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.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Timber Floor Complete; Termite Barrier installed

Our timber floorboards are spotted gum. We absolutely love the colour. The flooring looks fantastic. It really adds depth and character to the home. Where we thought the conservative whisper white wall colour was too plain, now we're quite pleased as your focus is now drawn to the flooring.

The floorboards have been installed really well. We've used floating floors before and the attention to detail with this job has been second to none. We met the guy responsible for most of the CG timber and floating floor installations (including the bolero products commonly used in CG display homes). He obviously knew his stuff and even spent time with us to explain how to care for and maintain the timber floor. If you want this type of look in your home, talk to Adam at Jackson Flooring.

Those with a good eye will also notice we painted the kitchen bulkhead and the entry passage wall a feature colour (it's actually a Haymes colour called Eureka). We're so glad we did this as it really defines the kitchen space and works really well with the spotted gum flooring.

The only thing left for the kitchen is the glass splash backs, and then the appliance installation (which we're told occurs on the actual day of handover).

The other works we noticed that had been done are the concrete slab works, which we're told are all complete now (in fact our SS sent us the design engineers report certifying his approvals) as well as the installation of the termite protection barrier. You can see this in the photos below, the orange line that looks like a pipe running next to the slab. This will sit under the landscaping, out of site.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Nearing Completion ... One Week to go ... Fingers Crossed

This photo taken late Sunday afternoon. With one week left on this build, we hope this sky-writer is working for Carter Grange, with a simple message expressing some love our way as we near completion!

With a pre-handover walk-through scheduled for this Friday morning, CG still have a sh#@-load of work to complete. They say it will be done, who are we to question. We know carpets and floorboards are booked and will be done. We know the painter will be back on Thursday to finish off. We see major works being undertaken to rectify the slab issues, but it's yet to be confirmed when these works will be completed and certified. Same deal with render issues. All plaster works are pretty much done, except they still need to put cornices on the bulkhead above our laundry over-heads. Caulking and sealing still needs to be done. Plumbing works, including digging storm-water pipes much deeper (at present some or not even 50mm deep), still need to be done. Electrical works still need to be done. Glass splash backs and mirrors still need to be done.Fly screens and sliding mesh screens still need to be done. Handles still need to be done. Site clean and rubbish removal still needs to be done.

We had a look at CG display homes today to get a feel for how this business finishes everything off. We'll compare notes at the walk through

Here are some photos:

Vinyl sliding doors in the laundry. We love our mega-spacious laundry. It really has that wow factor. 
Mirror sliding doors in master WIR
There were guys on-site through the week cutting back all the dirt and concrete around the edge of our slab. They were cutting back to the vapour barrier (the black plastic) in such a way that the slab edge can now be inspected. They also attached more new black PVC sheeting. We had a good chat to one of the guys, who confirmed that fixing these mistakes was not a very fun job. Why CG didn't get this mob to pour our slab in the first place, we're not sure, be have now been assured the vapor barrier and the function it serves, is correct.

You can also see the work down on the front portico. Due to the garage step down issues, the portico front edge will be exposed. To get around this CG have agreed to render the area directly beneath the rendered column.

Now the vapour barrier (black sheeting) has been replaced or repaired pretty much all around the house. This is along the front of the house.

The view from our living room, across our dining space and into the kitchen. We are thinking of painting the bulkhead.

The door to access under the stairs has been installed. It was suppose to be plain MDF, which could then be painted. It's actually been made and finished in a gloss type layer, which apparently cant be painted. Will need to look into this and find out why it wasn't done  correctly.

One thing is for sure. It looks good and is highly functional. This was a really great variation.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Bits & Pieces - This Home Almost Complete

This home is almost complete and we're doing all that we can to ensure it's completed to high standard and on time.

The plasterers were back to fix up the faulty bulkheads, complete the plaster reveals for our under stair door and to make good all wall areas where there were defects in the plaster (eg other trades trying to find cables, pipes, etc in the walls behind the plaster) (they missed a repair under bench at the dish washer so will need to return anyway).

The tiler was back to finish off all the tiling. We have chosen porcelain tiles (Majestic Ivory) and they look fantastic. Tiles are found in all wet areas including the laundry. The stairs from laundry into house have been tiled and they look absolutely fine. No concerns there.

During all this work, we noticed the handrail for the stairs had been damaged; a chip had been taken out of the hand rail - we mentioned this to our SS and today, this handrail was completely replaced. Great service from CG.

Also, regarding our carpet. We went into Byron Interiors on Monday to re-select our carpet since our original choice was not in stock. We chose a similar colour from the same range (Cat 3 Riva). We also noted another colour we liked, but this colour was only available in a different carpet range (Cosmopolitan) - which was a Cat 5 carpet and therefore more expensive.

Anyway, today CG called us to inform that again, our re-selected carpet was not in stock. Before we even had a chance to complain, our administrator apologised and then suggested that CG would be willing to provide us with the Cat 5 carpet (the upgrade) at their cost (ie no extra cost to us). We accepted this offer and feel that this is excellent customer service once again. Really well managed. Thanks CG.

We're now really just waiting for our glass splash backs, mirrors, wardrobe sliding doors (Crystal), flyscreens and sliding mesh doors (A&L) and kitchen appliances (Harvey Norman). We were lucky enough to bump into Craig from Crystal today on-site, and he's confirmed that he's now all measured up and should have his work complete next week. Just in time. We've scheduled a pre-handover inspection for Friday 15 Feb with our SS and New Home Inspections. Hope all is done by then.

The couple of remaining external issues requiring attention are:
1. Retaining wall: apparently done to plan, but looks unfinished and unsightly as is. Will need to discuss this with the construction manager. It just stops (with an H bar at the end) and really looks like it needs one more length of sleeper or something. See what you think.

2. Concrete slab issues: will touch base with our SS on Friday to see if these have been attended to and if so, to get a copy of the relevant certifications for the works.
3. Render issues: need to render the front portico and clear away soil along the edge to ensure a clean and sightly finish. Especially the case since our driveway will be at different height to the portico.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Plumbing & Electrical Fit-Offs complete

There was activity on site last week. The plumbers and electricians were working to complete the fit-offs. Apparently, the plumbers had trouble locating some of the storm water pipes. On Tuesday, large trench type holes had been dug very close to the slab. We did not know the plumbers had dug these holes; we thought that someone was searching for foundations or something. See the photos below. We worried when Melbourne was hit with that deluge of rain Thursday afternoon/evening. The trench holes filled up and we were thought the water might have or could affect the integrity of the concrete slab and/or foundations. We let our SS know our concerns, and he didn't seem too concerned. In any case, the next morning (the Friday), we noticed the plumber had located the pipes in question and connected them up with the down pipes and all looked ok.

As it is now, most of our down pipes are connected to the storm water pipes, and the storm water pipes are now underground. Inside the house we have taps, toilets and our bath. Regards to electrical, we now have our switches, GPOs, lights (with the exception of a few, like the stair lights), alarm system and points in place per the electrical plan. Couple of corrections required with location of a GPO and location of an external para-flood light, but save from that, electrical is pretty much done now too. 

We still need kitchen appliances (stove, oven, range hood), glass splash backs, mirrors, sliding robe doors and fly screens installed - this will presumably happen through this week. This week will also serve to allow the plasterer to return to fix bulkhead issues and some plaster reveals, carpenter to return to check off and painter to return to finish off the painting works. We're told the concreter will also be back through the week to re-do his work in line with the engineers requirements. As long as we receive a document certifying these works, we're content. To their credit, CG are now on top of this issue and we feel are very committed to having these works done correctly and satisfactorily. 

We've also decided to add a door to a wall so we can access the space under our stair case. CG standard design is the plaster this space off, allowing no access. We will need to liaise directly with the cabinet maker to fit this door; CG have only gone so far as to cut out the door shape and build the plaster reveals.

One final issue we hope to resolve tomorrow is that of carpet (note: carpet supposed to be installed on Mon 11 Feb, timber floorboards booked for Tues 12 Feb - both apparently one day jobs). We received a call from CG early last Fri morning informing us that the carpet we had selected was not in stock until the end of the month. A little frustrating since this carpet choice has been locked in from the start; to confirm its availability around Jan/Feb would not have been hard. Now we need to take an afternoon off to go back to Byron Interiors to (hopefully) re-select our carpet. We'll keep you posted on this one.

So basically, if all goes to plan, this house will be completed somewhere between Feb 11 - 14. We'll arrange for a walk-through inspection on Feb 14 (with New Home Inspections). We've told our SS we'd prefer that if he knows there are any problems or defects with works, to rectify these works before our walk-through inspection. In our opinion, the lower the number of problems or defects picked up during this inspection, the better and if New Home Inspections found no defects, we would certainly not be complaining.