Our Dream Home

A little story. 

One Sunday morning, mid January, Nathan left home for work. The same day, just a few hours later, I drove to the shops. Unknown to both of us, the property on the corner of Aramac Court and Holland Crescent was available for lease. We both  stopped at the stop sign and looked at the house and thought, “hmm, I wonder if this would be cheaper than what we are currently paying”, and off we went to work and to the shop.

Later that afternoon, when Nathan got home, we decided to for a drive, which meant passing the house again. I mentioned to Nathan that it might be a good idea to enquire how much the house would be per week to rent. He said to me that when he passed it this morning, he was thinking the same thing. So, I took down the number, and I rang the landlord, only to discover that it was way out of our price range.

For a long time, Nathan and I have discussed buying our own property and stop paying someone else’s unit off. After our major trip, we wanted to make positive changes and that Sunday sparked a 5 month long wonderful journey of saving and sacrificing our sanity for a really good cause.

So, early February, we packed our unit into boxes and moved into my parent’s lounge (old garage). We saved long and hard and worked with Lendlease and Integra Homes to build our dream home. After 2 months of back and forth, and deciding what features and land size we wanted, we applied for a home loan. Three stressful weeks later our home loan was approved (15th May 2017) and we are happy to share that our land settlement went through today (29th May 2017) and we are LAND OWNERS. Our handover occurred on the 16th November 2017 and we moved into our house on the 17th November 2017.

We are excited for this change as Yarrabilba has everything were looking for.

Yarrabilba.

Yarrabilba is a new master planned community by Lendlease, 13km south of Logan Village. If you haven’t, do yourself a favour and go for a drive through Yarrabilba and watch the houses, units, shops and schools being constructed. Their vision is to complete construction by 2041, which would bring 45,000 people and 17,000 homes into the community. 25% of the community will be reserves and open spaces, which means parks!

Yarrabilba is located between Logan Village and Tamborine. Its 48km to Brisbane, 59km to the Gold Coast and only 22km to Tamborine Mountain. Yarrabilba means the Place of Song  and our Breccia means rock composed of angular fragments of older rocks melded together. Click HERE for an example.

Just some additional information for you.

As part of the process of building our first home, I want to share with you some of the information that we researched and obtained from the builder and broker, as well as some of our frustrations.

Basically our home and land package is called a Full Turn Key package. A Full Turn Key package means that all the house and land package is taken care of, including full landscaping and paths to window furnishing and flood covering at a fixed price. As we are building with IntegraHomes and are part of the Pathfinder series everything is included in the price. All we had to do is pick a floor plan, our colours and whether we wanted any upgrades and of course our block size and location (which was through Lendlease).

We took our time deciding when would be the best time to buy and what deposit we needed. IntegraHomes were a fit as it offered a Low Deposit Home Loans and an incentive to build with them. The First Home Owners Grant was at $20,000 and with the incentive, it gave us enough to start our process. Nathan and I started saving since February after our 6 week Tasmanian trip and by May we had a mortgage.

I understand everyone else’s situation is different to ours and we had the opportunity to move in with my parents, but some lenders look at your renting history and if you are renting, they can use your weekly or fortnightly rent amount as genuine savings. We were initially going to go with that option but chose to move in with my parents in February.

When it came to communicating with the builder, broker and the solicitor, Nathan and I had a different ways of doing so. I was more direct with my questions whereas Nathan was more subtle, which is a good combination. When it came to the builder and broker, I researched my questions, read blogs and news articles and came up with an extensive list of questions to ask. The further along the process we went, the more questions I had. I kept (and still do) a small notebook as an active diary to remind myself what I have asked, what I’ve been told and what’s been done.

The process was frustrating at times. Communicating between the sales person, broker and solicitors can be stressful especially when you are being chased by the solicitors for the funds when your settlement date is the following day. All you can do is request an extension and hope that your finance goes through. Our issue came when the bank created a new system and process for new mortgage applications. Our application wasn’t received until weeks later. While this entire process was happening, the figures were calculated incorrectly by the bank and the final deposit was grossly overstated. Between the bank, the solicitor and the broker, emails were sent back and forth and the information we received was conflicting.

While the solicitor was telling us one thing, the broker was saying another. Don’t get me wrong, the service we received from both the solicitor and broker was fantastic, however, once approval went through and the settlement date was approaching the information we receive regarding the final payment and the way it would be processed was conflicting. One said that we needed to do a telegraphic transfer whereas the other informed us that the funds would be deducted automatically. Eventually the confusion was clarified and we had to do a telegraphic transfer.

Settlement day came and the bank confirmed the correct figure mid-morning which left us with no time to get a telegraphic payment through to the solicitors. Between Nathan and I, we had no opportunity to head to the bank and do the transfer. Thanks to two lovely ladies I work with covered Reception and I drove to the bank and completed the telegraphic transfer. By then our appointment was rescheduled for Monday afternoon. Our settlement went through Monday afternoon.

As you can see from our timeline majority of the process occurred in two clusters and we had to wait and wait and wait. The waiting game wasn’t strong with me and I pestered and emailed and phoned the sales person (builder), broker and solicitor when I didn’t received an email back with an hour of sending it. When I am in a stressful state I get frazzled and impatient and as pleasant and placid as I am, I like to get things done straight away. This process had me venting at Nathan, friends and work colleagues and you know what, I would do it again. Not now, or within the next few years, but in my distant future.

30 Questions for the Broker. 

  1. How do you decide what home loan is suitable to our personal needs?
  2. Is it solely based on one person’s base wage or combined?
  3. What information do you require for the application?
  4. What fees will I be responsible for when taking out a home loan?
  5. What services is included in my home loan?
  6. Which type of loan is best?
  7. What are the variable monthly mortgage repayments for 400k, 450k, 500k, 550k loans? (you can add in your particular figures here)
  8. How would the repayments work? Will this be automatic deductions?
  9. How does the offset accounts work?
  10. How much deposit do we need factoring the FHOG and incentive?
  11. Who is the lending panel?
  12. What is the interest rate and comparison rate?
  13. Are these rates permanent or promotional?
  14. What is not included in the comparison rate?
  15. What are the hidden costs associated with a comparison rate?
  16. What are the yearly bank fees?
  17. What are our redraw options?
  18. Can we lock in our mortgage interest rate between now and settlement?
  19. Is there a Rate Lock and can we reduce our rate when a decrease occur?
  20. Do we have an option to switch from variable to fixed at any time?
  21. Are there any fees when making additional repayments?
  22. How long will it take to approve the loan? What is the process?
  23. At loan settlement, how long can we take before using the loan?
  24. What is the point of no return?
  25. What are the impact of credit cards and loans?
  26. What is Lenders Mortgage Insurance?
  27. How would a split loan work?
  28. Explain to me the First Home Owners Grant.
  29. Would a joint account be best for our situation?
  30. Do you think we can start the process now?

This list of questions is a guide and we encourage you to ask more. If your broker is good, you shouldn’t have to ask all these questions. He or she might have gone through all the information before you a single question to ask. From memory, I think I only asked 5 out of this list (number 2, 7, 9, 24 and 30).

15 Questions for the Builder.

  1. How many houses have been build through the company?
  2. How many houses are currently being build?
  3. How many people are you currently managing?
  4. Explain to me Full Turn Key.
  5. Does the company have builders insurance?
  6. What type and duration of warranty do you offer?
  7. How and when will the final price of the land and house package be determined?
  8. How often and when will we have access to the home during the building process?
  9. When will be the cut of time for changes and upgrades to the building plan?
  10. What are the individual costs of upgrades and modifications to the building plan?
  11. What are the standard features included in the house plan?
  12. If we want anything to be installed, what would be the additional costs?
  13. Can we incorporate special requirements in the contract?
  14. How long will the drafting process and contract process take?
  15. (Once you have received the build contract, research the company) Ask about builders license and infringements,

With the builder it was a bit different as you normally deal with a sales person than the builder himself. In our situation, our sales person contacted a builder he knew and asked him (or got us to ask) particular questions regarding wiring and drainage. Along with the 16 questions to ask, ask the sales person the following:

  1. How will the builder wire the house? (tidiness of the wiring)
  2. Will the house/community have NBN?
  3. Does natural gas run straight to the house or do we need gas bottles?
  4. How much drainage will be block have?
  5. Will we need to pay our neighbours for the existing fencing?
  6. (If you have a retaining wall) Will the retaining wall be filled?
  7. What will be the shape of the driveway?
  8. Will the laundry have the same concrete as the alfresco?
  9. Where will the gas hot water system/hot water system be located?
  10. At a later date, can we contract the builder for future work on the house?
  11. If we increase the ceiling height, will the additional length be covered by brick?
  12. What type of windows will the house have?
  13. Will the windows have security screens?
  14. Will we be able to adjust the landscaping? and what type of grass will be have?
  15. What materials are used throughout construction?
  16. How will the house be positioned?

Your questions might be completely different. Ensure that you have obtained the best information for your situation.

Lendlease offers a “get help” guide which outlines a step-by-step overview of the buying and building in a Lendlease community. Click HERE to access this guide.

House Plans.

Our block side is 576 sqm and the house is 217sqm. Its a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom and 2 garage home named Livingstone. Our builder is IntegraHomes and the land is through Lendlease.

Luckily for us, we have one of those beautiful nature strip right in front of our block, meaning, we only have 3 neighbours, one behind, one on our left and one on our right.

Colour Scheme.

As part of our turn-key package, we had a choice in choosing an outdoor facade and our internal colour schemes. Alongside choosing the Livingstone house plan, we chose Barrington facade and Buller internal colours.

Click HERE to access the pdf file which shows you the colour schemes.

Barrington facade

  • Roof, fascia, gutters, windows & garage door – Monument
  • Bricks – Character Limestone
  • Exterior paint, downpipes, garage door frame & from door frame (Dulux)- Beige Royal
  • Soffits – Queensland Builders White
  • External door locks – Satin Chrome

Buller internal

  • Main floor tile – Simplicity Nero Natural
  • Carpet – Park (Select product and search SC2473)
  • Walls, internal doors & architraves/skirting – Natural White
  • Ceiling – Queensland Builders White
  • Internal door handles – Satin Chrome
  • Window coverings – Vibe Ice
  • Wardrobe sliding door – Frame silver

Kitchen

Laundry, Ensuite & Bathroom

Inclusions & Upgrades.

External Finishes:

  • Brick veneer construction with multiple materials for high quality finish
  • Colorbond Custom Orb Roof
  • Colorbond fascia and gutter
  • 2.74m internal ceiling height *upgrade*
  • 450mm eave width
  • 1200mm Corinthian Windsor style door stain grade *upgrade*
  • Aluminuim powder coated windows and sliding doors
  • Satin chrome front door lockset
  • Panel lift garage door with two remotes
  • 90mm PCD down pipes
  • Australian standard complient termite barrier
  • Aluminium powder coated balustratde on balconies

Internal Fixings:

  • Corintian Motive style internal swinging doors
  • Aluminium framed vinyl insert sliding wardrove doors
  • Lever internal door hadles
  • Pencil round skirting and architrave painted in gloss finish
  • 10mm plaster board and 90mm cornice painted in low sheen finish

Kitchen:

  • 20mm Engineered stone kitchen bench tops – Smartstone Triton (Paris Collection)
  • Sheen finish laminated kitchen cabinet doors and drawers
  • Cabinet height 2.2m with paint grade MDG cabinetmaker bulkhead
  • 90cm electric stainless steel oven *upgrade&
  • Stainless steel dishwasher
  • 90cm canopy stainless steel rangehood *upgrade*
  • Chrome sink mixer
  • Stainless steel sink
  • Glass kitchen splashback

*Upgrade* 90cm freestanding gas hotplate/elect oven Omega OF914X. Slide out rangehood Omega ORT9WXA

Laundry:

  • External swinging door, 1/2 clear glass with stainless steel lockset and security screen door
  • 33mm laminate benchtop with sheen finish laminate cabinets and stainless steel drop in tub
  • Ceramic tile splashback

Bathrooms, ensuites and water closets:

  • Vanities with 20mm engineered stone tops and texture or matt laminate cupboards doors and drawers
  • Aluinium framed mirror over vanity
  • Chromer shower, bath and basin mixers
  • Chrome shower head and bath spout
  • Ceramic close-coupled toilet suite
  • Chrome double towel rail and toilet roll holder
  • Semi-framed glass shower screen with pivot door
  • Acrylic moulded bath 1.675m
  • No soap holders
  • Ceramic tile splashback, skirting and showers
  • Ceramic geature tile on side of bath, bath hob and one wall of the room

Floor Coverings:

  • Ceramic floor times in kitchen, family, meals, entry, line, and all wet areas
  • Carpet in bedrooms, wardroves and 2nd living area
  • Garage floor to be plain trowelled concrete

Window Treatments:

  • Roller blinds on all windows and vertical blinds to all sliding doors
  • Security screen to all windows and sliding doors

Electrical:

  • Two reverse cycle split system inverter air-conditioners
  • 100% energy efficient white downlights, ceiloing gams, and 3 in 1 exhaust fans throughout house
  • External double spotlight near laundry dring area
  • TV antenna for up to three hard wired TV points
  • Gas continuous flow hot water system 5 star rating *upgrade*

Landscaping:

  • Feature garden at front of property with mixture of mature trees, shrubs, ground covers and decorative pebble.
  • River pebble in narrow service areas.
  • Turf to remainder of property.
  • Exposed aggregated concrete driveway, porch and alfresco
  • Metal letterbox
  • Fencing sufficient to complete property with access gates as indicated *upgrade*

Energy Efficiency:

  • Ceiling insulation in main roof area excluding garage, alfresco and porch
  • Sisilation wrap to external walls
  • Minimum 6 star energy rating

Miscellaneous:

  • Wall mounted clothesline

Our upgrades:

  • Timber double gates
  • Treated frame and trusses
  • Front door – Pivot door
  • Freestadning gas hotplate/elect oven (Omega)
  • Gas hot water system
  • Laminate laundry bench and cupboard with drop in tub 1.5m long
  • Laundry over head cupboards 1.5m long
  • Sheen cabinet finish
  • 2740mm ceilings
  • Extra powerpoints, TV anthennas and telephone points

Click HERE and it will take you to IntegraHomes Pathfinder series inclusions brochure.

Photos from Builder.

Building your first home can be stressful.

Between deciding what area you want to buy, the block size, whether you want to go for an established home or build your own, without a solid review of the area or builder, you wouldn’t have any idea which way is up.

Lendlease

Our contact person with Lendlease is Mark Fordham. Mark is brilliant. At every visit to the sales office Mark offered us advice to which blocks would suite our needs. We gave him our criteria (no odd shapes, 4 neighbours, preferably above our back neighbour, close to a park, no where near power lines and 576sqm) and he pointed us to a variety of blocks. We visited Mark multiple occasions before deciding on our lot. Mark was in constant contact with us, emailing us and giving us a call when he didn’t see us for a fortnight. Once we contacted him regarding the EOI on the lot, he immediately took it off the market. We hadn’t even paid the compliance bond or 3% deposit on the lot and he took it off the market for us. He knew we were serious about this lot. The lot we settled on was his last suggestion to us. He had our contract ready within a week and we signed our contract the following week. With any questions and concerns that I had, he responded immediately, even on his day off.

IntegraHomes

Our initial contact person with IntegraHomes was (and still is) John McDonald (sales person). John is fantastic as well. Our initial consultation was more on the information gaining side and he was sympathetic and understanding of our situation. All our meetings with John lasted on average 3 hours as he adapts to his clients. He ran through Integra’s Low Deposit Home Loan and Full Turnkey package and explained to us how long the build process would be (16 weeks by the way). He discussed what the process would be in deciding on the house plans, colours and upgrades and of course the drafting process. We were always in contact with John, and just like Mark, he responded to my emails and calls on his day off. We visited John on a weekly basis to ensure that our plans were correct, that our extras weren’t going to push over our financial limits and that all our questions were answered.  If he couldn’t answer our questions he would back to us within a day and always with a smile. When we received our drafting papers back, our build contract was ready within a week. He went through all the pages with us to ensure that he had everything correct. The entire appointment went for another 3 hours.

So far our experience with Integra has been awesome. Our client service office is Josh Botten. Josh keeps us up-to-date with our build process. Josh takes a bit longer to get back in contact with you but he is managing multiple builds at once and it is honestly ok. When you receive an email back or a call he always responds to all of your questions and more.

Overall, our experience with Integra has been fantastic. The house is settling and a couple of stress signs pop up here or there. We’ve lodged numerous claims and each one was addressed promptly and within a timely matter. The maintenance crew is fantastic and easy to deal with.

Ownit Conveyancing

Our contact person was Kristy Beevers. Kristy was our solicitor and she was brilliant just like Mark, John and Josh. Kristy kept in contact and promptly answered your questions. She was responsible for communicating with Lendlease’s solicitors Minter Ellison regarding our block purchase. As you read in our previous blog, there was a bit of a confusion between her and our broker regarding the last deposit but it was all resolved. Dealing with multiple people about the same issue at once can be frustrating but she was professional from our point of view.

Finance 4

Our contact person was (is) Nathan Wilkinson. Nathan was brilliant and just like the rest answered all my rediculous questions professionally and thoroughly. Nathan gave us realistic figures to work with and found the best bank for our situation. He followed up with our solicitor, builder, the bank and everyone else in between regarding our application and kept us in the loop.

All the people we were in contact with were fantastic. We are still in the early stages of our build and a lot can change but our experience to date – brilliant but stressful.

n and k


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