Knockdown and rebuild - how it all began

22 Mar 11 12:00PM EST
Post by Corinna Horrigan
House plans

When I mention to people that we’re building a house, the most common reaction is that we’ve temporarily gone insane and will wake up to regret it. That may yet happen but so far we’re still ok with it.

We had a house, but it was too small. Seriously, it was far too small – every time we wanted to clean, we had to do major reshuffling. It was old and needed a lot of maintenance and renovation.

We looked into our loan options and once our chosen financial institution agreed to loan us a useful amount of money, we looked at the options. Building a house is all about decisions and the first one is to actually build a house rather than extend or buy.

We looked at extending – it was going to be very expensive, and we’d still have the old house. We looked at buying – but all the ones we looked at required adjustments to suit us or were too far from transport or other facilities. We also like our block of land, so decided on a knockdown/rebuild. To give you some idea of the timescale, we made this decision in November 2009!

The next irrevocable decision was whether to go for a project home or talk to an architect. We decided to explore both possibilities to a certain extent. Archicentre provide a service (for a fee) whereby an architect discusses things with you and comes up with a draft proposal.

We spent quite a while chatting to an architect who works in our area. It was a pleasant afternoon and we thought that we’d got our requirements across (we only had two that were not negotiable) and had given a firm indication of our absolute top price. Suffice it to say that we were disappointed with the proposal, which had about five house plans, none of which included our non-negotiable requirements and only the most basic one met our financial limits.

We also looked at project homes. There are lots of display homes around Sydney and we fell in love with lots of houses – most of which were also too expensive for our budget. We became pretty good at working out how to get our requirements into the floor plan. (Ok, I’ll come clean – one of them was a large walk-in pantry as cooking is one of my many hobbies.) If we couldn’t do that in a way that worked for the house, then it was off the list.

We did find a few houses that suited and were in the price range. We’d almost decided on one, but were still looking – just in case. Pretty much on our last excursion we walked into a house – nice but not particularly memorable until we walked into the full width upstairs sitting room. We were sold as it just shouted Library to us (did I mention that books were another passion?) It was nicely within our budget – in fact, slightly cheaper than the one that had been on top of our list till then. This turned out to be a good thing because there are lots of other expenses to come.

So, we have a house plan decided upon and, of course, a builder. This was late February 2010. One year later and we now have walls (but no roof). In my coming posts I'll reveal the steps it took to get this far.

Have you built a new house? Did you use an architect or go with a project home? Did you find good advice was hard to come by? Were you happy with your decisions or would you go back and change some things if you could?

Corinna’s next post will look at customising the house – the costs involved and some of the tricky things that cropped up along the way.


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