Our journey to build in The Ponds began over 12 months ago. My husband and I were having a lovely morning out (without children in April 2010) at Stanhope Gardens and decided to go for a drive to find out what all the fuss was about over The Ponds.
We arrived at the Sales Centre and I was totally blown away. What an amazing suburb. A wonderful community right at our back door (we lived then, at Quakers Hill). We walked into the Sales Centre and Michelle happened to mention that a very good block had come back onto the market in Waterfall 6. We ummed and aahed about whether to leave the deposit, but decided that it wasn't the right time for us.
We looked into it more along with doing some research (specifically with our Bank and also The Ponds website). We both decided that this was where we wanted to live. It wasn't such a big move for us, so all our local friends would still be local as well as having minimal impact on schools.
So, we put our house at Quakers Hill on the market. We then waited for the next land release. Hubby and I had pored over the Masterplan and had spent hours deciding which areas would be right for us. We ended up deciding Waterfall 9 was the place for us, due to its location - close to shops, playgrounds and a priority for us - near the sports fields without being too close to worry about all the additional traffic on a weekend / weeknight. 4 teenage boys. Need I say more?
We hedged our bets and went down the next Tuesday morning - no sales going on that day. I returned to work disappointingly. The next Tuesday my husband (who was so excited he could hardly sleep) got down there early. He was the first one there. He waited impatiently for the office to open at 10am (and got to know the other people who were there with the same idea) and when Michelle opened the door, his persistence paid off.
Michelle indicated that land was going on sale that day and it would be Waterfall 9. Phil was ecstatic along with the realisation that the two of us weren't going to have to camp there until Saturday. We were the lucky ones who were the first group to get priority numbering. We really were cheering now. Phil was the first person and so he had first pick of the lots at 4pm. He stayed there the whole day, researching, looking, checking out the contours and picked the lot.
4pm arrived and Phil was called in to choose the block and put the red sticker on it to indicate it had a deposit on it. It was kind of ours :). We were so excited. We had also sold our house (it sold within 3 weeks) and we were also trying to find a place to rent - which was proving more difficult than we could imagine. Two adults, 4 boys and two dogs - almost impossible in fact.
Now we began the search for a house to build (and we did find a house to rent with 2 weeks to spare in Parklea - local again and it has been wonderful). We went to all of the project home builders at The Ponds and at Kellyville. We also made the journey down to Oran Park and liked a lot of the home we saw. We were impressed by the Big M, however they didn't have a design that would fit our family (5 bedrooms and a reasonable study due to my work). Most of the builders were quite happy to talk to us about making changes.... however that costs money... big money. Some of the builders - even at The Ponds - weren't interested in our business at all.
We had lots of great ideas and started to get tenders in from the project homes. We were flabbergasted at the price. Obviously with the amount of changes we were making - it had a huge increase in the price it was going to cost.
What were we going to do? The cost to build with all the changes was immense particularly given the allowances for the extras was fairly minimal. We were then driving around The Ponds one day, as we are prone to doing, and we saw an advertisement for a custom designed home. I started thinking that maybe we needed to go down that avenue. I planted a seed.... and sure enough it blossomed and Phil decided that maybe we should go down the custom design route.
Consequently we sat down with some of those companies and started talking about what we wanted, the ins and the outs. We also saw our mortgage broker (am happy to pm anyone that would like his details - he is fantastic) and he suggested a customer who is a builder. So we also had him to give us a quote.
In the end, we decided to get our own plans drawn up as then we owned them and could take them to any builder that we wanted. Our architect - Brendan who is fantastic -again PM me for contact details) then sat down with us and went through our wish list. We were able to tell him the things we liked and wanted and what we didn't like as well.
He presented us with concept plans shortly after this and we were then able to show them to builders to get quotes. After talking to a few builders and getting some prices - making some adjustments to the plans (dreams do cost money after all - unfortunately) we narrowed down our choices to two builders. One that we had seen in the paper - a new upcoming group of builders and a more established builder.
It came down to who we thought would give us the best value for money and we decided to jump on board with Modern View. We have been so impressed with their service and their inclusions. Our land had registered and we were all eager to get going.
Meanwhile - the Bank was giving us some grief due to the fact that the valuer thought that we were overcapitalising in the The Ponds. Also, there hadn't been any sales on the Western side of the creek so therefore, valuation became an issue. Working with our builder and the broker, we were finally able to meet in the middle and the loan went through.
One thing that we did do and I would certainly recommend doing to anyone else in a situation such as ours, is that we put all our plans into the The Ponds Design Council and then, when they were approved, into Blacktown Council.
So now, our plans will be good to go within the next week or two. We then just need to finish tidying up some things with the Bank and then we'll be good to go when the builder can start. So, it has been a rollercoaster of a journey so far and we're sure that it will continue to be.... however, we can now see the light at the end of our tunnel..... our beautiful dream home at The Ponds.