Thursday, November 24, 2011

Another Day Another Levy (Long Service)

Well it seems as someone who is building I should be responisble for making sure my contractors are rewarded with long service entitlements. You would think the $350,000 + would simply be enough.

From their website....
"The levy is paid into a fund administered by the Long Service Corporation, and from this fund, the Corporation makes long service payments to building and construction workers."

Seriously - why isn't their employer looking after it? I'm going to see what I can do about it.

A friend was stung with this the other day so I thought I'd better let everyone else know about it to be prepared. Heck that's why I'm blogging all this info, to help others while I learn from the mistakes for next time perhaps.

You can ask your builder to include it in your tender so you don't have to pay for it, perhaps some can still negotiate. Perhaps your builder just pays it and doesn't worry about it, I don't know. What frustrates me is why aren't the builders telling us all of this so we know what to expect. The levy is a long service levy payable to your council for any building works over $25,000. The amount is 0.35% of the construction price. So for my base $220,000 building cost, I will be up for $770. Your certifier will hand you the bill when they give you the construction certificate.

More details can be found here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

$500 Infrastructure Restoration Bond

I got asked about this today and had forgot all about it. For anyone building in Jordan Springs (or any Penrith Suburb to that fact). Penrith Council have only recently introduced a new council bond payable to them which must be paid before you're allowed to get your construction certificate.

The bond is $500 and you will need to fill out the form yourself and even go out to your site and take photo's of any cracks in footpath.

The form and details can be found on Penrith Councils website. Here's a link if you wish to have a look. Make sure you have your camera ready. Once you get the receipt back send it straight into your builder.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tiles and Stairs

So tiles are a funny thing, be prepared for the shock of your life when you get the variation price. To be honest with your bathrooms I'd just go with the standard range and look to upgrade you main floor, bathrooms are much easier to come back to later. Gotta say Kurmond Home standard are pretty good, we were looking at an upgrade to Porcealin but the tilers are just way to expensive.I went into Manago and didn't tell them I was building with the builder (as if I wouldn't do this)

The Maths on our Main Floor Tile
Std Tile = $25/sqm (My allowance)
Upgrade Tile = $32/sqm
Upgrade cost on Labour $20/sqm
Kurmonds Margin = 30%

I have 100sqm so this should be easy right?

$7 difference for tile = $700
$20 labor extra = $2000

So Variation should be $2700+$810 (30%) = $3,510

My Variation Price = $5,190 WTF!@! (Yes I'll ask about them a bit later. I plan to challenge that and see what they'll do)

When I told him I was actually building with Kurmond the story changed big time, oh, ooh, ahh....umm...yeh well Kurmond have to get carpenters back etc so they charge for that. Yeah whatever, Kurmond have to do that even if your laying a standard tile you dicks. Like I said didn't really like there tile company, everyone else has been fair and reasonable, these guys seem like they just want to rip me off and tell me stories how if I was building with Metricon I'd be paying triple that. If you sell tiles to the public, you shouldn't be bumping your tile price up for home builders because you think you can milk them.

With the bathrooms we decided to roll back on the variation. Our total variation for tiles was $14,500 so you can see why, now we just have the $5,190 to look at and I've given up tiling to the ceiling, I plan to ask them for the lot (dye) numbers so I can do it myself after I move in. I got sick of arguing so we decided to pick from the standard. As you can see they look pretty good anyway.

Std range of tiles for Kurmond Homes, actually not to bad.

So I admittedly stuffed up. In the sales process, all my ears heard was "Timber Stairs", yeh thinking to myself, nice wooden polished stairs will look so nice and are standard. I was an idiot. Timber can mean MDF, then carpeted. (As in at least not concrete). So off to the stair people we went, now having to look at making a small change to the stairs. These guys were great.

We're lucky in the sense we have stairs in between two walls so it makes upgrading a little easier and cheaper. What we decided to do was keep the rises painted and put a timber on the actual step only. Having timber rises in our house would have looked to strong seeing we've gone for warm colours and modern coffee colours and tiles. All wood stairs would have defiantly looked odd. The stairs get installed and it's up to the owner to organise to stain them, keep this in mind if you have stairs.

As for the hand rail I went with a rectangle type of rail which will also be put on the wall going up to the second floor, held by some chrome. Again keeping the modern sharp edge feel going through the home. Rails are the standard silver rails, timber balustrade with a chrome ring, these will be painted the same as the walls. I haven't got final quote back yet, but guess by the guy was about $3200, which is good (Hopefully it stays at that). A couple were in there at the time and they had MDF carpeted stairs and wanted to replace them, I was over hearing them and it was about $45k. Ouch!!! Do it upfront I think.

This is the type of look, painted rises and sides, but timber treads, more so because our stairs are between walls, our paint isn't white though.

Our posts. Kept it simple.

Rectangle hand rail, up the top of the stairs and also put on the wall coming down the stairs.

Steel posts, we won't have those circle looking things on ours.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Variations - anyone want to buy a Lung

I tried to prepare myself for this, I knew it was coming. Like walking into a dark bear cave knowing a bear was in there but you're being pushed in with your hands tied behind your back, being served as lunch.

Early in this process I researched variations, it seemed to me the average was about $20,000. You needed that much no matter who you were if you were looking to upgrade the "must do" items. Things that are so hard to do later that you almost have no choice. For example putting a porcelain tile in now might cost $5,000. Replacing your tiles later in the whole first floor might cost $20k-$30k. We saved hard for years and had $20k.

For those following my blog know though that all came crashing down when the bank reneged on our loan after it expired. Valued at the full price in December when we paid our deposit, re-evaluated June 16th this year, 10 days after it expired at 20k less. We kept saving from December though, and stillare to this day as we knew this was coming.

Problem is.......we don't have 20k.

Guess what, the variations so far (bare minimum) is at 18k. Anyone want to buy a lung?

So now we're not to sure how to handle it, we're doing our best to make sure we get everything and to be honest I think we'll get there somehow, you always do somehow. If your're building be prepared for this, it will make things much easier. Knuckle down and keep saving too.

As for a general update our house is council approved and we're just waiting on our construction certificate. The variations are all being finalised and we should be able to start building in the coming weeks if Kurmond Homes are ready.

Kurmond have still been fantastic for us and are doing their best, they still feel a bit under resourced at times though. Some of their suppliers are their weak point. Tile contractors are frustrating, not happy with the variation price at all. Probably more so because my old man does Kitchens and Bathrooms so I know I'm being ripped off.

Electrical was about what I thought but there seems to be a huge lack of knowledge with the Fibre to the home (FTTH) at Jordan Springs and with all the builders. For those who didn't know, Jordan springs is a FTTH estate and if you buy in Jordan Springs you must install it for your services. You're not allowed to have a TV Antenna on your roof at all, you must run your TV through the FTTH cable.

Speaking with a few people yesterday it appears Delfin and the government are having issues. Some people have moved in to Jordan Springs and have no TV, no phone and no internet. The sub contractors for the builders seem to have no real idea either. Trying to explain what I wanted was liking speaking chinese. I knew more about it then the contractor and to be honest that worried me. The deal in the past was that no matter who you were building with at Jordan Springs you had to use Open Networks to install everything who had experience doing this. They're now out of the picture and it seems like the builders can arrange it all now. That's ok but I'm not sure I'm getting the right thing which is a bit scary.

Oh well, if you have any questions let me know. I'll do my best to answer them. Once my variations are done I'll post them all up to.