Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 129: Plumbing, plaster & cornice

Busy on site today - plumbers came in to connect up the downpipes, and a big delivery of plaster & cornices.

They removed the french doors upstairs to load the plaster up there - but fortunately they remembered to put the doors back!

You can see here the bricks have been cleaned everywhere - except for the balcony, which will be rendered. You can also see a couple of downpipes - square profile, in Woodland Grey (to match the gutters), close fitted to the house. We saw another house being built in Nunawading which has huge round downpipes, not fitted close to the house and it looked unattractive, so we're glad our downpipes look good! Though where it connects to the stormwater piping at the bottom of the downpipes is not painted and is quite a long way above ground level, so it stands out in white - maybe someone will come in later to paint that?

Lots of plasterboard (Boral 10mm) and cornice (Scotia) sitting in the kitchen/dining area waiting to be installed. Plaster shouldn't go up for a couple of weeks - I got a call from Monique today saying the carpenters should be back in next week for the balcony, garage roof (and fixing up all the notes marked on the frame?), and our independent inspection has been moved to Monday May 10th, so plaster can't start before then. Plus the insulation needs to be installed first. Where they've put the plaster is right under the massive hole in the roof where all the tiles have been broken, so I'll get some big plastic sheets to put over the plaster to stop it getting soaked when it rains.

Closeup of the cleaned bricks near the front door - love how they look! I think the brickies have done a great job, bricks evenly spaced, mortar widths consistent, good blending!

Finally, the plumbers also had a go at correcting the ensuite shower. We have one showerhead on an adjustable rail on the right (you can just see the plumbing fitting sticking out of the frame), and one showerhead mounted on the ceiling (which was mounted on the wall). It's been moved up to the ceiling - but it's located dead centre of the shower, rather than to one side as drawn on the construction plans. We're thinking this is maybe a good idea, and leaving it as it is?

What do you think - leave the ceiling mounted showerhead in the centre of the shower, or place it to one side? Comment below!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 128: Bricks cleaned, and Metricon's quality inspector through house

Tina reports that the remaining ground floor bricks have been cleaned - but because it was dark by the time she got there, no photos. Hopefully better photos of clean bricks tomorrow.

Also, looks like Metricon's quality assurance inspector has been through the house, and now there's a whole lot of pink on the frame!

Apparently there quite a few noggins in bulkheads at the wrong height for fixing plaster too, and not enough noggins in some places - at least, that what those written notes indicate!

There's also a lot of notes to make the frame flush; a fairly simple fix.

Anyway, it's nice to see that things have been picked up already, we'll have our independent inspector go through next week - and actually, we're hoping he won't pick up many additional issues, as that would mean the internal quality inspection is of a high standard.

Finally, got a lockup invoice in today's mail - the biggest slice of the bill at 25% of contract price!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 127: Site clean

Just a quick post today - site looks to have been cleaned. Scaffolding removed from site, and all the broken bricks at the front of the house gone too - but for some reason the rubbish cage not emptied.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 126: Scaffolding down, Lockup Stage Complete!

Pretty crappy weather in Melbourne this week - but who cares, because now Lockup Stage is complete!

Scaffolding removed this morning.

Still a bit of external work left to do, putting up the garage roof and balcony floor.

Back of the house is kind of messy, but with the scaffolding gone the side area looks a lot more open than it used to. Unfortunately we don't have a huge backyard, I'm standing right in the very back corner for this photo. For the outdoor room, it'll probably be a decked area extending beyond the roof line, maybe towards the sides and/or back fences.

In this final pic, this is the home theatre room at the back corner, and up the side is about 3m of width leading to the rear roller door from the back of the garage. Thinking of doing some kind of concreting or paving here, so I can work on my cars in the area behind the garage. It's got external power, floodlights and a tap to this area for that purpose!


Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 125: Painters working on a public holiday!

We went by the house today with some brooms just to sweep it out a bit, heaps of wood shavings from the cable installations, and found the painters were there, hard at work since 7am! Apparently they had to do it today, because the scaffolding is due to be taken down tomorrow. Nice to see tradies hard at it, though I do feel a little sorry for them, working on a public holiday!

This pic was taken after the cladding was finished, but before the eaves had started - you can see the cutting in of the eave borders.

Will look a heap better when all the scaffolding is taken down tomorrow. I've got a feeling that sometime this week we'll get the lockup stage bill - it's the biggest one at 25% of contract price!

The cladding is painted Surfmist to match the Surfmist fascia. Also, the metal capping (that was over the bricks at the bottom of the cladding) has also been painted to match, which is nice. The eaves colour is something else, think it's White-On-White for a slight bit of contrast. The white window frames are slightly different to the Surfmist, and it looks good; real good! Happy we chose a two-tone gutter and fascia, the idea was that the gutter matches the roof tiles and the fascia matches the eaves, and it's worked out well. That's the trouble with choosing your colour selections months ahead of starting the actual build - it's taken 7-8 months to see our colours in real life!

Rear cladding and eaves also been finished off.. of course, some roof tiles still need to be replaced. Apparently the scaffolding comes down, and the roof tilers use some sort of harness system to make sure they don't fall off the roof. They'll need to replace heaps of tiles on the ground and first floor roofs, and much of the roof pointing as well; we don't want a single leak in our new house! Maybe the ground floor bricks will be cleaned sometime too, after the scaffolding is off.

We're wondering when things will be finished - everyone says that after lockup things take longer. If by some miracle we're done by Tina's birthday in mid August, that would be perfect (!!!) but that might be hoping for too much? The problem for us (and for many other people building houses) is that knowing your completion date as far ahead is possible is a real help, to organise rentals and other things. We're housesitting at various places until September, but if we know we'll be done August, September, October or whenever, we can arrange our interim accommodations a whole lot better. Of course, the builder isn't in direct control of trades, supplies etc, but so far our SS has done a great job co-ordinating all the work to get us to lockup - hopefully this continues smoothly, with good quality, and an earlier-than-expected completion date!


Friday, April 23, 2010

Day 122: Data, TV and phone cabling installed

Didn't go to the house today (again, too dark after leaving work) but Tina got some good shots of the new cabling installed this morning. While the electricians installed the power & lighting stuff earlier this week, a different team came in for the data, TV and phones.

All the network cabling returns back to the walk-in-linen cupboard (white cables). There's also 7 TV points which come back here to a Starserve box.

This shows the TV and data point going to the home theatre room. Though there's only one network point coming here, I can always add in a switch in future in case there's more cabled networking needs here.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 121: Plumbers in for lockup plumbing

Bathtubs in the bathroom & ensuite have been connected up to plumbing, with wastes fitted and the hob-mounted spout thingy put in place.

This is the bathtub in the bathroom; the spout is controlled from a mixer tap mounted on the wall at the top right of the pic. Hiding just behind the rim of the bath is the plug :)

However, the ensuite shower plumbing still hasn't been corrected, with the ceiling-mounted showerhead still wall-mounted. Will get this corrected before plaster goes up.

Tina has organised for an independent inspector to go through the house, probably won't be until Wednesday May 5th as Monique wants to make sure the Metricon quality assurance people have given the house a thorough check first. Might delay the start of plastering a little while; but certainly better to have any problems identified and fixed before plaster goes up! Depending on how good our inspector is, we'll reveal their details after the inspection is done.

Hopefully the painter will start tomorrow, and finish up before the predicted late-afternoon showers come through.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Day 119: External lockup... complete?! Electricals... complete?! Progress!

Someone managed to spend 4 hours at our house today - the time went quick! Both the carpenters and electricians were on site today from about 7am, with the electricians wrapping things up around 2, but the carpenters staying until 5.

Facade is complete! Cladding has been installed all around, and eaves complete with eave edging also installed.

At the back of the house, the cladding has also been installed on the first floor.

While I was there, our SS also pulled up, as she wanted to deliver a couple of bits of timber personally for the chippies so they could finish the external lockup today. Thanks to Josh & his team of carpenters for doing a great job on our house! Things are going well - now external works are pretty much complete, the weather shouldn't really hold up any further progress.

The immediate plans according to Monique;
  • Data, TV and phone cabling hopefully done this week
  • Plumbers back for lockup plumbing fitoff (bathtub connections etc) and to fix the ensuite showerhead which shold be on the ceiling, not on the wall
  • Painter to start work on painting the eaves & cladding Thursday
  • Scaffolding to come down next Tuesday
  • Lockup inspection by Metricon's surveyors plus Metricon's Quality Assurance inspection then to be done next week
  • Plaster to be delivered next Thursday
  • Our independent inspection (which we're yet to organise) tentatively booked in for next Friday.
And as for longer term stuff... plaster should hopefully be hung by start of May, then lots of painting and fixing. Cabinets, kitchen etc. June to July should see final fixing with tiling, showers, plumbing fitoff... and hopefully final inspections sometime in August, with handover September - or maybe a bit earlier!

We're not all that frantic about the handover date - as long as things are done correctly and well, we're not in a huge rush to get in - but it is nice to hear we'll be in sooner rather than later!

Someone also came in to cement in the bathtubs. You can also see some metal flashing between the floor and bath hob, part of the waterproofing process in the wet areas.

And finally, heaps more wiring in the house with the sparkies running in all the cabling for ceiling light battens, downlights, wall lights, step lights etc. It was a lucky thing I had today off, as our sparkies consulted me a few times to check I was happy with downlight and powerpoint positioning. Because the heating ducts are installed first, downlights often aren't located exactly where they're drawn in the electrical plan. Only two sparkies did all the wiring, the boss & his apprentice, and he'd been working for Metricon (and not any other builders) for more than 20 years! Thanks Rob & Rod!

So external lockup is pretty much done, and internal lockup about 90% done. Good progress!


Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 118: Carpenters back on site, facade taking shape and more internal work!

The electricians didn't come back today; but we had great progress with the carpenters back onsite getting busy. First of all, the facade is really starting to take shape! Carpenters have almost finished installing the weatherboard cladding to the first floor facade - just the very top level to be added!

Of course, with the sun setting earlier and earlier everyday, this photo is a little dull - I didn't even go to the house today, as by the time I get there it's already pitch black, but Tina normally gets there just as the sun sets.

Up close, we can see more detail of the cladding. Vertical timber studs are fixed to the studs behind the weather wrap, the weatherboards are secret nailed to the studs, with the corners fixed with a vertical timber piece.

Eaves haven't been completed, only a little bit left to be done, and the weatherboards to the rear of the house haven't been started yet. Not much left for external lockup now!

And on the inside, the carpenters have fixed in the double cavity sliders to the study and ensuite. Photo below is the study doors.

They look FANTASTIC - but then again, we're biased :) The doors are 720mm wide and 2340mm high each, and while you can see the routing for each of the two panels at the moment, the doors will be painted Dulux White-On-White.

Also , the bathtub to the ensuite has been delivered and installed. Might have to obscure that window, or the neighbours will get a heart attack watching me in the tub. Not sure what that blue tube is for.

Also, the bathroom bathtub has been installed... sitting on some spare bricks.

According to MyMetricon, internal lockup is due to be completed tomorrow 20.4.10, and lockup completion is scheduled for 23.4.10. Need to make contact with Monique tomorrow, as we need to organise our independent lockup inspection... maybe as soon as next week?


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 116 or 117; meter box fixed into position

We didn't go to our house yesterday, but we noticed today that someone had come to fix the meter box, which was hanging loose in the sitting room.

So now the meter box is secured - the meter box positioned was out by just a few inches when the slab was poured, but the fix is pretty easy. You can see the big orange conduit coming from the bottom of the meter box, going into a pipe which runs into and under the slab out to the underground power pit on the footpath. The yellow pipe is a gas line up to the heater in the roof space, and all the white wires are for 240V power to the house. And if you look hard through the very dirty horizontal feature window, you can see our neighbour's lovely (and by lovely I mean awful) brick wall, as they've got not one, but two garage walls on our western boundary. Going to have to cover up that horrible view, probably with bamboo screeners and something green and leafy. Haven't thought about landscaping yet - got months to get into that!

We did our usual Sunday afternoon drive to check out other builds in the area; this photo below is of an extended Laguna that had their slab laid a week before ours, but seems to be going a little slower than us now.

The bricks they're using is also Austral Melbourne series, but Cotham with flush off-white mortar. I think it's a light brown crossed with orange, but it's hard to describe - I think it looks pretty good in real life, but Tina isn't a fan of it.

One thing about the Hawthorn series of bricks is that there's quite a bit of colour variation, in particular tiny black specks that you can't see unless you're a few inches from the brick, and more obvious large dark spots on bricks that you can see in the photo above. Not everyone likes variation in bricks, and there's plenty of bricks created for almost 100% uniformity, but we like the variation and contrast. The owner of this house chose black (monument) for their windows, which reflects the black variations in the bricks. Now the other interesting thing about black is that Metricon don't recommend dark exterior colours - probably because our climate can be pretty scorching, and the darker colours would absorb more heat and then have more potential problems due to warping etc. Anyway, we also chose some dark exterior colours (as have thousands of others building new houses), and hope it won't be an issue!


Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 115: Electrical installation commenced

A couple of electricians were working on the house today, getting the main wiring for power run throughout the house. Exciting!

There had to be a few changes from the original electrical plan;
  1. GPO in the powder room had to be moved from the wall where the vanity is to another wall, or it would have been covered by the mirror.
  2. GPO above the laundry bench had to be moved as it was too close to the laundry trough (risk of electrocution, not nice!), so this one has been moved to another wall too.

If you look closely at the above picture, on the floor below the left GPO are three blue marks; this is so the electricians know where to cut through the plaster to access the wiring for fitoff. Pretty impressed the guys were able to get the whole house wired for power in a day! They'll be back on Monday to run through all the lighting wiring. Different people will come in to run the data and TV cabling through the house, probably sometime next week too.

No carpenters today, so our linea weatherboard cladding is still sitting in the driveway waiting to be installed - with any luck, that'll be done next week too, then painting of the eaves & cladding can get underway.

And I've finally managed to sell my car after advertising it for 5 months... buyer picks it up tomorrow, phew! Will be driving around a $500 junker for a while, but at least the mortgage is getting a big chunk taken off it - plus avoiding heaps of interest as well! Here's one last photo to remember her by - what a magnificent ride, plenty of power & torque, will be fondly remembered! This photo taken in a prestigious estate where there's quite a few Metricons being built!


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 114: Internal aerial connection

No work done to our house today, but the urge to blog strikes again; so here's a pic of the aerial... from the inside.

Quite a few metres of RG6 cabling all curled up. This will connect to a Clipsal Starserve box in the walk-in-linen downstairs, and then send out a bunch of feeds throughout the house. I think we somehow ended up with about 7 TV outlets (!), in the sitting room, family room, home theatre, leisure room, master bed, bed 2, and the garage. TV points are one of those things that you kind of have to stick in the house during construction, as it's hard or impossible to add it in later. In my parent's house there's only 2 outlets, and rabbit ear internal aerials don't work very well, and very badly in a 2 storey house (on the ground floor at least!).

So though we mostly watch stuff that's been torrented, DVDs or bluray, free-to-air digital TV is slowly (veeeery slowly) getting better, and all the TV points will be installed & ready to be used!

Oh yeah - and for everyone who hasn't got to their electrical appointment yet, the standard house comes with 2 TV points and no aerial. The aerial is about $300 or so, and each TV point something like $80+, and you may need a starserve box if you're getting more than 4 points.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 113: Cavity doorframes & doors delivered

Delivery of cavity doorframes & doors today.

We've got a set of double cavity doors to the study, and double cavity doors to the ensuite. Each cavity door gets its own prefabricated frame - guess they need to be installed as part of lockup, as plaster will be laid over the frames.

Aso got 5 doors delivered. One was a plain flush door, which we think will be installed to the garage access door temporarily. We also got 4 cavity doors, Corinthian Balmoral 2 in 2340mm high. There's a few deep scratches and gouges in the doors, which we expect will be filled in prior to painting. The tall doors are an upgrade, but match the high ceilings exceptionally well! Highly recommended for anyone increasing ceiling height to get tall doors too. Plus Balmoral 2 doors are solid wood construction, unlike standard doors which are thin MDF on either side, separated by a cardboard honeycomb inner layer.

Also waiting on one more cavity door, which is a custom sized 1020mm wide Balmoral 2 door, which will close off the open plan rear area from the front of the house.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 112: Bricks cleaned - first floor

Got to the site about noon today to check out the brick cleaners working up on the first floor.

Pretty messy & noisy job, with two trucks out the front pumping the acid wash up to the cleaners, who were in full protective gear.. well, except for the unlucky bloke on the scaffolding :)

Metal capping to the first floor brickwork also installed in preparation for weatherboard cladding. You can also see the difference between clean and uncleaned bricks. The cladding was delivered in the afternoon, so hopefully it'll be installed sometime this week. Looking at the top of the balcony, seems to be missing a row of header bricks at the moment... also the torn weather wrap needs a little closure.

Finally, the bathroom bathtub has been delivered, as well as a few other little goodies - in particular the Gainsborough 750mm double pull handle for the front door! Love this upgrade, it'll look brilliant when installed!


Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 111: Lockup carpenters on site

Got a voicemail from Monique this morning for our weekly update. Apparently the lockup carpenters are working on the eaves today, and hopefully will start on the balcony floor and cladding for front & rear tomorrow!

A minor job, but an important one - the bipart sliding doors have been installed in the frame. They look great already, can't wait to get them stained!

Also a very elegant sign from Slattery & Acquroff stairs! Check out their website for some of the stair designs on offer, many pictures of stairs from Metricon display homes. The stairs we chose is the Contemporary 17 design - cantilevered with stainless steel balustrade and continuous handrail, which we will stain dark to match the front & rear doors.

At the rear of the house, some timber framing has been installed outside the wrapping to which the linea board (weatherboard cladding) will be fixed to. You can also see the eaves installed, and when they're painted they should match the Surfmist fascia well. Plenty more broken tiles on the roof... but with a lot more work to be done above the roof, all the broken ones will be replaced after work is complete.

This view looking up at the front shows how the eaves have been installed -the lockup carpenters fixed extra battens under the roof trusses, to which the eave plastering is fixed to. Only a few more sections of eaves to be installed tomorrow!

Finally, went back at night to see how the house looks - things are moving along well, and I think I'll spend my day off tomorrow hanging around the front, watching the carpenters work! Monique thinks the lockup stage should be done in a couple of weeks, right on time for the end of April.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Day 108: Site clean

Just a man, his truck, and his mini digger cleaning up after the brickies finished up.

We were hoping maybe a few pallets of bricks might be leftover, but it looks like there was just enough to get our house done.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Day 107: Is our brickwork... finished?

Looks like the bricking stage of lockup is pretty much done - the brickies have taken away their cement mixers and sandwich makers from the site, but left behind their handiwork for us to inspect!

Above: The balcony has had another layer of bricks added to it. Brick sill to the facade window on the right also visible.

All the brick sills have been installed on the ground and first floors. As you can see above, plenty of mortar and dirt all over our entry doorframe! As long as everything is cleaned off properly before staining, the frame should come up just fine. A little worried about the glass - will have to check very carefully at handover that nothing is scratched!

Garage has had the brickwork over the entry all completed too. Don't thnk there's much left to be done for bricking!

Seems the next thing to happen outside should be installation of the cladding to the first floor front & rear, then eaves. We don't really expect much to be done tomorrow, as our anticipated completion of bricking (according to My Metricon) was April 12, 4 days away. We're not sure if completing the garage roof and electrical wiring is part of lockup? Guess we'll find out!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day 106: Bricklayers back at work, and daylight savings sucks!

I always get confused when it comes for daylight savings time to change... putting clocks back, forward - all it means to us is that now when we get to our house around 6-6:30, it's already pitch black!

Still, there was just enough light to make out that the brickies had been hard at work again today, despite the odd rain showers that came through.

In this pic above, it looks like the balcony has been all bricked in. This will be rendered; and of course the chippies have to come back to put in the balcony floor.

This shows the west facing first floor wall which has been just about finished; the first window along is the ensuite window over the bath, the next window is for Bed 2. At the front of this wall (left of photo) you can see the weather wrap, which will be covered by weatherboard cladding covering the facade.

Finally, this is looking at the rear of the first floor. The brickwork ends just at the Bed 3 window, and then across this wall will be weatherboard cladding to match the front. Great!

Tina got a call from our SS's boss today - turns out she's been on holidays the last week or two which is why she hasn't called. Regardless, there's been plenty of progress just about every day, very well organised, and we think it was good customer service on behalf of Metricon to contact us on Monique's behalf. Let's hope the good run continues!



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