Saturday, 29 January 2011

House plans

We went out to have a look at the house on display in Byford and had a chat to the lovely sales consultant, Sharee. After looking at my rather mangled version of the floor plan, she gave me a few scale copies to play with. This is the original:

and this is our slightly majorly revised version:

It's still recognisable as the Floreat, but only just! We have made many, many changes some of which are:
  1. added extra space on to the garage for Peter to use as a shed/workshop (also reduced the size of the entry hall for the same reason),
  2. completely redesigned the kitchen (still making changes)
  3. moved the bathroom, laundry and toilet so that the toilet wasn't off the laundry and all the wet area doors were adjacent,
  4. enclosed the activity to make an extra bedroom so all three boys' rooms were in the same end of the house (which makes Bedroom 2 a guest craft room all for me!)
  5. moved a lot of doorways to more practical places (eg. entry to minor bedrooms hallway, games room entrance, home theatre entrance)
  6. moved wall in dining room to create a linen cupboard
  7. changed all robes in minor bedrooms to double width built-in-robes with sliding doors instead of walk-in-robes
  8. sacrificed part of my WIR to create a 'jacket and helmet' cupboard (store in entry)
  9. redesigned ensuite (still making changes to this too!)
  10. lengthened the alfresco area
  11. enclosed and slightly lengthened the home theatre and
  12. added doors to everywhere I could!

I'm sure there's more but I can't think of them right now and I really can't be bothered getting up to go find the list of changes .. maybe another day! Please let me know what you think and anything you would change.

Let's start at the very beginning ...

... a very good place to start. (100 meaningless points for nothing if you can name that tune!)

I kind of jumped the gun a bit by starting this story with buying the block. Buying the block was about stage 27 of the whole 'building a new nest' thing so I thought I'd go back and start again from scratch.

The idea of moving had raised its head several times over the previous few years (coincidentally, it always seemed to be when we were having other issues in our lives) but we finally decided to start seriously investigating our options back in November of 2009. We went looking at established houses because neither one of us really wanted to build again (we built our first shoebox house straight after we got married) as we didn't want to go through the whole building down to a budget thing and leaving so much stuff not done due to having no money and even less time.

When we realised that the best we were going to be able to afford in the established house market was actually a step down in size from our current home, we did our usual trick of giving up on the idea of moving for the time being. This has been a pattern of ours for our entire married life ... you'd think we would have learned by now!

In January 2010, I was bored one weekend and suggested that we go look at one of the local display home villages as they had just opened one of the houses that was being advertised at a very good price ... The Provincial by Celebration Homes.

As we both liked the house (I know, wonders will never cease!), we went a step further by contacting a finance guy to see if we could afford to build it. He gave us a whole heap of information on a relatively new loan product that would enable us to stay in our current house while we built the new one. This sounded perfect to me as I hated the idea of moving twice in twelve months (and paying rent!) but once Peter found out what the total loan amount would be, he just about passed out before declaring it a no-go zone too.

Disappointed, I gave up on trying to talk him round but continued to look at display homes on the weekends, just for something to do. (Housework doesn't count as 'something to do' on the weekends!) That was when I found the Floreat by Scott Park Homes. I played around with it a bit and was really happy with the result, but when I showed Peter, he didn't like it at all. I put it away in my 'one-day' file hoping he would change his mind.

I also continued to look at land for sale, just in case the Universe decided to be kind. I even managed to talk Peter into coming along several times where we found another house we both thought could work for us: the Colorado by New Generation Homes.

The sales rep in this house told us we were going about things the wrong way. Due to the land shortage in and around Perth, we were better off to secure a block and then find the house that best suited our needs that would fit on that block. After explaining that we had been trying to find a block with no luck, he suggested we look a bit further afield in Byford.

As I said in the previous post, my initial response was "No way, Jose!", especially after looking at the state of some of the different estates and the lack of infrastructure in the immediate area. Then we found The Glades, which was being developed in a totally different way to the other estates.

Instead of just dividing available land up into teeny-tiny lots, all roughly the same size as each other and plonking the required green space anywhere they could fit it, these developers are trying to build a new 'greener' community and are being sympathetic to the existing environment. The creek is not being filled in; it's being incorporated into the parks that weave through the whole estate creating a natural corridor for wildlife (and children!). There will be a small village shops by the time we have finished building and something like 85%of the blocks have the correct orientation to enable passive solar design principles to be easily incorporated into new houses.

After finding out about all this, I was almost sold so we went out to take a better look at the area and I realised it's a lot closer to everything than I thought it was. Once the highway extension goes through, it will be even closer. Not literally closer of course, but it will be easier and quicker to access all the old haunts, so I was well and truly coming around to the whole idea.

It was at this point (May 2010) that we visited the land sales office and found our block. We then started playing around with the Colorado plan, trying to make it work. We needed to flip the front of the house to enable us to add extra garage space for Peter and to put the master bedroom on the south side of the house. After two weeks of playing around , we resigned ourselves to the fact that it just wasn't going to work and started looking at other plans.

I would go out and look at houses on the weekends and show Peter the plans when he came home from work. All the plans were kept in the same folder and one day, Peter found my much drawn on copy of the Floreat (the one that he didn't like at all remember!) and asked if it was on display anywhere. It wasn't but a very similar house was at ... wait for it ... The Glades in Byford! Co-inky-dink? I think not!

Stay tuned for the next thrilling instalment (and house plans!) coming soon ....

Friday, 21 January 2011

Here we go ...

Having lived on a main road on a battle-axe block for the last ten years we decided that, as much as we loved our house, it was time to move on. With three boys rapidly approaching that magical age of driver's licences and first cars, we just wouldn't have the room for everyone to park their cars without having to play musical parking spots every time someone wanted to go out.
After looking at all the options available in our price range in the established houses market and much to-ing and fro-ing on the benefits of building over buying, we bit the bullet and decided to build.

We looked at the prices and sizes of land where I thought I wanted to live (because I still refuse to move country) and just about died. $265,000+ for a piddly little 495 square metre block of sand and you had to camp out overnight to be able to have any chance of getting a look-in!!

We were just about to give up at this point when one of the display home reps suggested a suburb a 'little bit' further away from where we were looking and I have to admit my initial response was "no way". After being talked into "just taking a look" by my darling husband, I fell in love with 'The Glades' at Byford.

When we first went into the land sales office, we were just having a browse and were quite disappointed to find that there didn't appear to be any decent sized blocks available; they were mostly cottage blocks (350-400sqm) with only a few slightly larger blocks (480-550sqm). We knew that we needed at least 580sqm to build any of the houses we had in mind and were preparing to leave when one of the sales guys finished his phone call and asked if we needed any help.

Well, it must have been fate/destiny/whatever you want to call it, because he told us that he had literally just that moment (the phone call he was on when we arrived) had a block come back on to the market due to finance not being approved and it was 600sqm. He offered to put a hold on it for a week so we could crunch the numbers and work out if it was viable. We knew we could do it because it was $55,000 cheaper than the smaller block we were originally looking at in Southern River!

We put the finance wheels in motion and by the end of July 2010, we were the proud owners of a 600sqm plot of sand and weeds.