The Building process (pre-site work)

So I’ve been a bit slack in my blogging but this one will bring us up to speed to where we actually are up to (Slab laid on 14 September 2015!)

The building administrative process is not difficult but for us was frustrating. Don’t be put off by this, it is something you have to do but it certainly should not have been so frustrating but it was. We thought it was just us, but having read other blogs/forums and spoken to friends of ours that built, the admin part of the build is the worst part!

Anyway rather than moan about it, I’m going to try and put together some of the lessons we learnt along the way. And then I’ll whinge and moan! Ha

The number one thing is this – read and check everything! This applies for everything – tenders, quotes, plans, contracts, building agreements, variations! Don’t assume that your building company does it all the time and will get it right. Don’t assume that since you have discussed and confirmed in email a change/addition etc that it will actually be reflected in your contract/variation.

When you go from a tender to a contract, before you sign the contract make sure nothing that was included in your tender has ‘mysteriously’ not made it into the contract (e.g. recessed door tracks).

The second lesson we learnt was to make sure you have as much as possible included in your original tender before you sign the contract. The contract you sign should be as correct/final as you can make it. We made the mistake of signing our contract at the same time as signing a post contract variation (PCV) in the belief that it would speed the process along. It didn’t! We had to have multiple ‘drafts’ of the variation because Clarendon couldn’t seem to get what we actually wanted in the variation (took 4 weeks to get right). And on top of this, because the PCV actually reversed a previous change and resulted in changed plans we had the unfortunate experience of having the wrong plans submitted to our certifier for approval.  These ‘wrong’ plans got approved (had a smaller balcony), but when Clarendon admin finally recognised the mistake, we then had to go back to the certifier and to council for a relaxation that added 4 weeks to the process!

If we ever build again, I would go as far as to list the tiles, tap ware etc I wanted included rather than rely on an included range. I would make sure it is very specific. One experience we had was in regards to the inclusions. We opted for a ‘diamond’ range kitchen (as per the display home), however when it came to colour selections,  our colour consultant tried to tell us that the createc laminate wasn’t included in our contract as it only stated ‘a laminate’. If we hadn’t stuck to our guns regarding as per the diamond on display, we would have been charged another $2,500 on top of the upgrade costs of the diamond kitchen!

So my advice is, while you are dealing with the sales person, get everything you want included before signing a contract and make it very specific. In hindsight, it was crazy for us to sign a contract when we didn’t even have correct plans (I just wanted to get it started!). Make the salesman work before you pay the 5% deposit! There were times in the admin process that if we hadn’t paid the 5% we would have walked away from building with Clarendon.  Had we specified everything (well as much as possible) in the tender process we would have had less post contract variations and there would have been less (not none I’m sure) changes, errors and mistakes in the admin stage.

Third lesson learnt – if you’re not happy with the progress during the administration stage, escalate it to the area manager. We didn’t escalate our ‘file’ until late August after we got super frustrated that were weren’t going to meet out building commence start date that was in our contract (26 August 2015). We should have escalated our concerns way earlier than we did. We really should have raised our concerns right at the start when we had all our problems getting the first PCV right!  4 weeks was way too long, especially as we detailed everything in emails and at one stage even drafted a version of the PCV so that they could simply copy and paste (and they still got things wrong/chose to forget items!).

While I hate complaining, if nothing else the escalation would have brought our file to the attention of the area manager sooner and unfortunately the ‘squeaky wheel get the oil’!

Now the whinge…

As I’ve mentioned, the admin process in our build wasn’t much fun. The biggest frustrations arose from:

  • Errors/mistakes/exclusion in documenting the post contract variations. To us it felt like not enough effort/care was put in by Clarendon’s staff to get this right. The most frustrating part of it was that everything was written down, in a clear manner and we were available to discuss if need be and yet mistakes were consistently made!
  • Without knowing who was responsible for updating our PCV we can only assume that was our CSC’s job and this, as pointed out above, was poorly done.  Questions we asked weren’t answered, or were half answered with lead to more confusion. In our opinion, things we thought were simple were made complicated by the admin process. Requests for items that we knew existed and could be used were met with a flat answer of ‘no you can’t do that/they don’t make that’. Case in point was the front door.In our situation, dealing with the admin stage was almost enough for us to walk away from Clarendon. It was simply terrible and we have raised this Clarendon.
  • Customer service consultant and Colours consultant not knowing what was actually included in our contract and trying to ‘down’ sell us items (hopefully unknowingly by them) when we had higher quality/more expensive options already included in our contract. As I mentioned above, this could have resulted in us paying for createc laminate twice! There were other instances with door handles, cabinet handles, our timber stairs! And to add to the confusion, the booklet they sent us prior to the colour selections had different names for items in the showroom. In fact, just to add to the confusion, the names for the door handles in brochure were the same as the names for the door handles in the showroom, but the names were all mixed up – for example Door handle A in the booklet was called Door handle B in the showroom. So even after we had reiterated that the door handle we wanted was the door handle a we still aren’t confident that we will get the right handle!

Anyway, that’s enough whinging! We have finally finished the admin stage, so my next post will hopefully be a lot shorter, happier and with some pictures!!

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