3 Jun 2017

Build Update

I knew building a home would take time. We've been warned and we expected the time it would take to build our home would be longer than what the builder or land developer says it will take. I'm not bothered by it, but I have to admit the time has damped the excitement of relocating. I'm sure once we do start moving the rush will come back. 

So an update post cause I've been reading other blogs and forums of people who have built homes and I enjoy reading and learning from other people's experience. If you are building or thinking of building check out Home One it's the whirlpool of home builders. 

When we put our deposit down for our land back in September they said it should be registered by Christmas. It's June already. However, we did get an email 2 weeks ago from the property developer advising us that they've lodged registration of all the land on our estate with the council and expecting about 2-3 week turn around for titles to be registered!

Woohoo! Finally some real progress.

This email was also a heads up to let us know to start contacting our banks to get our finances in order because soon after the land is registered they will want the rest of their money for the purchase of the land.

The bank application process has also been a roller coaster ride. Although interest rates have been the lowest it's ever been, banks have been tighter on lending. It's really no surprise, however frustrating never the less.

We've faced some challenges leading up to getting approved for a loan. Before we even started we wanted to know how much we could borrow so we weren't wasting our time looking at locations or homes that we could not afford. This is how we learnt how tight banks were being at the moment and even with substantial savings hardly any debt our serviceability was pretty limited. In hindsight, this was probably a factor which gave us, even more, confidence to pursue that "sea change" we've always thought about doing. If you can't afford Sydney you got to buy elsewhere right?

My advice when it comes to the finance side of things, go with someone who is going to work for you. Someone who will take the time to explain things to you over and over again if need be, someone who is honest and experienced. 

We've chosen a builder!! We choose the builder quite quickly. We were drawn to this one home because of how the stairs were designed. We dislike "grand staircases" - this is a personal preference ok. I dislike how a staircase and the void above one can take up so much space in a home. That's functional space you could be using. So the home we gravitated to was one where the staircase is kinda hidden behind the kitchen. I remember walking into this display home knowing it was a two story home, admiring the various rooms and then being surprised by discovering the staircase up to the second floor further down inside the home. We liked that feeling. I'm sure not everyone's style but was our deciding factor when it came down to selecting the home design.


We also realised later on it was a similar design to a home we looked at the first time I was pregnant. It was a one story home but there was a staircase behind one of the walls that took you up into the attic which was converted to a guest room, with its own ensuite and lounge area - it was a huge designer home. We always think about that home and we realised we gravitated to a design that was very similar. 

Although we selected an existing design home we've made changes. If we're going to live in it for the next 15-25 years we want to be comfortable. I don't want to be walking past a particular wall everyday thinking, "we should've moved this" - modifications like that. 

Of course changing the standard design costs money. Choosing high-quality finishes and making changes to rooms costs money, so whatever price you see on the website or catalogue for the home, expect to add another 100K to that price - and that's being conservative in my opinion. Yes, you can cut costs by doing some things yourself, if you know what you're doing. Yes, you can try getting more stuff included or minimise costs down by negotiating with the builder if you know what you're talking about. We've been fortunate to also know some people who are in the industry so we've had them review things for us, gave us the words to question costs, and validate plans. However, we're still at the mercy of the builders and their charges. I've struggled to comprehend certain things and costs especially when I apply my "Cam logic" to the situation. For example moving a room to the opposite side. My thought logic is 'I'm still paying for the room regardless why does it cost extra to relocate it?' Or another example is the kitchen island. When we measured the kitchen island in the display home against our plans, our one is smaller. To get the same size as the display home costs extra, but we're getting the bigger home design than the display home, so we've upgraded everything in the home, therefore, why is this costing extra? I get so defensive when they say things costs extra. 

So that's the update. Next week I expect we'll be asked to settle the land. After we sign off on the prelim design it will go to our property developer to ensure our design meets our covenant agreements. That's been an interesting experience too, I'll save it for a separate post. 

1 Mar 2017

Purchasing Land Off Property Developers

I've never purchased land before. I've never built a home before. We're still at the early stages, and so far it's been a ... manageable effort. I've flipped a few properties already but they've always been existing homes. They were also purchased based on different goals than what we have today. Previously our purchasing decisions was based on buying something that we see as a medium to long term investment and something that was cheap.

Purchasing land we definitely were more selective. Besides being the obvious - location and price. We found ourselves considering factors I never thought I'd care about such as, where the sun rises and sets, elevation to other properties, future infrastructure, public transport, even the shape and size of every side of the land.

We purchased our land from the developer or in other words "off the plan" meaning it's not ready for home construction. If you look at my previous post all you can see is piles of dirt. We were open to this option as we hadn't started looking at homes and wanted more time to save more money. I also think it's our cautious way of approaching this risk. We knew we need to make a big move in regards to property soon as we've been saying we would for the past 3 years. Every year as home prices increased, we would always look back and say to ourselves, 'We should've purchased that place we saw last year." Hence why our "location scope" trip last September resulted in the signing of contracts. When we went looking we had no preassumptions we would buy anything, but at the same time we knew we had to take a risk.

If you've every purchased an off the plan development what usually happens is after the cooling off period, and your conveyancer has thoroughly reviewed the contract and they can confidently say you're not at risk of getting a dud deal, you pay a percentage of the cost of the land. The rest doesn't need to be paid until settlement. In our case settlement will be when the land is registered with the council.

During Christmas when we went back to look at the land the road had been laid and grass was being watered at the time. So we assumed we'd get a call by January. It's March today and we're yet to an update on the land. I'm not too worried cause we're not ready to build and I'm happy to keep our money as long as possible. And from past experience developers usually start communicating really well closer to settlement, as they want the rest of their money real quick after they've done their part.

So that's the straight forward, no drama process of purchasing land off property developers work. However if in the case the land you're thinking of buying is already registered, your settlement will occur in only 4-6 weeks.

Here's an update image and if you follow me on Instagram you would have seen a similar post already.



Things I've learnt or tips I'd give others from our experience so far:
  • Ask all your questions, no question should be too hard or stupid for them. This is a big deal for you, they should understand that and not feel troubled to answer and explain things to you over and over and over again. 
  • Ask other people who have purchased land about their experience or questions you may have. I was emailing friends, calling our parents, finding forums and Facebook groups (they do exist) to get the information and advice I was looking for. I don't claim to know everything and I like to learn from other people's experiences.
  • Do your research. If you're serious about an area or any property purchase you investigate. I assume you would do thorough research into the area you're considering buying before contracts are signed. 
  • Ask for a better price. If you don't ask you won't know. Ask about any rebates, especially if you're a first home owner or maybe the development is giving one. 
  • Don't forget stamp duty. Every property you buy you pay stamp duty and depending on the state that can be up to 5% of the cost of the purchase. So if the property is $850K that's $42,500 just going to the government. Sucks doesn't it! People forget about this so when you see the asking price remember to add 5% to the figure to manage your expectaions. 

Have you built before? Got any more tips for this stage of the development? 

1 Dec 2016

That Sea Change

One of the big changes that I can finally share is we're moving. 

For awhile now we've been wanting to get a bigger home, but Sydney home prices in the areas we wanted to buy wasn't affordable for us, well not on a full timer and start up biz owner salaries. Even after discussing various scenarios with our financial planner, Sydney home prices was always the impacting factor. There were times I thought about going back to the corporate world just so I can have a consistent salary. But when I thought about giving up my business, or not being there for the boys, I would start to get emotional. I couldn't do it. 

Even if I did go back to work full time, I didn't want a massive mortgage hanging over our heads, in addition to the cost of raising a young family. Like I said prices of homes in the areas we did want to buy in had sky rocketed in the past two to three years. 

Friends would know, and maybe I may have even mentioned it on here, but we've been talking about a sea change for a long time. Even before we had children, Ian and I wanted to try living overseas but never did it because there was always an excuse we told ourselves which held us back. Well, no more!

For a good part of the first half of this year we were investigating areas to relocate to. We thought about schools, infrstructure, jobs and the kind of lifestyle we wanted and took those into consideration. We did day trips flying out to areas that we short listed to see if it was a place we could see ourselves raising a family. After a few months of research, thousands of kilometres of traveling, we found a new place we'll be calling home. 


Unfortunately it's just dirt right now and obviously will need to build a home on top of it, but I'm excited about the whole process. I'm excited to move, I'm excited to build, and I'm excited to start our life in a new place. I'm sure there will be challenges along the way, everyone who has built a home has a story, but I say 'bring it!' I love being challenged! 

A few people have questioned why move where there is no support in the form of family, no impeding job to move on to, or just questioning why move to this area altogether? All those fears are on our minds too, but if we dwell on them for too long it'll hold us back from trying. Ultimately we believe this is what's best for our family. It is a sea change for a reason. We don't want to be doing Sydney life somewhere else, we want a different life to what we have here. Not that it isn't amazing already, our priorities have changed and we're hoping to achieve an even better life by doing this move. 

So watch this space. I'll be sharing the journey with you all. The purchasing rules alone is slightly different in another state than Sydney. I'll save that for another post.

22 Nov 2016

Accidental Electronic Device Detox

Just wanted to share a little win I realised lately. The boys no longer play with the iPad's. Not at home, not when we're out, but definitely at the grandparents. 

It all started about a month ago. Eli dropped an iPad on the ground by accident. He was sitting down and had one on his lap. He stood up to grab some food and it fell a measly three inches. The screen cracked, so did hubby. Eli understood clearly he was in trouble and from the countless "I told you ..." statements he heard from his father and I he knew we were both extremely cross. So from theat moment he hasn't asked for it and because he doesn't play with one, his younger brother doesn't want to play with one either. 

Since they no longer get access to one, they're playing with their room full of toys more. They'll say to me "I'm bored!". Which I respond with, "go find something to do then", and surprisingly they go off and play together more. This also means they're fighting more too.

Going out to eat as parents you rely on the iPad. For us definitely when the boys were younger, when they start to get restless we would pull out an electronic device and put YouTube on. Now they have no choice but to sit there and wait until everyone has finished their meals. I think they're eating more because they're not distracted. I think they're more engaged in their surroundings because they're not looking at a screen. 

I'm not sharing this to show that I'm a better parent, far from it. I guess I'm sharing a progress made with my imperfect parenting. It wasn't like we decided on an electronic device detox, it just happened due to a situation. 

Another interesting outcome from this is I've realised the boys do actually like to play a lot. They're always asking me to join them in some made up game using toys and our imagination, or get outside to play basketball or even just play a game of passing a balloon to each other. 

They're very conscious of when I'm on the phone. They'll tell me to get off or follow me around bugging me until I give in and get off.

They do get access to an iPad when they're at the grandparent's homes. They'll ask for it shortly after they walk in. The other week Kai wanted to sleep over at the grandparent's place, and Kai never wants to sleep over. He was telling me to go home while he was holding the iPad. 

I hope we continue this non-iPad environment for as long as we can. Eli starts school next year so I know we can't keep the electronic devices away forever. But I know we can restrict it if we need to .... and the world will still keep spinning.

Next, getting them to eat more veggies. 

9 Nov 2016

Should I Keep Blogging?

(Asking Eli taking a photo of me. He include his Pikachu stuff toy in the shot)


It's been awhile since I've really blogged. 

It's funny the longer between posts the harder, or the more hesitant you become to publish stuff online. The content I spent some time working on becomes irrelevant, or I start to question whether it's even worth posting. 

Maybe I'll keep this post short and sweet just so I can get over these fears. Just like when someone starts going back to the gym, just rock up, have no expectations except getting your arse there. 

So I'm here. I'm little blogger-unfit, or unwell or insecure? It's been a long time since I've shared something personal.

There are exciting and challenging things I'm currently experiencing, and me maybe 3 years ago I would be sharing those things on here, but now I'm a little hesitant. 

I'm hesitant because the internet is evolving so quick and the online landscape is very different to three years ago. I never really use to worry about my online visibility, but with the increase of identity theft you just don't know who's taking your information and doing what with it.  

I'm hesitant because I'm re-evaluating my why? This blog isn't about making money or lifting my profile so I'm sharing my personal experiences for what? 

I'm hesitant because I run a business.  

I'm hesitant because my children are growing up and I've realised I'm creating an online foot print of them that they might not want me to share. Remember people once you post it online, it's on there forever! Will my boys be happy knowing I've shared their allergy episodes when they were babies online? Can it be used against them one day? 

I guess we all encounter these types of questions when we've been doing something for a long time and lose that spark that started it all for us. Just like going to the gym there comes a point you question it all. Usually, when you hit a plateau you need to re evaluate why you work out, or what your new goals are and change it up. 

Maybe I just need to change it up? 


Bloggers, business owners or even if you work for the man but usually love what you do, what do you do, or how do you keep yourself focused on your hustle or doubts? 


28 Sep 2016

Kai's 3rd Birthday

Last week we celebrated my second son Kai's 3rd birthday. It sure doesn't feel like he's only three. I feel like he's older ... it's hard to explain. Sure the year flew however, it felt like he was stuck at two for ages.

He's still a Mummy's boy. Always wants me by his side. It's annoying at times but I've learned to live with it. I may be his favourite person doesn't mean he's affectionate with me. He hates kisses, he's even told me he likes hugs, not kisses. He's very much an introvert. He doesn't like attention and he hides his face when people notice him. He won't even give family members a hello or high five when he initially sees them. 

He's still learning how to handle situations he can't control. Most of the time he reverts to yelling and sulking when things don't go his way, but now when I tell him, "it's okay you don't have to cry" or "tell me what it is you want" he calms down. We're still trying to help him learn this skill and it's been a tiring and tedious process. When I think about what starts the friction between the boys or the majority of the situations where I lose my temper at them, it's mostly to Kai's reactions to situations. 

He's talking more. I've shared my concerns about his lack of verbal communication but he's speaking so much more in the last 9-10 months. Putting him into daycare has helped. We mentioned to the centre our concerns and his attendance there has helped him come out of his shell and communicate more. 

He's actually adjusted to childcare a lot better than Eli did. We could say goodbye and leave the room without tears after a few weeks of starting. He looks forward to going and we can tell he really enjoys himself when he goes. 

He's cheeky. Have you seen his normal smile? It has cheeky written all over it. He tattle's, he annoys, he teases, he pulls pranks and he fights as good as he gets. 

He's definitely more strong willed and persistent. He will repeat whatever he wants until you give in. He will go at it for ages until the sound of his whining breaks you. I like to think I'm mentally strong, but this boy knows how to undermine me.

He still has a big appetite. He's not the fattest kid but he sure does love to eat. He grazes all day and still has room for his main meals. He's not shy to tell you he's "so so hungry" and he's first to come to the kitchen at the sound of food. Surprisingly he doesn't touch anything he knows he can't have. I don't need to hide eating chocolate or ice cream from him cause he knows he can't have it so he doesn't ask. 

We find ourselves talking and reflecting on Kai most nights. Not because we have major concerns about him, but because he's so interesting. His behaviour, his development, his personality, we can't help but discuss how far he's come these past few months.  

Happy 3rd birthday Kai. You make parenting .... hard. But your character, personality, and mannerisms is what's unique about you. I pray you continue to thrive in your development and grow into the person you're meant to be. We love you so so much. 

2 Aug 2016

Happy 5th Birthday Eli

Last week we celebrated Eli's 5th birthday and this my annual birthday post.

Happy birthday Eli. When I think about you, my heart and eyes begin to fill. I’m so grateful to have been blessed with you as my first child. You're sweet, loving, thoughtful, beautiful and intelligent little human. You're a good kid and I'm already blown away by your maturity and loving nature. 

As you've grown another year you've developed more into who you're meant to be. You're heart and mind is a lot more mature than people your own age. I know this because of the way his eyes water up when one of dad’s jokes goes a little too far and you try to hide your tears. Or when you asks me if I had a nap so I could rest. Or when you ask for things but then question whether it's expensive, cause you've heard us say those things in the past. 

You know your place in our family. You help, you contribute and you lead when you need to. You're honest and take in everything we teach you, like not to hide secrets from each other. So you felt you had to tell your dad we were going Pokemon hunting when I told you we were going to sneak out to do it. I'm already so proud of you cause you continue to blow me away with your thoughtfulness, your fearless nature, your maturity and your heart. 

Of course, you're still a five-year-old. You're at a stage where play always involves some form of pretend violence like fighting, pushing, and yelling. For you at this moment being number one is a priority so everything is a race or you have to be the first to do anything. 

I pray that God always watches over you and protect you especially in moments we’re not around. May you continue to thrive, be in perfect health and be that sweet child that you are. I don’t know how we got so lucky with you. 

We love you so much.

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