Sunday, October 26, 2014


It was nearly 8 months ago that my other half and I, while strolling around a park after my birthday dinner, decided to take a look at some land and display homes and see if building a new house might be an option for us. For the two years up until then, we had been doing up bits and pieces of our 1950's ex-public housing 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house and it just wasn't cutting it. The phrase 'you can't polish a turd' comes to mind. Excuse the language.
The Living Room in the Box during painting

The Box

I had bought the house in 2007, as a way of getting my foot into the housing market. I had always wanted to keep it for a couple of years, do some improvements and then upgrade to something nicer. Life had other plans though. A failed relationship, redundancy and lots of debt later and I started renting the house out while I moved in with my (then) boyfriend and his mother. Eventually I found a good job, got on top of the debt, got married and my husband (P) and I decided to do some minor renovations and then move into the house ourselves.

Falling in Love

We visited the Point Cook display villages first and absolutely fell in love with the idea of building a house from scratch. The houses are so well laid out now, compared to our rather boxy 50's aluminium clad house. The thought of picking out everything for ourselves and not being left with someone else's mistakes to deal with had great appeal.

Finding the Right Spot

Around this time we also started looking at land. We wanted to stick to our local area, as we like it and there are lots of new estates around here. I was leaning towards a new estate but P wanted something in a well-established area. I suspected this was mainly due to lack of technology available in some of the new estates. We noted that mobile coverage is poor in those estates, and a lot are still waiting on options for Internet and such to be connected. As I work from home quite often and P is in IT and is often tinkering with his server and network stuff, going without Internet is not really an option for us.

It became a pretty much daily activity for either of us to be doing searches for land on - either at home or during our work lunch breaks!
I think it was a rainy Saturday evening in late March that P found a search that didn't make sense. A house that was listed under 'Land' sales? It was a large-ish block at 550m2 and was only a couple of minutes away in an established estate. So we jumped in the car to go check it out.
We realised quickly that the block highlighted on the website's satellite photo was not actually the one for sale. It was actually the one two doors up, which was a bit bigger than listed (it's actually just under 620m2, not 550m2). We also realised pretty quickly why it was being listed as land only.
The house had been absolutely gutted by a fire. From satellite photos we were able to find online, not one room in the house had been left untouched. It must have been pretty devastating.
I'm almost ashamed to say that it made us excited. The location was pretty much perfect. A bus stop across the road, a park with trees and a playground a block down the street, close to my parents and still close to the freeway. It even had a little milk bar only a few houses down! Ok, the milk bar I got a little too excited about but it made me nostalgic - we had one near where I grew up and I still have fond memories of walking there with my little brother and sister and picking out icy-poles during summer.

We made an offer on the block that week and part of the deal was that the vendors arranged and saw through the demolition of the house, so that what we bought was a clear block.
It turned out to be a good thing, because apparently a burned-out house on a block is seen by a bank valuer as higher risk and harder to sell than a clear block. So the initial valuation came in pretty low but the second one (once the demolition was over with) was spot on. Yay!
It was a pretty stressful time, getting through all the paperwork and organising everything for the sale. I was glad to see the end of it. By the end of June we were the proud owners of a plot of dirt to build our dream home - we were also the owners of two mortgages!!
Our new block! This was right after the demo

It was maybe not the smartest thing to do. Buying the land was kind of an impulse decision (even though we'd done sums and talked it out with a family-friend broker and that kind of thing before hand). It just means that we now have to start saving again to be able to build rather than being able to build straight away like we want to. Luckily, being an older area, we are not bound to start building within a set period of time.

Here we Are

So here we are, looking at display houses (and visiting the same one over and over - but more on that in a future post). We go to home expos, watch a lot of design TV shows and we love daydreaming what it will look like and how we will live in our house once it's built.