Category Archives: builders

The more you learn, the more there is to learn

We went back to our builder on Saturday, although I doubt they are going to be our builder after all.  After the standard of the floor plan and specification we got back a few weeks ago, we weren’t confident that this was a company we would be able to work with.  While we were there we reviewed the floor plan again (it was correct this time) and the specification, and some very strange things happened.The first strange thing was to do with the kitchen.  Because the builder can’t provide the kitchen we want, we will have to supply it, but apparently their kitchen company can do the kitchen we want and the builder can get it at commercial rates for us.  So the kitchen comes out at a cost of $6,000 and a contingency amount goes in for $16,000 (for us to supply the kitchen).  Not sure about your maths, but I’m a bit confused about that.  Then, because the kitchen company also does the bathrooms and laundry, these had to come out as well and are now to be supplied by us.The second strange thing was the taps.  The original specification had the builders standard tap ware.  I’ve searched everywhere for a picture of these things, but I don’t think they are actually made any more, they aren’t even listed as products on the manufacturer’s website.  The closest I came was this picture from the Dorf website (under History) they are like the orange one behind Jeanie.

Photo from Dorf

My parents had these in their house when it was built in the 80s.  The are dorf brand and are a white roundish shapes with about 6 groves around the sides.  They are hideously ugly, so we upgraded to a chrome cross style tap, also Dorf.  The price went up $3000 for this change.  There are 3 sets of taps – bathroom, laundry and ensuite – that’s 500 per tap!  We had a quick look on Grays online when we got home.  We can get the same style, 3 sets of taps, for about $300.

So after avoiding the sales push to continue on to the next stage with this builder we went to visit Harkaway Homes.  These homes are beautiful, but Harkaway only provide the structure, and we would have to be owner builders to take on the project and complete the rest of the house.  They provide a lot of advice and will come up with an estimate for the total job for no charge.  They also have a network of suppliers and tradies that their clients recommend.  I think we could probably manage the owner builder bit, but finance becomes a bit trickier.

Source: Harkaway Homes

We are going to keep looking.  After trawling through some building and rennovating forums I found the names of another 5 builders that do period style weatherboard homes – so guess what will be doing the next few weekends!.



What I learnt today – Provisional Sum

From Consumer Affairs Victoria: “A reasonable estimate of the cost of certain work if the builder, after making reasonable enquiries, cannot give a definite price when the contract is signed (for example, supply and installation of air conditioning).”  CAV recommend avoiding these in a building contract.From HIA: Provisional Sums “are used where there is a mixture of items and labour (installation). The PS allowance is the estimated cost price for the builder to do the work (item plus labour) for the owner. The price of the PS to the owner is the actual cost price plus the builder’s margin applied to the amount by which the actual cost price exceeds the PS allowance. The owner can choose whatever work they want within the range of work contemplated by the PS description. Therefore, unlike a PC (prime cost) item, where there is a change to the scope of work, there is no need to do a variation.”

Our first attempt at designing a new home (Federation Style)

Last week we got the first draft of a design (based on our design attempt above) with one of the building companies we are exploring options with.  We have paid $200 to get a floor plan design and ball park estimate done. Over the weekend we went back with our changes and questions.  One of the issues that has come up is the kitchen.  We (mainly “I” because I don’t like stone bench tops) want timber bench tops.  This company doesn’t do them, only Caesar Stone, and this was the second occasion in which the sales person tried to talk us out of timber.  Yes we know it requires maintenance, but timber is so much warmer and inviting and can look really spectacular!  Its also going to be a Federation Style home, so timber fits with the style.  So now we have to include the kitchen as a “provisional sum”, although we can use the same kitchen builder as the company uses, and they’ll negotiate the same rate for us.  (Starting to sound dodgy here?).  It got even weirder when the sales consultant who is doing the design wouldn’t give us the name of their kitchen company so we could go and look at what they do and decide whether they have the look/product/style/quality we want.  So now we are researching kitchens and trying to locate kitchen companies who do timber bench tops – which is quite difficult as we keep getting told no-one wants them.
I’m still not sure how this provisional sum would work.  If we go to a kitchen company and find the kitchen we want, get them to quote for supply – is the Provisional Sum an estimate for the builder to install it, or to purchase it on our behalf and install it?  (plus their margin of course!)