Latest Posts

Civil works update – February 10, 2017

I drove past the block today for my regular Friday afternoon progress check and was happy to see earth moving machinery working directly in our street. While I’m not in the road making business it looked like a soil compactor was busy moving back and forth on our street. Next stop, bitumen!

Well maybe not, but it’s another good sign that we’re getting closer to seeing a road surface being laid. Looking forward to seeing more progress next week.

Feb 10 civil works

Civil works update – Start February 2016

Time for a post Christmas update, our first for 2017. Since our last post in late November 2016 there has been continued activity onsite. Most of this activity has been confined to the retaining basin area with a small army of men and machines transforming the area into an attractive wetland space.

With our most recent forecast settlement date drawing near (mid February) I once again enquired with the estate agent. The latest update:

The civil works on stage 3 are in full swing now the basin is finished. Sewer is in and drainage are almost finished. It is projected that all works will be complete 30 March with titles from there.

The initial forecast was August 2016 so things are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay behind schedule however based on current activity onsite I actually believe this forecast might be achievable. Previous communication with the agent suggested it may take anywhere between 3 and 9 weeks for compliance checks to be carried out and titles to be processed so that might land us somewhere in April/May for receiving title on the block. From there we have soil tests before confirming building contracts and finance arrangement. And then…. we can start construction! 🙂

I’ve included a few photos of recent civil works onsite. We’re looking forward to seeing some road and guttering taking shape soon.

Civil works 21/12/16

Building the retaining basin – December 21, 2016

Civil works 21/12/16

When you’re waiting for title on land an excavator moving soil can be exciting.

Civil works 6/1/17

The retaining basin/wetland area starting to take shape – January 6, 2017

Civil works 20/1/17

Our home site – not far from where the excavators are parked – January 20, 2017



Civil works update – end November 2016

After an exciting start to November there hasn’t been a lot of direct action in the past couple of weeks – more specifically the activity seems to be focused on the retaining basin/wetland area at the base of the development site (a few 100 metres across from our house block). Scrapers and excavators have been working there for the past few weeks, sculpting an area that will capture storm water for the surrounding area. I guess they need to get it ready to accept water prior to building roads and gutters that will direct water to that area. I’ve been telling myself that in the hope that they’ll switch back to the roads and services for our block as soon as that’s complete.

As evidenced by the photo below the piles have moved a little however it doesn’t look like they’re about to lay asphalt in the next few weeks. While I suspect things could change dramatically with just a few days work I’m sceptical that we’ll have title by the end of February. Fingers crossed.



See those grey piles on the left of the photo? They didn’t used to be there! Exciting eh?

Progress on the civil works front

One of the challenges we encountered early in our journey was securing a suitable block to build our new home. As often happens it was only when we’d stopping searching that something came along. From there, things have moved slowly…

We found the block in November 2015, signed the contract of sale in March 2016 and initial indications were that the civil works would be completed and title would be available to start construction in August 2016. Months went by and August came and went without any sign of soil being turned on the site.

Other works were being carried out elsewhere in the broader development site that impacted on our block, i.e. storm water drainage however it was depressing to visit on weekends and see no discernible progress.

Another follow-up email to the agent and we received a revised timeline – late February. At this stage I was pretty sceptical however a visit to the site a few weeks ago showed there was activity. Thanks to the team from Lake & Land earth was being moved, trenches were being dug and pipes being laid. There was actual progress on the street our house would be built!

Excited dog

The sight of earth-moving activity had us as excited as a dog with two tails.

Check back to see more dirt mounts in the coming weeks. Eventually we should see concrete curbs, roads and street lights taking shape as we inch closer to construction.

Civil Works - 20 October 2016

While this photo might just look like a bunch of dirt mounds it’s very exciting to see activity in our stage release.

We’re back!

After some initial updates in January it’s been very quiet on the website. A combination of work, family life and general laziness put a halt to the regular updates we’d envisaged. But, with the design process almost complete and enthusiasm returning you can expect more frequent updates to be posted – we promise.

So what’s happened since our last post around 9 months ago?

  • Finalised the design of our home, including the production of draft construction drawings.
Home Facade

A mock-up of our home, created ourselves using a generic graphics program provides a guide to the colour scheme we’ve selected.

  • Completed the colour selection process which includes paint (internal/external), roofing, guttering, downpipes, tapware, door handles, flooring, tiles and all of the finer details required to fit-out a home.
Colorbond Chart

We spent many hours staring at the Colorbond colour chart. Our eventual choices were a combination of Surfmist, Dune and Wallaby.

Colour selection was a challenging process, particularly since the range of colours, taps, tiles and carpets is so extensive. The standard inclusion list provided as part of our building contract allowed for specific products within a given price point. After visiting Carpet Court, National Tiles, Reece and other suppliers we selected a mix of included products and upgrade options. The upgrade options will cost a little more however we want our forever home to look just the way we want.

Final selection will be guided by costs for the selected upgrade products.

  • What do we really need?
  • What can we really afford?

Our next post will detail all of the selections we’ve made (once the builder has confirmed costs).

Our first draft designs

Things have moved forward a little since our last post on January 6.

  • We’ve had a couple of meetings with GJ Gardener and have started the design process for our new home. So far they’ve been very accommodating and we appreciate the flexibility they are offering over the big name volume builders.
  • We’ve received the Contract of Sale from the agent for purchase of our selected block. No real surprises here.
  • The agent has received word from the engineers that we can’t swap our crossover to the western side of the block (our preferred option). This means we’ll need to modify our original design which was based on the garage being locations on the western side of the block.
  • The name of the street we’ll be living in has changed. It’s now called Wagtail Avenue.

The design process has been enjoyable although it’s hard to ignore the feeling that you’ve forgotten something or whether the dimensions and orientation of fixtures is the best solution. We’ve read in many places that you don’t ‘get it right‘ until the 3rd home you build. Hopefully by doing plenty of research online and talking with people who’ve been through the process we can get the best possible outcome.

Our plan is to nail down the home design in the next month so we can confirm costs and get a handle on construction costs. There are still additional expenses that we’ll need to budget for, on top of the land and construction.

  • Window furnishings
  • Fencing
  • TV antenna
  • Clothes line
  • Security system
  • Fly screens
  • Gardens/landscaping
  • Letterbox

A few areas that also might cost more

  • Upgrading the heating/cooling system
  • Site costs (depending on whether additional soil needs to be removed)
  • Additional built in cabinetry for walk-in robes in all bedrooms

In the end we’ll be spending a lot of money but we’ll get the home we want, in the place we want to live. Even though we’ve got more than 12 months until we move in it’s fun to imagine how great it’s going to be when we have family and friends visiting our new home. Exciting times ahead!

Things are starting to develop

After a couple of months of inactivity we’ve now got movement on a couple of fronts

  • The real estate agent has advised that the land sale contracts will be available next week. This will require us to commit to the block we currently have a holding deposit on.
  • We’ve started examining an alternate builder based on a recommendation from someone who recently built a new home.

We’ve found a home design from this alternate builder that can provide a good start point for our ‘dream home‘ design. Initial price discussions are a little scary so we might need to either reduce the overall house size or switch back to our original selected builder.

We’re going to meet with a member of their sales team on Saturday so we’ll have a better idea of what is possible and how much it might cost by Saturday night.

We might have found some land

After a few months of inspecting existing homes and blocks of land for sale we’ve placed a holding deposit on a lot located within the Dunes Estate in Torquay. After a bit of snooping around we found the development plan of the estate on the Surf Coast Shire website. This shows the scope of the estate – our block is located on the eastern side (right of map), around the middle.

Our chosen block is close to an existing sports oval and a proposed new primary school with the beach only a leisurely 1km walk away. Not a bad spot to spend the next stage of our life together.

We were originally looking for blocks closer to 600 m2 however these seem to be rarer than hens teeth * so when we spotted a block available in a good location that was a little over 500 m2 we thought we’d go for it. If we find something better or change our mind we can cancel our hold and reclaim the deposit. So, it’s worth exploring and we’ll see what unfolds from here.

Apparently hens teeth are quite rare.

* Apparently hens teeth are quite rare.

Eight blocks went on sale in the Zeally Sands Estate just over the road from our block and people were camping out for up to 2 days! We’re not about to start camping out for land so when the opportunity arose, we grabbed it.

The blocks within the Dunes Estate seem expensive compared to other blocks in the area but demand is strong in Torquay North and I don’t forsee prices dropping any time soon. Either way, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (this post seems to contain a lot of bird related references).

From here we’ll start digging deeper into the specifics of costs associated with building on this block

  • Will the home design we’ve selected meet the estate design guidelines?
  • What other site costs are associated with the block?
    • Developer
    • Council
    • Others

The Dune Estate has a couple of other bonus features:

  • It’s NBN ready meaning we can connect up to super fast Internet.
  • It has access to Class A recycled water meaning you can water gardens all year round, free from water restrictions.