The total project had cost approximately 20 million dollars, give or take a few hundred thousand dollars. There was the land and existing building which cost approximately 10.5 million dollars plus stamp duty and legal fees which brought the value up to 11. The money had come from a good year in the sign business through a government contract, combined with strong trade in all three supermarkets and last, but not least, in the surprised success of a new internet site and iPad application that they had invested in the year earlier. They had then borrowed 9 million dollars from ANZ just a few months after the crisis in capital and they got the money at 5.45 per cent and locked it in for two years. They had celebrated that Christmas in Aspen, congregating in a long line for an ‘in situ’ photo with all the children present and accompanied by their husbands, wives, fiancées, and partners; all dressed in their finest ski gear.
Construction, which was intended to take only 12 months, had now gone into the 15th month and they now had revised the finish time as 20 months. Due to the nature on which the deal with the building company was struck, they had guaranteed to work at a lower margin given that they would not be subjected to a completion date. The wily yet lackadaisical owner of the building company had been smart enough to see the time lag effect of the capital crisis in the building and construction sector and now wished to keep the job going as long as possible to ensure he didn’t lose some of his key personnel.
They had also been met with friction all along the way. The local council had implemented new by-laws on energy ratings pertaining to office and commercial spaces which the building fell under the umbrella of. This had required revisiting the existing schedules, re-developing these plans to make them align with the new ‘best practice’ standards and would cost an additional 300,000 to implement. At the same time as this took place a series of court proceedings were filed against the developer on the basis that the shadow lines of the building would have an adverse affect on neighbouring residential buildings which flanked either side of the building. When these issues became a local concern, residents began asking more and more questions about why this building, which was 3 storeys higher than the neighbours, was allowed to be built in the first place; thus putting more pressure on the local council. In turn this started a resident’s local action group which gathered impetus and soon after it was difficult for the builders to do their work with residents purposefully blocking the roads at critical times and refusing to move their cars from work zones.
The final straw in this quagmire of problems that broke the back of Alan was the change in demand per square metre for office space. In a building where they had designed large floor plates for bigger companies looking for access closer to the CBD, they had in fact miscalculated the relocation of many of these companies to newer locations on the far side of the city and this demand had been replaced by smaller firms wanting smaller floor space with better security in professions such as architecture and graphic design and not in the traditional businesses which they had budgeted for. This had resulted in the need to shift the design half way through construction and to budget for a lower per square metre rental rate which would see yields decrease by 40%.
All in all, a deal which appeared to be a ‘no brainer’ had ultimately turned into a multitude of problems and had built up stress that had filtered down through the family and its repercussions were being felt by every member. These were the problems that faced Alan as he tried forcibly to enjoy the fading tangerine sunset over Rose Bay that he had paid so handsomely for. He looked forward to spring and the prospect that the natural changes of the seasons which brought new activity, might also favour his fortunes.
When the doorbell rang Alan was excited as to who might be at the door. Rachel was not answering to his calls, so he went to the door himself and opened it with a bright and smiling face to his son who was surprised, given the current circumstances, to see his father so happy and chipper. Instantly, Alan’s face turned sour as he looked past Justin to see where he had parked.
“How many times do I have to ask you not to park there? I cannot get out of the garage when you park there. Move it down further” he barked and walked away leaving the door ajar and hobbling on his feet which were sore from a gout attack he had experienced almost one week earlier.