Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Driveway and Pebbles

At last, we have a driveway! It was not economical, considering that the driveway was 20 metres long. The colour is Charcoal, although our first thought was to have a driveway that matches the colour of the rendered walls (Dulux Gnu Tan) – something like CCS Driftwood. However, I was concerned that a light-coloured driveway would be susceptible to becoming dirtier sooner than a dark-coloured one; so, we eventually went with Charcoal.

We are not a big fan of maintaining lawns; we decided to gravel a part of the front portion of the land, so that we do not have to bother with removing weeds often and mowing grass. Cowra Gold (pebbles) would have softened the look and matched the colour of our rendered walls; however, with money already stretched quite a bit, we had to go with the economical option of putting limestone pebbles. Our concreter and landscaper, Glenn did the job very well.

The next phase of our landscaping project is for Glenn to pour coloured and stamped concrete in our outdoor room and other areas; that work is commencing tomorrow.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

We have Moved In!!!

I know, I know…it has been a while since my last post.

After 271 days or 9 months from the date the site was cut / scraped, we reached Settlement and received the keys to our house in late-February. The Settlement would have occurred a month earlier if it were not for the 2 weeks of continuous rain in mid-to-late August last year and the 3-week Christmas break that some of the tradespeople had.

Overall, we are happy with the quality of the build. A few teething issues though, some expected, some unexpected and I will do a separate post when we finish settling into our house.

For now, I hope you enjoy the pictures of our house.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

End of Year Update

It has been a while since I posted on the blog; so, here is the update from where I left:

The wet areas were waterproofed, on completion of which tiling progressed. Kitchen splash back tiles and grouting of tiles are to commence once tradespeople return to work after Christmas / New Year break. The wall tiles around mirrored front walled recessed shaving cabinets in ensuite are to be re-done, as the cavity space had to be re-adjusted in order to fit the cabinets.

The installation of Kitchen cabinetry (Formica, Chocolate Pear), bench tops (Caesar stone, Latte), kickboards (Formica, Laminated Kicker in New Stainless Steel) and sink (Clark Cellini ERBU Main Single Under mount) is complete, after initially mucking up the placement of sink.  Imagine having to replace a 3 metre long Caesar stone bench top because of the muck up!  Anyway, it was fixed, and the sink is now in the right spot.

The cupboards (Halifax, Concept Oak), bench tops (Laminex, Stipple Hemp, to match the Latte Caesar Stone), kickers (Formica, Laminated Kicker in New Stainless Steel) and vanities (Caroma Liano inset basin) have been installed also in wet areas; the mirrors and tap wares will be installed after the New year break.

The stair case with stainless steel balustrade was installed; the newel posts, handrail and two bottom Maple treads would be stained in Intergrain Merbau; the remainder of the staircase would be carpeted, with any revealing Risers to be painted.

The rainwater tank (Paperbark coloured) and garage door (Timberlook, woodgrain finish in Caoba) were also installed.

I will separately post on painting and electrical works that have also progressed.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Plastering Complete; Cornices Installed - The house is taking shape!

The internal wall and ceiling lining boards (plaster-boards) were installed in the house earlier in the week. I think everything was up in just one day! A few days later, the cornices were installed throughout the house except in wet areas, where there are square set ceilings.

Next week, according to our SS, the bathrooms, laundry, powder room and toilet areas will be waterproofed with coatings to protect contents underneath or within and to sustain structural integrity. Stairs and kitchen cabinetry materials are also likely to be delivered next week, with installation to follow soon after.

Update from SS on installation of insulation last week: The SS clarified that ceiling cavities on the ground floor do not get insulated, as there are rooms just above them to keep them insulated. Insulation is done on the ceiling cavities on the ground floor only in areas that do not have rooms directly above them, such as Dining and part of Garage.

You will see in the pictures below our beautiful entry door too (yet to be stained).

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Insulation Work in Progress; Cornices Delivered

According to our SS, insulation is scheduled to be installed tomorrow, with plastering work to commence this Friday. However, to my surprise, I noticed today morning that insulation was already up in many places of the house. There are also cornices (Scotia Cove) being placed on the floor.

Some parts of the ground floor however did not have insulation, and I wonder whether the tradespeople ran out of the insulation materials. I hope the remainder of the insulation materials are delivered and installed soon.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Plumbing Rough-Ins & Cladding Completed - Lock Up Reached; Plasterboards Delivered

Soon after the completion of electrical rough-ins, the plumbing rough-ins were completed. 

The cladding (Scyon Linea weatherboard) on the front, side and rear sides on the first floor is completed too – you can see in the pictures below cladding details such as corners fixed with vertical timber pieces and metal capping.

With the completion of those activities, Metricon promptly sent us the lockup invoice, which is the biggest slice of the bill pie at 35% of total contract price. If you are wondering why the lock-up invoice isn't 25% that is the standard at Metricon, it is because we managed to successfully negotiate a middle-heavy rather than top-heavy progress payment schedule as required by our financial lenders. Our progress payment schedule consisted of 5% deposit at contract signing, 10% at Base Stage, 15% at Frame Stage, 35% at Enclosed (Lock-Up) stage, 25% at Fixing Stage, and 10% at Final Stage.

Although the Boral plaster boards were delivered mid-week, the wall insulation will need to be completed first before the plaster is hung. I hope the wait is not too long, as there no signs yet of insulation materials on site. 

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Electrical Rough-ins Walkthrough with our SS

Yesterday, we had an onsite inspection, along with our Site Supervisor (SS), of the work performed on our house’s electrical system, before the interior walls are insulated and finished.

I had my electrical diagrams with me that was approved during the electrical appointment at Studio M, along with additions and changes worth $900 that we made a few months after, separately, with the Vaccarro Group (electrical contractors of Metricon). The additions included light points, power points, dimmer switches, 2-way and 3-way switches, and pre-wiring for heat lamps and direct circuit. Whilst it was not possible to make any changes after the electrical appointment at Studio M, I appreciate the flexibility of Vaccarro (with whom we had the original appointment at Studio M at Metricon office) to allow us to add and make minor changes in a separate and direct appointment with them.

The inspection yesterday allowed me and our Site Supervisor to jointly check and ensure that all our ceiling light points, wall light points, power points, data points etc were in the right places. All the points were indeed there and 95% of them were in the right places. The others, I would say, is a matter of judgement. For instance, in the picture below, you can see the wiring for the ducted exhaust fan, along with the placement of the GPO (General Power Outlet) on the right hand side wall. Given the depth of the future bench top to be 500 mm, I felt the current placement of the GPO was a bit off and therefore requested our SS to move it a bit closer, similar to the second photo you see below. 

Likewise, I requested our SS to move a few switches and GPOs in Dining and Bed 5. Fortunately, we have already purchased our buffet unit and bedroom furniture, which allowed us to measure their width, thus allowing us to precisely locate the point where we wanted to place those switches and GPOs. Thanks to our SS, Greg for being patient and allowing us to make those minor changes during our electrical rough-in appointment. In fact, Greg even allowed my last-minute request yesterday to include an additional 2-way switch near the Dining sliding door to access the light under eaves downstairs. So, I am pleased with the outcome.

You will see below pictures of electrical connections in our Family that includes a TV conduit provision and GPO at 1200 mm above floor level, followed by the placement of additional GPOs, free-to-air tv points, pay tv points, and telephone point. 

Other pictures below provide you with a glimpse of light points and light points with a noggin to help support the hanging of a fan or heavy pendant lamp. So, if you are considering those, you must request and pay around $10 for a noggin. The last picture is our power box that has been installed (which would include the meter box, light and power circuits).

Next week, Metricon’s quality inspector and/or the PCA (Locals) would inspect the house, their approval of which would allow our SS to move forward with insulation and gyprocking / plasterboard / lining work. There is also the completion of external cladding and commencement of painting the render that are scheduled next week; and I would be excited to see them completed on schedule.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Forensic Extrapolation of Imperfections at Our Home

If you are wondering about the unusual title of my post, then you are not alone. It refers to the pre-plaster inspection from H & Ryan Associates in association with MBS Macro Building Solutions, whose proprietor is Howard Ryan’s son – Stephen Ryan – who carried out the inspection. Poor guy, it apparently took him 7 hours to reach our site last Friday owing to the terrible bush fires raging across NSW.

Now to the findings of the report:

The comments pertain to incomplete works (defined as “works that are yet to be completed as was originally intended and lacking in part”) to cladding, dutch gable, and roof, and other items that were not properly fixed. However, the report noted  that “…allocated Site Supervisors will most likely be aware of what we have listed in this report and if not are obligated to rectify under the Home Building Act”; thus, the works are “fixable” and therefore not “fatal flaws”.

Key observations:

Garage: Metal cross strap brace to rear wall of garage is to be re-installed as bottom of bracing is damaged. Ensure garage floor is kept clean to prevent damage to slab surface.

Entry Hall: Metal cross strap brace to left side of entry is loose and needs to be tightened. Ensure studs to right side of square set opening from entry are flush prior to linings.

Stairway / Hallway: Metal cross strap bracing is loose in areas and need to be tightened. Metal cross strap braces to rear wall of stairwell are loose and need to be tightened.

Roof Trusses Area: Top floor truss speed brace tails are yet to be wrapped around and nailed to the underside of top plates.

Bathroom: Floor drainage is incomplete; ensure safe-waste trays to floor wastes are completely recessed into flooring prior to installation of waterproofing.

Master bedroom: Speed bracing to external wall within robe is yet to be wrapped around and nailed to underside of top plate. Wall noggins are incomplete in areas.

Ensuite: Floor drainage is incomplete; ensure safe-waste trays to floor wastes are completely recessed into flooring prior to installation of waterproofing,

Balcony: Incomplete

Other bedrooms: Wall noggins are incomplete in areas. Speed bracing to external wall is yet to be wrapped around and nailed to underside of top plate.

Sliding units need their base sill tracks covered and protected during this construction process to prevent construction damage, which may hinder the sill and doors intended operation.

Electrical works are incomplete. Plumbing and drainage are incomplete. Once drainage has been done, ensure safe-waste trays to floor wastes are completely recessed into flooring prior to waterproofing.

Over the past week, work undertaken included the installation of (1) sliding doors, fascia, gutter, eaves and roof tiles on the dining and outdoor room extensions, (2) fascia and gutter to the garage elevation, (3) flat tray deck roof at 2 degree pitch over part of garage (see photos of inside and outside of garage), front entry door, and (5) and some clearing of rubbish inside the house.

The next week should see electrical rough-ins, flashing on the roof, cladding work and painting/render.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Independent Pre-Plaster Inspection

With lock-up stage walk-through expected next week, we want to ensure that we are getting the quality and finishes we are expecting, entitled to, and paying for. Naturally, we want to ensure that our new home is being constructed in accordance with the requirements of the Building Code of Australia, relevant Australian Standards and within the acceptable standards and tolerances as stated by the Building Commission.

With several Metricon customers having utilised independent building inspections for their builds, we too have enlisted the services of an independent building inspector to protect our investment in the biggest asset we will ever own.

See the links below for interesting opinions provided by Metricon customers on independent building inspections:

Also, Clause 46c of Special Conditions on our New Home Contract acknowledges that we may seek to employ a private Building Surveyor to assess the builder works under construction. The Clause notes “Should the owner engage a Building Surveyor, the Builder will review the report and will action any item of building works that falls outside the tolerances of the Building Code of Australia to the extent required under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (including any instrument under the Act) and all other relevant codes, Standards and Specifications”. 

Having decided to use independent building inspection services, the next step was to determine the provider. Fortunately, a Brooks Reachite (Ruby & Branden) did the groundwork of contacting and comparing potential providers in our area and chose H&K Ryan & Associates for their house inspection.

See here for Ruby’s blog that compares different providers:

We also saw H&K Ryan cited numerous times on Homeone Forum, and therefore, it was relatively less arduous to choose them. 

H&K Ryan & Associates’ web page: http://www.hnkryan.com/

Our SS acknowledged in our most recent conversation that Howard Ryan from H&K Ryan & Associates had called on him to advice on the inspection.

Let’s hope all goes well to plan when it is time for inspection.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Eaves Painted...eventually

The past week saw a series of phone calls between us and SS, me and construction manager (CM), and CM and SS to move the build forward. The problematic painter was eventually replaced by a new one, who completed the painting of the eaves (in Hogbristle Quarter), and subsequently, the scaffolding was brought down at the rear of the house.

Yesterday, the carpenters put up the roof trusses on the Dining and Outdoor room extensions. Cavity door frames were installed in all the places where sliding doors are meant to be: Sitting room, Study, Laundry, Ensuite and Main Bathroom WC. The Balcony door frames, along with windows were installed too. In the photo below, you can see the sliding door frames of our Study. You can also see a number of round downpipes, close fitted to the house, although they have not yet been fully installed.

Thus, there was progress in the build; however, it is nowhere close to where they are meant to be in terms of schedule, considering that other Metricon customers who had built larger homes than ours (Phoenix 38 with extensions, Nolan 45 with extensions, Whittaker 45) have had their outdoor room roofs, cladding at the rear, electrical rough-ins, insulation, plastering, gables, and even partial installation of stairs and bench tops in kitchen by Day 125 (Week 18) since site start.

Here are the blogs of other Metricon customers who have had much more progress than ours:

Sunday, 29 September 2013

No Progress…My First Rant

Since my last post, there has been no progress on site. In fact, minimal progress has been the trend for the past several weeks. 

Apparently, it is the painter who has been evading, or promising and not delivering. All other activities are pending completion of painting of the eaves. Our SS, Greg has been following up with the painter with no apparent luck…and feeling helpless I suppose. If there is so much trouble in securing a painter for getting the eaves done, I wonder what would be the severity of the challenge when internal walls would need to be painted, and god forbid, a wall that needs touching up at Practical Completion Stage?

We could be waiting for weeks or months!

I acknowledge the problems associated with getting tradespeople to start and complete a task on time may be the norm than an exception; and thus the situation is not unique to our SS; however, for a leading company in the construction industry that prides itself on “being loved” (So You Can Truly LOVE Where You Live), Metricon is yet to – in customers’ eyes – effectively recruit, train, maintain and take corrective actions of the tradespeople partly responsible for delivering on that positioning.

While the Company does such an excellent job at the Pre-Construction Stage, making it highly visible in the industry, my experience and reading of blogs and forums and other personal communications indicate that Metricon customers’ experience at the construction stage of the build may be no different to non-Metricon customers, although my Sales Consultant assures me that Metricon always springs back positively on customers’ minds at the completion of the build. Only time will tell whether this would be true in our case.

So, why am I freaking out now? Because the D-Day is looming. My Mrs and I have sacrificed many to get this dream house up….and I would not like to see any more impediments.

The D-Day for us is 27 January 2014. Metricon, take a note of it.

Neither of us used casual or annual leave at our workplace this year in the hope of using it early next year when we need them the most. So, both of us had applied for annual leave for a few weeks immediately after Australia Day and got them approved. So, we would be devastated and totally cross if handover did not occur around Australia Day next year. 

With the way things are progressing (or not), that failure is waiting to become a reality, unless Metricon takes corrective action now.

Get It Done. Make It Happen.