May 09, 2020 11:09 am
As a long time reader of other peoples blogs, I have decided to start my own. It might help someone else but it will also be a bit of a diary on our build for me to look back on.
We are building with Hallmark Homes a South East Queensland builder in a new estate in Logan Reserve. Our house plan is an Edge 188 (version 2 with the master at the back), we chose this plan after about a year of looking and comparing. Our estate has a rather strict covenant and this plan was the most affordable to adabt to this and still be in line with what we wanted.
As there is only the two of us and our dog we will have plenty of space with four bedrooms, two bath, two garage spaces and one open plan kitchen and living.
We chose to build the trend range which is hallmarks higher range, however in my opinon the essential range isn't worth looking at. Hallmark has good inclusions and don't over dress their dispalys like some of the larger builders, this gave us a good feeling of what money will buy. They have recently made an effort to compete with some of your bigger builders and upraded some of their standard finishes which is also something that attracted us. Ontop of this the sales agent was very direct and efficient which can't be said for a lot of builders.
We are building in the third stage of Sequana, a smaller estate in Logan Reserve. We really liked the feeling of this estate as it has an unusally high home occupier rate (above 90%) and lot sizes average slighly larger than most other estates around us. What also helped was that due to the lack of investors the land prices are very affordable in comparison with some of your larger estates around (Brookhaven and Carvers Reach).
We are building on a 400 sqm block, 12.5x32m which is one of the smaller lots available in the estate but suited us as we didnt want to build a very large house. Most estates around us are selling 350 sqm blocks at the same price as our 400sqm so we believe we got more value for money with this block which will allow us to have a big enough back yard and still fit in our budget.
We are obviosuly building during the COVID-19 health crisis, we havent been massivly affected by this and our builder is very confident that they wont have any issues. The only aspect is that banks are a little slower in their approval stages especially as my partner works casually (hasnt been affected).
I will post a few more entries on our plans and our colour selection as well as the non standard items we picked and why.
Re: Hallmark Homes Edge 188 Queensland2
Aug 09, 2020 12:55 pm
Its been a while, we have spent the last month or two sorting finance and waiting for info on the HomeBuilder Scheme.
Sadly we signed our contracts before June so we are not eligable for the grant but still get the first home owner grant here in QLD.
I thought I'd make a post about our variations and list pricing, I have really struggled through our process as pricing is often not clearly talked about and really differs from builder to builder. I will make a more detailed post about why we chose some of these things later.
The base price for our house in the Trend range was $175,290 and we added the following:
- Bonus High Ceiling (offer at the time) 2550mm high ceiling upgrade + $495
- Upgrade facade to include cladding (due to covenant requierments) + $840
- Decowood timber look steel garage door + $950
- 2100x1087 front door in corinthian blonde oak + $570
- 21-24 sliding door to bedroom 1 instead of standard window + $80
- Delete all bedroom warderobes -$2260
- upgraded front door handle + $205
- Undermount double sink + $315
- walltower inc. 600mm oven and microwave space + $680 (this would have cost more but we received a credit for removing the standard 900mm oven)
- bank of three 900mm pot drawers under stove + $645
- dual colour laminate in the kitchen + $300
- 1000mm wide kitchen island with 300mm over hang in lue of standard + $1770
- 40mm edge benchtop to entire kitchen + $970
- open shelf unit to the back of island + $350
- inbuilt waste bin + $305
- pull out spring tap + $350
- undermount rangehood and cupboard above stove 90mm + $350
- upgrade bathtup to 1670 long + $125
- shaver cabinets to both bathrooms + $710
- shower niches x2 + $1200
- tiling upgrade + $431
- Rain shower head on arch rail with diverter square + $190
- upgraded toilets with tiling behind + $620
- Lighting appointment (LEDs, Pendants and plugs) + $5427
- Daikin 10kw ducted aircon with 4 zones and 8 outlets (includes $1000 promo discount) + $10505
- Tiling not in standard inclusions(upgraded to 450x450) + $4800
- Builders range carpet + $2030
- Flysceens + $1225
- exposed aggregate drive way and front porch + $4880
- cut kerp (inc council fee) + $640
I think most upgrades were reasonable compared to other blogs I've read, the only thing's that really stood out were the shower niches and the flooring. We got very little flooring choice, Hallmark uses National tiles which had three types of tiles available in a few different colours, laminate wasnt even talked about even though many showhomes have it more on that in another post.
However I think the builder made up in other areas so all up I don't regret it. All things were in line with the quotes except for the electrical allowance wasn't enough, they quoted about $2600 for LEDs and fans in each bedroom but it ended up being more like $4500 (we didnt get anything fancy).
Re: Hallmark Homes Edge 188 Queensland3
Aug 09, 2020 2:30 pm
Our plans and an explenation to our variations.
We didnt make a huge amount of changes to our plans, we got a sliding door/window in the master to open the room to the back yard, we made a few adjustments to the kitchen and removed all the warderobes as we knew we wanted to have them custom fitted and our builder wasnt going to be able to do that (at an affordable price).
Sink and dishwasher
Originally the sink and dishwasher were on wall D to look out the window, I thought that was a bit odd and moved them into the island, to make most of our island the sink was pushed to one side so two people could comfotably sit at the island without sitting infront of a sink.
Walltower/ oven and pot drawers.
I've always wanted a walltower, I'm tall and have a bad back and ovens are always way too low for me. Additionally I liked that it created more storage space in our kitchen. The best spot for a tower was on wall D where the sink used to be, meaning we would have to reduce the window slightly to make room which was a small sacrifice for such convenience. Our range had 900mm appliances as standard, however a 600mm oven was perfectly fine with me (and cheaper) so we swapped it and got about $450 in credit which reduced the tower cost significantly (other builders were quoting upwards of $1500 we paid $680).
We replaced the 900mm oven space under the stove with pot drawers, something I have been wanting for ages and couldn't recommend enough. I know $600 for some drawers seems like a lot of money but honestly its worth it.
The Kitchen Island
Now this one is the hardest to explain and many people look at me funny when i try. So as I mentioned I'm tall and sitting at a standard island bench isn't very comfortable. Most islands are 820-880mm wide and have between 18-22mm of over-hang as standard, this is not enough to fit my legs under comfortably. Most display homes even have very little over hang which means you can barely sit at the island. When we asked to have a proper breakfast bar island (1200mm wide) we were told we would have to purchase a whole nother slab of stone as there wouldn't be enough for the rest of the kitchen and bathrooms. So we compromised, we widened the island to 1m with 300mm over-hang. We also added a small open shelving unit at the back of the island (drawn in the wrong spot, it will be behind the sink) and a double power point. We also upgraded to have an undermount double sink and a big tap that would be both functional but also a feature.
This was probably one of the more annoying things about our build. Most builders use Beaumont tiles or National tiles, another builder we got quotes from explained how Beaumont works and actually sent us to their store to have a look, essentially they have a colour code so silver is standard, gold and red are upgrades etc and you can pick any silver tile without increasing your quoted cost. Beaumont had a good selection even in the standard range, in that specific store we counted more than 50 tiles including 450x450's and wood look tiles were standard.
This is in stark contrast to National tiles. They didn't use a store that was open to the public it was really just a little office in an industrial estate. We had three tiles to pick from for our flooring, a 300x300 tile in 5 colours, a 400x400 in 6 colours and a 450x450 in 5 colours. The 400 and 450 tile were plain and outdated. So we asked if the 300 came in larger sizes, we were promptly told it does but it would be an upgrade. Later on when i went to their website the 300 and 450 tile were the same price... We upgraded at a small cost of $431 for all the bathrooms and the living areas. Either way we paid around $100 per sqm and the tile only cost about $39 sqm retail price....
We stuck to standard tiles for the walls and upgraded to a subway tile in the kitchen which was about $70 more (totally worth it as the standard is cheap and nasty)
I'm disappointed that they never provided us with pricing on laminate flooring as I have a feeling that would have been more cost efficient.
Re: Hallmark Homes Edge 188 Queensland4
Aug 09, 2020 6:58 pm
We had to update our faceade to fit with our covenant, the covenant states that you have to have 3 different textures to the facade. The cheapest way for us to do that was to add cladding to the front bedroom wall. As you can see in belows standard picture, this originally was feature brick but we moved that to the piers which originally were just rendered. I think this looks the best without having to spend a huge amount of money.
We chose grey cladding and off white render with black feature bricks. We also upgraded the front door and garage door to be wood/wood look to give the facade warmth similar to belows picture. A lot of homes in new estates go for the all grey look because its clean and won't go out of fashion. I think the warmth of the doors balances out the grey and with landscaping makes the grey less dreary.I have always dislikes white windows because you can always see all the dust on them so we picked a dark grey aluminium which I also think looks a little bit less cheap (its standard though)
Our covenant also requiers us to plant three trees and do at least 10sqm of landscaped garden beds so hopefully it won't be too busy in the front.
We chose tiles for our roof rather than colour bond similar to the above picture and had the roof ventilators included as standard (yey for standard things).
Re: Hallmark Homes Edge 188 Queensland5
Aug 14, 2020 2:32 pm
Electrics / Aircon
From my understanding Hallmark uses an outside company to do this work for them and a consultant works out of their selection showroom on the gold coast. However because we were doing our selection in April 2020 those consultants worked remotly and communicated with us via email and phone. This worked for us as it gave us some additional time to work through the plans and understand what we actually wanted.
As i mentioned earlier, when I originally asked for a quote I asked for an allowance to be made for LED's thoughout and Fans in every room. This allowance was $2600, not surprisingly this wasnt enough. I had factored in $2000 more for pendants and extra plugs etc. but we ended up spending closer to $5500.
The consultant started of providing us with the standard plan and her recommnedation (about $7500 extra) so we took her recommendations and started removing things we didnt think were necessary and added some things we wanted.
We will be using the front room as a media room so we needed extra plugs and tv ports, we also added plugs in pretty much every room and honestly i dont think we went overboard. We didnt do a lot of outdoor lighting as we just didnt have the money for it but we knew thats something we could do after at a similar cost.
The most exciting add on was the LED strip light behind the stove and the pendants we got to select from Beacon lighting, they seemed pretty happy to source from anywhere reputable (they just charged slightly more than retail price).
The most expensive addition to our home however is our ducted aircon unit. From the start we knew we had to have ducted aircon, we sleep in seperate rooms (im an ealry riser and he stays up late) so we woud have had to have three small units (bedroom one, two and living) which would have been innefitient and still costly so we decided to go all out for a proper ducted system.
When we were comparing builders, the other builder used Samsung models and Hallmark use's Daikin. Eletrician friends of mine recommended the daikin as it was more efficient and consumed less power but it was a little bit more expensive.
We also paid to have 4 zones not just the standard two, to minimise waste. That did however cost another $800.
Re: Hallmark Homes Edge 188 Queensland6
Aug 14, 2020 9:02 pm
We cut site this week!
After a lot of waiting our lot is now very flat. Seems a lot bigger than it was before it was cut.
Next week is supposed to be sunny all week so hopefully we will have a slab.
So far only two other houses have started, two doors down has just been bricked up and the house opposite of them just got a roof.
We have been doing drive by's every saturday just to check in on progress and it seems like every week the other two houses look really different. the house two doors down probably only started 5 weeks ago and already looks like its nearly lock up time.
Our builder says that they are currently running on a 16 week average finish but my sales agent told me that the sites he sold average more like 13 weeks.
Hopefully some of our neighbours start soon, all lots in our stage have been sold since home builder was announced in June.
Re: Hallmark Homes Edge 188 Queensland7
Aug 24, 2020 10:04 pm
Last thursday our site was prepped and ready for concrete, our site supervisor was nice enough to send this picture through of the prep work letting us know that the weather was looking good and that they would pour concrete the next day.
And then on the Friday the concrete was poured, I have to say when we first went to look at it on Satudray i felt like it looked way too small. But apparently thats what everyone says. Our slab is shorter than the house next next door but we also have one less living room but we are glad to have the extra back yard space.
Another two sites started this week bringing the total to 5 sites being active. Hoepfully soon we will have a few more so we dont have to live in a building site for too long.
Re: Hallmark Homes Edge 188 Queensland12
Oct 04, 2020 11:31 am
Thanks for starting your blog. We are considering building with Hallmark, and your posts have been so very helpful! How is it all going, any updates?
Hi Annie, sorry its been a hot minute since I've updated. Work has been a bit hectic.
Its going really great we have now reached lock up. We also received our garage door and our kitchen today (mildy exciting!!!!)
I have to say Hallmark have been really good with us, we had some bank issues early on and they were very patient with us.
Our neighbours are actually also building with Hallmark making it the third Hallmark house in the street so far.
The more houses go up in the street the happier I am with our choices. So far i think we have the smallest house but the prettiest in my unbiased opinion
Our front door is stuck in Victoria i believe but we have a temporary door which cant be opened.
Happy to talk more about hallmark if you have specific questions (i went a little over board in my research)
Re: Hallmark Homes Edge 188 Queensland13
Oct 04, 2020 11:58 am
So I thought I'd write a proper update since its been a while:
We are now past lock up, we received our garage door which is a deco wood casuarina embossed door. From a far it looks genuinely like wood unlike most colour bond doors. It also matches the oak door the most (ours is however stuck in Victory due to supply issues) which i wanted to keep consistency.
In terms of bricks we had the choice of either an Austral bricks range or a PHG range, either way you had to pick your main bricks and feature bricks from the same brand. So we picked the Onyx PHG bricks for the pillars and the driftwood grey double height as our normal bricks. They are very grey but its a good neutral colour which is what we wanted.
In terms of our kitchen, now this is by far the most exciting bit because so far the main living area has just been an open room making it hard to visualise anyone let alone us living there. We agonised over our choices but I'm still so happy we got everything included that we really wanted. I have already gone into detail about our changes so i won't babble on too much.
When we did colours for the kitchen we picked Lustrous Elm from Laminex as the finish for the bottom cabinets and Polar White for the top also from Laminex dual colour was a $300 upgrade but I think it brightens up the room a lot and makes sthe kitchen feel more modern. Similarly to the bricks we had a choice of Polytec or Laminex but both colours had to be from the same brand. We also chose to go handleless for the top row of cabinets which made no price difference.
Our Stone choice was Ocean Foam from Ceasar stone for the entire house (kitchen, bathrooms and laundry)
Re: Hallmark Homes Edge 188 Queensland14
Oct 13, 2020 10:00 pm
A few small updates:
Our bathroom cabinets have been delivered and installed. We chose to stick with the standard cabinets however added shaver cabinets. Our builder had two standard sinks one is a square drop in which seemed very small and the round semi drop in bowl which we preferred. Caesar stone was also standard, unlike the kitchen it all arrived pre built. Colour of the cabinet's is Botega Oak.
We have also had our facade rendered and cladding added, painter has started working outside so hopefully the facade will come together very soon.
I was also called by our tiler to meet him and run through our tiles to make sure the right things got delivered. (I didn't get a photo of the tiles but below is our selection. Tiler told me that it would take him about a week to complete the work and then the painter can paint the inside.
They seemed to have started in the wet areas but we have privacy glass in the bathrooms so hopefully this picture will do for now.
Re: Hallmark Homes Edge 188 Queensland15
Oct 21, 2020 8:16 pm
Tiles and paint work
The order in which a house gets built is a bit perplexing. We had the tiler out to do the wet areas, the skirting boards went down (no main floors though) and now the painter is painting away. All while the electrician hasn't been around.
Below are pictures of our bathrooms main and en-suite. Floors are the larger grey tile like our laundry in previous post. Not too sure whats going on with the drawers in the en-suite...
In other news our front door is still stuck in Victoria. We have been told by the builder that they have 3-4 doors without window panels. However as there is no other window in the entry it would make the hallway very dark so we will have to potentially wait till after handover to receive our door. Apparently builders are starting to have issues with suppliers as demand grows and supply from over seas stalls.
Re: Hallmark Homes Edge 188 Queensland16
Nov 03, 2020 9:03 am
So close to being done.
We are now in the final 3 weeks before handover which is just mind boggling. We have received a practical completion inspection date of November 19 with handover to be within 7 days after that. The house is now looking more and more like you could live in it. Its funny how small things like fans and lights make it less like building site and more like a home. This week we stopped by to take a few pictures and neither of us really wanted to leave. To say we are ready to move in is an understatement.
Since our last update, painting has completed, electrical is almost finished, kitchen bench tops are in, bathroom fittings are done (except for glass screens).
The Kitchen is almost finished and it looks amazing. I'm so happy we made all the little changes that we made, the countertops look chunky and solid, the splash back gives an amazing texture and the lighting makes such a difference.
They still have to install the range-hood, again we are glad we went for the under mount look, much fresher and cleaner that the steel range hoods. The oven also still has to be hardwired and the under mount bin under the sink is being replaces (handle on the cupboard was in a stupid spot). We also spotted the wrong tap has been installed in the kitchen, not our upgraded shnazzy one.
Kitchen sink and rubbish bun underneath, the cupboard on the left pulls out the bin, however the handle was placed in the middle which you have to bend down to reach. Looks strange and is also not practical to use so we have asked the builder to replace it.
Our upgraded Kitchen tap
Bathrooms are practically complete with now just the shower screens missing. Tiling looks amazing, I was worried it would be too dark but I think it looks very modern and clean and its a nice contrast with the white bench tops. Our bathrooms are pretty standard, standard cabinets, standard fittings (except the shower head in the ensuite was an upgrade and the shaver cabinets). Toilets were also an upgrade but the standard ones are super cheap and don't look very nice.
En-suite shower with upgraded shower head.
Whats still to go.
I've been told that aircon is being installed today and the tiler is coming back to tile the main floor area this week. As already mentioned the shower screens need to go in (i'm assuming that happens late because its easy to break) kitchen needs a few last things done.
Additionally the hallway closet has not been installed and the carpets are still to go and the driveway.
We have also notices that the storm water pipes that lead to the street are both damaged because tradies keep driving over them... I've been told that they will get replaced just not till the end to prevent it from happening again.
We have booked in someone to do fencing, they will start before handover so that we can move in straight away and do landscaping. Now that its all a bit real I have to start planning the move which is very exciting.
Re: Hallmark Homes Edge 188 Queensland17
Nov 08, 2020 6:48 pm
We have a drive way!
Our driveway has been poured this week, which is the last thing that needed to be done outside.
It looks nice and clean and fits in with the rest of the facade.
The electrician also came back to finish off a few power points he had missed and do the aircon ducts. The actual external machine has not been fitted yet.
Tiler also also almost finished the job, he just has to come back monday to grout the tiles. We will have to add some colourful furniture to brighten up the grey's but that was also kind of the point. This way it's a bit of a blank canvas that wont age badly.
We still have carpet's, shower screens, aircon unit and the hallway wardrobe to go. As well as some touch ups and minor fixes including some of the kitchen things previously mentioned.
We are now well and truly in the moving stage, we have just ordered a dishwasher and various other bits and pieces as well as organising our back yard's landscaping. I'm starting to pack so we can move in as early as possible. Again just a little bit excited.
Re: Hallmark Homes Edge 188 Queensland18
Nov 15, 2020 4:04 pm
Four more days till PCI
The last week has been relatively slow, tiler finished off grouting (kinda), the hallway closet was installed and we now also have shower screens installed. With PCI on Thursday there is still a bit to go:
Re: Hallmark Homes Edge 188 Queensland19
Nov 15, 2020 4:44 pm
What we are doing post handover
Mainly to save money and reduce our mortgage we will be doing a few things our selves after handover. The house will be ready to move in and functional but we will do a few things first before moving in.
We asked our builder to quote for fencing just to see what they would charge and oh boy, no surprise here. They charge a premium we got quotes $7k .... so we chose to find someone to do that for us after handover and it will only cost us about $4k. We will have to have this done straight away since we have a dog and can't move in without fencing. Hallmark were nice enough to allow the fencer to start before handover.
As both our neighbours are still building we will only be turfing our back yard at the beginning, this way nothing out the front will get destroyed by tradies and their utes etc. We have opted for Buffalo turf and a premium top soil as our soil is very clay heavy, which will be delivered and we will do the landscaping our selves to reduce cost with the help of family. This will cost another $2k, it could have been cheaper if we chose cheaper lawn (which the builder probably would have done)
Blinds and Curtains
We never entertained the idea of the builder installing our blinds as everyone always says how expensive it is. Instead we went to spotlight last week because they had a 50% member sale on select blinds and curtains including day/night blinds which we will use in all the bedrooms except the master where because the window is so large we will have to use a traditional blackout curtain with a rod.
We spent $500 instead of $1000 or more if the builder did it for all the bedrooms. Because the bathrooms have privacy glass i don't think we will need curtains there and I have never really seen the point in blinds in the living areas.
As mentioned before we deleted all wardrobes from the house and saved about $2200. We have ordered Ikea PAX wardrobes for the master walk-in and bedroom 4 which we designed specifically for us at a price of $1400. This includes having them delivered and installed by ikea. rooms 2 and 3 wont have wardrobes for now as they will be a guest room/study and our media room.
Re: Hallmark Homes Edge 188 Queensland20
Nov 29, 2020 5:49 pm
PCI and handover kinda
We had our PCI date Thursday last week. Nothing out of the ordinary, we had the right tap installed and the oven arrived also. However aircon and front door was still missing. We went through the PCI process, it took about two hours. Builder explained the various warranties and what not and then we marked all the defects. Honestly there wasn't a huge amount, bigger things included a scratch on the hallway closet sliding door which was very obvious, en-suite shower door doesn't close properly and one of the kitchen over head cupboards didn't open properly.
Our supervisor also explained that our door most likely will arrive in January and the aircon unit shouldn't be too far away.
Our Bank then did a valuation a week later (they hadn't booked one in and didn't show up to PCI so we had to remind them...) this slowed handover down a bit. We were supposed to get keys Thursday thats just gone but since the payment hadn't arrived with the builder they didnt want to settle. Our site supervisor took pity on us and gave us access to have a few things delivered that were previously booked and we couldn't change.
We also put our blinds up (which wasn't painful at all....) and installed the dishwasher.
And then we spent most of friday afternoon and saturday filling our back yard with 12 cubic meters of under turf to flatten the back yard and allow turf to grow. Saturday evening we laid turf and now we are regularly watering it in so it survives the heat.
I'm hoping we get keys monday or tuesday so that the internet can be connected and we can properly move in on friday.
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