As first time home-owners and first time builders the most important thing for us was building with someone we could trust and who we knew would support us along the way. Chris gave us this reassurance and he was true to his word – he helped us at every step of the journey and we are so grateful for his guidance.
Tell us a bit about your new home.
We have been in our new home for nine months now and we have loved every minute of it. The design works for us and is all we had hoped for. This was our first time building and based on our experience with Summit we would do it all over again.
We had been planning the downsize move for a number of years and were not fixed on the idea of building. If we had found the ideal house in the ideal location we would have bought it but this did not happen, despite actively looking.
We also went through the early stages of design with a number of builders but did not proceed with them as we could not achieve the right outcomes. It was only when we sat down with Peter Wilkinson and then proceeded further in the design process with Summit that we realized that we could achieve the outcomes we wanted in terms of home amenities, quality and budget.
How did you hear about Summit?
The process of selecting a builder started about five years ago. We visited display homes and looked at designs and floorplans. At that stage we were favouring the mid century modern style. All in all we considered about five builders. We looked at a Summit display home and liked it but there was a design from another builder which we preferred. We started the design and costing process with the other builder. This process got to a point where we could not achieve what we wanted within the budget we had set and we were starting to make unacceptable compromises to get within budget. At that stage we shelved the idea of building for about a year.
After a year we decided to start again and Elaine had heard good things about Summit and Peter Wilkinson in particular. We made an appointment with Peter. We met him one evening at about 5PM and by 8PM we had our new home design. There were minor tweaks to this original design but the design we came up with on that night was essentially what got built. We attribute this to two factors:
Firstly, we had thought about all aspects of our home and exactly what we wanted to achieve and
Secondly, Peter listened to our requirements in terms of design, quality and budget, challenged and advised us and then delivered a design and budget that fully satisfied our needs.
What were the highlights of your building process?
The build process went very well. There were very few surprises as we had spent so much time in pre-start and selections. We knew the contract documents, variations, drawings and addenda very well and used these when checking on progress. We visited the site three times a week to make sure any errors were quickly identified and corrected.
In fact there were very few errors and when these were brought to the attention of the Construction Supervisor, Dave Carle, they were addressed very quickly. We developed a good relationship with Dave and Dave was very patient and willing to explain things that were not clear or that we did not understand.
The @home portal is a useful tool and provided a good summary of progress. It was also good to see the process going forward mapped out; it provided perspective and gave us a sense of excitement as we saw the completed items list growing and the “to do” list shrinking.
Overall, how was your experience with Summit Homes?
Overall our experience with Summit Homes was excellent.
Peter Wilkinson was instrumental in ensuring we proceeded with Summit. He was our first point of contact and he made a lasting impression. He actively listened to our requirements and translated those into a practical beautiful home design. He was not afraid to challenge us and often suggested a course of action, a change of material or alternative product to create a look or save some money. He also told us where he thought we should spend the money to achieve a quality outcome or look, eg the settler profile kitchen cabinets and drawers. He had some quirky ideas as well. We had an existing old water bore on the property, which I was prepared to fill in and sink a new modern bore. Peter said; “No, keep the bore; I will design the wrap-around verandah around the bore and make a feature of it.” We listened and it has indeed been a feature and money saver.
Our contract administrator, Anna Sharpe, patiently went through a number of pre- contract variations with us until we were confident that we had everything we wanted before pressing the construction button. Our site supervisor, David Carle, was nearly always available or got back to us promptly if he was not immediately available.
During the build process we experienced minor changes to specifications due to non availability of specified items, minor delays to schedule and no changes to budget; which was an excellent outcome.
What advice would you offer someone who is considering building a home?
Plan, plan, plan. Before even considering choosing a builder make sure you have thought through what you are trying to achieve in terms of layout, elevation, lifestyle, size of house, budget.
Once you have a good idea of the concept, think about builders who can help you realize your concept and visit their display homes to assess their product. You will very quickly get a feel for whether you and the builder are “gelling” or not. An important point here to help you home in on the right builder is to assess where the builder sits in the cost range. Some builders are obviously cost driven and quality, size and style may be sacrificed for cost. Others are high end builders where cost is no obstacle. Our objective was to find the best value for money builder and for us that was Summit.
Do not rush the pre-start process. Do your homework. Think about your home. Let the consultants and contract administrators guide you but at the end of the day you are making the decisions about what goes in your home. Get it all squared away before you start building and the rest is plain sailing.
Once you start building make the effort to get to know your construction supervisor and build a relationship. Your supervisor is really trying to do the best job for you; help him do that. You should know your design better than the supervisor so visit often and check actual against design.