After much research, Von and I have decided to go with Clarendon and build a Waterford. We actually also visited the Waterhaven, a slightly smaller version of the Waterford, with my mum. As soon as we walked in, mum said, "No, don't get this. Get the Waterford for the extra money, even if I give you the money for it." That's an extra $12k, mum. She's right, though. We thought, it's worth it.
It had the perfect lay out at the bottom floor and when we looked at the first floor, we were pleasantly surprised to find five bedrooms. That gives us a spare bedroom for guests, family or the clothes that needs to be folded - hehehe!
From the experience of our many friends who have built, we've gathered that one of the ways to cut down on extra cost is to avoid too many structural changes. Well, all we're doing is putting in a shower in the powder room; pushing the door to the WC out a little to fit in a basin; popping storage under the staircase, and; putting a wall between the formal lounge and formal dining and then enclosing access to formal dining via foyer with sliding doors. We'll be using that as my office/study. Then the designated study can become a toy room / play room, with the possibility of becoming another room if either my parents or Von's parents should decide to live with us in the future.
Here is the facade we decided to go with - the Abbotsbury. Today, we put in our deposit. Our salesperson at Minchinbury, Craig, has been very patient with us. During our first visit to Clarendon (whilst we were in cooling off period), he even drove to our block as we were concerned about site costs. We have heard people being charged ridiculous amounts which have made them sell to build elsewhere. After Craig reassured us that the fall towards the back was minimal and that we're probably looking at only $15k for site costs, we were happy.
What we didn't expect was the $12k for BASIX! The price we pay for the environment, eh? In the end, though, it means we do save on utilities. Don't know when we'll break even but there's no choice in the matter.
We put in our deposit today, pretty much our last chance to get the $3k bonus offer which is worth $25k retail. I'm excited about having a 2 car garage with auto opener! Hahaha!!! Shame our land cannot fit a third garage and our budget cannot either.
We've got additional enhancements which we don't want to disclose here yet as we want to surprise family and friends when they visit us for the first time. The price is rapidly going up though. At least, we're a little prepared for this as we've invited close friends to look at the house and make recommendations (Thanks, guys!) and some even shared with us how much extra they ended up paying on top of their base price. From our understanding, it could easily be another 50% of the base price by the time we upgrade certain things and install the floor coverings, driveway, etc. That's not even including the landscaping! We're glad we talked to our friends. They were more than happy to share their learnings from their own buidling experiences.
We'll try to be wise with our choices but I know the temptation would be, "Well, we're only going to do this once. So, let's do it right." We'll see...
Here's a picture of how it will sit on our land...