Apr 27, 2019 6:49 pm
Hi fellow home builders and renovators,
After a lengthy journey bouncing back and forth between custom build and project home and back again over many months we have finally made a decision and yesterday made a deposit on a McDonald Jones Bronte Farmhouse Grande Manor.
We will be building this beautiful home on 12.5 acres at Maraylya in Sydney's northwest . I have extracted some great ideas from this forum throughout this process so I thought I would try to give back a little by documenting our experience in the hope that others may find it helpful.
Obviously it is early days yet but as the information starts to trickle (pour?) in I will endeavour to keep this thread current.
We have selected the French provincial facade and will probably go all face brick because as much as we like the rendered or bagged look I really don't want to have to worry about painting and dealing with the inevitable cracks.
We have proposed quite a few changes to the internal layout of the home but very little change to the overall footprint. We have had many assurances that the changes "won't be too expensive" but time will tell what this really means. This is probably the aspect of this process that has generated the most anxiety. Our design consultant has been very helpful and accommodating of my myriad questions and multiple visits and so far the experience has been a positive one.
That's about it for now
PS Would love to hear from any fellow Bronte builders in the area.
Stephen and Jo
Re: Our McDonald Jones Bronte Build2
Apr 27, 2019 7:36 pm
Hi S&J, welcome to the forum!
Your land looks amazing, we have just bought a much smaller block (5600sqm) in Glenorie.
We are still deciding on builders, have gone back and forth like you, we’ve got a MDJ design as a back up plan (the hermitage) but are currently still progressing with the custom option. Builder not chosen yet,but currently getting our second set of plans drawn up.
Look forward to following your build!
Re: Our McDonald Jones Bronte Build3
Apr 27, 2019 10:42 pm
Thanks for the welcome.
In the end the decision came down to cost. We met some good builders and one in particular stood out, we would have really like to build with them but as you are no doubt aware the cost difference of a custom build is really significant.
We to liked the design of the Hermitage and have incorporated some of its features into our Bronte. Glenorie is a lovely part of Sydney and the bakery has great pies!
PS do you really have a 65 gogomobile? I have a 66 mini moke and love it!
Re: Our McDonald Jones Bronte Build4
Apr 28, 2019 10:11 am
Haha no gogomobile, it’s my initials and something to do with my date of birth 😩.
Bronte is a great design, we had planned on using the master bed layout of the Bronte, but we want the master opposite to garage as we will also be building a granny flat near garage and wanted distance between the two, hence the hermitage worked better for us.
Assume you may be dealing with V at home world kellyville? He was awesome, so easy to work with.
We also had a builder we loved, had plans drawn up but came back to expensive.
We changed our whole design and now working with two builders, one has given us a provisional tender and budget seems to be otrack so fingers crossed.
Would love to see your plans!
Re: Our McDonald Jones Bronte Build6
May 14, 2019 8:31 pm
Some progress starting to be made.
The customer portal now shows that the soil test and contour survey have been done. The reports will be in in a week or so.
As an IT nerd I think the customer portal seems quite well implemented.
We got our initial plans back this week along with an initial tender document. The plans have remained very true to my sketches and I am quite pleased with the way things look. Only a few very minor changes to be made.
We are also pretty pleased with the cost that the changes have come in at, so sleeping a little better for now . We changed the internal layout quite a bit to match as closely as possible the design I had for our custom build, so good so far.
Below are images of the original Bronte and our modified version (bottom photo)
We have received some price lists in preparation for our visits to the design studio. Some allowances in the offer we have received should help make this step hurt a little less but I guess time will tell.
I will also be building my ultimate man cave shed next to the house (well not ultimate because we do have a budget) but it will be nice to have some space.
It is early days yet but would have to say we have had a good journey so far.
Next step for me is to arrange to get power to where the house is being built on the block. This is over 500 meters from where the power currently is (it's a big block) and the quotes I'm getting for this much copper are shocking (pardon the pun).
Anyway that's all for now
Re: Our McDonald Jones Bronte Build7
May 14, 2019 9:11 pm
Good to see that your builder has customer portal, I believe this is something all the builders should be having in place sooner than later.
How much do they want for 500 m of power cable, I wonder? I know that you would need much thicker cables if it goes over 100 m.
Re: Our McDonald Jones Bronte Build8
May 15, 2019 3:40 pm
I don't have a fixed price yet just estimates and you are correct the gauge of wire required is much thicker to allow for voltage drop over the distance. Not to mention the cost of the trench required.
Then there is the question of if I should bother running a phone line or not. At this stage I'm thinking no but there is no NBN in the area yet and 3G/4G coverage is not wonderful on Optus or Telstra which would make life a little tricky for access to the internet (Important for my job).
Whilst I have the trench dug it am thinking about dropping in some fibre optic cable to use for data from the front of the property. I could then use it for security and gate control if I wanted to and 4G reception is much near the front of the property. So much to do!
Re: Our McDonald Jones Bronte Build10
May 15, 2019 4:38 pm
Hi S & j
Hope build goes well. Don’t forget that once it starts the builder has a lien on the site and you are not supposed to go on site without his permission. I found our site got very messy and it was hard to see what was finished and what wasn’t. However they eventually did a clean between stages and told the messy trades to clean up or they wouldn’t get their full payment. Most complied. A lot depends on the site supervisor you get, ours was very good but not without a few errors which they rectified. The project homes seem to cut the tradies jobs to the bone payment wise and some tradies resent this and I was worried they would do a bad job. Most jobs were ok .
Good luck and will be interested to see how it all uhfolds.
Re: Our McDonald Jones Bronte Build11
May 20, 2019 11:00 am
Hi Guys , We are also considering working with MDJH for our build .We have had our concept drawings and have had our provisional tender drawn up.
We were initially happy with the base price and some of the site costs but began noticing alot of items which we thought would be standard had extra cost.
Items such as roof sarking and wall wrap. Im a carpenter by trade and totally acknowelege that these items are not essential in a build but because of the new basix regulations your house will simply not meet the requirements. In my opinion this should be a standard feature with the base price. Has anyone else been charged over $4415 for sarking?
Also has anyone had any joy in convincing MDJH to allow your own external contractors to carry out work during the build .
Would also be interested to compare some quote you guys have recieved for additional upgrades.
Here are some of ours to date :
Roof sarking $4415 ( sore point)
Wall wrap ( still waiting on a quote)
10000lt tank and overflow $9000
upgrade to 40mm edging on the stone in the Kitchen. $3000-$4000
Would appreciate your feedback
Re: Our McDonald Jones Bronte Build12
May 20, 2019 3:52 pm
Welcome to the world of project home building.
External contractors is a recurring issue with just about any project builder these days. I am an IT nerd and want to have a licensed friend of mine do the wiring for the data and alarm etc. Cat 6 cable is cheap as chips and I always prefer wired networks where possible. It was just going to be too hard. I have spoken to a mate of mine who works for another mob who have a similar policy and the main reasons he gave were to do with scheduling and accountability. Classic example he gave was a scratch to a newly installed kitchen, contractor A blames contractor B etc and it all gets messy. This way the one company controls everything. I do get it, but it will be a lot harder doing the cabling afterwards but budget simply wont allow it before hand ( not for the infrastructure I want to do).
I will check on some of the upgrade prices when I get home. Reading this forum prepared us how much more than the base price a project home ends up costing so it didn't come as a surprise but the costs add up quickly. Having said that I had my own custom plan that I really wanted to get built. The house was actually a little smaller than the one we chose in the end and it was going to cost very close to double what the Bronte is costing, it was never going to happen. We got a number of quotes from builders large and small so in the scheme of things we are still quite happy so far.
Things like 40mm bench tops really add up and then if you add waterfall edges etc it goes even higher. My partner really wanted more draws in the kitchen and the price given for draws was a about $250 per bank of two or three draws which we thought was reasonable then saw further down the price list that soft close draws are another $50 each. Bottom line is the base price is really very much a starting point but my experience has been that this is the norm for this industry and not any worse with MDJH. Very few if any of the homes on display at home world in Kellyville Sydney were able to give me a definitive answer to the question, "how much to build this house as displayed?"
Not much of a consolation I guess.
Re: Our McDonald Jones Bronte Build14
May 20, 2019 9:50 pm
We are really hoping the entrance onto the living area with the stacker doors open to the bush-land backyard will have an impressive effect and take advantage of the block. In the latest version of the plan we have widened the stacker doors and reduced the space between them to increase the effect.
Cant wait to get started
Re: Our McDonald Jones Bronte Build15
May 27, 2019 6:13 am
Hi S & J
By the looks of it you would be on a site prone to bushfire with a high BAL rating. If so I have come across a company that makes specialised windows for such areas they are called Warrior Windows. The difference being that the frames are steel not aluminium and will not melt in case of fire. In other words if you are trapped inside your house the fire should pass over it without gaining access through the windows. These are the only true fire proof windows and doors.
Good luck with the build
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