Monday, 24 December 2012

End of Year Update: Progress & Lessons in Home Building

Thanks everyone for following this blog and the progress of our house build through the year. Sorry for the long end-of-year summary post.

What started out as a simple idea to document our experience during the construction of our home has really become a great way to interact with others who are presently going through a similar experience (be it with CG or any other builder) and even those considering to build. We have enjoyed being able to share many things we simply did not know or understand at the beginning of this process; many things we wish we knew from the start because they would have saved us valuable time and money and undue stress and worry.

So after five and half months of building, our house is structurally able to be locked up, the kitchen and stairs have been installed (but none of the items that create a home like toilets, sinks, basins, taps, benchtops, handles, etc) and all the plaster, doors, skirts and cornices are in place ready for internal painting.

Take a look!

Overall CG have been very good and most responsive to our concerns. Like any interaction, there will be disagreements and misunderstandings along the way. The main issues we face are probably a result of head office promises not being relayed clearly or effectively to our SS and his building team.

The first issue is our completion date, which has already been pushed back by about 4 weeks. We are doing everything we can to limit it being pushed back any more. The problem is our SS was never told that we had negotiated different contractual terms for our build period with head office sales and management. Our SS has told us that liquidated damages are there to compensate owners in the event the builder goes over the nominated build period. We understand this and this is part of the reason we also negotiated higher liquidated damages (luckily), however, we strongly feel that builders' miss the point here. At the start of this build, we believed that CG would complete our home in January 2013 ("and do everything possible to have us in before Christmas 2012") because this is what we were told'by one of its directors. Truth is that we were probably a bit naive, because according to our SS, there was never any chance of this happening.

Lesson: don't believe it when sales tell you they'll have you in your home by a certain date. Once you have signed, the build process will follow a standard schedule and take a standard amount of time and if it goes over, the builder will simply pay liquidated damages rather than re-allocate resources to meet contractual timelines.
Our advice. Negotiate a much higher liquidated damages before signing. An amount that will make the builder not want to overshoot contractual date of completion.

The second issue is our lower garage/laundry wall height. We've posted about this in the past (at the very start of this build in fact) - CG advised us that the local council had an objection with the height of the wall and that we had to drop the height of the garage/laundry as a result. We were reluctant due to the fact it created steps we did not want as well as an unsightly cavity sliding door. We did not think to question the notations for this variation. We should have, because we will now either have to accept that the house has a beautiful stained timber stair case that lands onto 2 steps that will be tiled, or pay extra money to upgrade to 2 stained timber steps (which is our preference, since it ties in with the rest of the house).

Lesson: do not assume anything. We naturally assumed (as probably any reasonable person would) that since the steps in the house were timber, the steps created as a result of a builder initiated variation, would be of the same material, therefore retaining a natural flow. This is not the case.
Our advice. Never assume that just because you've talked about it with your sales person, or seen it in the display home, that that's what you'll get. In fact, you will get what has been documented in your contract and if the contract doesn't spell the item out correctly, you will get the most cost effective option, rather than the option that makes reasonable sense.

The other very live issue we will need to manage in the new year is our slab rectification works. We're strong on this because the slab is vitally important to the overall long term integrity and performance of the house. It is the foundation on which everything else is built, and we expect the slab to be constructed absolutely correctly.

We're at a bit of a stalemate over the Christmas break. The slab rectification works were identified as defects in both the Frame and Pre-Plaster inspection reports conducted by our private building inspector. We're paid our building inspector good money to protect our interests during this build, so when he makes a recommendation, we'd be stupid not to follow it.

CG have countered these reports stating that, as a builder, they are satisfied the slab is fine and the rectification works that have taken place to date have been done correctly, effectively and entirely.

This is how the slab looks presently. Feel free to let us know your thoughts, especially if you have any experience in this area.

We're still not happy. We think there is still work to be done. We know that the the work pictured does not satisfy the rectification specifications detailed by the original design engineer. We know that CG have not followed our inspectors recommendations and we know that the relevant building surveyor has not inspected these works, nor certified them. We will talk to the relevant people about all of this in the new year.

With Christmas already here, these issues will go on hold until the new year. We really hope CG will be equally responsive to our concerns next year as they have been this year. With build time, the reality is we are where we are. Nothing can change this.

With the realisation that there is still a load of work that needs to be done, we are hoping that the remaining outstanding issues, that should already have been completed (but weren't because they were either missed or required rectification), will not disrupt and/or prevent the smooth and timely completion of the rest of the home - namely, painting, tiling, fixing off all the items inside the house, fixing off the plumbing and electrical, shelves, flooring, etc.

All in all, the Hyatt38 house looks fantastic on our block. We love the metal colour bond roof and the render colours we have chosen. The inside of the home is coming along too. We have been told by CG that they will wait until 7 or 8 of January to get a specific painter to do the painting because he does a great job. Let's hope this is the case. We can't wait to see the home fully painted with all the internal items fixed in place. We are also looking forward to seeing this home with it's tiles, floorboards and carpet.

Between now and completion, we will also start to obtain quotes and design ideas about landscaping, fencing, walls, decking and driveways. If you have experience (or know anyone that does) in any of these areas, we'd love to hear from you.

Finally, we have created an email account for any private communications. Feel free to continue to post comments to this blog and/or email us directly.

For now, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

For those currently building, good luck with getting your homes to completion and handover smoothly. For those considering building, watch this space. We have learnt so much from this experience and stand to learn loads more as our house nears completion and then is handed over to us. Hopefully, we can help you avoid many of the "learning experiences" we have experienced during our build process, as well as pre-build contract stage and post completion hand-over stage. And yes, we plan to continue this blog after our house has been handed over.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Kitchen & Stairs Installed

Kitchen went in yesterday and stairs started yesterday and finished today. Thought the carpenter was due back today, but he must be on the job tomorrow. Talked to our SS today who confirmed the slab rectification works will be complete "well before Christmas". Let's wait and see.

Apparently it takes 4 days (Fri, Mon, Tues, Wed) for plasterers to patch and sand, which we find very surprising since they hung the plaster for the entire house (ground and first floor and ceiling) in a day! We still feel the painting should at least be started before Christmas. In fact, there was actually enough time to finish the painting before Christmas!

The stairs look really good and they'll look fantastic when stained. The kitchen also looks good. Plenty of space. It will look great when fitted off with the benchtops, sinks, taps and appliances.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Meeting with our SS

The Monday meeting was postponed to today. So we met our SS early this morning and firstly, must say, it was disappointing to see that nothing at all was done yesterday. For a company supposedly trying their best to reach handover by the date stipulated in our contract, we feel plenty can be achieved in a day.

Take today (Tuesday) for example. The entire kitchen, all cabinets (vanities, laundry) and the stairs were all installed today (photos to come). This is an amazing amount of work. We're told the carpenter will be back tomorrow to finish off door frames, window frames, skirts and touch-ups and then the plasterers will return on Thurs/Fri to do their "patch and sand" which is essentially finishing off their work such that all surfaces are adequately prepared and ready for the painters. We are not sure then what else needs to be done before the painting commences and need to clarify why painting can not start next week. As it stands, our SS suggested the painting would commence in the first week on January, but we would hate to think CG have just written off next week.

We discussed the slab issues with our SS on-site today too. He was supposedly meeting with the concreter today to discuss the rectification. We also need to confirm if this happened. Our SS has assured us the slab faults will be rectified in accordance with the design engineers slab detail and we have once again requested a copy of the relevant building surveyor's inspection report and certification that the slab works have been completed and done entirely and correctly this time around.

The matter of the hebel and the hebel rebate over the slab is still a very live issue. Our private building inspector did not end up meeting with CG managementlast Friday and our SS, while sympathetic (he actually agrees with us that the hebel bottom finish and the matter of landscaping against the hebel panels are both areas of concern), says that this matter rests with CG management who are currently in the process of formulating a solution. At this stage, we will need to wait and see, but we will certainly be seeking an answer before we sign off on fix.

Those following this blog who are just starting out on their build and who have chosen to build using hebel panels (which will be all CG clients), need to be aware of these issues when building with hebel. We don't want issues with slab heave or water ingress leading to damp issues in the future, and nor should you. This is the reason we are so keen to hear how CG will be addressing this issue. Will keep you all posted.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Hebel Issues / Plaster First Stage Finished

The plasterers worked through this week to complete first stage of the plastering. The entire house has been plastered, bulkheads formed, joins and screws filled and cornices done. Today the ladder and platform to access the first floor was removed in preparation for the stairs to be installed on Monday and the kitchen cabinets to go in same day or Tuesday. So fixing stage is well and truly in progress.

As previously mentioned, the Pre-Plaster Inspection report identified that there are still defects with the side walls of our concrete slab (an item carried over from our frame stage report and yet to be rectified correctly) and issues with the the installation of the hebel. Here are the issues:

The hebel panels along this side of the house do not extend down the wall far enough to align with the ones where the garage and laundry have been stepped down. This has left the floor slab clearly exposed.
The CG solution will be to clear the soil from the side of the house and apply a render coat to the concrete slab, hopefully creating a neat interaction between the hebel. We have been told it will be no problem concreting or paving against the render. Hopefully this is correct.

The ground floor hebel panels along every side of the house have not been finished along their bottom edges. Clearly visible in these photos. Also, the edges of the floor slab have not yet been aligned and finished in with the bottom of the hebel wall panels. You can clearly see the hebel overhanging (and at variable amounts) the slab. In other areas, it's actually the reverse, with the slab protruding further than the hebel. The other problem is the black plastic under the hebel panels is visible.
So the problem is that it's very difficult to concrete, pave and even landscape neatly against these edges. Not only will it be uneven and unsightly; we've been told that paving/concreting under the hebel panels could result in unwanted slab heave - no good as this could crack the render finish. The alternative is to pave/concrete/landscape against the hebel itself which we have been advised not to do as this creates problems in itself (eg water ingress).
We have a meeting with our SS first thing Monday morning to discuss these issues. Apparently our building inspector also had a meeting with CG today to discuss these issues too. We are hopeful CG will address the hebel issues and come up with suitable and sustainable rectification methods to fix these problems now so they don't become bigger problems in the future. Given CG presently only build using hebel, it's in their best interest to detail proper solutions to these issues.

There are still areas of the slab where the concrete coverage is honeycombed and the steel reinforcement exposed. Apparently the relevant building surveyor certified these works as being complete, which is alarming and disappointing given the present state of the slab (see photo). Works have either not been done as requested or have not been done in accordance with the engineers design. We've been told the concreter is returning next week to complete the slab works in accordance with the design engineer's specification and slab repair detail.

Prior to this, we've been advised the design engineer should actually inspect the slab and make complete recommendations on how to best treat and rectify so that our floor slab can be fully and correctly repaired. We've also been advised the relevant building surveyor should actually be present to supervise the rectification works when they are undertaken. We will confirm these two points when we meet our SS on Monday. We simply want CG to get this right and trust these slab works will be done correctly and entirely. We would not be happy if slab issues were still identified as defects in our next independent inspection report.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Plastering Commences

Happy to inform that the internal defects identified in the pre-plaster report were all either rectified as directed or certified as being acceptable in the present as-built state. We met our SS on-site on Tuesday and he pointed out each rectification work. The insulation issue had not been rectified and to his credit, he had this work completed by the end of the day.

We still need the external defects, namely slab, slab set down and hebel, rectified, however, as these can be completed independently of any internal fixing works, we allowed CG to start with the plastering.

What a surprise to visit the site the next day (Wednesday) and see all the plaster sheeting (ground and first floor) hung and in place. It really is starting to feel like a home. The bulkheads provide features and look fantastic. You can see how much light reaches each room and with the insulation and plaster up, it sound very quiet within the walls of the house now.

A recommendation. CG pack insulation into all external wall frames, however, not in any internal wall frames. Our study will double as a guest bedroom, and since it shares a wall with a rumpus room (TV, music, noise, etc), we decided to pack acoustic wall insulation into this wall. This was cheap and easy. Wear gloves, but certainly, you can just rip these bats to correct size with your hands.

We'll be interested to see how long this initial plaster phase takes (especially since we opted for cornices, not square set, because we were expressly told this choice would make this stage much quicker). We've been told 7 - 10 days. Then the kitchen cabinets are installed along with the stairs.

We've attached some photos of the house now. It's looking good.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Pre-Plaster Inspection Report

Received the actual report on Friday. The report identified 13 building defects in total.

Item 1 was all about the slab rectification. This was flagged in the frame report and it's disappointing to be shown the extent to which this was not done and done incorrectly. The relevant building surveyor supposedly supervised and signed off on these works; we've requested copies of the supervision/inspection certificates.

Items 2 - 8 are all framing and/or design issues. According to our SS, all very minor rectifications that will be completed by a carpenter tomorrow, and before the plastering starts on Wednesday.

Item 9 is one part of the hebel issue.

Item 10 and 11 relate to the insulation; specifically insulation that is missing in certain places and which will need to be installed prior to plastering.

Item 12 and 13 relate to the sarking (the roof lining below the colourbond) (discussed in previous posts); specifically areas of the sarking that have been cut, torn or dislodged and which will need to be rectified per the relevant Aust Standard.

At this stage, we will have a meeting with our SS on-site on Tuesday, so he can point out and explain each rectification work. We need to be sure that all internal defects identified in the pre-plaster report have been rectified before the plastering commences. Obviously, the external defects (eg slab and hebel issues) can be rectified during internal fixing stage.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Private Pre-Plaster Inspection - Helpful insights

Our pre-plaster inspection was conducted today and it was comforting to hear that the build is looking quite good. Most of the items listed in the frame stage inspection report and defects list had been attended to. The exceptions were:

1. Concrete floor slab rectification: incomplete in some parts and unsatisfactory in other parts. Disappointing to have pointed out areas of the slab where the steel reinforcement is still exposed; areas where the slab is still ‘honeycombed’; and lengths along the slab where the soil has not been sufficiently cleared away to properly inspect the integrity of the slab. Further rectification works will be required.

 2. Engineering design issues: New Home Inspections rightly noted all design issues that varied from the engineering report. We had previously gone through this report with our SS. A few items noted have not been rectified as required based on the engineering report. Our SS gave us the reason for this, suggesting that many engineering reports are generic and over engineered, and that some items on the report were simply not necessary (eg using 2 TSX studs instead of the 3 recommended in the engineering report). Our SS went on to explain that the engineer confirmed in writing that the work completed was sufficient despite said work being different from that described in his original engineering report. We have been advised to obtain these written confirmations and will seek to obtain these from CG.

The other major area of concern is a hebel issue, similar to that experienced by other CG clients (js19 has made comments about this previously). In short, our understanding is this. Unlike bricks, hebel (aerated concrete) is porous. Therefore it is not advisable to but concrete or paving up against the hebel cladding. This would create a direct interaction between the two materials which would allow water to reach the hebel cladding. The alternative is to finish the concreting/paving beneath the hebel. Problem here is that this will then expose the bottom finish of the hebel panels and render and in many places, the damp proof course. This is very unsightly and really not satisfactory either. 

We had a good chat with our building inspector who suggested preferred methods to rectify this issue. These will be detailed in his report and we are hopeful CG will implement these suggestions immediately, especially since all their houses are built using hebel. Once again, our building inspector was really informative, knowledgable and clearly an advocate. We appreciated the time he spent on-site with us today describing his findings and explaining how best to address issues. 

We will let you know about the other items in the pre-plaster report once it is complete.

A quick side note. While on site today we also noticed that the insulation had been installed throughout the house; throughout the roof and also in all external walls. There were at least two places that were missed – above the master bedroom and along the entry passage near the laundry/study wall. These places, you could clearly see into the roof cavity above. They should be plugged up with insulation too, and we believe this will be an item in the pre-plaster report anyway.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Our House - Now at Lock-Up Stage

A milestone. Our Hyatt 38 house is now technically at lock-up stage. 2 weeks behind the initial plan outlined at build commencement, so not bad really. Progress has been steady.
These photos show what our house looks like and you can now see that the lower roof trusses and the ground floor roof are all in place. We still need some gutters, flashing and bits and pieces; we still need some hebel cladding in certain places and there are a few touch ups required, but overall, you get a feel for this house and all of its space.

During the week, further works were also completed inside the house. We note that much of the electrical and data cabling has also been done, the ducted heating and evaporative cooling has also been installed (you can see the tip of the evap. cooler unit in this photo), most of the plumbing has been installed and the carpenter has been back to frame up features such as bulk heads, wardrobes and door frames.

At the same time, we note that some of the items we discussed with our site supervisor during our last meeting have been attended to which is great. We have another meeting with SS on Friday to discuss.
This meeting will also serve to discuss the next stage(s) in the build. We've been told to book our pre-plaster inspection for next week, so New Home inspections will again attend to conduct a private inspection (this will be on Wednesday next week). Not sure what's happening between now and then - we assume this time will be used by CG to dot their i's and cross their t's before the pre-plaster inspection. Hopefully, any faults or issues that they are presently aware of or that can be identified will be rectified this time before our paid private inspection is conducted on Wednesday 21 November.

These are some photos showing the lower roof trusses and how they interact with the frame and the house. These are quite large spans across our dining and living room space. There's not a great deal of space in the roof cavity we've noticed. Same is very true for the first floor roof space too.

This photo shows the heating and cooling ducts. They are very fat and thick and they take up an extraordinary amount of space in the roof cavity. We wonder how the roof/ceiling insulation will actually be installed. We wonder how they will get the insulation in and under these large, fat, black pipes (ducts).

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

On-Site Meeting with our SS

We spent a decent amount of time together last Friday, namely to go over the Schedule of Building Defects and to discuss some concerns we had with the construction to date.

Here's the outcome of the meeting:
1. concrete floor slab has been rectified and has been signed off by the engineer and relevant building surveyor.
2. corner of floor slab on right side of garage door opening has been rectified.
3. most of the engineering design issues that had been missed, have now been completed. Our SS was great in going through each issue listed and showing us how it had been rectified. There were a few Ankascrews (essentially, large screws that hold the DS and DSX studs (these are a special type of timber, usually found beneath lintels or at doors/windows) (they are marked on the engineering plan) [the engineers for our home are Buratt Consulting Engineers]) still missing, some Multigrip anchors (look like metal plates that help to secure the joining of timbers) still missing, hoop iron strapping still missing - and our SS confirms these will all be attended to.
4. the big concern in this section of the report was that the large steel beam that spans the entire width of our living room space and also supports the first floor is only screwed down to the lower wall top plates. This was flagged in the schedule (of defects), however, our SS confirms that the engineer is satisfied this is not a problem and has confirmed this in writing (by email).
5. untreated radiata pine framing nailed straight to the slab (ie direct ground contact) at the front of the garage. Again flagged in the schedule, but in the end, not replaced, our SS instead opting to place treated pine battens adjacent the existing timber uprights. We have been assured this is sufficient to prevent timber rot and the framing members failing prematurely.
6. the chipboard sheet flooring to first floor had not been fixed into the joists sufficiently. Our SS has confirmed the floor will actually be screwed down as part of the standard CG process.

We also asked our SS about the issues raised in the last post. He confirms the steel posts in the garage were measured short and therefore a small section was required to be welded to it to ensure the correct height. He assures us this is common place and that this in no way affects the integrity or strength of support and foundation in this area of the house.

The other areas we flagged ourselves with respect to the timber framing, such as the roof spanning beam that is seemingly only supported by 3 nails, and some entire timber frames (that will form walls in our house, namely rear garage/laundry and leisure) will also be rectified, with additional bracing and strengthening to be used.

We also noted that the silt pits that CG have installed around the house (4 in total) appear to be set very low. These pits need to be exposed and can not sit below the surface. We have requested that they are extended upwards.

All in all, a really solid meeting. We've lost a week or two along the way, but as long as mistakes are minimised and, if they do occur, are resolved and rectified to comply with the Australian Standards, we're happy. Certainly CG continue to be good builders to be working with.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Minor Delays ..... No Need for Concern

No updates through the week, cause not a great deal of action on-site. Our site supervisor has explained events and it's no big deal. So as at yesterday, here's where our build is at. The first floor exterior is now complete. The hebel has been rendered (colour is Dulux Pipe Clay), the eaves completed and the scaffolding has been taken down. This has allowed the chippy back on-site to install some of the lower roof trusses, which are now ready to accept the ground floor colourbond roof. This is what the house presently looks like.

So aside from the minor delay, we're happy with how the build is progressing. We also noted that most of the roughing for services has been completed, the bath hob has been installed and some of the internal doors have also been installed.

A friend identified a few potential issues (see photos below) and we will raise these with our site supervisor tomorrow at a scheduled on-site meeting. During this meeting we will also go through the Schedule of Building Defects and our site supervisor will detail how CG has chosen to rectify the defect. We are hoping all defects have been satisfactorily attended to.

Roughly circled you can see a large spanning beam that supports roof trusses of the first floor roof. The only thing attaching this beam to the cross beam appears to be three nails punched in at an angle. We're unsure if this ok, since most other spanning beams are braced or end in places where there is upright structural support. In this case, there doesn't seem to be much support (if any) for this entire spanning beam and the structures it supports. We're not sure if this a concern or not. Any comments are welcome. We will also ask our site supervisor tomorrow.

Another thing that was noted is the welding of a small segment of steel post between the large steel post(s) that support a major steel beam that spans the entire length of our garage. Picked up by a friend who thinks that the length of the steel post(s) was cut incorrectly, so had to be supplemented by adding the small segment between the end of the post and the large  spanning beam. The frame around this post (which forms the rear garage wall) also appears to be unsupported or not braced.

We are not sure if this is intentional or not. It could be standard practice, but honestly, we can not think of a reason why the actual steel post does not go all the way to meet and support the beam.  It will good to find out during our meeting tomorrow in any case. We will let you know once we have some answers.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Hebel Almost Finished

Met our site supervisor on-site this afternoon and it's great to see that our house is almost fully clad. The whole ground floor is clad as is most of the first floor. The hebel looks good and you can now clearly see how they are installed and how each block interacts with both the house frame and the other blocks.

We're told the next stage is to complete the carpentry for the eaves and then to render the hebel to the first floor. Then all the scaffolding will come down at the end of this week. With the scaffolding dismantled, the roof trusses to the remaining areas of the ground floor under the roof-line (includes the garage) will be installed, the roof completed and the ground floor hebel rendered. This should all be complete by the end of next week and we presume this will essentially get us to lock-up stage.

We didn't comb through the house today to check off the schedule of building defects, as it's difficult to move freely through the home with all the scaffolding around the site. Once the scaffolding is down and the site cleaned, we will meet again with our site supervisor on Nov 2 to go through the schedule and to ensure everything is order before proceeding to the next stage. We imagine that the pre-plaster inspection will occur at this point too.

We had a friend on-site late this afternoon (who's father is a builder) too. He picked up a few areas where questions may need to be asked. Again, if you've never been exposed to building before, you'd never even know to ask the question(s).

Friday, 12 October 2012

Hebel - Progress Report

Not much progress made on the actual house this week. As mentioned previously, the hebel to ground floor is almost complete. The bulk of the work this week has been to erect the scaffolding, which has proved to be quite a job in itself, around the perimeter of the house. This scaffolding will be used to install the hebel to the first floor. It must be quite a job as the hebel blocks are certainly not light. We hope now the scaffolding is up, that the hebel installation will complete next week. Looking forward to seeing this home fully clad. Once this happens, our understanding is that the next stage is to render the hebel cladding.

While on-site we also noticed that the faulty concrete slab beneath the steel post at the front right of garage entrance had again been worked on. It looks much better now. The concrete does not appear honeycombed. It looks more solid with complete coverage. A length of timber has been added to the inner side of the steel post. The post itself and the timber frame no longer overhang the concrete. We hope that it will now comply with the standards and satisfy our building inspector when he returns for the pre-plaster inspection. See the photo below.

The slab rectification works have also been completed. See photo below. Our site supervisor is happy with the rectification works, which have also been signed off on by the relevant building surveyor. The edge of the slab certainly looks much better now, and we hope these works ensure the long-term performance of the slab and the house.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Hebel Stage - Ground Floor

These photos were taken on the weekend. It's great to see the ground floor hebel has almost been finished. Only some of the walls facing east remain to be completed. We really like hebel as a product. It should look clean, sharp and modern when fully rendered.

Hebel is lightweight steel-reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete. The hebel is supplied in large blocks which are attached to metal studs with bolts. The photo below shows two of these metal studs (running horizontal underneath the window). Hebel as an external cladding is supposedly easier to work with than bricks and therefore much quicker to install than laying bricks. We are told that using hebel as our external cladding will shorten the overall build period. Coupled with the other documented benefits of hebel (highly fire resistant, high acoustic absorption, excellent insulative properties), we are very glad CG use hebel as a standard inclusion rather than a paid upgrade.

CSR Building Products Limited manufacturers Hebel. They produce a Design & Installation Guide that describes the benefits, design approach and considerations when using hebel (and specifically hebel powerblocks) for your home. If you are using or considering to use hebel for your home, we would recommend being familiar with this guide.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Preparation for Hebel

Yesterday we noticed the hebel had been delivered to site and that various works had been done in preparation for installing the hebel. A material (like foil, could be insulation) is attached to the house frame to create the sensation of walls surrounding the house. The material is silver from the inside, and green (branded Carter Grange) from the outside. We're told the guys will start installing the hebel tomorrow and that ground floor is done first, then scaffolding erected before the hebel is installed to the first floor. It takes about 3 weeks to complete the hebel. We're interested to see how it's installed.

Slab Rectification Works 1

It appears slab rectification has commenced. It looks like they've cut back the concrete in the areas where the steel was exposed. They've then treated and coated the steel with something. rather large sections of the slab have been affected and given the slab is integral to structural performance of the house, we will need to ensure this is all being done correctly and that it meets the standards.

Our site supervisor has confirmed that the relevant building surveyor has inspected these works and that now, everything is ready for repair. See photos below.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Windows & Sliding Doors Installed

The windows and sliding doors to our home have now been installed. One of the big attractions to CG house designs is their use of windows - big, bold and visible. You can see the big windows at the front of our home; we've also opened up much of the back of the home with large sliding doors and stacker doors. This house will be flooded with natural light, and we love the thought of this.

This photo shows the view to the street out of the windows from our first storey. This is the view that will greet people when they walk up the stairs. The windows form the rear wall of the upstairs leisure area. We are unsure what window furnishings to use for these windows - perhaps shutter blinds or roller blinds or maybe just a one-way film or tint. We have some time to think about this and get it right. Any suggestions?

Also, through the week we received the engineers detail regarding the slab rectification. It states, "remove rust from exposed reinforcement. The exposed steel and general concrete area must be cleaned, scable surface & reo and use Barrafer A (or equivalent). Completely cover steel and general concrete area. Apply concresive 2525 epoxy binder (or equivalent) and provide 30mm Emaco S88C mortar (or equivalent)." It also states, "edge beam repair to be inspected by a qualified building surveyor prior to concrete poor".

Our site supervisor has confirmed that his concretor has engaged a specialist at rectifying these types of work and that he will be on-site on Monday preparing the works. This sounds encouraging. Once the works have been prepared, the surveyor will come out to inspect, before the actual rectification works. Our supervisor feels that only one inspection is required.

The framers also came back out to attend to the other rectification works contained in the schedule of building defects. We noted most of the items had been attended to. Hopefully we can touch base with our site supervisor through the coming week and certainly when the slab works are complete. One of the defects that is still concerning us is the base rail of the timber frame at the front of the garage. At last check, it had not been changed to treated pine, and potentially this is work that still needs to be done. This is on our list to ask the site supervisor.