Category Archives: new home design

Starting Over

Not very much has happened since before Christmas.  We had another look at Highview homes, but when we got their ball park estimate they hadn’t included everything we wanted.  There have been some phone calls with the two previous builders, but I don’t have much hope of anything coming out of that.  We have come to realise that the kitchen in the Hawthorn Attic was far too small and there really isn’t the floor space to make it bigger.  I guess what has happened was a blessing in disguise and it would have been a mistake to go forward with it.

We have made some progress though.  We sat down and looked through all our floor pans, picked out the things we liked and didn’t like in each, and came up with our own.  This floor plan is very different to the ones we’ve been looking at building, so we’ve decide to go get our own plans drawn up, write up all our requirements, then get builders to quote on them.  We’ve had a couple of builders recommended to us, so we’ll see how we go.  But first we need to decide on a couple more things.  One is the facade – this is easy, we drive past heaps of old houses we like the style of and just need to pick one and photograph it.  The other major things is stumps or slab?  There are pros and cons for both, so we need to work through those.  And finally we need a drafts person, again we’ve had a few recommendations, so we’ll start with those.

We’re having a hard time getting motivated to start all over again; it’s 12 months since hubby convinced me that rebuilding was better than extending.  But we’ve learnt a lot over the 12 months and I think that will help with the next stage of this journey.

So for now, here are our pencil sketches of our floor plan:




Featured Image: Danilo Rizzuti /


First Estimate

We got our revised floor plan and ball park estimate from the builder a couple of days ago.  The first thing I did was check the final figure – it looked OK – not much more than our renovation quotes!  Then I started reading.  There were so many things left out – “Owner to supply” – things we had discussed to be included: flooring (!), solar hot water system (required for energy rating compliance), installation of the heating and cooling system (that we are going to salvage from this house) and balustrading around the deck (legal compliance), and more.  Then I had closer look at the floor plan.  We had been required to mark up our changes to the previous floor plan and sign that these were our final changes, but the revised version didn’t include them all or had made them incorrectly.  That’s one mark against for quality control! Then there are the provisional allowances.  If the actual cost goes over the provisional allowances we are required to pay the difference (fair enough) plus 30% – what a rort!!!!
We have also found another company that does federation style homes – Harkaway Homes – but they only supply the shell of the building (no internal trades, fit out, etc.) and we would have to be owner builders to engage them and then organise all the trades and fit out companies.  Its a bit of a scary thought, but if we have to do a lot of that with this builder, then why not?  It will give us more control over what we spend our money on, but means a lot more work for us.  So now we are going to spend the next few months investigating this option further.

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!)