Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Can you believe some people are working between xmas and new years?

Well, it's been a lazy kind of time since xmas - I've been avoiding shopping centres at all costs, concentrating on playing video games, reading comic books and having yum cha (my kind of holiday!). Moved back home on the weekend as well, after babysitting a big dog and small cat. Cats are OK - they don't need much attention :)

Drove past our block of land today, and was surprised to see some fresh concrete around the underground powerpit that we had put in at the start of November - about time! Looks very neat and tidy now.

However, we also got a letter from the council saying the demolition crew had wrecked a couple of footpath "squares" - I don't know a better word for them - and it'd cost us $600 to have it all fixed. Now, my understanding of the "asset protection permit" was that it would protect us from paying rectification costs, but apparently that's not the case... another $600 going into this build :(

And while we're talking about powerpits and demolition additional costs, we had a comment from B&T (another Nolan builder - I should start up a little club!) asking about the demolition process. Here's a summary:
  • Obtain asset protection permit from your council & pay any required bond amount (ours was $160 for the permit, $1000 bond)
  • Choose a demolition contractor after getting some quotes
  • Arrange telephone line disconnection through Telstra (allow 1-2 weeks), They won't physically disconnect the line - once the phone number has been "inactivated" your demo crew can just cut the lead-in phone line and take it to the telephone pole.
  • Arrange electricity and gas disconnections through your electricity/gas providers (allow 2-4 weeks) and the house must be vacant before they'll remove the electricity and gas meters.
  • If you're redeveloping your block, make sure you leave the water meter and front tap, and get your demo crew to remove everything but these two items.
As for underground powerpit, strictly this has nothing to do with the demolition, but should be done well prior to starting construction (allow 4 weeks from time of ordering powerpit). I'd order the powerpit at the same time as arranging electricity disconnection. For this, call your electricity provider and ask them who provides underground powerpits in your area. Our one was about $1600 (had to get power from the powerpole across the street so a little more than the basic quoted cost of around $900). Good luck B&T! For more details click on the "demolition" tag on the sidebar of this blog.

Finally, here's a screen capture of MyMetricon, the online tool for tracking your house build. Apparently Porter Davis has a similar customer tool, but I've not seen what it looks like.

This screen shows our "preconstruction" chart with everything completed (finally!). This includes such items as deposit, sales process, colour, electrical selections etc, contracts, planning and ordering, right up to the site start date.

This pic shows us the "construction" screen - and clearly nothing's been started yet (the site scrape doesn't get a mention on this screen). Hopefully this empty screen will rocket along to having a whole bunch of yellow bars soon!

Also got an email from Gena yesterday (didn't think she'd be doing emails on her break!) just letting us know we won't be getting any bills while we're overseas in January, which is nice.

I think we'll head to the beach for a day or two tomorrow as it'll be over 30 until Thursday afternoon. Not much accommodation about, but will find a little motel or something near the beach (hopefully) online.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

xmas roundup - hope everyone's xmas day was great!

First of all, thanks to everyone who left comments on the previous site start post - it's grea to get feedback every now and then! Sarah V - your Newhaven looks brilliant! Somehow it looks like it's 2.5 storeys high? Renee: your block of land has a fantastic view; love it! Sirona; keep up the massive photofest on your blog, I'm checking it every time it's updated - will leave you a comment about your meter box soon too. And Anonymous - keep checking this blog, will try to keep it as updated and informative as possible.

Basically, there won't be much stuff going on for anyone's build for 2-3 weeks, so I'll go through a whole bunch of photos and random things of interest relevant/irrelevant to house building and post them on this blog. If anyone has any questions of items they want to know more about, now is an ideal time to submit them as we'll have some free time to blog about it!

So, yesterday (xmas) was the usual massive foodfest - huge lunch with my family, and huge dinner with Tina's family. We had lunch at my uncle's place - he's a custom builder, and I wanted him to build our house. Unfortuantely he only operates at the very expensive end of house building - it would have been at least double Metricon's price for one of his houses! Anyway, this particular house he's living in now was built for a diplomat who pulled out at a very late stage, so he's moved in himself. It's a fully rendered neoclassical masterpiece in the prestigious heart of Camberwell, formal sitting/dining/(ballroom?) 4 car underground garage (with some kind of stone treatment on the garage floor costing $50,000!) with butlers/maid quarters, 65+sq of living, fully tiled Travertine marble wet areas, 10' ceilings, Emporite doors, all the bells and whistles you could imagine, and my favourite room - a state of the art home theatre, which fully fitted out costs about as much as our house base price! Only took a couple of pics. This house is for private sale by expressions of interest around $5m.

Living room; parquetry floors, gas fire, Clipsal C-bus, built in audio, timber bifolds, 15' raised ceiling with feature windows.

Outdoor area. Home theatre room in a separate wing to the right of photo.

Today, Ill drop Tina off at Doncaster Shoppo for a spot of post-xmas purchasing insanity, while I'll go to our land - I gave our neighbour our bins to use while we're building, but I think he's left one out for too long, and we'll get fined if the council spots it - so it needs to be moved.

Not much planned for the coming week: beach if the weather is good, upgrade my laptop to Windows 7 if the weather's not good, go see Avatar 3D in melb Imax sometime, and research home theatre things. I've ordered a bunch of parts from the USA for the home theatre wiring etc, but they've been stuffing me around a little so will have to make sure that it all arrived by end of January.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

BEST xmas present EVER? Site STARTED!

So, I was in a shopping centre hating every second of shopping for xmas presents for staff (I like giving people stuff, I just hate having to queue with screaming bogan parents and children to buy it) when I got a call from Gena. Of course, being buried alive in Northlands meant I had no phone reception, so the call dropped out. Anyway, checking my voicemail, Gena said that we had a site start date... well, actually, it had already started - site start was TODAY 22.12.09!

Of course, this was totally unexpected news (3 days before xmas for a site start?) so we went by the site to check things out.

Here's our new temp fence (glad it's up before the long xmas break!) and our metricon sign.

And it's not just a fence - we've actually had a site scrape today as well!

Unbelievable! Wish Gena had called us yesterday, as Tina could've gone to watch the scrape being done. Anyway, on the left you can see the scrape is lower for the garage stepdown alongside the fence. There's also temp fencing along the side boundary too. At the back of the scrape, there's about 30-40cm worth of fill.

For some reason I can't transfer photos from my iPhone to my laptop, but once that's sorted out I'll get more photos done.

Funny thing was, we were saying that having our hosue start before xmas would be the ideal present, but it wasn't going to happen... but it did! Probably the best thing about site start is that now the clock is officially ticking - the "370" days in the build contract start NOW, so theoretically handover should occur prior to December 27, 2010, or M will need to start paying damages - not that $250/week is anything significant given the cost of the whole build process.

Now we're wondering when M will get their guys back on site after xmas - we're going away for 9-10 days, so we're hoping not to miss too much of slab preparation, plus being overseas may make paying for the slab a little difficult.

Best xmas present so far, that's for sure! Hope all you reading this blog are having a good one too!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas shutdown, Nolan sold in Box Hill North result

Well, the Metricon office is shut for a few weeks over xmas - we were hoping to get a call before the shutdown to tell us of a site start date, but no such luck. Nevermind, it'll all happen when it happens. I think the worst part about building is the anxiety and feeling that someone should be working on your house at all times - gotta learn to relax, but it's not easy!

Anyway, I was meant to work on Saturday but took the day off so I could go see the auction of the Metricon Nolan in Lawford St at 11am. Quite a good crowd, maybe 100 people or so? As Deb pointed out on a comment on the prior blog entry, this particular Nolan had a modified open rumpus room - I think this was done because the normal sitting room was converted to a guest bedroom. And the while porcelain floor tiles looked great - very upmarket and modern, but would get pretty filthy once a family starts living in the house! But certainly a good look for a house for sale.

The auction started off with a vendor bid at 1.1m (quoted range was 1.1 to 1.2m). 3 bidders took the house to the reserve price of $1.25m, with a new bidder entering in and fighting to win the house at $1.43m. Nice result for the sellers! I did take a few photos on my iphone, but a dodgy USB cable is stopping me transfering pictures to the blog. Makes me wonder whether we should get a valuation on our Nolan once it's complete, but after spending so much time just planning this build, I think we'll keep this house for a good many years before moving on! Had enough of moving house over the last few years!

And funnily enough, I met up with a reader of our blog after the auction, who was standing next to me, who are building the Nolan in Doreen (sorry, I totally can't remember your name right now!) Nice to meet you!

Our current housesit in Preston is going well - the dog was a bit anxious around us at first, but now she's quite friendly. The cat - well, cats just need to be fed, right? And so far, it doesn't appear as any plants have died - yet. We may have lined up another housesit in Rosanna for next week after this one finishes, looking after cats & rats - we'll see how that little party turns out! Anyone else needing a housesitter in Melbourne, contact us!

And since I couldn't attach any photos of the Nolan, here's a picture of something a little different; my car is for sale, to help fund the house build of course!

It's a beauty - a 1997 Nissan Skyline R33 GTR Vspec series 3. It's a fairly rare enthusiasts' car, and if you're after a true Japanese supercar (or know someone who might) please leave your contact details as a comment!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Spoke to construction CSC, spotted 2 Metricon homes today

Missed a call from Gena, our construction CSC last night, so I called her back this morning. Seems nice enough over the phone, I just hope she's as organised as Mendo is!

With any luck our file is in estimating right now, and if we're super lucky she'll get back in touch with us end of this week to let us know a site start date - yaaaay!

*edit* Just checked My Metricon, and while the "estimating" box isn't checked yet, we have a site supervisor named - Brian! How exciting!

Today, had a temp job in St Kilda to get to, and I think I spotted 2 Metricon homes - one was on Riversdale rd near Highfield rd, and one on Whitehorse Rd, between Union Rd and Station St. But I could be wrong, was driving past them pretty fast but they looked awfully familiar!

There's also a messaive Metricon home going up on Doncaster rd, between the greythorn shops and balwyn road - looks huuuuge! Would be worth a fortune in the Balwyn North area too, certainly well into 7 figures.

Finally, we're moving into a house in Preston tonight for 2 weeks of housesitting. We're hoping to line up more housesitting gigs while our house is being built (we've probably got a month in Vermont housesitting in August 2010). If anyone is going away in Melbourne, and would like their house (and pets!) minded by two responsible, mature professionals, please let us know!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Phone line moved - can we please start building now?

Unbelievably, we've got the phone line moved already! Didn't think Telstra moved that quickly, but there you go. Only took the young bloke less than a hour to replace the telephone cable to the neighbours house, so it now crosses in from across the road, instead of across our block. Nice one mate!

Finally, nothing but clear sky over our land. Have emailed our preconstruction CSC and our new construction CSC (we haven't spoken to her yet) to let them know the site is finally cleared and ready to go. While there's no chance of site start before xmas, I'm hoping that we might be told before xmas when site start will be next year!


Friday, December 11, 2009

Telephone line issue, mostly resolved

OK - so the phone line hanging over our block in the last blog post... well, it's more or less on the way to being resolved. If anyone else ends up getting this problem, call up Telstra, and ask to be put through to "Network Integrity". An inspector will come look at the problem (actually quite quickly in our case, within a week of reporting the problem) and let you know how to fix the problem and how much $$$ it will cost.

Hoping to have that phone line moved by xmas - as soon as it's gone I'll email back our CSC, and hopefully we'll get a site start date pretty soon after. Definitely won't be until late Jan at this rate, but no big deal.

Way too many other things to organise and keep track of - doing a couple of weeks housesitting starting next week (if anyone needs a housesitter in Melbourne, contact us!), then off to NZ for a few days in January to sort out as well.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

OK readers, please help us out by commenting on this picture!

So this is the phone line in question - you can kind of see it being strung across our land here. It goes from an underground Telstra pit in front of our land, up a pole, then across to our neighbours house.

I'm still waiting on Telstra/subcontractor to call me back - anywhere from 3-7 working days, just to get a phone call, on relocating the phone line.

Either we shift it to hang from another pole, or organise an underground telephone connection. It's right at the front of our block, at least 3.5, 4m up in the air? Would it really get in the way of construction? mmmmmm.... I'm hoping it wouldn't, just frustrated late at night having to deal with all these things which delay our construction.

Anyway, I'm hoping some bright blog reader out there can suggest any ways to speed up the removal/relocation of this phone line lead-in wire. Annoying thing!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Site start? Erm... not just yet

Went by the site yesterday to clean up a pile of dirt on the nature strip that Metricon told me must be gone prior to site start - even though United Energy are meant to come back soon for a review and cleanup, I figured I'd break out a shovel and clean it up myself. Also stuck in a few star pickets and rope just to cordon off the front, and stuck up a sign with our lot number and details for the construction crew.

Also received a letter from our CSC saying the contract was now (finally) unconditional as of December 3rd! But of course, I then received a phone call on Friday 4th, saying that because of one little issue, construction still can't start!

Turns out that our neighbour has a phone line running from the phone pole in front of our site, and because it runs across our block it's an OH&S issue. Meh! Anyway, contacted Telstra straight away and hopefully it'l be fixed... but probably not in time to get a pre Xmas site start. Oh well - it will allow the soil to settle a few more weeks before slab goes down, anyway. With any luck, we might be told of a site start date before xmas, but no site start before xmas.

One thing we're grateful for are great neighbours that we've met - spoke to our next door neighbour today about the phone line thing, to get consent for a contractor to go into her front yard sometime, and she was quite happy to allow that - thanks heaps Tina & Craig!

Also went today for the open inspection of the Nolan that is going for auction in a few weeks (see prior blog post). Also took my parents to check it out. And to "anonymous" who was thinking this house for sale is a Liberty - nope, definitely a Nolan (real estate agent confirms it).

The main thing was that it was nice to see a Nolan without all the display home upgrades - usually the display home Nolan has an ensuite to every bedroom, but we were able to see the original 3-way upstairs bathroom for a change - and it works really well! In our opinion, not worth the extra $20,000 to put an ensuite in every bedroom.

Main notes about this house:
  • Sitting room converted to guest bedroom
  • Study has double cavity doors (as we have optioned on our Nolan too) but with cutout niche in the front wall; a little odd.
  • Rumpus room and dining/outdoor rooms swapped in position, done in this particular Nolan to take advantage of the NW orientation.
  • Beautiful floor tiles on ground floor - but white grout would get kind of dirty once a family gets in there to live!
  • Upstairs had plain vinyl sliding doors, upgraded to taller size. I still think mirrored robe doors look better.
  • Kitchen had upgraded vinyl wrap doors - very nice! Plus upgraded handles, same as what we have selected for cupboards.
  • Laundry entrance was kept standard, off the kitchen, with lots of extra storage.
  • Semi-recessed basins all around with ceasarstone drop edge benchtops.
  • Austral Hawthorn bricks, with off white rolled mortar - our brick selection, but we chose flush mortar. Looks beautiful in real life up close, so glad we upgraded to this brick!
Didn't take any photos inside, but scanned in the floorplan from the brochure - enjoy!

Also had a comment by "anonymous" asking about our floorplan modifications - if you search through this blog, you should be able to find our modified floorplan layout.

However, we did some thinking, and looking through our Metricon catalogues and books, it seems that you won't get offered floorplan modifications if you go straight to contract, and perhaps also if you choose a house & land package.

Why not - that's my main question? I mean, it's not like the house is already built and they have to knock down walls or anything. I guess it's to minimise paperwork and administration and time spent in drafting.

My advice to anonymous: If you want changes to your floorplan, take it up with your sales consultant, if you don't get anywhere with them, ask to speak to another sales consultant - don't forget, they get paid based on sales made! But then again, check again to see whether you must/need floorplan modifications. If you want extensive changes, maybe you should select another builder or floorplan that suits you better. Our main reason for choosing the Nolan was that it needed very little changes (and honestly, we could build the house as standard and be very happy with it). We also looked at Henley & PD, but some of their floorplans just didn't work for us, or ones we liked couldn't fit our narrow building area, or had poor orientation for our block. Liked the double storey Carlisle designs a lot (good standard inclusions too), but they flat out refuse to build in our area - oh well, one sale lost for them!

Our main "nonstandard" floorplan changes were:
  • Modified laundry - entrance swapped to be near powder room
  • Modified powder room - WC and basin in one enclosed room
  • Modified ensuite - shower and WC swapped position
  • Extra doors: To study, rumpus, ensuite, hallway.
Really, not major changes, all able to be done with internal wall changes only, no structural changes. Good luck anonymous!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

OMG... there's "our house" for sale a few streets away!

Tina came across a crazy interesting find on Domain tonight - there's a brand new house for sale, only 3-4 mins from our site that appears to be our Nolan but with the outdoor room and rumpus room position swapped at the rear!

This is the Manor facade. Looks fine (not particularly to our taste), but for this particular style (Neoclassical? Georgian?)I think it looks better if the first floor extends above the garage. A good safe choice if you're building to sell, as it's conservative yet timeless. As it is, it looks like the house is half the width it should be! Could be our bricks though (Austral Hawthorn), and the front landscaping is quite nice. Check out the retaining wall running along the left side of the boundary under the existing fenceline - pretty significant slope, and you can see how much elevated the house to the left is as well!

This photo showing the entry certainly gives us the impression it's a Nolan floorplan! Very wide, grand entry makes a terrific first impression and feeling of spaciousness - one of the things we liked about the Nolan. Also, the staircase is offset/hidden to one side with a 90 degree turn - good feng shui. The standard study is visible to the right, with a feature cutout niche. Because we've got double cavity doors to the study, the niche is deleted so we can close off the study in case it gets messy. The other change we made to our Nolan was for a custom made wide cavity door that will close off the rear half of the house - in the photo above, you can see from the front door right to the back door - bad feng shui. Plus, being able to close off the rear of the house is better for climate control, and also stopping any cooking odours from reaching everywhere! The gloss white floor tiles are a nice elegant touch though.

From the looks of it, this was someone's redevelopment project - Google Earth still shows the old house on the block, and this house looks like it was built to sell rather than owner occupied.

Here's where things get interesting - see the room with the lamp? In the standard Nolan design this is the rumpus room, and it would be located on the opposite side of the hosue to where the kitchen is. Looks like the rumpus and the dining/outdoor room has been swapped. Since there's no first floor overhead, probably a relatively easy swap to do in preplanning.

Nice furniture too - probably hired in to make the house look good to sell (does it remind you of a typical display home?) Anyway, we'll see it in more detail this Saturday afternoon at the open for inspection! Want to go see it too? Check it out here - http://www.domain.com.au/Public/PropertyDetails.aspx?adid=2008116306


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hurry up and wait, rinse, repeat.

Here's a story that anyone who's built a home with a project builder will be familiar with.

1) Make a choice on an item... for example, choose what brick you want.
2) Builder will then write up a contract item, getting the item wrong, wrong price, wrong size, wrong location etc etc. This may take a day, or a month.
3) Buyer emails builder telling them in plain english the exact steps needed to fix the problem.
4) Builder fixes issue described in item #2 above (if you're lucky) and then manages to screw up at least one other thing. Again, this may take a day, or a month.
5) Go to step 3.

And if you're lucky, you get to the point where maybe 80% of things are right, and you're so sick of fixing up things that you let a few little things slide because it's simply not worth your time anymore to try and get it corrected.

And then you get to where we are now - we made a certain selection on roof tiles back at our colour appointment (12th September!) and now that virtually everything is signed off, locked in and approved, we get told that someone forgot to price in the "upgraded" roof tiles (yup, they're an upgrade, now...) and we're asked to approve another few thousand $$$ into the contract. But of course, the variation emailed to us is... wrong.... *sigh*... and so of course there is zero progress on the site, still.

Delay on colour selections.. too many things to list = builder's error sooo many times over.
Delay on tile selections... contract drawn wrong = builder's error.
Delay on site start (builder meant to be on site within 30 days of building permit approval, which was November 27)...

Doubt anything will get done this year. Having seen how fast other builders are getting homes done (check out all the build blogs on homeone forums) I'd have to say M are the sloooowest by far. No fault of our wonderful CSC or the fast drafting department, but a pretty miserable performance by the colour team.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Side fence removed - ready to go!

Mendo emailed us a copy of the boundary resurvey this morning, and hopefully sometime this week we'll get the "pre-planner" out on site to check everything prior to site start.

Went by after work and found the side fence had been removed as requested, with a bit of barrier tape that may or may not be enough to keep the neighbour's dog in - I'll go back tomorrow with some stakes to keep the barrier down.

Also got a revised tile planning document with a few minor changes; all looks good on that front - not that we'll see any action with tiles for another... 7, 8 months?


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Empty site; resurvey complete already!

Finally, a weekday off, the first in quite a while!

Took the opportunity to head down to the site before lunch, and found there were already a couple of surveyors there doing the resurvey of the block. You can see them as tiny specks in the photo below, if you look hard enough! Apparently they'll send through the results to M this afternoon or tomorrow, and asap after that we'll be getting a survey for the slab!

I took a shovel to have a chop through the soil, most of it was pretty clay-like from the huge dumps of rain over the weekend. Where the old driveway used to be on the left, still lots of gravel and hard clay, but no concrete left - good work demo boys!

Also managed to get a fence contractor out to meet on site after lunch, and his team will remove about 10m of fence along the left so the garage can be built alongside. He recommended just leaving the fence off rather than replacing it afterwards, so I'll have to get in touch with the landlord to get their opinion. Also need the very back corner fence replaced, as the neighbour has had 40 years worth of ivy grow through the fence and it's just ruined - if I'd known it'd need to be replaced I would have had the demolition crew chop it down and take it away as well! Oh well.

Anyway, the fence will be done tomorrow, and I can let the CSC know the prestart survey can go ahead. We also got a revised tile quote, as somewhere along the looong line of contracts and drawings there was a tiling error to the ensuite - looks like we save $1000 somewhere!

Went to the council as well, to arrange a reinspection of the site now the demolition has been completed - hopefully can get my $1000 bond back as well. Looks like the footpath has been cracked in a couple of areas, but it's up to the demolition crew to rectify this - though I'm not sure when it should be done, seeing as there will be construction for the next year or so which will probably cause further cracks in the footpath.

Fingers crossed we may get some initial work done on the site in the next 2 weeks or so!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Crane gone; now the hard work begins!

I didn't go by the site tonight, but apparently the crane has been taken away, so we should just have a clear block now!

Emailed our CSC last night, and what happens now is a re-establishment survey to check the block of land is as big as the titles office say it is. We then get a "pre planner" to survey the block for the slab, but before that's done I need to get 7m of side fence removed (where the garage is going to be 150mm from the boundary). With any luck, we may have a bit of activity in a couple of weeks or so? Not that it particularly bothers us, I can't see much productivity before xmas, anyway, then everything shuts down for a few weeks.

Anyone who has built with Metricon (or really, any other builder): any idea how long the christmas shutdown period is?

Of course, after 2 months of ringing around for a fence person to come and quote me for the work on the side fence, I could only get 1 to even give me a quote, and he didn't return my calls today.... *sigh*... so if it's not done by this weekend I'll have to do it myself. Not happy!

Anyway, I also called Tru Energy who said that they usually revisit an underground power pit after 5-6 weeks to check it's setup right, and then fix up the concrete around it. One less thing to worry about.

Also will go to the council tomorrow to organise a reinspection of the footpath, crossover etc, as they've got $1000 out of me as a bond to cover any damage. If there's damage, it's up to the demo crew to rectify/pay for repairs, but I have to make sure the inspection is done by the council, before M start building.

I thought I would also have to take out an Asset Protection Permit for M, but they're going to handle that, so one less thing to worry about, I think!

I also need to get the temporary fence removed, as M will install their own temporary fence prior to the build. So yep, having that temp fence there for a month cost about $300 (same as what it costs to have it there for 6 months!)

Whoever is planning a knockdown/rebuild, just make sure you're super organised, as there's a LOT of things you need to plan and co-ordinate prior to the build! I reckon my first piece of advice would be to get the demolition complete and over at least a month or two before you plan to build - the sooner the better! Especially as any delays after signing the contract will cost you in delay fees per week, and we all know how much paying any further $$$ hurts!

I'll get a picture of the empty block, sans crane posted up tomorrow. And to Paul & Jason - sounds like we're close enough neighbours to you at the moment :)


Edit/PS: If you're thinking about a home loan, I would think twice before looking at Heritage Building Society. We were meant to have everything fully approved by the start of October - it's now nearly the end of November and we don't have much to show for it, thanks to poor customer service, inept recordkeeping, them randomly changing our mailing address so we don't receive any communications etc. Not looking promising, so I'm seriously going to LOSE IT the next time they screw something up, and tell my broker to get our certificate of title and other documents back from them so we can get a loan from someone else. I've been recommended St George, so maybe we'll see how good they are. Fucking banks - c'mon, there can't be a single person in Australia who hasn't said that!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Aaaand.... we have a clean site!

So, the weather was awfully hot this morning (got to 38 by lunchtime I've been told!) but despite that, while I was at work, so were the demolition crew. By the time I got to the site after work, everything had been allllllllllllll doooooooooone!

Doesn't look like much land after the demolition, just enough for one big boy's toy in the centre! Many times I wish we had a wider frontage, and NO side easement, but at least those troubles have been sorted out. It's not easy finding a 100% perfect site for redevelopment in existing suburbs, so we've done reasonably well. Fairly flat - but still about 80cm of fall from front to back, and a tiny bit left to right. If you look beyond the crossover, the soil still looks a bit white where the concrete/gravel driveway used to be. I'll have to go back tomorrow when it's not soggy and wet (hopefully) to have a poke about to make sure all the concrete is gone, though I'm sure the demo guys were quite thorough.

Yep, definitely going to have to move that crane, it's sitting about where our entry hallway or sitting room will be!

Just got a comment from a reader who is building a Nolan in Bundoora (Hi Renee!) asking about additions to base prices. Basically all M display homes will have a minimum of 100k in upgrades and options over the base price. Don't forget the base price is for Traditional facade (which may or may not appeal to you), but typically the more fancy (eg bigger balconies, cladding etc) and the more "modern" looking, the more expensive the facade will be (up to$15k on top of base). And of course, don't forget render isn't included in a facade by default!

Add in other upgrade prices such as structural items, colour/fitting upgrades, electrical upgrades... well, if you add $100k to the base price, this should cover most things like site costs, facades, upgrades etc (but even then it may not be enough for floor coverings, window furnishings, driveways/crossovers etc!) See the earlier post on "Beginner's guide to building with M" for some indications on upgrade costs.

And As for our own temporary housing situation while the house is being built, we've got a housesitting gig for middle December, and also for end of January. If anyone in Melbourne needs professional, mature and responsible housesitting (we love pets!) for any duration, then please let us know!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

OMG! LOOK what happened to our beautiful house!

So, turned up to do the daily driveby of the house, and amazed to see this sitting where our living room room used to be:


Can't say how excited we were to see the house reduced to rubble. Had enough of the lime green and peach walls, outdoors dunny, lime green cupboards, asbestos garage and wooden bathroom (not to mention yellow kitchen)!

And a special cheers to Anthony & his wife - what a bizarre way to meet our neighbours (through Google!) We'll catch up with you guys sometime to try and help you on your build - what an experience!

Apparently the big Tonka Toy in the pic above was delivered in the late afternoon (5:30 or so?) and had finished devouring the house in about 30 minutes! Wish we were there to see it, but I was told the other day it wouldn't start until tomorrow. Oh well - the sooner the better I say, as we're already a week overdue.

Still remaining to be done is the removal of the garage wooden skeleton, all the vegatation front and back, as well as the brick pavers at the back and the concrete "driveway" along the fenceline, so I expect more activity tomorrow and Monday. I bought Tina a new ipod nano, so maybe we'll even get some video of things happening (at very low resolution!)

As soon as the demo is fully finished, we have to get our CSC to book in the resurvey asap.

And a closing note, thanks to everyone who have left positive comments on our blog, saying how things have been helpful or informative. It takes quite a bit of effort to maintain a detailed blog, but we're glad to see it being of help to people - thanks for your feedback! If anyone would like any more specific information or details, leave a comment anywhere on the blog and if it's not an unreasonable request, we're quite happy to try and help you out.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 8 of demolition, and...

and... well, nothing, really. Bit dissappointing that nothing's been done for the last week, especially as our CSC had booked in the resurvey for Nov 20. I emailed the demo company and they reckon it'll be finished by Mon 23rd, so will organise the resurvey for after then.

Also, finally received our updated colour schedule (erm... 5 weeks or so after contract signing??) which we'll get onto signing tomorrow. Still no word on our tiles, which we selected a month ago!

But anyway, colours and tiles are relatively unimportant right now - we just want to get this old house pulled down!!

And one thing bugs me - when the underground power pit was installed, the tradies cut out a big square of concrete footpath for a little round powerpit cover, and backfilled it with some soil. Erm... shouldn't that be all concrete? And I won't be happy if I have to pay for it, because really they should've cut a round hole, for a round powerpit. Reminder to self: call Tru Energy and find out who's going to fix that!


Monday, November 9, 2009

Day 1 of demolition!

The demo company said they would start this week, but didn't say whether it would be Monday or Friday or any day in between. As it turns out, they did start on wrecking the house today!
From Tim & Tina's build: Metricon Nolan 41 in Melbourne

This is probably the first hint you shouldn't go beyond this fence. I did want to go in to check out what they'd done, but I'd rather live a few more years!

From Tim & Tina's build: Metricon Nolan 41 in Melbourne
And really, I think all they did today (in 34 degree heat!) was to pull down the roof and walls of the shed at the back, which is where all the asbestos was. Looks like they also pulled down a couple of downpipes and hacked away at the weatherboard around the windows too.

Anyway, I've sent an email to the demo guy to find out when they will finish, as M want to get a resurvey done prior to site start.

And I've finally managed to get a tradesman out (tomorrow, anyway) to give us a quote on pulling down a bit of the side fence, then replacing it.

Finally, called our lender this morning regarding paperwork we sent them 3 weeks ago. Apparently they requested further info in a letter we never received. After calling my broker, turns out the idiots at the bank had decided to change our postcode, meaning the letters they sent us, we never received! So settlement of the loan still hasn't occurred... and banks wonder why people don't like them much... thankfully we still have plenty of time to get the loan sorted out, but in many cases the builder will charge you a penalty for every week or day you delay site start. Could have been costly for us, and do you think the bank would reimburse any costs incurred as a result of their f#ckup? Not damn likely!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Neighbours house that was for sale - sold?

So while browsing the "for sale" pages on Domain, came across the fact our neighbour's house was for sale! It's a few doors down, and was only built a year ago.

Beautiful looking house, one of the nicest facades on our street I think! It blends in with the established nature of the other houses on the street, but stands out for design. Nice features included double glazed casement windows all around (expensive!) and refrigerated AC. We went in for a stickybeak one day - furnishing were a little dated, but the inside was nice enough. Not real keen on the "formal living/dining" room, the study was tiny, and the master bedroom also very small. Very nice rear deck/verandah and bifolds though, much larger than our one will be I think. As for overall size, it's probably marginally smaller than our Nolan, but still very livable. Love the zero maintenance front yard too, I imagine we'll take some design cues when we get around to doing ours!Their block of land is a little larger than ours, but of course also north facing. Pity we can't find out how much it sold for, as it was a very low key sale and private bids only. But if they get the 1.3m they were asking, it'd definitely be the most expensive house in the suburb!

There's also a bran new Porter Davis house almost complete being built down the street from us - I think it's a Brookvale, but many of their houses share similar facades, so very hard to tell for sure. Not sure if it's being built to live in, or as an investment for sale, but it's had a lot of money invested in it with a fully rendered facade and feature tiling on balcony, and being fully landscaped at the front too. Next time we walk by I'll take some photos and post them here!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Massive post: A beginners guide to Building with M!

I've been feeling a bit underoccupied lately, now that we've done all the major thinking and decisions with building the Nolan, so I've decided to start compiling some useful basic information for those thinking of building with M - there's a few of you out there, I know! I'll also break this up into chunks and post it on the Homeone forums for more people to contribute to. So, take a deep breath and have a read through!



Go and check out all the M displays that you can. See what floorplans appeal (or not) and you should be able to find at least 2 houses that you could see yourself living in. You’re able to make changes to the floorplan, so the house doesn’t have to be perfect as you see it (of course, changes cost money, but maybe not as much as you think).

When you find a floorplan to start from, get the sales consultant (SC) to give you a walkthrough. If they’re any good, they should be able to point out everything that is nonstandard (which is most things!) and what is.

$1000 secures your base price of the house, paid to your SC. Note: From this deposit date, you have 150 days to make the final contract unconditional – this includes such things as land settlement, demolition, finance approval etc. If not, the clause allows for an increase of 0.5% of the contract price (not base house price!) per month of delay.

After initial deposit, M will do a site survey and soil test.

At your preliminary contract appointment with your Customer Service Consultant (CSC), you’re presented with siting diagrams and initial floorplans. If (like us) you want to make changes to the floorplans, best you do them even before the initial deposit stage, so you can give them to your SC, and they should be drawn up for your prelim contract. However, at our prelim contract we had done maybe half the floorplan changes we wanted, and submitted further changes at this point.

As a rough guide, modifying our Nolan wasn’t that expensive for what we gained;
- laundry redesign (move door and add walk in linen) about $700
- powder room redesign (enclose WC and sink in one room, feature windows) $500
- ensuite redesign (swap toilet and shower, making huge shower) $500

When you’re happy with your prelim contract, cough up another $3000 to get the final contract drawings done.

Studio M colour selection, electrical and tiles – see the next few posts for info.

Final contract – despite what your CSC may say, there still is room to fine tune changes at this stage without penalty. We changed the internal access door handle, the kitchen sink and a few other things here as a “pre construction variation”.

M then will apply for your building permit, and have 30 days to start construction from the date the building permit is approved.


Be well prepared, as you’ve gotta choose EVERYTHING for your house at this appointment! See as many M display homes as you can, take photos and make notes of what you like.

Everything from tiles, bricks, mortar, doors, windows, paint, kitchen, cabinets, vanities etc needs to be picked.

Visit places like Austral/Boral/Selkirk Bricks, and get their lists of houses built using their bricks. Also grab a few sample bricks of the ones you like!

Some rough guidelines on pricing upgrades (submit your upgrade prices and I can add them to this list!)

- Vinyl wrap $4000
- 2pack (not available anymore?) $6500
- ABS edging $100+
- Upgrade handles – highest category about $500
- Upgrade 20mm to 40mm ceasarstone $500
- Tiled kickers $50
- Upgrade doors to Balmoral-2 approx $100 per door?
- Big pull handle and roller lock to front entry door $400
- Trilock approx $170+
- Privacy locks $25
- Upgrade to KDHM treads (stained wood stairs, no carpet) $2500
- Stainless steel balusters $1000
- Upgrade to Cat4 Austral on Nolan 41 $4500
- Off white mortar on Nolan 41 $900
- Flush mortar on Nolan 41 $300


Check the standard electrical plan carefully – there’s the bare minimum included! Electrical appointment takes 2-3 hours, depending on how well prepared you are. As usual, best advice is to print out the standard floorplan and mark in everything you want prior to the appointment. M will also email you a full pricelist of everything prior to your appointment,

Rough upgrade prices
- Double electrical powerpoint $61
- External junction box for light $50
- Wall, floor, step light point $56
- Downlight $46 (and if this is a “new” downlight point, add about $56 for a “ceiling light point” first!)
- Two way switch $50
- Three way switch $100
- IXL 4 lamp $500
- 4 star gas heater upgrade about $750
- Zoning for heating about $350


M have unfortunately reduced their tile range as of Aug 09, so there’s not many standard tiles. You can go to Beaumont Tiles in Oakleigh anytime for a stickybeak – the current standard range is marked by little blue dots on the tiles.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Power Pit finally being installed!

Went by the house after work, and look what's appeared on the footpath!

These guys were just finishing up the job, but will be back tomorrow as they couldn't finish it all today. Cool digging equipment allows them to trench right under the road to the power pole opposite!

One thing I need to check is that the power pit isn't connected to the live wires - apparently the builder is meant to organise this connection through the local retailer (Tru Energy). I'm wondering if I should contact Tru Energy to arrange connection, rather than relying on Metricon to do it?


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fencing is up, a few days early!

So we decided to drive by our block after work to check whether the powerpit had been done - guess we shouldn't be too surprised that the powerpit still hasn't been done, another deadline by Jemena missed.

However, driving up to the house, we were surprised to see this:
Was meant to be done on Friday, but in a later email we found the fencer had some time this morning to stick up the fence. How exciting - though this is only for the demolition, it signals to the neighbours that something is about to happen! We've only told one neighbour to the left, and the opposite neighbour, but now I guess the whole street knows!


Building Permit Approved - 4 days in council, is that a record??

So things are really starting to happen now!

We received our "final" construction drawings last week, but had to correct a few things:
- ensuite had shower rail and rainfall head together, instead of at opposite ends of the double shower
- powder room door swung wrong way
- Light switch placed behind door
- some electrical items at wrong height
- added note that benchtop runs all the way to window splashback

and after 7 goes at getting it right, we finally signed off on the correct drawings yesterday!

We also received word that our building permit was approved - it only took 4 days! It helps we already did the legwork to get the building over easement approvals months ago, and that alone took 3 weeks for a rubber stamp! Our CSC says they use a private company to submit the approvals, and providing the siting and design is done in line with Rescode (which our house complies with) there is usually less than a week to approve the build.

We also received our plans in the mail yesterday with the energy assessment, and apparently we've got a 5.5 star energy rated house, which is nice to know! Didn't really design the house with energy rating in mind (even added a couple of windows on the west side, which is meant to be a no-no).

We're still waiting on our tile appointment results, about $2000 worth of feature tile upgrades. We were lucky enough to be able to use the original Metricon/Beaumont tile selection range instead of the reduced range brought in around August. We upgraded to a nice mosaic tile around the powder room mirror, the same mosaic in the ensuite shower niche, and also an aluminium stripe around the fully tiled ensuite. Will have to upload photos, but Tina has the tiles at her parent's place.

On other things related to the redevelopment:
- power pit being installed today - they say! We paid for this September 23 and was meant to be done within a month, but some delays here for whatever reason.
- Temporary fence for the demolition is being installed Friday. The annoying thing is that virtually all fencing companies will quote for a 6 month minimum, and they all want about $350 - all we need the fence for is 2 weeks or so!
- Demolition booked for week after Cup day - I hope they can start earlier, as we've got the fence up early, but it's all up to their schedule. Need to have a completion date before we can get a re-establishment survey completed.

And hopefully we'll be in the clear with a week to spare before penalty delay payments kick in!

Maybe the next time we post, it'll be with demolition pictures!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Construction drawings received, building permit applied for!

So yesterday afternoon (Thursday) we received an email from our CSC with our final construction drawings, and a standard email saying that we're to check they're correct, sign and return. With the additional line "Please note no changes or alterations at this stage are permitted"!

Anyway, we had a look through the plans and found a few errors, including:
  • Laundry and powder room tiling not shown
  • Wrong exhaust fan to powder room
  • Data and cable internet access at wrong height
  • FC infill noted where brick infill is
  • Powder room door swings open the wrong direction
and the big one, a muckup in the ensuite shower layout. We swapped around the WC and toilet in the ensuite, so we could get a bigger shower (1600x900) and added a rainfall showerhead in. Anyway, the ensuite elevations were all screwy with the showerhead and rainfall located in all weird positions.

So we sent an email to our csc last night noting these errors. We got an email at 9:30am today saying she was on the case, and revised plans sent through 30 minutes later. Way to go Mendo!

Unfortunately there was one issue now caused, by correcting the powder room door swing direction, the light switch ended up behind the door. So sent another email through, and true to form another revised plan sent an hour later.

Now maybe we're just extremely lucky, or Metricon are desperate for us to sign & approve the construction drawings, but today we've had nothing but excellent service from Mendo and the Metricon drafting team - keep it up guys & gals!

Anyway, by the time I had time to check my email it was after business hours - things look good on the plans now, so we'll sign this weekend and email it back to M.

On other news, "My Metricon" has had a few updates;
  • Finance approval has been received
  • Sewerage/water permit has been approved
  • Contract engineering is completed
  • And Building permit has been applied for today! And Building permit approval is expected to be Oct 28!
Honestly, a few nights ago I had a dream (no joke) our slab was done, and I was walking the dog around it... can't wait for that to come true!

still waiting for our tile selections and costing to be finalised and emailed to us, though we're not sweating on this one, as it's not critical to the initial build stage. I also called our demolition crew to see if they could start early, seeing as the old house is deserted now, but they're flat out with other work and will hopefully start 2nd week of November as planned.

Anyway, the main message here is rule #1 for all home builders - READ, CHECK, RE READ, RE CHECK all your documents and plans before signing anything! And once you've done that, read and check again! Unfortunately I have this niggling little worry that no matter how thorough we think we've been so far, there's probably been a few glaringy obvious errors that we won't become aware of, until they become a problem we have to fix. But that's the fun and risk of building!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Old house being stripped - nearly done!

So, last Friday I had the evaporative cooling unit, pipes, remote control and vents all yanked out of the old house and stored in my parent's garage over the weekend. Was all installed today, so thankfully should have some relief for the upcoming summer heat!

Finished moving things out of the house yesterday too, thanks to my uncle and his delivery van! The only thing left in the house now is dust, asbestos, and a few squashed spiders!

Also made a few phone calls today to check on how everything is progressing for the pending demolition of the house.
  1. Electricity has been fully disconnected - meter is gone and overhead power line cut off.
  2. Gas: Called to check the service pipe has been disconnected - yep, not a problem!
  3. Underground power pit: was paid for at the end of September, and the operator advised me the installation date is tomorrow, so I'm hoping to go by the house in the afternoon and see $1600 worth of electrical manhole in the pavement!
  4. Beaumont Tiles - some thorough readers may remember a while ago when we first saw the M tile selection, it was HUGE, and then a month or two after, it was NOTHING (literally, from a selection of over 100 tiles, to less than 15!). I raised this point with our CSC<>
Finally, in the afternoon today Mendo sent us the revised copy of the preconstruction variations, which we'll sign off on tomorrow and email back to her.

I'm hoping that once the powerpit is installed, I'll organise some security fencing and give my demolition guy a call, and hopefully might even start on the demolition earlier than planned!

Stay tuned, for tomorrow afternoon hopefully we can post tile selection pics!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Final contracts - SIGNED! Now we're really on the way!

So we had our contract signing appointment this morning, it went quite smoothly, to be honest!

Of the big email we sent on the weekend, pretty much everything has been addressed.
  • Cat 4 bricks to whole house - done (additional $1000 or so as they only quoted to sides & rear before)
  • Changed to the biggest Clark double undermount sink (the Razor series, which for some reason doesn't work on their website properly) - done, and was cheaper by $100 than the ePure series sink!
  • Chose different trilock door to internal access - done
  • All the minor drafting errors - to be corrected by construction drawings
  • Electrical plan - hopefully coming this week or next.
The only thing was that with our fancy cantilevered stairs, there's not much room under the stairs where I had planned to stick the TV splitter, patch panel, modem etc, so we've got rid of that idea and stuck everything up in the walk-in linen cupboard. Paid up our 5% deposit less the $4000 paid to this point.

Now all we have to do is send in our signed loan documents (we were meant to have them last week, but still nothing, so I'll have to give our broker another nudge to find out what's happening), and sort out the demolition. The evaporative cooling is being removed this Friday and hopefully installed in my parents house on Monday, and I think I can get all the remaining furniture out in one day, as there's not much left.

And as for the fine details, estimated days for completion is about 370, so we're hoping to be in by xmas 2010!


Friday, October 9, 2009

Final contract received - post contract variations?

Our CSC called me this afternoon to let me know the final contract was going to be emailed out soon (we had it by 5pm), the only issue is that our electrical plan isn't done. This is because we only did the electrical appointment 10 days ago, and they're taking their time getting the drawings done - but she said we can just add it on as a variation after the contract is signed - how does this sound to everyone?

Otherwise, the contract and drawings were done pretty well with only a couple of issues to address, such as;
  • We want Cat4 bricks to the whole house - in the contract, we've only got Cat4 bricks to sides & rear. Wonder what can be put on the facade, if not bricks?
  • 2365 framed mirror doors on plans are marked down as only 2065mm high
And for a few very minor issues, the glass splashback is smaller than we thought (200mm high instead of full height) - since we have a big window splashback it's not a big deal, but we'll ask about it. Also, we added in at late notice a trilock handle to the internal access foor from the garage, but it's a knob instead of lever, and it might be better as a lever to match the other door handles.

One nice thing is that we asked for an additional rainfall showerhead to the ensuite, and we ended up with 2 rail showers and a rainfall showerhead - it looks excellent on the plans, can't wait to get using it... in 15 months or so, or however long it'll take to build!

I guess the main thing on this final contract, provided our CSC says our electrical plan goes through as a normal post-contract variation (with no further penalty fees to pay, since it's not our fault they haven't got the electrical plans drawn up properly) then we're pretty much set to go for contract signing on Tuesday.

Just got to prepare payment of 5% less the $4000 already paid (I wish they took amex, all them credit card points would be worth something)! So, bring my chequebook, copies of bank statements as proof of funds for half the build, call my demo guy to get a copy of demo permit for M, and a big fat pen to sign a thousand pages. We were meant to receive our finance approval today, but it hasn't come through yet - if it doesn't come on Monday, I'll call our broker again to get a hurry up!

And drove by the old house a few days ago, the overhead power line has been cut, so just the gas service line to be removed, and evaporative cooling to be relocated.

If anyone has any comments on how to approach final contract signing please let us know!!


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Disconnections; gas and electricity

Went to the house this morning, to meet someone about relocating the evaporative cooling unit from the old house to my parents house. Turns out he was pretty useless, a guy in a suit driving a sports car who didn't even bother to look up at the unit and quoted some ridiculous price.

Anyway, while I was there putting out the bins and moving some more junk, I had a look at the meter box - our electricity meter is gone!

However, looking at the front of the house, the main electricity line is still connected to overhead power (the right one line) and also the telstra phone line is still connected (left one). From what my demo contractor has told me, I don't need to worry about the phone line - I think they'll just unplug it and roll it back to the pole? Anyway, will probably call Telstra to double check in case they want to remove it for us. There's an underground telstra pit right in front of our house anyway, so the new house will have it underground (if we ever connect it - we haven't had a landline phone in 5 years!)

In addition, our gas meter has gone walkabout too! But if you look at the picture, there's still a pipe leading into the ground (the short straight one at the bottom of the photo) - I believe this is the "service line" connecting to the main gas line in the street, and this needs to be removed prior to demolition. But I think it's a different contractor who will do it (same with the overhead power line), so will allow a week or so before calling up the gas people to follow that up.

Called Telstra to find out what to do about their telephone line - they said that as it was already disconnected, then we can do what we like with the line during demolition... including just cutting it off and leaving it dangling! Sounds unusual to me, but hey - that's what they said! I also asked about the possibility of getting our neighbour's line moved to a different pole (as currently it stretches across the front of our property) but they said we can't request that :(

Still waiting on the underground power pit installation too, which I hope will be done in the next 1-2 weeks.

Also got an email back from our very prompt CSC regarding financing - apparently while he HIA contract states 14 days, it actually allows for 30 days to provide proof of finances, so we should be OK. All goes well, we should have the final contract emailed to us this Friday prior to signing on Tuesday!


Monday, October 5, 2009

HIA contracts vs Metricon contracts; what should we do?

Well, the time is rapidly approaching for our contract signing appointment, which is booked on Oct 13th.

There are a couple of minor issues we're dealing with tonight!

1) Finance. We've been approved for a Line of Credit to pay for half the house build; which we're still waiting on the final documents to sign. I'm wondering how long it'll take Heritage to turn around everything, as we need to provide proof of financing within 14 days of contract signing (ie by Oct 27th)? But in earlier communication, our CSC said all we had to do was provide a copy of loan preapproval at contract signing, with full approval due within 30 days of contract signing.

2) Demolition. We've booked it in for November 9-13, and the HIA contract states it needs to be done within 30 days of contract signing. I'm thinking it's cutting things a little fine here, just in case things don't go according to plan!

And in addition to all of this, M states that "the contract must be unconditional within 150 days of deposit", 150 days being November 24. What I imagine is that the HIA contract isn't unconditional until all finance is approved etc, which I imagine means we need to sign up by end of October?

Confusing! Anyone got any advice re financing, deadlines etc, please comment!

Anyway, my plan tomorrow is to;

1) Call Heritage regarding loan paperwork
2) Call Telstra regarding a telephone line that's still obviously physically connected to our house, despite an operator telling me last week that it had been disconnected
3) Call the demo contractor to check on dates (and in particular when will it be finished) and maybe try to book them in a bit earlier

And here's some pics for you, as we know pictures tell a thousand words! Here's the glass/stainless steel rangehood we changed to:

Here's a pic of the ceiling mounted rainfall showerhead that we've put in the ensuite shower, in addition to the rail showerhead. Expensive, but they're worth every penny to relax after a long day at work!



Friday, October 2, 2009

The ongoing saga of trying to just start building a house!

So how has this week ended up?

1) Did our electrical appointment on Tuesday which went well, just trying to get the final version seen to, signed off, and finally submitted back to Lifestyle National. The problem is that the revisions I sent back were seen to by one person who fixed 5 things and screwed up one, and fixing the 1 screwup held up things by a couple of days. Anyway, seems to be all fixed now; we hope!

2) While we were at the electrical appointment, stopped by our colour consultant to remind her that we're still waiting on things for 3 weeks ago. Finally managed to get a reviewed colour schedule and revised pricing estaimate back yesterday, which we've signed and sent back. But, got a call at 5pm today (Friday) that one thing that was meant to be in the signed off versions didn't make it through to our CSC< and now I have to email out CSC to check the change went through. Sigh....

We did end up making a few changes to colour. We were quoted $3200 for vinyl wrap to lower cupboards, but the price ended up being $4000 flat rate for the whole kitchen, so we've changed the upper cupboards to vinyl wrap too. Also got rid of the 50mm Hawthorn feature brick to the facade, as it turns out they're not as prominent as I thought they would be. That means another $4620 for furniture, after all! Also changed a couple of handles and got a beautiful glass/stainless steel canopy for $0 extra - yay!

3) Just received in the mail today a bunch of literature from Heritage Building Society. Interestingly enough though, we haven't actually received the formal offer documents that we're meant to sign. Will get in touch with them mid next week if it hasn't arrived by then.

4) CSC emailed me this morning to say that (at this point in time) we don't need any changes to the proposed slab design, as I sent M a whole bunch of surveys from council and Yarra Valley Water regarding easement approvals. Touch wood this doesn't change when it comes to the building permit process!

5) Advertised a few jobs on servicecentral to do some fencing work, and quote on moving the evaporative cooling unit from the old house to my parents house. Got phone calls from contractors within hours of posting the ad! Had one guy come to assess the job yesterday, and will hopefully give me a quote soon. Reminder to self: Organise free roof insulation for my parent's house, as their roof is filled with shredded paper as insulation....

We're also moving out of the house this weekend, as disconnections of gas & electricity are due this month prior to demolition in November. Frankly, I can't wait for building to commence, as that will mean the constant dealing with paperwork and revising/approving colours, electricals, structural etc will be over!

One thing I've found is that constant communication to/from the builder is a bit sketchy. Our CSC is brilliant (she apologised for taking 2 hours to return an email, can you believe!), but the electrical people are a bit hard to contact, and our colour consultant has been beset with computer problems, apparently. But to be fair, I believe all the builders are snowed under with work, as no doubt many first home buyers are taking advantage of the bonus.

Anyway, after a manic week fitting in work, builders appointments and reviewing contracts, it's time for an early night!


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Electrical appointment done! And more easement problems!

Spent a couple of hours at M headquarters yesterday going through our electrical plan - we had it pretty much all laid out beforehand though, which is highly recommended if you don't want to spend days buried in floorplans at the appointment!

Of course, some things change at the appointment; I wanted a facade light on the garage, but there's a downpipe right where the light would go, not a big deal. I wanted M to quote on conduit in the home theatre room to run my own cables, but they don't offer that. I pulled out of the projector provision ($313) and just got a junction box to the roof space (to power my projector and screen) linked to a switch on the wall ($56). I'm planning to change over to Saturn dimmer LED switches in the rumpus - oooo, that's a nice light switch!

Anyway, some other results of the electrical appointment;
  • 4 star gas heating with one zone, $1200 upgrade
  • Antenna $360
  • 20 downlights
  • 4 dimmers ($82ea)
  • 3 steplights on stairs
  • 3 external junction boxes for future floodlights ($56 ea)
  • Upgraded all light switches, powerpoints, data, TV points to Clipsal Slimline - a very modern looking design! ($13 ea)
  • 3 external double powerpoints ($102 ea)
  • 2 fluoro lights to garage
  • 26 more double power points
  • 9 Cat6 data cable runs ($146ea!)
  • 7 TV points with amplifier
  • Provision for futre evaporative cooling
All up, about $10,000.... how easy is it to spend money building a house! We sent through a revised plan just maing a few minor changes, and hopefully will sign off on the changes this afternoon.

And just when things were going well - we received approval from both council and Yarra Valley Water to build eaves over the easement - M now want us to prove there's no pipes in the easement, or we're going to pay bigtime for a huge slab upgrade. Got plans of YVW and council (stormwater) pipes and emailed them to our CSC, so hopefully that gets us in the clear!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Paperwork getting sorted - and evaporative cooling for sale cheap!

Well, been an interesting week with some paperwork finally getting through the system!

Whitehorse council have sent back our "Building over Easement" application - approved! Took just under 3 weeks, which isn't too bad I reckon! We just now have to get Yarra Valley Water's written approval for the siting, which shouldn't be a problem (touch wood!) as the side easement has no pipes or anything in it. The only YVW asset is the sewer pipe along the rear easement, but we're not building anywhere near that.

Also received a receipt for our triple phase underground power pit from Jemena which should be installed "within 20 working days", $1600.

And finally, a short letter from Heritage saying our Line of Credit application has been pre-approved, and we should be getting the full loan documents soon - maybe next week?

The only holdup so far is waiting on Fiona from Studio M to get back to us on a few corrections to the quotation and colour decisions made at our colour appointment nearly 2 weeks ago. A little disappointing that we're still waiting on just a few points to be clarified and pricing, given that Mendo usually gets back to us within the day, if now within a few hours of emails, but we'll wait until early next week before we try to get in touch with Fiona again. Actually, next Tuesday is our electrical appointment, so since we'll be back at Studio M that day, we'll make a point of getting things sorted out that day.

We're also moving out of this old house by next weekend - and I'll need to get back in touch with the electricity and gas people to confirm the disconnections for the demolition which is booked in for second week of November!

*edit* Oh, and with the evaporative cooling that was for sale - I'm installing it in my parent's house as a christmas present to them now :)


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Colour selection appointment update, electrical and network planning

Got an email from our colour consultant, after chasing up a few unpriced options from last weekend.

The kitchen redesign is all OK - will be about $1100 for extra pot drawers (I think we're ending up with 13!) and a door to the outside of the island bench. We were quoted $3200 for gloss vinyl wrap (Diamondgloss) to the lower cupboards but the official quote is at $4000, so we're querying that amount.

What else? An extra rainfall shower head to ensuite is about $900, double undermount sinks to kitchen $750, custom sized balmoral door cavity slider to the hallway is $340, that's about all I can remember right now.

So far colour appointment upgrades should be less than $20k when all is finalised... back to 2 minute noodles for a while I guess!

We're also working on electrical. lighting and data plan for our electrical appointment at the end of September. My rough costing based on the prices metricon have provided - hopefully will work out under $10k. Here it is so far - if anyone with experience would like to comment please go ahead!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Studio M Colour Selections done today! Ooops, added another $20k of options....

This morning was the long awaited (long dreaded?) colour appointment at Studio M. For those who haven't built a house, this is one of the appointments you should prepare for THOROUGHLY prior! We've probably put in about 6 weeks of constant evenings and weekends looking through building blogs, driving to visit brick and tile suppliers, driving through suburbs and display villages trying to pick out colours that we like.

Externally, you pick everything from roof tiles, bricks, mortar, cladding render, front doors etc. inside, from the colour of your ceiling to the kickboards in the kitchen - and let's not forget door handles, taps, edges of cabinets etc etc.

Fortunately, I think because of the preparation, we were at our appointment for "only" 4 hours! Anyway, I've spent a bit of time trying to summarise all our selections so that we have a record of what we picked - as we won't see the finished result until the end of 2010!

There are still a few unfinished items that we're awaiting quotes on, including our kitchen cabinetry redesign, a custom 2340x1020 door, prices on upgrading a few other things not in the system.

The final outcome of today? About another $18-20,000 added onto the bottom line of our house...

Anyway, please enjoy the following images, and if you have any questions please post a comment and we'll try and answer as best as possible!


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Evaporative cooling: Hmmmm!

Well, we're at a stage where things are happening, providing we do the legwork to make them happen!

Called up our energy supplier regarding a power pit, and they put us in contact with Jemena/United Energy who handle our area. M quoted us at first $5000 for a power pit, then later $3000. United are quoting $900 (for a 3 phase supply) plus about $40 for every 1m our pit will be away from an electricity pole. I'm hoping we can get this power pit done for about $1500 as the nearest power pole is far away on the other side of the street (and there's no extra cost to run the power from across the road - phew!). So we'll get those documents for application sent off tomorrow morning.

We're also waiting on our demolition permit and building over easement permit - hoping to have them by the end of the month at latest - touch wood!

The old house we're demolishing also has an almost-new evaporative cooling unit, which was only installed Sept 18 08 - less than a year ago. Looking up the specs on the website, it has 8.4kw of cooling power, where for our new house, we'd probably need around 20kw! We went to Epping yesterday to check out some M display houses, and across the road was a 45sq PD house which had 2 large evaporative cooling units.

I'm wondering if we can salvage the 8.4kw unit we have, and add in a 15kw unit with our new house - does that make sense? We could duct the smaller unit to the minor upstairs bedrooms, while the big unit will be connected to the master suite, upstairs leisure area and a massive duct over the stairs to direct air to the ground floor. If this is not an option, well then we've got a Breezair EXH130 evaporative cooling unit for sale at half retail price!

And before you ask... no, M won't install ducting to the ground floor of a 2 storey house EVEN IF you buy your evaporative cooling from them in the contract! Probably something to do with not enough voids to get the ducts downstairs.... but then again, there are heating ducts all over the ground floor!

The other thing we're thinking about is adding a refridgerated unit to the heating, but I'm not 100% sure on the technicalities of how you do that. Apparently increasing the size of ducting and the heating unit is the way to go?


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Preliminary Contract & Variations Signed!

Ah, it's nice to feel that real progress is being made! We went to meet our fantastic CSC this afternoon to go through the Preliminary Contract and Variations, and now it's all signed and further deposit paid, we've settled all our structural changes.

Want to know what they were? These are the main ones...
  • 2700mm ground floor ceilings, 2550 first floor ceilings and 2340 doors everywhere including a bunch of extra doors closing off the study, gallery, ensuite.
  • Revised powder room layout: WC and vanity in one room.
  • Revised laundry layout: big walk-in linen and moved door opening, bonus of now having a massive fridge recess for a fridge and 2 wine fridges :)
  • Revised ensuite: swapped toilet & shower, now we have a huge 1650 shower! Got to remember to option in a rainfall showerhead too!
  • Brickwork infills, 600mm eaves, fancy cantilevered staircase, horizontal feature window to wall of sitting room, window kitchen splashback, centred rumpus rear window, fridge water point, extra external taps, rear garage roller door
We've still got a lot of upgrades (I'm sure!) to spend more money on in the colour, electrical and tiles appointment, but this is going to be our dream home, so why not?

On other important issues, contacted Jemena/United Energy this morning regarding the power pit. Single phase is about $800 and triple phase $900, so we'll just go for the big bad boy up front. Plus maybe another $400 in longer cabling cost? Has anyone ever put in a power pit, as on the application form it says we need to name a Registered Electrical Contractor - I thought United Energy handled all of that?

On the demolition front, it's been about a week since our demo contractor (hopefully) put in the demo permit. Good news is we don't need a tree removal permit though. Hopefully this clears in the next 2-3 weeks.

We also submitted a "Building Over Easement" application last week, again another 2-3 weeks should see the result of that.

Looks like we'll need to start organising disconnections of gas, phone and electricity, as it's possible we may have a November start date!

And on the colours front... does Austral Hawthorn 50mm sound familiar to anyone?

I think this is from one of the Berwick display homes. The 50mm brick looks fantastic - very upmarket, and perfectly matches with flush white mortar. We'll match this to light first floor cladding and a feature render to the balcony & portico!


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Prelim contract ready to sign off - and TILES problem solved!

We've just about reached finalising our preliminary contract - we hope to have it signed off next Tuesday afternoon!

We've removed some items, added others, and most importantly have our structural changes approved and costed up. Frankly I'm quite surprised at how reasonable the costings are compared to the price of some other upgrades (eg soft closing kitchen drawers, $1300!)

Powder room changes: Putting the sink and WC all in one room, with two narrow windows, about $500.
Laundry changes: relocating the door, and creating a huge walk-in linen cupboard about $750.
Ensuite changes: swapping the WC and shower, and thus gaining a bigger 1650mm shower, about $500. The ensuite wall had to be pushed out about 200mm, meaning the master is 200mm shorter, but it was huge to start with, so we're quite happy with this tradeoff.

Now, a few posts ago I mentioned that M's new standard range of tiles wasn't very extensive. We sent an email to our csc last night to finalise the variations and to point out that we placed our deposit having viewed the tile selection prior, and thus M should honour the tile selection available at time of deposit. Our CSC replied this afternoon, saying that management had agreed to honour the original tile selection available, and that Beaumont would be informed prior to our tile appointment! Well done Mendo - we're so glad you're our CSC as your service has been consistently excellent!

We were looking through our photos from the fist visit to Beaumont and we would probably use 95% of the standard silver range at the time, so we'll hopefully get away with a (relatively) small bil for any super extra tiles we might choose to use.

Jen also asked us about the soft closing drawer things - at the homeshow, I found them at stratakitchens.com.au - however, after doing the obvious (an eBay search) I found a seller in Sydney who sells a pack of 5 soft-closing drawer additions for $12! Just put "soft closing" into the ebay search box and it should come up. Also went to a kitchen/bathroom place in Niddrie today off Keilor road, and they also had the same kitchen soft-closing addons, but the lady who knew about them (and how much they were) had gone home early. We've removed M's $1300 soft closing option from our kitchen list now!

We've got our colours appointment on Sept 12, so my partner is madly pouring through magazines, newspapers and of course the 'net to find her perfect colour combinations! We've also engaged a demolition company who is applying for our demo permit. Fingers crossed for an October demolition and November start!!

And of course, a couple of pictures: Here is a display house in Keysborough (not a M house, but can't remember the builder), with what looks like Austral Zinc bricks to the facade and a brown brick to the rear: something we may choose depending on price. Zinc bricks are AMAZING when the light hits them just right!

And this pic I think was taken while driving around in Mernda? Definitely a Plantation facade but can't tell what house lies behind it. We may choose a brown brick for the ground floor, but would go for a lighter colour cladding up top. The light garage door is a winner though!

Also still undecided regarding roof: Colorbond, concrete tiles, or terracotta? Gotta decide in a couple of weeks!



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