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Colour Appointment

Well it's been a while between posts however apart from signing our life away - I mean contract, a couple of weeks ago not much has been happening unless you count moving house (to my Mum's while all this house building business is going on) and the endless hours of 'homework' such as multiple trips to PGH Bricks etc to work out our colours!

Packing our life away into storage! Couldn't have squeezed another thing in there! Thanks for your help Steve, Steve, Mark & Jules!

However, yesterday we had our day at Home Option Gallery (HOG) to choose all of our internal & external colours, along with kitchen design and so on.  We were prepared for a pretty full on day and in the end we were there for 6 hours but it all went really smoothly (much to our surprise).

We didn't go to the 'HOG' feeling overly confident based on a lot of feedback from fellow builders but our Colour Consultant Josie was excellent.  Everyone else we saw were also very helpful and prepared.  Each time we sat down with someone new to discuss something we felt they'd already looked over our plans and were familiar with it all before going over things.  As for our kitchen appointment (which is the area we'd heard the most negative comments) - it was ok - not a lot of forthcoming advice or recommendations but we had a really good idea of what we wanted and together we got the end result (nervously awaiting the quote now though!!!).

So, here is what we chose:

Bricks - Gravel (with off white 'ironed' mortar)
Roof tile - Wild Rice (traditional profile)
Cladding - Woolooware
Gutters - Dune
Fascias, down pipes & meter box - Jasper
Front door, timber bi-folds & timber french doors -walnut stain
Windows, eaves & garage door - Surfmist

Our bricks and roof tile

Walls - Antique Ivory by Taubmans
Skirting & Architraves - Elusive White

Below, you can see our colorbond colours on top left - Jasper, Dune & Surfmist.  The Woolooware coloured cladding is top right and our internal wall colour Antique Ivory and Elusive White for trims is just under that.  On bottom right are our bathroom vanity colours.  Ignore the 2 colours in bottom left, they were the original kitchen colours that we've since changed to below...

Kitchen (also see here for our latest plans)
Island Bench - All lower cupboards / drawers & back of Island bench - Alaskan laminex
Drawers & upper cupboards along back wall - Polar white laminex 
Squareform benchtops - Stipple Seal laminex (will replace with Essastone later on)
Splashback - VM319 Metal Blend / Natural Stone (as seen below)

Close up of splashback colours 

Notice our rear opening cupboards on island bench below?

Bathrooms - See pics in Floor / Tiles post.
All floating vanities - Polar White laminex in main bathroom and horizontally laid Fudge Stream laminex (in ensuites)
Squareform vanity bench tops - Pure calcite laminex (again may replace with Essastone later)
Wall & Floor tiles - see below.

Here's the Fudge Stream laid horizontally with a similar coloured bench top.  Both ensuites will have this vanity.  The main bathroom is going to have a polar white vanity as I didn't want it to compete with the feature tile all around the bath tub.

Another pic. Will probably date in 3 minutes but hey, we like it! 

A bit of a jumbled photo but the top middle tile is our bathroom floor tile and the long, thin mosaic tile will be laid horizontally up the front of the bath and on top of bath hob.

Window Furnishings
Thinking of plantation shutters in all bedrooms and sheer blinds in all living areas.  We were going to do it the other way around however we can't really do shutters on our bi-folds and we want lots of light in our living areas and thought that all the shutters may actually cut a fair bit of that light out.  The girls from Abbey blinds are giving us a quote and from prices they mentioned on the spot, they seemed pretty reasonable.

Floor Coverings - see latest post
Yet to have our Dilorenzo appointment however we're pretty certain we're going with the 'Teak' laminated flooring - beautiful colour and very hardy.  There are so many options when choosing a 'wooden' look flooring but we don't have a lot in our budget to pay for real wooden flooring and having young boys the laminate will be nice & hard wearing.  Basically we wanted the warmth from the look of wood and are happy that we'll achieve that with this flooring.  Will come back & update once we've finalised wet area floor tiles & carpet.

Upgrades & approximate pricing
Off white mortar - $250
Stain to front timer door instead of paint - $250 (same front door as below)
Flyscreens for all opening windows - $500
Parent Retreat Entry Door - feature door - can't recall exactly but around $150
Solid door & deadlock from garage into house - $200
Privacy lock to main bathroom - $30
Freestanding 900mm oven - $750
1700mm bath instead of 1500mm - $40
All toilets to next model up - $25 each
Kitchen tap - Dorf vege sprayer - $200
All showers to frameless - between $300 - $500 each
3 coats of Taubmans living silk paint (1 undercoat & 2 coats of living silk) - $1500
Double towel rails instead of singles - $20 each
Converting all shelving in pantry / wardrobes to malamine - $500
Sound proof bats in walls between my Father's bathroom and our living room and also between the laundry and our bedroom - $500

                Our beautiful front door will look exactly like this!

Our beautiful french doors

We were going to get some heated towel ladders in our ensuite and main bathroom however at $740 each plus the cost of installation and the cost for power - we've since realised you can do it for around half the price after handover.

Re wardrobes, still deciding in our WIR whether we'll get any shelving as we are most likely going to fit it out ourselves afterwards.  

Kitchen - I've come back to edit this a few weeks later now that we have our quote.  We've gone back & forth a few times with the kitchen people but in total we're spending around $6,200.  This includes:
  • over head cupboards (with light boxes for downlights) above 'cook run' (back bench with oven)
  • bulk heads above cupboards
  • 3 large pot drawers on either side of oven (instead of cupboards)
  • 900mm wide island
  • rear opening cupboards on island behind sink and corner space which otherwise would be dead spaces 
  • wider cuttlery drawers 600mm instead of 450mm
  • Bin drawer with 2 bins in it (this was just over $600 alone! cough cough)
The $6,200 does not include the cost for oven, sink or tap upgrade.  Nor does it include a dishwasher.  I didn't want the crapola one they offer (for a cost of course).  I actually want one that cleans dishes, so we'll put one in after handover.

What we had to miss out on due to the extortionate costs from Kitchen Company - Essastone bench tops & soft close cupboards & drawers (total of these 2 things were $10,000 and while soft close mechanisms can't be retrofitted, we know Essastone would be a LOT cheaper to do day!)  Oh and forget the polyurathane cupboards unless you feel like spending an additional $6000 or so!!!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Floor Plan (Sketch)

Here is our floor plan sketch.


  • Front part of the house is dedicated to a 1 bedroom unit.
  • We've extended laundry to match the width of garage (now also includes a 'mud room' - to hang bags, store shoes etc)
  • Media Room in middle of the house has been turned into a study nook / wine rack / WIP / Ensuite & WIR to Bedroom 2 (which is now the main bedroom in our part of the house).
  • Swapped windows between Living & Dining Room
  • Created an alcove between 2 windows in Living Room so we can put a fire place.
  • Putting timber bi-folds out to Alfresco with no corner wall.
  • Expanded width of house by 1m which gives us a bigger family room, kitchen and essentially allows us to have the study nook.
  • We put a 4th bedroom on the back of house with French doors opening to the back yard. This is going to be a playroom and has a wardrobe the full width of the room.
  • Created a 'store room' behind the toilet space opening to the outside (for storage of mower etc - didn't want to waste valuable backyard with a shed).
  • Made Bedroom 2 bigger (our room)
  • Oh & we've flipped garage & self-contained unit around to best suit our block.
NB: Eden Brae don't tend to make so many modifications to their plans however we needed to due to converting part of the house to a unit.

So, what do you think?

The very beginning!

We thought it was time to start a blog to document the journey of building our home. If not for anything other than so we can one day look back and remember it in it's entirity.
It all started in November last year with an idea. Long story short, we started to work out if it was feasible to build a home that could mutually benefit us (hubby, wife & 2 little boys) as well as my Dad in a self-contained "Poppy" Flat!

After pouring over MANY floor plans and looking at a LOT of display homes, we kept coming back to the Eden Brae homes. The Saville 27 in particular appealed to us because we could turn the media room that's in the middle of the house into a WIR and ensuite for us. Which in turn meant we could turn the "Parent Retreat and Office" into a Self-Contained unit for my Dad.

Fast forward to 7th March - We put a deposit down on some land in one of the new Estates in Sydney's North West. It's a 581 sqm block, with great orientation. Very happy! Won't register until September though unfortunately.

Same day, we dropped in to the Eden Brae display office and decided that even though our land won't settle for a while, to lock in prices as we wanted to take advantage of some of their current specials - 1/2 price aircon and 2 extra squares for only $3000. We didn't know what their next sale would include, if anything (which of course ended up being the same but never mind).

So the next day we sat down with a fabulous EB sales consultant - Bede - for 5 hours while he sketched our perfect home with all the bells and whistles - well maybe not all the bells & whistles but enough to keep all of us happy!

After almost 4 weeks of deliberation by EB, they came to the party and said they'd give us a Fixed Price Tender even though they couldn't access our site and do soil tests etc. Phew!!! Ideally we want everything to have gone through council and be ready to build as soon as the land is ours.

Fast forward again to 30th April - we sat down with our EB Consultant for our Tender Presentation. Initially we were blown away by the costs factored in for site costs etc but all in all it looked pretty good. We are currently in the middle of getting a new Tender re-drawn to reflect some of the changes to the original one which we should get by Monday.  Upon reflection, we have realised that we have been really lucky that we're essentially getting a custom designed home at project builders prices.

High-lights so far:

  • Excellent Mortgage Broker
  • Excellent EB Sales Consultant
  • Fabulous house design which will have every spare inch utilised
  • The pre-approval from the lender
  • Finding our block of land, which is bigger & more private than we could have hoped for

Low-lights so far:
  • Incompetant Conveyancer (don't even ask)
  • Finding out from the Lender (today) that their assessment rates have changed and that they will be re-assessing everything AGAIN prior to land settlement (which possibly means that they'll offer to lend us less!). Can only cross some of these bridges as we get to them though unfortunately.
  • How slow times seems to be going
  • Land taking so long to register - seems to be the cause of all possible hurdles & problems

Here is our little patch of Australia...
(click to enlarge)

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