4 Mar 2018

Changes We Made To Master Builder's Home Design

I've joined a Facebook group of members who are also building with the same master builder as us. I've found the group useful especially when I had questions in the early phases of our build and supportive with most people willing to share their insight. I also discovered ideas and inspirations from what other people have done to their homes and I also realised there were so many other things we could have done if we had thought if it at the time. 

Like I've said before when you go to a display home what you see in these amazing homes are most likely upgraded options, therefore, the base design may be very basic. And to add the spaces and features you saw in these display homes are most likely an upgrade option.

I thought I'd document the changes or upgrades we made to our base Parkhill 36 home. 

  • We choose the Oxford facade. Not going to lie it was the cheapest facade, but we rather spend money on internal upgrades. We just wanted a very basic facade so we did modify it a little by removing the centre panel their Oxford facade normally has. 
  • Cornerless sliding stacker doors. Our home has an L shape element to it. Where two walls meet we removed the connecting corner beam so that when both sliding doors are opened it creates an open living space.
  • Third garage. All two-story homes come with a double garage as standard, but we added a third garage with a garage door opening at the back of it. We also changed the garage configuration so that garage closest to the house is a single and then the two other spaces is a double. We did this because assuming we needed to put something large at the back of the house there won't be a structural beam in the way. 
  • We combined the study and lounge rooms in their standard design, therefore removing the wall between these two rooms making it into one room as this will be our office space. 
  • We made Bedroom 3 bigger by extending it closer to the front. 
  • Changed all built in wardrobe doors in sliding mirrored doors.
  • We created a separate room for the ensuite toilet. In current base plans, the toilet in the master ensuite isn't separated by a door. We added wall and door so that we can do our business in private. 
  • We did floor to ceiling tiling in all our bathrooms. 
  • We moved the fridge cavity because we wanted more kitchen cabinetry and bench space. Previously it was on the same side as the stove top but we moved it next to the pantry door. 
  • We added a glass window in our pantry for natural light, since the laundry room was no longer next to the pantry, therefore, no natural lighting.
  • Added a shower to the downstairs bathroom. 
  • Most of our windows are awning style and three panels. The two side panels open but the middle is just glass. We also choose very large windows, which I'm really happy about. I love natural lighting.
  • We extended the ceiling height of the ground floor to 2750mm.
  • Added a sliding door between the meals and theatre room. 
  • Added this HUB which will set up the house ready for NBN, telephone and antenna connections. I don't know exactly what it is, it's Hubby's domain but he said we needed it. 
  • Mostly square set cornice for downstairs, presto cornice for upstairs and cove for spaces that aren't really rooms like linen, garage, pantry and laundry.
  • I thought because we opted for the Diamond Range kitchen we could have any stone top and it wouldn't be extra. I was wrong. It's funny how the standard stone tops colours and finishes are one's no one would really want and all the colours that most people would actually want is an upgrade. So the plain light grey stone top we choose was extra which you pay by the metre. We got the same stone throughout all bathrooms too.
  • The front door we liked was extra. It was extra because of the size (due to increased ceiling height), and because we opted for a hinged door with pull back handles.
  • We increased our island length and width. I can't remember what it was originally but we will be getting a 1000mm x 3000mm island.
  • We changed the door to the pantry to a translucent glass door.
  • Our small balustrade will be glass instead of a half gyprock wall like it all the display homes. 
  • We upgraded our air conditioner from the standard to the next option up and added 4 more zones with the standard 6 that is offered. 
  • We added a feature wall tile in all our showers where the niche will be. Other than that upgrade we stuck to our tile range to avoid paying more for tiles. 
  • We removed flooring from Clarendon's scope as we decided to do this with someone else to achieve the flooring look we want. 
I won't go into our electrical because that was always going to vary depending on what we wanted to achieve with our lights and where we wanted electrical points. We didn't go too crazy but we did make sure there was at least two power point port in every room and sufficient lighting and electrical points everywhere. 

28 Feb 2018

Stuff We Missed

I'm sure this post is going to have a part 2 and 3 as we continue on this build journey. Since my previous post, the following has happened:

Cabinetry has commenced installation

And doors to most rooms too

So now that the rooms are starting to take shape we've realised we with missed, or not thought of some things about our home such as:

1. Floor drain in the laundry
We actually picked this up during the frame stage. We noticed there was no hole in the ground in the laundry room. After looking through our plans, it seems this got missed. I guess we assumed all wet areas automatically get a drain, and I have a feeling it was in the original plans, but because we relocated the laundry no one raised that it was missing from the plans. 

Hopefully, it won't be an issue, only if the room ever floods. We've had rain last week and this is what the room may look like if it floods. Inspector deemed waterproofing satisfactory so that's good to hear.

2. Not double-checking measurements
I mean we're already realising some of our rooms aren't as big in real life as it is on paper. I strongly recommend pulling out a measuring tape to help you visualise the size of rooms during the planning stage. Measure it up against your current spaces so you'll get an idea of whether the rooms in your new home is really that big (or small). One thing we didn't measure was the depth of cabinetry. Now that we can start to see our kitchen, we're noticing the top shelf isn't that ... deep. When we looked back on our plans it's been specified to be 80mm. I don't think that's very deep at all. So again pull out a measuring tape and compare your plans against same items in your current home. 

Hopefully, more work happens this weekend and we'll try and have another sneak peak. 

21 Feb 2018

Stairs Are Up!

Finally I can see what the rooms upstairs look like.

Our rumpus/kids retreat area.  We plan to install some tables across that back wall you can see. So the boys can do their homework at one location outside their bedrooms where I can help them. The aim is so they can't have any electronic devices in their room, especially when they're teenagers, well that's the plan anyway.

Hallway looking in from the front of the house. Straight ahead it's the master bedroom. The first left is the shower and bathroom, and the second left is the 3rd bedroom.

This is one of the front bedrooms. This room will most likely be Eli's room.

The second front bedroom. This most likely be Kai's room.

The separate upstairs toilet.  Next to that is a linen closet, Eli's bedroom and Kai's bedroom.

Upstairs bathroom. As you can see waterproofing is done so assuming tiling will start shortly.

Third bedroom for guests.

The master bedroom. I'm now worried there's not enough natural light in the room.

Our ensuite. The toilet will be behind the green wall you can see.

I'm surprised they aren't finished installing our walls. They've been at it since they returned from the Christmas break.

Our garage is also starting to take shape now that there are walls.

During our site walk-through last week, our site manager said kitchen cabinetry will be installed this week and exterior should be completed too.

I'm so excited to see our home finally coming together. I really want to move in already. I now see why people get cranky when builders extend completion or handover dates. 

11 Feb 2018

Construction Update - February 2018

Today we visited our home. It's been about two weeks since we've gone inside. I'll drive past our home every 3-4 days, but there's always tradies onsite when I go past, so I can't sneakily go inside. 

When I first walked through the unlocked gates I noticed our presto cornice was on site. This cornice wasn't available with our builder's standard range and but was available from their supplier, so we were allowed to place a custom order for this cornice type. As plain as it looks, this was considered not standard. It'll be installed mostly in the rooms upstairs. We'll be doing the square set in most of the rooms downstairs.

All the gyprock walls are up! The rooms are starting to take shape. The front room is now looking like a decent size for hubby and I's office space. 
The laundry room has also turned out to be a lot bigger than I initially thought, now the walls are up. Everything else, I'm still doubting whether it's big enough 😜.

Sitting area. We're not sure what we're going to do with this space but it'll have a couch of some sort so you can sit down. 

Where our kitchen oven and stove top will be. The poles and wiring you see on the floor is for the sink, dishwasher and microwave that will be on our kitchen island table. The room you see in the photo will be the pantry, and the hole next to that is the cavity for the fridge.

When you walk inside our pantry, to the left will be storage space under our stairs. This is what it looks like at the moment. 

Can't wait until the stairs are put in so we can have a look upstairs. Hopefully, it's done by Friday as we've requested for our first walkthrough of our home then. Construction walkthroughs can only be done on a weekday, and I refuse to go by myself with both the boys with me.

View from the backyard. The scaffolding that our builder probably owns, (because they need it and a lot of it) but charge clients who build two-story homes for. This type of unnecessary cost that you know the builder is just charging for the sake of charging customers just blows my mind. 

26 Jan 2018

Home Build Update

Wow, Christmas and New Year flew. Yay!! Why yay? Because work stopped between 20 December 2017 untill 15 January 2018, and from a home builder's perspective that's a long time waiting for things to be done to your home. Here are some photos of the house before Christmas. 

So a lot did happen when they first put the slab down in mid-November. As you can see frames and roof were completed before their holidays.

This is what it looked like inside. Completed were most of the frames, wall lining, and air conditioning vents.

The main part of the house - the kitchen, dining and living. While we were standing here we started to feel the living spaces in our home felt ... small. We were even thinking, 'did they build the house to our size?' Cause our plans on paper makes our home look a lot bigger than it actually looks. 

This "left over land" doesn't help. Look at all that land we could have still utilised. When we were still reviewing our plans, I did suggest to Ian to make the whole house an extra 3m wider. But our architect family friend did rough calculations and he estimated it would have cost an extra 70-100K on top. At least we have a decent amount of space for a backyard. However, my husband and I are not gardeners so we wouldn't know the first thing about creating and maintaining one.

More space at the back of the house. The amount of space on the service side was a surprise too.

As we drove around the street we noticed our solar panels were installed at this point too. 


The week before the builder said they would commence work again we thought we'd stop by and check up on the house. We were surprised to see windows, sliding doors and hebel walls were delivered onto the property, and electrical wiring started to be installed. 

During the tradies first week back, we got an independent building inspector to review the workmanship. We had minor concerns about the frame, and not building experts and first time builders, we decided it's best we get our own inspectors to get an objective review of the construction. There were minor things our Inspector identified, but overall he said there was nothing he would raise a major concern about with our home so far.

This week we went back to our home to see how the build was going. 

All the windows and sliding doors have been installed. I'm assuming this is the case upstairs too. There is a ladder to go up but I wasn't goint to climb up. Technically we're only allowed to be inside the home with the presence of our site supervisor. 

The ceiling insulation batts have been installed. Surprisingly everytime we visited our home there was always a lovely breeze but the batts will add coolness in rooms in summer and insulation in winter. 

Not sure if I've mentioned it before but our home is made out of hebel, not brick. Hebel is a type of concrete. If you think of commercial building, like shopping centres, they're made from hebel. I'm assuming they will still paint the hebel wall with the render colour we selected cause I don't think that's the colour we selected. 

Now that my son has started school for the year I can go past our home more frequently, sneak inside and take more photos, especially now there is more traction happening with the build.

15 Nov 2017

Our First Home Construction Update

(Taken 9th September 2017)

It's been about 2.5 months since my last post.

Thought I'd document things we discovered or learnt over past two months:
  • Document all the change or variations. The builder will miss items you discussed with them, not respond to all questions in your email, and they'll forget to follow up on things. We realised they could be interacting with a few clients at a time. We had to be proactive and double check everything, question difference in design and contract and get clearly written answers on all our questions before we signed. Even the small things we question, for example, comparing construction drawings versus the contract. If the drawing didn't reflect it on the contract we raised it. Most got updated but some they said wasn't necessary to be updated for whatever reason. We trust everything will go smoothly and to design but we made sure we had written evidence of things just in case of conflict later on. 
  • Master builders that build homes in the volumes avoid custom once off work/jobs. After our appointments, there were things we saw that we wanted to try and get our builder to do. They really avoid custom work, even if you're willing to pay for it. Some of the items that our builder couldn't accommodate: a slight decline on our stone island beach top near the sink for water waste, rectangle tiled drain waste, long handles for our sliding doors, and shadow line cornice. 
  • You'll start to find things you've missed or doubting decisions. Already I'm regretting not doing walk-in wardrobes in all the bedrooms. I'm second guessing not doing a butler's pantry and cabinetry in our laundry. Although we can add these items later on, it would be nicer if everything was done and matched day one. I'm questioning if there's enough natural light our master bedroom? Maybe we should have made the window bigger or added another window to another wall. Now I'm realising maybe I should have made the door to the pantry a sliding one. Do I really want all our walls to be white? I've just started reaccessing decisions.  
I can finally say our build has started. Our contract started we would start 2nd October but it wasn't until the 18th November we received an email stating our builder has everything they need to start building and a site manager was allocated to manage the construction of our home.

(Taken 9 November 2017)

We got a call from said site manager, about a week later who introduced himself and gave us a verbal timeframe of when things will start. He said the land will start to be cleared in preparation for drainage, electrical works then pouring of the slab. That's basically where we're at now. I believe they give the slab about a week to harden and assess whether the slab needs any additional work.

Hopefully, there will be more work done on the house between now and the holiday break. I'm sure the frames will be up so the builder can request for the next progress payment before Christmas. 

26 Aug 2017

Tips for Choosing What Colours to Select for Your Home

Today I visited the Colour Studio ... again. When we first went there I felt overwhelmed by the choices and options, but the more I go, the less overwhelming it becomes.

Another reason why I'm spending so much time there is because hubby's left me with the task of choosing the colours. We just have slightly different taste and he was like, "it's your domain anyway, and I know you'll choose only the best." I can't argue with that, so it's my task to choose the internal and external colours. On the flip side, he's deciding on all things electrical cause that's his domain.

Choosing every component of a home isn't everyone's cup of tea but if you are building a home you plan to settle and live in for a long time, there's merit in the effort. Just like doing your taxes, you could either view the task as something you're required to do and just lodge it, or you could view it as an opportunity to get an understanding of your financial pulse and really put effort into the task.

Even as I write this post I'm still undecided on some options and colours, however I thought I'd share my how or tips I've used to help narrow in on selecting colours for our home.
  • Visiting a colour and flooring studio frequently doesn't sound like a lot of fun for most people. But if you approach each visit with only looking at stuff for one or two rooms in your home at a time, instead of trying to look at everything, you're utilising your time more effectively and more inclined to stay focused when you're at the show room. This also helps with decision making as you're breaking down each component of the home into small pieces instead of trying to tackle it all at once.
  • Grab samples and take it home. I always grabbed samples of colours or materials I really liked. This allowed me to see how they all look together and allowed me to show hubby my ideas and get some feedback on stuff I wasn't 100% about. 
  • Stop looking at Pinterest. I realised Pinterest contains images of dream kitchens or bathrooms from designers homes. Designer meaning they're one of a kind, hence custom, therefore expensive. That beautiful wave shaped porcelain tiles you pinned might not be available at with tile shop your builder has contracted to do your (and the rest of the state's) homes. 
  • But do get ideas for colours or styles from sites like Pinterest or home magazines. Pinterest helped me realise my style personality. Just like someone might suggest a dress would look great on you because you have the height for it, doesn't necessarily mean it's your style. For example, I know wood or darker coloured cabinetry is very popular at the moment and even though they look great, when I looked back at my saved images, I can see I pinned and gravitated to all white cabinetry. So although those trendy wood accent cabinetry look great, I think I will stick to all white theme for our kitchen. 
  • Think about how each room will be used, where furniture will potentially sit in that space, and any additions you think you will be adding to the room in the near future. For example, I don't know what light fixtures I want over the kitchen island but I know I want three light points over the island table. Or how I use a hair straightener a lot so will need an electrical point in the bathroom near the mirror.
  • Keep it simple, stick to your original ideas, and stuff you liked. Chances are they're what you really want, you're just being confused by images you've seen, other people's ideas or opinions of other people.
Here are images I gravitated to and will probably try to replicate in our home. 

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