Monday, 13 March 2017

Land, Finance, Things.

It's been a long 4 months since I wrote an update! Mainly because there were no (good) updates. This is what happened in the last several months.

In December - our title is being pushed to January because "If we lodge the title now, the land owners will need to pay 2 years of land tax" 

In January - title pushed to January

In between that dates, our full unconditional finance expire so we needed to reapply!

End of Feb - title is out, settle in 14 days. We had holiday in the coming week (arranged 6 months ago). Our finance is not ready!

Now March - Our settlement need to be pushed back one week as bank is not ready. Our land developer is penalising us by $550. 


Oh well. The better news, we have our soil report back. 

  • Site classified as P (as in "Problem" per AS2870-2011) I think mainly because of the amount of fill in our site. 
  • Wind rating N2 (see explanation from Stratco - it's a pdf). 
  • Our BAL has not been removed, I reckon because the area next to us is not developed yet. 

Boutique has been responsive so far and I'm glad they are given that we needed to deal with all the issues above. 

Timing from them looks like this:

Day 0 - land titled. Emailed Boutique.
Day 2 - Boutique emailed back that we are now in pre-construction state and no more changes allowed (no prob, we haven't changed our mind since)
Day 7 - confirmation that soil and survey report has been applied for
Day 14 - our soil report received. They are now working on final plan and will take approx. 2 weeks. 

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The Land Estate

We visited Melbourne last weekend,  mainly to see our dirt in HD resolution ;) 

The earlier stage of the estate have been titled and it gave us some idea on how big the place would be, and how the estate would look like. In general I think our land will... look pretty small!

Also visited the Pacific Werribee plaza which is about 10 mins drive from the estate. Apparently Uniqlo and H&M have just opened on the Saturday, no wonders the place was very crowded. I'm loving the glass roof :)

The estate

Sleeky new Tarneit Station

Pacific Werribee


Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Low Valuation...

… is very common with Land + Build scenario. I expected one and I did get one. Our broker is looking to another lender at the moment, but in general there are 3 options if this happen:

  1. Challenge the valuation - unlikely to deliver results unless there are significant inaccuracies in the valuation 
  2. Look for different lender that use different valuer - make sure you have a good broker
  3. Borrow more - last resort

Things that are mentioned in my valuation document (always ask for this document):

No provision for landscaping and fencing – as the valuer looks at the “on completion valuation” of house and land, house with no fence and basic landscape will likely sell less compared to the completed house in the area. 

Total building cost is considered to be unreasonable and not in line with current market. Yep. Building cost is the main culprit for my low valuation with almost 40K below. 

For the next time:
  1. I obtained fencing quote + full land contract instead just the front pages (we have front landscaping included, mentioned deep in contract), so I hope it helps.
  2. If I ever build again, I might consider finance clause in the build contract
Now just crossing my fingers. 

Friday, 10 June 2016

Swim Spa slash Swim Machine Research


I thought I should give you an update on where I am at. 

I mentioned before that I can no longer justify the lap pool (maybe for next house..), but there are alternatives - a smaller pool with swim machine. The questions are, what's available out there? What's the price?

What's available out there?

1. Swim Spa

Swim spa is pretty much the larger, deeper size of regular spa plus a swim machine at the end. There are three main types of swim machine:

  1. Jet propulsion - this one pushes water to you and most turbulent
  2. Propeller - supposedly provide wider, smoother current
  3. Paddlewheel - similar to propeller
As mentioned in previous post, I am looking at two brands:

  • Oasis Platinum Swim Spa - This is using Jet Propulsion called River Flow. The company claim that this is jet has better placement to allow proper swimming. Would not know until we try!
  • Fastlane Swim Spa - This is using Propeller system, which is the ideal I'm looking for

Hang on, where is the Paddlewheel option, you said?

The only brand I can find is Swimex - their paddewheel supposedly even better than Fastlane but price is very prohibitive. It needs to be imported directly from US and there is only ONE supplier in WA Australia. 

Price comparison

2. Fastlane pool

Not to be confused with Compasspool Fastlane (this is a fibreglass lap pool). Fastlane pool I'm talking about is another product from the same company that build the Fastlane Swim spa. 

Fastlane pool is a liner pool integrated with the Fastlane swim machine - it can be installed above ground. Fastlane pool is the original product of the company (it's called Endless pool in US) - it has a built in return channeling system which has turning veins to help smooth the current to produce low turbulent swim experience.

Price start from $34,980 incl. GST - If I choose this, I want the performance current (double the propeller), so add $3080.
This is not including delivery, installation (can DIY but I"m not handy hey!), pool cover, heating, etc. Per my predictions, it will ended up in the vicinity of $42K.

Starting size is 2.13m x 4.26m x 1.07m, so it's quite small and shallow. The plus is that small = easy to heat and maintain. I can add 10cm depth for $2,024 and lengh approx. $1,255 for each 30cm. 

I'd love this but not so keen on the liner pool. The liner need to be replaced every 10 years ($1100 ish) and motor every 4-6 years ($800 ish)


  1. All in one
  2. Supposedly better swim experience
  3. Fully removable - so I can move the pool to the next place (if I want to)
  4. Small, easy to maintain and heat


  1. Still expensive!
  2. Liner pool requires replacement and maintenance
  3. I can't use the machine in other pool
  4. No insulation - so I will need to arrange this myself

Example of Fastlane pool installation

3. Combination of small pool + swim machine

Fastlane company also sell their swim machine unit by itself - called Fastlane machine
It can be dropped at any pool given there is sufficient space. So technically, I can plug small pool then add the machine later. 

Fastlane machine price: from $13,860 (including GST).

Deck mount Fastlane

Having explored many fibreglass pool options, from what I can see, I will still arrive to around $40K+ for the pool plus swim machine. 

The options I looked at

Australian Plunge Pool

Largest round pool 3.45m diameter is $26,770 incl GST fully tiled including equipment and delivery.
I like the look on this on, but doesn't seem practical for swim machine.
There is something about round pool

The rectangle 4.5 x 2.5 x 1.4m is $29,390 incl GST fully tiled including equipment and delivery.
Not as enticing as round.

Price exclude heating ($4,500).

Total with Fastlane machine will be in range of $40,670-$43,230

Miami pool above ground fibreglass Nicole - 2.3m x 5.36m x 1.2m
Above ground shell + basic equipment - $15,650
Installation $7,500
Delivery $1,500
Then add heating $3,500

~ $28,550 just for pool and install

Add Fastlane swim system, we arrived at $42,450 - hardly any savings. I was quoted $46K for a proper fibreglass lap pool... albeit traditional lap pool will take most of my backyard plus more heating cost.

Nicole - Above ground

Compass Pool Slimeline X-trainer - inground

Internal size 5.58 x 2.5m, depth is 1.11-1.52m
Rough quote of install, equipments and solar heating ~ $29,000
Add Fastlane swim system, we arrived at $42,900 - again, hardly any savings

They have the above ground version for this, but add additional $10K!

Slimline X trainer

Paradise Pool - Liner Pool - The Brightwaters

Paradise pool has a perfect rectangle above ground set-up. So far this is the only one with potential considering the price. Can be set-up fully above ground, semi in ground or in ground.

DIY flatpack price $8,850 (for basic 6m x 3.3m x 1.2m and custom size in similar measurement 5m x 2.5m x1.2m)

Delivery to Altona $330
Delivery to house TBA
Custom interior colour $390 (if needed)
Alternate coping to suit paving $540
LED light $450
Solar heating provision $225
Upgrade pump and add automatic pool cleaner $900
Step/ Seating area $780
Budget for heating 4000 
Budget for install (I don't know yet) assume $5000 - they claim this can be done by anyone who can build a deck

Total ~ $16,465 for equipments and pool, so approx. $21,465 fully installed pool with equipments.

Total with Fastlane system ~ $35,365 - Slightly more expensive than Fastlane pool basic setup

  1. I can budget for the swim machine later
  2. The Paradise pool one doesn't really need insulation. The log they use as pool structure insulate quite well
  3. Cheapest of all option
  4. 50 years structural warranty.

  1. Liner pool still need to be replaced every 12-15 years
  2. I'm not sure if the fastlane machine can be mounted yet. This will depends on the weight and the mounting bracket
  3. Not really removable
How Paradise pool looks like without decking

Paradise Pool - looking pretty good with proper deck!

Another angle of the DIY pool with paving and decking


No easy way or much cheaper way to go about this!

Thursday, 19 May 2016

The hard decision...

... I have decided to give up on the pool :(

There are too much unknown at this point due to easement etc and I'm not liking the chance of things to go wrong. I don't want to jeopardize the house for the pool that only I use (hubby is not a fan of swimming).

Maybe next time in the next house. It will be better as now I know what to look for.

In the meantime, a swim spa research will be in order :)

Two products in mind:

  • Fast Lane Swim Spa 
    • Likes:
      • Propeller type machine that generates better swimming current and supposedly one of the best in the market of swim spa
      • Ozone filtration system, i.e. non-chlorinated swim
      • Additional options on underwater treadmill for other type of exercises
    • Dislikes:
      • Expensive! about the same price as a pool
      • More difficult to integrate with the garden
Example how it might look like (I won't choose the double spa one though)
Another example

  • Oasis Platinum Swim Spa 
    • Likes:
      • About half the price of Fastlane
      • Better spa options (extra massage jets!!)
    • Dislikes:
      • Jet swimming system. Albeit better system than the old traditional jet, but I don't like the idea water being thrown to your face. 
      • Still expensive
      • Still difficult to integrate with garden

Other than that, I need to arrange an appointment to try them out and research on decking. The decking would be crucial to make the place great

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Quick April Update

I was away for a bit early this month hence the late update.

Some random stuff:

Boutique agreed to extend our fixed price until January, so let's home my land developer is on time!

Developer sent me updated land engineering plan which is quite different from the original that I sent to Boutique. So now waiting from Boutique to confirm that this is all ok before we proceed with building contract. The contract said that large discrepancies of site cost will cause variation, so I rather have this confirmed and sorted now! Technically the new engineering has less slope and less fill, so I'd be very surprised if the site cost be negatively affected. If anything it should be cheaper.

Apart from that, someone sent me photo of stage 1 progress which is looking pretty good, though their title is going to be late by about a month.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

OOT - Other house plans and similar house plans I like

We are still waiting news from Boutique -_-

So in the meantime, I'm doing window shopping for other house plans :)

Two storey houses

I grew up in two storey houses. Our block is rear facing North East, so it is actually best for plans with living room and big windows at the back - pretty much most two level houses. 

The plans I like are the ones that's not too big - I will never get why each bedroom need an ensuite. I also try to keep main bedroom on the ground floor when possible as we have a small dog.

Emporio ER428 - Mainvue

Base prices - looks like $2K increase every 2-3 months or so 

  1. 21 Mar 2016 $277,900
  2. 5 Mar 2016 $275,900
  3. 12 Mar 2015 $263,900

Dimension 18.48m x 11.75m
Floor size 34.86sq / 323.9m2

Fits our land perfectly, allows for bigger backyard and pool :)

I also like the small pillar to the alfresco, i.e. more open plan feeling.

Ground floor

First floor

Airlie 33 Master on Ground - Boutique Homes

Base price:

  • 21 Mar 2016 $284,900

Dimension 19.55m x 11.39m
Floor size  306.96m²/33.04sq

Similar floor plan to Emporio. I like the option to keep master bed on ground floor. Sliding door to alfresco has big pillar - this will be costly to remove.

note: Ground floor ensuite - that toilet need to be moved to the other side.
Ground floor - master on ground option
First floor

Caesar - Henley

Base price:

  • 21 Mar 2016 $229900

Dimension 17.7m x 10.67m
Floor size 29.63sq /275.3sqm

Smallest of the 3 - the most basic in terms of inclusions

One storey houses

Sienna 24 - Arden Homes

Base prices:

  • Mar 2016 $222,900 - they do have a better inclusions on some aspects

Dimension 24.60m x 11.3m
Floor size 24.2 squares 
Thinner and longer than St Tropez 25. I like the idea of sun court on the side. With the width, I can add a pool nicely right next to the sun court. The positioning makes the pool more accessible, and visible from the kitchen :)

Ivory IV432 - Mainvue

Base prices:

  • 23 Mar 2016 $212,900
  • 11 Mar 2015 $199,900

Dimension 24.88 x 12.59 
Floor size 28.86sq / 268.1m2

This ivory is a 3 bedroom house - though you can change that Theatre into another bed. Dimension is bigger than St Tropez 25 which means each room is bigger.

Friday, 11 March 2016

OOT - Do you customise your floorplans?

Some out of topic post :)

When I 'shop' for a builder and houseplan, I usually find that the smaller version of the floorplan is more efficient in design when compared to the larger size.

Larger size usually come with more luxuries - bigger room, bigger kitchen, bigger all. But sometimes it also come with larger hallway, some unused nook, walk in laundry (that not everyone need), etc. 

Below is some of the changes that I might make if I choose other (smaller) Boutique plans - Oslo 24, Marseille 26 and Barcelona 22. 

Note: I try to remove unused hallways and nooks doesn't mean it's a good/ better house plan ;)

Barcelona 22 - Standard come with 3 bed and no alfresco
Changes - I'd like to see the kitchen on the otherside with window splashback. Add e-zone and also add full size alfresco at the back.

Marseille 26 

Oslo 24 - rear bedroom version and standard version

Do you customise your floorplans? 

Just hanging around and doing this waiting game...

Really prefer not to redo all these :( 

We have our colour selection new pricing from our lovely pre-start consultant. From what I can see, the upgrades are at least 25% more expensive than the old price. Plus items that were standard were no longer standard. We need to think hard and make list of the items to compare old and new - hoping to get the full picture next week, when our sales consultant is back. It's just a waiting game now, but some notes:

  • Caoba and Cedar garage door - now $500 ish (was standard)
  • ILVE Dishwasher - $1000 (was standard)
  • Mail box - almost double the price
  • 1020mm wide glass sliding door - increase by 25% despite it's a lower door (2040 height instead of 2340)
  • Ensuite frame upgrade from Euro Crystaltec Range to Crystaltec range - $360
  • All full wall tiling to wet area - increase by about 40% in price, plus most Cat 3 tiles are now in Cat 4. 
  • Brick Cat 3 - increase by approx. 20%

Adding all the items back in plus a promo - we will end up with similar pricing, maybe cheaper depends on pricing from the sales agent. 

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Quick Update - Land Delay


The old land developer sold our estate to a bigger developer. Our land is now... at least 6 months late with title around November.

We're in predicament as Boutique will only hold the price until early November.

We can either risk the land going even later and pay $800 for every month it's late, or redo the PwC (We haven't signed building contract) and redo and reprice EVERYTHING. Our sales person is on holiday in Bali, and I'm waiting for latest colour pricing to weight things up.

Will keep you updated on how it goes.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Land... nothing much!

This was the land estate early this month... there was nothing! I hope it gets somewhere real soon

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

The Upgrade Prices

When I’m reading everyone’s build blog, I always try to look for the upgrade prices. It’s useful for budgeting, and also save me some embarrassment of asking and not being able to afford it. I did say “it’s out of our budget” … a lot… :-|

I thought I will give you some indications for the upgrade cost. It will be different for each house plan and I did’t put the exact dollar in, just rounded number. I didn't choose most of the upgrades below. The below is general and old price, way before Boutique includes their base price on the websiteMany of the items also need to be requested specifically for your house plan, e.g. double glazing cost really depends on the window size, bathroom/ ensuite tiling will depends on the size of the actual bathroom, etc.


Ceiling height to 2700mm - $3600
Square set cornices - $1500

Refer to this post
Upgrade to 3 phase power - $1400

Window to sliding door - $500 each (excluding double glazing)
Double glazing - expect about $500-$700 per window depending on size

Heating/ Cooling
Refrigerated cooling - $13000
Upgrade to 5 star ducted heating from 3 star - $1500

Modern, Viva and Metro - Standard
Contempo, Luxe and Vogue - $4500
Eden - $13,500

To metal roof - $1600
Cat 4 roof tiles - $2000

Cat 2 - $750
Cat 3 - $1100
Cat 5 - $4500
Cat 16 - $31000

Off white mortar - $800

Cavity sliding in lieu of standard - $300
Add a cavity sliding - $650
Upgrade door to Hume LIN1 - $650

Main Flooring Cat 2 - $620
Main Flooring Cat 3 - $1,450
St Tropez 28 Display Floor Tiles - $5500

Laminate flooring cat 1 in lieu of carpet to master bed - $550
Laminate flooring cat 1 in lieu of carpet in hallway - $250

Ensuite Floor and Wall Cat 2 - $200
Ensuite Floor and Wall Cat 3 - $500

Bathroom Floor and Wall Cat 2 - $60
Bathroom Floor and Wall Cat 3 - $400

WC Floor Cat 2 - $20
WC Floor Cat 3 - $55

Laundry Floor and Wall Cat 2 - $80
Laundry Floor and Wall Cat 3 - $170

Caesarstone Benchtops
Cat 1 – Standard inclusions
Cat 2
  • Kitchen - $250
  • Bathroom - $30
  • Ensuite - $60

Cat 3
  • Kitchen - $700
  • Bathroom - $80
  • Ensuite - $180

Cat 4 – I didn’t ask

Melamine Matt Shelves - Standard

Kitchen Sheen - $350
Kitchen Gloss - $900

Bathroom Sheen - $60
Bathroom Gloss - $200

Ensuite Sheen - $120
Ensuite Gloss - $500

Tapwares (some of these are not available in showroom – I requested pricing for some specific items)
  • Caroma Luna W/F Toilet - $790
  • Stylus Dorado W/F toilet - $500
  • Stylus Banksia W/F toilet - $250
  • Caroma Track Inset Basin - $190
  • Caroma Orbis inset Basin - $15
  • Caroma Basa 520mm wide inset basins - $255
  • Dorf Villa Basin Mixer - $120
  • Dorf Viridian Wall Mixer - $110
  • Dorf Viridian Basin Mixer - $20
  • Caroma Quatro Basin Mixer - $80
  • Caroma Leda Above Counter Basin in lieu of standard - $60
  • Caroma Cube 320 - $200
  • Caroma Liano 430 - $550
  • Caroma Leda Inset Basin in lieu of standard - $100
  • Cirrus Basin Mixer in lieu of standard - $125
  • Mystic Rail Shower in lieu of standard - $100
  • Cardinal Mixer in lieu of standard - $190
  • Caroma Liano Swivel Bath Outlet in lieu of standard - $95
  • Sink in Montauk Display home – Caroma Contura Inset Basin $545


Tiled niche - $500

Timber Look Tiles (was cat 4 now cat 5, so the upgrade price would be more than the below)
  • Ensuite Floor Only - $350
  • Ensuite Wall Only - $420

Ensuite full wall tiling

  • Cat 1 – $1100
  • Cat 2 – $1400
  • Cat 3 - $1650
  • Cat 4 – $1900
  • Cat 5 - didn't ask

Shower niche - $300

Full wall tiling

  • Cat 1 – $1150
  • Cat 2 – $1400
  • Cat 3 - $1700
  • Cat 4 – 1950

Glass splashback - $1000

Mirror splashback – was $1000 (when the Glass splashback was a standard)

RAVINE shelf (Evolution Range) upgrade base and overhead cabinetry - $1,500

THERMOLAMINATED shelf (Evolution Range) upgrade base and overhead cabinetry - $2,200

Bevel Edge Option in lieu of handles - $30 per drawer

Soft close to all doors and drawers - $1300