Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Would You Like Lighting With That?

Building your own home is a tricky business. Even talking about the possibility of maybe thinking about building a house can be enough to cause a migraine. After working in the Building Industry and having some involvement in judging display homes in the area, I thought I was pretty savvy with picking out what was a standard inclusion and what was going to send our final price through the roof. As we went along and I got some written quotes from a number of different builders I gained even more insight into how much to add onto that pretty, non-threatening base price they like to throw at you in the Sales Office. After even further investigation I managed to decipher some of the vague terminology they use and what that actually means to the final product. But try as I might I still could not be confident that their final price was actually final. Add to that the fact that no two builders have the same standard of inclusions and it is almost impossible to determine who is the most suitable builder and how far your money will really go. 

In an effort to reduce the chances of someone else losing their mind as they wade through the pages of fine print, I have put together a little run down of some of the things I have encountered so far. As a general rule if it looks good in the display home, you will be paying extra for it. More specifically, expect these to be an upgrade.

Caesarstone benchtops - Even this is included, it will only be the 20mm variety, not the solid 40mm version you have grown accustomed to in the display homes. Also be aware that if you are getting the swanky waterfall edges, there are at least 3 different kinds of joins that are used. The type you get as standard does not exist anywhere other than your new kitchen. I will let you know how that pans out when ours goes in.

Raised ceilings - Every display home you visit will have ceiling height at a minimum of 2550mm, sometimes right up to 2700mm (9 foot for those needing imperial conversions). You however, will be provided with the standard 2400mm ceiling, unless you want to fork out another $5,000 - $10,000. Make sure you look closely at the door heights too, often they raise them to make the higher ceilings more balanced. To me it makes the house look at little Willy Wonka but it all adds to the light airy dream they are trying to suck you into. It bloody works too.

Melamine shelving - Pantry's and Walk In Robe's will have clean, bright solid melamine shelving on display, but the standard inclusion will almost always be either powder coated wire, or flaky chipboard. Nothing says luxury like a fluffy bath sheet full of splinters. 

Despite the annoyance, these things all seem fairly reasonable as they are more an issue of aesthetics than necessity. But I do have a few items that I have found to be truly mind-boggling.

Flooring - polished exposed aggregate is so in right now, unfinished slab with bonus paint splash is not. But that is exactly what you will get unless you go with the optional upgrade to include floor coverings. Flooring doesn't seem terribly optional to me, when was the last time you saw THAT arrangement in a glossy magazine?

Concrete for Alfresco Areas - Most of the designs we have liked have included the Alfresco or Outdoor Entertaining spaces in the price. We have however been caught out by a couple that only provide a lined ceiling with brick posts as their included offer and then sting you another couple thousand to get a concrete slab poured. Kind of like buying Tupperware but only getting the lids. Totally stupid.

Overhead Kitchen Cupboards - this one really got me. I could not believe that there could be cabinetry displayed in the home that simply didn't exist on the standard plan. It was only when I was discussing the finer details of the microwave location with the builder that I discovered I would need to add another $1,000 onto the cost just to have the bank of overhead cupboards in the kitchen. Don't even get me started on the whole melamine, thermolaminate, polyurethane business! 

Lighting - a potentially huge add-on. Enter a display home and you will be practically blinded by the sea of downlights twinkling in the ceiling. From a real-life perspective it is overkill and I certainly wouldn't want to be paying their power bill, but it is a far cry from the single, bare bayonet point per room that is allowed for in the base price. Take no notice of the stunning pendants over the kitchen island either, there will be no illumination for you! Power points will also be scarce and in odd places.

Driveways - Many councils will require you to have a sealed driveway to sign off on the Certificate of Occupancy, but don't expect that to be included in your quote unless you specifically request them to add it in.

Hot Water System - Depending on the state you are in, your build will be subject to BASIX requirements such as flow rated shower heads and taps, insulation, water tanks and your choice of hot water system. Providing you are in an area that has Natural Gas, the hot water system will come within their basic BASIX package (still additional to the base price), if you are not so lucky you will be required to install a solar or heat pump hot water system adding a significant amount to the final figure. Guess who doesn't have farking Natural Gas in their area? Yes, that would be this little sour grape right here.

Confusing? You betcha. 

Outrageous? Absolutely.

Doing it anyway? Yep.

I love a challenge. 

Either that or I'm just a glutton for punishment.
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