Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 252: Organising driveway and wider crossover

Met up with a couple of very friendly blokes from Whitehorse Council today - Alan who was reviewing the asset protection permit (checking for any damage to the footpath etc during the build) and David, who was in charge of assessing a wider crossover for our house. Anyway, the builders only damaged one additional footpath square (two were damaged during our demolition) and David has approved our full-width crossover - 4.8m to match our double garage opening!

I called up two concreters for quotes, and fortunately both turned up today (same day service!) to measure things up. Hopefully will get their quotes in the next few days and book one in.

Our SS and construction manager were also at the house today just checking on progress, and things are looking good for completion and handover.... soon! If we're lucky, the concreters may even be able to fit in our driveway and crossover just before handover, which will make moving in much easier and less messy. Our construction manager said that as long as they contacted our SS to arrange a day to do the driveway (and protect the garage door from damage) then we should be allowed to do this work before handover - very accommodating!

Now the main decision to make is what kind of driveway? Maybe a plain and simple coloured driveway in charcoal, or (as one of the concreters recommended) exposed aggregate? Opinions anyone?

Haven't been to the house for about a week, but it looks like some external painting has been done - our meter box is now Woodland Grey to match our downpipes, and sealed all around. Looks good!

And speaking of downpipes, the painters have also painted the stormwater connections at the bottom of the downpipes - nice! I think normally they are left unpainted, so it's nice to see the painters going the extra mile to touch that up - one less thing for us to do after handover.

Our SS says that someone is working on getting our powder room exhaust externally ducted (since there are no opening windows in that room); looking at the wall we can see a couple of bricks removed in preparation for the wall vent.

And finally, as he was leaving, John threw me a little present...

Pretty funny! Will come in useful one day when in the garden trying to destroy the army of weeds that have taken over the backyard.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Completion - nearly there!

Got an update from our SS this afternoon, looks like the upcoming PCI and handover will be pushed back a week to allow the final finishing touches to be done. That's fine - we're happy with allowing more time to fix the various items our inspector identified. And it gives us more time to select and order some furniture - though it seems all the furniture places we're going to are quoting 8-12 weeks from placing a deposit to delivery!

Anyway yesterday we checked out the homemaker shops opposite Northlands - one in particular stood out from Focus On Furniture, called the Zurich.

It's definitely massive - at first we were thinking of just getting a 3 seater plus chaise for the family room, but this one would almost exactly fit the width of the family room wall. Imagine the far end with the seat backs with a window above it, and the chaise which is closer to the camera is near the kitchen... still hard to imagine! Also has some neat storage areas at either end of the lounge, and comes with the ottoman (but not the table). Price is about $5500 before negotiation and 10-12 weeks for delivery.

The next one we saw was at Harvey Norman, the "Dural".

Slightly smaller than the one above, similar kind of layout though. Price was originally $4600, then $3999, then $3750 after a 20% promo discount on the original price. Colours available not as good as the other sofa, and not quite as comfortable. About 8 weeks to delivery, but made in Oz.

I think we'll have to wait until we're in the house to measure everything up before commiting to a lounge, mainly so we can check dimensions and proportions properly. *sigh* we'll have to rely on old hand-me-down furniture for a few months more yet!

So, does anyone have any suggestions on other places we can visit to get ideas for sofas? We have some others on our visit-list including Frog Sofas, Nick Scali...


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Inspecting display homes - what kind of quality can you expect from your house?

This afternoon took a little drive up north to Mernda to have a look at some display homes to see what kind of finish was on them.

Surprisingly, some of the display homes (I won't say which builder!) have some pretty poor detailing when you look up close - one of the houses we saw, I swear the bricking on the balcony pillars was done using all the crappy brick sides facing out! For those who haven't looked at a single brick closely, there's at least one nice "face" side which should be facing out, and at least one "crappy" side which is usually facing "inwards" and hidden by the frame. Lots of overspray in one house, where the gloss paint from the door architraves was all over the adjacent wall, and no-one seemed to have picked that up. Bad brickwork was everywhere, lots of bricks not flush with each other plus mortar blowouts. Bad tiling in wet rooms, with tiles not flush, sticking up enough to catch your feet. Plenty of doors that didn't close properly, with latches not catching and holding the door shut. Feature wall painting done badly with ragged edges. Anyway, the point is, don't think your house should be of "display home quality" because your house should be a lot better!

Anyway, some photos... one of the Metricon display homes we went into had the right solution to the little question about doors opening against each other. In this pic, the door to the bathroom opens towards the door to the shower.

To stop the door smashing into the shower door, a little stopper is put on the back of the door itself - a simple, elegant solution, and it works. If our bathroom door is left "stopperless", we can just pick up one of these stoppers somewhere and fit it ourselves easily. Actually, we'd probably go and buy a whole lot of nice designer stoppers to replace the little rubber bumpers stuck on the plaster, a lot more durable I think.

In another house, saw a super cool, almost built-in wine rack in an alcove near the kitchen.

Quite clever - each 2 bottle holder section can link into another, secured with a single metal rod running down the centre of it all. Readers - has anyone seen this kind of wine rack before and know where we can get it from? Or can suggest any other funky wine holding solution?

And finally, a couple of the Metricon display homes in Mernda have rainheads (the little box above the downpipes, used for draining flat roofs or balconies). Our inspector picked up that our rainhead coming off the balcony doesn't have an overflow, which is just a hole cut into the rainhead to allow excess water to gush out the side. Both these rainheads have overflows - though even these are probably a little undersized, as they're meant to be the same diameter as the downpipe. Anyway, a pretty easy fix for our house as it just needs a hole cut in the side of the rainhead - takes about 3 seconds using a drill and fine-toothed holesaw bit - but another thing to check off the list at PCI.

The point is, the overflow hole is there to provide an escape route in case there's sooooo much water coming through the gutter, so the water comes out the side rather than backing up and flooding the flat roof or balcony, which then would end up flooding your internal walls - a bad thing! Who would've thought a little hole would be so useful!


Friday, August 27, 2010

Stairs: Organising sanding & staining

So we upgraded our stairs to cantilevered hardwood stairs and stainless steel balusters; but they come in a raw finish. We want them stained charcoal to match our front and rear doors - in fact, we want things to look pretty much like this picture below;

...with nice dark wood floors through all of downstairs, and dark stained stairs & handrail. Got in touch with a guy recommended to us from our earlier SS, and hopefully he'll get back to us with a quote. Ideally we want the stairs sanded and stained pretty quickly after handover, and before the carpets go in. Hopefully won't take too long - stairs will need sanding first, then a few coats of stain with drying time in-between each coat. Maybe a day's work?

Also the picture above is from the Nolan on display in Point Cook, which apparently has just been sold. Don't know if it's still open as a display home; we only visited it once. Just looking at the picture above, it's got huge entry (external) doors placed to the sitting room on the right - expensive! The bulkhead in the entry hallway is about $1000 option.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Certificate of Occupancy ordered

According to myMetricon, our Certificate of Occupancy was ordered yesterday - yay!

What does this mean? It's one of the final steps before the house is complete and ready to live in, and should mean that plumbing, glazing, electrical, insulation, and termite protection is all installed & up to scratch (according to our council's website). Hopefully shouldn't be any difficulties in getting this Certificate, another thing to tick off the list!

Alsoo got a call from our local Council guy about our crossover - we want to put in a wide double crossover to match our double garage, so I'll meet with him next week, and hopefully someone else from the council who will tell us how much of the footpath needs replacing.

On another note, we saw Easy A this evening. Surprisingly very enjoyable - normally I only like movies with lots of shooting, explosions, fast & loud car chases, but despite lacking all these essential elements, Easy A was pretty good!

Though for some reason I can never figure out why all American high scoolers look about 27 and all seems to own cars, and have all the money in the world. Emma Stone is great as the lead character, Lisa Kudrow reprises her usual monodimensional acting, and Malcolm McDowell - the last movie I saw him in was Star Trek: Generations. Oh yeah, and Emma Stone is hot.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Non house related: Movies to watch!

So, we're pretty big movie-going people - that's why we're building this house with a kick-ass home theatre room (one day!). We've been invited to a couple of movie previews soon (thanks heaps!), so thought we might give a heads up on them.

First one will be Easy A tomorrow night. which so far has received 8.4 out of 10 on IMDB, which is actually a really good rating to achieve on that website!

Brief summary; hot chicks, gossip, romance. More geared towards Tina than Tim, but has Emma Stone in it, which gets two huge thumbs up from me - mainly because she was in Zombieland which was one of the most awesome movies of 2009 that no-one saw (with Woody Harrelson in a totally non-sucky role).

The next movie preview is TOMORROW: When the War Began next Monday.

Really looking forwards to this one - I mean, who didn't read the John Marsden books as a kid in the 80s? Plot synopsis: Kids go away on a remote camp holiday, and when they come back home, they find "unknown" (but probably Asian) invaders have taken over. And my brother & sister both tell me they know Chris Pang who plays Lee Takkam (last bloke on the left in that movie poster). Should be awesome - let's hope so, as an Australian screen adaptation of an Australian book series!

Also saw Inception last week... now, I'm a huge SF fanboy (with all the Star Trek series on DVD, HD-DVD and soon to be on BluRay, and don't get me started on how Joss Whedon should seriously be president of everything) but WTF was that movie about? Seemed like it was scripted to be deliberately confusing in order to get people to watch it again at the cinema, or at least buy it on disc. Might have to re-watch it sometime..


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day 243: Carpet chosen and booked in

Went down to Fowles in Clayton to confirm the carpet we've chosen to upstairs and the home theatre room. It's a Godfrey Hirsch solution dyed nylon, colour is called Granite - a kind of mid-grey charcoal. It's been very difficult to choose a grey carpet, because so many of them look grey in the shop, but brown when samples are in our house!

Looks good, a modern neutral colour that (hopefully) won't date at all! After that, headed all the way down to Cranbourne to check out their Homemaker Centre, and then stopped by all the display homes in Lyndhurst to have a look at their interior decorations and landscaping ideas.

While there, having a look in one of the bathrooms, it reminded me that we have to check how the door that opens from Bed 4 into the bathroom will be "stopped". Most doors open against a wall, so a little rubber bumper is stuck on the wall to stop the door handle banging on the plaster. But from our Bed 4, the door opens against where the shower door is, kind of like in the photo below.

But if you look at the tiled floor, you can see a little half-mushroom doorstop; which will stop the door handle smashing the shower glass. However in our case it's slightly different, because the bed door opens towards the shower door, and the shower door opens out towards the bed door... confusing! Anyway we'll check for that later.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 241...

First of all, thanks for everyone who left comments on the last blog entry wishing us good luck for the inspection today! It was very touching to see how many people are following our build journey, and good luck to everyone who is building as well!

Now, as it turns out, we didn't have our "official" completion inspection today as our SS wanted some more time to get everything up to his standard, and the QA people hadn't been through yet.

Are we complaining - definitely not! We've said all along that quality takes priority over speed every time, and it's a good thing that our house isn't being rushed for no reason. So we'll have our official walkthrough in a few weeks once our SS believes our house is ready.

Anyway, we had our independent inspector Alex walk though the house today since we'd booked him in on Monday, and his opinion so far? A few little things to fix as expected, but overall, even in its current unfinished state, our house is of generally good quality, no major problems, and good brickwork! Alex also took the time too walk us around the outside of our house to explain the working of things like articulation joints, weep holes, and other construction items, which was very educational to know about. So if you feel like you want an inspector to check on your house build, or an established house, we'd recommend Alex at Urban Property Inspections - tell him we sent you!

And while we were there, a truck rolled up and packed up all the temporary fencing - our house looks incredible without all the wire fence (and portaloo!) removed! Front garage door is down, it's Surfmist to match the fascia, and cladding colour.

Got to find a way to hide the neighbour's exposed garage wall on the boundary. Also going to need some quotes on a double-width driveway, getting a wider crossover, and replacing some cracked footpath squares. And ideas for landscaping, a front fence... rear landscaping, deck... and getting my fencer to replace the fence alongside the garage! We'll also head to Fowles Clayton on Sunday to put a deposit on carpet for ASAP after handover, and also probably head down Cranbourne way to check out some places for timber, laminate, vinyl, bamboo floors - though we may have to wait on putting in floor coverings for the ground floor until the bank balance recovers!

Also got a call from Tru Energy to connect/transfer gas & electricity to our name; so things are moving along now!

So while we have an updated schedule for the final inspection and handover, I think we'll keep that a secret for the time being.. helps build up the suspense, doesn't it!


Monday, August 16, 2010

Completion inspection date confirmed

Left a couple of messages with our SS this morning to call me back to confirm our inspection date and time - we were unsure of whether it'd be the 20th (this Friday!) or next Tuesday 24th. I'd booked both days off just in case, but since work is crazy busy I need to be working at least one of those days.

Got a call back at closing time to confirm - it's ON for this Friday August 20th at 1:30pm! Wish us luck, readers! We haven't been inside the house for what feels like decades now, excited at seeing the "finished" product. Hoping there's not too many defects to be picked up. Now it feels like the business end of things, have to start arranging insurance, driveways, flooring, window coverings etc, as well as finding out about the final amount and adjustments.

Finally, a pic from the weekend - sorry about the weird angle, was holding the camera above the temp fence and couldn't see where it was pointing, but it does show our facade up/down lights; two on either side of the french doors, and one on each balcony pillar. They look a bit smaller than we expected, but that's probably because the balcony is a lot bigger than we thought it'd be. The colour of the balcony has matured nicely too - when the paint was first applied it was insanely bright purple, but it's calmed down to a nice modern shade. You can also see some unpainted plastering in the portico and the portico light fitting in front of the door, which we'll change over to a sensor light, one day... oooo, and the big pull handle on the front door!


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Progressing to PCI and fencing

Was speaking to our neighbour yesterday - they've put up with temporary fencing facing them all year, and I just wanted to tell them we were organising a new fence to be put up ASAP. Good to have nice neighbours and ours are great! Though it's difficult getting hold of tradespeople for a quote, been waiting about a month for a quote on the fence and it's only just come in.

And while we were there, noticed that some more exterior things had progressed on our house - looks like the garage ceiling and portico has been plastered, the garage doors are installed and the fluoro lights in the garage have been put in, as well as the facade lights; all good things!

But where we have gaps around the windows on the ground floor, it looks like they've put in wood infills :(

At our first independent inspection, our inspector picked up on these gaps too;

7. A timber infill is to be installed over the alfresco sliding door and aluminum infills are to be installed over the gaps located on the aluminum windows.

The rear bipart doors are timber, so a timber infill is needed. And the windows are aluminium, so an aluminium infill is needed. This was picked up at the preplaster inspection when we had Monique as our SS and she agreed that aluminium infills would be required; obviously this wasn't passed on to our current SS.

Also just sent a quick message to Ed on the Homeone forums, he's a guru for window questions as he runs a window company.

My enquiry: "Hi Ed - we're got ... issues, small gaps on the sides/above windows. We have aluminium windows and it looks like the builder has used timber/wood infills which haven' been painted yet. Should aluminium windows have aluminium infills to match (is there any specific regulation pertaining to this?) Thanks Ed!"

His reply: "No rules, just common sense. Powdercoated aluminium is easy and never needs maintenance. None of my customers use timber. Aluminium is readily available in matching colours. Ed"

So another issue to flag with our inspector for PCI.

Also looks like our Certificate of Occupancy is now scheduled to be ordered on 17.8.10 (was meant to be ordered 13.8.10); so will have to confirm with our SS for when the PCI is going to be scheduled.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Inspecting your house: Australian Standards, Building Code Australia etc

OK, so I was trying to find a guide to doing a completion inspection - here's some of the useful things unearthed. Of course, anyone building a new house with any builder would be wise to sign up to homeone and read the forums thoroughly (and use the search facility before posting a question that has been answered many times before). Here's some of the useful ones we'll be adapting for our inspection;

A&E's guide on H1
Another H1 PCI checklist
Yet another H1 PCI checklist
Archicentre guide
Jay's comment on previous post

So "PCI" usually means "Practical Completion Inspection", but of course all the different builders use different terms for the same thing. We'll be getting our independent inspector in, as it will be money well spent. To be honest, I think we'll both be a little dazed at the fact our home is "practically completed" to be doing a thorough inspection, so having an experienced independent third party will be useful, plus will hopefully have better eyes than us.

The other thing having an independent inspector around for, will be his ability (I hope!) to back up any significant problem by referring to the relevant building standards. I spent ages trying to find our where to get these Australian Standards, or Building Code of Australia documents online - turns out it's not free access. But if you have access to a university library, they may have a licence to access the building code. Wonder why such an important document isn't freely available? The cynic in me would suggest it's a nationwide conspiracy to keep consumers in the dark and unaware of their rights to demand a product delivered within acceptable toleranes - but then again, that's just the cynic in me.

However, I was able to find a "Guide to Standards and Tolerances" - two links to the same document are:


which are useful to anyone at any stage of building, not just completion. Wish I'd read this 6 months ago!

I also spoke to someone at work today who's a residential electrician, and he agrees with me that our light positioning is rubbish and not to tolerances ("Just plain lazy and/or careless electricians" is his exact words), plus our powder room exhaust must be externally vented as there's no opening windows in the room, and the exhaust fan must also be wired in series with the light switch. More things to watch for at our completion inspection! I think the positioning of the lights is the thing that bugs me the most - to be fair, the builder/SS seems to be doing the right thing 95% of the time, but to not pick up that the lights are nowhere near the centre of the room is a fairly major oversight. Just fix that, and I'd be a super happy chappy!

Memo to self: Rod was meant to go to the house today and measure up the bit of fence that needs to be replaced adjacent to the garage, to be done ASAP! It's been down since November last year, and it's not fair on our long-suffering neighbours and their dog! Seems to me that they could've built that garage wall with the original fence intact, since all they did was replace my timber paling fence with a bit of temporary security fence anyway! Also to get carpet deposit confirmed/paid tomorrow.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 230: Late meetup with SS

Was on the way home when our SS called asking if we could catch up tonight - we ended up meeting at 6:30 - I guess site supervisors gotta work around the clock! Anyway, it was just to check whether we wanted some extra glass splashback in the kitchen - the standard design doesn't put any glass into the window reveal - despite the fact that all Metricon display homes with a window splashback and glass, have glass that go into the window reveal.

So here's a pic - taken on my new iPhone4 (without the useless LED flash going off, which makes everything look blue). The big glass piece on the side with the powerpoint hanging off it is standard, then there's another small glass piece which goes next to it (but only as high as the window reveal), and then there's "normally" plaster at the window reveal. Our SS thought it'd look better with the extra glass piece in both reveals for about $150.

Sounds reasonable, and we said so at the time - but now I recall then when we signed up with Metricon there was a promotion on for a glass splashback - we paid extra for the kitchen window, about $800 or so, we didn't get any credit back for the reduction in glass splashback (now taken up by the window) and now we pay a bit more, to get that little bit of glass back.... *sigh* ultimately it's not a huge amount of money, but given that we paid for the window, it would've been nice to have been given the glass that goes into the reveal.

Anyway, this certainly isn't a reflection on our SS - we've been quite lucky to have had a couple of very good site supervisors, who seem to be organised, efficient and proactive. Not long to go guys, keep it up!

We also had a quick look around the house - shelves are in, wardrobe fitout in the master bed is in (another item thrown in with the promotion, but it's actually quite a good size fitout with lots of shelves and drawers - happy!). Door handles are on, though the master bed door is meant to have a privacy lock which was put on the ensuite toilet instead - an easy fix, just swap the handles around. Errm.... mirror robe doors are on and look good too! Caulker has been through the house sealing up all the gaps. Still waiting on the rainfall showerhead in the ensuite shower and toilets - they'll both be put in sometime soon. The laundry splashback which is a little short will have another row of tiles added... happy about that too. Cement sheeting has been installed in the garage & portico, so they just need to be prepped and painted, then the garage door can go on. The house has also had a bit of a clean, and looks a million times better than when it's filthy!

Had a little talk about the light position in the sitting room and upstairs leisure - as a reminder, here's the sitting room lights and where they should be...

and the upstairs room lights, and where they should be too.

The thing about the electrical plan, is that it doesn't specify to the millimeter exactly where things should go. Now that allows for variability in the house construction process - for example, presence of studs or trusses etc, however I don't really think that's an excuse to stick a couple of lights obviously off-centre in the sitting room, or to put them a meter from the expected position upstairs. We did adjust the upstairs light position with our previous SS, and as to be expected not all changes or agreements are communicated to the following SS.

Still... all we want are our lights to be centred! Doesn't seem to be too much to ask. The electricians managed to do it everywhere else, but had a bit of a brainfreeze when doing the sitting room and upstairs.

And coming back to completion date, we had originally pencilled in Friday 20th August for a completion inspection, but might have to put it back to Tuesday 24th. It's very difficult for me to arrange a day off work, so let's hope this is the last adjustment of date. That said, we're not in a huge rush to get in our house - provided it's of a high quality finish (and YES that includes putting the lights in the centre of the room, not 40cm from a wall!!) we don't mind waiting another week, fortnight or month for the completion inspection. However it seems that head office is pushing for a completion this month, and providing quality doesn't suffer, we'll certainly be happy to have our house done!

Also need to organise carpeting - got a quote from Fowles flooring in Clayton for 40.5 lineal meters of carpet - enough for all upstairs and the home theatre room - for a dark grey carpet, so I'll head down there tomorrow to confirm everything and leave a deposit. Not sure if we'll have the carpet done before handover, but it won't be long after anyway, apparently there's a few days to have the carpet in stock, and about 2 weeks to book an installation day.

Finally for today, reminder to self: check the final invoice thoroughly! It'll be for the remaining 10% of contract value, plus our electrical upgrades, plus tile upgrades, minus an amount for an underground powerpit which we organised and paid for ourselves, and minus an unknown amount for "cranage provision". Also a credit amount for changing to a different toilet than originally selected, and a little more for that glass splashback extension.

Phew, gets complicated! Will also need to have a thorough re-read through the contract and see if there's any other provisional items we may be entitled to.

If anyone has had handover on their house, please comment and let us know what to look for, tips and tricks are most welcome!


Sunday, August 8, 2010

A sign for all trades to read!

Tina was driving around the other day and went past these two townhouses being built on a redeveloped block - looks like the Malvern with Kingston facade.

A lot of recent builds are having a new style sign out the front promoting the "old site, new beginning" - certainly within 5km of our area it seems there's a redevelopment on every street!

But this sign below should be standard issue for every building site!


Friday, August 6, 2010

Day 227: Toilet troubles... and completion inspection?

Got a call from our SS about lunchtime today - turns out the upgraded toilet we chose (a Caroma something-or-other) at Studio M back in Septebmer 2009 isn't available for months, and rather than using the portable toilet in our front yard, it would be better if we could choose an alternate toilet suite for the house.

Since I was working, I got Tina to do the hard work of picking a new toilet - she's picked the Raymor Espace wall-faced toilet suite. It should look something like this;

The other thing is that we now have a date for a completion inspection - Friday August 20th, exactly 2 weeks from today! Since we haven't been inside the house for a while it's hard to know what's been done - in a way, I'd be happy to not go back to the house until the completion inspection. That way, the next time we see it, it should look pretty magnificent and finished! Hope that date is locked in, I've already organised to take that day off work, which is quite a complicated thing to arrange. With any luck, any defects we may detect at that appointment will be minor, and won't be long after that we'll have the keys!

We also had a carpet measurer go through the house today, waiting on a quote for a carpet. Here's the thing with carpet - for example, Godfrey Hirst manufactures a range of carpet, but sells them to different retailers under different names, even though they're exactly the same. This prevents you from comparing prices across different retailers - a rather neat way to sidestep anticompetitive price fixing rules. Wonder if anyone from ACCC reads this blog? Anyway, hoping to hear back in the next few days about the carpet quote, we may be able to get it done before handover, if not, then very soon after.

We're wanting a dark grey carpet - found another blog which had exactly the right look in the first two pictures - though teamed with much whiter walls, to avoid the rather "closed-in" feel of too much darkness.

MyMetricon has had a very rare update recently - it's about as useful as a chocolate teapot most of the time, and the Certificate of Occupancy is due to be ordered next Friday... the 13th. Hope that's not a bad omen!

And non building related, going snowboarding tomorrow - normally we go for a week, but being so close to completion, a day trip will have to do. So if you're planning to go to Mt Buller tomorrow, stay at home instead - I hate queueing for ski lifts!

Not long to go until our house is done! Fingers crossed the final product is as perfect as we imagine it should be!


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Saving water = higher bills for all!

Warning, totally non-house building content follows...

Now, I'm not a mad greenie environmentalist, nor am I a rabidly selfish consumer. I'd like to think I'm somewhere in the reasonable middle - I'll separate plastics and paper for recycling, but I won't stop driving my car and loving it (the stupidity of electric cars - now that's another rant for another day!).

The seed of this story begins in our latest water bill. Of course, there's not been much consumption in the last 3 months - which only highlights the fact that of our $200 water bill, only $10 (or 5%) was put down to actual consumption. The rest comes from service charges, parks charges, disposal charges.

This comes back to the Target 155 campaign - no-one in our country could doubt that we're in a pretty dry land, recent downpours excluded. But just think what happens when we all start to save water... consumption drops, water companies make less from consumption. Now we can't have our poor utility companies making anything less than record profits, so naturally it's entirely justifiable for general rates to increase by up to 60%. Not to mention raising unavoidable non-consumption related charges....

Anyway I'm sure I haven't really thought things through thoroughly and our charges are more than reasonable and fair in order to have safe drinking water straight out of the tap. If you like to drink "designer" water from plastic bottles because it's "better than tap water", then obviously you like burning money (since you're paying a 432345443232454% markup on the water content) and poisoning your body, not to mention the environmental effects of all these plastic bottles being pumped out. So just stop.

Where were we going with this? erm... water usage? Right - now if the "responsible authority" really wanted to reduce water consumption, and believes in the kindergarten level teaching that if something's more expensive you'll buy less of it theory, they would scrap noncontributory fixed service charges and focus purely on a consumption charge. ie the more you use, the more you pay, with a logarithmic scaling so that really excessive users end up paying $15/l of water. As it stands, the average family could double their consumption and pay maybe $200 to $400 more per year, not chickenfeed but not really a deterrent.

Don't get me wrong - I'm definitely in favour of saving water and have been using heaps less than Target 155; I don't shower, don't brush my teeth, and drink tequila rather than water with my lunch. The problem is, apart from the nice smug feeling you get inside from being a water scrooge, you don't get any tangible reward from saving water, and you certainly won't get lower water bills.


Postscript: All comment in this post originates from Tim (not Tina) and is based entirely on the theory that anyone who can write anything on the internet is an instant expert and cannot be disputed, but endless arguments may follow.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 224: The Final Countdown - and a brief review!

Met up with our SS and the construction manager for our area this morning...

.... and the news is, we're on track for a completion...

.... end of this month!

To actually hear this news is kind of surreal - I mean, really? We're going to have our house - soon?

We bought our development site back in May 2009, and the next 6 months from there was like sitting waiting for a kettle to boil, or toast to pop up... you know how it is!
Our problem was that we didn't really know much about redevelopment - all we knew was that we needed a block of land in a great location - so we bought the site at auction, then found out what easements were, and that led to a great big can of beans being opened. If you really want to know about that story, go see the first few months of the blog for all the pain involved with dealing with councils and water utilities! For a while there, I was worried that we'd have to scrap plans for our Nolan - but ultimately our plans were approved from council and water, and we were good to go!

Actual site start was December 22 2009 - we had a scrape done and temporary fence. Then not much for about 6 weeks with the Christmas period shutdown. Slab went down February 3rd 2010, and since then it's been pretty constant work. With any luck, from slab down to final keys it might be 7 months!

Probably shouldn't celebrate too soon, but our discussions this morning were regarding final fitoffs which should be done in the next 2 weeks. Then some QA people go through to check through everything. Hopefully we'll get a pretty good house at our completion inspection - which will be during a weekday, so we'll have to try and plan ahead to get time off work for that, plus getting our own inspector in as well. Should any defects be found, hopefully they'll be pretty minimal, and then we can arrange a final handover onsite for the remaining balance of the contract!

Anyway, we've decided not to publish any more pics of the house until after handover - mainly because there's not much more being done on the inside, plus everything's dark, locked up & we can't get onsite anymore. However, we'll be starting to plan things such as floor coverings, window coverings, driveways, landscaping etc and will be posting these things up for comment and feedback over the next few weeks.



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