I've been promising this thread for a while so thought I should just bite the bullet and create one. I have found the threads of blacktea2sugars, lilaandco and bigdaddy extremely helpful and enlightening over the last 15 months - so hopefully this can help others as well!
We are building on a 600 sqm block in the City of Kingston. We bought the block ten years ago and have been living there since. It was a 1960s brick veneer property that was falling apart, with a horrible layout, plenty of asbestos, and a house that was always super hot in summer and super cold in winter.
Building a new house on the block was always the plan / dream.
We researched approximately 10-12 different builders. We didn't want to go with a volume builder and budget didn't allow us to go with something truely bespoke. In the end we received proposal and had in-depth conversations with four builders:
- Thomas Archer
- Langford Jones
- Como / LB Living
There were plenty of reasons why we opted for Thomas Archer. The sales process was a little better with Hallbury (not by a lot), but we heard and read some not great things about them after sales. Plus we tended to like the style of Thomas Archer a lot more - their facades caught the eye, but having walked through a few different houses close to completion, we thought it was a better product and they'd be able to meet our needs.
Value for money is often mentioned in relation to Thomas Archer and we thought that this was very apparent. I have friends who work in the industry and they confirmed this too (interestingly, a friend works for Carter Grange and he advised not to even worry about getting a proposal from them). That being said, the value from Langford Jones was very very good too - they just seemed to lack a bit of polish in the process.
After spending December 2019 and January 2020 researching and speaking to various builders, we paid a PSQ deposit to Thomas Archer as well as a redrawing fee to modify an Evoke floorplan in February 2020.
Timelines so far:
Jan 20 - Engage sales team
Feb 20 - Paid Deposit for Soil & Redraw fee
June 20 - Styling Appointment & Electrical Appointment
Sept 20 - Receive Tender v1
Oct 20 - Finalise Tender v4, sign, next payment etc.
Nov 20 - Vacate house, electrical pit installed, and demolish
Dec 20 - Building coordinator resigns
Jan 2021 - HIA Contract presented by new building coordinator. Signed, next payment
Feb 2021 - fencing removed (when building garage to boundary, TA require demolishment of fence - was only informed after demolition and contract...)
March 4th 2021 - Site start and drainage commences
April 2021 - TA enacts clause in HIA contract to extend construction timeline in the contract due to delays from VicRoads to approve traffic management.
We've gone through good days and bad days with this process - as I am sure many will with any builder. Some issues we've experienced:
- Timelines - TA seem stretched and busy, like most of the industry....but 15 months between PSQ and site start AND 12 weeks between style/electrical and tender is beyond industry norms and certainly not within our initial expectations when first engaging with them. We've been left so disappointed with the changing timelines. We were assured on multiple occasions that we would be in the house by Christmas 2021. That just won't happen now.
- Support - our build is coming in at around the $16.5k / sq mark (excluding landscaping, driveway, etc.). I suspect that builds over the $1mill mark would get a lot more support. It seems like TA is targeting the bespoke and high end market but I've been left disappointed waiting weeks for email replies. We've had a new building coordinator who has started on our project, as well as a new site supervisor. Both have been with TA for less than three months. So far, they seem excellent but part of me is nervous and hopes that the great coordination and finishes that we saw when choosing a builder will be replicated on ours.
- Details - little things. We started the process requesting a house with no gas. 10 months in and we were still getting plans referencing a gas connection. This was frustrating and added time to the process. Also, we demolished in Nov / Dec but were then told in Jan we needed to get fencing removed and it almost held up the site start due to lack of fencing contractor availability. TA wasn't helpful with this at all.
- Site costs - TA include a provision of $25k in the PSQ. Word of warning on this. Our sales manager told us it might be $20k + an allocation of $5k for traffic management because we are on a secondary arterial road. The final figure was $58k. It includes $18k for traffic management, $18k for blade piles (building in Kingston, Bayside, ugh...), $13k for crane deliveries. This didn't include demolition. The true site cost for our build has been in excess of $75k.
A list of suppliers we are using or have used so far:
- Build: Thomas Archer
- Demo: City Wide Demolition
- Wine Room Fitout: Vine & Vault (thanks to lilaandco for the recommendation)
- Third Party Inspection: Darbecca
Next post I'll share floorplans and upgrades....