Sunday, August 14, 2011

AV Jennings vs. Allworth

I built my home with AV Jennings from Jan 2010 - March 2011, including right from the very beginning getting a quote from them to hand over. Recently we are building with friends another house, also at the Ponds, with Allworth, as an investment house.

There are some very interesting comparisons.

We chose Allworth mainly for the three reasons:

  • They seem to be very popular among home owners around Ponds. They are building probably the most houses in the area.
  • Their base price is very competitive. And
  • Their building lead time is one of the shortest - around 15 - 17 weeks for a single story house.
However Allworth has a few other things that are not as good as Jennings.

  • You sign a contract with Jennings as soon as you accept their formal tender. With Allworth you have to wait until DA approval and Construction Certificate are completed. Normally that is 4 - 6 months time and by the time you are ready to sign the contract, you might be subject two price increases. (normally builder reviews their price every 6 months) What's more, we were not told by Allworth that the tender price quoted by them would almost NOT be the final contract price, due to the fact that they would only sign the contract once all paperworks are ready. We ended up paying $3000 more due to two price increases, which we didn't expect.
  • Every contract will have some exclusions. However Jennings contract did include all the necessary you need to finish the house. So you can indeed expect a fixed price contract, knowing that how much you would pay. With Allworth, once slab is done, we were told that the dirts due to slab pier drilling, would need to be removed by ourselves. At the contract signing, we were not told that this is definitely something we would need to pay by ourselves some time down the track. That's a few hundred dollars extra.
  • Jennings's quote had allowed for enough slab pier holes. With Allworth, not sure if intentionally or not, they had to drill 40% more pier holes before pouring slabs. Another extra two grands we need to pay. As I said earlier, they are building a lot of houses of the same design in the area, I can't understand how their estimation would be out by so much!
  • Finally, we are told the site supervisor doesn't have a mobile nor an email for us to contact him. We need to ring a landline only on three days a week, and only after 3pm. It's hard to imagine that when someone is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars building a house, you can only contact the site supervisor 3 days a week, after 3pm, on a landline.

All in all, Allworth still has some good advantages, such as competitive base price, fast building. But there are also a few other things that they could have done better.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Another Satellite Imagine update - 16 May

This update comes as a surprise. Last time it took them 6 months to get a fresh shot!

You can see the completed landscaping now!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Latest Satellite Imagine - 13 Apr 2011

Latest satellite imagine, taken on 13 Apr 2011.

It was the day when the guys were laying the turf. As you can see when the photo was taken the backyard had already been done but not the front yard. By the end of that day all the turf was completed - the photo was taken just a few hours too early.

Wait for next update for the complete picture then.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Landscape should finish by the end of this week. Photos here show the progress:

Before concrete for Al Fresco poured
When it's completed

Al Fresco completed

Site excavated and levelled

Soil spread, before planting
When it's completed

Plants that will go in

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bins for the new home

I had thought council won't release garbage bin and recycle bin to the new house until you have a final Occupancy Certificate, or at least an Interim Occupancy Certificate, which means you are legally allowed to live in there.

It turned out Blacktown Council is happy to deliver bins to your new house if you ring them and tell them house has been completed and handed over to you. I have to say that's quite a considerable approach, because sometimes it takes a while to organise the final inspection and if there are some outstanding items to address, the Occupancy Certificate may take a while to complete.

But then again you would have started paying rates once you have purchased the land so after all you are getting the services you have already been paying for!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Welcome to the Ponds

Michele, the Community Program Coordinator, dropped by this morning with a bag of useful pamphlets about local area, such as local library, shopping centers, sports facilities, medical centers, bus information etc. There is also some nice small gifts, a picnic rug, free pass to local sports center etc.

She also said another sports center, near the current display villages, will also open within 6 months time. There will be basketball courts, tennis courts etc. All look pretty good!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

ADSL2 Speed

Pretty good result .. it's on Telstra network by the way, although I am getting it through a reseller!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fences done

Timber fences were done today! The rest of landscape hopefully will finish in another week!

Al fresco

Backyard - Before Landscape

Fences - East side

Fences - West side

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 11 & 12 - Moving

Saturday & Sunday were busying moving, cleaning old place and unpacking and organising new place. More photos to come .. too busying unpacking etc .. hopefully will have a few photos by the end of the week.

Main Bathroom

Main Bathroom - Two


Family - 1

Family - 4

Living - TV not fitted yet

Fencing also started on Saturday! More photos later.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 9 & 10 after handover - driveway, cleaning, furniture, antenna & ADSL

Day 9:
  • Concrete poured for driveway and Al Fresco area.
  • More cleaning done, this time it's the general cleaning for the whole house, including the dusts from cutting timber inside the house when they were being installed, 
  • and also a few more furniture assembled.

Day 10:
  • TV antenna installed
  • outstanding wardrobe shelves installed
  • ADSL connected, in 2 days!!! Very very impressive (applied on 16th and connected on 18th!)
Photos to follow later!

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Day 7 & 8 after handover - Floors and blinds done

    Floors were done yesterday. Spent whole day today doing the cleaning - they were cutting the timber inside the house and that really made a big mass!

    Also today all blinds are fitted. Photos taken by the phone camera so the quality may not be as good.

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Day 4 - 6 after handover

    Day 4: Not much going on in terms of construction. But I've started moving some minor stuff.
    Day 5: Finally tiles cleaned. Also got some furniture assembled - some by myself and some by professionals.
    Day 6: Timer floor should start and should complete to a great extend, more excavation done for landscaping.

    Excavation done - Backyard
    Side of the house, after Excavation
    The other side of the house, after excavation
    A corner of the bedroom
    A corner of the living room

    Friday, March 11, 2011

    Day 3 after handover

    I've bought a corner desk from IKEA and two storage shelves from Bunnings. Did some minor internal cleaning myself.

    Although it's still a weekday no contractor was working today. As previous post said the reason was that they all need to be re-booked and the earliest is next week:

    • Sunday: Tile cleaning. I said I would cancel the order if it couldn't be done before Monday. You can see why it has to be before Monday below.
    • Monday: Timber floors, fences go up.
    • Tuesday: Timber floors continues, Driveway concrete pouring
    • Wednesday: Blinds, Carpenters (for balance of Walk-In-Robe shelves), overall cleaning
    • Thursday: A/C and alarms
    • Friday: Antenna, external lights, termite treatment
    • Saturday & Sunday: moving
    As you can see that's another full week schedule!

    Day 2 after handover

    Tiling was finally done by the end of today! Thank God!

    However the site was excavated yesterday for landscape but the tilers today again had some wastes dumped on the soon-to-be lawn areas. Don't know if the landscape people are going to be happy or not when they find out.

    Also since tiling was meant to be done last week we had to turn away followings today because they didn't have access. They all need to be re-scheduled and they will affect other things too, such as cleaning, which will need to be re scheduled too.
    • Carpenters for the wardrobe shelves fit out
    • Blinds installation, and
    • most importantly, the timber floors!

    Quite a bit of knock-on effects! It looks like sometimes you need to be on someone's back all the time to make sure they did what they were meant to do! Tilers actually did all right (in terms of progress). It's just that someone forgot to tell them to start until I actually found out myself a few days before handover!

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Day 1 after hand over

    A lot was done today:

    • Tiles fitting finished, they will do grouting tomorrow
    • John Cootes and Fantastics did some delivery
    • Telstra connected phone line
    • Excavation started for landscaping construction
    The pictures show them hard working with the bob cat. Gee that machine was really noisy!
    They've dug out 5 or 6 trucks of dirts for today's excavation.

    The noisy Bob-cat

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    Handover today - 8th March, Week 59

    So this is it .. 401 days after putting down land deposit,and exactly 150 days after they started construction, handover was set at 9am this morning!

    I arrived 15 minutes earlier and the site supervisor also just arrived! Good timing. And this is in fact the first I've met him. All previous correspondence was done via phone, email or text. Apparently he's being promoted to an office manager position looking after some 8 site supervisors. Congratulations to him for his promotion, and congratulations to me for getting my new home!

    I've also asked an independent inspector (Howard Ryan) to come along since I am no expert on this anyway. Other people have given him quite good feedback. I am keen to see what he'll find out and he's promised to send me his report tonight.

    There are only a few minor issues found:
    • An extra GPO in family room is still missing. There was already an electrician coming this morning to do final electrical check. So he added the GPO too in a few minutes.
    • The flyscreen for master bedroom missing too.
    • Privacy lock missing.
    • Wardrobe sliding doors will be fitted on Thursday.
    • And Howard found a few spots that need to be touched up here and there
    All in all nothing seems to be of great concern. Apparently my site supervisor is leaving for holiday for a week tomorrow. In order to give the house to me he set the handover to be today and the traides can still finish the rest of minor items throughout the rest of the week. That works for me because I can start doing my part straightaway.

    The important things in the next few days are to get the floors done, blinds fitted, furniture delivered and phone connected. Landscape will also start tomorrow but that is going to take up to 2 weeks.

    Added: What was also done today:

    • Mattress delivered
    • tiles in living area started

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    Week 58 - Almost there, but not quite ...

    Went to site around lunch time, fences were gone and the construction debris were  cleaned too!

    Peeking through windows, the kitchen sink was installed, so was cooking top and hot water system. However other than that everything else in last week's to do list are still missing. On top of that I noticed flyscreens were not fitted too.

    I actually rang SS on Friday asking him if the handover was still on track and he said 'yup'. So either he thought he was talking to someone else (I hope not) or there is going to be a super Monday to get all rest done.

    Already know the tiling will NOT be done until after handover because it was not part of the contract with builder, although I was once promised otherwise. I might change my mind and have timber in living areas too .. let's see what happens on Monday!

    Saturday, February 26, 2011

    Week 57 - Electrical done, still bits and pieces left

    Looking from outside through the window I can see all lights and air conditioning ducts are fitted.

    What are still left:

    • Shower screens, both bathroom and ensuite
    • Wardrobe sliding doors
    • Missing GPO and electrical junction boxes
    • Kitchen sink delivered but not fitted
    • Living area tiles
    Hope they will finish all these next week coz the hand over is the week after!

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    Week 55 - Wet area tiles done

    What are still left:

    • Bath tub etc fix out
    • Sliding doors for built-in wardrobe
    • Living area tiles
    • Electrical (GPOs, lights, oven, a/c etc)
    And I think that would be it!

    Main Bathroom - 1

    Main Bathroom - 2

    Ensuite - The feature 'strip' isn't very visible 

    Splash back in kitchen

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Week 54 - Tiles continuing, Fixing out and Blinds ordered

    Went to do the measurements for blinds and luckily tilers were in there working so we could get access to the inside. It looked like they have only started but they reckon they can finish by Tuesday next week.

    Followings have been fitted during the week:

    • Garage Door
    • Kitchen cupboards, sinks
    • Vanity in both Ensuite and main bath

    Also the quote for blinds seems reasonable so I've decided to put down the deposit. Shutters will take 8 -10 weeks. I think they are made overseas and then shipped in. Everything else (roller blinds, Venetians and Vertical) should only take 2 - 3 weeks so we should be all right!

    Kitchen - Bench top and cook top side

    Kitchen - Sinks & Dishwasher