Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

We've been looking at Display Homes, with a view to building our own little Grand Design when we've sold our property in Melbourne. We've walked through over thirty of them, and studied the floor plans of a hundred more. Sometimes, the little things make all the difference.



Dear *[FIRST NAME]*


Thank you for your impersonal form letter to inform me about your recent changes in business structure. It is indeed fortunate that I am able to control my disappointment. This is due in large part to the fact that we had already decided to build with someone else, and I had unsubscribed from your mailing list.

This must come as a humiliating blow to an organisation that doesn’t bother to mail-merge the names on their mailing list into their marketing email before they hit send. I’d hope that a company involved in designing and building homes would have more of an eye for detail.

I will, however, do you the small courtesy of explaining why we are not interested in building a Sekisui House. I have looked at well in excess of 100 floor-plans, and on paper, the Kenzie appears to meet all of our requirements. In fact, the Kenzie was one of our favourite three floor plans.

Luckily, there is a Kenzie on display at Rochedale South Display Village, just minutes from our home. Off to Rochedale we went, excited to see the Kenzie. But it was that pesky week between Christmas and New Year, and few people were working – including your sales staff. Many of the other display homes at Rochedale were open, but not yours.

Y’know, we must’ve really loved that Kenzie floor plan because we went back a few weeks later, and this time, we inspected the Kenzie. It is indeed a lovely home, which surpassed our expectations.

Of course, your lovely saleswoman at Rochedale was almost tripping over herself to provide us with all of the information we’d need. In fact, she tried to sell us the display house, right there on the spot. None of that softly softly approach there – this was hard sell from word one.

That’s where things went downhill. You see, we liked the house, and we’d studied the literature online. Sekisui’s own sales brochures price the Kenzie at less than $250K, depending on your chosen facade. Your display home was on sale for $900,000. Four months later, it’s still listed.

The problem with buying a display home is that you can’t live in it. You have to lease it back to the company displaying it until the end of the display period – quite often that’s years. With that in mind, we weren’t interested. No, really, we weren’t interested. It would not solve our problem of finding somewhere wonderful to live if we couldn’t live in it, and we don’t have almost a million dollars to throw at an investment. Here’s some free advice: people looking at display homes listed at Price Point A probably can’t afford to invest almost four times that much in a house they can’t live in.

A ceiling worth $36K, apparently...


Speaking of money, let’s assume that the block of land is worth $400,000 – which, given that it’s a small block at Rochedale South, it probably isn’t – and the house is fooled up with top-spec everything. That’s a quarter of a million dollars worth of extras which Sekisui has added for display purposes, but which don’t come with the standard Kenzie. What’s what? What’s included? How would a customer know?
We asked about inclusions, of course (although there is a list available on the web).

According to your saleshound at Rochedale, there’s the $36,000 imported ceiling (which we didn’t like and would paint over), thousands of dollars’ worth of sound system wired in, and some kind of electronic drawer closure system in the kitchen that doesn’t work if there’s a blackout, plus there’s Viridian glass, ducted air conditioning, Caesarstone benchtops, a rainwater tank, security system and appliances that just aren’t included.

Rob, looking for the kitchen sink

By the way, there was a hole in the kitchen bench where a sink should be. How can you spend a quarter of a million on extras and forget the kitchen sink?
Looking more closely at Sekisui’s list of inclusions will only depress me. Suffice to say, it’s fairly average, and less than many home builders offer.

The pool, which looks as though it belongs to the Kenzie, doesn’t, and there’s nowhere to put one. As I said, it’s a very small block. Tiny. Imagine that: a fully tricked up display home with at least $250K worth of extras, but no possibility of a pool and no kitchen sink?

Adding to my confusion, the display home has not been constructed exactly as per the floor plan. It’s close, but there’s something about the study that’s not quite right. I think there was a wall in the wrong place, but I can’t be bothered trying to remember what it was.

The last straw, the one that ensured that we crossed Sekisui off our list, was your 6 year structural guarantee. Six years is a great guarantee for a toaster, but for a house, it’s not acceptable. We’ve chosen a builder who offers a 50 year structural guarantee.

And now today’s confirmation: if we hadn’t already decided to build with someone else, we’d have to cross Sekisui off our list. Sekisui is going to restrict its buildings to house and land packages contained within their own planned communities and we’re not interested in a planned community. We prefer our communities to be wild and free and not look like they came out of next year’s Lego catalogue.

Good luck with that, especially since most of your display homes are not located in your planned communities, and you can’t build your designs in the areas where your display homes are located.

Most Sincerely,

*FIRST NAME* *LAST NAME*

And I would’ve shut up about it all, except for that email addressing me as *FIRST NAME*. Perhaps their officer in charge of Sink Procurement and Installation is handling their PR this week?

8 comments:

  1. Absolutely fabulous & thoroughly entertaining. Great work Sal.

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  2. What an informative post..please do keep posting..

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  3. Hey... You have nice Blog.. Keep follow this excellent work.
    Sinks for Kitchen India

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  4. It is estimated that housewives are spending 75% of kitchen time near the sink. And so, having a kitchen sink that suits your work pattern is very much important. Selection of the right kind of faucet will make your kitchen sinks more functional and attractive.

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  5. To be honest, this is one of the best houses I have visited in Rochedale Estate. The land is more than $550k in today's value, and $350k for a display house, bargain.

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  6. To be honest, this is one of the best houses I have visited in Rochedale Estate. The land is more than $550k in today's value, and $350k for a display house, bargain.

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  7. Not to mention most of their houses are Bukit of of plywood and cladding and it's quite an effort to get the details of the constructions material out of the sales team
    Remember the three little pigs.

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