A STATEMENT ABOUT COVID-19

With the unfortunate news that Melbourne has entered Stage 4 lockdown protocols, the recent announcement by Premier Daniel Andrews will affect some change on how we go about our business.

This is a tough time for individuals and businesses alike, with the primary objective of getting us all through this as safely as possible. As a result, we will make some adjustments as to how we go about our business on a day-to-day basis until the restrictions are lifted.

While First Place is a relatively new building entity in the Victorian housing market, we are part of a larger group of companies who have built more than 10,000 homes over the past 20 years. We are privately owned and financially secure so you can rest assured we will be here long into the future.

Display Homes and Sales Appointments

As a business we have had COVID safety measures since the virus broke with display homes thoroughly cleaned and sanitised and our consultants adhering to hygiene rules. Up until Friday 7th August, we will continue to have display home inspections on an appointment only basis. These appointments will need to be booked in advance and both sales consultants and customers will need to adhere to social distancing rules and wear a face mask. Hands must be sanitised entering and exiting the display home. Appointments are limited to one person or couple and one sales representative. Customers should observe the 5km from home rule – meaning many may not be able to physically attend appointments regardless.

After Friday 7th August, and for clients uncomfortable with travelling to a display home, we also offer virtual sales appointments either over the phone or via zoom. Our industry-first online sales process means that we are uniquely positioned to providing new home solutions through our website home configurator tool, online deposits and digital contracts. You need not leave the house or handle paperwork, should you not be inclined or not be permitted.

Along with our online home configurator and digital marketing collateral, customers can request access to our library of display home images via a sales representative. All sales paperwork can be sent via email and contracts, as always, will be delivered in under 48hrs via DocuSign.

This is still a great time to build a new home, with incentives and grants in place, low interest rates and great value to be had through First Place. For new clients it will be business as usual, with the pre-site process taking 6-8 weeks in a normal market nonetheless.

Pre-Site and Office Support

Nothing will change in our back office, with many staff already working remotely and those in the office still able to attend work adhering to social distancing, wearing a face mask and hand sanitising requirements – which are already in place. Your normal Customer Service representative and Building Support Manager will be available on the phone and via email.

HomeBuilder Grant

Those clients that have bought and are eligible for the HomeBuilder grant, where the three-month criteria for contract to site start is not met, will be able to seek an extension of 3 months due to COVID. It is critical in these instances that we get to work on these jobs as soon as possible, with councils already taking 4-6 weeks in most cases to issue building permits. We urge all our existing customers, and future customers, to get going on the pre-site process as soon as possible. Our operations teams will be working through this period getting new builds ready to hit site as quickly as possible, through construction drawing phase to developer approvals and council requirements.

The HomeBuilder Scheme is managed directly between the State Government and the client. As the builder, we do not have any involvement in managing applications or handling claims. Daniel Andrews has declared COVID a “state of disaster”, the implication being that all HomeBuilder applicants should be eligible for 3 month extensions. For eligibility and extension criteria please visit the state revenue office website in the link below.

https://www.sro.vic.gov.au/owning-property/australian-homebuilder-grant

Construction

Jobs on site will continue under stage 4 restrictions albeit with a reduced capacity of 5 people on location at any one time. For most of our building works, this will be satisfactory. Our experienced building team will continue to work with the rule and adjust accordingly, making sure all jobs continue to move forward.

New builds awaiting a site start will progress as normal. Aside from some expected minor onsite delays due to these restrictions, will continue as scheduled.

This is an ever-evolving landscape and we can only plan for the directives given up until today. We will be guided by the advice and directions handed down by Premier and Chief Medical Officer. Should the situation change, we will be sure to update you again.

This is a tough time for Victorians and our thoughts are with those suffering physically and financially because of this pandemic. Stay safe, observe the rules and we will get through this together.