August 31, 2021 was the day I put pen to paper to commence the early stages of building with Henley. It’s been a long road to get there, but towards the end of April 2022, I finally got my building contract. 

Looking back, there’s heaps of stuff I wish I knew back then, but hey, it was anticipating those thoughts that prompted me to create this site. Hopefully some of you can learn from my mistakes. 

Delays in receiving my building contract from Henley was frustrating for a number of reasons, the most obvious of those was needing to lock in my lender to finance the project.  

Finance frustration

Even though I’d sought pre-approval from my lender, that approval is only good for 3 months, in most cases. My 3 months was long gone.  

In the context of 2022’s rising interest rates and tightening of lending standards, one of the aspects of the build I wish I was clearer on, was the slight risk that the finance could fall through between knocking down my old house and receiving my building contract from Henley.  

To get a construction loan, which was the path I followed, most lenders will not give final loan approval until you can present them with a contract, and a few other documents such as builder insurance . 


Bubbling away in the background of all this is the fact that I am casually employed. Any long gaps in my employment would torpedo everything.  

Another reason I needed the contract and the loan to go unconditional was that I was well overdue for a decent holiday. Due to the pandemic, it’d been well over 2 years since my last trip. Travel is another area of my life I am passionate about, I also have a website dedicated to that 😊 

Why the building contract could be make or break

A few months after you sign on with Henley you reach the Tender. This meeting brings together the base price of your chosen house, all the colors, flooring and fixtures you chose in the Color Appointment, and Henley’s estimate of your site costs..  

At the end of this meeting, you are given the total estimated cost to build your dream home. Mine was just under $380K, though I later added a few extra items which totaled perhaps $5K 

It’s important to understand that the final price given to you in your Tender Appointment is not actually your final price, at least with Henley. While the company makes an estimate of your site costs, this item has the potential, if you’re unlucky, to blow out significantly. 

Thankfully there were no great surprises in the contract. 

Site costs

My concerns about the site cost proved to be unfounded. I found the estimates of site costs to be largely a paper shuffling exercise in that what was added to one line item was subtracted from another.  

Final site costs came in at the low $50K range and included a significant allowance for bored piers, which were mostly there to protect the slab from the 2 large gum trees in my back yard.  

Every single site that has done a knockdown/rebuild in my area, and there’s a lot, are mysteriously devoid of any trees. I kept my 2 big ones, they cost me plenty.  Make of that what you will.

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