My Building Experience
Everything about this experience makes me want to write about it, and I’ve been itching to do a blog since I started with Smart Homes, but i thought it might be best to wait until the end.
A few blog posts back I wrote about our previous experience with building & how stressful it was. There was a lot of compromise, and a LOT of extra expenses popping up. I won’t go into it, but we were being charged for things that were in the inclusions (i.e $250 for the fire alarm) and when we brought it up with the company, the sales manager rudely (& reluctantly) told us he’d throw it in for free for us if that'd make us happy.
Mum prepared me at the beginning and told me building would/could be a stressful experience and to expect things to not go 100% to plan, so I went into this whole thing weary and nervous but mainly excited - I’m not one to wait for the worst to happen before it does, and I decided I’d just see how things go this second time round.
I met a few sales reps - in fact, i met more than a few. Anyone that has been to look at display homes knows what it can be like, I met some incredibly friendly people & some incredibly pushy people, but regardless of who I met I’ll admit I was sceptical towards them all because of my previous experience. (In fact the nicer they were the more I questioned them haha). During this process I met Lee from Smart Homes. “He’s too nice.” I told mum. “I don’t trust him.” Mum just rolled her eyes at me and told me I’d never build If I was sceptical about everyone and MAYBE he’s just an incredibly nice person.
Lee had won my parents hearts right away, and even though (secretly) I really liked him, it took me a while to open up completely just because I was so nervous. I was at the stage where I had my top two companies that I was happy to go with, and both sounded really great, and I had told both I was looking at other options. Lee was the sales rep for one, and I won’t say the other. One of my favourite things about Lee was how far out of his way he was willing to go, regardless of if we did or didn’t decide to go with him. There was 100% no obligation behind what he was doing for us, and although the other sales rep said the same I could feel that with Lee it was a lot more genuine.
Lee told us “I’ll let you come to me, I’ve offered what I can offer, you guys know where I am if you want to work with me.” the other Rep started to come across a lot stronger when I told him that I had looked into other companies and I started to get multiple missed calls, and he became negative so I decided Lee was the one I was going to trust. Still extremely nervous about it all.
Before even telling Lee I had decided to build with him, we went to see him at his display and he told us one of the houses he had built had just been finished & was ready for hand over. He offered for us to walk through it unfurnished so that we could see exactly what I’d be getting without all of the extras they put in the display. He was so kind but still in the back of my mind I thought, what if Lees being nice now and when I sign the contracts he changes. I was right; When I signed Lee went from Sales Rep Lee, to Dad/Uncle Lee and I felt as though I was going to have a guardian angel the entire build. Lee took me completely under his wing and turned into (i call him my building dad) and became all the confidence I needed in someone I would be working with. There were personal challenges through the build and he was always there, “regardless of whats going on with the house Samantha, I want to know you’re okay.” he’d say to me.
Smart homes has been an incredible company to build with. I kept waiting for those stressful moments that mum would talk about and they just never came. Everything went to plan, and I know not every experience can be like this but I am so grateful that after Build Experience #1, I got to have an experience like this. Honest though, if it wasn’t for Lee I don’t think the experience would have even been close to the same.
When building, the process generally goes:
- Sales rep finds your plan and is with you until you sign with the company, then that’s it.
After that its the prestart person you connect with, then the client liason, and then the building supervisor.
Even after signing contracts I’d message Lee updates, and when my slab went down he messaged me “i’m standing in your living room right now Samantha, it looks wonderful!” “We’ll have a beer together when you move in, ok!” Honestly I have so much love in my heart for him, and cant even explain how much I feel that I want to repay him because of how much he has been there for me. He deserves to be manager, president, the top of the top of the building industry because I’ve never met anyone with a heart as kind as his and he is ridiculously good at his job.
In saying that; I don’t want to discredit Smart Homes at all as a company. When I started building I would go with my friend Jo to help her clean new houses that were ready for handover. “I hate tradies.” Jo would say to me, as we walked into peoples new homes that were covered in rubbish, subway wrappers, mcdonalds bags, empty cans, half eaten sandwiches - it was disgusting. I remember once mum said to me "Don't stress too much about painting, the walls are white when you move in" and I thought back to some of the houses I had cleaned that had dirt, dark black marks & mess all over the walls; I am actually so surprised at how the standard can change so much from one building company to another but my walls are white and clean and when I told John (my supervisor) about what I had seen, hes like no way I would come here and make them get rid of all of that mess. I walked into my house just before lock up and saw two signs made by Smart Homes, One said “No smoking on premises” and the other said something like “Everything must be cleaned before leaving site and all windows and doors must be closed and locked.” I went to my block so (SO) many times and never saw one bit of rubbish in the house and although it sounds like something small I was so impressed by it.
There weren't too many things found at my final inspection, people told me to look out for chipped tiles, cracks in the walls/cornices, cracks underneath the sink etc. and trust me when I say I looked at EVERYTHING. I only picked up a couple of things and right away john put a sticker on them, apologised that he didn't pick them up himself & said he'd have them fixed within the week. John even pointed out things that I didn't think were changeable (i.e there was a pipe slightly intruding on my driveway so a couple of my pavers were missing to make way) but he told me as soon as he saw it he asked them to move it so I didn't have to have any pavers missing.
I think the ultimate example of how high of a standard smart homes has for themselves is I saw a scratch on my kitchen bench top, probably no more than 5cm when I went to see my home a couple of days before my final inspection. I told mum anxiously and she told me I had to tell them, as did everyone else - I felt guilty because I knew this meant replacing my whole kitchen bench. It was almost the first thing mum looked for during my final inspection, and when we found it we pointed it out to John and straight away he just said he was so sorry he didn't pick it up (it was hard to see with the light on the wrong angle) and that he'd have the whole kitchen bench replaced. He didn't make me feel like I was being petty and he made the experience very easy and comfortable.
In terms of timeframe (I know this is important to some people, for me as I was living with my parents I actually preferred to have more time to save.) but Smart Homes went SO QUICK. To the point where I would turn up to my block and have to double take because I thought “surely that can’t be my house.” I have attached a timeline of my build so you can see.
Regardless of how smooth and incredible this experience was, building is HARD. Like. Building is, saving literally everything you can, and then still somehow coming short. Building is, being (literally) the most organised person you know, and still feeling unorganised. Its a rollercoaster from having the most savings you've ever had in your life, to having a few hundred left in the bank, but its also seeing something you envisioned come to life, and SO rewarding.
Side note about falling short $ wise: Lee stayed completely within my (so small) budget without me having to compromise on things I wanted, and he over estimated everything so at one stage I got $4000 back. Falling short wasn't Smart Homes fault, it was me forgetting to budget for furniture, light bulbs, home insurance etc. (told you, about the organisation thing...who thinks of light bulbs before they happen - no one, thats who)
Building has hands down been the most challenging & educational experience in more ways than I imagined. I am a huge control freak and this experience has taught me to trust and let go (reluctantly haha) and I can’t thank Lee enough for his support, but also for teaching me exactly what kind of person I want to be for other people.
The first time around, I swore I would never build again. This time I’d build through Lee 100 times over.
Thank you Smart Homes for everything.
Lets not call this a side note, but a very main point:
Thank you mum and dad, you've helped me so much and I feel like I'll never be able to repay you both. You both amaze me & I love you.