Building A New House
BIG difference in site costs82
Mar 09, 2007 5:57 pm
This is my first post on this website, so I'd first like to say hi to everyone!
We are currently about to purchase a block on the Mornington Peninsula, and had initially selected Porter Davis to be our builder. After paying the $600 upfront fee, we initially allowed for $10k worth of site costs on our initial quote (based on the fact that although our block is sandy, it is relatively flat with only a few gently sloping areas).
The soil test came back as a P class slab and due to the fact that they believe we would require 45 screw piles, they have quoted us a whopping $18-22k. We are being told that there is some fill on the block, which may not be fill, but possibly just loose sand as a result of some of the trees being removed a few weeks ago. It is this so-called 70cm of fill that has increased the costs so dramatically.
We quickly spoke to a much smaller builder (without even telling him about the 1st soil test with PD - so as to get an unbiased 2nd opinion), This 2nd soil test has come back as an A class slab and we are being quoted around 5-8k max. with no mention of needing screw piles. They have also picked up on the fill, although they say 50cm and not 70cm.
Should we now get a 3rd opinion as the difference between the 2 soil tests is pretty extreme? We haven't discussed this with PD yet as we only got the 2nd set of results back today.
We would like to buy the land and still have about 10 days before we have to pay the balance of our deposit, but right now we are unsure what we should do for the best.....any advice would be gratefully received.
Mar 10, 2007 6:11 am
Seems like this soil testing is somewhat of an inexact science.
I too have been the receiver of bad news from one builders test and then had another which told a different story.
Best advice I was given was to include a favourable soil test in the conditions prior to purchasing a block...Forearmed forewarned.
So if PD will not accept your test then perhaps you have a decision to make.
Re: Porter Davis homes84
Mar 10, 2007 2:12 pm
We had our soil test come back as a P when PD's contractor did it. We went back to the developer & had a rant, as our purchase was conditional on the soil test. The developer then went & had an independant test done on the entire development (as they were concerned that ours...the 1st soil test to be done...had come back so unfavourably).
Turns out the developer's contractor hadn't submitted a compaction report, which is why the soil test came back as a P (because there was no evidence the compaction had been done to required levels). When the developer's soil test came back, PD were happy to use that instead of the original one & our site was reclassed as an H.
If it were me, I'd be talking to your developer. Two soil tests with drastically different results sounds a bit suspect...& your land purchase should be subject to a soil test.
Re: Porter Davis homes85
Mar 11, 2007 6:41 pm
We have put a clause in our contract to specify a class M slab or better, so we could pull out of the sale if we wanted to, but we like the block and even if we did pull out, we have no guarantee that the next block that we find wouldn't have the same problems, so we have decided to go ahead with purchasing the block.
We need to give some thought to who we build with now - we don't know if we are being overcharged with the quote of $18-22k by PD as we have heard that some bigger builders tend to inflate the build costs. Or maybe it is the case that we do need the screw piles and that the other soil test with the cheaper build costs is incorrect. Who knows??
To be honest, we have been told that as the sub-division is at such an early stage it is likely that there will be some cut or fill on our block once the developers start to construct the roads. This means that we will have to have another soil test done at a later date as any cut or fill will completely change things.
Thanks for your comments
Re: Porter Davis homes86
Mar 12, 2007 12:30 am
Just had to reply, Sept last year we also were going with PD and then at tender we were hit with $30,000 site cost 46 screw piles, we had a word to them because they had buildt our neighbors house and the most any of our neighbors had paid was $6,000, so we got our own soil test. Because our soil test was so different PD got another test done at no cost to us, this time it the cost was $22,000, the different was they did not concrete our alfresso and porch area, I got a little upset and told them I don't understand why our neighbors were so different, then my partner and I decided to pull out of the contract and they told us that now the site cost had gone down to $15,000 buy this time after months of this we were over it, and I said why now $15,000, if we had gone ahead the first tender then we would of been out of pocket $15,000. We decided not to go ahead with it all we were very sad because we had put months into this house, but I could not pay those cost, we were nearly going to sell the block. We have now gone with another builder who we had contact before PD but because we didn't know them we were worried to go with them, but as it turned out we have friends that have buildt with them and our site costs have come in at $8,000, I don't know if anyone knows them? They are Pro Struct and we are very happy,
PD site costs87
Mar 12, 2007 9:33 am
Hi Di and Tireorentin,
I've followed this thread for a while now and it's making me very nervous! We are buying some land in the Geelong area, and the PD soil report cam back as a P-class. This is mainly due to presence of some large trees on the block.
We haven't had the tender appointment yet, but I asked the PD consultant to send me a copy of the soil test report - after all, we paid for it!
The report also said that a Class "M" Waffle Raft slab is recommended, and that "on fill side piers" may be required. It also recommends Class "M" strip and pad footings, and that the trees may need to be removed, or a root barrier installed.
Given that there's a fall across the house of 1 metre, we allowed site costs of $15k. I'm going to be mighty pisssed off if it goes over $15k.
Question - were the recommendations for screw piles on the soil test report, or were they advised at the tender meeting?
The only problem is - if we use another builder, then we obviously can't use the PD design for copyright reasons. Sigh.
I've set up a blog for people to follow the story... in case anyone is interested. Still some work to do, but I'll get there.
Re: Porter Davis homes88
Mar 12, 2007 1:55 pm
perryr...our original soil test (the P class one) specifically recommended an "Engineer designed suspended waffle raft supported on piles founded in natural soils." It also montioned steel screw piles as as being preferred for the site but because of the depth of fill, test piling would be needed to determine suitable founding depths. The estimated site cost for all this was approx $22k (this was before we had the soil test redone...see my post above).
The soil test was done long before tender, so we had an idea about site costs before we finalised the purchase of our land. We were also given the results & the report immediately (I had the soil test done when we purchased the land - we hadn't entered the tender process at that stage but we needed the soil test done before the clause in our purchase agreement ran out & we knew what house we were going to build - we just hadn't got around to organising it).
I do wonder sometimes if different PD offices (sales offices, not branches) quote different site costs. We were quoted just over $3k for ours (+additional for temp fencing). Our land has virtually no fall except at the very front of the property & we were building an H class slab. Some friends of ours, who were building the same house on a block that also had very little fall & also had an H class slab were quoted $30k.
Re: Porter Davis homes89
Mar 13, 2007 6:23 pm
Thanks for your post!
As it happens Pro-struct is the builder that we have done our 2nd set of soil tests through....what a coincidence!! They have come back between 5 - 8k, so 10 -14k less than PD's site costs. One of our friends built with Pro-struct last year and so far is happy with everything.
I have tried talking to the developer as was advised by another poster, but the land sales officer said that the developer won't speak to me directly. Instead we were called by the site manager who listened to my dilemma and then said that he would be more inclined to believe the PD soil test.
PD are purchasing land on this development in order to sell house & land packages and therefore the developers may be unlikely to give any negative feedback about PD as it could jeopardise business. I am not suggesting anything untoward, but under the circumstances I feel that I should take his advice with a pinch of salt - which leaves me no further forward!
Just to complicate matters, another builder named Carlisle homes has just caught our eye and we were very impressed with their Pagoda 35 home. Although the base price is higher than the designs we were looking at with both PD & Pro-struct, Carlisle's house is bigger and has so many luxury items as standard inclusions that it actually works out better value per square than the other two builders.
The increased base price of the Pagoda 35 is money well spent and is still within our budget, but our only problem now is that Carlisle charge $10k to build on the Peninsula. This additional $10k means that we will go slightly over our budget, which we can manage, but if we end up getting quoted high site costs from Carlisle too - then we really will have blown our budget out of the water. Who knows whether a 3rd soil test with Carlisle will come in as high as the 1st, as low as the 2nd or somewhere in the middle????? We have budgeted for $12k site costs should we choose Carlisle, which is somewhere in the middle....fingers x'd!!!
All these soil tests are purely to satisfy the requirements of our land purchase - being that we purchase on the condition that we have satisfactory soil tests. We will need to have further testing done again after the land is filled later in the year and we may well be in for yet another surprise then
How are things going with your Pro-struct build?
Re: Porter Davis homes90
Mar 13, 2007 7:01 pm
We are very happy with Pro-struct the slab will be in this week, also our house will look very different from others around us, they have some very different designs and there quality is great, as I said before my very good friends father supplies the roofs for them. We also looked at Carlisle homes but they would not change anything to suit our block. I just wonder why site cost can vary so much from builder to builder, also PD wanted us to sign the contract with the $30,000 site cost and that the variations would so the lower price ($15,000) but I was worried they would come back and say that the site cost would be 30,000 with more variations. I wonder if it is because they give so many free!!!!!!!! items that they just put up the site costs. I will keep you up to date as we build.
Re: Porter Davis homes91
Mar 13, 2007 7:20 pm
I suspect site costs are high since they are cost that is not thought of at the beginning or maybe not even known until after the contract is signed. That is, keep the base price cheap and get the customers in. Once you've hooked them, preferably after contract signing, you recoup-costs/make-more-profits by inflating the site costs. You can't exactly go elsewhere.
May be it's just me being paranoid.
Re: Porter Davis homes92
Mar 13, 2007 7:28 pm
My husband says he would prefer to find a new builder now. Although we have nothing concrete (excuse the pun!) to base our theories on, we are thinking along similar lines to you and just don't feel comfortable to continue.
Good luck with your build. Hopefully we'll find a builder who we feel more comfortable with in the near future.
Re: Porter Davis homes93
Mar 17, 2007 7:19 am
We too may be in a similar situation - the issue is that if you like one of the PD designs, you can't get someone else to build it.
If I think that the site costs are excesive when the y come in, I'll certainly be getting a second opinion.
Re: Porter Davis homes94
Mar 17, 2007 9:57 am
I'm pretty sure that you would get something very similar built by another builder. Apparently all builders take each other's designs anyway, but they make several small changes to avoid copyright issues.
Hopefully your P.D soil tests will come back favourably & then you won't need to worry about that though...GOOD LUCK!!
Re: Porter Davis homes95
Mar 20, 2007 12:26 pm
Time for some good news (well, for us, anyway).
We get advised of our settlement date on Thursday. We're so close to finishing. Yay. And it's gone quickly too...we started in November last year.
Re: Porter Davis homes97
Mar 20, 2007 12:41 pm
Hehe...I think our site supervisor was pretty tough on the subbies - they had virtually no break over Christmas. The supervisor was off for 2 weeks but there was only a couple of days (maybe a week) when there was no one there over the break.
It's gone up really quickly & they're ahead of schedule. And we've had only minor problems - most of which have nothing to do with PD. Which is great.
Hope your house goes well, vanderlay!
Re: Porter Davis homes98
Mar 20, 2007 12:46 pm
Excellent! Thats what we like to hear before we start!!
It's always stressful to read the problem posts so great to hear the good experiences too!!
Just waiting on council....
16620 more posts