Saturday, August 15, 2009

Preliminary Contract received by email yesterday - a LONG post!

Well, our preliminary contract meeting is for Tuesday Aug 18th - we received a copy of it by email yesterday.

It contained details on the floorplan, facade, overlooking, overshadowing etc, plus a more formal documentation of all the upgrades and promo items, and of course - site costs!

We were informed of approx $30k in site costs, and it's a few hundred bucks more than that in total. Includes such charges as;
  • Cut & Fill 3k
  • Slab upgrade from M to P $7k
  • Redevelop costs $7k - additional survey, site cleans, temp fencing, traffic management, protection to adjoining houses etc
  • Reconnection to sewer $750
  • Cranes $3k
  • Double handling $2500
  • Termite protection $1500
  • Underground power pit $5k - we might arrange this ourselves, apparently the true cost is about $2k if we organise it!
  • Temp power pole $1k
However, there are a few things which we weren't particularly aware we had to do - perils of building for the first time I guess! Including;

1) "Owner to apply for "Report & Consent" from relevant authorities for building over easement. "Report & Consent" to be applied for prior to building permit application. Customer to be aware that this item does not constitute approval, therefore siting is conditional on approval. Owner to apply to local authority to obtain neighbours names and addresses prior to M homes making application".

We have a 1.83m easement along the back which isn't a problem, but also a 1.83m easement along the side, and currently our siting puts the house approx 2.055m from the boundary. So I have a few uncertainties here;

a) Do I have to get all the approvals from Yarra Valley Water and local council? If so, do I have to do this prior to signing the preliminary contract, or can I do it before signing final contracts?
b) Is there any risk that this will be denied (and then throwing off the whole building process?) We don't mind so much if there's a little extra cost in piers or whatever else is structurally required so much.

We did post this question on Homeone and here's a reply we received - what a source of knowledge that forum is!

"Hi sklnv,

Which suburb are you building in? How many pipes do you have in your side easement?

We have a plot of land in SE suburb within Monash City. Our land has a 3m wide drainage easement running along the side boundary. Easement has 2 pipes, one belonging to council and one to Yarra Valley Water. We had faced a similar situation (except that we weren't going to build over the easement but near to the easment) and had a previous knockback with council's engineering with a previous design which saw the house sited 50cm from the easement and the builder having to dig into the easement to take some land from there to fill other parts of the site. Engineering disallowed this cos' the council's pipe was rather shallow in the ground and old too. Luckily, we were only at the pre-contract stage (Tender) and could walk away unscathed. With this knowledge (council not approving siting near to the easement), we knew that we had to be at least 1m away from the easement for the next design we could find for our land.

Now, we have signed with another volume builder to build our house. We applied for consent to Yarra Valley Water to build close to the easement (our siting of the house is 1 m away from the easment and their pipe lies 90 cm from the side boundary). We did this before signing. We were given approval by Yarra Valley and this only took a few days (even though they said it could take up to 2 weeks for processing). You would need to supply Yarra Valley with a copy of your prelim site plans when making your application and a small fee is payable. Since Monash city owned the storm water pipe (the second pipe in our easement), we spoke with the council's engineering dept - brought in all documents (i.e site plan and engineering computations). The engineer gave me the all clear and said I didn't need to make any applications for consent.
You can always start making your enquiries now with Yarra Valley and your city council since it can take time for processing of the applications. With council, they would need to advertise your report and consent application to your neighbours - 14 days advertising period and than some days to make a decision (ours took 2.5 weeks only in total). Even if council indicated to you that there wouldn't be a problem for you to build over the easement, it only takes one neighbour to raise a valid objection for you not to get consent! You could appeal against a rejection of your consent application but this is with another division. (In our case, we were lucky that we got consent for a reduced front setback despite one neighbour objecting. The assistant building inspector said that my neighbour's objection wasn't valid to our application. Neighbour said she was concerned about loss of sunlight to her verandah. For us, the drainage easement and an angled frontage worked to our advantage in order for us to have a reduced front setback! phew)

The other thing you would need to find out is the depth of the pipe(s) in your easement. If they are not very deep, you may get an objection from either the Yarra Valley or the council. The best really is to contact Yarra Valley (for depth and location of their pipe in the easement) and your city council for advice. Yarra Valley in our experience has always given us a prompt reply. They emailed to us the location and invert depth of their water pipe to us. Yarra Valley would also probably tell you to submit an application for consent to them.I can't remember whether we had to pay for this info though. You would probably be able to get all your questions answered by your city council on the day that you pop into their office to speak with someone from Ton & Planning (and engineering if there is a city pipe in your easement too). The one thing that Town & Planning will say to you is that they can't commit to an answer. You just need to persist (gently) with your line of order for you get as much information as possible.

Hope this helps."
What a useful bit of info! We're planning to go straight to the council and Yarra Valley Water after the prelim contract meeting to get this sorted out. This is one item I wish M had informed us of weeks ago!

Anyway, there are a couple of other items we have to organise

2) Ask neighbour's consent to knock down the bit of fence where our garage wall will be, as it's closer than 150mm to the fence/boundary. Will have to ask the neighbours (who are renting) the details of their landlord.

3) Organise demolition approval - which needs to be approved prior to M submitting the council building approval. Again, we could have been told of this a month ago?

so a bit of a downer to the start of the weekend with the realisation there's a lot of work we have to do fairly quickly. In order to avoid delay fees of about $1800 per month, we have to have the final contract unconditional by November 24 - which means we have to sign & pay the 5% deposit on final contract a month before that ie October 24.

Worst case scenario; should building over the easement not be approved, or the neighbour disallows the fence to be knocked down, or demolition approval not given - we might just have to walk away from the current contract with M and start again with another M house design, or simply restart again at a later date. Let's hope it doesn't come to that!

Anyway, to finish with I know we all like to see pictures, so here's a model I did of the house from the back view, with dark brown bricks (and watertank & side fence!). Thanks to Michelle for posting brick upgrade prices!!

Also as promised, Jo recommended we draw up any kitchen redesign plans. Here's one showing our preferred layout for pot drawers (heaps of them!) to the side kitchen bench, and an additional door to the island bench.

Anyway, if any reader has advice regarding demolition companies, applying for building over easements, and dealing with neighbours and fences, please leave a comment as everything helps!



  1. HI Tim and Tina,
    sorry to hear about your troubles.
    I thought I might provide some info so you can compare some of my cost.
    Scrap and Fill $767
    Slab upgrade from class M to class P $15 k
    Includes Bored concrete piers, re-enforcement,garage step down.
    Reestabishment survey $1190 (I removed this and got the option of arranging it myself. My cost were $500)
    Temporary Fencing $390 (I couldn't get out of this one even though I already had a temporary fence on my property.
    Someone mentioned to me that all prices are negotiatble and I could have challenged alot of the cost if I had quotes from others. I wish I had known this before I signed the final contract. Good Luck! Jenny

  2. Hi Tim & Tina

    I tried posting a message the other day but stuffed it up.

    My message was that we are also building a Nolan 41 in Whitehorse. They have just put the roof on and brick work starts next week.

    If you have any questions we are happy to help!



  3. Hi Jen; yep costs quoted were pretty much similar to yours as well. Wish I thought about asking to remove temporary fencing as we also will have to put our own up for the demolition, but I reckon M would have some contract with a fence company. And as for re-establishment survey, forgot to take that out too - doh! Wonder if we can still cross it out at final contract signing in mid october?

    njlj: you're building in whitehorse too? excellent! We're still waiting on whitehorse council to approve our "building over easement" permit, that's the final uncertainty before we sign the final contract. Have you got a blog or email, as there's probably a million things we'd want to ask about over the next year or so! :)


  4. Dont live in your area but getting scared from the costs

    Thinking on going owner builder



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