Friday, December 19, 2008

It's all happening...or not...

As the title suggests, there has been lots happening or not as in the case of the retaining walls.

Site scrape was finished on the 10th and retaining walls were set to go on the 15, 16, 17. As those of you in Melbourne will know, we had a few buckets of rain on the weekend which led to our new pool below. This is the side of the cut:

Just to give you an idea of the depth:

so obviously, no retaining walls. Although Monday night we saw they had dug a trench from the side across the front and down the driveway so that it could drain.


Wednesday - no appearance your worship!. Getting worried at this stage that the rest might had to be delayed because of no retaining walls, then yesterday we had some pegs.

Today (Friday) We have a meter box and pipes!! yes, all done and ready and waiting for the slab on the 5th. I hope this means that they can do the slab without having the retaining walls done. Has this happened to anyone else????

I am uploading these as "large" images so I hope everyone can see them. If anyone knows how I upload them so that they are larger when you click on them, please let me know! Never too old to learn things I say.

As I believe that there will be no more work done until after Christmas, I would like to say

Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year
to all my readers and contributors!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa claus..

Well, I have to take my hat off to PD. I did b*tch about the "miscommunication" over the dispensation, so now I have to hand out the bouquets.
Today I received a call at 10.45am from our Site Supervisor, "J" to introduce himself and explain how things work. Site cut is scheduled for 11 December, retaining walls for 15,16,17 December and then the slab to be poured on January 5. (January 5? replayed message, yep definitely 5)
Unfortunately, I was earning a living at the time and it went to message bank as I did not recognise the number! Returned his call and got his message bank!

Then just after 11am, I received an email from our fabulous neighbours to tell me that SITE SCRAPE HAD STARTED!!!!

WHOOOOO HOOOOO!! Scooted up there quick smart (well as soon as I could) and snapped a few photos...

From the back of the block

From across the street

Had to get back to work and about an hour or so later the heavens opened up. Went back past with DD2 after the school pickup and they were still working in the rain. Then went up again after dinner (got my boots bogged!!) and the machine is still there, so they must have more to do tomorrow.

The way I figure it, I am on a roll so please Santa, can I please, please have a Zonda in the garage for Christmas and if that is too much, I am partial to the Murciélago.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen for your viewing pleasure...

TA DA....We have a tap/water meter!

Given the excitement when we saw it, I hope they have oxygen on hand when we get a port-a-loo or maybe even a MICA paramedic, if it comes to that.

Our CSC said our SS only got the file Wednesday and then Thursday morning at 8.30 when we did a drive by on the way to school, there was a plumbers ute finishing off putting the water meter in. I was so excited and started calling everyone, spewing I did not have the camera. Then DD said " mum, you have a camera in the phone" Umm, yeah, forgot, oops. LOL
When we got home later in the day T&L next door had taken one and emailed it to us. Thanks T&L for the happy snap! I just hope the rest of it goes as well as this LOL.
We still have not commenced, as excavation works have not started. According to the contract, the date excavation works start signals the commencement of contract days.

How excitement!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Alleged site start date - premature celebration

Whooo Hoooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is me doing the happy dance!

According to 24/7, we have a commencement date of 11 December 2008. Next Thursday. We are waiting for another set of construction drawings, but something is allegedly happening! Not to mention, my mate Glen Stevens is doing his best so that the delay is not hurting my mortgage loans as much, Big round of applause for Glen. Thanks Glen!

So, I am hoping that commencement means site scrape. Can anyone help me out here???? Is that what it means? I am excited and I hope that I can trust them this time, I don't want a repeat of the issues we had with the building permit and dispensation time line.

On a happier note, we also got a copy of the building permit today as well.

Questions for those of you who are much further down the track.
  • Did things happen on site before your commencement date? Like water meters etc, or did things only start happening on that date?

  • Did your SS contact you before you started?

  • How did your SS take the fact you were having inspections? (if you are)

  • How long after the earthworks was the slab poured (obviously hoping for a slab for Christmas) Is it a case of "tell 'im 'e's dreamin'?
Good thing we were up at the block on the weekend getting sun burnt slashing it again, there are now 2 other blocks, one across the road (TK Old builder)and one two doors up (NBG - Infinity builders) who have been scraped, so looks like we will all be building together.
Bring it on!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This really nice lady at the council...

Not that I didn't believe PD when they said that they had put in the dispensation this time but... So I rang the council last Friday and just asked if they had received it. Had me on hold a while and it was not looking good. So we chatted and I explained about the first time around when PD told me it would happen, so this time I was ringing to make sure. I found out that the council only do site inspections for set backs once a week, on a Tuesday. Yes, they found it. It went in under someone else's address with my plans and my lot number on all the other documentation. (Am I surprised????) Sorted that out, and the very nice lady said it was possible that it could get done this Tuesday (24th) but that there was a bit of a backlog but she would see what she could do.

Today I get a call from my CSC and we have the dispensation , it is approved!!! Yeah!!! They have to get the "in writing" from council and send it to their building permit people and we should have it end of this week/early next week. PD East do their construction meetings on Wednesdays, so next Wednesday I should have a construction manager, SS and some idea of what is going to happen when. As you may have been able to tell from last post, I was getting a bit stressed at having to finance the build for potentially an extra 2 or 3 months because of the delay in starting.

Fingers crossed for a slab for Christmas....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

lies, damn lies and builders promises...

Hey all, thought I should update the blog as we have not posted for 3 weeks. This is because we believed PD when they told us they were going to put in our dispensation early. The scenario goes something like this...

We found T&L (the cherubs) on the net, and worked out we had just bought the block next door. As they are the first house in the street, their setback set the standard for the street. (7.5m) As we are building a loooong single storey, we wanted to build closer to the front so we have some backyard to fit a trampoline and maybe later a lap pool. We have a 3 metre easement across the back of the block.

No dramas, we spoke to T&L who were really cool about the whole thing. Spoke to the council, we need a dispensation $205. Had discussions with PD PRIOR to tender and they said that they would apply for the dispensation when we signed the tender so it would all be underway for a November start. Told PD we knew the neighbours etc and we could take the plans and get them signed etc. No thanks we were told, we'll mail them.

So at tender we are charged $462 for the dispensation ($205 is the council fee) not happy. Will not budge, as they have to copy plans, mail costs and put it through their building permit people. Ok, as they are doing it early for us, ok.

Got to contract and saw that the permit applied for is 10/10/08? hmm, suppose that is the actual permit. We ended up bringing settlement on the land forward because everything was done, we were just waiting on the dispensation, which should have already been through as it was started on 24/9/08 at tender, we believed.

Waiting, waiting, come 10th November, I ring the council, spoke to a lovely lady on the phone for 45 minutes there is definitely NO application for our block.

Rang PD, not happy, in fact, quite hot under the collar. Despite being told that the dispensation was going to be started on 24 September, it was not started until 10 October. Then they had to apply to the council to find out who owned the blocks of land either side of us. I had told them, but THEY CANNOT BELIEVE ME, they have to apply to the council for this info and it took 3 weeks to get this information back. They did send to T&L who kindly signed and sent back. The other block is not sold, therefore it is still in the name of the developers.
These guys have made their money, this is stage 21 and they cleared the 25M mortgage in 2005 so every block from here is pure profit. Consequently, although there is a salesperson, they only "attend" the office every week or so. It took two weeks to get the contract of sale for the land signed and returned to me! We have to wait for 2 weeks to give them a chance to object. Taking us to 17 November, then PD wanted to wait until 19th, to give Aust Post a couple of extra days "in case". Graciously, then have supposedly sent off the application "early" on the 17th.

Now my bitch is that the council have people on holidays and their current turnaround is 3-4 weeks instead of 7-10 days. This means we may not get back the dispensation until 9th December and then it takes two weeks of organising to get to site scrape. They will not get anything done in December, which means at the earliest a January start (we got a letter saying 19th January is when trades are back).

So, we have to pay the mortgage on the land for November, December and half of January as well as our current house all for nothing. AND the bloody contract days do not start until site scrape, so this time is not even eating into our contract days. IF they start on 19 January, our contract days mean we should be in by the end of September 2009.
Our CSC is doing her best and it is not fair that I vented at her for someone else's undertaking. But as the saying goes, "you take their money, you take their sh*t".
Now I have had big vent, according to murphy's law, I should get a phone call tomorrow telling me they have the okay from council and the file will go to construction Monday and all this angst has been for nought.
Yeah, then the alarm clock went off...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tie a pink ribbon round....

Whoo Hoo!!!! Land settled today and everything is now ticked off at the PD 24/7 website except the dispensation for the set back. Once we have that we can start to rock and roll.

Our re-establishment survey has been done. We have gorgeous pink ribbons at the edges of our block marking the pegs for the boundaries. So, bring it on!
Also, lawyers have confirmed $3k back off the stamp duty!!!, so I will have to mark 30 August 2009 in the diary to make sure I put the paperwork into before the 12 months are up. Will certainly come in handy when we move in.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dare I say, the end of the paperwork???

Ok, so this is the second try to post this entry, here it goes...

We spent a fair chunk of time Friday evening and over the weekend trying to make sure that all the paperwork was right. You see we got Post Contract Variation (PCV) 2 and this one is serious. It says "The client acknowledges that no further changes or client variations will be permitted."

So, we compared the sales quote to the first tender document, to the tender document we got at contract and the first PCV that we signed at contract and looked at all of the drawings. We then looked at all the emails, letters, printouts etc and tried to make sure that we had thought of everything and that everything that we asked for was there. From reading other blogs, we knew that sometimes things magically appeared and, more importantly, disappeared, or were moved when they were not supposed to be and because they were not picked up before the build started, they just had to live with the consequences. I'd like to think we got it right, but who knows. Sometimes it all just becomes a bit much. So, we signed PCV2 for the whopping sum of $245 and "acknowledged that no further changes or client variations will be permitted".

The ironic part of me notes that it says nothing about PD variations not being permitted. Hmmm, strange that.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Now all we have to do is pay for it....

As the title says, today we signed the contract and now all we have to do
is pay for it, perhaps we need to plant a money tree?

Over three hours of pouring over documents and comparing them to our lists of requests, emails and the actual drawings. None of the things we had missed in tender and asked for immediately the next morning after the tender were in the contract nor were they in the drawings. Start Post Contract Variation 1.

A few things needed to be cleared up. Firstly, when I asked to upgrade the paint. It seems that I only asked for the paint on the walls to be upgraded, not the paint on the skirts, architraves and doors. Ummm?? Ok, Add that in.
Changing the window in the Alfresco to timber, yes they let me do it BUT the cost was the same as for the DOUBLE glass timber doors opening into the other side of the alfresco. That I just can't quite understand, but I am not going to quibble given that they let me change it.
The bigger windows in the lounge were not in the contract or the drawings and the doorway that we asked to be moved was not there either.

If you read this and have not been to contract, make sure that you check all specifications to the drawings. Whilst the written word takes precedence over the drawings, in a lot of cases the contract refers to the drawings. My DH is tall, so we asked to have the showers set higher on the walls and the benches at a minimum of 900 high everywhere. In theory, no need to state that in the contract, as it will be shown on the drawings. Kitchen was fine but the ensuite/bathroom were all left at 865. Ensuite shower was higher, but the bathroom shower was still at 1800. I realise that a lot can get changed on site if you ask for it but I would rather that it was right in the plans so that it does not have to be redone later.
We tried to get a copy of the contract documents prior to signing for our solictior to look at, and whilst PD would give us some parts including the HIA contract and extra schedules, we could not get the full set until contract presentation today. So after discussions with PD, our solictior requested that PD acknowledge that we had not had the benefit of legal advice, so we could take the contracts to him this afternoon for him to review and not loose our cooling off period. So, after we signed, we took them straight to him.
I hope that he is happy with everything because, quite frankly, it's been fun but now it's a bit been there, done that, and glad it's over. I really do not want to start again with someone else, so hopefully we get the big thumbs up. Then a start sometime in November and 242 days later, a house!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Colour my world...

Had the electrical and Hopetoun appointments today. Electrical first and managed to blow the entire budget and even then we did not get some things. Just got junction boxes for the outside lights and fairly basic outdoor lights. 11 downlights, chinamens hats everywhere else, a connection for a fan in the alfresco and speaker wire everywhere. 7.1 in the family 5.1 in the games room and 2 speaker runs in the alfresco. Wow, it adds up quickly.

Although we might (?) be able to do some ourselves during the build, we are having sound screen in almost all of the internal walls, so we had to get most of it wired during the build.

From speaking to other people, you have the luck of the draw if your SS will let you in to do it or not. Either way, it would probably happen when one of us was not in the state so we'd be stuck. One thing we did do, was upgrade almost all of the power points to 4 points instead of doubles and powertainments where the tv's are.

So, then onto the colours:

Interior walls: Wattyl Divinity - 3d Paint system
Architraves,skirts, doors - Wattyl Chalkdust -3d paint system

We will have Dulux Enchantress feature walls in the Lounge room, Rumpus room (which we are using as a formal dining room), Games Room and Master bedroom. We will also use it as the splashback colour in the kitchen to tie it into the more informal areas of the house. All other colours have been chosen to compliment this colour throughout the house. We are selecting carpet, curtains, blinds etc all to work in with this particular shade. It just makes everything so easy by having a central colour theme to highlight throughout the house.
Laundry - Cupboards - Laminex Black, Benchtop - Laminex White

Bathroom and Powder room benchtop - Very similar to the tiles for the walls and for the floors in these rooms.
Bathroom Cupboards - Peacock. We actually chose Blue Variation from the laminex book they had there. But guess what, you can only choose, flint and natural finish laminates for cupboards. So we had to choose something different, lucky I took the tile samples with us. Not what we would have chosen, but goes surprisingly well with the Enchantress.
Kitchen - Stipple Burnished Plum. It does not look the right colour on my monitor. Too purple, it is an unusual colour, it is acutally a lighter variation of the splashback below. The Benchtops will be QQ New Diamond White

This is the splashback colour - Dulux Enchantress.

I am not even sure that you will see this, it is New Antique White, which will be the overhead cupboards.

The powder room cupboards are Cyclamen, a much lighter shade/tone in the enchantress vein.

The ensuite has the Stipple Burnished Plum as the benchtop and Black Tulip (shown here) for the cupboards. I thought about stone benchtops, but I like colours. Most of the stone tops are a white base.

Not sure if all of these colours will come up "truely" on your monitors at home, so you may need to clean up some sprayed coffee off your screen at our colour choices. But we like them "in the flesh" and hey, it's our mortgage!

We actually upgraded very little as we had organised with our CSC most of the things we wanted before this appointment anyway. (See large list at the side of the blog!) That way we knew what we could afford before we went to Hopetoun. We did end up upgrading the tapware and kitchen handles, and put stain on the laundry door, but that was about it. Hopefully after the electrical bill, it won't be too much more..
Contract tomorrow and hopefully the final prices.... Hmmm... wonder how many of my children I will need to sell.....

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Waiting, Waiting...

It seems like, from the moment you decide "this is it, the one I am going to build", you are forever waiting for something. Wait for a new sales quote, wait for PD to contact us, wait for the soil test results, wait for National Tiles, wait for Tender, wait for Hopetoun, wait for electricals, wait for contract. It's as frustrating as hell, till I want to yell "FFS finish something".

We are waiting for hopetoun and the electrical appointment on the 8th then contract on the 9th. We are waiting for land settlement, we are waiting for the results of the garage footing probes.
When these are done, we'll be waiting for a site cut and then a slab, frame, lockup fixings and hand over.

Half of me wants it finished yesterday, the other half says if it was finished yesterday it would be thrown together so quickly that it would come down tomorrow!! Hmmm.... maybe this is sending me schizophrenic.

In the meantime, while I have been waiting, I have been trying to make sure that I have thought of everything, so when we get to contract it will all be there and we can sign and be done. I put up a list of the things we changed/added and I left out most of the promo stuff and I am fairly sure after reading every blog I could find that I cannot think of anything else. But I am sure there will be something...
Did anyone else really want to add something later on that they wished they'd thought of before?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tender Time..

Firstly, apologies this is a long post. I guess this blog is cathartic for all the frustration and tedium, so I do ramble on a bit.
Hmm, how do you approach tender? With trepidation, angst, confusion, fear, worry, joy, relief? Many emotions ran through me on the way to the tender appointment. Although we have built two houses previously, we have never been through the "tender" system.
We got there pretty much on time and then had to wait about 1/2 an hour -45 minutes because the morning appointment was still going. Our appointment was for 1pm. Nothing you can do, but it seems like forever, waiting, waiting Note to self: make all further appointments first thing in the morning!

It will come as no surprise to many of you reading this, that the first thing to blow us away was the amount of the site costs. Hmm, 12K sounds OK (our sales quote had 20K) then the slab upgrade and the services upgrade and holy cow, the retaining walls. All up just over $27.5K. Bend over sunshine! After the shock of that, our presenter "D" started to go through each item we had requested. Good news was that most of them were under what I had budgeted them to be! I had a few swings and roundabouts but mostly pretty positive UNTIL I got out the laptop (yeah I know, I prefer to think of myself as a detail person ;-) The first item extended the front of the house. Not there on the list? Hmmm, flick through the file, there is the layout on the block from the sales appointment with red pen scribbling this out and NO written on it.
Excuse Me???? If you have read previous posts, you will know that PD took quite a while to contact me, supposedly because this specific request had to be approved before they would accept and prepare a tender WTF? We did not go ballistic, we told "D" what had happened previously and what we had been told. This was hardly his fault but we were polite and firm and informed him that this was a deal breaker; minimum was we add AT LEAST 1m into the study and some into the bedrooms, or he was wasting our time, have a pleasant life and we will leave now thanks.

To his credit, "D" took off to see what the situation was. After about 10 minutes he came back and asked us for some time to work through with drafting, estimating and all the areas to try to come up with a solution for us. We took off for an hour and then came back.
Good news and bad news, firstly he explained that they are volume builders not custom builders, once we ask for too many changes or change the basic structure etc then we are falling into that category, fair enough. No harm, no foul, po'd that we'd wasted over a month but whatever.

So, he then came out with the compromise. The could extend the study ONLY by a metre explaining that this was because of roof pitches, tresses and angles, but they could in turn put 1m into the body of the house and we could then move the walls in bed 2 and 3 down to get 500mm in each. Also means an extra 1m in the pantry (yipee!) and in the lounge room. We think that this was a really good compromise. PD are a volume builder and we recognised that and would have walked away, but they came to the party to do the best they could do within their systems for us, which was great. Bad news was that "S" has had to sacrifice extra space in the garage that could not be accommodated due to the roof trusses/pitches/technical thingys.

On a further note, because of these couple of issues it was well after 6 when we left and we missed things. I emailed "N" our CSC the next morning about some but pored over the plans today and realised that I think PD have missed some things (swapping alum windows for timber in the alfresco) that I had asked for by email on the 15th. Emailed again today to ask if that was the case.... we are waiting to hear back.

I really think it is very difficult to try to do everything in 3-4 hours especially when in shock! I also realise that if you don't have a cut off people will change their minds 4 times a day. I have changed my kitchen colours at least three times this week alone...still not sure....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bemused by National Tiles

Well, we did our tiles appointment on the 12th. "N" was busy so she promised to draw them all up, plot them and quote them either that day or over that weekend. She did not have the Illoura 36 loaded into her computer. So, instead of waiting, seeing it all, getting a quote etc, we went home and waited for the email.
Today is the 23rd and I now have an email. The tiles are about $400 under my budget which is good. But, (isn't there always a but!)
  • The drawings she has used to "plot" them have someone else's name and address on them. Personally, I would not be happy if they start sending my name and address to other people.
  • The ensuite on the floorplan does not have a spa and we do, although she appears to have drawn it on the elevations, so I am not sure that the sizing, therefore will the quote be correct.
  • There are codes on the drawings that do not match the codes on the quote, so which one takes precendence?
  • There are wrong codes and wrong tiles.

It seems that this all gets requoted again once we get contract drawings anyway??

So, my question is did anyone else have any of this happen to them with national tiles and did your tile quote change much between the quote before and after contract?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Exterior Colour Selections

For weeks now, I have been driving my children demented. I could not settle on the brick/exterior colours for our new home. We have driven to heaps of display houses and done drive bys of numerous houses and it just was not working! Today I was told that "we are fed up with looking at bricks!!!" in no uncertain terms and basically that was it.

So S and I left the children with Nanma and went on another quest looking for bricks and an external colour scheme. I liked Austral's Newport but there is another PD house just around the corner from our block. I knew I wanted white or off white windows, as I want a clean crisp look to the house both inside and out, so that too affected the brick choice. I liked La Trobe but we have seen so many variations of colour with this brick, it appears it has really changed since they moved factories. Homestead Tan looks good, but there appear to be a lot of brown brick houses around us. I liked canterbury, but we have it on our current home, so I did not really want to take it with us to the new house.

Today's trip took us to Cranbourne North and we saw a display house with "Nougat" bricks and flush off-white mortar. We both really liked it but we were sure that it would be "another upgrade". We had already upgraded to cat 4 bricks ($2.3k) when we thought we would have the Newport. So off we went to Hopetoun to find out how much more this was going to cost. Whoo Hooo!!!!! They are a cat 1 brick, so just saved $2.3K. However, we decided that the Tudor roof tile would look best, so we need to upgrade to cat 2 roof tiles. Bet that wipes out any saving on the bricks.
So the exterior colours are: (drumroll please)

Bricks: Austral Nougat - cat 1
Roof: Monier Barramundi in Tudor profile - cat 2
Gutters and Fascia: Colorbond Ironstone - Upgrade to colorbond from Zincalume (still think that on a Prestige house, you should get this standard!)
Downpipes: Colorbond Ironstone (upgrade)
Garage Door: Colorbond Ironstone
Windows: SouthernStar Birch White
We are having the Traditional Facade with no render anywhere and no portholes (if you see the sketch you'll understand) all in all the house will be a house, clean lines in crisp colour.
Tender on Wednesday, fingers crossed all goes well and we get a November 2008 start.
Now, if I could just decide on colours for the kitchen.....

Friday, September 12, 2008

Colours, Tiles and Cash

Today I went to National Tiles for our tile appointment. If you have read earlier posts, you will know I was not happy that I could not choose any tile I wanted if I was prepared to pay for it. This was because they had brown, tan, beige,cream, with colours of black, white and red. So NOT me. Neutral is something for a gear stick, not for a house.
What a fabulous surprise it was to meet "N" who was simply sensational. I had chosen some ideas for laminex colours for the wet areas and I needed to pull these together with the tiles. No problems. She looked and found exactly what was needed.
For the bathroom, I was able to choose a feature glass tile which is 5 different shades of blue/green which matched the laminex I wanted for the cabinet and a white marbled tile for the wall/floor which matched the laminex for the bench top. If you look at the picture you can see them all together. The feature tile will be the background for the niche in the shower and two rows will be used along the top of the bath. It seems that mirrors now come down to the benchtops, so I asked to get a row of tiles above the vanity (can't stand water marks on mirrors from hand washing). I also chose a "capping tile" in the deeper green to go around the mirror, to "frame it".

The powder room is going to have the same floor/wall tile on the floor and as a row above the vanity. I am thinking I may have the same laminex for the cabinet and benchtop, but I am not sure yet. I use black as the cabinet and stay with the "carrara" for the benchtop.

The laundry is going to be black and white, here is the floor tile. It is a black marbled effect with the lighter colours swirled through it being a purplish/grey colour. I actually chose a white rippled tile but you don't get samples of those because everyone knows what a white tile looks like. I am thinking of laminex "burnished plum" cabinets with a white benchtop otherwise it will be black cabinets.

And finally, my favourite, the ensuite tiles. I chose a cream marbled tile for the main tile in here, for the spa, the shower and above the vanity. I also chose glass pencil tiles in aubergine and lavender as a feature to being out the purples and aubergines in the marble effect. Lovely!

The picture shows the marbled tile at the top, the black tulip laminate for the cabinets, burnished plum for the bench top and an unusual coloured tile for the floor. It is almost a plum/brown toned tile, that seems to take on the colour of what it is near. Putting the plum/purples of the laminate near it makes it a plum based colour. Unfortunately, this picture does not really show the depth in the marbled tile.

I also chose an aubergine "capping tile" for the mirror surround as well. Although "N" had to go find if they had these anymore, but she found them! And the best bit, apart from the capping tiles, pencil features and glass features for the bathroom, the lot were standard tiles. How good is that! Just have to wait on the final pricing now but I am sure that I am within budget.
Off to hopetoun for a bit of investigation over the weekend. Toodle pip!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Contact at last...

Time to give you an update. S has "done" his knee (last Friday) so things have been a bit of a write off since then. Yesterday, we had a call from N at PD who introduced herself as our Customer Service person (CSC). She was great, I sat on the phone for about an hour with her as I was pretty PO'd that we had had no contact in the nearly three weeks since we signed.
Apparently, as we added 1.5 mtrs to the length of the house, it needs to go through some approval process where they decide if they will actually accept our request to build it.
Well, it seems that they have because N, now has the file. I told her that we were going to pull out because of the no contact issues etc, reasoning that if this was the service level before we signed, what would it be like after???
But now have had a rethink and looked at this dispassionately, we want this house, they build this house, at a price we are willing to pay at the moment. so, we will take it through to tender and see how we go. It maybe too rich for our blood, but if we don't investigate we will not find out. We made appointments for tender and contract on the basis that we will go ahead.
We have made the tile appointment so then we will know what we are up for as far as tiles goes. Hopetoun is supposed to ring later this week so we can tee that up too. We may go down there this weekend and get a feel for how many upgrades we'll see there too.
All in all feeling much more positive now we know what is going on. N certainly has gone out of her way to make us feel better about the whole process.
But just to make sure, we will investigate the custom builder price as well and go with what feels best at the time. That should be some time next week.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Feeling a bit uncomfortable

The title says it all really. We went back to the display over the weekend to check out some areas of the house and to check room sizes, as I am concerned at the really small bedrooms. S and I spoke about it and we are feeling a bit uncomfortable with the "PD experience" at the moment. The tiles thing is really worrying me, basically we can only choose from what they say we can have regardless that NT have others available in their showroom. We have a lot of provisions in our sales quote and the provision for site costs has jumped from 15k initially to 20k and it is still unconfirmed until tender.
From reading the forum at HomeOne ( PD seem to be very bad at the communication bit and very good at saying "no", even when they have said "yes" to the same thing on other builds. That is our experience at the moment for sure. It also looks like quite a few upgrades are the opportunity to bite a bit harder. But that is the price for a volume builder. We are questioning if that price is too high for us.
We have decided to keep our options open and keep looking at other houses, the Metricon Bel-Air 37 looks a possibility or the 33 with some changes. We have also given a sketch plan of the best bits of all the houses we have seen to the guy we bought our land from, as they work with a builder and we will see what they come up with. We'll get to tender with PD and then assess it at that point.
We are not committed until we sign on the contract and PD would do well to remember that fact, and a bit of service (or a returned phone call) would go along way.

Friday, August 29, 2008

We have holes!

I never knew I could be so excited about a hole in the ground, or three to be exact. But I am! We have three holes in our block, so I assume that the site survey is underway. Whoo Hoo something is happening . I know that the $600 deposit has hit the account because I checked but no communication from anyone. At least this proves that something is happening. PD certainly don't seem to be too hot on customer service.

On the down side, I visited the National Tiles showroom in Port Melbourne today to have a look before I have to make decisions. Really, really disappointed. I am NOT a brown person and if the tile was not white it was brown, there were very little coloured tiles at all even in the upgrade area. I asked if I could have some tiles that I had seen at another NT store and the girls said I would have to get the code and she would check if I can upgrade to it. Seems strange to me that I can't have any tile in the store as long as I am willing to pay for it. And I was willing to pay for what I wanted.

The tiles in the ensuite in our current house were laid wrong and the builder went broke 2 weeks after our handover. We spent over a year trying to Home Owners Warranty to fix the tile issues and other issues as well (The tiler laid all our tiles wrong, the patterns did not match in any of them) Of course the builder told us it would be fixed after hand over and we had two small children and were being kicked out of our rental accommodation as the build had gone so long over, we believed him.

Home Owners Warranty would only fix some of the tiling not all, so we had the foyer and the powder room fixed and decided we could live with the ensuite. But every couple of months, I look at those tiles and it really p's me off. So tiles are important, I don't want to have to be p'd off for the next 10 years.

On a lighter note, here is the block in daylight
and a sunset over the block.
A chilled chardy and that for a backdrop each night, where do I sign...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

And so we begin...

We have decided to start this blog to document the journey through building our new home.

But first a bit of history. In the beginning.. we decided we would spend money on the current house and not move. We looked established and could find nothing. So we updated the kitchen, repainted yada yada. That was 18 months ago. Since then time and our family have moved on.

Now we were looking to build again (third time). First thing was to look at the market, what our $ would buy and in what locations. We looked at everything from 500m to 4000m, from Nunawading to Healesville. We came across 2500m in Lilydale up near the lake that was absolutely magic and we started to sound out the estate agent and went looking for designs to complement the block as it has a 36m frontage. Then reality set in, great block, love the location but site costs would be 100K. We could not neogiate a good enough price on the land to be able to cope with that especially because that was "a rough estimate" and could be up or down by 15% roughly.

Ok, so we start again. This time we seriously thought about why we were moving.
  • First, our current block is 650m but it is the side of a hill (very steep) so although we have terraced the back, we really don't use it much because of the slope.
  • Second, our neighbours at the back overlook directly into our backyard. I mean their living room, and 2 bedrooms can look down into our entire back yard and into the back of our house. When I say that, these rooms are over two storeys off the ground so think google earth. We have no privacy another reason not to use the backyard.
  • Third, our current home is a double storey. It means that our girls are "upstairs" and we are "downstairs" much of the time. Maybe I am weird but I would like to see the girls occassionally besides the school drop off and pick up. So we need zoned living were we have our space and they have theirs but we can meet in the middle.
  • Fourth, our street is now a main road that people use for short cuts so we are getting more traffic noise.

We decided we needed a house about as big as the one we have now, but on a single storey (no more stairs) and a relatively flat block. We also decided we did not want alot of land (no more 3 hours to mow lawns) but needed an outdoor area. So, we looked at a 700m block in Lilydale in a court location off a main road.

From there we went looking at houses that fit the bill. Initially we went to see the Porter Davis Sainsbury in Mernda, looking at the floor plan the girls would have their own rumpus and we'd be able to "close off" that part of the house when (if) they ever move out in the future. Well, great on paper but I hated it. Kitchen was too small and so were the bedrooms, it just did not flow at all for me. I know I'm weird :-)

"G" the sales person suggested looking at the Illoura 36 next door. I immediately felt home. The whole design just worked for us and how we like to live. Only issues were that the study was too small and the bedrooms could be bigger. Talked to "G", all this seems possible so after a few back and forwards for other "cannot live withouts" we signed up for soil tests on 24/08/2008.

Tomorrow, once I workout how to get the pictures off the camera, I will post pictures of the block.

so now the story continues...