Share our trials and tribulations as we build our new home - a custom Dominico by Fairmont Homes NSW

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Another week in paradise

So Rawson answered our ‘hurry-up’ email with a new Variation asking for, you guessed it, more money! It now turns out that we need a very specific hot water service (gas-boosted solar…or something along those lines) and, of course, Rawson missed it and want to charge us $4.6k extra for it! They also want more money for the changes we’ve asked. Surprise, surprise.
Again, we find ourselves bitterly disappointed with Rawson Homes. As far as I am concerned, they are at fault for not realising the hot water issue. They either purposefully withheld this (and the roof issue) to get more money from us, or they are incompetent and I have little faith that they can deliver a product that will be approved by the Developer. Either alternative is not a good one.

As for the rest of the charges, it seems that builder’s mark-up is a one-way cost. Anything we cut-back on to save money is so inexpensive to do and yet, if we were to add it, it costs a fortune! I especially like the part where removing an internal window from downstairs doesn’t save us any money but adding one (exactly the same specs) upstairs costs money! The price of the house now is ridiculous and it would take a very long time to recoup the value in re-sale and that doesn’t include electrical changes or any unforseen upgrades (we haven’t even had the colour-selection appointment!).
Mick wants to wire the house up for data (and can do so really inexpensively with the help of one of his friends who is a licenced electrician) but Rawson won’t let him (apparently due to OH&S reasons, though our friend is a licenced tradesman) but when we asked earlier if they could then instead offer the service themselves, they said no. Now, all of a sudden they do offer the service (so, was our CSO lying earlier or just incompetent?) and you do not even want to know how much they want to charge us.
 They even added a change to this variation that wasn’t asked for (extending the feature rake to the entire house), but that’s ok cos they’re not going to charge us for that…probably another thing they left out of the original tender!
Lastly, they sent us another email about changing the façade because the one we’ve chosen doesn’t have a roof that conforms to guidelines. They say that changing the roof to conform actually costs money but that we can save money by choosing the cheaper façade and we’ll save $10k…too bad it cost us $16k to upgrade! Now, if the roof and finish don’t equate to the extra cost in changing the façade, it must be the balconies (and we would like to retain at least one because of the view) but Rawson said themselves, neither are substantial in size and basically implied that neither are worth it! What a lovely company that belittles its own design and, therefore, our choice of it.
So where does this all leave us? With either a house that we can’t afford or don’t want.
In short, we would be better off switching to a company with realistic designs and costs, better understanding of the guidelines and who are nicer/easier to deal with. Rawson have been nothing but difficult since we signed on the bottom line and have not apologised nor offered any assurance of change. We gave them a chance, but we’re out. Good luck to them in this economic climate.
So, this Saturday we’re heading to Kellyville to meet with Cosmopolitan (to keep our options open) and on Sunday we’re meeting with Fairmont.
Cosmo are the cheapest option, but their reviews are terrible and I suspect that they will be just as painful to deal with as Rawson. However, if they can give us a home we like for less money (and we can get it all in the tender up-front), they are already ahead.
Our hopes though lie with Fairmont. The meeting with them is actually booked in with their CEO and Builder and they seem keen for the business. They’re relatively new to the project home scene (prior to that they built mostly commercial and luxury custom homes and renovations) and seem to be working hard to make a name for themselves. They’ve won several MBA Awards this year and last, are building a home for charity, built the Sales and Information Office at Gregory Hills and have lots of ‘house and land’ packages about the place, including the other unbuilt block in our estate (ingenious design they’ve come up with for it too). They seem to have a good rep amongst the few that have built project homes with them so far, and the developer that owns the Sales and Info office at Gregory Hills gave them a great reference (you can see all of these details on their website). I also hope that the fact that they’re building in our estate separately to our block, means that they have a good handle on the guidelines. At the end of the day, as Mick has said, even if Fairmont are comparable in cost to Rawson, if they are nicer to deal with, we’ll be happy. But I also think that the biggest issue we’ve had with Rawson is that they were great until we signed on the dotted line. I plan on not giving any money or signatures to the next builder until I have a Tender that includes everything we can think of.
And on the home-front, Mick and I have to finish cleaning up tonight in prep for the carpet getting laid tomorrow. We’ve thrown a lot out and put most stuff away in the laundry and kitchen (not being carpeted) and tonight, one of Mick’s mates, Dave, is helping him move furniture we’re not keeping to the garage (to get tipped) and the BBQ (cos as Dave wisely suggested, we should move it before the new carpet is laid). After the carpet is down, I will box up what we’re keeping and organise a storage bin so we can slowly start the moving process. Re-tiling the kitchen, laundry, W/C and bathroom will be next and then we’ll put the place on the market….
Hmmm, we should probably also look at tiles this weekend…
I’ll keep you posted!


  1. You guys will be extremely happy I think with Fairmont Homes. We haven't had any problems what so ever and they are really accommodating. They are building ours a rapid speed. Tom (CEO) is lovely and I am sure you will find they will be able to give you the house of your dreams. Disappointing to hear all the problems you have had with Rawson. Good luck with everything and can't wait to hear how things go for you over the weekend.

  2. We were only talking about you guys and hoping that It all went well - we remember what it was like when we were between builders.... promise after you make your decision its starts getting FUN!

  3. Thanks for the encouragement. We are excited about it second-time round. We have high hopes for Fairmont and are very heartened by your experience. Thanks again :)

  4. P.S. I'm so glad that (with a little help from my IT partner...after I had a mini meltdown) I am finally able to comment! Sorry I haven't commented earlier, I have honestly been trying.

  5. Very good! I think that you have done a great job! FANTASTIC!!!!
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