Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Friday, 12 June 2015

Key Learnings

Red Font = Updates since original posting

Last updated: 19.06.15

I have tips and learnings scattered throughout my blog already, but I needed a new place to collate all the other watchpoints and afterthoughts (over and above the ones I have already mentioned!) Here I'll continue to update this list...

  • If you can, understand your block gradient and the possible implications. The slope of our block (which we did not foresee) means: 
    • Additional landscaping costs
      • Excavation to front/back yard
      • Higher retaining walls 
    • Higher garage door (which I guess is a good thing!) 
    • Higher ceiling in garage (again I guess this is positive!)
    • Additional brickwork above garage door (personally I find ugly!)
    • Additional steps for internal garage access (reduced garage space!)
      • Some neighbours have lost their internal garage access as a result. We were only able to keep ours since we added a storage space and increased the overall garage depth.
  • Excavation has been completed, we were lucky to get hold of the excavation company to privately negotiate additional excavation to the back of our property, meaning we won't need to worry about completing this post handover. To remove ~100 tonne of soil costed approx. $4,000. I have heard others in our estate who are now in and settled being quoted ~$10,000 for additional excavation (I can't complain!). My suggestion would be to speak with you Site Supervisor once you've been realised to construction to see if there are any opportunities for you to negotiate.

Display Home

  • Suggest taking as many photos as you need so you can cross check in the future if required. We've had to cross check a lot of the smaller details i.e. cornice, nibs, powerpoints, switches etc.

Floor Plans
  • Ensure you thoroughly review your plans and cross check every single detail, particularly for things you have changed or altered. For example:
    • The large cavity sliding door that separates the living room from the home theater room, we changed the door type to be solid door instead of having the large glass panel in the middle. The door type was changed, however the dimensions of the door were smaller to what's in the display home, we had this fixed. Additionally, on our plans we noticed there was a 100mm nib on the other side of the door frame, whereas the nib in the display home is only as thick as the skirting on the ground, so ~20mm. This oversight was not picked up until we had received the updated plans from council which included A3 printouts. We ended up requesting a larger door and removed the nib.
      • Following the above point we now understand why the nib was originally on our plans. The nib is needed to accommodate the architraving (which is standard on a door frame). Since we removed the nib we should have also requested the door to be square set (so no architraving) like what's in the display home at The Ponds, however we did not. Who thinks about this? The builders added architraving around 2 x sides only which looks ridiculous! This is currently being rectified with our site supervisor to be square set. A word of warning is that what's in the display home is not necessarily what you will get in your home, you really need to specify everything, right down to bulkhead heights, skirting and architraves. To be honest, if we had of left the 100mm nib it would have looked fine, but because we had removed the nib it absolutely needed to be square set!     

Our door with architraves around 2 x sides. Currently
being removed and square set (with no architraves)

Door with architraves around all 3 x sides (standard)

Example of a square set door with no architraves

    • We upgraded to the corner stacker doors. We also upgraded to have the higher ceilings and doors throughout. The corner stacker doors should have been set at the higher height (2400mm) as per the display home and per the 'Smart Start Luxury Inclusions' package however they were only set at standard height (2100mm). This oversight was picked up by our neighbour, which we have addresses with Eden Brae. Very lucky on this occasion! If you have stacker doors or bi-fold doors double check your plans! 
    • We also made wall movements and shuffled parts of the house down 200mm, we stopped at the kitchen island and requested that the kitchen island only be moved 100mm, however instead the plans came back with the kitchen island moved 200mm + an additional 100mm. We picked up on the error when we were out visiting the display home measuring up some other things. Be sure to double check these changes! 
    • Not an issue per-say, but since the fridge depth is only counter-depth (600mm) we decided to specify the height of the waterpoint and powerpoint to sit above the fridge (1950mm). This means we'll be able to push the fridge as close as possible to the wall (of course not too close!). Both points will be later hidden by a pull-up cupboard. Please also note:
      • We specified the bulkhead over the fridge space to be set at 2220mm so we can accommodate the pull-up cupboard. 
      • We also specified the fridge width to be set at 1050mm raw so we can accommodate a larger fridge size (1m wide). Any smaller and you really start to limit your fridge options. 
    • Not a new issue as we changed this very early on, however we did specify the niche height in both showers to be set at 350mm raw, which means finished it'll be ~300mm. The niche was originally set at 270mm raw.  
    • Again, not an issue for us per-say, but an issue we picked up on and queried with Eden Brae. We didn't increase the height of the portico, however we have a higher front door noted on a PCV - set at 2340mm high. The front door on the display home is only 2240mm high. Eden Brae advised us we'd still be getting the 2340mm front door, despite not increasing the height of the portico. I have read on other blogs this situation and the result was they were forced to have a smaller front door. I hope this doesn't come back to bite us? We did ask...
    • Since completing admin, we received a phone call from Eden Brae to advise they recommend moving the recessed Hot Water System from outside the main bedroom - to reduce any sound disturbances. They suggested moving it down further to sit outside of the Home Theatre room, which we agreed to. In my experience instantaneous HWS's don't make too much noise. We have since signed a 'Building Variation' for this change (with admin fees being waived). To be honest, we didn't realise we could move the HWS location. So just something else for you to consider...
    • We were told very early on to recess the corner stacker doors, which we did! However...we should have also recessed the laundry sliding door - a complete oversight! If you have time we recommend requesting this also!
    • We chose to upgrade to have the two tall windows in the living room as per the display home in The Ponds. The two windows were added to our floor plans however we did not cross check the width between the windows – naturally we assumed it’d be exactly the same! Only once we started building did we notice our windows were in fact closer together, by about 200mm. The windows were positioned as per our approved plans, so we were unable to change this. Unfortunately now It has caused some challenges as we plan to put a gas fireplace (post handover) between the two windows.  If you plan to do anything similar - check, check check!  
Two windows in the living room, positioned
closer together verse what's in the display home!
    • Recently, someone contacted me here on my blog with a question, which I actually thought was a brilliant idea (that I wish I had of thought of). They asked if we had recessed our slab to accommodate the wet areas. Meaning that when the tilers lay the screed for the floor tiles there won’t be a 3cm step up. They were quoted $1,800 to do this which I totally think is worth it as it creates such a seamless look between the wet areas and the rest of the home! 
    • When we signed off our final paperwork we had two documents outlining our rendered columns. We assumed the plan with the pink highlighted sections (from our colour selection appointment day) superseded our final plans (very stupid of us!). As you can see the final plans were half updated, but still showed the render under the portico returning to the garage. The brickies only went off our final plans (they were never supplied the other document). We had to speak with our site supervisor and explain the situation, and luckily they've arranged for it to be fixed. The learning here is to ensure your final plans 100% reflect/match what you want/have asked for, and not to assume one document supersedes the other like we did! Final plans are "final" for a reason!     
Plans from HOG Consultant

Final Plans

    • So, we opted to have a skylight installed in the main bathroom. Our bathroom is located in the centre of the home and has no windows. Without a light the room is pitch black. There are a few skylight options to choose from, the display home at The Ponds has an impressive 800x800mm open skylight for a cost of approx. $2,500 whilst you can downgrade to a 550x550mm skylight for approx. $800. You might be thinking what a huge cost different, but the larger skylight requires heavier duty loading bearing beams in the roof, whereas the 550x550 can neatly fit within the standard roof beams. We opted to have the downgrade version, however two important factors we didn’t consider here 1) The bathroom, as I already mentioned is located in the centre of the home which has the highest roof pitch above, therefore the light has to travel a substantial way down before it enters the room. 2) The bathroom and positioning of the skylight is located on the southern side of the home, so unless the it’s summer and the sun is high in the sky we only get minimal sunlight! 
Skylight, photo taken in winter
during the middle of the day 


  • I recently learnt that Eden Brae vent only the toilet, main bathroom and rangehood externally, meaning that the ensuite fan vents straight into the roof cavity. If you're concerned about this speak to your Colour Selections Consultant or CSA and get an extra vent added.   
  • If you're planning to hang beautiful pendant lights in your home be mindful that the battens provided aren't always supported by noggins! The vast majority are screwed straight into the gyprock. If you're planning to hang pendants post handover in your entry or over your kitchen island I'd suggest noting extra noggins! 
  • A small afterthought! It would have been nice to include a doorbell, one with a camera so you can see who is at the door...I'm sure it's not a big deal to install at a later date but would have been nice to include if I had of remembered! 
  • We have opted to put in a glass mirror splashback post handover. As part of our HSI appointment we put two powerpoints along the splashback however did not specify the exact locations. We have since learnt that for glass splashbacks you require minimum 50mm clearance from any edge. The electricians originally placed the powerpoints right on the very edge (so under to 50mm) however as it was picked up early we were able to move them (saving us less trouble in the future). 
  • Ness D8XD is the standard alarm system installed by Eden Brae. This alarm system has the functionality to to dial a phone number if the alarm is triggered (excellent for when you're not at home). We have since learnt that they do not install a phone point as standard and this would be an upgrade request. At our HSI appointment this information was skipped over swiftly and we were not advised accordingly, in fact when I asked for additional information i.e. brand of security system and user manual I was told I'd get all this information at handover (which frankly is too late!) Make sure you research your security requirements and request what you need!
  • Before our Colour Selection Appointment we weren't provided with any information about what other upgrades there were to choose from. I remembered specifically visiting HOG to request this information and was told "sorry" and to wait for our appointments. Since then, there seems to have been a list developed. Somone has been kind enough to post photos of the list on the Homeone Forum, clicke here and scroll to the bottom;  
  • We were informed by Kitchen Culture at our Colour Selection Appointment that our standard kitchen island benchtop was 800mm wide with a 200mm overhang. We had to go back to Eden Brae and explain why this wasn't the case as we upgraded with the 'Smart Start Luxury Inclusions' package which noted that the island bench would be 900mm wide with 300mm overhang. In addition, we also upgraded the island benchtop to be the same as the display home, which is also 900mm wide with 300mm overhang. Eden Brae of course corrected this error. Just goes to show you really need to understand what's in your package and what's in the display home!  
  • We upgraded the kitchen island from 40mm Laminex to 80mm Essastone as per the display home. Please be mindful that by doing so, the height of the kitchen island will need to be higher in order to accommodate the dishwasher underneath. We requested ours to be set at 1000mm from slab to suit 850mm high dishwasher. If you're short, please make sure you're comfortable with the height as there is quite a difference!

  • We requested that our shaving cabinets in both the ensuite and main bathroom be recessed into the wall as much as possible for a seamless look. We were not charged for this request, it was a note only.  
  • We replaced the above counter basins to inset basins for both the ensuite and main bathroom. By doing so also meant that we had to increase the overall height of the vanities, we increased ours to 890mm. 
  • At our Cook's Plumbing appointment we were told only a 1500 bath would fit in our main bathroom. The Cook's Plumbing consultant reached for our plans, grabbed her ruler and flat out said no the 1700 won't fit. We obviously didn't argue since she was the expert... I find out later that our neighbour, with the exact same house, upgraded to the 1700 bath with no issues at all. The reality is, the 1700 bath would have fit with space to spare. I wish we had of investigated this further!
  • Beware! There are two types of floating vanities offered by Eden Brae (thanks to their clever wording!) There is "full floating" and "floating". Full floating means the plumbing comes out from the wall and the vanity does not touch the ground at all. The regular floating vanity has the plumbing from the floor, so the vanity is technically semi-floating as it still connects to the ground, but just further towards the back (which is hardly noticeable once you have shower screens installed etc). Also, the section that connects the ground to the cupboard is tiled using the same wall tile, so we weren't too worried. To upgrade to "full floating" was approx. $1,200 (which I just could not justify). 
Semi-floating vanity, which Eden Brae call "floating"!

Full-floating vanity, plumbing is housed within the wall cavity.


  • We looked at quite a few driveways before our consultation, but we were mainly looking at colour, style and finish not overall width, other than widening the council crossover to match (as highlighted below in green). Since then, we realised it'd be nice to have a bit of extra space if we park our cars in the driveway. So we requested to widen the driveway to the very edge of the house (as highlighted below in blue).
  • If you can afford it, you might also want to enquire about concrete footpath for down the side(s) of your home, slab for a small shed out the back or even just a small slab to put your bins on. We didn't opt for these, but if we had the extra cash we would have.      

Plans showing extended driveway to council cross over  (in green) and
then widening of overall driveway to the edge of the house (in blue) 

Watertank & Outdoor Taps 
  • We have upgraded to the Aquacomb 3000L underground watertank system from RemTech. The location of the watertank changed from underneath the garage to sit under the living area. Please ensure the pump isn't in the way of a window or blocking an area for future installations. For example, we are planning to put a gas fireplace in so we had to ensure the pump wasn't going to be located in the same space. You can read more about the Aquacomb system here
  • On our final plans you'll notice we have 3 x hose cocks, 1 in the front and 2 at the back. I'm really unsure how this happened, but as far as I'm aware you're only meant to have 2 in total - one for main and the other connected to the watertank. Certainly not complaining! So if you were ever wondering the standard is 2 taps!  

  • Please make sure you read each PCV. We were advised that on our Basix PCV that nothing had changed and it had just expired and we had to signed a new one. On closer inspection we noted that the hot water system had been changed from 6 star to 5 star. It just goes to show you need to cross check everything! 


  • Keep a tab of what items you cancel and require a refund on. We removed the splashback from the kitchen and removed the vanity mirrors from the bathroom and ensuite (replaced with shaving cabinets). We had to chase the credit, which we were advised they'd be credited off our PCV's. We actually had forgotten about these items when we signed off the PCV's so have chased up again. We have have been advised it'll be deducted at the final invoice/PCV. Confirming all credits have now been applied!
  • When signing our contract we were advised that we'd be getting Moroka painted on the front half of our facade, which we were not impressed about! We asked for this to be removed, however were told "no" as all the houses would look the same! We opted to render the columns only. We were charged $200 to render the columns (which I believe was a reduced amount), we were also not charged to have the columns (standard is just wooden piers suitable for painting). Since then, I have heard others on our street getting credits for removing the Moroka, ranging from $1,400 to $1,900. We unfortunately never got a credit for this items (which personally I would have preffered!), rather (and unbeknown to us) received other upgraded items free of charge i.e. larger windows in all bedrooms. If you have been in this situation I would follow up your CSA and ask for the credit, I know a few others on our street really had to fight for this - but it's totally worth it in the end!