Friday, December 2, 2011

Playing the Waiting Game

And I'm not very good at it!

The last few weeks we've been meeting with Precision and going over the plans and making a few small changes and it's all coming along really well, we couldn't be happier with how they look.  Now we're just waiting for them to give us the final quote and make the last few changes to the plans then we can sign our contract and get moving. The best part is once we sign the contract we will actually get a copy of the plans so then I can share them with people rather than poorly explaining how it's all coming together!

I've been told by many people that there is a lot of waiting when it comes to building a house ... not sure how I'm going to cope with it as patience has never been a strong suit of mine!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Yesterday we officially became Land Owner!  We celebrated with a Nando's Picnic on the Block too bad we didn't have much light left as I didn't finish work until 7:30pm but it was still nice to celebrate.

Which was all well and good until we saw the bank accounts ... but at least it's all for a good cause and after a morning working on the budgets the blood pressure has come back down to normal!

Next week we meet with Precision to go over the second draft of plans and to discuss signing a preliminary contract with them so that they can start to take idea's to council to see how we'll go for approval.  We're hoping this will speed up the approval process especially with Christmas not too far away!

So watch this space for more info coming soon!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Precision Homes Concept Drawings and Floor Plans

Yesterday we had our second meeting with James from Precision and while this builder was always at the top of our list after seeing what they come up with and how they interrupted our plans they pretty much sealed the deal!

While the plans weren't perfect they certainly captured the key elements of what we where trying to achieve and to see it on paper in 2D and 3D was awesome.  The basic floor plan was pretty much the same as what we had come up with with a few changes here and there as we where never entirely sure of how the stairs and the retreat would work, but they made it work beautifully.

The things we liked:
1. They created a really nice feature with the staircase and opened up the retreat by having a void over the staircase but they also opened up the side of the retreat that looked down onto the kitchen giving the feature of the roofline in the kitchen and really creating lots of open space.

2. The pantry was huge! Because of the way they designed the stairs it allowed for a huge walk in pantry!

3. Because of the way the roofline sat it ment that we could potentially have access to some great storage spaces in the ceiling space.

The things that need tweeking:
1. It needs to be shrinked, they really pushed the limits of what would fit on our block and I think we will have enough issues with council, because we are doing something different, without having to worry about the fact that it only just fits on the block! Plus the bigger the area the more expensive it will become and if we can cut down the size it may mean that we can keep the features that we like.

2. The alfresco area was a little more closed than we would have liked so that is going to be opened up more.

3. We took out some of the little features that where put through the hallway between the bedrooms, we just didnt see the need and wanted to keep it more streamlined.

We got told that we'd be looking at a pricing of $1,100 - $1,200/m2 but will get a more accurate quote once they have made these changes to it. So we should be hearing back from them within the next two weeks.  But if this was just phase one of the process I cant wait to see how good its going to be once we have worked our way through to the next few phases!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Design Picture Boards

I just wanted to share these, the husband sat down yesterday to set to work on these great picture boards of many of the features and things that we like and I reckon they came up great.

I was really happy with how they came out and they really caputre the theme and design features that we want in the house.  Hopefully this will give the builders an even better idea of what we want our house to look like.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Meeting the Builders

Yesterday we met with our top two choices for builders, both are custom builders who concentrate on quality over quantity, both have received great reviews on and we had two very different experiences.

Precision Homes
We spent over an hour with James from Precision going through every aspect of our design and all the ideas that we had and how/if they where going to work.  We looked at the design from every angle, what materials did we want to use for the front facade, our ideas for each elevation, how the loft space would work and our concern about the percentage of open space.  In the room we where sitting in was their selections for some of the finishes so we could gather an idea of what would be available to us.  When James saw our idea for the floor plan and the front elevation you could see the natural enthusiasm and he looked excited by the fact that they didn't have anything that was like it.  He showed us the concept drawings that they did for a house at Henley Beach that that the master bedroom, ensuite and walk in as the loft and told as that if we wanted to arrange a time to look through the house to let him know as the owners are more than happy to do that.  Once we had gone through everything from our budget, to wall height, to eave width, to the type of cladding he then explained that he would start on our concept drawings and get back to us in two weeks with those drawings as well as a quote, which will obviously change depending on if we change things in the concept drawings.  This whole process he does himself and takes account for every brick that is to be used. 

Stellar Homes
When we arrived at Stellar the person who we where meant to be meeting with had been called to Mount Gambier so we ended up talking to someone else.  We spent 20mins with him as he explained the process from their end, we showed him our design briefly and then he took us through some of their selection options so we could see what was available at the basic level.  He then explained that he would give our floor plans and front elevation picture to their design team who would then come up with their concept drawings and from there he would put the info into the computer to calculate the estimated costs and that this process may take a week or so.  We weren't asked what our budget was and a lot of the details that we went through with Precision where over looked.

Endeavour Homes

The last builder that we met with was Clay with Endeavour Homes, I had been referred to them by a few of my clients at work and after having such a terrible experience with Stellar we decided that we wanted to meet with another builder just so we could accurately compare what each company was willing to offer us.   We spent about 45mins with Clay to discuss our plans and ideas and he was able to give us a rough quote very quickly.  The quote for everything that we wanted sat at $1216/m2 for the standard home then plus the upgrades that we wanted which took it up to $1400/m2.

One of the biggest concerns that we had going into this meeting was that we wouldn't be able to interpret our idea's into words and that the builders wouldn't be able to see our true vision of what we wanted in a house. From the time spent and the details given we feel that Precision took the time to get to know us and our plan and from that first meeting will be able to give us something very close to what we are after, we aren't so confident that Stellar will be able to do that.

But we aren't going to let this first meeting make our decision for us, that will come once we see their concept drawings and see their quotes and then we can take it from there.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Floor Plans Take Three!

I always knew this part would take awhile, I'm not going to say the longest simply because I'm sure there are things that will take much longer like going through council and then there is the actually building process. But over the weekend we went out to Lightsview and actually took note of room sizes that we liked because before then i had really been rather blind about the sizing of things like the toilet, laundry, bathrooms and I'm not very good at measuring or estimating distances so I was pretty hopeless. 

So we wandered through the houses and took note of how big different area's where and then worked on putting them into a plan that we liked and this is what we come up with:

Now we are meeting with builders in a couple of weeks so lets see what they think and how much we'd be looking at! Fingers crossed it's not much!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Floor Plans - Take Two

We have a meeting with two builders in a couple of weeks and we would like to have a plan, or at least a very close working of a plan, that we really like. Something that is a good blend of all the things we love and something that we have managed to remove most of the things we don't love.  I've been working on different plans each week trying to come up with different options so that we know what will fit and what we want so that when we go see the builders we can get a quote on something that fits us to a tea.

So here are the designs and what our thoughts are:

Design Features For All Designs:
1. Entrance will be open with high ceilings and we are wanting to be an atrium style so you can look down from the retreat into the entrance.
2. Front door to be a large feature door.
3. Stairs to be wood and possible a nice feature railing.
4. Flooring to be wood or bamboo with carpet in the bedrooms and in attic.
5. Side windows will be high windows to prevent having a pretty view of the fence.
6. Front windows will be long narrow windows and one running the length of wall at the staircase.
7. Feature window in kitchen between the cupboards looking out onto a garden bed.
8. Sliding door in hallway that slides into the wall.
9. Double Garage will be an open but covered carport with the wall extending across as a fence.
10. Alfresco area to have an outdoor gas heater with sliding or bi-fold doors opening out to it.

Design A

Things We Love:
1. The big open entrance.
2. The window/garden at the kitchen.
3. The Attic Retreat!

Things We Like:
1. The big laundry and being able to walk out to the courtyard where the clothes line will be.
2. The side courtyard, but it does mean we sacrifice some of the backyard to let light in the corridor.
3. Double showers in main and ensuite bathrooms.

Things We Dislike:
1. All the house seems to be one sided which means the study can only be used as a study and lacks flexibility.
2. Kitchen is a bit small.
3. Not a lot of storage space and not much room for a shed in the backyard.
4. Not having a window in the main toilet.

Design B

Things We Love:
1. Good Size Rooms
2. Big Walk in Pantry and bigger kitchen
3. Bigger backyard
4. Side Entrance
5. Bigger Study that will be able to double as a gym plus as a fourth room is needed.

Things We Like:
1. The curved hallway to allow for better use of both sides of the house.
2. Having the main bedroom separate from the other bedrooms to allow for less sound travel.

Things We Dislike:
1. Having the vanity in the main bathroom I do prefer having it separate.
2. This design is a bit more traditional then we would like.

Design C

I accidentally cut off the retreat when I cropped this pic but it's still there.
 Things We Love:
1. Having the bathroom and laundry between the bedrooms so it creates a corridor to allow for more storage space.
2. The storage near/under the stairs.

Things We Like:
1. Having the Study and Dining facing onto the courtyard
2. A Larger backyard and alfresco area..

Things We Dislike:
1. Not to sure of the walk in and ensuite will work as they are a bit narrow.
2. The L-Shaped Kitchen, Dining and Living

Design D

This is the same as Design B but with a different bathroom, which I prefer.

So they are the designs that we have at the moment, lets see where we go from here shall we!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Floor Plans & Facades - Take One

After many hours online, at display homes and looking through some uninspiring brochures we decided to take matters into our own hands and design our home from scratch. Lucky for me my Husband spent 5 years studying Architecture at Uni before deciding to completely change career paths and while he's a little rusty at his drafting skills it didn't take long for him to get back up to speed and start planning. 

We knew the basics of what we wanted:
1. 3 Bedrooms and a Study
2. Double Garage
3. Loft
4. Two Bathrooms
5. Open Living Design
6. Lots of Natural Light
7. Alfresco Entertaining Area
8. Eco-Friendly Design

All of this seemed pretty standard really ... but we wanted to jazz things up a little and it didn't take long to realise that having an 11m frontage was not considered normal as many of the designs for a narrow lot where 8m or 9m wide. So we had a little extra room to play with on the sides but not enough to allow for a double garage with a traditional style home.

We may only have 11m of width to play with but we have 40m of depth and that is what we decided to play on. After looking around our street-to-be we took note that many of the new homes had 3m, instead of the traditional 5m, between the side walk and the house and most of them had the garage built to boundary but still had both sides of the house with the minimum 90cm gap between house and fence.  Obviously this will still need to be checked with Council but it gave us something with work with at least.

Then we came across this design:

Which was made for a 8m frontage and is approximately 38m deep, so while the measurements didn't suit us exactly it is defiantly something we could work from.  We especially like idea of having a open carport style garage in front of the house rather than next to the house, this solved our problem of how to fit a double garage on our narrow block, plus by setting the house back from the street it also allowed for additional privacy.  The only problem with it was that the side entrance meant that there was a lot of wasted space at the front of the house, space that we would rather have as a backyard.  We like the side courtyard as it lets light into the house and opens up what would otherwise be a long dark hallway, plus we figure we can put the clothes line there so it doesn't take up room in the backyard. 

We also like the design of the front elevation:

As it's modern, open and a little bit different.

We had a few other designs that we liked idea's from, such as the loft from this design:

And we like the open living, study, lounge and dining of this design:

Both of those designs are far to wide with the minimum frontage of 11.6m, but there where defiantly aspects of the designs that we like and tried to fit them all into a floor plan that suited us.

So with some ideas of what we like we set about coming up with a design that incorporated the best of each design and made it to fit our block.  This is what we have come up with:

Ideally, if money was no issue, we would have the front entrance as an atrium that is partially open to the upstairs retreat (which we have already dubbed as the PS3 Theater Room) so that you can look down into the entrance from the retreat and as you walk in it will give you a nice open feeling.

  We'd love to have some sort of feature staircase just to finish the entrance off with a large window running along side it.

 The bathroom and the ensuite both have double showers and we put them together to have all the wet areas with the plumbing and pipe work together and the laundry on the other side of the hall way which opens out into a side courtyard where we will also have our clothesline. On the other side of the courtyard we have the open study/gym room, we wanted to keep this open but will probably have some nice sliding doors so that we can block it off when we have guests and its a bit of a mess as studies sometimes are.  We also want to have a sliding door so that we can close off the front and back of the house, for one thing we want to be able to stop noise travelling down the house but we also have a cat who is a strictly inside cat (although he does wish otherwise) and if we have an open alfresco area we want to be able to use it without having to worry about the cat running away.

For me it was a must to have a walk in pantry and a good size kitchen, we set the kitchen in slightly so that we can have a long window between the bench and the wall cupboards with a nice feature garden to look out onto instead of just a fence.

The dining and living areas a pretty straight forward and we would love to have sliding doors so that the whole back corner of the house can open up onto the alfresco area.

Then for the alfresco we would love to have a gas heater built in.

So that is our optimal plan ... fingers crossed it's within our budget! And the council approves it!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Display Home Dizziness!

While I love walking through the pristine display homes that St Clair and Blackwood Park have to offer, it's a very daunting and overwhelming process! And in some cases a little disappointing.

We where mainly looking at front elevations/facades and floor plans to start with, mainly because we want to focus on two things:
1. What we can fit on our block.
2. What type of style we want.
We don't want to get to far ahead of ourselves and into the nitty gritty things, like colours, carpets and cornices, just yet.

Looking at the display homes did help us to decide that we want a completely custom build - none of the floor plans that we saw, both on display and in the booklets provided, suited what we wanted and many of the front elevations have been done before.  We want something that is unique, well as unique as you can get, or at the very least something that wont be mirrored by many of the new homes being built in the surrounding neighbourhood.

We where also a little disappointed in some of the sales people that we spoke with, as soon as we mentioned "11m Frontage" they started using words like "limited" or "just".  These are not words that show any kind of innovation what so ever, most people are too stuck inside their box to think outside of it.  We want someone who can think outside the box and create a home that doesn't just look nice but also functions to the lifestyle that we want.  We wanted someone to tell us that just because we have an 11m frontage doesn't mean we are limited to a single garage or that we have to build two storey ... but sadly this didn't happen.

We did see a lot of different features that appealed to us and while these are things that we will  think of adding in the design phase, it wasn't our main focus for this outing.  We wanted to get started on a floor plan ... so if it isnt' important for the floor plan then it isn't important at this stage ... otherwise we would have completely lost our focus!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Search for Soil

After looking around at the houses that where available on the market and what you get for your money, it didn't take us long to decide that we would go on a land hunt instead.  Land in Adelaide isn't entirely easy to come across, especially as we wanted to be within a 15minute radius of the city and preferably on the beach side.

Our Land Hunt Take 1 Radius

So we started looking in areas that where previously industrial, Woodville, West Croydon and anywhere along Port Road.  We also started looking at areas that have an older population with large blocks of land who might be looking at subdividing, Findon, Fullham Gardens and Richmond.

We had a look at all the new developments coming up at St Clair, Lightsview, Blackwood Park and Westwood Park. While we liked the idea of the whole urban development plan I missed the character that older streets have when each house is completely different and you have a mixture of old and new homes.  We also weren't keen on the many number of restrictions that the building developments had, for example the next release in St Clair will have a restriction on the roof pitch that wouldn't allow for a loft which is an idea that we love. Plus we found that you where paying premium price in a buyers market for small blocks of land, you'd be lucky to fit a garden shed and a clothes line in the backyard.

We finally came across a new land release in Findon off of Crittenden Road, the whole street was up for sale and only 3 clocks of land were left, each block with at least an 11.5m frontage and over 500m2 and it was for a good price. It all seemed to be perfect ... the land was for sale from Housing SA and some of the vacant blocks marked "Future Development" where to remain under Housing SA and they where to build 5 2 bedroom courtyard homes on the two area's, which wasn't a problem as we had our eyes on a block that was half a street away from where they would be. What we didn't realise was that the vacant block of land, which wasn't marked in any of the plans for the subdivision, right next to the block the we wanted was also set to be housing trust, which made a total of 15 housing trust homes and 16 new homes. Unfortunately there is a stigma that goes with housing trust homes and it's a stigma that we are well aware of after living 3 years in Port Augusta.  It is that stigma that would significantly reduce the value of the property if we ever came to sell.  Luckily we found this out during the cooling off period even though we had specifically asked the agent was what being built next door. So we "Cooled Off" told the agent "Thank you but no thank you" and started the whole process again.

Land Hunt Take Two left us wondering if we had made the right decision. We spent weeks researching online and our first day off together we set out to look at every property between Campbelltown and Seacliff Park ... it was a long day.

Land Hunt Take 2 Had a Significantly Larger Search Perimeter!

By the end of the day we where exhausted and no closer to finding our block of land. We had one more block to go and luckily it was on the way home as we where both ready to throw in the towel! As soon as we pulled up to the curb we knew that it was The One. It had an 11m frontage, so a little narrower than what we originally wanted, but it was 40m deep and with that we saw some great possibilities!  Plus it was on the market for a realistic price, was right between the city and the beach, on a quiet street with a mixture of new, old and renovated homes and best of all it was just what we where looking for.

That night we had contacted the agent and within two days we had the contract signed!  There will be a long settlement as its only a new subdivision and while it's been approved they are just waiting on the last of the paperwork to pass through council, but the long settlement is perfect of us as it gives us more time to save and plan.

And just this week, much to my excitement, the "Under Contract" Sticker went up.