Once upon at time, about a year and a half ago, we bought a section.
My Other Half and I have both got good jobs teaching at a private school, which means that we can actually think about buying in on the edge of this over-priced city. But in looking at existing houses, we knew we’d have to make huge changes to any which we bought, and that made the cost even greater than it already was. One of our biggest issues is the attempt to block out the bass noise from passing cars and partying neighbours, owing to having had some very bad experience in the past.
Then, one day, we found a section in the same area as we have been renting for 13 or more years. It was the perfect section, with a bank up from the road, and the rest of the section trailing down behind, to a Council bush-reserve at the back. The houses on either side are already in existence, and this area is banned from dividing sections, so there will be no in-fill. The bank up from the road, which is about 3 metres high, is a bit of a problem with the idea of putting in a drive-way and getting a house built, but would be great protection from sound invasion.
So, we changed banks, got a loan, and bought the section. Step one complete!
Then we spent some time trying to work with an architect who is a friend, before we realised that we were coming at the project from totally different angles, and it was threatening our friendship. So eventually we (OH and I) decided to try with some architectural draughts-people, seeing as we had a very strong idea of what we wanted our house to be like. We visited the City Council, discovered the huge number of hoops we have to jump in order to build in a bush area, and were overwhelmed. But the draughts-people told us what consent-reports we needed before they could start designing, and so we gathered those together.
By this stage, it was the end of the school year, because it’s hard to get things organised while you teach – and you can’t just be available to phone people. So we approached the draughts-people again, and said, “Here are the things you asked for”. And they said, “Sorry, summer holidays. Get in touch in the new year.” Well, we went back to teaching almost before they went back to work, but eventually, in mid-Feb, we had a meeting, and all seemed to be on track, and we were given a rough time-line.
At the end of February, we were informed that they were starting on our project the following week, and we’d hear about an update on Friday week. And then there was no word for two weeks. Today, I dropped them a line, asking how things were, and was sent the three “Bulk and Location” drawings which had apparently taken them three weeks to work on. To be frank, I’m very disappointed. The “house” which has been rough sketched is EXACTLY twice the size it should be. Now, that is my fault, because I’m not a maths person, and the drawing I sent through to them said 1 sq= .5m sq – because I was thinking about the length of the size.
However, given that, on the one hand, we’d talked in detail about the small house we were planning, and how it was to nestle into the hill and not intrude on the neighbours, and on the other hand, I had, along with my Excel sheet, had also sent a scanned map of the section with the size and location of the house clearly on it, I cannot see how this had not raised flags, and how they hadn’t come back to us to clear things up. Also, one of the “proposals” is based on my side-projection of the house, re-imagined as a floor plan, complete with “probably space for a ceiling” between the top and bottom floors. It really seems to me that what has been done took someone 5 minutes and no thinking. The size of the house they proposed is obviously outside of regulations for the area, so that should have alerted them to issues.
OH and I have known pretty clearly what we wanted for the site since we first saw it. We have told both parties what we want. How is it so hard to get people to listen?