Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Quick Update.

There has been very little progress since the last blog entry.Allworth had aimed at pouring a slab before Xmas but we had an overabundance of rain which brought the proceedings to a soggy halt.
At this stage the block has been cut and filled and work should resume on the Seventh of January if the weather is acceptable.

More Later.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


A fair bit of progress over the last week,even though there was some rain about.It is good to see things moving along.The current situation as follows.
  • Water meter installed.
  • Portable dunny delivered.
  • A dozen large trees evicted from the block - say goodbye to $1500.BUGGER.
  • Excavation of block almost finished now.
It looks like next Monday we may have a slab poured.That is assuming the weather Gods are kind to us.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Timeline So Far.

Major highlights from the moment we decided to build with Allworth Homes.

  • 17/6/07 - We gave Allworth $500 for the contour survey of our land.The result was good so Terry the consultant from Allworth drew up a plan to our specifications and sent it to head office for quotation.
  • 13/7/07 - Back to Allworth to review the quote with my mate Terry,the price was acceptable so we didn't have to compromise on any of our ideas.We gave Allworth $2000 to draft the plans for our new home.
  • 9/9/07 - The plans came back a few weeks overdue because the contract drafting office was flooded with work.They do not work overtime when there is a backlog of work and so I have been delayed by someone else.THIS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH!
  • 26/9/07 - Plans sent to Shoalhaven Council after our approval.We expect council to take six to eight weeks.They send us more paperwork to fill out for firezoning and a flora and fauna study.The council has DA tracking on the internet so we can watch the progress of the paper trail.A very good tool for the home builder.
  • 10/10/07 - Off to Allworth for colour selection,electrical layout etc.This is usually a three or four hour appointment but because my wife and I planned ahead we had finished our selections in around one hour.
  • 1/11/07 - According to the website we have council approval. A few minor changes to be made because of the firezone but I can live with that.
  • 20/11/07 - Signed contracts at Allworth,I have never signed my name so many times in one day.I was told construction should start within twenty working days so I am hoping the slab will be laid before xmas.
  • 30/11/07 - The water meter was installed and a portaloo delivered.I have been told excavation will start soon.
  • 6/12/07 - Work should have started tomorrow but around an inch of rain has fallen,hope they can start next week.
I really need to see the slab in place before the builders and suppliers go off on holidays.The extended cure time wouldn't hurt and it will be good to see a reward for the six months of stress we have endured so far.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Photos Of House Plans

Here are the house plans and also the siting plan.North is to the top in both of these.
The room marked family will be the dining room.
The room marked living will be the snooker room.
The room marked as bedroom 5 is to be the guest room.

The house is 24.97 mtr long x 14.45mtr wide.Around about 297 square mtrs.
There will be 600mm eaves installed all around.
All native vegetation removed during building will be replaced by native plantings later.

Feel free to comment or ask questions.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Devour My Wallet.

Here follows a list of prices from the quotation.There were a few surprises but in general I was happy with the quote and accepted it.I am quoting the prices as they may be some help to others when comparison shopping for a builder.

  • $136,000 basic price for the house only.
  • $24,000 building site costs includes sewer connect,spoil removal,cartage,stormwater etc.
  • $3,700 statutory authority requirements - scaffold,fencing,siltation control etc.
  • $6,850 basix - above ground 4,500 ltr tank on slab plumbed to toilets and garden taps.
  • $32,576 client variations.This is where I get to pay for my imagination :) I will list the major reasons for this cost for your reference,hope it may help someone.
  • $6,600 provide colonial elevation - change facade,add verandah.
  • $13,365 extend bedroom side of house by 4 mtrs and create 2.5mtr x 3.7 mtr study.
  • $5,730 provide third garage and panelift door.
  • $3,655 extend all garages forward by 1 mtr.
  • $520 provide toilet in laundry area.
  • $576 change internal doors x12 to carved panel type.
  • $1290 increase wall tile height in main bathroom and ensuite.
Minor costs such as painting,wardrobes,other doors etc have not been included.

A few days before signing the contract we were informed that the council had decided to hit us with some special fire zone requirements.

  • $6,500 for fire retardent sarking,metal mesh flyscreens and doors etc.

We have come a long way from a basic house package at $136,00
Now we have entered the twilight zone where the house will cost you


People say you only live once.

That's lucky because I couldn't afford to live twice.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The plan to be modified.

Here you can see a copy of the original Allworth plan that we decided to use.The basic design is very good from a passive solar viewpoint assuming that north is to the right hand side of the picture.The main living areas will be well exposed to the travel path of the sun - ideal for winter comfort.The design had to be modified to achieve the required layout but the amount of work required was acceptable to me.

The list of modifications is as follows:

  • The guest room to have all plumbing removed and double doors installed.Now we have a home theater room.
  • The living room magically transforms into a snooker room.
  • The dining room is extended by 1 mtr and becomes bedroom number five or also known as the guest room.
  • A computer room of 3.7 mtr x 2.8 mtr is created between bedroom five and the main bedroom.
  • The main bedroom is extended by 500mm and the strange windowed corner shown on the plan is squared off.
  • The foyer is extended forward by 4 mtr to follow the increased house length and also to allow entry to the foyer from the garages.
  • Install a three column porch to the front of the main bedroom and foyer.
  • There will be three garages.The double with one door is located closest to the house and is remote controlled.The single garage section has a rear roller door for more accessibility.All the garages to be extended forward by 1 mtr.
  • Move the window in bedroom three to the southern wall to cut heat gain in summer.
  • Install two cavity sliding doors to family room entry for better temperature control and to reduce noise levels.

I hope this description is clear enough.Any questions or comments please post them.I will try and scan the modified plans and put them here soon.

Friday, November 23, 2007

House Design - Layout

The layout of the house was arrived at by having multiple family discussions.After much heated debate we came up with a list of needs and wants,many of which were impractical because of financial constraints.Here follows the list that we came up with and the reasons why.

  1. Main bedroom with ensuite - this is obvious but I would not like to share a bathroom after having an ensuite in the previous home.Also we have a large family so need as many bathrooms as possible.Our last home had six bedrooms and three toilets.
  2. Four other bedrooms,three for the family and one as a guest room.We have four children and another in storage so we need all the room we can afford.
  3. Home theatre room - a distraction free room of audio visual delight.Free from the sounds of passing traffic,kitchen noises and other irritants.
  4. A room for playing snooker and darts - a place of beer and games.
  5. Triple garage - we had a double garage in the previous home and it was not big enough.
  6. Computer room, study - I do a bit of computer repair work and a lot of net browsing.
  7. Verandah - sit down with a newspaper and coffee.Sounds relaxing.
  8. Kitchen - should have a large breakfast bar area.
  9. Dining - must be big enough for our eight seater table.
  10. Rumpus = for the missus to watch the soapies.
  11. Main bathroom - a corner spa would be nice.
  12. Laundry - what can I say it's a boring room.

We began looking at display homes all the way from the Newcastle region to the Shoalhaven.We spent over six moths searching for the right house.The first question we asked the reps was "Do you build on the South Coast?"Unfortunately a lot of builders in Sydney do not build there and if they do there is a surcharge.

My first priority was to look at the houses from the passive solar angle.I soon discovered that most of the builders have absolutely nothing to offer in the way of an energy efficient home.They seem to have no interest and many suggested I needed to deal with a custom builder.I think that option would be way outside my budget.I think there is a big market available for a major builder to start offering well designed homes if they can go beyond the apathy they show now.Any houses I saw that had good design incorporated had it by accident not by intent.

After looking at well over 100 house designs I was becoming frustrated with the whole thing.Some of the designs had potential but the costs to modify them would be too great.I was about to give up on the idea of an eco home.I happened to be reading a brochure for the Allworth Apollo Ultra range when I found the answer to my prayers.They have a design called Apollo ultra with guest room which is very close to perfect for me.The design could be modified at minimal cost to give me everything I had been looking for.EUREKA.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

House Design - Passive Solar

The block of land has a 20 metre frontage and a northerly aspect.The width of the block makes it much easier to take advantage of passive solar principles.To me the ideal house design should allow us to be able to be comfortable without any heating and cooling.

The idea was to have all of the following attributes if possible
  • brick veneer on concrete slab
  • insulation in ceilings and walls
  • all major living areas on the northern side
  • large windows and sliding doors on northern side
  • tiled floors in living areas to absorb the heat from the windows
  • wide eaves or verandahs to block out high summer sun
  • minimal windows on east and west sides
  • windows on south side placed to allow good airflow
  • choose exterior colours that will reflect excessive heat
There were many other ideas involved but to me the points above are the most important.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The end of my street.

In a few short months I will be walking to here with a kayak on my shoulder and fishing rod in hand.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Block of land .

Here is a pic of the block that we bought.Notice my wife Joanne who is three months pregnant with our fifth child.Ten minutes after the photo was taken we were chatting to the neighbours when a 3 foot black snake wandered past our feet.Must be time to trim the grass.

Introductory ramblings

I am new to this blogging thing so bear with me.A little history so that you may misunderstand me better.

My name is Michael,aged 47 ,married and currently residing in Sydney near Warragamba dam.I grew up on the South Coast and have decided to return to the area to retire,with this in mind I began looking for a property to purchase about 18 months ago.This taught me that it was impossible to find a property with the attributes I was seeking so I decided the only way to get what I wanted was to build it.

Many a day was spent looking for the elusive block of land with a northerly aspect and a minimum of 800 square metres in size with no two storey neighbours.I found several blocks like this with very distant water views and a bush outlook but I just couldn't see myself living there.The blocks were priced around $180000 which was within my budget but I continued to look for something better.After several more months of searching I came across an advertisement on the net for a block of land that sounded too good to be true.

The ad described land located close to the shores of St Georges Basin,920 square metres and priced at $195000.At that price I thought of swamp land but resolved to check it out anyway.So glad I did.

The real estate agent told me I had seen an old ad and the block was now priced at $175000 which made me pretty happy,so off we went to have a look.The block was located on a slight incline amongst existing homes and was around 150 metres from the water.Straight away I knew this was what I had been looking for so I made an offer they could refuse.After much negotiating I bought the land for $155000, gotta be happy with that.

Stay Tuned.