Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pre Christmas work

The issues with the brickwork mentioned in the last post was discussed with our site supervisor but it was all over the phone and whilst we received a verbal agreement to have our concerns addressed, it was hard to tell what was going to be fixed and when. We tried to organise a site meeting with our supervisor, hopefully with the bricky too, but as it was getting close to Christmas it never happened.

In the meantime, some other things which we noticed had been completed include:

1/ Inspection items regarding window gaps fixed with the installation of aluminium fills that match window frames.

Example of top fill...

Example of side fill...

2/ Acoustic and thermal insulation throughout the house.

3/ Roof truss over outdoor room. Hopefully the roof goes on soon.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Top floor bricks done

Once the scaffolding issue was resolved, the top floor bricks went up fairly quickly and should look fantastic after a clean! (Though more later on the issues found on closer inspection.) The only brickwork left to complete is the garage which is still needing a roof.

So, on closer inspection..... the brickwork has been a little disappointing. Whilst the bulk of it is pretty good and from a distance, it's all very neat, there are too many imperfections to ignore. The problems we noticed is in the edge work, mostly around windows. Bricks not lining up, missing mortar, and raking not done properly.

Example of bricks and mortar width not lining up under window edge.

Right hand side of the same window is fine. It's as though a different bricky worked on the other side of the window!

Example of cracked, missing, BLOTCHED UP mortar. What kind of quality workmanship is this??! Will have to chase this up with the builder next week.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bottom floor bricks done and Pre-Lock Up inspection

It's been very exciting seeing the exterior of our new home go up. Despite the shortage of brickies at the moment Metricon have managed to complete our bottom floor brickwork. The ground floor bricks took a week to do followed by a week and a half of delay due to issues with the scaffolding company. Apparently, the company they used failed to meet contract agreements and Metricon had to find a replacement company to complete the works. So many things you don't consider which could delay construction!

A couple of views from the front of the house...

A view from the back of the house, rumpus room wall...

The ducted heating pipes & sarking for the Colourbond roof have also been installed over the past month. It's a maze of silver up there and can only hope it's all in the right place!

We had our pre lock up private inspection a couple of weeks ago once all but the garage bricks were done. We would have waited a bit longer till the electricals were complete but a bit of mis communication led us to believe that the place was ready for lockup when in fact we were still a couple weeks off. As a result the inspector couldn't check the electrical outlets and we had to do it ourselves which wasn't too difficult but just time consuming.

A number of things came out of this inspection which we just wouldn't have noticed ourselves. Here's a few of the more significant ones:

1/ The metal support beam running along the top of the garage door was about 5cm too short on either side. It's not so much the length of the beam but the amount of support under either end of the beam which was insufficient. The engineering report specified 200mm of brick support but they only allowed 150mm. Given we have a relatively wide double car opening this was a rather significant shortfall.

FIX - Beam has been replaced by longer beam.

2/ Vertical gap between the window and the fireplace brickwork. Based on the inspector's report, this could have been avoided if the mortar used in the fireplace brick wall was more consistent with the rest of the house. For some reason, the mortar width on this wall is less than that used around the house. As a result, the brick wall does not quite reach the window and has created a gap. Similarly, around a couple of other windows, there is a small gap between the brickwork and the window edge.

FIX - Gaps will be filled by an aluminium strip to match the window edges. Hopefully won't be noticeable.

3/ Patch of brickwork near the front door is made from a poor selection of bricks which basically look crap. Less of a problem if the patch was out of sight on the side of the house but it's right beside the front door.

FIX - Redo the patch with new selection of bricks. Very happy with that outcome!

There's a few other items from the inspection but all fairly minor and Metricon have agreed to fix before the next stage. In any case, we wouldn't be paying until they were.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Private Inspection - Frame

Bit of a backfill this one as spare time as been scarce lately. At the end of the Frame stage, we opted for an independent inspection. Nothing to do with any problems with the builder but more for the peace of mind. Building a new home is a big venture and a massive expense. We don't know anything about building and only seemed rational to get a second opinion as we would for most major decisions in life.

We went with Urban Property Inspections based on feedback from a fellow Metricon customer who is sharing a very comprehensive blog. Check it out

Onto the report... Fortunately, it was mostly favourable with only a handful of items to be addressed. The biggest one being some beams that were supposed to span all the way from the stairway wall to the front wall, but only went to the study wall. What seemed like a big problem at first has thankfully turned out to be relatively minor. The reason the beam does not span this entire length is because of a large sliding door we added to the study which is a modification to the standard design of the Tribeca. All that was required was amended engineering documentation, which take some time to acquire.

Overall, we were pretty happy with the level of detail we got from the inspection and more so from the minimal problems that were detected. Now we just have to make sure the items identified are rectified!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Roof done and some doors

It's been a while since our last post but with a newborn and toddler, your spare time certainly twindles. As mentioned in the last post, our Colorbond roof arrived as did some bricks. We selected them back in Feb so I was praying we still liked them, especially the roof which we mulled over in length before going for Colorbond over tiles. The tiles would be traditional and timeless but we love the durability and energy efficiency of Colorbond steel. Relieved to say we still love the Colorbond and colours for both roof and bricks.

The roof took a matter of days to complete and not a day too soon given the heavy rain that followed.

Noticed that the sliding door cavity for the study has also been done. This is going to be my home studio/office space so I'm pretty excited about it. Have always worked from home but never had a suitable space to meet clients. It's not a big room but it's all I need and it's at the front of the house so perfect really. Hopefully the heavy timber doors we selected for the room will keep the kids from getting in too easily. Fingers crossed...

The timber bi-part doors for our outdoor area has also been installed, though with the wrong handles so we've had to contact Metricon to have them replaced. The doors will look great after they've been stained. We also love the look of the 4 section bi-fold doors but decided that our kid's fingers would be safer from harm with a bi-part door. Funny the things you have to consider when you have kids!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Arrival of Bricks

Given that my wife has done every single post on this blog so far, I thought it was about time that I chipped in with a few comments and pics.
I've been fortunate that during the time that I'm on paternity leave, there has been plenty of action on the site and I can go down each evening and see what's been done.
Today I was stoked to see that our Bricks have now arrived, which means that Stage 3 - Lockup, is soon to commence.
(nice self-portait shadow too, we can tell who the dud photographer is!)

The bricks are called 'Ironstone' and they are by Selkirk.
We almost went for the 'Hawthorn' by Austral, but in the end thought it was a bit too popular. The bricks look like a nice batch, with a good range of tones across the browns and reds. This pic shows the variance in texture between the individual bricks. I think we've done well as it is a very tough choice. Our mortar is off-white and with a raked finish, again probably because a flush finish is so popular these days.

The other thing that arrived today was some of our Colorbond Roof, which is going to be in a colour called 'Monument' which is an 'almost black' blue. The roofies have already started to put up the framing for the Colorbond. I just hope they remember to put the 'sarking' (basically additional insulation) up before they put the roof on, as we paid a fair bit more for it!

(Framing for Colorbond Roof)

Colorbond Roof (Correct Colour!)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

2nd floor frame looking good!

It's been less than a week since frame started and we've got a 2nd floor! Woohoo!! The builders are certainly making up for lost time which is fantastic. At this rate, the entire frame might just be finished within a week.

Here's a couple of views of the house from the sides...

This one's taken from the front along the left hand side of the house (when facing the street). Met our SS on site yesterday and was told the roof trusses for the garage don't go up until after the garage brick work is done which makes sense. Didn't think about that but guess that's why we've seen houses around with just the garage bricked up.

This shot is from the back outdoor area looking up the right hand side of the house. Looking forward to lounging on the deck here whilst kids play in the backyard. I can see it now, sunny day, beverage in hand.... dream dream dream hey.

Have organised an independent inspection once frame complete. Hopefully builders have been both efficient and thorough!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bottom floor frame up in a flash!

So we weren't mistaken when we drove by Friday night to check out the block. There is in fact a bottom floor frame up on our block. That took all but a days work, amazing. Considering our three month wait for our slab, we are thrilled with the frame progress. Here's to Spring and sunny days!

Noticed they have replaced the Metricon sign on our fence which had been previously vandalised. It's now also got our name on it which nice to see :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Frame start

From three months of zilch activity to a hive of activity this week! The timber for the frame was delivered yesterday two days after the slab was done and to our surprise, work had started on it this morning.

Despite the drizzle, there were a few guys working on site laying out the materials. Great to see them making up for lost time.

Drove by tonight and could not believe our eyes, the frame for the bottom floor appears to be almost complete. All in a days work! Amazing. Can't wait to check it out in daylight tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The LONG awaited slab!

Our site was excavated at the beginning of winter, just before a period of heavy rain resulting in an extremely damp foundation. As they couldn't excavate further our only option was to wait for it to dry. This, in the midst of The Drought Breaking Winter, proved frustrating. A sunny day was few and far between, let alone a few consequetive ones enough to dry the block.

We waited and waited before finally resigning to the fact that the 3 months of Winter was a writeoff in our building plans. A Spring slab it would have to be.

Sure enough, within the first 2 weeks of Spring we got enough of that perfect sunshine and northerly winds to dry the foundation of our badly neglected block. On Sunday14th Sept our concrete slab was poured and finished, 2 days after the birth of our 2nd bubs. What a gorgeous Spring it's turned out to be!

Monday, July 26, 2010

After a couple more days in the rain, our windows & timber bi part doors, which were delivered too early, were finally returned to the manufacturer. Our builders wouldn't guarantee that we would receive new timber doors despite them sitting in the rain for a few days. Apparently, they will be assessed prior to installation and if not deemed damaged will be used for our new home. Disappointing outcome to say the least as we have no say in this assessment. Have notified our private inspector of this incident so he'll give it a good look over when the time comes. Not much else we can do at this stage.

Other than that we've had very little activity on the block. It's been sitting at the same stage (piers, plumbing, crushed rock laid) for some 3.5 weeks now. We've been told by the builder that the foundation has been too wet due to the rain and that we really need 4 days of straight sun in order to complete the slab stage. Getting impatient but unfortunately out of our hands. Better a solid foundation than cracks in a few years.

Due to the delays, another item which has been delivered prematurely has been the concrete reinforcements. Wasn't too concerned about this until we noticed how rusty they've become. Going to find out again from our private inspector if these should be replaced or still ok to use.

Other slab materials delivered for the slab. Hopefully these won't be sitting around for much longer before the slab can be laid.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Doors and windows delivered but in the rain!

Dropped by the block yesterday and was surprised to see that our windows and outside doors have already been delivered but annoyed to see them sitting in the rain. The windows should be ok seeing we went with aluminium frames but our front door frame and back bi-part doors are both timber (not cheap either). We quickly raised our concerns with the site manager who told us they'll be removed as soon as possible. We're still not happy to accept these same doors again though as we don't know exactly how long they've been in the dew and rain and therefore the extend of damage if any. Pointed this out with our Customer Service personnel so will have to see what they decide today.

It's just another reason why it's worth checking your block regularly. If we hadn't noticed it ourselves, I am sure we would never been the wiser.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rain, Sun, Rain, Sun...

It's been a frustrating month with lots of rain and intermittent sunshine. Our block seems to just rotate from sludge to dry and back to sludge, making it impossible to complete the base work. These works shown here took over the month of June to do.

Just after excavation.. hubby and daughter strolling along the back left hand side.

A couple of dry days enabled the concrete piers and plumbing pipes to go in. Surprised to see this work being completed on a drizzling day.

Plumbing complete and crushed rock laid over top. Hopefully this will prevent a return to sludge. Now it's just a long wait for a few consecutive days of sun to dry up the base enough so the concrete slab can be poured. Then they require a couple days for the slab to dry so really we need a whole week of sun in the middle of Winter! Not holding our breath.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mud Pool

The recent rain has meant little activity on the base. Assuming they're waiting on a few sunny days to commence on the slab but it's been almost 3 weeks since site start and we're getting a little impatient. Here's a photo of our muddy lot.

Noticed today that there has at least been some prep work with pipes and crushed rock.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Meter Box and Recycled Water

Not a great deal has been happening given the recent rain. Though if this keeps up, we may just get that lap pool. It was good however to see our building permit and Metricon boards up as well as the meter box and what appears to be the recycled water tap (purple one in pic below). Not sure why it's positioned where it is, right in the middle up front of the land, and wondering if it will be relocated after construction.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

First Works

Since the site start date, we've been doing drive bys when we can. Some pics of early excavation work but nothing too exciting.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Picnic and Site Start

Should mention that before any work started on our land, our fantastic parents helped on a working bee to clear weed, grass and debris. It was a gorgeous day for a working bee and we worked the folks hard :) We celebrated with a picnic on our land.

A couple weeks after that we were advised of a site start date of 31st May... and so the countdown began.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Developer Approval & Building Permit

After all the permits, the most important approval was still yet to come. The mountain of paperwork that formed our Contract must now get submitted to the developer of The Range estate to approve that it complies with the similarly impressive Design Guidelines for all homes built at The Range.

Having consulted them on various occasions since we first engaged Metricon, we were not expecting any major objections... however, waiting is never fun. For 3 weeks we scratched our heads over what the developer could possibly be pondering over. Eventually we received a response with two main items that had to be altered to comply; 1/ colour of downpipes (?) and 2/ the stainless steal frame for our balcony. The latter turned out to be rather costly change which we begrudgingly accepted as we did like the look of glass but wasn't planning on the extra spend.

So after signing off on yet another post contract variation, we received our blessing from the developer and sought the coveted building permit which would kick start the actual construction of our dream home.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Permits and Finalising the Contract

One of the most time consuming and frustrating building tasks is applying for permits. Mainly because once submitted, its no longer within your control and turnaround depends on the workload, red tape or mood of the relevant governing body. It took till mid April to obtain all the required permits to enable construction to start.

An important permit included the one to remove our problem trees. We made good use of the mountain of mulch that resulted in the felling even if it took us about a month to relocate.

It was only when we saw our vacant block for the first time without the trees and mulch that it really hit us that our home will be a reality. A definite milestone.

April was also the month of finalising contracts with Metricon. There's final and then there's variations after the final. The flexibility is great but the paperwork isn't. In the end, you do need a good document filing system along with a great memory to ensure everything you requested is accounted for. The process certainly puts the responsibility squarely on the owner to remember and approve every item. Not so unreasonable really but when the process takes 6 mths to finalise, it amounts to a quite a task.

By early May, our contract was finally finalised. We signed away endless pages of documents and just hoped our lack of enthusiasm by this stage wasn't going to come back and bite us in the butt.