October 16, 2022
It was the end of August 2021 when I paid my initial deposit to begin the process of building with Henley. From that time until mid-July 2022, all of my dealings with Henley were with the administrative, or pre-construction side of the organization. To give you a greater understanding of this sometimes tedious, but important step, todays blog post is Henley’s pre-construction report card.
Most administrative areas will have their functions described and will be graded individually. Names with an * have been changed.
When the time comes for you to get serious about the prospect of building, you’ll need to make contact with one of your prospective builder’s sales staff, usually they will be found in a display village.
Amy* was my sales consultant. I found her to be, like most sales people, friendly, chatty, and responsive to my calls. Any changes I needed were no trouble at all. My only gripe was raising my quote by a few $K due to a forgotten line item, Overall Amy* did exactly what I’d expect a new home sales consultant to do.
Not long after paying a deposit to Henley a thick color catalogue arrived in the mail and a day or so later an administrator contacted me to arrange a color appointment.
Unfortunately for me, my color appointment was impacted by restrictions put in place to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, which was spreading at the time. This meant that my color appointment was held virtually (online), not in the wonderful Henley Design Showroom
Thankfully, I’d anticipated the Covid –19 related problems and headed down to the showroom to take a look, so I had some idea of what was on offer.
A few days out from my color appointment, my original design consultant was switched for another. The new consultant, Bella*, appeared to me to be relatively inexperienced in the role.
On the day of my color appointment, we got through as well as we possibly could online, but the session was always going to be impacted by not being to touch and see the products on offer in person.
Bella* did the best she could in the circumstances, she even posted out some samples of the colors and textures we’d chosen. It was a collaborative effort, though I’m the first to admit that I’m pretty crap at choosing color schemes. Meeting in the showroom and standing in front of the various colors / designs on offer would have greatly improved my experience.
The next major step on the journey was my Tender Appointment. For a full description of what a tender appointment is all about you can visit my post here…
Sam was assigned by Henley to deliver my Tender and this too was delivered virtually. Sam was an affable and funny guy. Knowledgeable and straight to the point, Sam went beyond the call of duty to track down some information and surveyors / arborist reports I was seeking. Not exactly his job, but he chased it up, with the reports arriving an hour or so after the meeting closed
Another important step in the journey is the electrical appointment. As the name implies this meeting is your opportunity to choose everything from the aesthetics of your lighting to the location of your power points.
This meeting was also conducted virtually with Jocelyn the host. Due to the nature of the items to be considered during the Electrical Appointment, running this meeting online did not have a major impact on the quality of the outcome.
Jocelyn did an incredible job explaining everything and where required guided me through areas where I had little knowledge. I have every confidence that Jocelyn’s guidance will lead to a wonderful finished product.
Soil Testing / Surveyor / Aborist
Soil testing, surveying, and the arborist are some of the relatively few non administrative functions that need to occur prior to receiving your contract.
Each of these functions will deliver a report to Henley which will inform the final design specs and price of your home. It’s unlikely that you will ever meet or speak to these people and they will only need to attend your site once each, or twice, if you’re doing a KDR.
Because you never meet these folks it’s difficult to judge their performance, so keep that in mind when I give my rating.
Customer Service Administrator
Early on in the process Henley will assign you a Customer Service Administrator (CSA). 90% of your pre-construction dealings with Henley will be via this person, so they represent the face of the company at this stage of the process. My CSA was Janet*
For over a year I have been dealing with Janet* and this important relationship has been marred by often slow responses to my questions (up to 9 days) and generally poor communication.
Up until February 2022 I had put the poor comms down to Henley office staff work from home arrangements, however the situation has not improved since that stopped.
My first email contact with Janet* was on September 22, 2021, and in the year since I have spoken to her on the phone twice, not through lack of trying on my behalf.
Unlike most Henley staff I’ve dealt with, my CSA does not appear to be well versed in my project. In her defense, perhaps Henley load her up with a high volume of customers, I have no idea if this is the case.
In recent months the relationship has soured due to what I saw as an unjustified upward contract variation (This is not the variation mentioned here). My view is that Henley and/or my CSA have not been entirely up front with their representations to me on this subject. Needless to say, a blog post will eventually appear on this, though I need to tread carefully.
Henley Member Site
Unless you are a signed-on customer of Henley, most people would be unaware of the hidden, password protected, section of the Henley.com.au website. This member only area is called the Henley Member Site. A blog post on this is coming up so I won’t say too much, but the rating below should give you an idea of my thoughts.
In rating Henley’s performance for the pre-construction portion of my project I have judged each step based on my experience. No adjustment for Covid-19 based impact have been applied, so YMMV.
Sales consultant: B
Color appointment: C
Tender appointment: A
Electrical appointment: A
Soil tester / Surveyor / Arborist: C
Customer Service Administrator: D
Henley Member Site: C