Girlfriend, hold my earring's... Ima bout to unleash! (I will NEVER build again!)•
Posted on May 10 2019
Oh Hey There!!
First up, massive apologies for not being around lately. Let me break down what has been happening over this way... you better get comfy, use the toilet if you have to, maybe even grab yourself a wine (a bottle would probably suffice and no, it doesn't matter what time of day it is), shit's about to get real!
If you follow me on socials, or we are friends, then you would be well aware that my hunkband (aka husband) and I have built a brand spanking new house. Our dream home, nonetheless. However the experience of building a new house has been far less 'dreamlike' and more along the comparison-lines of a nightmare!
We bought our house last year in February, I was heavily pregnant (though, I'm pretty sure I was heavily pregnant my entire pregnancy, so it's not really a fair guide to the time frame) and only weeks away from having baby number 3. We literally found this house on a Wednesday, drove passed it, called the agent who said go for a wonder through the yard and up the stairs, no one lives there. We fell in love - it was EXACTLY what we had been looking for. The very next day we made a cash offer. The house was ours. I will never forget the satisfaction and pure joy of getting the keys to what would soon be our dream home!
Our initial plan was to renovate our beautiful old house; we were going to re-sheet walls, raise it, lift the roof... we hired an architect to draw our plans and we were going to tackle doing the reno's as owner builder's. The architect said it would cost us $60,000 in demolition, so we decided to sell the house to be moved and build from scratch. It took 6 months and a bucket load of stress to get someone to buy the house, do a little bit of demolition work and move it 120km's away on the back of a truck. All the while, my husband our now three kids and two dogs rented a house a 30 minute drive away from our new place and an hour round trip to the boys school. Oh crap, I forgot to add the snake - five people, two dogs and a snake (on a side note - anyone know how long python's live? asking for myself).
FINALLY it is time to build and so starts our nightmare... The day before we are due to break ground our builder advises us that the measurement's for our block are out. Turns out, our architect used an outdated plan to get the site dimensions and we ended up being short on the width of our block. This would have been fine, IF we hadn't put up a $5000 colorbond fence already to keep our annoying peeping neighbors' eye's out of our yard that was going to cost $8000 to relocate because it was in the wrong spot. This would have been fine IF that side of our block wasn't going to be used as a driveway to get to the shed. This would have been fine IF our house wasn't designed to sit as close to each boundary as possible to give us as the floor space we wanted in our home.
Our build was well underway and we were beside ourselves with excitement. We watched our house go from slab, to brick exterior walls to internal framing and then sheeting. We selected our colors, tap ware and electrical... Then the cracks started to appear with our builder. All seemed fine at the start, there were little things that Dion (aforementioned hunkband) and I had asked for that didn't end up happening and the builders excuse to all of this was 'It's not in the contract' so we just had to suck it up and accept that we weren't getting what we asked for... even though, we both thought we were getting it and even had meetings with the builder requesting it. But - on the chin we said.
If you live under a rock you wouldn't have been aware that in February there was a one in 500 year flood that tore through Townsville (where we live) and there was complete and utter devastation all around us. We were very lucky to escape with only a little water damage to our property, which required one side of the houses' sheeting to be replaced. The week after the flood our builder said that we were still on schedule for our move in date of mid March. We thought, FANTASTIC! Though, each time we drove passed our house there were no workers... the mouldy destroyed wall was still up and work had completely ceased. We asked our builder everyday for a week for an update on the move in date, as we had noticed there was no progress, he either completely ignored us or passed the buck onto his site supervisor. When he finally responded, he informed us it would be an additional 6 weeks for us to move in and he would be going over our contract period. Now, I remind you - we were renting a house while we were waiting for ours to be built, paying rent AND interest on our mortgage during construction. Our landlords got sick of us doing micro extensions on our lease (understandably, but totally not our fault) so they issued us a notice to leave... come the end of April we were going to be homeless.
Our house was ready to move into on the 30th of April, I might also note that this was 4 days AFTER the builder said we'd be moving in. We were just lucky we'd built a shed big enough to store our entire house worth of furniture, clothes, fridges, etc. because we had to move out of our rental on the 26th of April.
Anyone ever built before? If you have, you may be aware of what 'variations' are... if not - variations are changes you make to what you have been quoted and contracted. ie: if you want a different flooring, you do a 'variation' and you either pay or are credited the difference. Understand? So... we had asked for variations to our contract... we had been asking for quotes to the variations for MONTHS! Come the end of our build, our builder FINALLY gives us our variations. Might I note, this is against contract law and variations should never go into a house before they are approved by BOTH parties. Well! There were MAJOR discrepancies with the prices he gave us. First - he put the wrong tiles in our laundry, so we agreed to him crediting the cost to remove and relay as we didn't have time on our side to change them. We chose to change the tiles in one of the bathrooms... that were already laid. When we got the variations for these - we were credit $74 per square meter for our wrong laundry tiles... and charged $371 per square meter for our bathroom tiles. BOTH remove and relay. BOTH wet area's. Go figure. THEN, we got an almost $7500 variation for electrical... our initial variation for the electrical was $5000, Dion and I weren't comfortable with $5000 so we cut things out and made changes. To say we were shocked to get $7500 would be an understatement. We have no idea where he plucked the two figures from, but he definitely stuffed up somewhere. When we approached him about the issues, he stated to us (I'm paraphrasing here) 'That's what it costs. I have lost enough money on your build (actual words) (um... so not our fault or problem - that is all on you buddy) if you don't pay it, you won't get your keys.'
If you follow me, or know me, you know what my family has been through and dealt with the passed few years. I was gutted. I felt taken advantage of. I felt like I had no power and no control... that this (in my opinion) very sad person would and could just walk all over us and dictate his own terms... after all that my family had already been through, we were now having to deal with this. I am sitting at my desk right now, as I write this shaking my head and trying not to cry. We had put everything we had into our house and we weren't financially prepared for the variations he gave us. He put us in a really tight spot financially and it makes me sick. Literally, I feel sick to my stomach.
What did we do? We shut up, rustled the money together and paid it. We decided that we would sleep better at night being the bigger people and just accepting his prices and having nothing more to do with him. I was so relieved when we got the keys last Tuesday. Not only that we could move in - but that I wouldn't have to deal with him again...
I went to use our shower, our beautiful shower, that night before heading off to netball... I turn on the tap in my frameless and screenless shower that Dion and I had designed... and water started racing down the bathroom floor, making it's way for the bedroom. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE F*&%!n$ KIDDING ME! The tiles had been laid wrong and my initial thought was 'grrrr I have to deal with HIM again!' It's now 10 days later and we are STILL waiting for our bathroom to be fixed.
*deep breath* okay, now the motivational speaker in me turns on into action and says 'now you've told the story... what did you learn?'
We learned that it's better to do the hard work upfront - we could have hired the builder I used to work for, but he wanted us to get some additional information before he would quote, which I put in the 'too hard basket' looking back, I wish I had of done what was in the basket!
We learned to either record conversations or make our own notes and send them to the person you are speaking with to keep a paper trail.
We learned that we should have refused the builder put in ANY variations that were not agreed to. We should have questioned him more when we saw these things going in.
We learned that not all people are like us and will 'cop up' to mistakes or tell the truth - enter the above mentioned 'keeping a paper trail.'
We learned that once again, we can go through a really stressful situation and still have each other's back and walk away with pride in ourselves for how we handled it.
Building has been one hell of an experience, that to be honest; I really would like to avoid having to do again. IF we ever did build again, it would definitely be with a different builder and we would take the lesson's we learned into the new process. Aside from the terrible experience, we really love our new home and are choosing now to only see the positives and put the bad experience behind us. We made awesome selections, designed it the way we wanted it and are really enjoying living in our dream home, hopefully soon we can enjoy our sexy as shower too!
So, that is one reason why I have been MIA lately, that and I haven't had the internet and still waiting for it to be connected. I am trying to use hot spot on my phone which is almost like using the old school dial up (first world problems) and it makes working very difficult. Everything will settle soon...
By the way, the earrings that I asked you to hold are by 'Mildred' and you can buy them online at https://www.etsy.com/shop/shopmildred or if you are a Townsville local, you can get them at Renegade in Warrina arcade. **not a sponsored spruke - I just love the cool earrings**
Until next time,
~ Aimee xx
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