Thursday, March 31, 2016

An unexpected welcome

Flowers from our builder, with a note welcoming us to our future home.

Nice touch, Arden Homes.
And just like that, the nerves disappear, and we know our future is in great hands.

Theirs vs Ours

Some builders we spoke to (and there were MANY) throughout the decision phase were surprisingly inflexible when it came to minor changes.  Like, no, we can't flip the garage to the other side, even though there's a load bearing wall directly opposite and it makes no difference at all to the engineering calcs.

It was so different with Arden.  That first quick flip and sketch was virtually a complete re-working of the plan.

Here's the display version;

And here's our first draft;

Pretty much the only thing that has stayed the same is the sun court, and everything else has been pivoted to make the most of our orientation, aspect and lifestyle.

There's some minor things to tweak, but a great base to build from (pardon the pun).

It's starting to gain momentum.  We REALLY are doing this.  Again.  Eeeeeeekkk.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I used to be certain...

...but now I'm not so sure.

It's a BIG decision, getting the floor plan right.

Colours and finishes, they're temporary (hopefully someone has painted over the apricot coloured walls of my first home built in the 1988 by now!), but if the rooms don't flow, the spaces don't match the way you live, then the house won't work, no matter whether you've gone for a tiled or glass splash back.

It's spreadsheet time.  Room sizes.  Standard inclusions.  Price.  Reputation.
Objective and measurable.  That's the way to make a decision.  Except it isn't!  What about the feel?

So the four on our shortlist get another visit;
  Boutique's Oslo
  Porter Davis' Dakar
  Sienna's Eve
  Inspired Home's Aria (modified).

The reasons the first 3 were rejected still hold true.  We take the lessons from each (and there were many), send the consultants a massive thanks for leading us to our decision, and we head out to do some more research on our selected builder, Inspired.

Turns out they don't build their own homes.  They design in a unique way and sub by out the build process to Arden Homes.  Makes sense.  Best we check out the quality of an Arden build before we go much further.

It's awesome.  Not just in a descriptive sense, it is literally producing some awe-struck emotions.  But the garage is on the wrong side, the master is at the front, living area faces the wrong way, and it doesn't quite work as a treatment space.

That's our line of escape from the sales office, at least.  Until the super helpful sales guy says "hang on - let me play for a minute".  Copy.  Cut.  Twist.  Flip.  Paste.  PERFECT!

Here's my card.  Take my money.  Yes, we're sure.  Maybe.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Not-so-green Prints

There's nothing green about choosing house plans!

As you walk into each and every display home, you're greeted with a low-pressure, fully analytical smile, from the sales person's assistant as they thrust a display brochure in your hands.  In this split second encounter, I'm sure they're assessing whether you're a potential customer or tyre-kicker.  We're becoming skilled at timing our entry and exit when the converted garage, I mean sales office, is full, and staff are distracted.  High-pressure, salesy types are never, never, never going to win me over.

I love me a good bit of research.  Most decisions are arrived at after considering pretty much every option possible.  When we searched for our current home, I dragged the man through just about every display home in the Melbourne metro area.  It's either awesome or sad, you choose which, that I can still recall most of them too.

So why would this time be any different?

A new display village is evolving not far from us, so when the first home opened, of course we had to check it out.  And it's beautiful.  Open, flowing layout.  Full of light and decorated in colours we like. Theatre.  4 bedrooms, with a logical layout to create treatment rooms from the back two - the whole reason we went for a corner block.  Day 1, HOUSE #1, and I'm in love.  Already.  Price it up, eager and very helpful young guy.

Price = yowsers!  For a 28sq house?  But yes, we do need higher ceilings and doors and fancy windows, and a colorbond roof, and double shower.  In the 7 years since we'd gone through this process, I'd somehow forgotten that just about everything is an extra.  Yes, we want to downsize both the home and the amount of money we owe on it, but are we ready to downgrade too?  Time for spreadsheeting, pro and con lists, and a good hard look at the way we live and what it is we REALLY need from this new home.

It doesn't add up.  Why are we doing this?  We may as well stay where we are and not go through the stress and hassle of moving and building and moving again.  Either the house will be crappy or the mortgage will be the same.  Meltdown #1 takes the stage.

To cheer me up, the man suggests we go look at some displays further afield.  Day 2, HOUSE #2, and the man is in love.  Okay, before we invest more time in this, let's get the pricing structure, inclusions, yadda yadda upfront.  Really?  For 30 squares?  With colorbond, and...  Let's go have a closer look?

It's good.  Parts of it are great.  The kitchen is strange though, and the bathroom is internal with no window.  Sure, no one uses the bathroom right now, but it feels funny.  And not ha ha.  So, so spacious though.  And light.  It IS the 35 square version on display though.  So we spend the night measuring and pacing out the room sizes based on what we have now.  It's good.  Five less squares though.  How is that going to feel?

HOUSE #3, and we're both in love.  No clumsiness in the floor plan. Rear entrance and a foyer type space for treatment rooms.  Theatre at the front.  Great kitchen and open feel.  This really works.  Price it up.  Yep, it's in our range. But the display, again, is a 35 square.  That's a lot of space to lose.  Do you have a 30 square under construction we could see?  Yes?  Awesome!  Only it's not so awesome in the flesh.  It's a lot of rooms from 30 squares, and they feel pretty small.  Gahhhhh!  Lots of rooms may be good for re-sale, but we're not going into this with an out clause.

Another day, more displays.  They're all starting to look the same.  A collection of boxes running from a long hallway.  Where's the ka-boom?  There's supposed to be an earth-shattering ka-boom!

I don't know why we decided to do this, but we re-visited a display village that we were pretty familiar with.  We'd visited all of the main players there.  Maybe we'd missed something?  On the next row back, you know, where the B-listers hang out, there was one we'd never been in.  Let's just.... OH WOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW.  It wasn't exactly a ka-boom.  More like a "Hi honey, I'm home" type of feeling. It was different.  Very different.  Not everyone's cuppa, but we didn't want to leave.

HOUSE #4 - We put this one through it's paces.
Does it work for us?  As a Remedial Therapy clinic? How would we live in this space?  Is there enough room?  Enough rooms? What if we... and if we could... ?  Is that a possibility?  We've poured over the plans every spare minute we've had.  Met with their super helpful consultant.  Met the owner of the business.  If there's a downside to building a semi-custom home designed just for us, through a smaller, local builder, then I hope we find it before Saturday.

I'm ready to toss the piles of new home brochures we've accumulated into the recycling bin, lock this baby in, lay down some dollars and go for it.

Building Balance

"You're building AGAIN!"

We're becoming used to the reaction now.  Yes, it will be my fourth build.  Our second together.  One after the other.

When we started planning for our current home around seven years ago, we were planning for it to be our last.  Lots and lots of planning.  But the thing with plans...they change.  And as much as we love this house - LOVE this house - two people and two fur kids do not need a 39 square home on one of the largest blocks in the estate.  It's too big, and we've got too much living to do, so we're building some balance in Berwick.

The block is under contract and should be released for construction by the end of June or early July.  And it's a beauty!  At least 1/3 smaller than what we have now, it's on a corner, opposite parklands, and a short hop to the gorgeous wetlands that feature in our estate.

It's exciting.  There's some sadness, in a reflective way, mixed in too.  I hope the family who is lucky enough to buy our home has as many happy times here as we have.

We've changed.  We're ready for more change.  It's time for us to build balance.  Ready...