MDJ Cordova One

MDJ Cordova One

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Site Start, Piering, Slab and Frame

Site Start and Piering
23/9/2016 - One day after being placed on the construction list, MJH's surveyor pegged out my block and several others within the estate.  What is frustrating, is despite everything seeming to refer to pegging as being the start of construction, MJH are now claiming that site start isn't until after my site was scraped.

1/10/2016 - After a week of no progress since pegging, I got a message from one of my new neighbours to say that my block had been scraped.  I was very surprised to see that they had worked the Saturday of the October long weekend.

4/10/2016 - MJH's slab supervisor called me to introduce himself and also tell me that piering was happening the next day.  Lucky I had a flexible manager and was able to get away at such short notice...

5/10/2016 - MJH's contractors piered the wrong MJH block (luckily for them they used the right plans for that block), so my piering was put off for another day.

6/10/2016 - Piering finally went ahead and I came in at 37.9 lineal metres and I was very happy that I went well under my 50 lineal metre allowance.  It did however take two months before I actually got a credit for it from my CLO...

11/10/2016 - Internal drainage had been completed for my block. 

14/10/2016 - The slab formwork and steelwork was completed and my building inspector had a look at the slab.  Unfortunately the quality of work was not upto scratch and it took alot of arguing with the SS and MJH management before they actually cancelled the pour and agreed to fix the issues.

28/10/2016 - Slab was finally poured. Mostly pretty good however, they obviously hadn't put the star post supports in very far as the drop edge beam bowed.

3/11/2016 - Windows delivered to site.

8/11/2016 - External drainage was completed.
9/11/2016 -  Kordon was installed on the slab and the frame was delivered to site.

16/11/2016 - Frame walls and trusses were put up.

17/10/2016 - Frame was completed and the windows were installed.

Overall the frame was pretty good and the issues that I brought up with my Site Supervisor Brett got sorted out without any issues. 

Note: Photo is of the frame after the first of the two days they worked on it. 

23/11/2016 - Wall was wrapped.

Progress has been quite fast so far with the exception of the delays on the slab.  The downside to the fast progress has been some big drawdowns on the mortgage already!

Currently they have almost finished the bricking and roofing is about to start.  Will update again in a few weeks with that progress! 

Sunday, 30 October 2016

DA Approval and Site Start

Apologies to anyone following this blog for me not updating this sooner, but here goes...

Prior to DA Submission
From land registration to DA submission it took just under 8 weeks and I found the process from MJH very frustrating as they were just giving excuse after excuse.  In particular, for almost a week they put my job on hold because they claimed there was an error with my Section 149 certificate and would not tell me what the issue was.  In the end, it turned out the error they thought they had, I had already resolved it and provided them the correct Section 149 certificate weeks ago.

The second issue was that when the developer approval came back they picked up that MJH had not provided a 650mm dropped edge beam to the zero lot line component of my house as per the requirements of the Section 88b instrument.  This resulted in me being credited for the previous smaller dropped edge beam variation and given a variation of $2845 for the 650mm dropped edge beam.

Whilst this should of been a simple case of quickly getting the plans updated with a simple 5 min drafting change to fix their mistake, I had to wait a week for them to make this change.  Once this was received my CLO was then trying to tell me they couldn't submit my DA until they had the engineering plans despite me already calling her out previously on this lie.  Sadly, it took a call to customer service manager to ensure that the DA actually got submitted without further delays...

DA Submission
DA submission to council initially turned out to be a quick and smooth process with Shellharbour City Council approving the DA in just over two weeks.  It was actually faster getting approval from council than the certifier that other MJH client's in my estate went through!

From here things went a bit pear shaped, initially council posted the DA to my vacant block instead of MJH and then it turned out they had stuffed up the DA by applying incorrectly conditions of consent.  Firstly, they had applied a BAL12.5 rating to my approval and secondly they had said my gutters couldn't over hang the maintenance easement down one side of my block.

Fortunately MJH's certifier accepted an email from the council saying those conditions could be ignored, but MJH and the certifier wanted me to get the DA formally modified.  

So I submitted the approval and assumed that because it was a council error they would be reasonable and end up fixing it for no charge.  Oh how wrong was I was.  Initially they wanted to charge me over $600 to fix their mistakes.  However, after arguing with the council manager he ever so kindly said he would reclassify the type of modification and only charge me $71 for it but I had to change the wording of what I wanted the condition of consent to be in regards to the maintenance easement.

When I got the DA modification, the wording was even more lenient than what I had initially asked for and was incorrect (but in my favour) compared to the Section 88b instrument.  The level of incompetence at Shellharbour City Council really is unbelievable and I guess it's no wonder they were declared unfit for the future and are being forced to merge... 

Construction List
Once the DA plans were finally received by MJH, I sent them straight off to my mortgage broker and I was very fortunate to have Comm Bank approve them in 3 days as my broker was able to get the bank to put a fast track on getting the approval issued (Comm Bank told me it normally takes at least 5 days).  

Again, I can't recommend highly enough the team in at Choice Home Loans Wollongong.  They have been helpful every step of the way and they certainly make you feel like a valued client and not just another number in the system.

With all approvals in place, MJH now slipped me with this tender extension variation:

"We would like to provide a onetime Price Increase offer in view of your current Tender Period having expired. This offer is made in confidence and must not be disclosed to any other parties. The offer is to charge a maximum price increase of $6,000. This is a substantial cost saving for yourselves and means that you will only be paying this amount and not the difference between the Base Price of your selected home design and the current Base Price of that design."

This was a standard variation that was sent to I believe everyone in my estate that went over their tender extension and this was despite us all being told before paying deposits and signing contracts that going over tender would be $1000/mo up to 6 months and there was no talk of there being a fixed minimum amount.

Fortunately I had the wisdom to make MJH put the tender expiry price rise in writing before I signed my contract and after argument with MJH they reverted to calculating my tender extension by that.  However, I should have only been liable for 5 months of tender extension payments as I was only pushed into 6 months by their own mistakes.  MJH refused to charge me for 5 months of tender extension payments but were ever so kind to only charge me for 5.5 months instead of the 6 months they were initially requesting.  Isn't it great to be able to charge your customers for your own mistakes...

With that variation now sorted I was placed on the construction list.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Getting Closer to Construction

At the end of my last post, I wrote that there was issues with the flood classification of the blocks in Stage 1A of Calderwood Valley.  Well much to my surprise Shellharbour City Council (SCC) and LendLease did manage to get these issues sorted out within two weeks which was great!  During the two weeks that it was taking for the issue to be resolved, Rachel from LendLease was great at keeping me updated on the progress.

The certificate now reads as follows:

Calderwood Urban Development Project - No. Information relied upon to determine whether flood related development controls apply was produced by consultants engaged by the developer during the Land & Environment Court case: “Lend Lease Communities (Australia) Limited v Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, Shellharbour City Council and Wollongong City Council”. The Land & Environment Court granted conditional development consent to the subdivision of this land.  However, Council is in the process of preparing a Floodplain Risk Management Study and Plan for Macquarie Rivulet and advice related to flooding and flood related development controls may change upon Council’s adoption of new flood information.  For further information, please contact Council's Engineering Services on 4221 6111 (This information has been provided pursuant to section 149(5) of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act, but does not constitute a full section 149(5) planning certificate).

Whilst I shouldn't have any issues getting my building approved in the interim, SCC have now released their Draft Macquarie Rivulet Flood Study and from a quick look it shows Stage 1A of Calderwood Valley still being a flood way.  So I will have to have a better read of the report and look at making a submission to SCC to make sure they don't try reclassify us as flood prone based on incorrect modelling!

In other news things have been moving very slowly with McDonald Jones Homes (MJH) but I have now finally received updated plans from them, although the driveway design is still incorrect.  

The good news was that my soil test came back as Class M but I did receive the following variations:
  • Provide a 257mm dropped edge beam to the LHS side & rear of the garage to retain fill due to 200mm setback - $1125 
  • The electricity pillar is located to the LHS of your home and since there is not enough space to relocate the meter box to the garage external wall it has now resulted in additional run in to run the electrical mains across the front yard to the pillar on the LHS - $1400  $776 (see below - reduced when I challenged the figure)
Upon querying how MJH came up with $1400 for the electrical run-in, MJH told me it was on the basis of an extra 20lm.  This allowance seemed quite excessive and upon querying they found they had made an error and it will only be $776.  So it certainly does pay to make sure you scrutinize the variation claims your builder gives you.

Fingers crossed it will all move much quicker now and I will be on the construction list by the end of August!

Friday, 17 June 2016

Settlement at Last!

Settlement finally happened this week on Tuesday 14th June 2016 and the whole process went very smooth.  

For my conveyancing I used Murray Dribbus from Dribbus Kovacevic Lawyers and as previously mentioned I used Paul Wright and his team at Choice Home Loans in Wollongong.  If you need a conveyancer or mortgage broker I would highly recommend these guys!

As for the estate, the roads into the estate were opened on Wednesday evening and I finally drove into the estate for the first time on Thursday night.  After 15 months of waiting for the land to be completed it was a good feeling to finally drive up to my block!

Here is a photo I took today of the block:

 As you will see, my footpath on the left hand side is not yet complete and despite the subdivision supposedly being 'finished' there is still a bit of tidying up that LendLease have left to do.

When I told McDonald Jones Homes that my land was registered they proceeded to order the various reports that are required, including the Section 149 certificate.  For those that have never heard of a Section 149 certificate before, it is basically a document that is generated by the council which contains information about the zoning restrictions and development controls applicable to the lot, including bush fire and flood classifications.

Now the real shock here is that the certificate came back with the following under the flood control section:

Uncategorised Flood Risk - Information held by Council indicates that all or part of this property MAY be affected by flooding and it is advised that a suitably qualified engineer should be engaged to evaluate the flood risk. As such, development of the land will be assessed on merit and Councils' Floodplain Risk Management Development Control Plan (DCP) may apply. For further information please contact Council's Engineering Services on 4221 6111. 

After discussing with Shellharbour City Council's relevant department, it turns out their flood modelling doesn't account for any of the earthworks that were undertaken for Stage 1 of Calderwood Valley and their model says the land is flood prone.  From further discussion with LendLease they apparently were already aware of this issue and are going to sort it out with council.

So here's hoping that all of this will be sorted out over the next few weeks before the updated plans come back from McDonald Jones...

Monday, 6 June 2016

Finally Registered.....Settlement Next!!

After 3 weeks of patiently waiting for the land to be registered, I received a phone call on Monday 30th May 2016 from LendLease to let me know that my land was finally registered!

I then received this letter by email the following day:

Whilst I was over the moon for the land to finally be registered, I found it extremely disappointing that LendLease think we should be settling on the land whilst it is still a construction site and has no unimpeded access.

I went out last Friday and finally got to stand on my block, however, what LendLease's letter doesn't tell you is that you have to wear PPE (hi vis and hard hat) on site and be escorted around unless you have a 'white card'.

All that said, the JK Williams guys on site (LendLease's civil contractor) were great to deal with and more than happy to escort you around, you really couldn't ask for more helpful people!  From chatting with them it gave me a lot more confidence that they would actually meet their stated deadline for opening the road...

On the finance note, once the new title details were provided to CBA they were quick to finalise my loan contract and are ready to settle as soon as we get a settlement date and time.   The team at Choice Home Loans in Wollongong have been great at pushing the loan through (as well as answering all of my questions) and hopefully the rest of the process is just as smooth with CBA!

So for now I'm just finalising my landscape plan and waiting for settlement so that my soil tests and surveys can get done!

Monday, 16 May 2016

Registration Getting Even Closer!

The last week has seen some great progress and the beginning of the actual building phase is drawing nearer.

Firstly, the bank valuation came back and has exceeded my land and build price, which is great news and a relief!  The home loan and off-set accounts are already showing up in my online banking and hopefully once the signed mortgage forms get back to the bank this week I will have an available balance showing!

Secondly, I received this letter from LendLease, so hopefully registration is only a week or two away!  How they managed to get council to sign off on the estate before foot paths, etc are completed beats me though....

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Nearing Registration

After over a year of waiting for this land to be built and slowly watching the progress being made, I received the letter shown below in the mail.  Needless to say i was overly excited to recieve the news that settlement is on track for June 2016!

For my finance I chose to go through a mortgage broker and the last couple weeks has been busy getting together all of the required paperwork, including costs for blinds and landscaping.  I received pre-approval quickly enough for my construction loan and I am now in the process of waiting for the valuation to be ticked off by the lender.  So far the process has been easy and I certainly wouldn't hesitate to recommend Paul and his team at Choice Home Loans Wollongong.