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A Clients Diary…


I lie awake some nights dreaming of my new home… a home with heaps of imposing living space, specifically designed to suit our family.

Raised airy ceilings, copious amounts of light streaming through full height double glazed glass, and yes, the hub of my fantasy… a gargantuan caesarstone island bench where everyone can gather around and tell stories (if you hang around our place long enough you’ll hear my husband tell the same old, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and call them ‘stories’, over and over).

Then it’s back to reality with a thud… so what’s really wrong with my 1950’s red roof 2 and a bit bedroom bungalow? Just to amuse myself I attempt to answer… well it’s got very low ceilings, dark pokey hallways, tiny rooms and a single garage… you drive your Kia in but there’s no room to open the door! Who designed this house? What were they thinking?

You know when the zombie apocalypse comes we’re going to be the first to go, right? Four zombies could pick up and shake our tiny house like a Smart Car. Our bodies will be flinging out the windows like wasps shaken from a nest.

Am I wrong to want so much more for my family? Am I asking too much? I mean just because I’m developing this incurable urge to consistently revisit my Houzz Pin boards on an almost daily basis doesn’t mean I’m obsessed.

No bugger this! I am a nice person and I want a nice home. Mid 40’s, I work hard for most of the 4 and half days I spend at the office. We have the ubiquitous dog and 2 kids in high school. We’re trying to live in this progressive world from a house stuck in some sort of a weird time warp? I’m not gonna let this house shape who we are.

I guess we should look into renovating and extending but if I look at the sort of job done by our previous owners, it’s not real flash. They didn’t address any of the things that really do need attention ie size, space, light, flow, warmth etc.

Funny cause everybody I have spoken with about renovating has said how expensive it is… we had some friends go through the whole renovation thing and we spent countless hours counselling them… they ended compromising on the plan, the finishes, the budget etc. We just kept reassuring them that all will be good… basically lying to them telling them to wait and see and be patient.

I really don’t need any of the grief they went through. I just want a fantastic new home and to get on with our lives… god knows we have enough going on!

I suppose we could always move but I really like where we live… besides I don’t wanna end up putting up and living with other people’s mistakes again. Besides the kids have got their friends, their school and we kinda like our neighbours… besides the thought of donating stamp duty to the government… quite frankly I think I’d rather drink Donald Trump’s backwash. I can’t believe I said that… better take a selfie! Yep that’s me!

No, I’m gonna look into this Knockdown Rebuild thing that seems to be on everyone’s lips as if it were some sort of cure for cancer! And I get it! And why not? You get a brand new home designed to suit your block, it’s been designed to suit the family’s lifestyle, it has the latest in trendy finishes and fittings, it has plenty of natural light, double glazing and a heating system that actually works… I think it’s time! Time to put a match to No 45. Better still let’s blow it up… have you ever watched a building implode? It’s amazing how dynamite and explosive charges can be used so effectively.

Ok we have decided… we’re ready for this… we’ve done the numbers… were ready to say adios to the peeling laminates, that pokey thing they call the kitchen, those creaky floorboards, those silly sized bedrooms – my god I hate this house! Hubby knows when the queen is unhappy there’s no peace in the kingdom.

Ok Windows 10, give me your best Excel Spreadsheet. I have always believed the devil is in the detail and that planning and preparation prevents poor performance! Let the research phase begin…

3 weeks later… So, after taking some time to consult, research and listen to some tales of woe and some very happy stories I might add, it seems we have 3 ways we could go about this!

Option 1 – Architect and Builder

Option 2 – Volume Builder

Option 3 – Custom Builder

Now for some corporate speak – ‘Lets peel back all the layers’! From our legwork, we now understand that:

  • Architects can be very clever but wow the fees… starting from $50,000! One firm we spoke with quoted us $150,000! Don’t think so Tim! And they don’t seem to be overly concerned that we have a budget. They seem more interested in lining their walls with awards! And then we need to engage a builder who may or may not concur with was has been designed…
  • Volume Builders… not sure about the quality. They certainly have little to no flexibility in layout and finishes. And the salespeople in the Display Homes… lots of smoke and mirrors with all those offers… some really seem to struggle with the truth! Plus, we want something personal and unique – not a home for the National Average.
  • Custom Builders – some have their own in house design team whereby we get the ‘one stop shop’ treatment… they design a house that suits our block, our likes and it meets our finances. Fixed pricing is such a meaningful phrase and will certainly allow us to sleep at night! I’m really liking the sound of this!

Oh, my god it’s really happening! I feel we are getting closer to kissing the old dump goodbye…that didn’t sound real nice but you know what I mean!

Now for some googling… let’s try ‘Quality Custom Builders’…very important, the house has to last! This is the biggest spend we’re likely to make in this lifetime so time for some rigorous research… it’s important we find the right people!

A Few Days Later… Right, this Saturday we’re planning to visit some Custom Builders Display Homes. Let the hunt begin! After all you want to see if they are what they say they are! I wanna touch and feel! I found looking through some of the company’s house plans more helpful than I would of thought!

Thanks to the copious amounts of ‘Dirty Chai’s’ (I discovered these whilst I was in Sydney – Chai Tea with a shot or two of expresso), my research I feel is paying off! I think we know our new home Custom Builder will:

  • Design and Build high quality, energy efficient homes with some awesome architectural finishes and touches.
  • Be easy to talk to and listen to what we want and show us how they can help us get it… I want our home to be important to them. I don’t want to be given a number and end up dealing with a different person every time I call up.
  • Offer us a true ‘one stop shop’ service including the removal of our old home. I’m looking for a transparent process that they can share with us… one that we are part of! I am expecting to know where we are up to and what’s next at all times…
  • I’m looking for high quality standard inclusions and some wow! After all I want the girls to go ‘ga-ga’ every time they experience my raked ceilings or sit at my gargantuan caesarstone island bench…
  • Be honest… tell me what’s included and what’s not! I don’t want to hear what a great company you are and then you turn around and tell me that flyscreen’s are going to cost extra!
  • Last but not least. (Im sure Ive probably missed something) Allow me to speak with a couple of your deliriously happy clients you have designed and built for.

Ok Custom Builders, bring on Saturday coz here we come…

Saturday comes… I can’t believe it! Twas mid-afternoon and I think we found a company which we trust to design and build us our new home.

Their display home had all the bells and whistles, the feel was amazing! High raking ceilings, stunning entrance with open tread stairs and glass handrails, polished concrete flooring, fully covered outdoor entertaining area and the kitchen… it was amazing! They assured us that they could design our new home and that it aligned with our expectations and our budget… some of the architectural finishes we never thought we could afford!

I can’t wait to get home and run into the street and yell ‘We’re getting a new home, were getting a new home…’

Next meeting: meet the designers… gotta stay composed… this meeting will confirm our gut feel that all is good and we are all on the same page. We plan to show them parts of several plans we like… it’s reassuring to know that we can start from scratch, creating a individual plan that may incorporate some of our ideas.

I’ve developed my Houzz (I think I started a Pinterest pin board some time ago as well) with images and inspirations. Wonder what they’ll think? I know from our meeting at the Display Home that they know how rooms should be sized and zoned, how people generally move around houses and that how every design element is considered from a buildability point of view to ensure value for money.

Of course, we will be looking to make the most of our North Facing rear yard (gotta thank our neighbours to our east side for the rambling bougainvillea – we will be making the most of this with a strategically placed window or two). A Site Visit by the Builder’s Design Team is planned for next week (given all goes well at this meeting) to establish what we can and can’t do with the block including aspect, breezes, slope and outlooks etc

I have goose bumps…

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