Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 221: Hooray - things are being fixed!

Tina was at the house yesterday and some more stuff was being done - of primary interest to me was hearing that the problems in the walk-in-linen data fitoff was getting fixed up already!

So, examining the picture above, the starserve enclosure has been moved nice & high to the right - excellent! Looking inside the enclosure, the incorrect unit has been removed, so I presume the correct one is being ordered in. Also the data returns now come through near the powerpoint, ready for termination.

Very happy to see how our SS has responded to our concerns so far & so fast - top marks to John & Metricon for that! Of course there's a few holes & gaps in the plaster to be patched up later on, but that's all part of normal completion anyway.

Other developments, the robe fitoffs should happen this coming week, as the shelving, chrome hanging rails & supports, and sliding doors have been delivered to all bedrooms.

We chose to upgrade to framed mirror doors in taller size (2340mm to match the doors), and deliberately stayed away from the frameless mirror doors - the frameless ones are just about impossible to slide open or close, since there's nothing to grab onto except for a little "handle" that's a few mm tall! Try before you buy, people. Plus having the mirrored doors look nice, they make the room appear much bigger & brighter, and are a relatively cheap upgrade per room to do. Another thing - if you get tall ceilings, get tall doors/robe doors too, to take advantage of the increase in ceiling height. We also raised the height of the shelves in the robes to 2000mm, so we can put in an additional clothes hanging rail later if we want to.

In the master bed, for the promotion we got two robe fitouts, which is basically some open shelves and a few drawers.

Not keen on the bow handles (actually I don't like anything curved or rounded!), will probably change them over to square handles later. In the future, may even take out all the robe fitout in the master bed and do one of those cool "designer" style robe fitouts, like you see in Howard's Storage World or Ikea :)

And our big cavity slider door has finally been installed. We added this in to separate the rear open plan area (kitchen, family, dining) from the front area, it's 1020x2340mm.

Been sitting in the family room for weeks, and it looks good - except for a little scar in the top right corner of the door which will need repairing later. Also there are gaps above all the cavity doors in the house, so we'll have to mention we want them closed up later on.

And today (Day 221) there were some fixing carpenters at the house most of the day, and they put in some beading around the outdoor room, and installed extra noggins/framing in the garage and portico, so that the plaster can be installed in both.

We've also got a site meeting with our SS and the construction manager on Tuesday morning, probably just to get an update on progress and to see how things are going for the final few stages of the build. Things are sooooo close to finishing, we can almost touch it! The house is looking better and better as all these little fitoffs are getting done. As we were leaving, my aunt and cousin drove past so we invited them in for a sneak peek - and they were very impressed with how everything looks so far too!


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 219: Response from SS regarding recent events

Well, those of you who have been paying attention recently will recall us letting off steam with lights in the wrong place and the disasterous data installation... anyway, I put some of our concerns in an email to our SS late last night, and to his credit John tried to call me this afternoon (couldn't answer due to work!) and then we just received this email tonight'

"Hi tim @ tina
Thanks for the info I have been on phone today with our suppliers on this items.
I stress to have all items rectified as soon as possible will update you with
actions taken by friday . Kind regards

so it's good to feel that our SS is aware of our concerns. Now, we don't want to overstep the mark, and be calling/emailing our SS every 2 hours, but given that many of the errors should be fixed before more fitoffs happen, we thought it'd be good to get these issues raised now, rather than at the final inspection! Anyway, now we're looking forward to speaking to our SS next to see how things will be handled. We don't expect things to go perfectly well all the time, as errors and faults are bound to occur. What's important is how these issues are managed and rectified, and so far other issues with our build have been handled well.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 218: Review of data/phone cabling - many things going wrong here!

Sometime on Monday or Tuesday (days 215-216) the data people came in to fitoff data, TV and phone points. However, things were definitely NOT done to plan or contract, and there's a lot of rectification work they'll have to do.

First of all, let's have a look at one of the fitoffs, the connector on the left is an F-Type aerial for TV, the blue is a data point.

Looks OK - except we upgraded all electrical fitoffs to be Clipsal Slimline, and this is a standard C2000 fitting. To explain it better, have a look at the next photo. It shows a Slimline powerpoint, and above it a standard C2000 phone fitoff - looks huge by comparison!

And just ignore the hole in wall for now... our construction drawings even have this reference added to the electrical plans: "Slimline white switches, data points and power points throughout (except for wet area switches)".

Next problem is in the walk-in-linen. There's going to be 4 shelves in the walk-in-linen, with the top one being at 1700mm. So of course, we planned ahead and specified the powerpoints and data returns to be at 1800mm above floor level. But this is what we got, the starserve box and data points at about 1000m, pretty much exactly where the shelf is meant to go.

They should be at the level of that wall light or higher, but definitely not lower as they've done.

And just to add insult to injury, we paid another $765 to upgrade to a Clipsal Starserve 3 input/8 output box. And what was installed?

It's a basic 2in/4 output box, with a passive 4 splitter instead of an active 8 splitter than I specified. The difference between the units is shown below...

*mad*! Basically, because we have 7 TV points through the house, I wanted a TV splitter with 8 amplified outputs. The basic unit they've installed has 3 amplified outputs, and using a 4 way passive splitter, 4 weaker passive outputs. All we want is what we paid for as specified in our contract, and I'm damn sure we're going to get that at least! To be fair, I don't think this is Metricon's fault - more likely the data people, either through laziness or deliberately installing a cheap unit and pocketing the difference, have screwed up.

So, basically the data people are going to have to be called in to fix all their f#ckups.
  1. Replace all fat standardfitoff plates with slimline
  2. Relocate starserve enclosure and all data returns in walk-in-linen to at least 1800mm or higher
  3. Replace 2in/4out unit (3105VDU24T) with correct 3in/8out unit (3105VDU38IRT)
And this should be done prior to the shelves being installed, because they can't fix the laundry shelves while all the fitoffs are at the wrong height.

So again it's 3 steps forwards and 2 steps backwards. Wonder why these subcontractors find it so hard to read plans and follow them. So I was going to save up all these little things until our SS calls maybe later this week, but will be sending through an email tonight to our SS to make sure these things aren't glossed over. Meh.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 217: Showerscreens and mirrors installed

Well, 6 weeks after buying my Audi, she's finally been fixed up and good to go, after being stuffed around for weeks by some incompetent "specialists" who shall remain nameless, who wanted to charge $10-15,000 for a full engine rebuild - yeah right; fixed for a few hundred bucks by proper mechanics - a big shout-out to AUDI Spares in Oakleigh for doing a brilliant job diagnosing and fixing my cars problem!

For the revheads out there, it's a 2004 Audi A4 Avant Quattro Turbo S-Line, quite a rare car to find. Has some nice modifications like RS6 18" wheels, Eisenmann exhaust, APR Stage 1+ tuning, upgraded fuel pump, blacked out grilles and Fulcrum suspension tuning. It'll be a useful car for moving stuff into our new house, plus for doing ski trips (not that there's any snow this year) and moving the dogs/bikes around etc - will keep it for a year or so and then look for something new again to play with!

So, that van in the driveway in the photo above is the nice man from Premium coming in to install our shower screens and mirrors. Unfortunately the powder room mirror provided was totally the wrong size, so it'll mean another trip back to install that.

Below: bathroom mirror installed. Makes the bathroom feel much bigger!

And next; bathroom shower screen.

Ensuite mirror with handprints,

And ensuite shower screen. The pivot door is on the left.

Also had a few more carpet samples to look at - they're all starting to blend in together. On Sunday we went to Fowles in Clayton, and got a very competitive quote on a Godfrey Hirst solution-dyed nylon, at about $155 per lineal metre installed with Dunlop Extreme underlay. There's a Carpet Choice near my work, and they're more towards $200 per lineal metre with Airstep underlay, but that's a good 25% more than the Fowles quote. Probably will settle on our carpet this week and place that order - it'll be a dark grey of some kind.

(and that's not my handbag or pretty little feet in that photo!)

Also in the last couple of days we've had our data/phone fitoffs. NOT happy - but will discuss in tomorrow's post.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 215: Plumbing review

Carrying on the weekend review, plumbers were in last week to fitoff taps (internal & external), waste plumbing etc.

First; the kitchen. The Clark Razor sinks have had the drainage installed, and each sink has a basket waste - cool! The tap is an upgrade; Dorf pull-out vegie sprayer with mixer tap. To be honest it doesn't pull out as far as we thought it would (but then again, the sinks are much larger than normal) so for a normal sized sink, it'd probably be sufficient. We'll live with this for a while, but are already considering changing it for a commercial style overhanging sprayer...maybe!

Next pic; details of powder room plumbing. Taps are the standard mixer, can't remember if they have a name, but nice and modern.

Upstairs WC: Toilet waste has some special sealing cap around it, and the water supply to the cistern has been fitted off.

Bathroom: standard rail shower with mixer. Looks like the showerhead has 2 or 3 settings on it, and the square rail looks suitably modern, with the chrome finish a nice contrast against the grey tiles.

Final pic, some details in the ensuite. There's a wall-mounted rail showerhead on one side of the ensuite shower, and one rainfall showerhead from the ceiling which hasn't been fitted off yet. Then door the WC in the middle, and one of the ensuite sinks on the right. You can also see the standard wall light fitting above the sink - there'll be one above each sink.

So all the plumbing so far looks fine, can't really pick any faults with it. Though there's a few obvious areas missing grout or sealant, so we'll keep an eye on that.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 214: Review of the last 3 days of work - Electrical fitoffs!

First time back to the house since Tuesday - and wow, people have been busy! Electricians, plumbers, brickies and heating contractors have all been working in the last 3 days, but today's post will focus on lighting first.

Externally; the silver aluminium handrail has been installed over the balcony. Plus a downpipe has been run from the balcony gutter, though no connection has been made to stormwater drainage. Also you can see where the electricians have roughed in connections for external lighting on the balcony pillars, and a double floodlight I'll put in over the garage door.

Internally, the electricians have been very busy fitting off all the powerpoints, light switches, batten lights, downlights and exhaust fans. Unfortunately while most of the work has been excellent, there's a few of these moments going on as well.

For example, in our sitting room there are two lights. Most people would accept that having them lined up in the middle of the room is boring, yet necessary. However, ours are at least 70cm away from the midline of the room... not acceptable!

However it gets worse upstairs, where there are two lights in the open area/leisure room. So, you would think the light in the leisure room should be centred - rather than placed 40cm away from the wall? And the other light should be placed in the middle of the "hallway" leading from the master bedroom to the bathroom? Erm, no. I brought this up with our last SS, Monique, that the electrical roughin had left the lighting wires in the wrong spot. "No worries, the sparkies will put them in the right place!" I was told...... erm..... fail.

Anyway, that's the major issues with lighting, thankfully most other things have been done well.
The stairs have 3 step lights installed - upside down I think, as the light is placed facing up, just right for blinding you as you try to walk down the stairs. However, we may leave them like this (!), as the lighting makes an unbelievably cool shadow of the stairs on the ceiling when dark, which of course is impossible to photograph. Anyway, simple to flip them around if we want to.

Next pic, upstairs bathroom. The single batten light/"chinaman's hat" is wired in series with the exhaust fan, which is massive but fortunately not too noisy. We've got quite a few of these standard light fittings to replace after handover, but won't choose any light fittings until after handover is complete.

In addition, I think the powder room exhaust fan is meant to be externally vented, but no evidence of an external vent is present. Another issue to bring up.

And we've saved the best pic for last... we went with a whole lot of downlights in the open plan area - 5 over the kitchen, 5 over the dining table, and 9 in the family room, each with 2 way switches and dimmers. Expensive.... but we waited until early evening to turn everything on, and it looks incredible! Our colours are pretty much all cool grey neutrals which can sometimes look a bit stark, but with the downlights, everything is surprisingly warm (and definitely not as beige as the photo may represent)! Very happy with how this has turned out in this area.

So, adding to our list of things to check on with regards to electricals are:
  • Sitting room lights not centred
  • Leisure room, hallway lights not centred
  • Damage noted: home theatre rear powerpoint (plaster damage), heating duct in entryway (split ceiling plaster)
  • Laundry splashback tiles only 20cm high instead of 30cm high (not enough tiles were provided for the job)
Fantastic to see so much work done in the last few days, and though I've highlighted some errors, at least they're relatively easy to fix. Move light fittings, replaster, repaint, add tiles to laundry splashback. Next post will focus on plumbing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 210: Gearing up for the final stages!

Ran into our SS today - he was at our neighbour's site (which he also supervises), cleaning up all the loose rubbish on the block himself. Nice to see a SS who gets his hands dirty! Anyway, apparently we're still on track to get most of the internal fixing done by end of the month.

He did say we can get our carpets in before handover, which is brilliant news - now I'm wondering if we should get our stairs sanded & stained as well, before the carpets are installed. It's a matter of finding out whether a dark stain on the stairs (to match our front & rear doors) would be too dark - will check with Tina on that first. Be nice to have it done before carpets go in upstairs, for a neater finish.

Anyway, I grabbed a meat pie and sauce (the bakery around the corner does the best homemade beef & cheese pies with huge chunks!) and had lunch in the kitchen, daydreaming about how in the not-too-distant future we'd be in the kitchen cooking up a storm, watching TV, and just living the life in the house we've been dreaming and planning for the last 2-3 years!

No trades have been working the last few days, so I just wandered around, trying to see if there's any defects we need to keep an eye on for our final inspection. I don't think I'll bother our SS with anything I find at the moment, as there's still their own QA inspection and window service to be done, and there's still a lot of internal fitoffs to go. Anyway, here's a few minor things that will probably get fixed before our final inspection.

I've heard a lot about this window service thing, which is where all the windows get inspected and fixed before handover. A lot of our window frames were damaged externally during bricklaying with dents and scrapes, so they'll need to be fixed. Also, some windows are sticking or not straight. For example, this is the family room window: at the top there's a big gap, while at the bottom it's closed. Hopefully easily fixed with the window service.

And another example of window damage: in Bed 2, there's a nail protruding from the frame straight through the top frame. D'oh!

Then there's this issue which might be harder to fix: the ensuite window. I remember the bottom wooden frame for this window was removed at frame stage so the bath hob could be tiled right up to the window frame, but it appears the carpenters forgot to reinforce the bottom edge of the window, as now there's a pretty big bow in the window. Left unsupported, this window could just... fall! Needs fixing; but will probably require removal of some tiles, supporting/fixing the window frame, then repairing the bath hob, re-waterproofing, and re-tiling.

Now this isn't really a problem yet, but the manhole hasn't been put in Bed 4. Normally the manhole to the ground floor roof is in Bed 3, but due to our particular roof design, it needs to go in through Bed 4 robes. Pretty quick & easy job for the carpenters to stick in this manhole, but needs to be done before the electricians come in for fixing, as there's lots of wiring in the ground floor roof they'll need access too. And don't mind the apparent white lines in the robes, it's a reflection of my camera flash against the painted architraves!

Back to the ensuite, the shower niche and around the hob appear to be missing grout - but I've been told the plumbers will do some siliconing, to allow for flexing/movement of the tiles, rather than grout. Hopefully this big gap in the shower niche will be fixed too!

Internal doors: Rumpus room door has a huge crack in the bottom edges, looks like the door is coming apart! Needs to be repaired or replaced. Also the ensuite WC door has horrible dry patches all over it, and a big scar across the master bed door from the inside, both need repainting.

And finally for the day (long post, huh?) the bathroom sink is meant to have a light switch (for a light above the mirror) on one side, and a powerpoint on the other side. However, the electricians were meant to cutout on the walls prior to tiling, so the tiler could leave a cutout for them to get access to the wiring. But since they didn't (forgot?) to expose these switches, I'm not sure how they're going to locate them with the tiling all done! Anyway, not my problem to fix, they'll figure a way out.

Ultimately, these issues are all relatively minor and pretty obvious, and should be straightforward enough to fix. I'd be surprised if Metricon's Quality Assurance people didn't pick these things up before our final inspection, if a layperson can detect them!

And ultimately, we'd rather have all the little things fixed before we get our house - I know for sure that once I'm aware of something that's not 100% right, it'll annoy me forever until it gets fixed!


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekend update

Balcony render was painted on Friday - it's Dulux Rameau. Of course, when we were at Studio M picking all these colours, you get a massive bit of cardboard about 5x7cm in order to estimate paint colours, and of course it looks kind of different in real life, painted over a whole balcony. We though it should be a lot darker than what it appears, but we'll see how it looks for a few months. Worst case scenario, if it's too light, we can paint over it later.

Finally, the laundry saga is finished. Had the correct 100mm chrome waste placed at the washing machine location and tiling complete around it.

Plus we also got a few carpet samples from our local carpet place - we asked for samples in greys, but one or two turned out a bit brown. And of course the photo doesn't represent anything like that the colours are in real life too. I'd like a darker grey, but Tina thinks it'd make the smaller bedrooms look even smaller... so no choice made yet. Went to a few other carpet places today too, but they seem to have 800 choices of brown/cream/tan/beige etc etc, and very few modern grey neutral colours. Back to the drawing board for this week.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wet area benchtops

These were also installed yesterday - Caesarstone Urban.

Powder room - the inner support under the stone needs to be trimmed a bit more as the sink doesn't sit right. In the powder room will be a Caroma Liano semi-recessed basin, all the other basins are Caroma Liano inset.

Bathroom. Now the benchtops are in, we should be able to get tiling complete on the walls around the benchtop. Also the door adjacent to the benchtop can get the architrave installed around it.

Ensuite. Two sinks. The cutout on the left is for the lights above the mirror, and the cutout on the wall is for a powerpoint.

We went looking around for carpet today, as we want to get carpet in all upstairs and in the home theatre as soon as we can - will probably be a mid-grey/charcoal to match our grey tone colour scheme. Just a matter of choosing one, there's thousands of carpets out there! Apparently we need about "41 lineal metres" for all upstairs and one downstairs room.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Slightly Off Topic: Who's a fan of Transformers?

To disprove the theory that we spend every waking moment thinking about the house (well, maybe Tina does...), this is what I've been playing lately: Transformers: War for Cybertron on PS3. Being a kid in the 80s means I always wanted the full Transformers set: the Megatron gun, Optimus Prime and his awesome trailer, and the best of the lot - Soundwave, with the changeable robots that come out of his cassette slot. If you don't have a clue what I'm talking about, just read all the other posts about our house... but if you do know what I'm talking about, this game will bring back memories! And the best bit? Its not just a cheaply made, weak adaptatation tie-in, it's actually a really good game!


Day 203: Tiling, and benchtops!

After another frustrating day trying to find out if my car would ever be fixed, went by the house and caught our tiler just as he was leaving. He told me a sorry tale where he'd been there first thing in the morning, when some special glue for the shower base tiles and a waste outlet were meant to be delivered - but they weren't. So he decided to go ahead and do as much else as he could, including laying all the grout - and just as he was packing up, the glue and waste outlet arrived, then the people to install the stone benchtops! Anyway, means he's gotta come back later to finish things off.

Balcony tiles: Luxe Anthracite exterior tiles.

Inside; 40mm Casarstone benchtops in Osprey to island and side bench.

Side benchtop has a few gaps around the edges where it meets the wall and window, but the glass splashback should cover all those gaps up. Also the top pot drawers don't open as they catch on the benchtop, something to be adjusted later.

And final pic of the day, Clark Razor double undermount sinks, with a little hole cut through the stone for the mixer tap.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 200: Laundry floor slab repaired

Concreters were on the job this morning, with the laundry floor repair now complete with new concrete poured and the laundry cabinet replaced - now laundry tiling can go ahead! The laundry cabinet and walls will need touching up though, due to the amount of concrete etc flying around.

Powder room next; floor tiling and skirting completed. Also the vanity kickers here have been tiled.

Close up of ensuite shower: tiled shower base, with cuts in tile to allow for correct fall towards the waste. One tile on the left looks a little peaked compared to the rest, but should blend in well after grouting. Also note the flush finished base - there's only that tiny white lip between the shower base and the ensuite floor, where the shower screen/door will butt up against.

And finally, just to highlight the extra care our tiler has taken, check out this join between floor tile and the door architrave. Even without any grout in yet, it's almost a perfect fit - great job!

Can't wait to move in - things look great! Tina was saying it looks even too nice to be our house, since we've lived in so many... erm.... not nice houses in the past!



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