Well that happened quickly! We have a slab (and a corresponding invoice for the base stage of around $22k). It suddenly feels like progress is moving quickly—at long last. Looking back, I see the approvals came through around mid-April so it’s not that speedy but I’m happy given the weather.
I should note I’ve been very impressed with our Mortgage Broker this time around. As I’ve no doubt mentioned previously, we used Mortgage Choice when we bought our PPOR (land and build). They were involved then to the finance approval stage but I don’t recall interacting with them beyond that point for progress payments on the build.
This time, we received a copy of the builder’s invoice for the base stage from Open Wealth and that very same day, Mortgage Choice sent me the same invoice to approve for payment by the bank. It’s only a little thing but it’s nice knowing the broker is still involved to grease the wheels between us, the bank—and Open Wealth too for that matter. In theory, this means this invoice and future invoices should get paid on time and help us avoid any penalties for late payment.
As we’ve not yet seen the block and live on the other side of the country from Brisbane, it occurred to me it might be time to enquire to Open Wealth about how I go about approving payment for $20k of works when I haven’t seen the slab and have received no other reports as to quality, correctness, etc. Admittedly I should have asked this question before committing to the build with Open Wealth but I wasn’t thinking along those lines at that point.
I was happy with the answer from our Open Wealth Client Liaison Manager, however, and it turns out there are several inspections which occur throughout and after the build. She emailed me this helpful response:
“The builder employs a Certifier who conducts multiple inspections. The Certifier is governed by the council and legislation.
Here is a list of the certifier and other inspections:
- Prior to the slab being poured the plumbing, and then the slab form, is inspected by the Certifier. In particular the drainage and sub-drainage; the piers and slab are inspected for form.
- Once the frame is up, the inspector checks the carpentry is to code, Australian standard.
- After the frame, the inspector also inspects: the plumbing pipe work, this is referred to as the rough-in inspection. There is also a plumbing inspection by the certifier at the final stage.
- At completion stage of the build the Certifier produces the Form 21, which is to assure that the build is complete and meets Australian standards. This form is sent to the bank to release the final payment.
- After Form 21 is received by the bank, the bank sends out a valuer with a copy of the plans and specifications to make sure that the builder has constructed your property to plan and included all specifications.
- Open Wealth then organises two independent inspections; we employ a company in Queensland to go out and check the quality of the work. This is mainly for finishes to paint, craftsmanship and visible defects – it is very thorough.
- During the property manager’s first inspection any additional visible faults are identified.
- At the property manager’s six-month inspection, any outstanding faults identified are to be fixed under the builder’s warranty. Because your house is made from natural materials and as your house settles, there are always a few adjustments to doors, towel rails that need to be tightened, etc and is at no cost to you.”
When we built in Perth in 2007 through a “project builder” we had only the word of the site manager to go on (at practical completion) and we commissioned an independent inspection at a cost of $500. I’m sure the bank had a look in some shape or form but this was never made evident to us. Despite living in this house for nearly eight years, we’re still dealing with issues from the build (long story for another day…). Perhaps it’s all smoke and mirrors but from what I’ve seen so far the level of rigour in Queensland in 2015 seems greater than that in WA in 2007/08.
I suppose a disclaimer is also worth posting: I'm just a guy, I'm not an accountant, lawyer, solicitor, tax agent, mortgage broker, banker, financial adviser, insurance agent, land developer, builder, government agent, or anything else so I disclaim your application of anything I write here is to be applied at your own risk. What I write may be incorrect and you are best to seek your own professional advice (tax, legal, financial, and otherwise) before entering into contracts or spending your money. Your situation is unique to you and what I write here reflects my experience only. This content is not professional advice and is not tailored to your situation. I'm learning too and expect to make many, many mistakes along the way.