Monday, 23 December 2013

Authority to Commence

We've had the absolute worst time with St George Bank - after receiving our mortgage documents a month ago, it has taken daily phone calls, a formal complaint and still more following up and we finally received the Authority to Commence letter last Friday.

Wisdom's offices have closed for the year, so this will not be actioned until 2014 now.

Our tender cutoff date is 31st January, so we need to begin construction before then otherwise we are going to be affected by any price adjustments! If that happens, I will definitely be giving the bank a call because it's taken a whole MONTH to fix all the mistakes they have made to our documents, and hence have pushed us backwards an entire month. It's unbelievable. 

Anyway - hopefully that's all the paperwork done, so 2014 should be all about the build.


Monday, 18 November 2013

Final Documents & Formal Bank Approval

Everything seems to be happening today.

We received formal approval from the bank this morning, so we should have the bank documents signed this week and letter to commence construction sent out to us by the end of next week.

This morning we received final documents from Wisdom to check and sign off:

1. Final Construction Plans
2. End Panel (Final Tender)
3. Post Contract Variations
4. Amended Progress Payment Schedule

We've done so much paperwork to get to this point, and this is it! It's funny seeing it all put together now, all the hours spent driving around picking colours, bricks, splash backs, tiles, carpet...all moulded into a couple of documents.

I've had a quick look over and everything seems to be in order, so we'll send them back signed off tomorrow for them to send back to estimating to start the ordering process for our file.

One thing I did notice, was that they have changed the big window at our staircase "due to a change in Wisdom Homes construction methods to a AFW29-10T with a approx. 2100mm sill height". I'm not really sure what it's going to look like now (as I've obviously been going off what we've seen in the display homes) so I hope it doesn't make too much of a difference.


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Construction Certificate Received

Very very excited to have received a surprise in the mail today - all our council approved plans with extra stamps of approval and our Construction Certificate!

After 1.5 weeks we've finally got our Escura Smooth bricks amended to our final variations and have signed off. 

We also received conditional approval from the bank today until we provide the amended progress payment schedule (STG now say max 20% for slab payment) and final tender. Yay!

We are currently having communication issues with novacomm about the theatre prewire so we've had to leave it out of the final variations or our file will be delayed, which will push back pre-tender and construction plans (5 days each) and hence construction start. I've started making enquiries elsewhere now. 

Some CC happy snaps!


Monday, 4 November 2013

Back to Bricks

Yes, we have changed our minds at the last minute!

I was about to send the signed off final variations last week...and I double and tripled checked everything...but the one thing that kept sticking in my mind were the bricks...

I love our colours, but I really wanted a smooth face brick. I just love the smooth look. We had already decided on the Escura Velour range though because of pricing, but when we were at The Ponds Display we saw some houses being built up and they were using the smooth brick. Ever since - I guess it's been stuck in my mind that I really really want smooth bricks!

So, we decided to get a new quote for the smooth range before signing the final variation.

Over the weekend, we visited Boral to have a last look at the colours as well so that when the quote came back this week we were ready to sign off, and we just both fell in love with the Smooth bricks! We decided to keep the same colours (Pearl Grey and Brown) but change to smooth.

I'm so excited about them! I've posted a couple of comparisons of the smooth and velour below. You can see how much of a difference it makes. And it's the EXACT same brick, just one side is smooth!

Escura Smooth Pearl Grey

Smooth (LHS) and Velour (RHS)


Monday, 21 October 2013

Council Approval Received

Hi again!

We received the awesome news at the end of last week to tell us we have received Council Approval.

How exciting!

We have received all the documents to go back to the bank for final approval and letter to commence construction, Wisdom have already submitted the application for a Construction Certificate.

We have been signing off all the variations (including ones we don't want) and basically getting all the paperwork in order, so that Wisdom can send our file up for the Pre-tender and Construction Plans.

Today we paid the Section 94 Contributions to council, as we need to provide a receipt in order to receive our Construction Certificate so that's out of the way now too.

All systems a go-go-go-go-go!


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Our First Fixture Purchase

My partner and I have been looking around for some feature lighting for our home, and we have fallen in love with the Grandelier's designed by "Who Did That" using Tasmanian Oak and Tasmanian Blackwood.

We love wood and anything natural and organic, and Mr Milburn purchased the first on our list!

The seed595 in Tasmanian Oak will some day be lighting up our staircase.

seed595 by Who Did That

Next on the wishlist will be for our dining room.

Thank you Mr Milburn I loves you so muchly!


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Council Update [Week 3]

Variations to our plan have come back today, however they now need the Landscaping Plan to be re done to match. Our CSO said they should have this done and submitted back to council by the end of the week.

I had our CSO forward me the new plan to have a look at what had been changed, one minor and one major change I saw. And it looks like the porch is staying the same which is a relief!

Upper lounge window had to be made smaller and higher for privacy of our neighbours. It has changed from 1020 x 2629mm to a skinnier window, like the bedrooms, that is 590 x 2629 mm. I highlighted in the pictures.

Picture 1: Original 1020x2629mm

Picture 2: New Window sized 590x2629mm 
The major change for us though, is the landscaping. Previously I showed you a copy of our original landscaping plan, where retaining walls were required only on the sides of the house, and none at the back of the house. However, they've now added retaining walls to go all the way around the sides and back! It's crazy, and I would like to get more information about why council has said that we need this, and why Wisdom Landscapes did not tell us this when we did our plan with them. 
Picture 3: New siting with retaining walls
I've also noticed that they have now put "Retaining wall 450mm from boundary" - I'm guessing this was a council requirement but I'm not sure why that's required. Looks like our sides and back just shrank though.

Fun times.


Friday, 27 September 2013

Council Update [Week 2]

This week we had a lovely surprise of receiving a notice of payment for the Section 94A Contributions Plan. Yay.

I spoke with our CSO this afternoon for an update, and I misunderstood what she said last week.

So our file is actually with Wisdom Compliance at the moment, and they are making variations to our building plans and landscape plans, and won't be able to get it back to council until that's done.

I am having a little bit of a freakout about what variations they will be making to our balcony. That was such a huge issue for us when it came up, and we did our homework and got written approval from our Developer to say that it was compliant with their guidelines, and now we are having problems and aren't being told what variations they are actually making.

I really hope I don't see that balcony in our master suite when it's done.

I'm going to be thinking about this all weekend!


Friday, 20 September 2013

Council Update [Week 1]

Thus far we have had a site inspection which has been completed and passed.

We had a call from Wisdom today to tell us that we are having a couple of compliance problems, which were a little vague to me, but these were

  • Upper lounge window needs to be smaller for neighbour privacy
  • Retaining walls on the landscaping plan - not sure what they were, but sounded like they were confused why we needed so many when we are doing dropped edge beams all around the house
  • Front porch issue - probably with the distance from the main body of the house because we had extended it, this balcony is going to be the death of me!!
Apparently they are working on it and aim to get it all resolved as soon as possible. Will be good to get more clarification on the last two issues.

Hoping for a stress-free weekend!


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Plans Lodged With Council

We've made a little more progress over the past week - on Friday we were notified by Wisdom to say that they had now lodged our file with council! I would say that was a week ahead of schedule - definitely a pleasant surprise! 

So now the long wait begins! We were told it would take 4-6 weeks to receive approval, which would make it the end of October or beginning of November, so there is a good chance we'll get started by the end of the year yay!

A couple of issues we've come across have been:

  • The front portico pier brick colour we chose was incorrect in our Developer Approval. Wisdom have since fixed this, and said we don't need reapproval from the developer so should be fine. (They had "Choc Tan" down, but we had asked for "Brown")

  • We got an email about Additional Waterboard requirements for our Waterboard Approval, which involve additional costs for the following and possibly more depending on the report
    • Sewer peg out report to determine location of sewer including pier inspection and stamping
    • Survey boundary pegs

This is going to be the longest 4-6 weeks of our lives!


Friday, 6 September 2013

Flooring Quote Completed

It was a couple of weeks ago now, but we revisited Di Lorenzo at Bella Vista and had a last look at our tile selection before we signed the quote.

On top of the normal stuff, we also signed off on the following upgrades (as I think I mentioned in a previous post):

  • Tiling to alfresco (tiles + labour)
  • Tiling to staircase storage (tiles + labour)
  • Increased feature tiles to one whole wall for powder room, bathroom, ensuite (standard is one feature strip in showers)
  • Floor to ceiling tiling to complete shower in bathroom, ensuite
I have a few photos from when we were taking a look at them, hope you can see them. I really enjoyed selecting tiles, it has probably been the most fun part so far and I can't wait to see how they look in our house!

Main Floor Tile: Glazed Porcelain "Stone White" next to Kitchen Cupboards "Avignon Walnut" and our Bristol wall colour "Satellite"

Bathroom Feature Tile: This is my favourite!

Bathroom Tiles: Normal wall tile against the feature. The bottom RHS is our floor tile.

Feature Tile against the Bathroom Cabinet (Smokey Sapelle) and our paint colour 

External Floor Tile: Initially we chose Pewter, but have now changed to "Charcoal Grip" it shimmers in the sunlight
Laundry Wall Tile in Off White

Hope you like our choices too!


Kitchen Drawings and Developer Approval

Kitchen Drawings

We received our kitchen drawings from Timpelle Kitchens this week - they are great, no changes needed to be made.

One thing that was surprising was we thought that the kitchen bench with the waterfall was 40mm caesarstone, and the rest 20mm. However, they clarified for us that we will be getting 40mm caesarstone benchtops for the whole kitchen, and 20mm for the laundry and bathrooms. Love it!!

Here's a birds eye view of our kitchen :)

Birds Eye View - Kitchen
Developer Approval

Our Wisdom rep has informed us that our submission was approved by Macquarie Links, however she is still awaiting receipt of the paperwork before they can start on our DA pack, which will take 10 days to prepare. Hopefully she gets it today so we can get things moving and submit to council.

Slow progress..!


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

File Lodged To Developer

Just a quick one to say...

Wisdom have lodged our file with the Developer today!!!!!!!!!

10 day turnaround - then if all good, next up Council



Tuesday, 20 August 2013


It has been quite an eventful past couple of days for us! Everyone has got their variation estimates back to us for signing already, even when they estimated it would take a week. Love it, love it, love it!

Wisdom Internal/External Colours
Draft Colour Selection Sheet has been updated to include the variations we signed off last Friday

Quote has come back for us to sign off on - we are going to visit one more time this weekend because I'm having second thoughts about the external tiles we have chosen (much to Pauly's dismay poor thing!)

This has come back already, our appointment was only last Friday!
We have now signed off on kitchen, and decided to leave the cupboards on one side of the oven, and to upgrade to flat stone drainage for the sink.
Now that we've signed off, they will start the kitchen drawings.

Electrical and Air Conditioning
Already signed off last week

Home Theatre
We contacted the Home Theatre rep that does Wisdom's installs, he was really nice and we've sent him a big email with our requirements and what we want estimated.
He said he would do a quote on supply & install, but also a quote on just install, which is great!

Today I had a call from our Wisdom rep who let me know that our plans have come back, and they should receive our BASIX assessment today and tomorrow she will be submitting to our Developer for approval!

EXCITED! What a huge moment!


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Appointments Completed

It has been quite an exhausting but productive week for us both! We completed our main appointments already, which is great and means no more thinking about colours and upgrades after this. We took 2 days off work to get these done ASAP:
  • Electrical (Clipspec, North Ryde)
  • Flooring (Di Lorenzo, Bella Vista)
  • Kitchen (Timpelle Kitchens, Prestons)
  • Air Conditioning (Ultra Air, Minchinbury)
I think we may still need to do a staircase appointment, but the only thing I need to confirm is the colour of the woodwork, as we won't be changing the design from the standard.

We have already received quotes to sign off from Di Lorenzo, Electrical and Air Conditioning we signed off on the day and we will get the Kitchen upgrades quoted up within 5 days. We also got our colours and quotes back from Wisdom this week, and we need to sign off on the extra upgrades from there.

This is the run down of the week!

Wisdom Colours
  • Final price for our Brick Upgrade to Boral Escura Velour Pearl Grey (main) and Boral Escura Velour Brown to front portico piers - came back a lot less than the original estimate which was great!!
  • Final price for second paint colour (for woodwork i.e. doors, architraves, etc)
  • Final price for clear timber stain to balcony door
  • Final price for privacy adapters to 5 internal doors
  • Final price for powder coat to balcony rail - we decided to not take this, and stick with "Surfmist" as our balcony railing colour to go with the windows

The electrical appointment was interesting, I thought I was decently prepared for it, as we had drawn our ideal plan about a dozen times, but there were still things that we started thinking about on the day. Also choosing between builder's range items and Clipsal items was a bit more challenging than we thought! We signed the plan off on the day, but I wish I had more time to ponder and make changes now.

We were a little frustrated because we had been waiting to get the cost to pre-wire the theatre, and we were told we had to go back to Wisdom! Also, the same deal with pre-wire for the intercom!

These are some of things I can remember that we added in addition
  • Provisioned for downlights in main living areas
  • Up/Down exterior lights to front facade x4
  • 3 data points - office/theatre/leisure (easier to run data points to upstairs later if we wanted to)
  • Extra set double powerpoints to each room
  • Square LED staircase lights (we went with Clipsal over the builders range as they were halogen) - theatre room x2 (for podium step) and main staircase x4
  • We upgraded our light switches to the 'Impress' push button range with blue LED
  • Extra outdoor light on blindside/laundry side of house
  • Double motion sensor external light for the backyard

This was a really difficult appointment! We had made about half a dozen trips here and had our list of tiles and were ready to go, but there's so much more involved in flooring than just selecting the tiles you want! It's particularly hard to visualise what they are explaining as well, we were a little exhausted toward the end! 

A lot more here to upgrade than we realised we would need to be doing. The people at Di Lorenzo really go through with detail exactly what you are getting in each and every room, and were very helpful!
  • Upgraded Laundry tile
  • Upgraded the shower wall with niche to all feature tiles (I am in love love love with this tile!)
  • Tiled to ceiling all of shower and bath recess only
  • Upgraded ensuite shower wall with niche to all feature tiles
  • Tiled ensuite shower to ceiling all of shower recess only
  • Upgraded powder room feature wall to all feature tiles
  • Upgraded floor wastes (except laundry) to the feature tile chrome wastes
We got quotes for the following and are still deciding whether we proceed with them or not (they ended up costing a little more than what we had expected/hoped for)
  • Extended tiling to underneath the staircase
  • Tiling to alfresco

Kitchen appointment at Timpelle was great, our customer service rep explained in detail and with drawings exactly what we were getting and recommended changes. A couple of things again we had been waiting for our kitchen appointment, only to be told we had to go back to Wisdom to get quotes on: Veg Spray tapware and space provisioning for a wine fridge in the pantry.

We are awaiting quotes on the following upgrades:
  • Second set of pot drawers to match opposite side of oven
  • Microwave provision with cupboards in kitchen niche
  • Set of pigeon door cupboards for VOID space underneath waterfall
  • Laminate pantry doors to match
  • Add set of drawers to main bathroom (instead of just pigeon doors)
Air Conditioning

This appointment the guy at Ultra Air ran us through his product, what we were getting, and how it works. We are staying with a two zone (Upper and Lower floors) and one command point. The upgrades are basically adding extra zones, and upgrading to the horizontal grills, which we didn't do either. Also he said we had the option to add zones later anyway, it's just a little more difficult but it can be done.

Pretty exciting I think, to finally have these all completed now.
The only things I'm worried about are the Theatre pre-wire, and the Intercom pre-wire which we have to get quoted back from Wisdom.

We also have not yet submitted our plans to the Developer for approval, as changes to our drawings had to be made because of our landscaping decisions e.g. remove laundry steps, change driveway shape (5 days). 

Plan for the week:
We are hoping to hear back from Wisdom some time this week and have them submit to the Developer.


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Landscaping Plan

Our landscaping plan came back yesterday from Wisdom Landscapes.

I'm a little confused - during our appointment, we were told that we only needed a retaining wall on one side of the house. The plan has come back stating two retaining walls are required - one on either side of the house.

We asked about this, and we were told that it's in the architectural plans, and to take them off would take more than two weeks. They said we can just decide not to install it when we get on site, but to be honest I don't understand, and nobody seems to be able to answer my question - can we just change our minds later? Or do we have to adhere to the plan we submit to council? If we change our minds, does that mean we have to apply for re-approval later to both Developer and then council?

Couple of other things that need fixing:
- CT2 grass required not Sir Walter Buffalo
- Letter box specified to Macquarie Links guidelines
- Plants list needs to be amended to plants that we actually want

I'm also not sure how I feel about the shape of the driveway - I didn't think that's how we left it last week. They really don't want us to change the shape though. It's very confusing, surely there's a better way to give that a nicer curve! They're quite adamant that we need the space to be able to reverse our car out of the garage, but I still think it could be a nicer curve - I wish they could quantify the difference so we could actually make an informed decision.

Anyway, what do you think?


Edit (9/8/13): I called council and they said that we could change stuff afterwards, it's not a huge deal. We only need approvals for big works like if we needed a retaining wall >0.8m high. Wisdom aren't sure if we need approval for changes from the Developer afterwards, but that's less of a big deal than if we had to go to Council. So once the changes are made to the plan, we'll be signing them off so they can get our Developer Approval ready!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Landscaping Appointment

Straight after our colour selection appointment, we met with Wisdom Landscapes to put together a landscaping plan to submit to the Developer.

To be completely honest - we had no idea what to expect, and no idea what we wanted. We were the exact opposite of the colour appointment where we already knew everything we wanted, and going into landscaping just had no idea!

Regardless, we weren't expecting things to be so bad - it turns out we need a retaining wall that is almost the entire length of house. 

You can see in the picture above that because they had to cut so much to comply with the driveway gradient regulations for council, we need a retaining wall to fill it. The Wisdom rep said that it would be around 0.8m high. I'm still a little confused about it at the moment, actually.

He also suggested (and we went with it) that we could fill where the laundry steps are, so that we could eliminate the steps and just walk out onto flat ground, which seems like a good idea, although it still seems expensive to do.

I also reshaped the driveway - there were a lot of corners and edges in the original design, so we kept tweaking it until we got smoother edges around. 

For our driveway we went with
Colour: Bluestone
Fill: Plain (no pattern)
Border: Large Tile

In the plan we also asked for gardens beds across the front, pebbles and pavers on the laundry side (blindside) of the house, letter box (per Macquarie Links specs) and a fold away clothesline.

We are worried about how much this is all going to come to - I found another fellow blogger who went with Wisdom Landscapes, and their plan looks a LOT less complex than ours, and they had come back with a $36,000 price which is not at all within the budget we had allocated to landscaping :(

Anyway, we should receive a copy of the plan next week, and apparently we'll get the estimates and costing in around 3 weeks time. It would have been nice to get it all done in the one hit, but it looks like it may not be possible and we'll just have to do the basics: driveway, retaining wall, letterbox and clothesline.


Colour Selection

We completed our colour appointment and landscaping appointment yesterday at Wisdom Homes in Narellan. The Wisdom rep we had was great, very helpful and I thought really understood us. The whole process was really easy and straight forward which was really nice.

Colour Appointment
For this colour appointment we were extremely well prepared. The only problem we had was selecting a main colour for the house paint, a colour for the balcony hand rail (we thought it was stainless steel) and a colour for the balcony door frame (we thought it was a clear timber finish as standard).

Anyway, these were our selections!

Main bricks
Boral Escura Velour Pearl Grey
Off-white mortar
Edit: We have now chosen Escura Smooth

Front portico piers
Boral Escura Velour Brown
Off-white mortar
Edit: We have now chosen Escura Smooth

Roof tiles
Bristile Prestige Concrete Roof Tiles in Tungsten
Smooth Profile

Gutter: Monument
Fascia/Watertank/Meterbox/Downpipes: Paperbark

Panelift Timbertone in Classic Cedar
Contemporary Profile

Trend Aluminium in Pearl White Gloss

Splashback: Decoglass Antique White
Benchtops: Caesarstone in White Shimmer

Cupboards/Kickboard/WIP Doors: Laminex Avignon Walnut in Natural Finish

Benchtops: Caesarstone in White Shimmer
Cabinets: Laminex Smokey Sapelle

Woodwork: Taubmans Crisp White Gloss
Walls: Bristol Satellite
Eaves: Paperbark
Balcony Rail: Monument (thinking about upgrading to the silver powder coat pending price), and I also think I prefer white railings instead of the dark this may change!

Entrance door: Hume Savoy XS24

Internal doors: Hume Ascot

So... On the day we upgraded only the following (not including what we have already upgraded in our tender):
Internal doors -> Ascot 2340 (downstairs) and 2040 (upstairs)
Balcony Door -> Clear timber finish
Woodwork -> Crisp White Gloss (only one colour paint is standard)
Front portico piers -> Different colour brick to main


Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Next Chapter

I'm pretty excited about the state of progress at the moment. We got a call from our new Customer Service Officer yesterday and we've confirmed Colour and Landscaping appointments for this Thursday. This is required for Developer Approval before it goes to council.

We are hoping to book in our Carpet/Tiling, Kitchen and Electrical appointments as well.

We've been advised that the timeline from here is something like the following:

  • Developer Requirements
    1. Landscaping Appointment -> Sign off on plans -> 5 working days to complete
    2. Colour Appointment -> External Colour Palette Sign off
    3. Then lodged to Developer for approval -> up to 10 working days for approval
  • Council Requirements
    1. Colour & Landscaping Appointments -> Sign off
    2. DA Pack ordered -> 10 working days to complete
    3. DA Lodgement to Council -> 4-8 weeks for approval (if no amendments required)
    4. Waterboard Approval requested
    5. Engineering drawings requested
    6. Kitchen, Electrical, Tile/Carpet Appointments completed (in parallel to council lodgement)
    7. DA Approval received -> Construction Certificate Lodged -> 2 weeks to receive
    8. Pre-Tender Requested -> 5 working days to complete
    9. Construction Plans Drawn -> 5 working days to complete
    10. Construction Certificate received, Bank Documents received
    11. File signed off to construction

That's a lot of steps now that I type all that up! Our CSO said that she would be in contact with us at least once a week to update us on the progress of our file, in particular she said that when our application is with Council she will call to check up on it weekly and then let us know how it's going, whether by a call or email. It will be nice to know we won't have to do any chasing around because they will keep us in the loop and not make us wait around during periods of inactivity.

So looking at those steps, we are looking at a time line no less than 2 months. It would be great to see a slab in November, I think that's my target. I'm not actually sure if that's achievable, but I will try to remain optimistic. As long as we don't delay the appointments and we choose everything we need to and sign off as soon as we can, then it's out of our hands and we just have to wait!

I'll try to get back on here next week and tell you how the colours went and what we've chosen!

Can you wish us luck again?!


Monday, 29 July 2013

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Sorry I haven't updated for a while - but GOOD NEWS!


We met with our solicitor on Friday and went through the contract, and met back with Wisdom to sign our building contract!

They have also already contacted us to make our colours and landscaping appointment which should be this Thursday - the sooner we get them done the sooner we can start applying for Developer and Council approvals! 

We're both obviously very exciting as this is a huge point in the process, it's taken us longer than expected to get here but Wisdom came through in the end and we're pretty happy with our house and tender right now.

And really, a huge huge thank you to our solicitor Helmuth Carrasco from Allison Clark Conveyancing - he has been fantastic through the land settlement and even going through our building contract and talking us through it all. He has been a blessing for us throughout the past months, so thank you!


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Contract Building Plans Completed

We received our first set of building plans since all the mess with the balcony. We also had a list eleven amendments long that needed to be fixed as well since the first building plan meeting we had at Wisdom.


We're happy! They've got everything done.

The only thing was the water tank, we asked for them to move it to the side of the leisure, but they moved it near the front next to the office instead. Looks like an easy enough fix though, so I'm a happy little vegemite (although I hate vegemite)

Edit: Just received revised plans and they've moved the water tank in the correct position now - that was quick.

Looking forward to getting my hands on the building contract on Friday! After the solicitor goes through it, we will have it signed off and deposit down by the end of next week.


Our Majestic 35 with Nova Terrace Facade

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Tender Revised

We got an email from Wisdom this morning with our revised tender - the addition of one line item for the upgraded doors - 1.5 weeks

Also confirmed where we want our fireplace - I sent them this to make sure they put it in the right place and I wouldn't have to ask for another revision.

We have pencilled in an appointment to review the Building Contract and Building Plans for next Friday. Finally! That's something a bit more positive and I'm looking forward to taking the next step with this.