It’s no secret that I’m home-building obsessed. But I’m not the only one. There’s a zillion people like me, and worse, hanging about on the “HomeOne Forum“. There are first-time home builders, repeat offenders, and even professionals. No question is too silly, tips are given and mistakes are shared. It’s on the HomeOne Forum that I (virtually) met Miranda and Cameron, fellow customers of Webb and Brown-Neaves. Miranda and Cameron recently moved into their new home and it’s a home to drool over. Miranda has been such a fantastic help to me during our build process so far, warning me of traps for beginners, sharing details of trades she recommends and answering my endless questions.
I’m so excited to introduce awesome couple, Miranda and Cameron, and their equally awesome new home to you!
When Miranda, a lawyer, and Cameron, a management consultant, became engaged and started searching for a family home in Perth, they were looking for established homes. During their search they viewed a house built by Webb and Brown-Neaves a decade earlier. The block was too small to accommodate a double garage and was crossed off the list but the house made a lasting impression on Cameron and Miranda, particularly how well it suited the neighbourhood. This lead to some research into building costs, the purchase of an old house fit for demolition and the decision to build a new home.
HBTW: What were your new house “must haves”?
M & C: 3+ bedrooms, study, home theatre, large WIR, scullery/ pantry, island bench in kitchen, large living areas at rear opening to alfresco, pool, storage spaces, as large a backyard as possible and a rear garage.
HBTW: And “nice to haves”?
M & C: Free standing bath, storage space that could become a cellar, 4th bedroom/ activity room, very high ceilings in the living areas (at least 33 courses), slightly larger minor bedrooms than the norm and the pool located beside the living area.
HBTW: What inspired your home layout and material choice decisions?
M & C: Having a corner block with a rear lane way and a North-facing back yard dictated much of the design. In terms of style, we are drawn to natural, organic but elegant spaces. We stayed in some inspiring accommodation in the Maldives for our honeymoon just before we had to make a lot of the decisions for our house.
M: I searched for a ceiling fan like the one we saw in the Maldives and was lucky that Beacon released the “artemis” just in time for our builders to install it.
HBTW: What or who was your best source of building information?
M & C: Hours of research on google, the HomeOne Forum, Miranda’s dad who is an engineer and friends who have built before.
HBTW: How did you divide the planning and decision making between you?
C: I looked after the electronics, cabling, sound and TVs. Also the pool equipment and heating.
M: Most decisions were made together. Even though this takes time, the house belongs to both of us and we are both indecisive. We usually wanted a second opinion, or third, or fourth!
We took a six-week interior design course at Home Base. I think it was great that we did the course together. We learnt a lot and it gave us some structure to be able to work out what style we liked and why, which choices work together and the pros and cons of various options. I was surprised that there were very few men at the course.
HBTW: What are your top tips for those starting the process of building a new house?
M & C:
- Sales consultants can make a big impact on your experience. Visit different display homes until you find one that you feel comfortable with.
- Get everything in writing. Make lists of what you have to do and what the builders have said they’ll do.
- Check all drawings, addendas, variations and costings very carefully.
- If something is very important to you, be prepared to do the research yourself. The “impossible” may actually be possible.
- Really think about your block, not just its aspect, but also the ground levels in relation to privacy and views.
HBTW: How about tips for people already building? Like me!
M & C: Sorry HBTW, some of our tips won’t work for you…
- Visit your site often and take lots of photos. They might not be relevant immediately but could be useful later.
- If issues arise and the builder proposes a solution, make sure you know the cost implications before you agree.
- Be able to describe your style in a way that makes sense to the various people you’ll be working with. (Pinterest helps!)
- Add conduits everywhere, especially for motorised blinds.
- Watch out for quotes that don’t include GST or other essentials, like delivery.
HBTW: What was your biggest mistake?
M & C: Believing that Webb and Brown-Neaves could accommodate a custom design or even substantial changes to their normal designs. The majority of mistakes we noticed were related to these changes. Their processes just aren’t set up for that, and it didn’t work well.
M: On a smaller scale, I regret letting the lighting consultant talk me into keeping oyster lights in the walk-in-robe and laundry. Even if the light is better from oyster lights, I don’t like how they look (especially how green they look when they’re on). We’ll need to replace those.
HBTW: Were there any companies that were so good, you’d like to give them a plug?
M & C:
1. Aussie Clotheslines. Their sales people were really helpful. It was easy to book in a convenient time only a couple of days after I rang them. They turned up on time and did what they said they’d do for the original price and didn’t leave any mess or damage anything in the process. If I could say that about everyone involved in building, it would have been a thousand times easier!
2. Just Blinds. Andy organised our blinds and shutters and has been very helpful. He came back a couple of times, for example, when the electrician was struggling with the connections to motorise the blinds. He doesn’t have a shop so he comes to you, with all the samples to choose from and all the info. It was a very easy process.
3. Freedom’s Decorator Service. Felicia, from Freedom in Osborne Park was excellent. She really listened and understood what we wanted. She made great suggestions and not just for Freedom things. She helped us with all sorts of decisions like skirting, blinds and paint colours. She gave us the confidence to do a few things that we wouldn’t otherwise have done, but really like: for example, having a couple of non-matching dining chairs; using several different types of timber in our living area and having a fitball in the study instead of a second office chair. She was going for a feeling that was more “young and fun”, rather than trying to re-create the kind of rooms our parents would want. No disrespect to our parents intended!
HBTW: What is your favourite part of the house now?
M: My favourite part of the house is looking into the kitchen from the living area, where you can see the kitchen, pendant lights, stonework and bar stools. (HBTW: Mine too, Miranda. The combination is amazing.)
C: My favourite part of the house is probably the home theatre, though I really like our bedroom and living area too.
HBTW: What was you biggest splurge?
M: At the time of purchase, my pendants and freestanding bath felt like big splurges but now that we’ve been worn down by all sorts of high costs, we’ve become a bit numb and those amounts don’t seem so high any more.
C: Have you forgotten the cost of the ovens?
M: Yes, the Miele warming drawer, normal oven and steam oven. They were definitely my biggest splurge.
C: My biggest splurge was the pool. And putting the pool up against the house – with the extra cost of footings and engineering work that required. The plan is to put a tv in our alfresco so I can sit in the pool and still being able to watch the cricket! I’m thinking of a housewarming party on boxing day, watching the Boxing Day Test from the pool.
HBTW: What was the first thing you did upon receiving the keys to your new house?
M & C: We rushed straight back to the house to let in the flooring people. They needed to get started that day to get their work done in time for other people who were booked in. We had re-shuffled everything following a few delays.
The weekend we moved in was much happier – champagne was involved that day.
HBTW: Thanks Miranda and Cameron for sharing your home pictures and all the nitty, gritty details. I hope you have many happy years in your beautiful new family home!