We’re Home!!!

We have moved in!! Last weekend in fact. A little later than we’d originally thought – our PCI uncovered a few things that needed to be rectified, and which couldn’t be done within the normal 7 days. So we were given a handover date of Thursday 24th November. Between the 11th and 24th the Wisdom tradies worked their proverbials off getting everything finished for us, and they did a fantastic job! We met Joe onsite on the morning of the 24th, after visiting Westpac to pick up our final cheque, and went through everything again. Most of the work had been completed, with only a handful of things still to be done.

The appliances were delivered that morning, our beautiful big oven and dishwasher, ready for installation the following day (after handover, for security reasons!).

So after going through the house again, we made our way to Narellan and FINALLY met The Lovely Sandi (who is still lovely…) We went through the handover within about 45 minutes, were presented with our keys and a lovely gift basket of chocolates, an ice bucket, some glasses and a bottle of Moet, and then VIOLA, we were the proud owners of our new home!

That afternoon was a bit of a blur, with deliveries starting. My in-laws helped us out with their van, and brought over all the flat packed furniture from Ikea that I’d purchased earlier in the week.

On Friday the house was full of tradies again, installing the appliances (oven, dishwasher and hot water). The air conditioner external unit was still on the production line so we had to wait until Monday for that to be installed (which we thought would be OK, but didn’t anticipate the weather being so warm over the weekend!)

Saturday was moving day. And down came the rain! I feared at one stage that we’d have to float our furniture to the house! Talk about stressful. It didn’t help that the removalist company I’d hired sent us 3 of the most careless, untrained people we’d ever met, who didn’t do anything to take care of, or protect, our furniture. As a result, after lots of dropped boxes and deeply scratched and gouged furniture, we sacked them after the first load, and sent them on their way.

Luckily we found another mover who could help us out, and by the time they were available the rain had stopped and the sun came out. And these guys were FANTASTIC! By 5pm, we had everything in. Boxes were too wet to take upstairs on the carpet so everything was piled in to the garage and the downstairs living areas. Now the fun begins – unpacking!

After being here now for a week, we’ve made some really good progress. I built all the furniture through the week, and unpacked a HEAP of boxes. We still have to organise the pantry – didn’t realise we had so many appliances! The kids think that Christmas has come early because of the toys that they’re rediscovering after being in storage for the last 18 months. I’m hoping to get rid of a lot of them before they realise though, as there are way too many toys!

And the most important thing? We’re home. Our rental was never home for us, it was just a means to an end. I haven’t felt “at home” since we moved from our house last year.

But now, we’re home…

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We really are about to build a house!

It’s official! Work has started on our new house.

I got a phone call from The Lovely Sandi last week to let me know that our file would be handed over to a site supervisor on Tuesday this week, and that we would start to see some progress soon thereafter. Whilst I’m still yet to hear from the site supervisor (who I understand is a very nice man called Joe) I was delighted to discover this morning that our block was in the process of being scraped! The smell of fresh dirt filled my nostrils as I sat in the car watching the work that was taking place.

I should apologise to the men driving the machinery though – I’m sure they probably started feeling a little uncomfortable that a strange lady was just sitting in her car, staring at them, with a funny smile on her face, and her phone snapping away lots of pics! But then again, they’re probably used to that reaction – I’m sure I’m not the first person to have done this!

So today, reality hit. Our build has officially started. Our block will never again be an untouched, grassy patch, but instead for the next 6 months will be a hive of building activity, and after that, for many years, will become our family home.

Construction Certificate & Sign Off – Woo Hoo!!

This has been a very busy week, and my eyes are bloodshot from pouring over plans and lists of variations, to make sure that we haven’t forgotten anything, and to make sure that Wisdom have got everything that we want included on our plans. We found a few little things that were overlooked, nothing major, but I was pleased to have picked them up, as it could have caused issues down the track. Little things like our balcony balustrade – on our end panel (final tender and variation list) it correctly showed our balustrade railing has having been upgraded to chrome, but on the plans it still referred to a powder coated balustrade. And our outdoor taps were in the wrong spot on the plans too, so we picked up those few things, had the plans amended, and signed off.

Today I got a phone call from The Lovely Sandi to advise that our job had been signed off, and that our construction certificate was also received today. So our 20 days officially begins tomorrow! The 20 days refers to 20 working days that the builder has before they have to officially be on site. So during the next 20 days, all of our materials will be ordered, the fencing will be erected on site, port-a-loo will be delivered, etc etc, and then we’ll see a site scrape hopefully within the next couple of weeks.

I feel like our journey has been going on forever, and we haven’t even started yet! But I think all the plans and certificates are the longest part of the process. I visited the display home last week, and Andrew said that a lot of the other homes that had been completed recently had been done in record time – 5 months or so – so it would be nice if our home could be included in the “list of homes completed by Wisdom in record time”! I worked out that if they don’t start on site until the very end of the 20 working days, then we will be in the house by 10th November, which is 26 weeks exactly. That’s providing it doesn’t rain for the next 7 months! Could we be that lucky?

I also got a message from one of our future neighbours, Stefan, on Monday to say that our neighbour’s site was being scraped. I’m so jealous! I know it’s silly, but our block was the first to settle in that particular part of the estate, and I really, really wanted to be the first to start!! Plus, they’re building a single storey, so they’ll be in well before us. Oh well, so long as we’re in for Christmas, I couldn’t stand spending another Christmas in this place!

Little Red Pegs

I drove past the block yesterday, and noticed 4 little red pegs. We are still waiting for our construction certificate to come through, but it looks like someone is being an eager beaver and getting a head start. I asked The Lovely Sandi what they are for, and she said they are the excavation pegs (house pegs).

I know it’s only something really small, but to see that something had happened on our block gave me a real rush yesterday, it meant that our dream is getting that little bit closer!

Our neighbours plans have also been approved, and they also have little red pegs. I can’t wait to see some building action up our end of the estate soon!

DA Approval!

Finally!

Today I got a phone call from The Lovely Sandi at Wisdom, to tell me that she’d spoken to council and that our stamped, approved plans were in the post on their way back to her.

Yipee!!

It’s a bit disappointing that I thought this had actually all happened last week, as Sandi was told on Wednesday that the plans were approved and awaiting stamping. So I assumed that our plans were already with the Certifier, awaiting the Construction Certificate! What council didn’t tell Sandi was that 3 of their 4 admin staff were off sick, so there was no stamping done last week! It’s obviously a very big stamp that Blacktown Council uses, as one person can’t manage it on their own!

Anyway, doesn’t matter. What matters is we have our DA!

I do wonder about the process of getting the DA and the Construction Certificate (CC) approvals. From speaking to many of my soon-to-be neighbours, who are building with other builders, they have received approval on both items at the same time, via council. However Wisdom uses a private certifier for the CC, and this adds another 2-3 weeks to the process apparently. So I have to question the rationale behind this process, when it seems obvious to me that the quickest and easiest way to do this would be to just deal with one entity (ie: council) and have approvals granted together. I also wonder if there have been many situations where a DA has been granted, but then the CC hasn’t been forthcoming. I don’t imagine this would happen often, and the reason for my pondering this is that I’m thinking perhaps by using a private Certifier, Wisdom are in effect buying themselves another 2-3 weeks to get all their ducks in a row, before they enter the 20-working-day countdown for material ordering and commencement. I might be being cynical? And I’m certainly not having a go at Wisdom, they have been fantastic to date, but I do have to wonder the reasons why!

My other exciting news is that we have FINALLY sorted out the issues we were having with our finance, and we are signing our NEW loan documents tomorrow night. Since just before Christmas, our financial situation has been impacted by stupid bank valuations, and there have been a number of times where I have been tempted to say, no more, lets just cut our losses and walk away. But each time I’ve felt like that, I have taken a drive out to the estate, and realised that the dream we have is something that is worth fighting for. And finally, with a lot of patience, and some help from a family member who made an introduction at exactly the right time (the old “it’s not what you know, but who you know”) we are now back on track!

So whilst the waiting game continues, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we are almost ready to turn soil. I can’t believe that this time last year we were almost ready to put our home on the market, and were madly decluttering and putting things into storage. I never expected, a year later, that we would STILL have things in storage (including my son’s 1st birthday presents… he turns 2 on Sunday!) Our decision to build, made only after we sold, has certainly caused us some inconvenience, but in the overall scheme of things, it’s not that big a deal. Anything worth anything doesn’t come easily!