Saturday, 16 November 2013

Building a House - Part 2

Please note, I can only provide information on my own personal experience.  I have compared my experience to a few friends who have built with different builders and the experience has been similar if not the same.  However please bear in mind when reading these posts that I am talking about my own personal experience with McDonald Jones Homes

Hi grab yourself a coffee, get comfy, this is a long one...

You've picked your house, now lets design it.


Once you pay for your initial tender you will be provided with a tender document and a sketch of your land with the house imposed onto that land.  Within the tender it will provide you with a breakdown of your costs.  We sat down with our sales consultant and he went through each and every breakdown with us, added in anything we noticed wasn't in there at our request and explained things to us that seemed like a foreign language. 

In our experience this documents changes a number of times so by the time we got to the end we had Tender V1, Tender V2 and so on.  When you receive an updated tender they have all the additional things in bold so you don't have to keep going over the same things constantly looking for changes, the changes are highlighted for you.

Once you are happy with your tender you sign it and pay your deposit (minus your tender fee), then you have a tearful good bye to your sales consultant and your handed over to your Client Liaison Officer (CLO).  Our sales consultant was so great and the service he provided was beyond any expectations that you could ever expect. 


You will be provided with a plan - study it, think about it, dream about it.  If your builder permits, think about any changes you want to make?

I hear this a lot once mistakes come up:

"How was I supposed to know it wasn't on the plan, no one told me, I don't know how to read a plan, I'm a first time builder."
I completely understand why people say this and it is one of the reasons why I write my blog - if there is one message I want to get out to people building a home for the first time, it is this:
"Building a house is a joint effort.  You are employing a building company.  You are buying their design and they are providing you with a house.  They are not teaching you how to build a house.  It is YOUR responsibility to ask questions, to check everything, to learn how to read a plan.  Granted no-one will tell you this (except for me).  Learn how to read the plan, find out the meanings of every symbol, every letter, every measurement.  Never be afraid to ask a 'stupid' question, the only stupid question is the one you don't ask.  Develop a thick skin, if you ask questions and you get attitude, let it roll right off of you, get the answer to your question."
Understand?  Is that clear?  Do you need me to repeat it?
They really aren't that hard to read once you know what your looking at.  Okay, lets continue.

Every time you make an adjustment you will need to look back over the plans.  I cannot stress the importance of checking your plans enough - make sure your doors are where they are supposed to be, that your windows are the right height, that doors open the way you want them to - all of this is on your plan and as you will learn later in this journey - the plan is the BIBLE.  Regardless of what you have discussed, or talked about or shaked hands on - the plan is the rule.  You will sign off on each page of your plan and that is your authorisation that you agree for your house to be built as set out in the plan - do not sign it until you are 100% sure that you have ticked all of the boxes.

Colour Appointment

Remember, I can tell you about my colour selection appointment but I cannot provide details on how other builders do this process.

Just thinking about my colour appointment makes me happy.  With McDonald Jones Homes you are given two appointments:
  • pre colour appointment; and
  • colour appointment.
The first appointment is where you basically window shop. 

With McDJ they have a colour studio where you go to and spend some time with a colour consultant.  You are provided with a folder which contains most of the selections and prices, you are given a run down on everything that you will have to choose on the day of your actual colour appointment.   This is exciting and can be quite overwhelming.  You have to decide on everything from door handles, floor coverings, kitchen finishes, bathroom finishes, toilet roll holders - it's all in there and you have to chose every nook and cranny that will make up your home.  This appointment is scheduled for the duration of 1.5 hours. 

Now its time for homework.  Think about what you want and if you want your builder to do it for you.  Find out how much it would cost to do it yourself?  Do you want the hassle of doing it yourself?  A lot of the companies that builders use are independent companies, get on their websites, order some samples, they post them right out to you. 

Regardless of what choices you make, make sure you have some idea of what kind of flooring you want.  If your builder is doing it for you great.  If not, take a sample of your flooring with you to your appointment.  I learned very quickly that a lot of the colour choices for the rest of the home stem from your flooring.

The second appointment is where you make the choices and watch the calculator climb (it goes up quickly, so be mindful of your budget).  Now, if you have done your homework this will be quite easy.  We pretty much knew what we wanted for 90% of things.  We needed help with our floor colouring as I had two choices, then our kitchen colours stemmed from that choice.  We were given advice from the consultants but never pushed into any choices, and we were given ideas that we would never have thought about. 

I loved, loved, loved my colour appointment and it sticks with me even now as one of the great memories of my building adventure. 

Electrical Appointment

From what I've been able to gather from the forums.  You will be one of two kinds of people. 

The people who know, or are, electricians and plan on doing most of their electrical work after the build - or - you will be like us and have no idea on electricals and you will do it all during your build.  We don't know any electricians and I can't be bothered with doing it all after handover so I gave the job to the builder. 

Think power, lights, data points, light switches, external lighting, alarm, fans, media options, etc, etc.. again do your homework, they more you know prior to your appointment the easier it will be.

This appointment turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be and more energy draining that my colour appointment. 

One thing to remember I know too many people who have forgotten.  If you have a gas point for a fire, put a power point close by so you can plug the fire in.  It appear to be the most forgotten thing I've come across.

Landscape Plan

There isn't much to say on this.  Find out if you need one.  If you do then you do and there is nothing you can do about it.  If you don't then high five to you. 

We used Designer Scapes, it was all done by email and phone.

Plan & Contract Signing

You have done all of your selections, your excited and you want to get all this stuff through the red tape so you can commence with your build.  You have spent sleepless nights pouring over the plans, inspecting every line and measurement, you have googled the meanings of every code and letter and symbol on those plans and you are 100% confident that it is all correct.

Congratulations - you have made it.  Sign the plans, sign the contract and keep your fingers crossed that it gets through Council/Private Certifier in one easy go.

** I spend many a night going through this complete feed in this forum topic, I learned a lot and I noted a lot of things that I would never have considered.  My sales consultant was happy to sit with me and go through the pages and pages of questions I had - here have a look.

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