Saturday, 21 December 2013

Building Permit is in!

On Tuesday 17th December we received notification that our building permit has been received and we have now moved on to the next stage - CONSTRUCTION.

Yes, that's right. After 10 months of waiting we are finally feeling like this is going to happen.

The email notification said that we will be allocated a new client liaison consultant who will contact us within the week of business returning to normal in the new year (06/01/2014) to notify us of our start date.

We received our final plans in the mail with the Addenda, soil report and engineering report.
It was interesting to find out this information;

Our site has been given a classification of "P" = Problem site due to poorly compacted fill.

Having a "P" classification can incur significant costs to the owner - up to $25000 over the original price of the house. This is the perfect reason to get "fixed site costs" - thankfully we did!

We also noticed today after a visit to the Estate that we have water connected on our site! Two front taps (the second being recycled water). 

An excellent way to finish off 2013 I think. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Developer Approval is in!

I received an update from our pre-start consultant on the 11th of December to advice that Developer Approval has been received from the Livingston Estate and we are good to go with now applying for the building permit. Phew!

All reports are in, final plans have been emailed to us and we are just waiting for them to arrive in the mail so that we can sign off on them.

Our consultant has estimated that next Wednesday 18th December, our file should be passed on to the construction department (later than I originally estimated months ago but at least it's happening!). Homebuyers Centre then closes for Christmas from 20th December through to 6th January and when they re-open we should expect a phone call with a start date.

Bring on 2014 and let's get slabbed!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Are we there yet?

I realised today that if I had a dollar for every time I had the following conversation lately I would have covered our costs of upgrades...

Friend - "Hey, how is the house going? Nearly finished?"

Me- "Finished? No...waiting for it to start actually."

Friend- "What? So not even a slab?"

Me- "No, not yet. It should be next month"

Friend- "Geez, seems like you have been waiting forever"

Me- "Yep!"          *Changes subject*

Moral of the's been 10 weeks this coming Monday since our land titled and our situation from the previous post has not changed! Apparently those reports are still coming through and are not finalised.

In the meantime we have discovered we have a free fence which is a plus that has saved us about $2000. We went to check out the grass growing on our lot and realised there was a side perimeter colorbond fence up. This was a fence that we were required to pay full costs of as we don't have a neighbour on the opposite side. After making enquiries at the land office the response was "Merry Christmas, we have put it up out of our landscaping budget". I will take that!

Word around the area is that Cranbourne East may have a name change to Casey Fields, in reference to the sporting complex just down the road from us. The local council are currently  in the final stages of consulting with current residents. With Cranbourne being zoned as Cranbourne East/North/South and West the emergency services are reporting difficulties with navigation. I wonder if this will have any impact on our house valuation? Hmmm.

Well that's it for November. Hoping next month will bring some excitement our way. Stay tuned....

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Variations = $!

Since land settlement and working out our new budget to cater for mortgage payments while renting, we have also done some research on heating/airconditioning.

Since the beginning I have been quite vocal with my requests to have decent heating and air-conditioning.
Homebuyers Centre provides a standard 3 star energy efficient Brivis ducted heating system with the house package but the reviews are not so great when it comes to handling airconditioning as well. 
We knew early on we wanted a suitable system that would cater for "add on cooling" later on down the track so we went to visit a local Brivis dealer with our house plans.
We were quoted up for both systems which included zoning areas of the house. We were happy with the quotes and went back to HBC to discuss. 
We upgraded the system to a 5 star zoned heating unit, paid a "a few k" upfront and had the relief knowing we could get a well priced decent airconditioning system down the track.

We were then advised that it was time to pay the Community Infrastructure Levy fee to the local council in order to move forward in the process with obtaining building permits. $800 towards the beautification of our estate paid by each resident when they buy should be the next botanical gardens by 2023!

Then back to the bank account to pay an unexpected variation: Bushfire Provisions! Over $4k in upgrades to the house to meet building requirements as our address has been deemed to be in a bushfire zone.
I contacted the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure for further information because when we purchased the lot we were advised we were not in a bushfire zone.
I found out that:  It was originally determined as BPA on 8 September 2011 (along with the rest of Victoria after the dreaded Black Saturday devastation).  On 25 October 2012 it was removed from BPA as part of a review of growth areas.  On 8 August 2013 it was determined to be back in BPA, as upon the state-side review of the BPA, the development had not progressed as first advised and the bushfire hazard (grassland hazard) was still present at the time of review and ground truthing. 

As we are the closest house to grassland being at the end of the street - we are deemed a bushfire zone and our neighbours 3 houses down are be it. In the name of safety we actually weren't too fussed with paying this one in the end (once we had an understanding of it). So $4241 buys us:
- Sarking to the entire roof area
- Roof ventilator (whirly bird) to roof including ember guard due to roof being fully sarked
- Weepholes with corrosion-resistant steel mesh inserts
- Above ground, exposed water and gas supply pipes shall be metal (standard inclusion)
- Provision of ember seal to standard garage sectional door
- Additional Raven seals to rear hinged garage door
- Provide flyscreens with aluminium mesh in lieu of standard nylon mesh
So now that the variations have been drawn up and paid we are currently in the process of HBC applying for our Home Owner Warranty Certificate and waiting on reports for plumbing/sewage. Then Developers Approval can be obtained and finally.... The building permits!!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Land Settlement completed

Today, at 2:30pm the transaction of land settlement took place.
I received the call at 2:37pm...not that I was counting or pacing or anything (!).

The bank has drawn down the full portion of our land costs and now the dirt is ours!

So that's the end of dealing with the land conveyancer- the less people the better!

It turned out that we didn't have any out of pocket expenses at all with the settlement as expected. We were prepared to hand over about $5000 in stamp duty and fees but it was considered in our loan already which is great news to have extra disposable funds for after the build to put towards back landscaping/fencing/cat proofing which we are currently saving for.

So now to wait and see what is next on our journey "home".

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Land Title released!

So I received a call today that we had been waiting 7 months for - notification that our land title has been released and settlement will happen in 9 days from today.
Finally. After all of the waiting, preparing, silence and saving we are now only days away from officially owning our land that we will kindly share with the bank for the next couple of decades.

Tomorrow we will post off our Principle Place of Residence concession application to benefit from the stamp duty reduction in Victoria and then wait for the call next week that the transaction of money has occurred between the bank and the land vendor and then pay the remainder of our deposit.
We then move on to getting soil tests, permits etc to prepare for the build which hopefully will commence in the next 8 or so weeks.
My birthday is this week and as I mark a turn of a decade I am considering this to be a fantastic present so far!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

The street is on the map!

Beautiful sunny day...time for a look and a report back!

So we went out to Livingston today. I was so excited to see that our street is finished and it has a street name sign confirming it! The nature strips have been filled in, the lots have been properly pegged out and the street is no longer fenced off.

Even better news - we received a call from the land office the other day to advise that Land Titles will be registered at the end of this month and land settlement is due to happen 2 weeks later. So basically things are on track and happening a month earlier.

I relayed this information to the pre-construction consultant at HBC. She informed us that once Titles come through, soil testing can then commence to then select the correct grade of slab for the foundations and permits will be sought. At this stage we have been advised that the expected build start date will be mid December though if they can organise things earlier, the works can commence earlier.

Meanwhile we have signed a one page confirmation form for the bank confirming our financial situation has not changed so this has locked in our formal finance for another 90 days. I'm flabbergasted that it just took one page to do this!

So this time next month we will be commence paying loan repayments (interest only on the land).

**As each day passes, our future gets closer**


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Minor selections change

One of the best things about joining a building forum ( is finding other homebuyers that are travelling through the same building maze with you with the same building company!

Thanks to another I was able to find out that our builder had changed the standard flooring from vinyl to laminate. As we weren't completely happy with our vinyl choice but didn't want to over capitalise on more expensive flooring such as tiles I jumped straight on the email when I found out and made enquiries about changing our choice! Seeings as our build wasn't around the corner I was able to do just that and attended the showroom once again yesterday. We chose "coffee oak" laminate for all of the living areas and hall and took it a step further and upgraded our carpet to a category 2 "twist pile" in Slate for the colour.
Couldn't be happier! 
We also went out to the land office on the weekend and apparently are 7 weeks away from our land title...fingers crossed for no further delays.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

A visit to the Estate

While we are waiting for the land to title and our journey of building to truly start, we have been visiting our estate on a fortnightly basis to see progress of our surrounds. 

When we took the photo of our lot the last time we were walking through mud to get there but today we were greeted with a sight that is so close to looking like a street, our street!
We were upgraded to a walk from mud to gravel with the addition of streetlights and driveway outlines. 

With so much time passing by and not too much at all happening, we are really excited with these little steps.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

We see dirt!

It's been a while since I posted...that's because nothing is happening! haha...just waiting for the land to title, which is still expected to be October 2013.

We took a trip down to the estate the other day to see what is happening...turns out - a lot!
A new land office has been set up, display village...many houses popping up and we noticed a specific dirt path that actually lead to our block!

We went for a little gander and although our lot is ages away from being worked on (its the street that is being worked on at the moment) it was exciting to see it close up.

I have to share this pointless dirt patch because it is the foundations of our new life!


Sunday, 9 June 2013

Yes folks, we have Formal Finance approval!

I received the phone call last Thursday, 6th June from our finance broker telling me that the bank had done the valuation and have formally approved our loan.

We have since received our mortgage documents in the gosh! SO MUCH PAPER! To be honest I have found it a bit overwhelming to start sifting through and am only going to attempt now, after writing this blog...just waiting for the caffeine to sink in.

I was deciding whether to find a solicitor to check over the documents or just source answers to the questions I need myself from specialists - we have gone somewhere in the middle and arranged a meeting with our finance broker tomorrow to discuss all the sections and sign them.

I have really done my research, I know what to look out for and I will not be holding back on any helps having a few friends in the business too!

Welcome to the world of mortgage debt! Yep...that's us!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Our Pre-Start appointment

What a whirlwind today was!

It was fantastic...

We started off going through the HIA Building contract. At this point, we wanted EVERYTHING answered, from finance to lock up! It's amazing how all of your questions can be answered by all of the relevant people within 20 minutes when you have a pen hovering over the dotted line!

So when all the fine print was explained and we had writers cramp from all the initials and signatures - it was off to the showroom!

Three hours later and we are SOOOOO happy with our decisions!

For now though, here are our highlights :-)


900ml Rangehood/Oven/Stovetop/Overhead cupboards

Caesarstone benchtops to Kitchen

Glass Splashback

Bricks to entire house - Truffle (Austral Indulgence Range)

Front Entry Door - Hume Newington XN5
Caroma Cosmo glass shelves for both showers

Alder Alto soap dishes for both showers
Caroma Cosmo 900mm double towel rail x1 and 600mm x1
Clark Orion undermounted double bowl kitchen sink

Saturday, 18 May 2013

We FINALLY have Finance Pre-Approval!

Yep, that's right - only as of yesterday we finally heard from the finance team that we have Pre-Approval! Yay!! It's a little weight that has been lifted.

So the next steps are: to pay our Valuation fee to the bank, hand over some ID to our finance broker who will send off our First Homebuyers Grant application (we couldn't change our contract signing date due to needing to get it done this side of July 2013 so that we can proceed with our formal finance approval application so we miss out on the grant increase!) and attend the Pre-Start appointment next Tuesday with our design consultant in the showroom...

We have done a bit more research and have some more info.
  • We can't get air-conditioning included in our loan so we are hoping to source this ourselves while we are waiting for land titles and get that installed by a sparky friend after handover (or during construction!).
  • Upgrading the standard vinyl flooring to tiles will cost more than expected (with no rebate on the vinyl) and the catch is...we would have to pay up next Tuesday so we are thinking of outsourcing flooring as well....I don't know if I could deal with vinyl?!
  • We are getting a great deal on upgrades to kitchen appliances with all Caesar Stone benches

Our HIA Contract signing is next Tuesday with our pre-start appointment.
We are really looking forward to this!

We managed to find a brick we like that isn't red! It is an upgrade to category two and will cost about $550 to upgrade the entire house - it is Truffle from Austral Brick's new Indulgence Range:

Monday, 29 April 2013

Part with $4000 and gain $3000...haha

Our lot in Livingston is secured (for now)!

We have handed over the remainder of the deposit on the weekend and took a little trip to Austral bricks.
We had a 2011 catalogue from our builder that showed the standard range and I was secretly hoping that Austral Bricks would say "we have much better colours in standard these days" but they didn't. To my amusement the rep there said "why do these builders keep throwing in the ugly bricks as 'standard'?"
I couldn't agree more....we are really trying to keep to standard selections but these RED shades are so old!
After being at the store I am paying really close attention to houses around me and analysing bricks. How excitement...and I really don't want RED! 
So this will be a discussion point for the selections appointment!

I received a return phone call from our home consultant in regards to the email I sent him a couple of days ago.
It appeared he had a memory lapse in regards to changing our ensuite fit out and changing the floor coverings. He advised he would make some variations (at no cost to me) and send it through.
He confirmed that our 900ml appliances in the kitchen will be included and we actually secured them for a good price and these will be purchased under our $2000 allocated allowance at our selections appointment, leaving over half left over for hopefully...a glass splash back!
I was also looking over our contract for our evaporative cooling system....yep, I threw that one in the email to. We have no plans on spending big at the selections appointment so it important to us to get the air-con in our mortgage.

Now if you live in Victoria and you are looking at building you would be happy to know that the State Government is hiking up the First Home Owners Grant to $10000 (from $7000) from the 1st of July this year and decreasing the stamp duty 40% which wasn't going to happen until January 2014.

Yay!! That's us....! That would be an extra $3000 we have for items except for that we are due to sign our contract BEFORE July which would make us ineligible...aaaaahhhh!

Ok, so I might have been a bit sneaky and left a message with our builders office that I need to reschedule the appointment next month to sometime after July...she hasn't called me back yet so I haven't had to think of an excuse but I have run this past our builder and he sees no reason why we can't reschedule until after 1st July because our land titles won't be ready for a few more months anyway (and he said he would have done the same thing!). So, that's that...

Still haven't heard about finance as yet :-/

Friday, 26 April 2013

The Building Contract arrives....

So we receive this large express post envelope today....

The contents:
HIA Building Contract, Electrical Plans, External and Internal house plans.

How exciting! We have ages to wait for our land to be ready so these short bursts of excitement from now until then will be few and far between I am thinking.

It turns out this is not one of those times...
You know how we all are reading on those forums about all the problems the 'buyer' is discovering with the builder and because we are so new in the process we make that mental note "I know how to avoid this happening to me now"....well I didn't know enough to make that side note!


In our ensuite we decided to change our plan a bit by removing the surrounding walls around the toilet and remove the second window so the bathroom didn't feel so closed in. We also added an ensuite door. We aren't really into this new "open plan" living of ensuites with no doors, especially when our ensuite shower is opposite our bedroom window! I straight away notice that this change isn't on the plan...

Next - our plans are showing floorboards and carpet. The discussion was TILES and carpet!

Finally - Where are our 900ml upgrades of appliances to the kitchen? Missing and replaced by the standard 600ml..grrr!

Ok, ok so I am over-reacting. I start breaking this problem down and my main concern is the ensuite because we have been advised by our builder when we signed our Preliminary Works Contract that we can't make any further structural changes unless we pay upfront.
 I believe knocking down 2 walls would be a structural change!

Reading this HIA Building Contract is really got my head spinning! Tonight my plan consists of combing through the homeone forum and typing explicit words ending in contract in to Google to see what I can find to help me understand. We are due to sign this contract at our selections appointment next month and I want to have a full understanding....especially about the part on page 3 that says "these costs are not fixed" but my home consultant told me a couple of times at our last appointment that the costs ARE fixed!

I think there will be minimal changes to our electrical plan though. So far we are thinking we will just add another power point to the master bedroom, living room and outdoor living as we plan to have our sparky friend carry out the work.

So anyway, I have sent an email to our home consultant with my questions and concerns tonight. 

Tomorrow we meet with the Land Office representative where our lot is and hand over a bank cheque for $4000 to lock in our deposit. Thankfully it is all subject to finance...
Can you believe we STILL don't know the outcome!!!??

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Land Title delay

As I write this today, we still haven't heard about our finance! We are continually reassured with "you guys will be is just busy"....yep yep.

What we do know thanks to a letter we received is that stage 5A in the Livingston estate is already delayed! Originally titles would be ready August 2013. Now it's October 2013.

I am actually glad we have that notice now...more time to save for some extras we might want!

Designer Spas RelaxerGetting a spa on my wish list would be nice :-)

Monday, 22 April 2013

Phone calls and papers....

So....ummm what next? We chose the builder, the house and the land...

We had two weeks that our lot would be secured for before we had to return to sign land contracts.
Those 2 weeks were a whirl wind!

We decided to apply for finance through Resolve Finance which is a sister company to Homebuyers Centre. We felt they had a good reputation, were a solid company and as they were located in the same building giving preference to Homebuyers Centre could work well!

We met with the finance consultant. He kindly came out to our home and we supplied all of our documents and signed the consultant's documents. Our loan would now be lodged.

Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting. By the way, we are still waiting on the outcome!
We have been advised that the lenders are very busy....hmm. We are doing our best to be patient... it's been just over a month.

In the meantime though our Home Consultant was in full swing, having us choose our front house fa├žade and tweeking floor plans.
It turned out that in the Livingston estate the driveway is required to be on the right hand side (if you were looking head on at the house) and the standard design has the garage/driveway on the left hand side.

"Don't worry!" said our home consultant, we will just flip it! But...what about the north facing sun? "Hmmm... leave it with me". A week or so later we have a new plan that had the front part of the house flipped and the back of the house remaining the same so we benefit from that north sun. As the flip couldn't be symmetrical it meant that we gained a bit more length to the house and an extra large walk in pantry! No complaints here!

We attended an appointment with our home consultant in Officer to gain information on our costings and sign the Preliminary Works Contract.
We were happily surprised with the outcome of the FIXED costs. We added Eaves to our choices for the house and selected a section of the front of the house that we would like rendered (as per our development guidelines we had to do this).

We were starting to see this come together.
The land we selected doesn't title until August 2013 which was a real positive for us so that we didn't feel rushed and we could continue to save.

We attended the land office and signed the contracts, subject to finance (with a 90 day clause).
They gave us a folder with a fancy pen each and a red sold sticker. all felt inappropriate seeings as we had no idea about the finance outcome.

I still find it completely odd how this house/land/finance order is done completely backwards!

A copy of the land contracts were sent to a conveyencer we were recommended to and we had mail from them within the week with MORE contracts to sign (and paperwork including our First Home Owners Grant and Land Transfer).

To be honest this stage has been so up and down. Do we get excited? We have gone through stages of preparing and researching colours/fittings to stages of normality in case it doesn't work out. It is a real rollercoaster of emotions!

We have been told that building could potentially start in September and an average build takes 16 weeks. I am thinking with wet weather at that time of year and Christmas shut down we would be finished by February 2014.

So as I write this post we haven't done anything further and we are still waiting on the finance outcome.

Our consultant from Resolve told us last night (when I sent a WHAT THA?) email that we should have an outcome next week in regards to our loan.

We also have our pre-selection appointment booked with a design consultant for the 21st May 2013.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Decisions, decisions...

So we worked out that it's possible.

After a bit of research (a lot!), many discussions and some counting of numbers we worked out that we could defy the odds and continue to rent while saving and potentially building our first house.

We had agreed on buying an established house early on in the game though with one walk through of a display village we were set on building our own. There is something special about your house being yours and never having been someone else's that we were keen to set up our territory!

We decided on a house and land package. It made sense. We could work off a template, give it a few tweeks and get a fixed price that suited our budget with the reassurance that it can't go terribly wrong because our house design has been built many times before!
So who is the lucky potential builder?

We checked out one well known building group...we knew that with minimal "standards" and so many "extras" that need to be "standards" that this job could get driveway? Come on!

For this reason - Homebuyers Centre (VIC) caught our eye.
Driveway included, quality "standard" fittings and materials were obvious in their display centres, not to mention the window blinds and fittings (and flyscreens!) being part of the standard package.

So we met with our home consultant in their head office for the first time.
A familiar face, down to earth and there to get the job done.
"Pick a design" he said, "We have heaps" he continued..."What about this one?"


The description as displayed on
The Aston captures the essence of contemporary design and space. Multiple living areas sets this four bedroom home apart with a separate family retreat in addition to a light-filled open plan dining and living space. A perfect balance between modern style and thoughtful layout places the Aston at a new benchmark for family living.

So we put this one on the top of the wish list ready to visit in a display village over an hour away!
No stopping there though...

"WHERE do you both want to live?"

Now we have had a lot of time to think about this and be realistic. We are not spending $800,000 on our first experiment which gives us no choice but to move out further South as we both work full time and need to be within a reasonable distance from work.

After a few visits here and there, discussions at many land offices we decided on Cranbourne East, more specifically the Livingston Estate.

The Lot we chose is perfect! Located at the very end of what will be a 'no through road' with a small park across the road to one side of us and a neighbour in a single story on the  other.

The space measures at 534sqm which is at the larger end of choices believe it or not!
After inspecting the dirt we put our $1000 holding deposit down on 10th March 2013 and let out a sigh of relief....