Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 66: Ground floor windows 80% installed

Phew, what a day - too much stress at work = calm evening with a cold beer! But of course, before beer comes house (though not alphabetically) , and this is what happened to our house on another slightly warm 35 degree day.

Most of the ground floor windows were installed today:
  • Sitting room (awning) windows 2x, horizontal fixed feature window
  • Study window (sliding)
  • Family room (awning)
  • Kitchen window fixed splashback
  • Dining room (sliding)
  • Powder room (fixed) x2
  • Laundry sliding door
Also the upstairs windows were all moved upstairs, but not installed yet. Might go by the site tomorrow - wonder if they'll do anything on a Saturday? These windows are by Southern Star in Pearl White; we picked this colour to contrast against the dark brown Austral Hawthorn bricks, and to match the off-white mortar.

This is the family room window - same as for the home theatre room, except the home theatre room windows are double glazed. This window has two windout awnings on either side of a fixed pane of glass. I was thinking sliding windows would be better as there's more airflow through them, but apparently there's not much difference between sliding and awning windows for airflow? We're getting flyscreens to all these windows, but they'll probably be the last thing installed before handover to avoid damage. If you look above this window there's a fair amount of wall height still (because of the 2.7m ceilings) which is good - as we're planning to put in a big split system aircon here, with evaporative cooling to upstairs.

Hopefully the remaining windows/doors will be installed by maybe Wednesday next week! Can't wait for the front door frame to go on, as well as the rear bi-part doors, they look fantastic even in their raw wood finish!

caroline: as far as moving in goes, our official finish date is the end of December 2010 - but we've got our fingers crossed for an August or September handover!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 65: First floor roof complete and windows/doors delivered!

Couldn't wait to get to the site after work today - and woah! Heaps of work done today - well done boys!

The roof trusses were all delivered this morning, and the first floor roof has been installed (though I suspect more bracing is yet to be installed as there's still heaps of precut wood left on site). You can also see some windows lying in the front of the block, awaiting installation tomorrow!

Closeup of roof trusses. These are all premanufactured, coded and installed like a jigsaw puzzle onsite. Gotta look carefully to see where our "increased strength" trusses are for our evaporative cooling unit.

Here's a pic of our master bed french doors (with black protective tape) lying on top of our entry doorframe.

Heaps impressed with all the work done in just one day - good co-ordination somewhere, and to have the windows & doors ready for installation tomorrow; excellent! Things are moving along rapidly, and on track for frame complete stage by end of next week!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 64: Scaffolding

Got a call this lunch from our new SS Monique this afternoon to introduce herself. Sounds very confident, which is a good sign, I think, and got some updates on expected progress. If all goes to plan, roof should be on tomorrow, windows delivered (and installed?) Friday, and gutter/fascia to be done early next week, and hopefully a frame completion inspection at the end of next week! Let's hope the good run of progress continues!

Turned up this evening to find our house had grown a crown;

Pretty significant new addition to the frame, now its become all top-heavy. I gotta say it doesn't look all that safe to me, just a few planks with a couple of rails to stop you plummeting to the ground. I'll stay put on earth, thanks!

Scaffolding goes all the way around the house. This view from the backyard, looking at the outdoor room beams.

Mentioned to Monique about the door heights being wrong on the ground floor - it's been picked up and on the to-do list. Forgot to mention the doorframe in bed 4 is in the wrong spot, will bring it up when she next calls.

So far I think progress is going quite well, the slab was poured just a month ago, but theres been consistent work on site since then. My neighbour (who rebuilt his house 2 years ago) warns me not to get too enthusiastic, as once the "externals" of the house are done, it still takes months to complete all the fiddly internal bits :( Come on, if those renovation shows on TV can get a house built in a week, surely our house can't take more than a month to be complete? :)


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 63: Outdoor room beams, and almost ready for roof!

Another great Tuesday, because I don't have to work on Tuesday! Went by the site after lunch, and there was a guy with a whopping great truck and a mini excavator doing a site clean - he flattened out more of the rear & side of the site, looks much neater now! Met one of our neighbours across the road who wanted some of the rubbish timber to use for shelving - better to reuse than to throw it out, that's for sure, so he managed to cart away some of the discarded timber. He was of the opinion we were pretty lucky in buying the old house when we did, because now prices in our immediate area have rocketed up another $80-100k in the last 9 months - and going from local prices, he's not too far off the truth!

Having a look around the frame, looks like the chippies did a bit this morning, including fixing up those dodgy loose noggins upstairs that I pictured yesterday, installed a missing truss over the family room window, installed a board over sitting room window, plus this:

Outdoor room now has the beams installed and timber pole that will be enclosed with brick. Near one of the beams though, a stud has splintered quite badly, will request that to be replaced. Haven't heard back from our SS since our first site meeting 2 weeks ago, but he should be in contact soon regarding the frame inspection. We have his mobile number, but haven't encountered anything serious yet that needs urgent attention.

Also this needs some kind of fix...

At the meter box, the bit of wood was cutout to allow for the power to come up through the slab. But now this means a stud to the left of the meter box has no support, so it'll need something done there, shouldn't be difficult.

Upstairs, there's a lot more temporary cross bracing installed, probably in anticipation of roof trusses coming... any day now? This is a view from the master bedroom, looking at the ensuite directly in front, and the WIR alcove to the right. Where you can see a gap in the floorboards is the stepdown to the ensuite shower flush tiled base. There's also a lot of long bolts installed through the first floor frame, connecting it to/through trusses and to the ground floor frame.

*edit* Apparently we have a new CSC and site supervisor, according to MyMetricon. Erm.. that would make it the fourth CSC in 3 months, and the second SS in 3 months? We've yet to hear from either of them, but hopefully the fast progress will continue.

sarahv: hmmm... we want timber floors to all the ground floor - but now we have to consider whether there will be a big step between the timber floors, and the tiled laundry & powder room! Tina wants a very dark, almost black timber floor colour and apparently you can't get that in a natural hardwood, so we may have to look at laminate - or even bamboo, if that comes in the right colour! Our facade isn't as fancy as yours; only render is on the balcony, and just cladding to the first floor to install, so if we can get to lockup within 4-6 weeks of frame, we'll be very happy!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 62: Do these noggins look OK to you?

Seems these days when I drive to work, I pray for no rain and temps in the low 20s so the workers on our site can get some work done, without being too uncomfortable... anyway, didn't seem to work as when we got to the site in the afternoon, don't think anything had been done. Took the time to have a closer look through the frame. Tell us if these look right to you!

Now, something's not quite right with this one. There's maybe 3 of these on the first floor. Past the frame, you can see the 12mm of backyard space we have (OK, maybe slightly more than that...) towards the neighbour to the rear. We'll flag these at the frame inspection, if they're not fixed up by then.

Also, if you look just beyond this failing noggin, there's a cutout in the flooring - that's for the flush tiled shower base in the bathroom. Apparently now you can choose to have totally flush tiled shower bases - absolutely no step or raised section between shower base and the tiled floor. Hopefully it works (without any leakage!!) as we have this flushed option in the bathroom and ensuite showers.

Now this one is a little trickier. I mean, it's pretty level, positioned just above the line marker you can see on the right stud (noggins generally stagger above and below the line marker, as you might make out on the next stud wall behind this one). However, as you can see, on the right of this noggin there's a gap of about 10mm. I'm wondering if we can flag this one at frame inspection for a replacement - any thoughts, people?

We had a look at the Tribeca open for inspection yesterday (see earlier post). Only a couple of years old, and generally quite nicely done internally, but of course a few things that stood out...
  • There were tiles and floorboards on the ground floor - and the floorboards were about an inch higher than the tiles! A definite difference in level, and enough that you could just about stub a toe on the difference. Another reason why you should just have one flooring option on the ground floor, especially if there are open, joined spaces.
  • Felt quite small in some areas - the study was packed full of stuff, with dark walls. If you're selling your house, especially one that's asking better than $1m, move all your crap out into storage! However, their furniture was very good, and the kids rooms decorated very well. Also, having seen hundreds of display homes with high ceilings, the standard ceilings in this house were noticeably lower and rooms/hallways felt smaller.
  • Very nice white plantation shutters to the bedrooms - love the look of them, but concerned that they won't block out all light (we must have a totally 100% blacked out master bedroom!). They were also PVC/plastic, not timber - which is great; as we've stayed in quite a few hotels with timber shutters, and every one of them were cracking and/or warping. Will have to enquire around for plastic/PVC shutters, and find out if there's any with any additional light blocking mechanisms. For example, see this pic with the shutters above the bath. The other thing is, that showerhead that's visible is barely 170cm high, I can't stand underneath it at all! Standard adjustable showerrails go to about 200cm, which should be OK for most people (but if you're extra tall, make sure you remember to move the showerhead rails up on your construction plans!)

We've got our fingers crossed for the roof to start up this week - let's keep the ball rolling!

B&T: The side fence needs to be removed because the garage wall will be built 150mm from the boundary/fenceline. For some reason I don't have a photo of it, but will get one up later. The fence has to be gone, otherwise they can't get the slab formwork/frame done correctly, plus there wouldn't be enough room to lay bricks for the wall otherwise. We got permission from the landlords of the next property to take it down & put it up again (this will be at your cost, don't expect them to pay for any of it!)


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 59 or 60: Soil levelled at back of block

Awesome - nothing better than working in a stuffy enclosed room on a Saturday morning when it's about 300 degrees outside and 450 degrees inside. Hot.

Anyway, looks like we've organised a 3 month housesit in Balwyn for a lovely couple after meeting them this afternoon, very happy about that! We decided to take a punt housesitting for people instead of renting during our build, and so far it's paying off! Or maybe that should "saving" instead of "paying", since there's no rent money going missing while housesitting.

Went to our house after, and while at first we thought nothing was done yesterday, when we walked right to the back we found that the excess soil from the site cut & fill had been levelled.

Before starting on construction, we had to organise a section of fence between us & the neighbour to be removed, as the garage wall would be 15cm inside our boundary. I got a contractor to take down 4 sections of fence, unfortunately 2 sections were destroyed during the cut & fill process. The remaining 2 sections remain propped up against the fence there. You can also see some big rocks that were unearthed during cut & fill - not as big as some massive boulders I've seen dug out of th ground for other builds, thankfully! Anyway the mound of soil previously was about 2-3' high, so I'm glad it's been levelled, otherwise that's about an hour's worth of shovelling to get it this level. Not a huge backyard, but large enough for our little dog.

adina: hope your house (floorplan) hunting is going well! That website is pretty useful, wish we had come across it before!

sirona: what we've found about design is that it's easy to be critical, hard to be creative! Hours and hours spent choosing external/internal colours for our house, and pretty nervous about how it'll actually look in real life - we'll see soon!

Then again, I don't think our house will be as bad as these... :)


Friday, February 19, 2010

No work on our house today - let's dissect a Tribeca in this blog post!

No further work done on our site today, probably awaiting delivery of a few more bits & pieces.

Anyway, Tina found a Tribeca that's going for sale nearby in a few weeks time. Let's do our usual critique of the house!

(disclaimer; all the opinions expressed below are tim's (as tina prefer to stalk blogs, but not post anything) and I'm not a qualified exterior/interior decorator - though I can get pretty bitchy sometimes as you've probably worked out!)

Now this house was constructed fairly recently - looks like a Kingston facade. Note that on the M website, pretty much all their facades show render (extra cost!), whereas this Kingston facade shows face brick. Perhaps a little overwhelming with just brick everywhere - a rendered balcony would add a bit of contrast (or even stackstone?). Also note there's a wood feature entry door but also wood french doors to the balcony (but black aluminium windows elsewhere). Perhaps a bit unbalanced - consider doing ALL windows/doors to facade in wood, or a feature entry door and aluminium elsewhere (what we're doing) but maybe not a mix & match as shown here. There's also a contrasting gutter to fascia; a fairly minor detail. Doing the fascia in a lighter colour (to match the eaves) makes the gutter look a little smaller. Over the garage door is a painted beam, whereas nowadays most M double storey houses have brick infill over the garage door. In the front yard, the garden retaining walls match the driveway colour, and an abundance of plants means no lawn to mow - yay!

This open sitting room at the front of the house is a great feature to have - useful for greeting guests, and for sitting (of course) and talking. The fireplace there is around a $7k option nowadays - of course, if you don't option a fireplace here, you could always put something in its place, like a TV or display cabinet, or a painting. In this case, the fireplace and the painting are fighting for space - looks crowded in there! Nice Roman blinds are a great modern and minimal window treatment. Not real keen on the tiles and timber transition - why not just have all tiles, or all timber? And I'm not sure the light timber colour is a complementary colour to the grey floor tiles. I do like very much the grey walls in the hallway though, it's nice to see some cool neutrals on a wall rather than the usual creams/beiges, a little unusual but definitely modern. Checking the staircase, looks like stained hardwood treads - instead of a carpeted staircase, where the carpet tends to look very ratty after a short period of time from constant up/down trampling.

Finally, the master bedroom. This is actually kind of similar to our master bed layout (though for those of you who have scrutinised M designs, they tend to replicate layouts with slight variations across the whole range). The feature false wall has a couple of reading lights mounted into it (nice touch!) plus a cutout or niche for displaying things. Behind the false wall is a walk-through robe, though it looks like there's no doors at all across the robes; which of course means your mess of clothes is on display in photos like these. Trade this off with convenience of access to clothes (no doors or sliding doors to move first). The ensuite has a wide opening (trendy and modern) but we've closed ours off with double cavity doors for privacy. And again, the side walls are a light grey shade compared to the white ceiling - this look is growing on me (but we've already picked white ceiling and white walls, but at least we could always repaint later!)

Anyway, we'll be at the open for inspection this Sunday. But it's available for plenty of other inspections - want to find out when, click this link! Asking price is around $1.05m - the location is great and it's got a lap pool, but I'd like to know how much land it's sitting on before figuring out whether it's a worthwhile figure or not.

Feedback section now, replying to previous comments on earlier posts...

paul: You're right we didn't sign the prelim contract on the day it was presented to us. Mainly because it'll take your CSC at least 1-2 hours to go through it, and we knew we had heaps of changes we wanted to make. When things were almost 100% as we wanted it, then we paid the next deposit stage and moved on. You can still change things after signing & paying too.

sean: Good advice about putting things in writing and copying it around. We're not too fussed about frame issues right now as they're minor and easily fixable, but we'll get a list in writing to check at the frame inspection (plus an independent inspector at lockup). Our SS seems well organised but (like yours) a little uptight. I'm still hoping to run some speaker and projector cables through the frame on the sly, but if it doesn't work out, I've got a backup plan!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 58: First floor wall framing 98% complete

A nice sight on our site tonight (ooo, alliteration!); a first floor! And even better, the chippies chained a ladder to the staircase void, so we could get up to the first floor!

Pretty much all the wall framing is done to the first floor. Wonky photo due to me not holding iphone steadily enough. Play "Where's Tina" and you might spot her in the middle of the first floor. Also, most of the wood that was gathering in front of the house has been used, stacked at the rear, or in the rubbish bin - site looking much clearer & cleaner now! Also, the chippies have cut out the flooring for the flush tile base to the ensuite shower.

View of Bed 4 from bathroom. The door between these two rooms is waaaay off! Basically one of the appealing features of our house design is that two of the minor bedrooms have access to the upstairs bathroom, kind of like a shared ensuite. But the way the wall frame is right now, the door is exactly where the vanity will go. Should be an easy fix - pull down about 3 studs, and reposition door frame adjacent to shower.

Note to self; other minor things to bring up with the chippies/SS to fix by frame completion:
  • several noggins hanging loose
  • internal access, front door and HT room door frames still too low
  • bathroom access door frame in bed 4 in totally the wrong spot, needs to be moved to correct position
  • beam under bed 4 missing
  • beam/sideboard to sitting room side wall missing
anonymous/paul: I think you might have interpreted our laundry redesign wrong - we actually blocked off the laundry so you don't get any access from the kitchen, as we specifically didn't want to walk through the kitchen everytime we wanted to go in the laundry!

Here's a quick photochop comparison of how things look;

basically we wanted something like the standard lindrum design (pic 1), as the standard nolan 41 has laundry access from the kitchen (pic 3). We redesigned it to pic 4, and also enclosed the powder room. Advantages are - not having to go through the kitchen to the laundry, quicker access to laundry from upstairs bedrooms (right near the bottom of the stairs), plus a massive Walk In Linen cupboard, plus the fridge recess to the kitchen becomes larger, plus there's a "linen" cupboard now at the bottom of the stairs, opposite the internal access door, where Tina can store her 38,000 pairs of shoes.

I'm not entirely sure what benefits the combined pantry/laundry would give you (pic 2?). Somehow, I would think 52 squares should be enough space for most families without having to combine rooms! My main concern is dirty (or clean) laundry in the same room as food? Possible damp clothes with the cereal? Bringing clothes in & out all the time through the kitchen? My personal vote would be to keep the standard lindrum pantry/laundry layout which is pretty well thought out already, but maybe change the linen cupboard so the door to access it opens from the laundry itself, not from the passageway outside. Anyway that's just my opinion, we just don't like laundry access from the kitchen but it may suit your needs that way! :)

Readers, please feel free to ask questions as Paul did to see if we can help, and post comments/feedback on these issues as it's good to hear what other people think, not just our/my opinions on things!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 57: First floor wall framing commenced

Some more work done onsite today - commencement of framing the first floor.

View from front of house. Some wall framing done for the upstairs leisure room visible from here, with two medium sized vertical windows to be facing the front.

There's still a bit of unfinished work - flooring to master bed is not complete, missing a couple of trusses between the floors, and the ensuite shower base hasn't been sunken down for flush tiling yet. All those little items are probably waiting on a delivery of trusses & yellowtongue, as there's no room for any more materials right now! And a few doors still haven't had the taller frames corrected - again, not a difficult fix, just need to make sure it's fixed before bricking starts!

View from rear of the house - looking up to Bed 4, and some framing for the future bathroom. It looks like there's a huge bow in the frame, but I think I moved my iphone while taking the photo! I'll have to start packing a stepladder in the car to have a crawl up to the first floor! Apparently we've also had a change od construction CSC (according to mymetricon); that would make it the third construction CSC in 3 months. A little continuity would be nice!

Anyway, things are running nicely on target to have the first floor wall framing complete by this weekend. Let's hope the weather stays nice like the last few days!

Ian & Evie: We'll probably get an inspection done at preplaster (lockup stage) and final inspection. Haven't chosen a company yet, but are trying to narrow the list down a little right now! We'd probably need to book the preplaster inspection around middle of March if things run to schedule. Does anyone have suggestions for inspectors in Melbourne? They must be reliable & thorough!

R&T: yep, nice house, nasty bricks unfortunately. It makes the house look already 10 years old! And Tina found another Metricon home for sale in our area that's open for inspection this weekend, will post details in the next day or two!

JT: Sounds like you're about a month ahead of us - got any pics of the build so far?


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 56: First floor (flooring) 95% complete

Turned up around noon today to see the chippies hard at work - all the trusses for the first floor had been installed, and by the time they left pretty much all the yellowtongue flooring for the first floor had been installed, except for a couple of sections over the sitting room to finish off.

Apparently the first floor wall framing should be done by end of this week, and sometime next week the roof trusses (with the help of a big crane) can go on!

If you look at the portico at the front, you can see a couple of vertical timber posts holding up a little extended section. On our particular facade, the master bedroom is extended here for about 2' - a little extra room is always appreciated! Looking at the right front corner of the house, you can see where the remaining trusses have been installed, but without flooring on top yet. I forgot to remind the chippies to raise the frame for the front door, internal access and home theatre - they're still set at normal door height instead of tall door height.

Completed beams, trusses and flooring. This view is standing in the hallway, looking directly at the powder room in front, with laundry on the left and sitting room on the right.

Does anyone know how soon the tilers get onto tiling the roof once the roof frame is up? Would be nice to have a hat on the house, to help prevent too much rain getting into the frame!

I took Hannah to the vet today, and judging from the bill I received , it cost me about $10 for each of the 15 minutes we were in the clinic! Should've been a vet, they get to play with animals all day... anyway, hopefully a 3 week course of anti-inflammatories will negate the need for surgery to her right knee. sarahv: thanks for the link - we were researching doggy doors a few months ago, there's another company called patiolink that sell an almost identical product, roughly $400 for a dog door insert. Pricey, but at least it's removable (can always move it to the laundry door if we need to!)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Day 55: Frame inspection by Pip & Hannah

No work done on the house - I think it's a bit of a catch 22. The chippies can't put up the frame to the first floor until the trusses are delivered, but there's no room for the trusses because the first floor frame wood is stacked at the front of the house. Anyway, I'm sure they'll figure it all out later.

Anyway, tonight I organised for a frame inspection to be done by Pip and Hannah.

Here's Pip concentrating on the car ride to the site. This is a decent photo, but stupid Windows 7 (or was it my ultra crappy HP laptop?) managed to mangle the original file - dammit!

Pip is a Pomerian x Jack russell, mum's dog. She's about 7 years old?

Here's Hannah (on the left) and Pip inspecting the home theatre room. I don't think they're impressed by the lack of luxuries (no water bowl? no smackos? home theatre fail!). Hannah is our dog, a jack russell x mini foxy about 5 years old. Interesting story as to how we got her, she came with our Mitcham house as part of the sale! But she's staying with Pip while the house is being built.

Hannah reckons the house is nice, but needs a doggy door and plenty of fencing to make sure she doesn't run away. I think we'll construct a doggy door that will fit in the bipart door to the rear, and also to the sliding laundry door so she can get in & out to do her business.

We also went to inspect the Liberty that was for sale on Whitehorse rd, and met one of our blog readers there :) Pity about the house - looks fantastic in the photos, but they used the worst tiles known to humanity to do the ground floor. Please don't use crappy tiles in your house builds people! They looked sort of dirty white, with some horrible grey mess pattern faintly visible - something that would've been out of place in the 80s when they might have been considered acceptable. Plus the house was filthy, black handprints on all the walls, random mess left everywhere, and the owner locked the master bedroom door so potential buyers couldn't even get in there. Yuk! Maybe we've been spoiled by seeing too many beautiful display homes...

Anyway, with a day off tomorrow, Hannah should get a vet's appointment and then I'll go to see if any more work is being done on site.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Day 52: Some flooring to first floor installed

I don't think the chippies were able to do much work today due to intermittent but constant rain, but they were able to get most of the flooring installed over what trusses were put up yesterday

I think this is looking up at the wall separating the study from the family room. You can see the floor trusses, with yellowtongue particleboard flooring on top. There wasn't a ladder or any access to the first floor, otherwise I would have crawled up for a look.

The trusses over the entry hallway and sitting room still haven't been installed - I think they're waiting for a delivery of more trusses because there are none left onsite. Plus a beam needs to be installed over the sitting room horizontal feature window that we added along one wall, and door heights need to be increased over internal access and home theatre room.

View from home theatre room - you can see flooring installed over the family room.

Tomorrow I'll be at the Liberty open for inspection, and will probably stop by a few other houses in the Balwyn area to have a stickybeak at what $3m gets you in the Boorondara area. And also for Sunday - Chinese new year!

wushukid: yep, ceiling heights 2.4m is standard, 2.55m is higher, and 2.7m is higher still but only available to ground floor.

JT: so you're at lockup now? how long did it take you to get to that stage? I've heard of a few double storey Metricon houses taking over a year to build, but I hope yours won't be one of them!

anonymous: you're welcome, glad to help!

Finally, while browsing Domain I found a Henley home for sale in Surrey Hills, a steal at just $3m! Won't go to this open for inspection as it's the same time as the Liberty in Mont Albert, but this one looks like it has every option! We think it's a Henley Empire house, and doing the rough sums: land value approx $1.2m, house base price $300k, options, upgrades, landscaping etc another $400-500k = under $2m development cost. Asking $3m, so maybe $1m net gain. Anyone else feeling like they want to get into property development?


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 51: Wild weather, but trusses about 80% complete!

Woke up this morning and happy to see clear skies and warm weather. This all changed by about 4pm, when the skies turned black and solid sheets of water fell from the skies - cutting out power to my office block, so I left early to check on the site.

And happily it appears the chippies were able to get a heap of work done in the morning prior to the storm - lots of trusses installed, maybe 80% complete? Just trusses over the sitting room and entry gallery to be completed.

Only had time to take a couple of photos on my iphone before the rain went mad again - here's a pretty wonky photo standing in the hallway ;looking towards the back of the house - study is to left, laundry to right. Void in trusses for the future staircase. Having the trusses in lets us get an idea of how large the rooms will really be. I'd highly recommend to anyone building a house to upgrade to higher ceilings if your budget permits - you definitely can't add this later on, and it gives a much more spacious feel to the house! I've heard of huge variations in how much builders charge for higher ceilings. I think ours were great value, only about $2000 more for 2.7m ceilings to the ground and I can't remember how much (less than $2k) for 2.55m ceilings to first floor (Metricon apparently don't offer higher ceilings than this for ground & first). One builder on H1 wanted $10k for 2.7m ceilings to a single storey house - wow!

The pic above shows floor trusses in open plan rear area - the kitchen area is covered by trusses, the open area to the left is the dining area (no first floor above here). You can see two pipes for the kitchen sink, but for some reason there's a big pipe near the frame and we can't work out what it's for - there's no plumbing void marked on the plans, so we'll ask our SS next week about that.

Hoping the weather will hold off tomorrow morning so the remaining trusses can be installed, and maybe the start of first floor trusses, though maybe scaffolding will be needing.

And for anonymous who wanted to know what the payment breakdown is, it's like this:

  • $1000 initial deposit; covers site survey and soil test (well, it did for us anyway)
  • $3000 at preliminary contract acceptance to cover cost of custom plans
  • 5% (less the previously paid $4000) at contract signing
  • Base: 20%
  • Frame: 20%
  • Lockup: 25%
  • Fixing 20%
  • Completion 10%
Now that we've started along the journey, it's plain to see the payments are clearly biased to having most of the money upfront -ie by the time you get to lockup you've already stumped up 70% Perhaps that's why (for most builders not just Metricon) the first 3 stages go by quickly, then things tend to slow down at fixing & completion. Would be interesting to hear if anyone has successfully negotiated different payment percentages? Of course, ultimately you end up paying 100%. Also, note that things like postcontract variations are added/subtracted on you completion payment - we'll have to pay about $15k more for various additions, less $1000 for power pole, plus $x for retaining wall and whatever other little things turn up.

Anyway, we're pretty happy about progress on the site - at the start of last week we had a few plumbing pipes in the ground, now we're starting on the first floor frame! Providing the weather holds off, we're fairly confident our SS's predictions of frame completion by end of February will work out - and of course, another bill for 20% of the build in our letterbox!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 50: Preparation for first floor; yellowtongue and truss delivery

Since ground floor was completed yesterday, today was a delivery day where more bits for the first floor were delivered. The wood comes from a timberyard in Dandenong, for anyone that cares! Unfortunately whoever delivered the wood left the gates wide open, so there's another reason to check your site everyday if you can.

In the big pile of wood are floor trusses - also came with a detailed engineer's diagram of exactly which truss goes where, and how to attach them. Also came with notes on how to section bits of truss to allow for ceiling fan in the powder room. Seems quite a technical job!

This bunch of yellowtongue flooring dumped on the portico. Just lots of plywood with yellowtongue connectors. Because this afternoon was about half the temperature of yesterday, we spent quite a while just wandering through the frame, trying to visualise where everything would go. Mmmm... I'm dreaming of a 200" anamorphic perforated widescreen wallmount for my HT room!

Brian reckons our chippies should be back Thursday and Friday to install the trusses and yellowtongue, but with some thunder/rain predicted for a few days I doubt they'd be on the job. They deserve a few days off after working through the hot days recently!

And finally, another shot at possibly the worst manufacturer in the world - "Hewlett Packard". Tune out now as this has nothing to do with building a house! Owning a HP product is only marginally better than having leprosy - at least most of the time you can hide your shameful HP laptop away in a bag, or in some dirty laundry. I think tomorrow I'll try blogging using a sharp stick, some coloured dirt and a bit of string - it'd certainly be more reliable than my DV9000 and probably faster too. Worst thing about HP is their total lack of support for their products - hundreds of thousands of defective laptops they refuse to fix, yet they still sell "new" models with the same defects. Plus a top-of-the-line laptop from 2 years ago is officially unsupported for Windows 7 - no doubt because it can barely run windows xp within crashing every 45 seconds. Anyone from HP reading this yet?


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 49: Ground floor framing complete, site supervisor meeting.

A day off work = a good day to inspect the site! I turned up first around 11, and caught the chippies hard at work in the sun finishing off the ground floor frame. The head guy there was Josh, and when I pointed out that I should be having higher door frames to accommodate the taller 2340mm doors, he agreed and said it'd be an easy fix. Good one boys! Gave them a slab of coldies for their hard work. Here's the thing - if you're nice to your tradies and bring up little issues early, you'll probably get a good resolution to your problem. Of course, this is dependent on you having the time during the day to get to your site, which isn't always possible.

This pic taken in the afternoon, they finished the job around 2pm. The entry doorframe is too low - only about 2000mm instead of 2340mm, so that'll be fixed later. Not bad for 2 days work!

View from outside the sitting room, looking towards back of the house. On the left is doorframe to garage internal access, then study behind that. Centre of photo; cavity slider door to rear of house. The internal access doorframe is set too low, another one to be fixd up later. The crew had already fixed the frames to the study, laundry and powder room

View standing in kitchen. To the left is walk-in pantry, walk in linen to right of that, then doorway to hallway. Lots of angled wood stuck across doorways, maybe just to hold the frame together until the supports are all set in?

We also met our SS Brian in the afternoon - nice guy! As for progress, he reckons more ceiling trusses will be delivered tomorrow, and the chippies back later in the week to set them up. Then first floor, then roof trusses - expecting frame to be complete by end of the month! Windows should be in around end of the month as well. And then, lockup (tiles and bricks) maybe a month later - ie end of March! Yay for progress!

He also asked us if we had any issues so far to be looked at, so we brought up these things:
  1. Door frames too short = acknowledged, and already on the way to being fixed.
  2. Powder room toilet position very close to door = will be fixed, as the doorframes are larger than the actual door size required, so there's room for adjustment.
  3. Laundry floor waste in wrong position (under cabinet) = will be fixed so it is under the washing machine.
  4. Site cut at neighbour's boundary leaving about 300mm of vertical soil = will need tiny retaining wall, will be raised as a variation. Hopefully not too expensive!
  5. Huge mound of soil at back of site from site cut = will be levelled. But some medium sized rocks, we'll have to pay (not much) to be removed.
  6. Some minor changes to electrical plan - want to move a couple of lights, shouldn't be a problem.
  7. No temporary power pole required = we had a $1000 powerpole included in our contract, but because we organise the power pit, we'll get this amount back as a credit towards final payment.
  8. Small chip in corner of portico concrete = will be repaired, brickwork for piers to balcony will cover most of it too.
  9. Some water pooling in front yard area - leaking tap? = plumbers will be coming in the next week or two to run in water to the house, and will correct and leaks from the main water line to the block.
Pretty happy with our SS so far - certainly we've had heaps of work done since resumption of activities mid-Jan, and the next couple of stages will roll through pretty quickly he reckons.

We've also located a few more Metricon houses in our area, so when there's a slow day with no work to blog about, I'll post photos here - helpful if you're trying to choose bricks etc for a nice facade!

wushukid: Peninsula is a fantastic design - the open area above the dining room is incredible! Bit expensive for us to go for though :(

stefan petersen: thanks for your comment! There are pretty big windows, and the family room window faces east, so some nice morning sun. It's about 3m from the side fence, so hopefully no shadowing will occur. We walked through all the ground floor rooms today, and our earlier perceptions of rooms being too big or too small are gone - everything feels in perfect proportion now!


Monday, February 8, 2010

Day 48: Base stage paid, and frame started!

Paid the base stage invoice today - can you believe CBA wanted $28 to do an electronic transfer to ANZ? Anyway, ended up doing it through netbanking for free - stuff you, banks and your fees!

Got a call from Tina on the way home from work, and she sounded excited - for good reason too, as she was already walking around our ground floor frame, which was halfway done!

Not bad work by our tradies, suffering in 34 degree mad heat - I'll bring them a carton of beer tomorrow I think! Also spoke to our fantastic neighbours, who said the chippies started about 7, and worked through to about 3, solid effort that!

The next picture shows our sitting room.

Now that the frame is starting to go up, it's so much easier to get an idea of the size of rooms. My perceptions so far is that the sitting room and laundry seem a little smaller than I thought they would be, and the study is bigger than I thought (good!). Powder room seems about right - because we made some modifications to the floorplans, our laundry/powder room is different to standard Nolan.

In the previous picture, from bottom to top: Powder room (with one pipe for sink waste), then laundry (two pipes), then the two little areas are for walk-in-linen and walk-in-pantry. Then the kitchen (with 2 pipes for sink) and dining room, then outdoor room!

This next picture shows my room in the house - the home theatre/man cave. Tina can have pretty much every other room, but I've got big plans for this room! Though one thing we need to check with our SS tomorrow is the door heights - we have 2340mm doors everywhere, and I think the door frame to the HT is too low. It's basically the same height as the bipart doors to the rear (right) of the HT, which is only about 2000mm high. Should be an easy fix at frame stage to rectify.

The next pic is a view of family room from kitchen area. HT room is to the right, and to the left is entry hallway. We'll put our plasma TV on the left, so you can see it from the kitchen and meals area.

Finally, welcome to all the new readers to the blog - seems to be quite a few fellow metricon builders out there, some ahead of us and some just starting out. Please feel free to ask questions, and to comment about things that we should be checking (in particular, we'll have to get around to organising an inspection at preplaster in a few weeks/months?)

Ben&Dana: Hi, welcome to our blog. Jealous that you're at lockup already! We looked at a Stanton display home, somewhere in the northern suburbs I think - we like how the informal area of the house (kitchen, meals, family) takes up the entire back half of the ground floor! We did get our building permit mid October, but due to delays in demolition, we really didn't started until mid January, though the site scrape was Dec 22nd.

R&T: I think you said you had a bit of a fall on your block? Sure, a big slab will cost more $$$, but it'll stop your house sliding off onto someone else's land :) Should get nice views too! I think I've found another Nolan being built in Mitcham, will blog about it if I'm right!

wushukid: Hi! What design are you building, and what area? It's interesting to find readers of this blog are building all over Victoria, and NSW as well :)

Today's frame start has been sooo exciting - I just wish I could stand the heat to stay a bit longer - had to go home after a few minutes to change!


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Metricon Liberty for sale; Mont Albert. Redevelopment for fun & profit!

Of particular interest to us is the building of a volume builder's house (eg Metricon, PD, Henley etc) in established suburbs. While their houses are more often seen in estates (simply because... well, that's where people tend to build more houses!) there are certainly plenty of redevelopments going on in established suburbs.

Just drive around any established suburb for half an hour and you can pretty much bank on seeing some vacant land with temp fence, or 3 townhouses going up where one house used to exist, or one huge new place being built up. For us, we chose to sell our old house, buy a crappy house on a good street, and redevelop the site with our dream house. Doing this ourselves saved literally hundreds of thousands compared to buying a new house that some else developed (for more info check the Dec 09 blog entries about the Nolan auction in Lawford St).

Of course, it's not an easy process if you've never redeveloped a property before - weve both learned a lot about the redevelopment process, that's for sure! And by doing this blog, hopefully giving some help to others who are going through the same process.

So anyway, getting back on topic, we like to see new houses by project builders go on sale, because we all get a chance to stickybeak, but also to see how other redevelop projects have gone.

We were driving down Whitehorse rd the other day, and there was a house that I always thought could be a Metricon design, as it looked very similar to some of the facades on the website. Yesterday, driving past, we saw it had a "For Sale" sign up - so of course, after a bit of investigating, we were able to find it on Domain!

A "double balcony" is an interesting look - not sure how often it'd be used on a busy road like Whitehorse Rd though! Bricks could be Austral Nougat, quite light. Nice big flat eaves complement the wide balconies too.

The kitchen displays the typical Metricon L-shaped island bench layout. Additional cupboards over the fridge recess, and banks of 2 pot drawers either side of the stand-alone 900mm cooker (be interesting to see whether it's Baumatic or something else). Looks like a cavity door to the butlers pantry too. I'm not sold on the floor tiles - the ones in Lawford St were much better (though probably much more expensive). The white stools with the backs look nice but maybe a little too high? Also note the microwave perched on the bench near the cooker; you can option a microwave recess in the island bench which hides the microwave nicely - we got it included in our promo deal, its a pretty standard inclusion now.

(And by the way, this house is a Liberty 42 floorplan)

Main bathroom. Actually, it's similar to our tile selection, except we went with a lighter grey floor tile. Get rid of tha upright cabinet taking up all the floor space and it'd look much better!

Rear; outdoor room with lots of decking. Look over the rear ground floor windows for standard infills; we upgraded to brick infills - I just don't like the look of the stuff over the windows!

Of course, there's no price provded on Domain. The important details are that it's in Mont Albert, on a huge block of about 1000m with right-of-way access to the backyard, and the house is maybe a couple of years old and (should be!) in great condition still. Though it's on busy Whitehorse Rd, opposite a bunch of fairly unattractive shops (no cafes or newsagents), I'd reckon this would go for at least $1.7m - what are your thoughts?

Anyway, I'll be at the first open for inspection next Saturday 13th and at the auction on Saturday 27th, maybe I'll see some of you there. Say "Hi" if you run into me - asian guy with glasses [yeah that narrows it down!], probably clutching a detailed set of construction plans for our Nolan. Renee & Tom I expect to run into you again! :). Details and more pictures are here on Domain

evie & ian: Welcome to our blog! What stage are you up to in construction of your house? We are planning to get an inspection done at preplaster and final handover. We got a slab invoice on Friday and I'll pay it on Monday.

Phew, what a massive blog entry, hope you guys like it! And by the way, there's a new feature under this post where you can click on a Reaction to give us some quick feedback. For example if this blog post was Helpful, click on the relevant button and we'll know to continue posts like this. Of course, if you want to leave a specific comment (which we will reply to in a following entry) click on the Comments link and type away there. The more feedback and comments we get, the more we feel our blog is useful to people!


Friday, February 5, 2010

Day 45: Base invoice received

First of all, let's go on a minirant here about HP/Compaq and their shitty quality products. You'd think a multinational brand like HP would be able to build a laptop that doesn't break their hinges after a few months, randomly freezes, loses sleep/hibernation modes and have a battery life longer than 50 minutes, but apparently not. And let's not talk about the fact that HP have decided that a 2 year old laptop (that was top of the line when new) is simply waaaaay too obsolete to be worthwhile supporting under Windows 7. End result, don't trust, buy, or recommend HP/Compaq. Meh! My old Acer laptop is still used by my sister with 100% reliability; and I bought that one in 2002 - far superior. an express post envelope from Metricon today, with just a few pages, but a big bill to pay - 20% of contract! It's interesting to note though, that the progress payments are based on the contract price that you sign off on, at the final contract meeting. We had about $15k of postcontract variations (mainly electrical, roof tiles, tile upgrades), but they will be added to the final invoice, along with any other changes that may come up along the way.

No work done on site today - weather in the low 20s and constant light rain. Again, good for concrete curing, but not so good for deliveries or getting work done. Maybe some framing to start next week?

sarahv: yeah, the old house was a nice house to live in - unfortunately it was on a very busy road, right next door to a petrol station, opposite a big bunch of units. Not a great location for a residential property, but not too bad for a medical clinic! Would have liked to have the house and land (about 700m) in a different location, but alas not to be. Fond memories, but can't wait for our dream house to be finished!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 44: Termite protection (?) installed, and delivery of wood

Today, the skies finally parted to allow a bit of rain to wash away yesterday's humidity. Apparently a bit of rain is good for the slab, so we're glad to see it today! We didn't expect much to be done for a few days, but arriving at the site after work, seems like people had already been at it today!

The sight that greeted us first was a few big piles of wood. Probably not enough for the ground floor frame, but certainly enough to get started! A couple of sheets of yellowtongue for the first floor as well.

Also, our slab now has a nice blue skirt on. Tina dug a bit of paper out of the bin, and apparently it's a delivery slip for termite guard protection, we think... the rain kind of ruined the paper. It runs the perimeter of the main slab, but not around the portico of outer garage wall (no timber there, just brick piers).

So far, we're quite happy at how things are progressing - lots of work has been done since the xmas/new years shutdown period! Certainly didn't expect anything done today - the problem is, now we might get disappointed if we turn up at the site and nothing has been done! MyMetricon was also updated today - a huge "Completed" bar across the slab stage of construction!

Of course that means Metricon will send me a big invoice for 20%, but who said you could get a house built for free?

R&T: Hope your selection process is going along well too... I'm still hunting on Domain for Metricon houses for sale/inspection, as we still like to stickybeak at other builder's houses. Especially looking at "real people's" houses, not just the over-the-top display home. We saw a Porter Davis house in Bundoora for sale, just off Grimshaw St, and it was done pretty nicely! Also; have a drive all along Shannon St, as you'll see another Nolan being built with Hawthorn bricks, in case you haven't seen it already!

JT: Welcome to the blog! Donvale is a beautiful area, we had a house in Mitcham that we sold to buy our redevelopment site. You'd probably drive past it a bit, it's next to United Petrol on Mitcham Rd, and the new owners are converting it to an osteopath clinic - here's a photo we took of it the other day.

It's kind of a pity that they're converting it as it was a great house to live in (except only 2 windows in the house could open because the previous owner to us had painted them shut!).

I wouldn't worry too much about the "420 days" in your contract - from what we've seen of Metricon in our area they generally get the double storeys done in 7-8 months, and single storey in about 4. Also, we don't have Gena anymore, it's Joanne now :) We liked the Hampton plan, but because it wasn't on display we went with the Nolan :) I think you're right, in that the Sycamore has replaced the Hampton, but to be honest I think the Hampton is better, mainly because of the shared bathroom between Bed 2/3 - I think that's more practical than an ensuite to all bedrooms!

As for the kitchen, I just had a look at our onstruction drawings - there's definitely a cupboard door to the island bench (I think about $150 or so?) and the pot drawers appear to have a smaller top drawer and bigger bottom 2 drawers (I think we paid $880 to get a dozen pot drawers), though there are no specific dimensions to reflect that. Unfortunately I think it depends on the salesperson/consultant you get on the day as to what kind of options you can choose to get.

One thing about building - I think it makes my working days go faster, as I can't wait to be out the door and go to our land to see what's been done!



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