Wednesday, 29 August 2012


Being able to walk on the slab and see the slab on the site is a little bitter sweet. It gives you a great sense of where and how the house will be situated and it really does get you thinking about the house design. Obviously, it's much easier to visualise things when you can see them in 3D and on-site rather than simply looking at a 2D plan on a piece of paper.

We realised that we hadn't really optimised the house for light and space. It really needs more glass at the rear of the house (which faces north).

We've asked CG to cost up a variation that would include adding either a window or a sliding door to the rear wall of the house. Noting that we are almost at frame stage, we had a feeling this might be costly. And it is. Much more so than we were expecting. Apparently, adding a window is not as simple as buying a window. The variation would require re-engineering, re-assessment of energy rating, amending the building permit, additional bracing and additional administration fees. Not good news really. We had hoped it would be a much simpler (and less costly) exercise.

My advice. Avoid these variations if you can. They will be costly!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Base Stage Complete - Slab Done

We're really pleased with CG so far. Good weather prevailed over the weekend and our site supervisor ensured the slab was poured ...... and this happened at 7.30am on a Saturday. Excellent work, thanks DL for getting this done on a weekend. We could watch the slab being poured and it was all done by about 12 noon. The truck and machinery in the background poured the cement and the picture below shows the end result. You can see the wooden frame containing the concrete. In actual fact, that slab is much higher than I imagined. We didn't wait for the concrete to set dry.

By the end of the weekend, the wooden framing had been removed, the site cleaned and the slab was dry. We had a walk on our slab today. It's flat and smooth and it looks great. Met our site supervisor on site today and he seemed really happy with the slab. This makes us happy. He took the time to explain a few of the processes and informed us that the framers would start later in the week. Very exciting. The pictures below show our completed slab. It really looks great.

So now we can clearly see the size, shape and different levels of the slab. We have a step up from the garage into the house. Also the rear alfresco area is set lower than the main house too. Being able to see the footprint of the house makes it much easier to visualise the different rooms and zones of the house. We like the height of the slab. The house should sit nice and high on our block. We're really happy we extended the width of the garage. Despite the extra 1050mm, the garage stills looks small and I would caution would-be house builders to consider extending their garage - I really don't think the standard garage width is wide enough. Certainly you would be left with very little or no storage space beside the cars if you chose to garage two cars. The bigger the garage the better I say! Our fingers are crossed the frame goes up mistake free now. We're looking forward to watching this next stage.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Progress - Preparation for the Slab

Despite the weather, progress was good this week. The day after the drainage was installed, preparation commenced to get the site ready for the slab. When we had a look at the site at the end of the day on Thurs, it looked very orderly. See the photos above and right . The wooden framing was in place which presumably contains the concrete used to make the slab. Black plastic covered most of the site. Initially we thought that the crushed rock would be placed on top of the plastic. My understanding now is that the crushed rock has already been compacted and leveled underneath the black plastic, which is also known as a vapour barrier.

 Today, even more work had been done. On top of the black plastic, we could now see a grid created by white polystyrene blocks spread out across the site. Steel reinforcement seems to run beneath and on top of the polystyrene. I imagine the concrete is poured over the top of this grid to create the waffle pod slab.

The plumbing clearly protrudes from the polystyrene grid allowing us to roughly make out some key house areas such as bathrooms and the kitchen. It's also nice to be able to see the shape and size and height of the slab.

We've been told the slab will be poured tomorrow, so I assume that what you see in the pictures is the final preparation before the slab pour. We really hope it doesn't rain too much overnight because we don't know how rain will actually affect the slab preparation before the concrete is poured. As it is, there are still some areas where water has pooled on top of the black plastic underneath the polystyrene blocks. Hopefully this is no reason for concern. I'm sure CG are aware of this.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Progress - Screw Piles installed, Drainage laid

At the start of the week our site looked more like a swimming pool than a building site. The bored piers were in the ground but not easily visible due to all the water and mud on the surface. I expressed my concerns to CG and they suggested I rest assured; nothing to be concerned about (especially with all the rain). I must say that their communication is excellent. When messages are left, they always get back to you. It does give you confidence.

As explained, the wet weather did not stop the installation of the screw piles. Our site now contains 45 bored piers and 11 screw piles. This picture shows what screw piles look like. You can see 3 in a row there.  Unlike bored piers, the screw piles are clearly visible as they stick out above the surface.

The drainage has also been laid. This includes all the drainage pipes, the AG drains and the silt pits. The drainage pipes are 100mm diameter.

This photo was taken today and after a few days of clear weather and the drainage now installed, our build site looks much drier. It is however still very uneven and soft under foot. The machine shown here to dig out the drainage has really churned things up on the surface. I also wonder if it moving across the building site has done any damage to the bored piers and the screw piles in-situ. I'm sure it would be a very heavy machine.Certainly, I was unable to see all the bored piers and, while I could see all the screw piles yesterday, I note that today, only 4 of the 11 are visible - the other 7 now buried beneath mud presumably dug up and moved by the drainage machine.

CG have explained that once the drainage is complete, the entire site will be cleaned up and leveled. Following this, each bored pier and screw pile should be clearly visible and each bored pier should be roughly the same height. Once leveled, about 4 inches of crushed rock is then applied across the entire build site, compacted and leveled. My understanding is that at this point, the site is ready for slab preparation. So we have our fingers crossed that this relatively fine weather continues, so work can progress swiftly.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Laying the Foundations

So the big machinery rolled in and started drilling holes all over the site. The bad news. It just rained and rained and rained. Can't control the weather. We weren't sure how all the rain would affect the work and the progress on-site. Turns out we found out late on Friday.

Received calls from both ops manager and site supervisor explaining that the rain had really softened the soil on-site. The result was that when some of the holes were being dug (in preparation for the concrete pour to create the bored piers), they kept caving in. We were given the choice to accept  that works would need to be halted (for anywhere up to 4 weeks and dependent on the weather) until the weather cleared and the ground soil firmed so that holes could be dug effectively and the piers constructed correctly OR agree to the upgrade of 13 of the 56 bored piers to Screw Piles, apparently better because they are founded deeper than bored piers and can be installed immediately and regardless of the rain and water logged soil. I trust this to be correct as the upgrade to screw piles also comes at a (rather large) extra cost - that's unexpected expense number two. Hope there's not too many more.

We checked the site over the weekend and it does look like a mess. The ground soil is muddy and uneven and water has pooled on the surface in areas at the rear of the site. Really hard to tell how many bored piers have been effectively poured. I do wonder how they deal with the excess water and then level out the site in preparation for the slab pour. It's also hard to identify where the screw piles will be sunk and we are presently waiting for the updated engineering plan. I also wonder if we will be able to see the difference between a bored pier and a screw pile once they have been installed and sunk into the ground.

As long as the result is a foundation that is solid and effective and forms the basis of a building that will stand the test of time, we will accept the extra cost and trust that good progress can be made on-site through this week. Please, please, no more rain!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Site Cut

Met our site supervisor on-site today. He's outlined a rough build program highlighting key dates in the build. We inspected the site-cut. Here's a picture of our site.

Next step is for them to drill holes through the soil which will be filled with concrete to ground level to create "bored piers" - 56 in total across the site. Over these bored piers is placed crushed rock and then the slab is poured over the top. This is a very important step in the build since this process creates the foundations of our home.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Site Start: 6 August 2012

Our 5% building deposit has been paid and CG have confirmed our site start - 6 August. Admin have now handed our file over to the construction team. I must say, CG admin have been fantastic, the ops manager professional, understanding and very good at managing and resolving our concerns. A great asset to the CG ops team. They listen to your comments and are extremely reasonable and understanding, providing us with great confidence to progress through the process and allowing us to be very open in our communication. I can only hope the construction team and our site supervisor are equal to the task. I get the feeling they will be. I have already been contacted by our site supervisor, who has offered to meet with us to discuss the process moving forward. I imagine he'll outline the building program and help to set in place what we can expect during the build.

To their great credit, CG came through with updates to their general Contract Specifications. Their build quality, dimensions and workmanship will now be referenced against the National Construction Code and the Guide to Standards and Tolerances. They had no issue making these changes since, as they have stated all along, they build their homes to this quality anyway.

To say we're looking forward to work starting on site would be an understatement. Fingers crossed for some fine weather, some great tradesman and no major mistakes or unforeseen problems on-site.

Look forward to some pictures of the progress over the coming weeks. Good luck CG. Our home is now in your hands and we hope you build us a wonderful home in the time you have suggested.