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.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Landscaping Commences

We've retained Summit Landscape Consultants for the landscape architecture and landscape works. To date they have been super professional to deal with. Their quoting was accurate and detailed. Their director, GC, is a qualified landscape architect and a great bloke. Not only does he appear to have the relevant skills and knowledge - he's already given us some great "out-of-the-box" ideas which we will incorporate into our design - he also has a great attitude, very relaxed and easy to talk to. We can't wait to see what he and his team can create around our home.

Last week the machines rolled in again to dig and excavate to create the correct levels for our driveway, front porch, rear outdoor room and rear courtyard. The steel mesh and form work has also been laid out in preparation for the concrete pour on Thursday. Summit's concreter is also a great bloke who seems to be very experienced too. We've chosen an exposed aggregate concrete for the driveway.

The only problem we noted was the fact that our termite protection barrier around the side of the front porch is too high. It presently sits above the height of the garage floor (another result of the drop in garage floor height) and will need to be lowered to below this level so the concrete for the driveway can be poured over it. CG have already been informed of this and will return to rectify. They know this needs to be done by Thursday.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Post-Handover Maintenance Issues

Having had a few nights now in our new home, there are some things we'd like to point out and a few tips we thought we'd share.

1. The night of handover (last Wed), we noticed damp carpet upstairs but could not see where water was coming from because our first floor lights did not work. In the morning, we noticed the smoke alarm was dripping water and so called CG. Electrician attended and after climbing into the roof space, found the evaporative cooling unit (Brivis) to be leaking, which in turn flooded the smoke alarm and this was causing the safety switch to trip. Brivis has since attended and confirmed that there's nothing wrong with the unit and suggested that sometimes water can spill during the commissioning of the heating/cooling. As long as there are no more leaks or water in the roof space, we're happy. TIP: after your AC has been commissioned, run it immediately for the whole day at a high fan speed - this will test if there are any issues like a leak or a faulty unit.

2. You'd imagine when the house is handed over that the electrical would all be wired up and ready to go. We did. This is why we organised for Telstra to attend on the Friday to connect our fixed phone and internet.. Neither of these guys could get anything inside the house working, cause basically, the electricians had not run the wires. Again electricians attended and lucky the Telstra internet guy was a gun and was able to get our modem working and WiFi established. Phones were still playing up, and we only just managed to connect our fixed line phones today after the electricians returned today to finish their job.

3. Ditto with regard to TV. We organised Australian Antennas to attend  to install the TV antenna. This guy could get us perfect reception next to our hot water system (yes, that's outside the house, where there was a cable feed), but nothing inside the house because the coax cables that should have been laid had not been. The electricians fixed this after a few hours, but they should have been done in the first place. We hope the cables serving our pay TV points have been laid ready for pay TV. Although, since we're not planning to subscribe to pay TV just yet, we wont know this until some point down the track.

4. The Ariston wall canopy range hood (RHC6IX) is very noisy. Plus ours was faulty and a guy needed to come out and replace the motor. It's still extremely noisy, and our SS is seeing what can be done about it. TIP: use good quality ducting with high performance range hoods.

5. Our washing machine was stopping mid cycle and still full of soapy, dirty water. There was also a leak coming form somewhere. The plumbers attended today and were quick to identify and then solve the problem. The small nodule under sink where the waste is connected, usually comes out of the shop blocked at this point. You need to drill this block out so the waste water can actually travel and escape out. If not the waste water has no where to go and creates a feedback loop which essentially flags to the machine there's a problem and the machine stops its wash cycle.

6. Carpet: where carpet meets floorboard, the carpet is tucked in neatly against a metal trim. Problem is that the nails (that the carpet is held down by) can be felt here when walking with bare feet. These have already drawn blood and will need to be rectified. Our SS is already on top of this.

Things we like about this product and things we'd do differently:
- the toilets are a great shape and design (with soft close seats and lids - so the kids can't slam them down)
- the shower heads are very good and the tap fittings are good looking too
- the handles on the sliding doors are too large and make it difficult to hang roller blinds inside the architrave. Would have been better to go for smaller handles; would make for a neater blind installation
- kitchen flows really well and the butler's pantry is the best idea
- we have a much better idea about where power points should have been placed and the ones that are useless because of their present position versus the best location for furniture
- absolutely should have had a data hub. In fact this is what we wanted and what we thought we would get, but it was never reflected in the contract
- feature walls look great, bulkheads and voids look great and the glass splash backs are  a feature

No doubt as we live in this house and use it's space and features, we will come to know more about it; what works and what doesn't, the good and the bad, the way it feels and makes us feel. We will keep posting our thoughts, tips and suggestions.

Blinds should be installed on Thursday. Likewise, our driveway works are due to commence on Thursday too. More about the people and businesses undertaking these works for us. So the house is built, and now comes the time to dress it!

Finally, this is the sight that greeted us yesterday morning. This is the view straight out of our first floor windows. A really low pass by a fleet of hot air balloons. An amazing sight really. We wonder what this house would have looked like from above. Maybe we need to book a hot air balloon flight and cross our fingers the winds blow in the right direction!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Settlement & Handover - This Home Complete!

Very happy to report that our home is complete. We had our final presentation and settlement with our SS and customer service administrator on-site on Monday.

In return for our final payment, we were given the keys to our new home along with a folder containing all of the relevant certificates and documents and information related to our home. Knowing how difficult it actually is to coordinate and manage companies like electricity and gas distributors (eg Jemena) and their retailers, trades (plumbers and electricians), etc we really did appreciate that all of this "running around" behind the scenes was taken care of by CG on our behalf. By settlement, our gas meter had already been installed, with a gas line to the property present, we had electricity to the property and the heating/cooling company had already been in contact to arrange a date to commission the ducted heating and evaporative cooling. The electric roller door was working and we were given the remote controls to the garage door and the small bits and pieces identified at our first inspection, such as the articulation joint in the hebel and the plumbness of the vanity, had been rectified. The only item(s) we haven't checked yet are the items up in the roof space that were identified by our building inspector.

CG only install the home appliances once you have settled, so on the day of settlement, no appliances had been installed. However, we knew the electricians were booked in for the install the next day. So on the Tuesday, we went back out to watch the appliances being installed. At the same time, we also had the electricians add 2 more double power points (in the kitchen and pantry) and just paid them directly. The plumbers were also out to install the cooktop and dishwasher and another mob were present to install and connect up our hot water unit (which is connected to 2 solar panels on the roof). By the end of Tuesday, our home was complete and here are the photos to prove it.

Aesthetically, you will agree that CG have built a beautiful home. It looks like a display home; it looks fantastic inside and out and we can't wait to live in this house.

A few things to note:
- check the rangehood. Ours is an Ariston Canopy rangehood. Looks great, but it sounds like a tractor. It must be a fault with the motor because it's presently about 95dBA (decibels), which is way too loud, practically but also from an OH&S standpoint. Our SS is looking into this.
- our dishwasher didn't fit underneath the bench top. We needed to remove the cap on top (easy to do), which was not ideal. Given CG use standard appliances and bench top heights, not sure what's happened here.
- check your cooling plan. A big miss for us is the fact the standard CG cooling plan only provides for 2 cooling ducts to the entire ground floor (in the living room and rumpus room). This means the master bedroom and study do not have cooling vents. They do have heating vents, and we missed the fact there was no cooling as we thought the heating and cooling come from the same vents. Not the case. We strongly feel that CG should advise their clients of this fact and give them the option to add cooling vents where required.

A few handy tips:
- our bins went missing during the build. Remember to contact your council in this case to get replacement bins.
- remember to contact Telstra to arrange for your phone and internet connections.
- at the time, remember to put some money aside for a TV antenna. Hopefully an easy job as the cabling for the TV points should already be in place (we have 4 TV points), but you will need to organise this post settlement.
- remember to arrange home and contents insurance.
- remember to call Australia Post to redirect mail and also remember to redirect any newspaper subscriptions. Take note, Australia Post have been atrocious with their mail redirect service. Unfortunately, they have a monopoly on this service in Australia, so even if we wanted to, we can not take our business elsewhere. We found their mail redirection service (while we were renting) to be unreliable and inaccurate. We were able to prove this, Australia Post agreed they had not delivered the service we paid for and then slapped us in the face by offering us $20 compensation. Big deal Australia Post. This is insulting. If you experience the same problems with your mail not being redirected accurately, please voice your concerns and please don't settle for a pitiful $20 compensation. We hope you do the right thing here Australia Post. We hope you realise that correct mail delivery is a very big responsibility. If you can't do it right, then take responsibility for this fact. Either do it right or get out of business!

Finally, we're moving in today so fingers crossed for no rain while we shift. No doubt, as we live in this home we will note problems. Hopefully these are few and far between and nothing major. We have 3 months to identify issues which CG will address and rectify as required. We plan to continue this blog to highlight any issues that may arise over this period. Also, to detail our landscaping plans and progress.

Although we have settled, our SS has encouraged us to contact him with any issues. DL, thanks mate. You've really done a great job with this house. If you get this bloke, he's a great SS and a decent guy.

One final note. Yesterday, as we were shifting boxes, one of the CG directors dropped by in person. He wanted to congratulate us and say gday and to be honest, this sentiment really sums up why CG are different. Through the whole process, we felt they were approachable, amiable and mostly reasonable. They listened and worked with us to deliver a final product that on face-value exceeds expectations. This personal touch and attention to their client is really very different when compared to some of the other volume builders. So thank you CG and all those that played a part in the building of this home. May it stand the test of time. May it be a great home for the next 30 years.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Occupancy Permit Issued - a quick note about this permit

Officially, our double storey dwelling and garage is safe and suitable for occupation. The Occupancy Permit was issued on Friday and signed by the relevant building surveyor.

The Occupancy Permit does not necessarily mean that the building work is:
a) Complete: in fact a number of items still remain, including replacement of the scratched glass and the addition of mesh sliding doors. In the end our SS was good enough to arrange for our garage floor to be painted which was greatly appreciated. The downside to this is that the paint colour they used (a light grey), highlights the cracks in the garage floor. We bought a concrete filler product from Bunnings to try to fill the cracks, but there are a couple that remain (right at the lip of the garage entrance - a high traffic, and load bearing section of the garage floor) that we will need to discuss with our SS on Monday. These will need to be rectified.
b) Compliant with the Australian Standard or the NCC/BCA. That is to say, “An occupancy permit is not evidence that the building complies with the provisions of the Act and Building Regulations.”    
This surprised us, but it is indeed true. Our building inspector informed us of this when we were discussing our concrete slab issues. So this is just a note to all readers to not blindly rely on the fact you will get an occupancy permit as evidence that all aspects of your building and the way it has been build are compliant!

Where to from here?

On Monday we have a meeting with our SS and our administrator on-site to do a final inspection and to settle and handover. We hope all issues identified in our pre-handover inspections (both the one with our private building inspector and then the one with our SS) - save for the glazing issues (which we have agreed can be done post handover) - will have been rectified satisfactorily. In this case, we will make our final payment by bank cheque, and receive the keys to our home. Same day, CG will arrange to have all of our appliances installed and will ensure everything works as it should. We understand that the heating/cooling company will also attend to commission the heater and evaporative cooling.

From there, we will need to coordinate landscaping and the installation of blinds. Behind the scenes, we have also been dealing with council regarding our crossover and have already been issued with a vehicular crossover permit. The crossover will be reinstated at the same time as our driveway being installed. Some bays in the footpath will also need to be repaired.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Glass Splash Backs Installed

Finally, our glass splash backs have been cut correctly and installed. And Wow, the colour is spot on, the sleek, clean appearance of this product makes a big impact in the kitchen, creating a striking and very modern look. The mirror effect (since the glass is obviously reflective) looks awesome. It adds depth and increases the amount of light. It will only look better when the glass is able to reflect the wonderful landscape design we are presently considering (stay tuned for future posts regarding our landscaping).

So with just the appliances to be installed, the kitchen is all but complete. We even bought 4 stools for the kitchen island bench on eBay today, at $189 for all 4, what an absolute bargain!

Here's a tip. The island bench is 900mm high. The bar stools need to be 600mm high. Anything higher and you won't fit your legs under the bench!

Also, we've been to Reece (and also Swan Auctions in Richmond, who mainly stock Caroma/Dorf) and will be using Rush bathroom accessories (towel rails, towel rings, toilet roll holders). Unexpected cost here as we actually thought these items would be standard inclusions with the house. They are not, so be mindful that these items could (reasonably) cost anywhere between $1000 and $3500 depending on what you choose.

This excludes the labour to install these items. If any one following this blog can do this professionally (as well as hanging wall furniture (mirror, prints, wall art, pictures) and our clothes drier) and would like to quote on this job, feel free to shoot us an email to . Thanks.

Finally, we've been advised by our SS that our Certificate of Occupancy inspection will be done tomorrow. He's very confident it will get passed, and if it does, we'll be settling and conducting handover on Monday next week. This is very exciting.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Pre-Handover Walk-Through with our SS

We received our Pre Handover Report from New Home Inspections this morning. It contained 23 items, great detail and formed the basis of our meeting with our SS today for our pre-handover walk-through.

Item 1 was the articulation joint, or lack of, in the length of wall down the left hand side of our house. The missing joint will need to be installed and our SS seems to think this will not be an issue; it will be the job of the render guys. Items 2-4 are roofing and termite protection issues which have been explained and will be addressed. Items 5-6 are garage floor issues, which CG already know about and our SS has been very understanding with these issues. Item 7, front door issue that will be addressed. In addition, there's a slight gap between the bottom of door and the floor and our SS has kindly offered to attach a door seal to the door to prevent dirt and draft entering the house through this gap. Items 8, 9, 14-16, 20 are glazing issues and our SS will rectify all. Item 10 is the powder room vanity issue (discussed in the last post) - we are hoping CG will rectify this the way we would like (it is very poor workmanship as it is). Items 11-13 are minor issues in the kitchen that will all be addressed. Items 17-18 are stair issues which will be addressed. Item 19 details the bowing in the gallery wall issue (discussed in the last post). Our SS suggests this can be rectified, but often post rectification it looks worse. He discussed the reason for the bowing and we've agreed on a solution. Items 21-23 relate to issues in the roof cavity, namely reinstating insulation in areas across the ceiling where it was removed for one reason or another; and completing a walkway in the roof space to provide required access for the servicing of the heating unit. We'll get up and check this has been done at the final inspection. We're told it absolutely will be.

Overall, really good meeting. Our SS went through every item in the report. He was even there a little earlier and had noted items himself (eg our toilet seats should be soft-close, but weren't, so he'll have them changed over). We completed a Practical Completion List that noted items discussed and our SS has committed to completing all items (except for replacement of scratched glass - which takes between 10-15 days) by Friday. So everything crossed he can get it all done. If all goes to plan, we will do our final walk-through this Friday and aim to settle and handover next Monday. This is when final payment is to be made, certificates are provided, keys handed over and technically, when our home becomes ours. This is a very exciting thought.

Regarding the vanity in powder room issue. Here's a picture. You can see it just floats, in fact the stone bench top is only held up by two small pieces of timber at either end of the bench top. This is why it has already dropped. If someone accidently sat on the bench top or if you lent on it with any weight, it would fall down and rip off the wall. We've discussed this with our SS and we really do hope he agrees to rectify this issue in the way we would like. If we had our time again, it would have been better to build a cabinet in under the bench top. This would serve to hold up the bench top as well as serving as a proper vanity with storage.

Also, it's probably just us, but up until today, we thought that bathroom fixing items, namely towel rails and toilet roll holders, would be standard inclusions. We were told today they are not and that we'd have to purchase these items ourselves and have them installed ourselves. We wonder if any one else has been caught out here. Perhaps it's just us. Not a big issue. We'll probably just pay a visit to Reece and grab these items over the weekend.

Finally, we looked into this business of installing a thermal barrier behind the glass splash back above the stove top. Our SS mentioned the term bellis board, and we found this explanation on the internet. We are satisfied that CG make the use of a bellis board standard when they are installing glass splash backs above the stove in the kitchen.

o Important Notice – Glass installers (Glaziers) are not licenced to remove or
refit general electrical power outlets.   All electrical work must be carried out
by a licensed electrical contractor.
o Gas top burners
If the gas burner installation is located less than 200mm from the periphery
of the nearest burner to any vertical combustible surface to be covered with
toughened glass, the vertical surface needs to be protected to ensure the
surface temperature of the combustible surface does not exceed 65ÂșC above
ambient.  This protected area must cover a minimum 150mm above the hob.
Standard plasterboard and other general wall materials do not comply with
the definition under AS5601:2010 Standard and therefore cannot be taken as
“non-combustible”.  This means that these materials are not exempt from
the clearance requirements for gas cooking appliances and need to be
covered by a non-combustible material.  Some examples of compliant fire
resistant wall linings that can be used for the section behind the stove hob
Proprietary name of material Minimum thickness required
Bellis Board 9mm
Firemaster 550 10mm
Supalux 9mm
Promina 9mm
Promatect H 12mm

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Final New Home Inspection

We had our final (pre-handover) inspection with New Home Inspections (our private building inspector) this morning. Except for the fly screens and mesh sliding doors, all the small fixing items (eg toilet roll holders, towel rails), the glass splash backs in the kitchen and laundry and the appliance installations, everything inside this house has been completed and was ready to be inspected.

Overall, we're happy to report that our private building inspector was relatively satisfied. His full report will be available to use shortly, however, we thought we'd just run through some of the items identified.

1. lack of articulation joints in our west facing hebel wall
2. scratches to glass in some of our sliding doors
3. some walls and door frames out of plumb; most notable along the first floor gallery passage
4. the biggest issue was the powder room vanity being almost 12mm from horizontal (the plus side of this is that our SS already picked this fault and even before I called him, had contacted his cabinet makers to get them back to rectify this work. That's great preemptive management. We can only hope the rectification works for this vanity are easy and that they don't damage the stone bench top.

Since the kitchen glass splash back is not yet in place, our inspector advised us to ensure that before the splash back goes on, the correct process is to make a cut-out in the wall plaster the width of the stove top (directly above the stove top) (roughly 150mm high) and pack this space with hebel. This has something to do with fire rating, as plaster behind the splash back may not be fire resistant. We called our SS on this too, and happy to report that this will be done and indeed is a requirement for glass splash backs above open stove tops. Good building CG.

The last issue we'll discuss here are the cracks in our garage floor slab. CG are adamant they are only surface cracks. The fact is they don't know this for sure and so we don't either. The concern with these cracks is that, while they are not defects right now (ie greater than 2mm crack would be a defect), they are obvious now and can only get worse over time. We have knowledge that water - say from the wet tyres of  cars parking in the garage after driving in rain - can penetrate these cracks, reach the steel reinforcement within the concrete slab and then oxidise the metal. This would lead to weakening within the slab, further cracking or worsening of existing cracks and reduce the long-term integrity of the slab. We will discuss this with CG next week. At the very least, we have documented the issue now and would hope it never becomes a defect or a problem. We imagine a good builder would want to manage this now and preempt any potential future problems and claims.

Painters are finishing off their works tomorrow. We have our pre-handover walk though with our SS on Monday. Looking forward to this.

Carpet Complete; Site Cleaned; Temporary Fencing Removed

Just a quick post here to inform that the carpets are now complete; master (including WIR) and study on the  ground floor plus entire first floor (except for wet areas). The temporary barrier fencing has been removed and now our property looks more like a home than a building site. Scoria has been applied around most of the house and the site has been generally cleaned.

The first two photos below show the front facade of our house. There's still a small issue with that little retaining wall to the right of the garage. How CG can't see it looks unfinished is a little beyond us, however, the issue is in the hands of management so we will see how they respond.

The last two photos show our first floor stair landing and gallery passage. The carpet looks great and we'd highly recommend upgrading to the best underlay you can afford since it gives that feeling of softness and springiness under foot. The stair rails still need to be sanded and stained.

Given the carpets were delayed a day, the painter was rescheduled to tomorrow (Friday) and as a result, we have pushed our pre-handover walk through with our SS to Monday morning. We will still attend an on-site meeting with our private building inspector tomorrow morning to inspect the build quality of this house. We are hoping this will be a really positive meeting with no unexpected surprises.