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.

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