For the love of a cobblestone driveway.

Cobblestone driveway by William Dangar on Flickr.

Cobblestone driveway by William Dangar on Flickr.

Pavers are fine, but cobblestones are special!  They remind me of some of the beautiful old cities that I’ve visited around the world.  We asked our builders to change the standard driveway pavers to cobblestones.  They said “No problem.  That’ll be $70K.”  Undeterred and encouraged by my blog readers I asked for some independent quotes.  Happily, we now have a quote for $25K and are waiting for some more quotes.  Still rather extravagant for a driveway but, as you will have gathered by now, sometimes we are suckers for something beautiful.  Our builders will credit us about $5000 for the driveway pavers that were included in our contract.

One decision always seems to lead to another with building plans, so now that we are mentally committed to the cobblestone driveway we’ve realised we need to consider the track across the driveway that will host the automatic/motorised gate.  That means we need to think about the front fence again.  I’m going in circles!

We are still being drip fed variation costs.  The latest being $2300 for dropped footings to the dining room and alfresco walls, over which our deck will be laid.  We are still missing an actual sum (as opposed to a provisional sum) for the earth works.  Despite this we have received our final variation cost sheets for signing.  For the next day or two I will be triple checking all the documents but I think our pre start consultant has it under control.  The messiest item to check is the electricals and lighting.  The provision of lights comes from one company, the smart wiring from another, and the installation is by the builder.  Some of the lights, electricals and installations are included, others are not.  During a quick scan, I spotted the words “oyster lights”, so I’m suspicious that I’m going to find some mistakes in there.

Enough chatter.  Can you tell that I’m avoiding checking those documents one last time?


Variation costs

Do you like the good news or the bad news first?

I always prefer the good:

  • We have a new and super-organised “pre start consultant”.  She writes me emails full of lists.  She answers all my questions.  AND, she is currently celebrating her own slab.  I think her heart is in her job.
  • Most of the pre start variations have been costed.  The driveway variation cost makes the retaining walls look good.
  • There are a few credits in our variation list, for example, we deleted the timber look kick board and wall oven surround in the kitchen.  $1907.
  • We are getting closer to something actually happening on our block.

And now for the bad.  We’ve had to cross a few nice things off our list because the cost is just plain silly:

  • Cobblestone driveway. ~$60K or $550 per square metre.  I know that cobblestones aren’t cheap (in Australia) and require a solid base, but I had a figure of ~$200/m2 in my mind.  Looks like it’s back to standard paving for us.  We may pull it all up later and put in the cobblestones ourselves.  I’ve been checking out the standard paving options, but I’m also getting an independent quote for a cobblestone driveway.

    Cobblestones in "Endicott", $110/sqm.

    Cobblestones in “Endicott”, $110/sqm (not installed).

  • Wooden hand rails on our balustrades instead of polished stainless steel.   Plus $4000.  We have about 12 metres of balustrade, including a curved section.  Hmph.  The polished stainless steel looks quite harsh.  I hope our wood floors will soften the look.  (Wrought iron is an affordable alternative but I’m not keen on that either.)
  • Calacatta Caesarstone for the kitchen island instead of standard Caesarstone.  Plus $8600!  Whoah.  Just for the (waterfall-edged) island bench – not including the benches either side of the stove top or in the scullery.   Plan B is Caesarstone Alpine Mist – that’s $4652 for all the kitchen and scullery bench tops including the island bench.  The “Nice Wolf” doesn’t know that yet though, so I might have to work on a Plan C.  (Nice Wolf – please see credit note for deleting timber-look laminate in kitchen.)
  • Fancy shower drain $880 for 2.  I wonder if these can be retrofitted ($60 each online)?  Probably not….

    Bermuda shower grate.

    Bermuda shower grate.

  • USB wall outlets – $140 each (downstairs), $180 each (upstairs) including installation.

And now here is a small “maybe pile”:

  • Upgrade to a different front door that matches a decorative screen door better.  $950.  Would you?

And finally, the “OK, wish it was cheaper, but we want it pile”:

This list does not include variations that we added before signing the building contract.

  • Build the right size hole for the firebox.  $1422.
  • A hole in the wall, electrical connection, a concrete plinth and admin fees to accommodate the air-conditioning $1595.
  • Entry door “rebate” to fit future flyscreen $106.
  • Niche in shower to sit the shampoo bottle $446.
  • Viewing windows in the meter box for Synergy (electricity) and Alinta (gas) $138 each.
  • Rail change in WIR $51.
  • Change from clear to translucent glazing to the ensuite WC door $80.
  • 10 pullout pot drawers in pantry $1563.
  • Minor tweaks to bathrooms and laundry $255.
  • Change from stainless steel to ceramic laundry trough  $217.
  • Change toilets to avoid icky dust collections behind older style toilets.  $349 for 3 toilets.
  • Cold water tap to fridge $266.
  • Extra electrical/lighting costs (over and above the $10000 allowance – note this does not include the actual lights). $2874.
  • Extra tiling costs $4256.
  • Changed taps in kitchen and laundry $26 each.

Ooh,  I wish I hadn’t just written that.

We are facing at least $13 000 in extras on this list.  There have been a lot of emails back and forth to Webb and Brown-Neaves this week.  This is our last chance to get everything right before any further changes incur financial penalties.