Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Contract Land Exchanged

I went to meet our conveyancer on the 25th May 2010 with signed Contract of Purchase paper from Landcom.  Both my wife and I are very excited with the future that lies ahead of us.

We made only a minor change to our contract.  That is instead of giving us 14 days notice before the land is registered and we need to settle, our conveyancer asked for 21 days of notice and Landcom agreed!

I paid our 5% deposit of purchase price and paid a little part of the conveyancer fee on that day.

On 26th May, I got a call from our conveyancer confirming that the contract has been exchanged.

Another step to owning our dream home!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

This is my house!!!

On this day, we finally decided that we are going to put some deposit money as well as signing our lives away with Metricon to build our dream home.

It was the Tribeca 36 with Metro facade that we are going with.

The House

The Floor Plan

We made our appointment with one of Metricon's sales consultant at Kellyville Ridge display center but we were late getting there as my son had a stomach bug and was throwing up during the trip.

After nearly 1 hour late for our appointment, we finally arrived.  We verified all the standard inclusion list again; did a walkthrough of the house as we didn't do that the first time; and finally we also wanted to confirm that we are getting an extension to our tender expiry period as our land is not going to be registered until December 2010.

Our sales consultant made a call to his manager to confirm the availability of the manager sale and confirmed that we'll definitely secure our tender price for 240 days.  The default tender expiry period is 150 days and that will only get us until October of this year in which it will not work for us.  So having 240 days for the tender expiry days will help us quite a lot as Metricon charges 0.5% of the total value of contract price per month if we don't go into construction within 150 days.

Some may think, why did we sign the request for tender on this day and not wait until at least our land is registered?  Well the answer is, Metricon will have their prices increased by at least $10k on the Monday 24th May.  By putting in the deposit on this day, it will guarantee us today's price and not having to deal with the price increase.  Also one of their promotion package which is called the Reflection Package, and this package will get us most of the stuff that we wanted, was going to finish at the end of the month.  The promotion was the main factor that we decided to sign up on this day really.

Maybe they tricked us into it or it could probably be a sales pitch to put some pressure on us.  Having said that and knowing the facts, at the end of the day, we were quite happy with our decision. :)

One step closer to owning a brand new home!

Friday, May 21, 2010

House House House... - The Dream Home

So now that we know that we are going to get a double storey house, the question is which one?

After countless number of trips to The Ponds builder display village and Homeworld that seemed like to go on forever, we were finally able to shortlist a number of house design that we like.

1.  Metricon: Riva 34 - Metro Facade
The design gives a lot of private open space area and it covers only about 28% of the total area.  We didn't really like the facade of the house but, in general principle, it's really the floor plan that we really liked.  From what we can see from the geosite image, it would appear that the house won't go anywhere near the manholes as well.

We were a bit disappointed when we discovered that the rumpus room at the back of the house that is on display at their Kellyville Ridge center was actually an upgrade.  In order to "add" that room it will cost us around $25k.

Our sales consultant was very patient with us throughout the questioning session :).

2.  AV Jennings: Atrium 285 - Capri Facade
I must say that the house that is on display at The Ponds builder village is really nice and a very lovely home.  The consultant also advised us that the display home was full of upgrades in it.  The only concern I have about Atrium was that the house was originally design for a corner block.  So if we wanted this house, we'll need to make some modifications such as moving the entrance to the study room whilst also extending the study room so that we can actually have one.

Comparing to the Riva from Metricon, we like the facade of Atrium better.  It feels more homey.  However there will be extra costs depending on which facade that we choose.  The only problem in this is we will not choose the traditional facade.

The price for the standard range would also fit our budget perfectly and way under.

3.  Metricon: Tribeca 36 - Metro Facade
This comes in at the very last minute.  After spending most part of the day with one of Metricon's sales consultant, we thought that we have what we have come  for and all of the informations that we need to make our decision.  However we can't help but to have a last sneak peek at the Tribeca.

Maybe it's because we have spent most of the days going through all of the display house at Metricon in great details that we were finally able to spot that the Tribeca isn't very much different to the Riva.  I mean it has the same elements of floor plan but Tribeca have an extra study room and rumpus room.  All others are pretty much the same.

So we made an inquiry about the price for Tribeca 36 (the smaller version from the display center) with Metro facade and the difference was the cost of building the rumpus room for the Riva.

Tribeca 40 - Coastal Facade on display at Metricon display centre at The Ponds

Which house did we choose? Based on the above, it is not a secret that we will be going for the Tribeca 36 with Metro facade.  We did seriously consider of going with AV Jennings with their Atrium 285 design and also Metricon was a bit pricey and we will be stretching our budget.  However at the end of the day, after considering factors such as the standard inclusion list, promotion package and the quality of all the wares that we are going to get, it was Metricon's that we like the best.

And there it is, after a good 3 months of researching and looking at the display centers, we finally found our dream home...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Home and Builder Selection

Finding a house that can work on our block of land is not at all an easy task!!  We are quite restricted in the usage of the area and we also have to comply with The Ponds design guideline.  This is another challenging journey itself.  Here's how the story goes.

Upon purchasing the block of land, my wife and I were still quite puzzled as to what we are going to do next.  Although the answer is clearly "find a builder and get them to build a house on that land" but there are some constraints.  This would be things such as financials, the house, the plan and most importantly what do we prefer?  As this is our first time building experience, we have absolutely no idea what to expect and what kind of house we are looking for.

In the hype of my excitement in acquiring a block of land, we initially wanted a house that is big as possible for our two little kids to play around and we also thought it would be a good investment for us in the future.  So a double storey house would seem like a perfect design to suit our needs.

My excitement was quickly dismissed when I was told that we will most likely going for a single storey house design so that we may be able to save some funds if we wanted to improve the house later.  I was utterly devastated but that is the logical explanation and it is true.  From what we have heard, building a house can be quite costly and there is always something in the end that may catch us off guard so we may need the extra cash.  After all, this is our first building experience...

So the house hunting begins...

With that in mind, over the few weeks after acquiring the land, we made few trips to The Ponds and Homeworld in order to look for a house design that may suit our lifestyle and needs.  Some of the following are the main factor in our consideration (and it is very basic!! :)):

  • Big enough for the children to play
  • Not too big of a backyard
  • Double Garage
  • Minimum of 4 bedrooms
  • Minimum of 2 bathrooms
  • A study room

This is where the problem begin!  After talking to and a very lengthy discussions with a few builders at The Ponds and Homeworld, they all have nearly the same opinion as well as issue in fitting a house to our block of land.  This is due to the restrictions and easements on the back of our land, i.e. the manholes.  

A single storey house would be difficult to fit in without having to redesign the floor plan so that it avoids the manholes.  Conceptually, it could work and I've seen some builders that redesign their floor plan to work on our block of land.  However it's the end results is what we don't like.  We are quite fussy in that sense :P.

A double storey house design would work better for our block as majority avoids the restrictions and easements altogether.  It is also better as it will make better use of the space on that land.  

So it looks like, again, back to where we started.  What are we going to do with this piece of land?  

We thought about letting it go and lose our holding deposit money of $300 and wait for another land release that has minimum, if not, no restrictions on it.  The difficulties in that idea is getting to The Ponds sales office in time so that we can have some selections on the piece land itself.  Although the queue system at the sales office has changed dramatically, however both of us are working and considering the distance that we need to travel to get there, we won't make it on time.

We also thought about settling on the land and then sell it later after a couple of years.  However this idea would still incur some maintenance fee on our side.  In this case we would settle for an established house instead and at least we don't have to worry about building experience and the headache associated with it.

The answer to this may look very simple and easy enough but it was very difficult for us to make that leap forward.  Then after few family discussions and meetings, we are back to our original ideas, decided to trust everything that we had and courageously embracing our dreams (and hope that we are not being stupid in this).  So another hunting begins for a DOUBLE STOREY house :).  

Some of the builders that we looked at include:

Lili Homes
Eden Brae
Jandson Homes

AV Jennings

AllCastle Homes


There is some more builders that we saw that I haven't include here but it was these builders that we showed our contour diagram and discussed about their house design.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Meeting the Conveyancer...

I went to see our conveyancer today through a friend of mine who introduced us to The Ponds.  He told me that he is very thorough and he doesn't charge much but has the quality of a big time conveyancer.

I must admit I agree with him completely!  I don't know how he met the guy but we are very happy with the work that he produces and acting on our behalf.  The summary that he gave us, the key dates, the trap and the best practice, he does them all.  Although his office looks kinda dodgy at first :)

All this for merely $900!!!  That is the cheapest conveyancer that I ever found in Sydney!

For those who is interested in acquiring his services please contact:

Andrew Ling

Success Conveyancing Services
Room 412, Level 4 Dixon House
413 - 415 Sussex St, Sydney, NSW 2000

Tel: 9281 0733
Mob.: 0416 133 288

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Why The Ponds?

Moving to The Ponds will have a big impact in our day to day lives.  This would mainly concern in getting to work on time as well getting my son ready to go to his child care center in the city.  Oh, I haven't said that I'm working in the Sydney city have I?  Well I am working in the city and to get to work from where we currently live, it would take about 20 minutes express train ride and if we want to talk about door to door it'll be pretty much half an hour on average.  We are leaving in the inner west suburbs of Sydney called Ashfield and we don't live to far away from the station.

So why am I still considering to move to The Ponds?  It's really none other the following reasons:

As previously mentioned, my little family is now, although slowly, growing and soon enough we will need a bigger space for them.  The requirement there is none other than a house.

I also wanted an area where we can blend in and to be ourselves, friendly environment but yet sustainable.  A quiet area but not too quiet.  Some parkland, if possible, so we don't have to travel far away for family exercise session.  Lastly somewhere close to school.

Funnily enough for a suburb that previously I haven't even heard of, The Ponds tick all of the boxes and give something more as well.  From our research, most of the people purchasing or beginning a new life at The Ponds are actually in our age group so that's really a big plus for us, as we will have some people already that we can connect to.   I am really a big fan about having a social life and getting involve in a community where everyone can gather and share common interests together :)

In relation to the proximity of The Ponds, after making few trips to The Ponds and back, we didn't feel that it's far at all. (I can even get there with my eyes closed now :)).  So I guess it's a matter of how quickly we can adapt to our new life at The Ponds.

About the Land

Where is this land?  It is at The Ponds, Sydney newest suburb in the North West region.

As mentioned in my previous post, we got the last block of land for sale out of the 21 new land releases that day.  We did wonder why wasn't this one sold already as it wasn't a corner block.  As I was saying there were still a group of people left in the sales office when we walked in and one of the group who was in front of us asking about the block that was still available for sale (which was soon to be ours :)).

We had a look at the contour diagram / development plan and  I believe it was the restrictions on the land itself that probably puts people off from buying it.  The land comes with, let's just say, a few issues.

At the frontage side, there is a restriction on the use of the left hand side.  This is due to an electricity substation box located on the neighboring block.  Although this box is not located on our land itself, however we still need to comply with the usage of this area.  We were advised that it is still possible to build on this area but it will need to have different materials that has a certain fire rating or in other words, fire retardant material.

On the back of this land, there is couple of issues:

1.  An underground sewer line run through the back.  This is still fine as the design guideline states that for a single storey house we need to have a 4.5m setback and 5m for a double storey.  Looking at the diagram, it would seem that we will miss this completely.  However this would mean that we can't build a pool on this block at all.  Not that we are planning to have one anyway but nevertheless, within our contract of purchase it says that we can't build a pool on the back of this land. lol.  (news flash Landcom, you ain't gonna see anyone, if not rarely, build a pool at the front of the house.... duhh!)

2.  Whilst we don't mind about having a pool-less block, the sewer line itself present another issue.  The line had a couple of turns through the side of the land and out, rendering it to have two maintenance holes on top of it.  This is due to the regulations of Sydney Water that on every turn corner of the sewer, a manhole must be created.  We were told if Sydney Water was to ever need to access the hole, they will come from the side of the house.  I'm not exactly sure how often they would need access to the sewer.  I checked with a few people that I know that has the same kind of problem and they said for as long as they can remember... never.  We're kind of relieved to hear that to be honest.  But the problem still remains, a friend of ours, who also works as a salesman in a home building company, advised us that we can't build too close to the manholes.  If we were going to utilise the area, it needs to be 2m away from the edge of the manhole.

Well in summary, I think the issues above can be summed up into one single problem: more money for our site costs :(.  I just hoped that it won't blow our budget when we start building.

Oh well, I guess that although we can dream but life is also full of challenges.  We decided to accept the land as it is and work around the issues so that we can build a house that we can call "home".

Below are some pictures overlooking our land on the horizon.  Practically there is no road leading there from the sales office just yet but hopefully sometime in the future, there will be.

Future Waterfall area on the horizonTaken from the fence behind the Sales Office

One of the future main road of The Ponds

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Our first piece of Australia!

Since arriving here in Australia nearly 16 year ago, I never would've thought of owning a house let alone a block of land! And it all seemed like a dream for me.  For some reason I thought I can never afford one.  Especially last year when the whole GFC thing happened and the entire nation economy went into the state of recess.

I guess I was just a silly little boy back then without a care in the world (isn't that what boys normally do? :)).  Anyway, things has changed since then.  I got married and I was blessed with a beautiful wife and two beautiful children.  A boy, who at the time of this writing is 3.5 years old, and a baby girl, who is 10 months old.

As our little family is growing, my wife and I quickly realised that we needed a bigger place for our kids and also for our future.  The only obstacle in achieving this goal was the price of houses are ridiculously high in the area that we wanted, which is not far from the CBD and also where we have been living for the last several years or so.  So we needed to look further away from the CBD and instead of a house, we'll compromise with something less as we won't be able to afford it.

To cut a long story short, around April last year we found ourselves an off the plan three bedroom townhouse in the western suburbs of Sydney, which was near it's last stage of completion.  However the deal didn't go as planned as the builder / owner gone bankrupt due to gambling problems!!  We felt that we have wasted our time and felt really betrayed so we decided to cancel the contract.  As it has been overdue for over 12 months, in fact it has been 13 months, we can cancel the contract without any penalties.  Our conveyancer was going to serve the notice but didn't follow up with us, so I may need to give her a call and find out where is she up to.

So we are back to square one, where can we find a bigger place for our kids or even our future?  After a few discussion with a friend of mine, he suggested for me to look out in the area of The Ponds where there are new land releases.  My wife and I never actually thought about living in the area before.  Couple of reasons that came to mind includes it's far and it's really really far.  It will be a big change to our lifestyle.  But we decided to go and checked it out anyway.  We went to the sales office and got some information on the area, went to the builder display village, which was hardly open as it was the Easter long weekend so that's quite understandable, to check out some home designs.  They were really made to attract people, really.

Our first impression was the land price was affordable.  It wasn't overly expensive and it seems like a nice area to grow a family.  We asked about the average people who purchased a block of land and the majority seemed to be on the same age group as we are.  So we thought that was good, at least there are people who would understand our generation and what it's like to grow a family :).

The lady who was in the sales office at the time advised us that there is going to be another land release in the near future and she did also said that there will be a queue in front of this sales office because she is selling these block of lands like hotcakes.  We were also told that with the past land releases, people camped in front of the sales office for a week!  We weren't very keen on doing that, honestly.  I know it's probably the great Australian dream, but camping out in front of the sales office for days wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

So we waited for the next land release just to open ourselves with some options before making a decision to completely move there.  The time came and gone so quickly but we never found ourselves going back to The Ponds sales office to make a purchase.  We did went back a couple of times to check out the home design by the builders in the area.  It was really nice and we wished we were living in one!  We did our calculation and to get a block of land plus getting a house build on the land will cost us a lot of money.  It would mean that we will need to sell our unit instead of leasing it.

It wasn't until two land releases that we were invited by the friend who introduced us to The Ponds to Kalina Estate, which is also at The Ponds itself but I was told that it is build by another property group called the Allam Property Group.

He told me that he had already put a deposit on a house and land package with them and that their house is due to finish on November of this year.  The advantage of this is he doesn't need to worry about anything else.  He just need to get the key and move straight in.

So, ok, we decided to go and check the estate out and see the houses for ourselves.  This time it's a bit different than the few previous trips that we did to The Ponds.  My father-in-law, my wife's dad (who would've thought :)), came along with us on this trip and inspect the Kalina estate together.  It was already late in the afternoon that we finally get to Kalina and obviously was greeted by our friend and the sales person who has patiently waited for us (we were very late for our appointment :)).

We were given a tour to a few houses that is already near completion and all they had to do was to put some tiles in and that's it, all done.  We felt like the design looks similar to the house next door.  I guess being in an estate, that is not surprisingly weird.  But one thing about the design and the plan that we didn't like was we felt that the house was too narrow.  Even for a passage way, we felt that we were being crammed inside.  My father in law felt the same way and my wife just nodded in an agreement.

So we parted ways with our friend and my father-in-law asked that if we could go and check out The Ponds.  I told him that there was a new land release that day and that was the Waterfall 9, so I said sure, let's go and check it out.

By the time we get to the sales office it was nearly 5pm, which is the closing time.  So there we are finding ourselves wandering back into the sales office for the second time.  This time I had my 3 years old son with me so my father-in-law did much of the talking and asking questions.  My wife actually waited in the car when we went into the sales office so she doesn't have any idea what was my father-in-law asking or even thinking, to this effect so am I.  There were still a group of people in the sales office that sort of asking questions about the area in general or the new land release that day.

At that time I wasn't actually thinking of getting any land there as when I saw the price list that was sent to me few days back, I wasn't too keen.  It is a bit more than the other land releases but I can understand why as it is quite centralised in the area and it is a good location for the block as well.

So after the questioning session, we discovered that out of 21 block of land releases that day, only 1 block of land left for sale.  It is getting late and the office is already closed, so we then started walking back to the car and  IT IS during this time that my father-in-law suddenly popped out a question "Do you want this land?".  I can not believe what I was hearing so I asked him to repeat it and it is the "question".  Well, I responded yes and he took out his wallet and pulled out his credit card.  Again, I can't believe what I am seeing?? Is it really true? Are we going for this block of land?  We were joined by my wife soon after and he did asked the question again.  He also confirmed this by having his credit card really handy and it doesn't just stop there.  The receptionist, whom he asked a bunch of question with, walked out of the sales office in an attempt to go home.  He stopped her and asked her "can I get this land now?".  I am still in a state of shock and the next thing I knew was finding myself back inside the sales office talking to the lady, that we first met, about getting THE LAND.

We never imagined or even planned that we will be purchasing a land that day; but yet, there we are sitting in her office paying our $300 of holding deposit money to take the land of the market.  Ouw, by this time, I actually used my credit card as the sales office didn't accept American Express card.  My father-in-law didn't know about this as he was preoccupied with my son's activity.  I guess as the land is going to be in our names anyway, might as well use my own credit card to pay for it.  And I was brave enough to do it too, which can be rather strange because I really am a type of conservative investor.

There you are, our first piece of Australia.  Who would have thought that we would be achieving the impossible (well the first step anyway, we still need to settle on the land first :)).

This actually reminds me of a motto that someone I used to admire that goes like:

All our DREAMS can
come true, if we have
the COURAGE to

by: Walt Disney

Ironically, how true is that :)

I guess it's project home now and we'll definitely be sharing our journey from start to finish such as this.  Thank you for taking the time to read this far.
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