Saturday, 7 September 2013

Storm Water Issues Resolved

To their credit, Carter Grange have been very responsive to our maintenance issues. After making their own enquiries, CG management decided to agree to disagree with us. While they have made it clear they accept no liability for the non connected storm water pipe, they did agree to fix the problem at their cost and, last Wednesday, sent out a plumbing crew to rectify our storm water issue.  

The two plumbers spent a good deal of time digging a trench and connecting up the PVC pipes correctly. They discharged a fair amount of water from the loaded point in the pipes and then ran new PVC pipe to the curb and channel. They also ensured there was an overflow connected as part of a compliant storm water system (important in the event the outlet in the curb and channel were ever to get blocked).

CG have also stated they will be happy to monitor the storm water discharge and any potential problems incorrect discharge may have created over the past 7 months. They have also confirmed they will be there for us if there are any problems potentially related to this issue in the future. This is comforting.

So for the record, CG sent out some plumbers to fix our storm water issue at their cost. They have taken the responsibility to ensure storm water discharge from our property is now compliant and meets current regulations. In fact, one of the CG directors even came out to oversee and inspect the works himself. Since the issue has now been resolved, we see no need to continue with our investigation.

Also, regarding the corner window condensation issues, we’ve been told this relates to any single glazed window and that the CG corner windows simply cannot be double glazed because of the complex revealing with the boutique range of windows CG use. While this is good info, it does not help us resolve the condensation problems these windows have. If anyone has a solution, please leave a comment or email us on

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Carter Grange Maintenance Issues and Review - some useful consumer information

Here’s the process that CG use to manage defects within the 3 month period (post handover). This relates directly to a clause in the contract (in our case clause 39.0) and is therefore a formal process.

A maintenance form is sent out by email. We received ours in late May. We filled out the form noting our various maintenance concerns and returned it to CG. Our SS and the CG maintenance man then attended to do a walk-through, inspect and comment on each item on the list. Then the maintenance man attended to rectify these items (those he was unable to rectify himself, he arranged for the appropriate trades to return to rectify). Finally, CG sent out a letter attempting to confirm the completion of your 3 month maintenance period. The whole process took roughly 11 weeks in our case. The only issue is that we still have items outstanding so here’s a warning. Do not accept the confirmation letter until you are satisfied all items you noted have been rectified.

Here are some issues to be aware of and items to note and remember.

Check all lights and electrical items. Turn them all on, keep them all on at the same time, test everything. We had a few lights that died during our 3 month period. We knew it wasn’t globes, as it turns out, if they’re not installed correctly, it’s the contacts between fitting and globe.

Check that all external screws are galvanised. The screws for our external lights had all rusted over the 3 months because the wrong screws had been used.

For those using the same corner windows as us; Get them double glazed! The builder should warn you that if these corner windows are not double glazed you will have to contend with bad condensation, most noticeable when the heater is on inside and it’s cold outside. This means that water form on the glass on the inside and then ends up dripping down the window to rest on the inside window sill. We hope this does not cause paint peel, mould or other issues. We’ll keep an eye on it, but CG basically said they can’t do anything about it. If anyone knows differently, please let us know.

For those building with colour bond; make sure they use enough screws to hold down the flashing. During the recent windy nights, there’s been loud crashing on our roof, only audible from the inside (not from outside). This is one issue still outstanding but it’s under management and will be rectified.

Plumbing. The worst of our maintenance issues. Here’s the problem. Much of the plumbing work is underground and therefore unable to be seen by owners, private building inspectors and building surveyors. It’s obvious much of the plumbing system is only put to task once the house is occupied and also through various weather conditions (especially heavy wind and rain). As we have been advised, anyone can tick a box [on a certificate] but this does not mean the work performed complies, or has even been completed!

The first issue we discovered was a sewerage problem. Our landscapers noticed that sewerage was not draining from the sewerage trap (rear of house) correctly. Turns out the plumbers did not give the sewerage pipes sufficient fall. Plumbers had to return, dig through the mud, back to the pipes (not a small job) and rectify. We’re lucky it was identified when it was. We note this issue for the record.

The second issue we discovered was a storm water problem. There had always been flooding at the front of our property. We thought it was due to the natural lay of the land and groundwater. We were wrong. Turns out, we strongly believe, the plumbers forgot to connect the main storm water pipe responsible for discharging storm water into the street from our property [note: CG oppose this view]. As you can imagine, water from the roof after rain entering gutters and down pipes plus any water being collected at ground level through the aggie pipe system all being funneled into this pipe and it discharging all this water into the ground at the front of our property; big issue.

Unfortunately, this storm water issue remains outstanding. Since the disconnected storm water pipe was underground, we actually had no idea about it. We built a driveway straight over the top of it. The flooding became more pronounced after the driveway and crossover had been built, so we notified CG. We actually thought there was a cracked pipe somewhere. When the plumbers returned, they dug under the driveway and found the disconnected pipe. We saw the pipe, a pipe that just ended. The disappointing thing about this issue is that the plumbers will not admit they did not connect the storm water to its legal point of discharge. 

Given our contract is with CG, not the plumbers, we have been communicating with CG in an attempt to resolve this issue. We can only hope CG realise that at some point, while not directly their fault, issues like this are squarely their responsibility. We’re disappointed they have not shown more care for their product. To build a house for someone and not connect their storm water is not good practice. 

We have been advised to document this particular storm water issue. Set aside the fact we hope CG will take the higher ground and be responsible for connecting our storm water to the legal point of discharge, we want an assurance that between handover and now, all the storm water that has been discharged into the earth at the front of our property, has not caused any underlying problems and has not affected the long term integrity of the house, slab or foundations in any way. If any future problems arise, we will rely on this document as a record of events that have occurred.

Finally, a note about testimonials. We were recently made aware of the fact that CG have testimonials on their website. One of these testimonials is a direct extract from this blog. For the record, we did not authorise this nor approve this. We were not asked by CG if they could use an extract from our blog. It’s very misleading and we’ll discuss this directly with CG. The point. Take testimonials with a grain of salt. 

The only truly balanced view you will get is through consumer forums. The more we (clients and consumers) discuss and talk about companies like CG, the more we share our experiences (good and bad), the better informed we all become. When building a home, it is certainly much better to be informed than to rely on the builder to always tell the truth and to always act in your best interest.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Wow, Check out the Landscape & Design. Magnificent!

Summit Landscape Consultants have DELIVERED!!!!!!

The hard structures of the rear landscape design are complete - retaining wall, expansive deck, court yards, bench seating, utility walk-way, utility area, timber edging.
We'll take a break before launching into the preparation of soil for lawn seeding and preparation of the garden beds for planting.

Any gardeners or green-thumbs following this blog? Advice or tips on the planting will be well received. We are open to ideas or handy hints.

We're lucky to have a north facing rear yard. This area will be bathed in sunshine in the warmer months.

The retaining wall is capped to provide seating.

The rear lawn will have a border garden all the way around, with an angle cut out in the north west corner of the property to provide space for the planting of a shade tree. We're not sure what type of tree at this point.

The utility walk-way all the way down the western side of the house. The material is a tuscan topping that sets very hard (but is still permeable).

Either side of the pathway is garden bed which we will plant out. Above the retaining wall is more garden where we can plant screening plants or think about features.

This side of the house is really just for access. Not designed for lifestyle.

Large step pavers create a connection between the front door and the utility area.

The pavers are the same blue stone as the pavers used in each of our court yard spaces.

They are very striking and create a really grounding effect.

The spotted gum deck runs into the blue stone paver court yard, which is completely surrounded by a retaining wall.

This is a really functional and well thought out space. Big enough to kick a footy, play some hockey, spread out and read the newspaper and entertain the entire family for a back yard BBQ - all activities we have already experienced, even though it's winter!

The view from inside the house out to the rear yard. Three blue stone steps allow access to the elevated garden.

A planter box sits between the steps and the court yard and will be probably where we plant some feature plants or a feature tree or something.

Indoor-outdoor: Our living room flows naturally outside and onto the deck and then into the court yard.

It's just such a great space and such a great design. It makes you just want to be home and using these spaces. Can't wait for summer and some rays of sunshine.

The rumpus room opens out onto the outdoor room.

Both inside and outside spaces use the spotted gum running in the same direction. It really does give the illusion of flow and expanse and it's also very light and bright since it faces north.

To the right of this photo is a large stacker door that opens out onto the deck extension and the outdoor shower.

These spaces face east and are bathed in morning sunlight and sunshine. The perfect spot for alfresco breakfast.

The view from the outdoor room.

It's clear to see we hit the jack pot in choosing these guys to bring to life our outdoor spaces.

Not only is the design awesome. The quality of workmanship is meticulous and very high standard. The landscape architect can build just about anything. He's professional and offers great tips all the time that really do add value and help to optimise the design.

Our landscape consultants have nothing to do with Carter Grange, so no point asking CG about them. If you want to know more about their work, their costs or their process, contact them direct on 9850 4456 or 0407 333 883 or email

One thing is for sure. You will get a quality job that will really compliment your home.

Finally, we're having some issues with some aspects of the home now. We have our maintenance walk-through on Monday and will let you know the outcome of these issues once we've had a good chance to talk to CG about them. As long as they are rectified, we'll be happy.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Outdoor Room Decking

This outdoor room is going to be awesome. Got to love a big outdoor deck! It actually extends 1.8m out from the outdoor room and 1.8m from the side of the house giving a wonderful sense of space and expanse.

Our landscapers worked tirelessly to build a bomb-proof undercarriage and all the heights and levels are perfect. The deck is the same height as our floorboard internal floor and this creates the illusion of a seamless space between inside and outside.

More great tips from our landscape architect to use the same timber (spotted gum) running in the same direction as our internal floorboards. Looks great.

Also little tricks to make things level and to dress things up. Rather than just do the job, he's great cause he also offers professional suggestions and tips, often things you wouldn't have even thought about.

So decking should be finished this week and then on to the paving. The landscape will really compliment our house and with these hard structures built, essentially create two more rooms of functional space.

We're also now at our 3 month post completion mark. Through the week we received our maintenance check-list from Carter Grange. We won't really have that many items to record, and given our last experience with DD, the CG maintenance manager, we're quite confident all items will be attended to.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Landscape Coming to Life ..... and Looking Good!

Over the last couple of weeks, our landscaping has really progressed. Holes were dug, posts placed and retaining walls built to create the structure of our back yard landscape. We have designed a space that incorporates both decking and paving to create separate spaces, much like rooms in a house. Our landscape team have been excellent; they obviously know their stuff.

GC the landscape architect is a perfectionist and very knowledgeable, his foreman MR is a workhorse. They have provided some amazing tips and insights already, such as what levels to work off if you want the retaining wall to double as a place to sit and rest. Watching our landscape design come to life is exciting and will really cap off a beautiful home. Under pave concrete will be poured tomorrow and we will update once the paving and decking is complete.

We also had some maintenance issues that required attention. This week we met the Carter Grange Maintenance Manager and it must be noted, this guy was fantastic. He went above and beyond his call of duty. He was on time, efficient, very friendly and above all highly skilled. As an ex-accountant, he makes an outstanding maintenance man and we believe him when he says he can fix just about anything. The faults with our cavity sliding door, our sliding door and stacker door and our toilet flushes have all been rectified. Thank you DD. Job really well done.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

House Feels like a Home; Maintenance Required; Crossover Complete.

Seven weeks of living and our house now feels like a home!
Boxes have been unpacked, furniture arranged, we can get at least one car in the garage and we've even had time to indulge in some fresh flowers as a reward.

It's been a really busy few weeks settling in and we're getting to learn about the ins and outs of this home.

We're still waiting on our blinds to be completed and our landscaping to start. Both of these will happen over the next week or so.

The only downer is that we're still waiting for CG and their contractor, A&L Windows to fit our sliding flyscreen mesh doors. The guys have been out 3 times to complete this job and it remains incomplete because the mesh doors don't fit in the sliding door frame. Given these mesh doors were contracted items (that should have been fitted and complete at hand over), this has been disappointing. It would be great to see either CG or A&L, take responsibility, recognise our inconvenience and their lack of attention to detail and offer some gesture of goodwill in lieu. Let's see what comes of this.

Other maintenance issues to note:
- sticky cavity sliding door (try to avoid cavity sliding doors where possible)
- hanging clothes rail in our laundry robe was missed and they still haven't attended to complete
- two toilet flushes out of three are faulty and our SS has admitted to CG having trouble with their toilets (in this case, not sure why they continue to use these toilets)
- three of our door handles have already broken or are loose/faulty
- silicon seals/beading has cracked and will require re-caulking

One win is that our crossover has been completed. This allows us to access our driveway and garage. The crossover looks really good and we're happy the angles were calculated well so our cars don't bottom out. Thanks FM for your work here. A job really well done.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Exposed Aggregate Driveway

We have a driveway!

The guys worked efficiently to get this job done so we can access the garage. They came back early to ensure everything was set before the cement mixer arrived. The cement mix is poured in and very quickly spread out and then smoothed out.

The aggregate stones can not actually be seen when the mix is initially poured. It actually looks like simple coloured concrete when first poured.

It's left to set overnight and then the guys returned the next day to blast the cement with a very high pressure hose (3000psi). Like magic, the surface layer of cement is blasted away to reveal the beautiful aggregate mix beneath.

We chose our aggregate mix from Mentone PreMix who were very easy to deal with. We are very happy with the colour choice (Nurten Standard). Our landscaper explained why the mix was a very good mix; even after the very high pressure blasting, only a hand full of aggregate stones were displaced. Lesser quality mixes would see more stones displaced, and the more stones displaced, the more the mix just looks like asphalt!
Our concreter has done an awesome job. The driveway looks great. It falls away from the garage nicely. Today he organised a guy to return to saw cut the concrete (important to ensure the concrete does not crack) and tomorrow, the driveway will be sealed.

The driveway feels really good under bare feet. It has grip. Looks great. There are different quality aggregate mixes. We are very happy with this one and very happy with the work of our landscaper and concreter. Excellent organisation and coordination resulted in a job really well done.

We can't wait for the rest of our landscaping works to start. This will transform the house to yet another level.