Monthly Archives: July 2013

Deep breathing

After sleeping on it, here is the polite version what we would like to say to the DRP.

  1. Yes, we know we’re supposed to dress the corners of the house, that’s why we’ve asked for cladding to wrap around the house. Your preferred builder, whom we selected because you told us they would have the best idea on how to meet the guidelines, neglected to put that on the plans. Also, did you not notice the parapet? The useless piece of brickwork that we added just for you? If this does not count towards corner treatment then why are we paying for it? And, I’m assuming street surveillance does not mean installing cameras.
  2. Fencing, as we’ve been informed by your preferred builder, is not part of building a house but is part of the landscaping. As such, you can wait until the landscaping plan (which is costing us $850) is drawn to see where the fence will go.
  3. Cladding again.
  4. So, we must have changes in materials/colours, just not on the corners? Ok. Got it. ???? I bet this wouldn’t be a problem if the CLADDING was on the plans.
  5. If your preferred builder had given us two seconds to review the plans before they sent them to you, we would have told them to change the FC sheeting to a nicer looking CLADDING, which would have concealed joints.
  6. This is the one that really boiled James’ blood- he would like to know how the bathroom window is supposed to not look like a bathroom window when we install a larger window with clear glazing? You’ll be able to see people using the toilet from the street. Go figure.
  7. The driveway dimensions actually meet your guidelines. Our block is large in comparison to the size of the house we’re putting on it and there are no other paved areas. But, you’d still like it to be smaller? The driveway is just large enough to drive two cars into the garage. Actually, you’re guidelines say we must provide two car spaces. How do we make it smaller?
  8. If I have to put all these windows in, where do I put the bed? Also, is it really that necessary to add extra cross ventilation to rooms that are about 3.5 x 3.5 m?
  9. Oh, so the bathroom windows have to be clear glazing, but the eastern window of the upper lounge is to be obscure glazing to minimise privacy impacts? Silly me! How could I get those mixed up?
  10. The clothesline is not to be visible from the street over the side fence. Seeing as you won’t let me put in a higher fence I’d better install the clothesline inside the house then. Suddenly I know what all that cross ventilation is for!
  11. Thanks for supplying us with the guideline about the driveway again. We definitely missed it the first time. Did you notice we comply?

What we’re actually going to do:

James is going to call the DRP and get clarification on a few of these points. Then he is going to call Wisdom and organise a time for us to go over it all.


The wrath of the DRP Gods

Tonight we’ve received an email from the Design Review Panel (DRP). It’s taken them two and a half weeks to get back to us and the news isn’t so great. We didn’t get pre-approval, so that means we have to make changes to the plans, go back to estimating and then resubmit to the DRP. Who knows how long that will take. The 60 days until settlement is disappearing fast.

We’re quite a bit annoyed, as points 1, 3, 4 and 5 (the major ones) would not have been in there if Wisdom had included cladding that wraps around the top of the whole house as we had discussed in our tender process. I think if the cladding had been noted on the plan then we may have gotten pre-approval, with a list of conditional items.

The other annoying thing is that they would like every possible external wall space covered by a window of some kind. It begs the question: where will we stick the bed?

Anyway, here is the list.

  1. Concern is raised with the corner expression of the dwelling. Corner dwellings are to provide a combination of architectural elements that wraps around the corner or the continuation of elevation elements such as feature walls, windows and wall finishes on both corner facades. Currently this is not provided. Without major changes to the house design it is difficult to suggest alternative design amendments, however please review window treatment (look at awning windows), material changes (wrapping of materials), articulation elements, street surveillance etc. Currently the secondary street facade is plain and needs to be improved taking into account the primary street frontage and corner treatment as there is no corner wrapping element.
  2. Please detail where the secondary street fence return is located on the site plan.
  3. The guidelines require changes of materials / colours to all four elevations. The proposed dwelling provides minimal render to the front and secondary street facades and no change in material on the southern side elevation as required. Please provide additional change of materials / colours to the two street elevations and the southern side elevation.
  4. A change of colours / materials is not to occur on the front corners of the dwelling. The north-eastern corner of the upper lounge provides a change from face brick to FC sheeting at the corner which is not considered satisfactory and the brick is to return a minimum distance of 2m along the eastern side of the upper lounge room wall.
  5. The rear FC sheeting is to be provided with flush or concealed joints.
  6. The PWD and ensuite windows are to be larger awning style windows with clear glazing. All windows facing the streets are to be clear glazed and not look like a typical bathroom, ensuite, laundry window.
  7. The driveway within the site is to be partially reduced in width due to the large area of concrete.
  8. The southern wall of the home theatre is to be provided with a slim line vertical / horizontal open-able (or small open-able) window to maximise cross flow ventilation.
  9. The eastern wall of the leisure room is to be provided with a slim line vertical / horizontal open-able (or small open-able) window to maximise cross flow ventilation.
  10. The southern wall of the bed 2 is to be provided with a slim line vertical / horizontal open-able (or small open-able) window to maximise cross flow ventilation.
  11. The eastern wall of the bed 4 is to be provided with a slim line vertical / horizontal open-able (or small open-able) window to maximise cross flow ventilation.
  12. Please provide a paved area with a minimum dimension of 2.5m x 2.5m adjacent to the dining room doors to provide a suitable transition area between the indoor and outdoor living areas. This is to be detailed on the site and future landscape plan.
  13. The eastern window of the upper lounge room is to be obscure glazing to minimise privacy impacts.
  14. The northern home office, leisure and kitchen windows facing the street are to be provided with external shade structures (min. depth of 450mm), even if Low E glazing is provided to these windows. Please provide details on the plans.
  15. The clothesline and water tank is not to be visible from the street over the side fence return. No services are to be visible from the street.
  16. No external services are to be located on the elevations facing the 2 streets.
  17. The driveway is to be a max. width of 4m at the property boundary and min. 1m from the side boundary. The front path is to have a maximum width of 900mm.
  18. It is recommended that the western office, theatre and bed 1 and 2 windows are provided with performance glazing.

Waiting, waiting, waiting

I have to say, I’m not very good with all this waiting around. Just when we finished waiting four weeks while the plans were drawn, we started waiting for the design review panel to pre-approve them. It’s been two weeks since we sent them the plans. Looks like more waiting ahead.


We’ve spent the time pouring over the plans and asking for quotes for some changes we’d like to make. But, even waiting for the quote to come back seems to take forever!

Here’s a list of things we’ve asked them to quote for:

  • insulation in the wall between kitchen and garage to help keep heat out of house in summer
  • change bedroom robe doors to plain sliding doors in lieu of hinged (we also asked for a rough guess of the price of mirrored sliding doors but they are way too expensive)
  • change to cladding over the garage in lieu of the cement sheeting to match the cladding that will wrap around the house facade
  • add ceiling ventilation (whirlybird) over the garage
  • change the window in the leisure room to a glass sliding door
  • provide a cavity sliding door to theatre room entrance
  • provide a door in wall of laundry to access under stair storage.

James has also been house stalking. We asked the builder for a quote to change the ugly cement sheeting over the garage to brickwork and he told us we weren’t allowed to do that at Bunya. We thought that was a steaming heap of crap. So, James went and took photographic evidence that other people had done it and we could too if we wanted to. Since then, we’ve changed our mind to cladding instead, but that’s not the point.

Anyway, I’m sure you can imagine James driving through the streets really slowly with his camera pointed out the window, trying to take pictures of other people’s houses while no one notices. He was just about to take a picture of one house when a little girl appeared in one of the windows. I’m sure that looked more than a bit dodgy. I’ll have to organise a disguise for him if this trend continues. Maybe something like this:

tash can disguse

Getting the BASIX right

Let’s talk about BASIX- the Building Sustainability Index.

Implemented by the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, BASIX applies to all residential dwellings and is an important consideration in the development application process in NSW. The index is a kind of benchmark measure for water, energy and thermal comfort levels in homes. By creating an index, the government can also set targets for new homes meet.  We can call this target a minimum performance level. The idea is that we can all reduce the amount of water and energy we use.

The targets are expressed as a percentage of the NSW’s current average consumption.

At the moment, the average NSW house uses 90,340 litres of drinking water per person per year. That’s enough water to fill your stylish Caroma Newbury bath about 368 times. If that doesn’t seem like much, remember you have to multiply it by the amount of people living in your house. Oh, and that’s just the water you’re using at home.

For energy, NSW houses are using about 3,292 kg of CO2 per person per year. If you think that number seems tiny, remember that it’s only the part of your CO2 impact that you make at home. Driving your car, energy you consume while at work or anywhere else isn’t counted. Overall, the average Australian creates about 30 t of CO2 per year. The average world citizen only creates about 7 t, so we still have some way to go.

The percentage reduction you have to make to meet your target depends on where you live. For water, anyone building in Sydney will be asked to meet a target reduction of 40%. So, my dwelling would need to be designed in such a way that each person that lives there will be able to reduce their water consumption to 54,204 litres per year (90,340 less 40%).

For energy in Sydney the target is also 40%. The thermal comfort has no reduction target but can greatly influence your score for energy. For example, you could easily solve the problem of how to keep your house cool in summer by installing an air conditioner, but that would raise your energy consumption.

For us, at Bunya, the developer has insisted that we should do more. All the new homes at Bunya are to meet BASIX 50 for water, BASIX 65 for energy and BASIX 40 compliance for thermal comfort.

So how on earth are we going to do that?

Well, like this:


For water we can think about:

  • how much landscaping we have and what kind of plants we use
  • choosing fixtures in the bathroom and kitchen with higher water efficiencies
  • using an alternative water source such as a rainwater tank, stormwater tank, greywater system or private dam

For energy we can:

  • choose a more energy efficient hot water system
  • install ceiling fans instead of air conditioning
  • choose an energy efficient heating system
  • improve the way hot air and steam leaves the house by installing exhaust fans in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry
  • use windows or skylights to provide natural light
  • choose energy efficient lights
  • install an alternate energy source such as photovoltaic systems
  • install a clothes drying line
  • ensure the fridge is well ventilated

For thermal comfort we can:

  • use materials with good thermal efficiency
  • install insulation
  • use performance glazing
  • provide cross ventilation
  • shade windows that receive hot summer sun

Some of these options are more plausible than others, depending on your house design. For example, using brick instead of cladding will work favourably for thermal comfort but having a flat brick wall is not considered aesthetically pleasing by the design review panel. So, we have to make a lot of compromises. You can find out more about BASIX here

I’ll let you know which things we end up going with.

In the meantime, this cartoon nicely sums up the idea.


Preliminary plans

Late on Thursday last week we received our preliminary plans by email. There wasn’t too many surprises in there. The builder has left off some cladding which means there isn’t a change of materials on one side. I don’t think the Design Review Panel (DRP) will be happy about that.

Wisdom will give us one free revision to the plans and then after that it will cost at least $250 every time the plans are changed. Since we know the DRP are going to request changes (it would be a miracle if they didn’t) we’ve asked for the preliminary plans to go straight to the DRP. In the meantime, we’re going to request some quotes for changes to the plans. When we get word back from the DRP we can combine their changes with ours and make one revision to the plan. Hopefully this will work smoothly and we will save ourselves $250 and some time.

Speaking of time, some people have been complaining that Wisdom’s admin process is too slow compared to other builders. It definitely does seem to take a lot longer compared to other builders but they have (so far) always been within the time frame they advertise. I can’t complain because we were told upfront how long it takes. But, if you’re looking for a fast admin process it’s probably best you look elsewhere.

Here are some snapshots of the preliminary plans:

How it should look from the outside

How it should look from the outside

Layout of the ground floor

Layout of the ground floor

Layout of the first floor

Layout of the first floor


Not so standard essentials

Once you’ve worked out what does come standard you start to see what doesn’t. There are definitely some extra things you might want to consider getting a quote for.

Imagine yourself in each room. Imagine how you’ll use the room, where you will put furniture and how you’ll move around in the space.

Get a measuring tape out. Measure how big rooms and windows are. Compare it to other rooms. Measure hallways, shower spaces and the garage. Measure your car- will it fit in the garage with enough room to open the doors?

functional office

What about…

  • Flyscreens. Often these don’t come standard but you may have already paid for some if you’ve had to take any measures for bushfire protection. If you’re having those really pretty stacking doors that open your living space up to your alfresco you might also consider the reality of a balmy summer night – MOZZIES.
  • Power points. Are there enough? Are they in practical locations? For example, having your only kitchen power point positioned directly above your kitchen sink might not be as practical as it looks. The power point in the bedrooms will probably be on the same wall you put the bed head (so you could have a bedside lamp or electric blanket) but will you need another one that you don’t have to go under/behind the bed to access? It may sound stupid but check that a power point has been provided in locations such as behind the fridge and microwave too.
  • Fridge space. Fridges come in lots of different sizes- check how big yours actually is. If you’re planning on buying a new one then you should have a look around and get an idea of how much space they take up. If you haven’t been fridge shopping in a while you’ll notice they are gigantic these days. You will probably need at least 1000 mm. Make sure you check with the builder that the 1000 mm is actually 1000 mm of empty space- not 1000 mm minus the width of the two pieces of melamine or wall either side of it! Oh, and while you’re at it make sure that there is a cold tap connection if you have a fridge that needs the water cooler/ice machine to be connected to a tap.
  • Microwave space. Is there a good spot for your microwave? Will it fit? Is it positioned too high/too low? Can you reach inside the microwave to get your big bowl of hot soup out without burning yourself? Will small kids be able to open it and burn themselves? Will it be easy to replace the microwave if it breaks?
  • Privacy locks. Do you want to be able to lock the bathroom door?
  • Driveway. The driveway and the driveway set back are probably not included. They can be expensive if you’re house is positioned a fair way back from the road. You’re going to want something there- when the builders are finished it’s probably going to look like mud. Don’t forget the path to the front door.
  • Clothesline. That’s one of those things you don’t think about until you have a load of wet washing and nowhere to stick it.
  • Garage space. How big is it, really? Will your car fit in there with the doors open? Are you planning on using it for extra storage? Is there enough space for that?
  • Broom cupboard. Will you need a full sized cupboard to store long things like brooms and mops? Where are you planning on storing the vacuum cleaner?
  • Laundry chute. How fun would that be? And practical, of course. Unfortunately they can also be expensive.
  • Letterbox. Letterboxes are usually considered part of the landscaping so your builder probably doesn’t think they are standard or one of the essentials. But, your post man might disagree. Oh, and they are definitely not a cheap as you think they are.
  • Fences. Eventually, you’ll need to find a way to stop your neighbour’s naked children from swinging from your clothesline.
  • Lighting. Is there enough? All those display houses are lit up like Christmas trees but I bet your plans only have one light fixture placed in the middle of each room. Discuss this in your electricity appointment. If you’re building a single storey house it might be easy enough to install more lights later because you should be able to get into the roof space. But, the ground floor of your two storey house might be a bit harder to access! Also, what about outside lights?
  • Light switches. I have lived in two rental houses now where the bathroom light switch is outside the bathroom. While this is great for some practical jokes, it starts to get really annoying really fast. Also, having a two way light switch for the light above your stair case is a great idea. That way you can turn your light on, walk up the stairs and then turn it off.
  • Shower doors. The door itself is standard (hopefully!), but how does it open? I have seen some really strange ways of getting into a shower. Not all of them suit all body types. You shouldn’t have to climb over your loo to be able to get into your shower or something stupid like that. Go to a display house and actually get in the shower similar to what you’re getting to see how big it is (please keep your clothes on- you’re going to look like an idiot enough as it is). Can you bend over to pick up the soap you’ve dropped? Can you lift your arms to wash your hair? Maybe you should try the bath while you’re there!
  • Space for a chest freezer. Will you want an extra freezer or fridge? Where will you put it?
  • Under stairs cupboard. The space under the stairs has amazing storage potential. Usually, all you will need is for them to put a little door in for you.
  • Gas bayonet point outside for the BBQ. Say goodbye to gas bottles and running out of gas half way through cooking. An outdoor power point would be useful too.
  • Linen cupboard. Both the rental places we have lived in have had nowhere to store linen. Amazingly frustrating.

The list goes on. Check out my Pinterest board for some more. Anyone got any other ideas?

All the essentials

While we wait for the plans to be drawn I’m going through my lists and checking them twice. We’ll only get one “free” shot at changes to the plans after they’re drawn, so I’m trying to make sure we’ve thought of everything. This list is doomed to fail because “everything” will definitely have changed by the time the house is built and hindsight kicks in! But, here we go anyway. First, let’s cover what we get as standard.

At the moment, Wisdom Homes has two “collections” of house plans. There is the Smart Collection and the Prestige Collection. The Smart Collection has the more affordable base prices and generally includes smaller houses suited to lot frontages between 10 and 13.5m. The exception is the Cornerstone 26 which, as the name suggests, is designed to suit a corner block with 15m frontages. There is a brochure for each house plan and on the back of that is a list of the standard inclusions. Plus, with the Smart Collection you’ll receive the Smart Essentials Package of inclusions that are provided at no extra charge. When I say no extra charge I mean you’re paying for it somewhere, they just aren’t going to point out where. Similarly, the Prestige Collection has a Prestige Essentials Package, which is slightly plusher.

In case you’re curious, here is a merged list of the standard inclusions and the smart essentials that we will receive with the Cornerstone 26, as at the time we requested the tender (18 May 2013). A fair few of the items are being advertised as smart essential upgrades but they were already included in the standard inclusions list. I’ve put an asterisk (*) next to the ones that really were an upgrade of sorts. I’ve left out the daggy ones like “contemporary kitchen design” – you know, opposed to a design from 1852.

As well as these, we also signed up for two promotional upgrades: a fully ducted air conditioner for $5,990 (valued at $14,990) and a free roof upgrade to either Colorbond or the Bristile Prestige range flat profile shingle roof tiles (we went for the roof tiles but have umed and ahhed about this since).

Termite protection

  • termite treatment system to BCA requirements
  • Blue Hyne T2 termite resistant timber frames *
  • Reticulated termite treatment system to the perimeter of the home *


  • extensive brick selection from builders ‘Inclusive’ range
  • brickwork above garage doors *
  • off white mortar to brickwork *

Floor coverings

  • ceramic tiles to the entry, foyer, kitchen, dining and leisure room from the builder’s standard range tile allowance (25$/m2) (I had to ask if they missed out bathroom tiles on purpose- apparently they do actually include those!)
  • 50/50 wool blend carpet to remainder of the home (excluding wet areas)


  • class ‘M’ concrete slab
  • concrete to front porch including ceramic tiles over ($25/m2 tile allowance)


  • Bristile flat profile ‘Classic’ range roof tiles in lieu of traditional range roof tiles *
  • 22.5 degree roof pitch *
  • 450 mm wide eaves including eaves soffit lining
  • Colorbond fascia and gutter *
  • fire retardant sarking to underside of roof tiles *
  • upgrade of ceiling insulation to R3.5 (from R3.0) *
  • whirlybird roof ventilator for better cooling and efficiency *
  • Colorbond fascia and gutter


  • plasterboard lined interior to garage *
  • single skin brickwork
  • auto garage door opener including 2 x transmitter units and wall switch *
  • sectional overhead Colorbond garage door *


  • aluminium sliding windows throughout
  • keyed window and external door locks throughout *

Other exterior items

  • 3 x exterior garden taps *
  • Trend aluminium stacker door to outdoor leisure area *
  • upgrade of wall insulation to R2.0 (from R1.5) *
  • decorative slimline corrugated steel above ground 3000 litre rain water tank in lieu of plastic *


  • 2440mm high ceilings throughout with 90mm cove cornice
  • decorative “tempo” cornices to ground floor living areas, master suite and ensuite *
  • decorative half splayed 90mm high skirting boards and 67mm wide architraves *


  • general power points throughout room as per electrical diagram
  • direct wired smoke detectors with battery backup as per plans
  • rangehood exhaust fan to kitchen (externally ducted)
  • combination fan-light-heater to bathroom and ensuite
  • exhaust fan to fully enclosed WC (no window)
  • standard bayonet type lighting throughout
  • security alarm system including LCD code pad *
  • slimline Clipsal double power points and switches throughout *
  • 2 x television points to your preferred location *
  • 2 x telephone points to your preferred location *

Natural gas

  • natural gas provision to cooktop and hot water system
  • gas bayonet point to living area *

Hot water

  • gas hot water unit (no controllers)
  • 5 star rated gas instantaneous hot water system *
  • recess box for gas instantaneous hot water system *

Doors and door furniture

  • Hume VERV range 820 x 2040mm front door (in lieu of 4 panel with glazed sidelights, paint finish) *
  • Gainsborough tri-lock lever entrance set to front door *
  • fully glazed laundry door with timber surround, paint finish
  • standard lock set to laundry
  • flush panel hollow core internal dors, paint finish
  • designer Gainsbourough Lianna internal door lever handles *
  • bar handles to kitchen pantry, linen and robe doors in lieu of knobs *
  • door stops to internal access doors
  • keyed lock to external sliding doors

Kitchen and kitchen appliances

  • Essastone benchtop to kitchen (20mm thick – standard range) in lieu of laminated benchtop *
  • decorative glass splashback to kitchen (in lieu of standard tiles) *
  • laminated overhead kitchen cupboards to both sides of rangehood including bulkhead over *
  • Blanco double bowl stainless steel sink (Model BTIPO8S) *
  • laminated overhead cupboard above fridge space *
  • set of pot drawers *
  • designer Caroma Quatro mixer tap to kitchen sink *
  • laminated doors and end panels including squareform
  • white melamine lined interior
  • designer metal handles from an extensive builders collection
  • melamine timbergrain shelving to pantry (in lieu of standard wire shelving) *
  • Blanco 900mm stainless steel freestanding cooker (Model FD9045WX) *
  • Blanco feature 900mm wide stainless steel rangehood (MODEl BRCE90X) *
  • Blanco stainless steel dishwasher (Model DWF6XP) *


  • semi-frameless shower screens to showers *
  • designer vitreous china toilet suites with square style cistern and soft close seats *
  • stylish counter mounted or semi recessed vanity basins (subject to design) *
  • designer floating vanity units with laminated squareform tops
  • decorative tiled shower niches to all shower recesses *
  • polished edge frameless mirrors to bathroom and ensuites
  • stylish Caroma Quatro mizer tap sets to all vanity basins *
  • Caroma Quarto bath and shower mixer sets to all bathrooms *
  • Caroma Quatro handheld shower and rail kits to all shower recesses *
  • feature towel rails and accessories to bathrooms and ensuite
  • Stylus Newbury bath *
  • chrome fore wastes to wet areas *
  • chrome push plugs to vanity basins *
  • 3 in 1 fan light heater to bathrooms
  • tiling to bath area and shower recess from builders standard range
  • skirting tiles to bathroom, ensuite and WC from builders standard range
  • floor tiles to bathroom, ensuite and WC from builders standard range


  • 45 litre stainless steel laundry tub with white metal cabinet (freestanding)
  • mixer tap *
  • hot and cold washing machine taps with screw hose fittings
  • skirting tiles to laundry from builders standard range
  • floor tiles to laundry from builders standard range

other internal features

  • ventilated wire type shelving systems to linen and robes
  • Taubmans three coat paint system to walls throughout in lieu of two coat system * (one colour only to walls, doors, skirting boards and architraves)
  • flat acrylic paint to all ceilings in ceiling white only
  • gloss enamel paint to interior timber and doors
  • acrylic finish to exterior timber and metal work
  • down pipes, meter box and infills painted to blend with brickwork
  • designer stair upgrade to stainless steel bar balusters and squared handrail * (in lieu of decorative iron with timber handrail)

All the standard site costs, fees, approvals, scaffolding, cleaning, insurance and warranty are also included.

Batteries? Probably not.

How very gen Y of us

The exchange of contracts (at least our end of it) went without a hitch yesterday. Now, both the land contract and the bank contract acceptance are in the mail, and my bank account balance has shrunk a bit.

When we booked our appointment over the phone with our solicitor, who is a bit of a fuddy-duddy, he asked us to bring a cheque to send with the contract for our deposit payment. Neither of us actually have a cheque book so that would have meant juggling our online accounts into a normal bank account and then going into to the bank and asking for a cheque and then paying the fee that goes with that. The bank is only open until 4pm and blah blah blah. Too much unnecessary effort. So we said, “We’ll just make a direct debit to the vendor’s account.” It would take 2 minutes and I can do it on my phone. No fees and no trips to the bank.

The solicitor said “That’s very gen Y of you.”

Well, it is 2013.

So a few weeks later we go to the appointment, I make the transfer on my phone and then I write down the payment reference number in our notebook, where we’re keeping notes on all the important stuff.

The solicitor says “Oh, you’re going to write it down- that’s not very gen Y of you.”

Again with the gen Y thing! I’m thinking, what a smart arse. But I say, “Well, that’s a very baby boomer comment.”


He shut up about us being gen Y after that.


Exchanging the contracts

Tomorrow afternoon we are booked in to exchange contracts on the land. After receiving the contract at the beginning of May we’ve applied for two extensions and have managed to delay the exchange date by a whole month. A month might not seem like much, it has made a huge difference.

Firstly, we’ve been able to get a tender from our builder. This was an important step because we will now know how much the build will be (and whether we can afford it!) before we’ve paid the non-refundable deposit for the land. The land deposit is at 5% which is a fair chunk of money if you’re not absolutely sure you can get approval from a bank.

We’ve been able to get the land and build loan approved together, like a house and land package deal. This took a bit longer than just getting the land loan first and then the build loan later, but I think it was worth it. We’ve probably saved on some bank fees and we are able to apply for the First Home Owners Grant straight away.

Settlement will take place 60 days after exchange. So, by delaying exchange we’ve delayed settlement.  We must have a build contract signed before settlement on the land. If the build contract delays settlement then there is daily interest to pay and it adds up fast! Getting to a point where you can sign a contract with a builder takes time. So far, its been 6 weeks since we requested a tender and there is probably another 6-8 weeks to go before we can sign the build contract. There is absolutely no way we could have had the build contract ready by settlement if we had not have delayed exchange.

But, we can’t delay any longer. Tomorrow is the day for us to sign and exchange our contracts and then the count down until settlement begins.