Screech and Tick and Tock

Nobody explained the peculiarities of "valuation" to us before it happened. Nobody thought they had to.

The dictionary probably defines "valuation" in the house-building sense as "that brief process where the bank simply makes sure they can fire-sale your house for what they're about to lend to you."

For us, it was more "that terrible moment when the bank said our future home was worth $80,000 less than we were asking for."

We removed the pool. ("Pools add zero value according to the bank, actually" - everyone came out of nowhere to tell us. Um, so why did we... "And you can just add the pool to the loan at the end of the build." So why... argh... Never mind.)

One comment the valuation-dude (evaluator? valuationator? value inspector? herr dreamcrusher?) made was that we were building a three-bedroom house in a four-bedroom world, so he "didn't have enough data."

But we didn't want the typical warren of pokey bedrooms for no one... we don't even actually want three bedrooms, which is why "Bedroom 2" is small, has no closet, and is entered through double doors that are almost all glass, wink wink. In fact, we barely want two bedrooms, but we easily conceded the practicality of having a space for an aging parent or growing niece on temporary loan.

Another comment was that our "living area was perhaps smaller compared to other homes." Really? But our home is bigger than the "spacious" display model upon which it is based. Is this because on the floor plan we re-named the "Activity" area to "Library"? Because we slightly shortened the outdoor pavers? Because of the strangely enormous hallway "outside" of "Bedroom 2"? Because of the also strangely enormous laundry where a fourth bedroom could be?

Our home was being valued as the same as the no-frills base model. What about our blackbutt floors (only engineered timber, admittedly, but nice)? Our higher ceilings? Our wider front doorway, our walk-in pantry? "The bank doesn't consider any of that to add value."

The valuation said the land cost was accurate. The building expenses were reasonable. So... it was just the design? My design?

For a few days we scrambled. The "theatre" (really more of a den, or "the room where you can be messy when watching TV and puttering around online") was about to become "Bedroom 4" in name with a door that maybe the builders could forget to install.

But would that be enough to close the $40k gap? We could lower the ceilings, carpet the floors, diminish the lighting, minimise the tub, toss out the this and the that and... why would we build that home? Better to wait and keep saving, or buy the block now and the rest someday.

It was not a good week.

The interest rates had gone down since our pre-approval, though, and our usual bank now had an offer on par with the bank we had planned to use instead. So, our hard-working advisor who had "never seen a valuation come in so low" now sought a valuation through our regular bank instead. We waited.

(And waited.)

(We had to apply for an extension to the settlement date.)

(And although all of the above took place over a week, it felt like we really waited.)

"Dollar for dollar."


"The new valuation agrees with the cost, dollar for dollar."


That happy news came on a Monday almost a month ago. Since then we've signed many stacks of papers. Building permits have been issued. Gas accounts have been established (first on our street!). Mortgage registrations have been proven. Final drawings have been initialed.

(Then, a few hours later: "OMG. The kitchen splash back tile layout is completely wrong! And it has been all along! How did I miss it?! Every time?! That's not what we told them to do!" One email later and it was all fixed, no variation fee charged.)

Now we wait for settlement. The deadline is 10 days away. We don't do anything; it's all down to the speed of government paperwork. So, no, can't quite relax yet.

"Will we have conSLABulations before Christmas?" This is what Mike asks everyone. (I told him about how on the Homeone forums people offer "conslabulations" when the slab is laid. We're both pretty amused. Mike has a little one-word song about it, even.)

The mortgage advisor and the settlement agent each gently replied with "well, you know there's a two-week break at Christmas..., right?"

But now, just two days ago, in the course of working out what to do about the hob bath spout we selected that is 50mm too short to reach the tub (answer: source a glorious alternative from a back corner of the internet that will cost almost as much as the tub itself), our liaison at the builder said that they're ready to begin with siteworks. All they're waiting on is settlement.

It's down to you, shire folks. And possibly state government? I don't actually know what is happening.

Ten days. It's Friday today. A week from now I'll either be ready to unleash the Pinterest-beast or listening to Mike tell me over and over how he's sure the land developer will give us a second extension on settlement, how they won't want to walk away from fully approved financing...

Here's hoping that, this time next week, I'm requesting to join our suburb's closed community group on Facebook, getting my Stepford on, and complaining about how "only paying the interest on the mortgage during construction is still dang pricey!"



04 November 2016 |