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canberra building questions

By msscarlet 24 January 2011 14

hi everyone,

two questions for the hive.

Firstly, I was wondering if anyone out there had built their homes with the following builders and has anything to share about them, i would love some feedback.

  • gracious living
  • deemro homes
  • revolution homes
  • andara homes

Secondly, I am very new to this home building and buying thing and i am worried about forgetting something. For anybody who has built a house or knows someone who has, is there anything you forgot and would love to go back and add?

thanks everyone

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canberra building questions
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RBR 10:05 am 14 Jun 11

hihilyn said :


Greatly appreciate your advice, it’s always good to know before hand, what ashame cos they seem to be so professional. Hubby and I are currently looking at two builders and mine is Ruiz, guess I really don’t have much strength in my preference.

Would anyone else have any experience with them in a residential dwelling rather the an apartment complex

Hi Hihilyn,

Just a couple of facts in response, Ruiz Constructions –
1. Was not the licensed builder on the Elara Development.
2. Has no legal action against it from the Body Corporate in connection with the Elara Development.
3. Involvement on the project was limited to only a portion of the construction period and was limited to some administrative and supervisory support only.

The comments from Stahmo above may best be directed at the company responsible for the funding, developing, design, direction, control and builders license holding on the development.

hihilyn 2:03 pm 09 Jun 11


Greatly appreciate your advice, it’s always good to know before hand, what ashame cos they seem to be so professional. Hubby and I are currently looking at two builders and mine is Ruiz, guess I really don’t have much strength in my preference.

Would anyone else have any experience with them in a residential dwelling rather the an apartment complex

stahmo 12:47 pm 05 Jun 11

hihilyn said :

Came into this topic a bit late but I was just wandering if anyone have had any experience building with Ruiz Construction.

I have met with them and they seem to be very nice and reasonable but would like to get some feed back about others experience in dealing with them and their quality of works

Sorry I am fairly new to this forum and not sure how to post a new topic, any advice will be greatly appreciated

I’m new too! Here are my own experiences.

I live in Elara Complex in Bruce, built by those guys. Numerous leaks from the roof top (I live in the top floor), through the windows, and to the balcony downstairs. Windows/balconies have gaping holes that let drafts in (it’s wheezing right now as I type this!) The secure carpark is a disgrace, leaks all over the place after every rain, and our storage unit items got damaged several times until I put a tarp across the top. Complaints through Body Corp didn’t result in action for three years; they’re suing them but they refuse to be responsible for their poor construction. Finally, balcony tiles are flaking off almost every unit. Come take a walk on Eardley St and see for yourself. I look around other apartments in this area, no one else has paint flaking off the top due to water damage, even old townhouses built in 1994.

My next purchase will never be from the company that I conveniently remember as that rhyming with “ruins”—which is what they built here less than a decade ago. Oh by the way, the construction time took two years longer than planned: 2004-2006.

Sorry to be so negative!


hihilyn 12:25 am 02 Jun 11

Came into this topic a bit late but I was just wandering if anyone have had any experience building with Ruiz Construction.

I have met with them and they seem to be very nice and reasonable but would like to get some feed back about others experience in dealing with them and their quality of works

Sorry I am fairly new to this forum and not sure how to post a new topic, any advice will be greatly appreciated

Calamity 5:14 pm 14 Feb 11

Give the Master Builders Information Centre a call for info on specific builders and help with keeping track of your project!

Travatine 11:36 am 04 Feb 11

Buidling a new home is an exciting exeperience but to eliminate any stress or misunderstanding you need to establishing a working relationship with the building company.

By doing this you can define what the processes are as far as plan and inclusions selections, adding your own input, time frame for construction, how often do you meet to update on construction progress and is there flexibility to add to the project after signing the contract.

The building company should be working with you and have a team of professionals who are qualified in their respective feilds to assist in ensuring your dream home is meeting your expectations.

Don’t be afraid in asking any question regardless of how minor you may think it is as it may have a bearing on the construction process but more importantly it can give you clarity and peace of mind.

Most builders have a standard inclusions list to base their pricing off but you may find they would modify their list to accomodate your own chioce.

Inspecting builders display homes may give a false impression on what is standard finish,so always ask the builder what is standard and what is an extra and are they prepared to show a home that is nearing completion to get a true sense of what you are getting for your new home.

I have found the smaller operators may be cheaper due to over heads and are “one man shows” but you may find that the mid range companies who have a team to help you through the process tend to be more professional and can deliver a better standard of finish.

Good luck

hax 4:06 pm 26 Jan 11

I built my first house with Deemro homes about a year ago. I just went with the standard inclusions and am happy with the quality, the extras I got were some additional power and data points and a stone top bench in the laundry. They were flexible with their designs, so I was able to change things around with the plan which was good.
I didn’t have any problems and I’m still happy with the house, so I would build with them again.

I can’t think of anything I missed specifically – I found it helpful to look at the plan and imagine myself living there and how I would use the rooms / furniture etc. to see if I was missing something.
I planned ahead with getting the extra data points and I was particular about where some of the light switches went when the time came, nothing major, but I guess it depends on what’s important to you.

If you don’t get more here, definitely ask the builder if you can speak to some previous clients, it set my mind at ease to talk with a few people about their experience.

wildturkeycanoe 7:56 am 25 Jan 11

Be cautious when building with a “mass produce” builder, especially when it’s an off-the-plan style because they’ll not want to make any variations.
Our experience was terrible. We sent variations to them via email and got the approval, along with the costings and all through the solicitors. As I lived 2 hours away I didn’t get to see the house that often during construction. I got the shock of my life when I got there and found none of the variations had been done when the frames had gone up and windows installed. There were doors and windows in the wrong spots, cupboards missing and others added where they should not have been. The worst problem was the kitchen sink was in the wrong spot and the slab had to be dug up to move the pipes. It took two weeks just to get in touch with the builder to show him what was going wrong. It seemed he only had the original plans but started getting it right after that. Then further down the track, other things didn’t seem right so I spent 2 more weeks trying to find out what was going on. Then I accidentally bumped into the builder on site and he had another set of plans that were some sort of hybrid between our approved variations and the original design. I gave him my copy of the approved variations and from then the rest worked okay.
Unfortunately, one thing we really wanted, which was included in the original variation request email but not conveyed onto the “official documentation” was mixer taps, so now our kids struggle with the taps. All is not lost though, thanks to the new safety regulations, they can turn on just the hot water for a shower and it’s perfect temperature, no cold required.
It seemed that due to the mix-ups in paper work and communication problems, the builder no longer allows variations to their plans and we were one of the last to be able to do so [whew].
My advice to you is make sure everything you change or want is documented on the solicitors paperwork, as that’s what the builders use for their works. As first home buyers, the exchange was quite confusing and had we spent more time on the plans than the rest of the regulations and jargon, things may have gone a bit smoother. Also, keep up with the progress as it’s being built and take plenty of photos – they come in handy later if you need to find studs in walls or pipes, wiring or anything hidden by gyprock.

BlackIce 9:53 pm 24 Jan 11

When we had our bathroom renovated, I thought at the last minute to add a drain in the middle of the floor – in case a basin overfilled, or something like that (wasn’t a problem, as we aren’t on a slab). Now that I have little kids, I’m *so* glad it was included.

If I was building from scratch, I’ve always had a larger linen closet and a storeroom (for things like suitcases, fold-up bed, spare chairs) on my wish list.

cranky 6:36 pm 24 Jan 11

Agree with the foregoing.

Check the number of powerpoints and light fittings to be installed. Our renno builder had only priced for one power point and a single central incandescent light per bedroom when we started checking.

Builders usually use the standard contract in the ACT. There is a section which is used for items which for various reasons cannot be acurately priced. Be VERY careful of what is included int this section. We had earthworks and another item (sorry, Oldtimers has struck), and wound up with a substantial variation – in the builders favour of course.

Variations! The standard contract calls for all variations to be requested in writing, and costed by the builder. The single most problematic area of our build. We did not request in writing, did not receive costings, being reassured that savings in other areas would balance it out. Wrong – the whole exercise went the builders way, and a couple of his tradies should be charged with theft. An electrician charging $800 to install a power point in the meter box is usuary. Yes WS, thats you.

We also had a real argument over the meter box. It did cause probs to mount it into the wall, as the intention was to stick it on the side of the house.

We have problems which only other tradies can repair, having given up on the original builder. Overall, a FAQ job, but these (hopefully) avoidable problems do take the edge off what could be a really enjoyable experience.

builder 5:14 pm 24 Jan 11

Gracious living is the largest builder of the four, budget to middle. Larger overheads, offices, staff.
Deemro and Revolution are budget builders (one man band). They will give you the cheapest quote.
You get what you pay for so don’t set your expectations to high.

beejay76 4:34 pm 24 Jan 11

Perhaps ask the Master Builder’s Association. I have no idea if they’re allowed to give out information about builders, but they’re the ones that receive the complaints. I spoke (socially) with someone from their who told me that our builder had very few complaints.

We recently moved into our newly built house. We built with Renaissance and they were fantastic. Nothing bad to say about them. Unfortunately I don’t know anything about the builders on your list.

As for things to remember, the main thing is to remember you will be paying for it as you go. If, like us, you are already paying for your current accomodation this means it costs a bomb! Remember that builders usually go over time, so make sure you’ve got plenty of money stashed away to keep paying the mortgage while you build, as well as whatever housing you’re paying for now. And I agree with ThisIsAName: inclusions lists are important.You really need to know what you’ll be paying for.

Good luck!

ThisIsAName 3:41 pm 24 Jan 11

Some options for obtaning info on a builder’s reputation:
1) try asking your bank
2) your solicitor: they may have dealt with them before
3) ask the builder for some addresses of homes they’ve built. You should be able to get in touch with the owners and see how the builder handled things. This is great for getting an idea of the customer service level you can expect.

Can’t help for that list of builders. It’d be worthwhile to check if the ones on that list are volume builders (more houses, less customer service) or more specialist.

To avoid missing things, you could cross check each item of the inclusions list against a well established home. Inclusion lists can be vague on details, so check anything with the builder carefully. Get answers from the project manager rather than a sales rep too! Check the ‘building standards’ too, kitchens seem to be standardised, but bathroom units etc aren’t. I’d advise getting details on vality units, mirrors etc to ensure you’re getting what you need @ the right size. Lastly, ask about the builder’s process for your input, such as variations, electrical plans. eg. If you know the electrical plan is coming up, you can plan out your requirements & ask questions.

It is stressful, so good luck!

Holden Caulfield 2:11 pm 24 Jan 11

Forgetting something, any ideas as to what?

Assuming this is a normal new build scenario then once you have an agreed plan with the builder make your own list of all the items in every room you want included. From the window sizes, to the way the door swings, to the placement of powerpoints, lights switches and so on.

You will probably go through something similar like this with the builder at some stage, but I would suggest going through the exercise yourself first. The builder may well raise issues you had not thought of, but you will probably do the same in reverse.

Remember, also, this is your house and if you are sure about something you want don’t let the builder talk you out of it. For example, when we built our place in Nicholls many moons ago we wanted an 1800mm wide hallway. Our builder kept returning the plan with a 900mm hallway. So, until they got it right, we kept sending it back.

As with anything keep the lines of communication as open as possible. Also try and visit the site as much as you can. It’s probably a bit harder these days with perimeter fencing and the like, but we would visit our site everyday, or every other day at worst, just to make sure things were on track.

As an example of how this can save you some grief, we had agreed with the builder’s project manager where our electricity meter box would be placed, it was already indicated correctly on the plan, but we still had to go through it all again on site because it was not in the easiest location for the builder. Anyway, the day the brickies started we dropped by the site. Luckily, too, as it turned out because they had not placed the meter box where we had agreed. Thankfully, they hadn’t completed the brickwork in the affected area, or started it where the meter box was supposed to go and a conversation with the brickies sorted everything out.

In short, you need to be ready to keep the bastards honest. Not all builders are arseholes. Or so I’ve been told.

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