About this time last year, we’d had plans drawn up to undertake renovations and additions to our existing mid 60’s two storey dwelling to provide us a bit more breathing space for the 4 kids and the boss and I. Got some builders quotes and thought, hot dam, it’s going to cost this much and still have mission brown tiles and 1960’s (worn) charm in half the house.
After some discussion, we easily ruled out selling and moving as we couldn’t imagine living elsewhere (so close rail, schools, shops, the beach, golf, family and friends) and we figured the reno and addition plan was a big wad of cash with lots of compromises (and unknowns). So, we decided to bite the bullet and undertake what a lot of other families in our neck of the woods were doing and go down the Knock Down Rebuild route.
We set off every weekend after kids sporting activities visiting various display homes around Melbourne for ideas and inspiration and looking at volume builder designs and what would accommodate our needs.
Our block, whilst a good size at 534m2, has a major constraint – there is an existing 3m wide easement (containing a
750mm stormwater drain) some two-thirds down the middle of the block, which only really gave us about 20m to site the house from the front boundary to the just off the easement – allowing for our existing 4.5m front setback and a few hundred mm off the easement, really just had over 16m in house length to play with. Back in the 70’s and 80’s you would have been allowed to build your house over the easement, but not anymore. We'll tackle the build oer easement application for the future alfresco/deck area as the build progresses.
We’d had discussions with Metricon, Fairhaven and Dennis Family about some of their designs and tweaking them to suit, but in the end settled with a smaller volume builder, Sienna Homes to build us a custom design home. So far they have been pretty responsive, flexible and easy to deal with. We had a great experience with the sales consultant (was always pretty much on the money when it came to estimating the cost of things), the colour consultant was also very patient and helpful, particularly when we were always disagreeing about the colour and materials and our Customer Liaison contact has been so responsive, approachable and easy to deal with. Have met our Site Supervisor and I think he’s been with them about 6 months, after working for another builder just managing KDR projects.
There have been some minor niggles along the way, but nothing that hasn’t been resolved quickly and I just have to remember, they are in the game to make a profit and not because they are a charity.
Our floor plans are below, with our bedroom and living area downstairs and the 4 kids having the run of the house upstairs with their bedrooms, two living areas and two bathrooms. It's not a massive house for 6 people (partly because of the easement), but we feel it will suit our needs without too much wasted space or areas that are unlikley to really be used.
Here is a bit of a quick timeline of things that have gotten us to where we are at the moment (particularly if you are considering a KDR and wondering what some of the time frames are - and don't forget to allow for costs such as undergrounding your power pit, asset protection permit, tree removal permit, any Report & Consent applications, Planning Permits if you are that unluckly to need one, demolition costs, temp fencing, abolishment of services, etc).
- 7 May 2018 - $2,000 refundable deposit to secure a Promo that was being run before it ended the next day. We still continued discussions and negotiations with other builders even with this deposit having been paid.
- 12 Jun 2018 – We didn’t really re-engage with Sienna till the start of June and signed off on a price estimate that allowed for the site survey and initial soil test to be undertaken. During the whole process we continually worked on the design of our home and its evolution (there we a lot of plan changes). We generally had plan changes back to us within a week for review.
- 13 Jul 2018 – Lodged the application with United Energy for an underground pit. Got an invoice two weeks later, held off for a month before paying it and had the pit installed on the 10 Sep 2018.
- 28 Sep 2018 – Lodged with Council a Report and Consent to maintain our existing 4.5m setback. Approval granted a couple of weeks later.
- 15 Oct 2018 – Signed Tender Doc.
- 25 Oct 2018 – Colour appointment. Electricals occured not long after.
- 30 Nov 2018 – Signed Fixed Price Contract.
- 14 Dec 2018 – Vacated our home, after what seemed forever packing up and selling our goods.
- 29 Jan 2019 - House used for forceable entry and search and rescue training by local fire brigade.
- 31 Jan 2019 – Demolition commenced by Gravity, after gas and power services had been abolished – took two weeks to knock it down and clear the site. I got a number of quotes and Gravity were pretty good and easy to deal with. Invoice price married up with the quoted price.
- 18 Feb 2019 – Blue Marlin Pool company on site to drop in a sleeper pool and spa. Took about 2 weeks to complete. They’ll come back and finish off after the build.
- 6 March 2019 – Portaloo, bin cage and site levelling/cut all occurred around this time
- 18 Mar 2019 – On ground set out complete and formal notification of building works commencing. Various services and slab works are to occur across this week and next week.
I’ve attached some photo’s of where we started and where we are at present.
There is not a lot on Sienna Homes in the Forums, and I must say there was a lot of apprehension on our part, but it all seems pretty good so far – we’ll see how we go with the build.
PS - Apologies for such a long winded opening post.