Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Always move forwards. Even when you're going backwards.

When there's a hard deadline pressing, like...oh I don't know...a rental to be vacated or a baby on the way...any progress is good progress - right? Well, by that logic, last week was a fantastic week. There were tradies at the house and new things to see every single day. Unfortunately...almost everything "to see" at the house last week was a disappointment!

The exception, blessedly, was the concrete - the second half has finally been laid, and it looks terrific. Still waiting for the sealant, but at least the site supervisor could arrange installation of the hot water/air conditioning unit. Unfortunately you'll have to wait to the next blog update for a photo of all of that, as I don't seem to have taken one !

Now to the problems. It all started with the paint, which you can see the initial grumblings of last update. The more I looked at it on our visits, the "cream-er" it looked to me and the more disgruntled I got. So I dug out the original colour swatch and visited site to compare. Unfortunately, what is on the walls is definitely Crisp White, which is definitely what I asked for. Why did I ask for this? Because when I said I wanted a "stark white", this was the colour the colour consultant recommended. GAH. It appears we have been given what we asked for, and I am going to have to learn to live with yellow walls. Either that or convince Dan to repaint while he's on paternity leave...

The painters came back, to do the exterior of the house. We had ordered "Monument" external doors and deck rails to match the garage door (dark grey). Well, the painters did their thing one sunny day last week and we visited that afternoon to find...

No, its not a trick of the light. All external features have been painted black instead of grey. Now on the one hand, this is not what we asked for and we have an obvious right to ask for it to be redone. On the other hand, Dan originally did want all of these bits to be black to match window frames, and I (Kelly) wanted the grey. I won the negotiation. Fate overruled me. We've decided to live with the black.

Then the electricians arrived to wire up the house. Over several days light switches, powerpoints etc appeared. We met them on site to give instructions about our feature lights...and a few days later...

Our lights installed...

...in the wrong places. The lights over the breakfast bar should be about 30cms to the right, and the penant lights in the meals area about 30cms to the left. In this photo it might not seem so drastic, but if we'd left them this way the lights over the dining room table would have been offset.

This has already been rectified, the roof now needs to be patched. The electricians were so busy installing lights to the wrong places they forgot 3 downlights in the kitchen and the LED downlights for under the bench. So they will be back, yet again.

I don't have photos of the final surprise of the week, which was a metal frame appearing in the opening to the shower in the ensuite. Apparently, even though we had requested no doors on the showers (given the shower cavities are so long, doors aren't really necessary), at some point a computer was told we did need shower doors and so some helpful tradesperson drilled the frames into our tiles. The frames have been removed, tiles are being replaced.

The week ended on a positive note - we were notified that the house will be at practical completion 1st September (which, as I write this, is this coming Thursday).

So, on Thursday, we meet the site supervisor at the house and it should pretty much be fit for purpose - a bit of tidying up particularly outside may be outstanding, but all of the essentials must be completed.

We will do a comprehensive inspection with him, identify any faults, and then he has 5-10 days to have them repaired - at which point (assuming the bank agrees the house is finished and makes with the final payment) we will have handover ! Since we were notified of the practical completion date, we noticed an immediate decline in tradesperson friendliness - they are obviously under the pump now.

One final update - today, we snuck inside to find:

...that, my friends, is half-laid carpet. The RIGHT carpet, which was a pleasant surprise.

I'll update again after the inspection Thursday with some decent photos and hopefully a very small list of what we found that needs repairing...and maybe even a handover date!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A rather verbose update about paint and some fittings

It was horrid weather here last week, so the concrete remains unfinished, and while the painters managed to do the inside of the house, it was far too dreary for the outside. 

There was a lot of progress inside the house in spite of the weather, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

I'll be honest. I'm not loving the paint. Its Taubman's "crisp white" which is meant to be a true white - to me, it looks quite cream (although looking at this now, I realise its very hard to see the problem in some of the photos above!). 

What I was looking for was quite a stark white - more like ceiling white.  I took some photos on my iphone today which show the yellow-y tint a bit more.
Against the "polar white" of the cabinetry and the ceiling white, its pretty obvious !

The frustrating thing is there are tins of paint lying around that are definitely labelled correctly, so at this stage I don't know if we have misunderstood what "crisp white" would look like or if there has been a problem with the mixing. I've asked the builder to check it out, but at the end of the day we may have to live with it. To repaint would cause a delay that I'm not sure we'd be willing to afford at this point, we may just have to hope that when carpet is laid/blinds are installed etc its less obvious. 

In brighter news, other progress...

Door handles installed 

Towel racks

We had organised a solar tube for the kitchen, which we've now decided not to install. The air conditioning vent has been put right where the solar tube should have gone, and there's really no alternative that's not going to "look" funny. On the plus side, the room is a lot brighter than we'd expected so the solar tube was probably overkill anyway !

My very large oven ready to install - bring on Christmas lunch !

Driveway (we found out about the colour - its still drying, and the sealant will help even it out)

Concrete path...we will eventually have...one of these days...

This will be another big week - electricians have been working on site today installing power switches, lights, etc. By the end of the week wiring will be finished and carpet will be laid, plus the last of the floor tiles and kitchen splashback were installed today. 

We're hoping external paint is finished this week too, which leaves the "finishing up" things -  solar panels, deck oiling, hot water system, and of course the air conditioning unit. We know these tradesmen have been lined up for next week (ie so Mr Concreter has been told he needs to get his bottom into gear, as those external units will sit ON the concrete we're waiting for).

All of this progress leaves an obvious question - when is handover? It is obviously getting closer but there are still quite a few things to be done even once the house itself is finished. We have decided to have an independent inspection, not that we're not happy with the quality of the build, just that we really don't know "what" to look for ourselves so if someone doesn't find the problems for us, we'll either miss them or discover them the hard way. And then of course there's the cruelest of masters, The Bank, who will need to conduct their own inspection before final payment is applied. This will take a few weeks even if everything goes to schedule over the next 2 weeks of work, so we're now hoping to have keys in our hot little hand in mid-September.

Which reminds me, we're moving out of our current house this Friday, so its back to packing for me ! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Getting closer !

Grout is marvellous stuff. Makes such a difference !

Ensuite bath


Ensuite niche. Using the floor tiles as feature tiles felt a bit risky? But we're thrilled with the result.

Kid's bath

Kids shower, just waiting on glass and tapware

Dusty kitchen

Family room. SO glad we didn't end up carpeting this space. The tiles do look darker laid than we'd expected, but they have definitely grown on us - even though we have had a frightening glimpse of how well they show dust !!! Remind me to buy Dan a mop for Christmas...

Meanwhile, out the front, the concrete saga continued. The driveway was poured on Thursday, which of course was the day it poured rain too, so the wet cement had to be covered up with plastic. 

Plastic was cleared up today (Monday) but this is still only half the concreting done, and the colour is awfully patchy - we are assuming there is some kind of wash to take place (there better be). Concreting is supposed to be finished tomorrow. Time will tell...

Here is a sneak peak of today's exciting development - paint !!! The whole house was undercoated today, top two coats will go on before Thursday. We opted for the premium "wash and wear" type paint and a true shade of white. Even the undercoat looks fantastic to me, I asked the painter if we could keep his drop sheets as carpet and move in today (he said no).

Tilers have finished bathrooms, but still need to come back once missing tiles come into stock and complete splashback and remaining portion of hallway but this is on track for this week.

On the home front, we're packing - and moving out of our rental next Friday. The sales guy told us this week that he's seen fix-outs done in 1 week but given how much work is left to be done, and that we will arrange our own independent inspection before we authorise final payment, there will definitely be a brief (hopefully) period of homelessness (aka living with Kelly's parents) before we move in ! 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tiling, driveway and deck

The tilers have been working flat-chat all week, and are nearly finished. These first few photos were taken Saturday.

Ensuite, the green thing on the right is an unfinished niche in the shower that will eventually match the floor tiles.

 Family room. Its very difficult to tell the colour of the tiles given they are all covered in a thick layer of tile dust ! Now that they are laid, they do look a bit darker than we'd expected. 

See the sad unfinished patch on the left hand side...

 Dining (note the holes for power points and light switches are gradually being added too)


By today, grouting had begun and the last features in both bathrooms had been placed. You'll have to excuse the next few photos...they are iPhone through a window, not the best!

Laundry has been totally finished. Grout makes a big difference ! We have opted for a dark natural grout on the floor and white on the walls.

Main bathroom, left hand side wall has been grouted, right hand is in progress. 

The living areas are very nearly finished but not grouted - unfortunately the tilers ran out of the large rectangular tiles. But the painter phoned this afternoon and has been lined up to start this week when the tilers finish, so those last few tiles can't be too far away.

The concreter was due to finish the driveway late last week...he started unexpectedly a few days early, and has been doing dribs and drabs since. The weather isn't great here now so not sure how far away this will be.

We decided to organise the driveway ourselves because to have it done through the builder was obscenely expensive, and we are literally saving thousands of dollars this way. This particular concreter has done some work for a friend and its great quality - he just really, really needs to buy a diary...!!!! We know he'll be back though - we haven't paid him yet ;)

Today the deck was finally finished - the carpenters put the long-awaited gates on. I say "long awaited" because we inevitably have to visit at times with our son and he loves running on the deck, straight towards the edge of course, at least now we have a giant child proof cage to lock him in while we check progress !

Next update: hopefully tiles completed, and painting underway. Who knows where the driveway will be up to !

Monday, August 1, 2011

All systems go !

Well, as I mentioned last week our rental is now for sale. We've decided to move out at the end of August, whether or not the house is ready. If its not, we will move in with my parents for a few weeks and store our furniture. So the count down is now on...its a question of whether we have to move once, or twice, and if its twice - how long we'll be homeless in the middle.

Fortunately we've had some decent progress this week. The kitchen has been completed.

What's missing from this photo is built-in cavity to the above bench cabinets for downlights. The kitchen place no longer supplies these due to overheating/warping issues, but instead of mentioning that earlier, just didn't put them in. Not happy Jan, initially. 

Having lived in a house with it and a lot of houses without it, one of my absolute essentials was decent under-bench lighting.  Never fear, where there's a will there's a way, we're looking into LED alternatives.

The sink is actually shallower than we'd expected, we hadn't thought to check measurements on the depth of it. We're not exactly unhappy with it - its just not what we expected. After a brief brainstorm we've decided to keep it as is and in the event a deep sink is required (ie for crucial home-brewing operations and the like) the laundry sink will be employed.

No, the rangehood isn't green. Its a protective coating. 

Bath and laundry sink ready to be installed.

Ensuite vanity looks finished...but the top needs to be replaced with a larger one to fit the two sinks properly. But this gives you an idea of how it will look.

Heaps of dirt arrived this week for levelling the back yard.

Dan met the tilers on site this morning - the house was a hive of activity. Ha, you thought picking tiles was the end of the decision making - wrong ! Grout colour, tile spacing, tile orientation, location of feature strips, what to do with recesses...gagggggh ! Then of course came the inevitable confusion because there were multiple copies of the old and new tiling plans floating around...all sorted now, wouldn't be a day in the life of the build without a few minor heart attacks! 

By this afternoon the concrete had been scrubbed, wet areas have been prepared, 1/3 of the living space tiling has been laid and carpenters have started cutting out holes for downlighting and electrical points. 

Driveway and tiling will both be completed by early next week. Full steam ahead !