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!