My first post about buying and building our home is going to be all about the process so far (or at least some of it). Let’s face it, I have been putting it off because that’s kind of the boring and stressful part (unless you’re new to building as well – then, it would actually be really useful). It was supposed to be fun but I will preface this by saying it most definitely has not been fun the last 10+ months.
About a year and a half ago we decided we wanted to buy a home so that when our rental agreement expired, we could move into our own house! It would have been perfect timing since our wedding (which you can read about here) and month away in California was going to be the month after we moved out. We searched for months but didn’t come across anything that was the right fit. If you’ve bought a home before or you’re currently looking, you know when you see something that’s “perfect” but then it already has offers on it or it’s the right house but it needs to be moved in right away and you can’t do that yet? There’s a fine line between planning ahead and looking too early. If you’re in the same situation we were in, don’t worry! It’s not just you – it’s actually really common. Like many other things in life, timing is everything but it doesn’t always work out as you might hope.
One day while looking for homes online, I saw the option for a land and home package. It was a bit more than our budget at the time but it was exactly what we were looking for – three bedroom, two bathroom home in a good neighborhood. I got in touch with the company and found out that that particular home wasn’t available anymore but they had similar homes in the same area.
When you buy a land and home package, at least with the company we went with, you get one week to decide if you want to move forward with it before it moves onto the next person/people. The problem was, it was the last home available and had people who were interested in it. They had a few days remaining to give their answer and we were next on the list (with a whole list behind us who wanted the property). To our surprise, they didn’t respond so the home got defaulted to us. In that first week we weighed up all our options, talked about specifications, viewed their showhomes again, and spoke with the developer. We finally made our decision. We were buying land and building a home!
I should note before we get into too much that we are extremely lucky to have found a land and build project in the area we did for the price we did. Our builders subdivided three pieces of land to create four pieces instead. Meaning each of us get our land and home package for cheaper. So although our neighbors have bigger properties and homes, we still get to live in the same neighborhood for less! Thank goodness because it was the only way we would have been able to afford it!
Everything felt like it was aligning well. A brand new home, only slightly more expensive but comes with more guarantees and warranties, in an amazing area with a brand new school, customized to fit our lifestyle, and so much more. Although it wouldn’t be done by August 2019, it was supposed to be done by January 2020 which meant our month in California we didn’t need to pay rent and when we returned home from our wedding we would have to/be able to live with grandparents until January. As March moved into April and so forth, we were starting to hear that my mom and step-dad wanted to come visit us in summer 2020 (which is January/February/March). We talked with our building company and they said the home would be done in March at the latest. We shifted our thinking and planned to be all moved in by March 2020. A few more months for our “dream” home… we could do it! Everything was signed, finalized, and major deposits made in August before we headed to Cali for our wedding. They said they might even start building while we are away (which is why they said we needed to get everything done before we left). We had both been traveling around the world for a few years so settling into somewhere we could call our own meant the world to us. This was the home that we pictured having our first child in, bringing a dog home to, and really, officially, settling into New Zealand.
Now come October is when things began to get tricky. Less communication from the building company, lots of money (and time, hope, excitement) invested at this point, and nothing but a contract (which we didn’t quite understand to the extent we thought we did) to show for everything. We still hadn’t been able to purchase the land due to the title being held up in council (because remember how I said that they split the original land? That meant that our land didn’t even have a title yet!).
Fast forward a few more months of disappointment and little to no answers, it was time to make our decision regarding our sunset clause. “Simply put, a sunset clause stipulates the date by which the sun sets on the agreement allowing the property contract to be voided and the deposit be returned to the buyer. It is commonly inserted into agreements over properties that are not yet capable of being conveyed – i.e. in the absence of a title (new development or subdivision),” (https://www.apia.org.nz/apia-blog/what-is-a-sunset-clause). We couldn’t find, remember, or get in contact with anyone to let us know when that date was. Until our lawyer called up and said something like, “Today is your sunset date. You have 24 hours to decide if you’d like to keep the home or pull out of the contract and receive some of your money back.”
That 24 – 48 hours were some of the worst hours of our lives. How do you make that big of a decision – something you’ve spent almost the last year designing, hoping for, and getting excited for – without knowing anything exactly? No one could tell us how much of our deposit we would get back or if we waited (extended the sunset clause) when title would come out. Dates were being flung around on when we would move in but changed each time we had a call with our builders. How do estimates change by months in a matter of a week?
Ultimately we couldn’t make a decision that huge without any real information so we decided to allow the sunset clause to be extended. There’s a few big parts missing from the story but given that it’s just additional heartbreak and frustration, I will leave it out for now. Long story short, we extended the sunset clause. Luckily, right before Christmas break, title came out. We thought, “Finally! Things will start to progress!” But right when you think the building process is going to start to look up from here, it smacks you back down.
We officially received title in mid-January (2020) and we were meant to be able to start building, “Right away!” However, consent was filed incorrectly (i.e was missing information) from the building company and here we are the middle of May still without consent and unable to build. We are hoping that consent will be approved within the next week (although it’s already at least a week late…go figure).
Anyways, thanks to those that have stuck around to read this and those that have offered their love and support (and even their homes). It has been a really long, tough, and unfortunate journey. We continue to search for hope and try to make other aspects of the process fun whenever possible (right now that means creating vision boards and designing spaces virtually – see above). You can check out my home inspiration shop to see where to purchase items from my inspiration boards and see where the images came from within the boards themselves. Look out for more blogs about inspiration, where we are at now, etc.
I’m always looking to connect with local New Zealand businesses who specialize in home decor, eco-friendly products, or organizational products, I would love to follow them on Instagram! If you know of anyone that fits that description or something similar, feel free to reach out and mention them in this Instagram post.
To read about where we are at now search the building tag here to see the latest blogs about our building process!
If you enjoyed reading this and would like more information on home, lifestyle, advice, tips, tricks, and more, follow me on Instagram @Its.Mary.Taylor and on Facebook at Mary Taylor! I can’t wait to see you there!
Mary Taylor <3