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Weekly update – 30 April, 2017

Last week we reviewed our draft construction drawings and provided more feedback to our builder. No major queries, just clarifying placement of cabinetry and powerpoints as we move towards a final set of construction drawings

Our soil test is going to be carried out this week which should allow the builder to finalise site costs.


Although the civil works are now complete we’ve still got plenty of documentation to be completed before we see building activity onsite. Our builder provided the following guide to ‘next steps’.

  • Soils and survey received – builder will price the site costs and add this information to our plans to ensure the design we have complies with all Rescode regulations. Contracts can also be prepared and signed at this stage.
  • PSI (Property Service Reports) are received approximately 2 weeks after the land titles – this includes information the builder needs relating to the stormwater etc.
  • All variations are signed off on and Final amendments are made to plans.
  • Engineering is ordered, final documents are prepared (i.e specification, colour template, colour mark ups) and signed.
  • Proof of ownership of land is to be supplied in the form of a letter from Solicitor/Conveyancer confirming settlement has taken place.
  • Once all documentation is signed and finalised, we pay the balance of the builder deposit
  • Once those monies are cleared in to our account the builder will apply for a building permit. Usually building permits take 2 weeks but there can be unexpected delays.
  • Building permit, stamped plans and all insurances are presented to use for finance .
  • Confirmation is required from lender that funds are available for draw down – for this to happen generally mortgage documents are signed, valuation has taken place and the loan has settled.
  • Hand over to construction – from this point we will have site presence within 14 working days.

While some of these things can happen simultaneously other have a strict sequence and step 3 can’t be started until step 2 is completed. When combined it might be anywhere from a month, through to 3 months before construction starts.

Latest odds for construction start

bookies bag

  • May Start: 100-1
  • June Start: 12-1
  • July Start: 2-1 fav
  • August Start: 20-1
  • September Start: 150-1

We’ve dodged a transformer!

A few weeks ago we discovered a large green box sitting at the front of our block. Since that faithful Friday disappointment turned into anger before transforming (pun intended) into acceptance.

The dreaded green box

The dreaded green box

After searching again for land and homes in the Torquay area we decided to continue with plans to build our dream new home on our current block. We didn’t want to wait for another block of land to become available and we wouldn’t see the transformer from inside the house or our backyard. It wasn’t perfect, but something we could live with.

After consultation with our conveyancer we contacted the agent to start a conversation regarding compensation. How much land were we going to lose? What impact would it have on resale value (not that we’re planning to sell any time soon)?Celebration

To my surprise the agent was shocked when I suggested that we had a transformer on our block. He knew there was a transformer in our stage release but it was supposed to be next door. The agent was going to check the location and come back to us…

An hour later we spoke again and he confirmed that the transformer and the easement around it were located on the neighbouring block!

Fantastic news!

He also advised that we could arrange soil tests, an important step before confirming final costs with our builder.

To make sure the agent was 100% correct I purchased a measuring tape and made a trip down to the block. Sure enough the right hand side of the transformer easement coincided with the left hand side of our 16 metre frontage block.


Our 16 metre frontage finishes just near the white peg. No transformer in our yard!

So how did I get it so wrong and cause a few weeks of heartache?

  • I stepped out the frontage from a marker peg on the right hand side of our block and finished in front of the transformer. If each step was a little more than a metre I’d added an extra couple of metres by the time I’d stepped 16 times. Subconsciously I probably assumed the 16 metres would be the front of the transformer and stepped wider to make it there!
  • Similar transformers in previous stages were placed in the middle of 2 blocks so we figured the developer would do the same again in our stage.
  • There was no official marker peg on the left hand side of our block to use as a reference point.

Whatever the root cause we’re very happy that the transformer isn’t sitting in our front yard. Sure, it’s still next door but it can be hidden with some smart planting and fencing.

During my quick measuring excursion I also noticed that trees were being planted on the nature strips in front of each house.

New tree planted in front of our block

So, after a few weeks of moping about we’re ready to launch into the next stages.

  • Soil testing
  • Lock down construction costs
  • Finance approval
  • Title received (forecast end of April)
  • Land settlement

Civil works update – April 7, 2017

Apart from a few trees to be planted it seems like the civil works are now complete. Progress since last week.

  • Footpaths completed
  • Bitumen completed
  • Building lots levelled
  • Street signs installed
  • Hydro seeding applied to nature strips

Advice from the vendor is that title registration is anticipated late April 2017.

We now need to finalise the building contract and financing so we can start construction in May (fingers crossed).

Road to home

The road to home

Wagtail Ave Sign

The place we’ll be calling home

NBN Ready

NBN Ready!

The dreaded green box

The dreaded green box! The stakes on the left, right and back identify the area in which no structures or planting can be located.

Our block - pre construction

Our block. A blank canvas ready for construction.

Civil works update – March 31, 2017

There was an air of anticipation as we drove to Torquay for our regular Friday afternoon check-in. Progress has been solid over the proceeding weeks and bitumen had already been laid in the other roads of our release. It was time for Wagtail Avenue to join the club.

As we approached our street it was clear that other work had been carried out. Soil had been spread and the general area was looking more construction ready. Finally it was there – bitumen!


At last! The view of fresh bitumen greeted us on Friday afternoon.


The large berm of soil at the front of the stage has been spread across the house lots. Almost ready for building.

Everything looked great until I spotted a large green box at the back of the stage release, located approximately where our house would be built. With fences in place to limit pedestrian access I couldn’t be sure what it was or exactly where it was located however I had my suspicions.

It looked like an electricity transformer, the kind used in new land developments (electricity supply is underground). It was clearly on our side of the road, it was just a matter of how far back it was located.


This is also a transformer. Unfortunately the one located at the front of our block isn’t as impressive as Optimus Prime.

After much swearing and head shaking I decided to skip past the fences and go on a scouting mission. I wanted to view our block close-up and confirm the location of the mystery green object.

Unfortunately on closer inspection it was a large green transformer and it was located in front of our house block.


Looking directly at our block (other side of road). Concrete crossover (driveway) on the right of our block, transformer on the left .

I paced out the dimensions of our block and it seems as though the box sits half on our block, the other half on the neighbouring block.

Is the green box required? Yes.

Do I think the green box is attractive? No.

Do I want the green box sitting at the front of my house? No.

At no stage were we made aware of anything like this being located on our frontage. I understand it needs to be located somewhere however I don’t think anyone would be happy purchasing a house block and discovering this added ‘extra’ is included – it’s not a welcome surprise.


Disappointment wrapped in green.

We drove around the surrounding streets and found a few other examples of transformers sitting at the front of houses. Some people put fences around them, others leave them open. I suspect there are rules about what you can and can’t locate near the box to ensure access is provided to technicians.

The negatives?

  • The green box is ugly and detracts from the kerbside appeal of your home
  • You can’t grow/build anything too close to the box as it would hinder access, you thereby ‘lose’ some of your land.

An example of a transformer in front of houses in earlier stage release. The transformer sits between the frontage of two properties – the transformer in Wagtail Avenue will do the same.

At this stage I’m just disappointed. We placed a deposit on this land in November last year (2016) and have waited patiently for the civil works to be completed before we can start building. Now, just as we’re approaching the start line we discover that our frontage will be shared by an ugly green box. Will we see it when we’re in the house? No. Will we see it when we’re at the beach? No. Will new visitors to our home comment on it? Probably. Will it impact on the kerbside appeal of our home? Yes.

I liken it to a birthmark or scar that someone is always asked about. An individual can’t do anything about a birthmark or scar, it’s something they learn to live with. The difference is, they have no choice – it’s a part of who they are. We have a choice. We haven’t started building yet and we haven’t settled on the land.

The downside is, there’s limited land in the area, particularly larger blocks at a reasonable price and I’m not keen on watching civil construction for another 12 months. I’m keen to move on to the next stage of our life.

So, what do we do now? Ponder. Look around for other blocks. Look for existing houses in our price range. Speak with family and friends.

The cost of our block and proposed construction is significant, easily our largest purchase ever and one that we need to feel comfortable with. If we don’t feel it’s right, we shouldn’t proceed.

To be continued…

Civil works update – March 24, 2017

More activity onsite but we didn’t quite get bitumen laid on Wagtail Avenue. Fingers crossed we’ll reach that milestone next week.

Of course the agent suggested all civil works would be completed by the end of March so we’ll find out whether civil works completion date forecast # 4 is achieved.

civil works march 24_2

Footpaths and crossovers have been added to Merijig Drive


civil works march 24_1

No significant activity on Wagtail Avenue. Could this be the week our track becomes a road?

Civil works update – March 17, 2017

The arrival of bitumen!

Our block is included in a stage release that comprises 3 new sections of road. This week the bitumen has been laid on the other streets with ours to follow next week (I’d expect).

In further developments a footpath has been constructed in Wagtail Avenue on the opposite side to our home. We might not have a footpath at the front of our house with pedestrian traffic directed to the other side, not a bad result as it provide more space for lawn and gardens in front of our home.

I also noticed that street lights have been installed throughout the stage release. Looking back at last weeks photos that had previously been installed however I hadn’t noticed – too focused on the road surface 😉


New road surface on Merrijg Drive. Wagtail Avenue will be next!


Road surface ready for bitumen. Footpath constructed and street lights installed. Almost there…

Civil works update – March 10, 2017

Unfortunately the bitumen didn’t arrive this week however the road base has increased in height. Last week there was a few inches between the bottom of the gutter and the road surface, today it’s almost level. Sounds ridiculous really but when you’re looking for progress every little bit gets noticed. Another small step closer to seeing a smooth bitumen surface.

Can you imagine the excitement when the builder starts working on our block?


More rolling…

A brief history of Wagtail Avenue.

Civil Works - 20 October 2016

October 20, 2016


End November, 2016

Feb 10 civil works

February 10, 2017

190217 Civil Works Update

February 19, 2017


February 24, 2017


Mark 5, 2017

Civil works update – March 5, 2017

Some evidence of electrical cables being installed and a little more work in the retaining basin area this week. Fingers crossed we’ll see some bitumen on the road by the end of the week.

No much progress on the road surface this week. It looks like they’ve been busy installing electricity cables (see other image below).

Electricity cabling being installed at the intersection of Horseshoe Bend Road and Wagtail Avenue

Apart from stringing some wires between posts it looks like works on the retaining basin is near completion.

Civil works update – February 17, 2017

Another week flashes past and it’s time for a drive-by visit of our block. As we suspected last week they’ve made further progress on the roads related to our stage. It’s starting to look more like a road each week.

Next week we might even see some kerb and channel taking shape.

190217 Civil Works Update

Wagtail Avenue starting to take shape.

Just a little bit further up the road they’re doing the same thing. More men, more machines, more progress.

Civil Works 170217

Progress on the Merijig Drive section of road – just a little further along.