After the initial rush of securing our land, we took a few weeks off then turned our attention back to house plans. In my head, I wasn’t comfortable being limited to only one builder so I really wanted to do due diligence and look at what else was available. Cue endless days of trawling project builder websites looking for alternate house plans that might suit our needs and fit our block.
I ended up with a list of about 5 homes, across 3 builders. Most were on display in either the size we wanted or slightly larger, and of course none were near home so we day tripped to the far side of Sydney to go and look at them all. In the end we repeated this whole day trip 3 times. No-one tells you that you’re not just investing money when you buy, but an insane amount of time too.
First up was Clarendon Homes. On paper their pricing looked a little steep but their inclusions and promotions were excellent. We had two shortlisted and promptly fell in love with the Bronte 28 when we saw the display home. It was a prime example of how a well presented display home can cloud your judgement. But the more I looked, the more it just didn’t quite suit our needs. The kitchen wasn’t really ticking the boxes for me without mucho $$$$ to change and upgrade to the display which were advised would be about $30K, the layout downstairs felt like it would be quite dark with the orientation of the block and the master suite was smaller than anything else. Every time we walked through it, we still battled with the wow factor and had to reason ourselves back down that it wouldn’t really work for us. On top of this, the sales guy we were dealing with was stellar. Nothing was too much trouble, he was very open with costing and happy to share upgrade cost information. The only downside about “upgrade costs” we found with Clarendon is they have what they call Platinum packages for each room – they will give you the cost per room (ie. $15K for kitchen) but there is no exact detail on what that includes.
Next up were Rawson Homes. Rawson have more of a premium feel to them and their inclusions were the best of all the builders I had encountered from day one. Choices of appliances, mirrored cabinets in bathrooms and a choice of multiple freestanding baths were just a few of the things that caught our attention. They were also the only builder we found that included a driveway in their cost. The Huntley 30 was our top choice with them and it really caught the heartstrings of my husband. It was one of the few homes that didn’t have an island in the kitchen which he really dislikes. Instead it had a u shaped kitchen with a massive window opening onto the alfresco that could be opened up like a bar. He thought it was fantastic (and yes…he is the main cook of the house so he does get more sway on the kitchen than me!). It also had a lot of living space towards the front of the house that had the potential for a big home theatre room with some small wall changes. But again, I had my hesitations. The main living area was quite narrow so I couldn’t fit in a big dining table I had my heart set on and the living space would have been pushed to house more than a 3 seater couch. Upstairs it also had the smallest bedrooms of any of the houses we had seen and the master bathroom shower was pretty small and claustraphobic. We could make it work but it was going to need quite a few customizations.
Finally there was still Wisdom Homes. We were balking on Wisdom because I had read so much about their administration processes being insanely slow and their low base price for their houses made me think we were going to be in for a massive amount of upgrade costs to get what we wanted. The Columbus 28 was their finalist for us. I was in love with the master suite which was huge (hello…dressing room!!) and the main living space was the most open plan and felt comfortable to me. But the space for couches was limited again and the walk in pantry was quite small, which limited it’s potential for conversion to a butlers pantry. Also the space up front for a home theatre room was pretty small which was not selling my husband any more than the massive island in the kitchen! The final pro this one had was it’s a bit shorter so we would gain about an extra metre in the garden.
And so it was that went back and forth for at least a month, not being able to make a clear call that any of them were the perfect home. I dragged my parents to see them all thinking maybe a fresh set of eyes would help. They liked each one more than the last and really couldn’t objectively help much either!