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!



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