Friday, 20 May 2011

What we suspected...

Got mail from our solicitor last night with a letter from our land developer...  Settlement delayed until August due to inclement weather in February. Pushes things back about a month...

We always thought June was optimistic (check out the pics of the land from mid May), so August is no surprise really...  We just want to get started!!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Waiting for land to title

With the construction contract signed and the final stages of finance approval being completed, we're playing the waiting game for our block to get titled.  Here's a collection of pictures of the block through to today!

In the meantime, we're trying very hard not to second guess our colour choices, which is easier said than done!

26 Feb 2011

26 Feb 2011

26 Feb 2011

9 April 2011

27 April 2011

7 May 2011

14 May 2011

Dave at the Land Sales office is still confident of an FY11 title, although we're not so sure... happy to be surprised though!

Finalising the Contract

There were very few further errors or changes we needed to raise after reviewing the contract documents again.  In summary these were:

* Change the Alfresco beam colour to CB Monument.

* Specify all the Caesar Stone edges to be 'Straight with Radius Eased'

* Specify the stain colour for the Ensuite external door (Solver Ash Brown-0802)

Floor Plan

Front Projection



Total build cost = $343,752

Over budget by $18,752


We were very prepared for our Contract Appointment. We had our spreadsheets, our plans and a special form we created to make notes of any errors, broken down by room.

We were also meeting our CSA for the first time, and had no intention of signing our contract on the day.

This should be fun!!

As we walked into her office, we noticed our complaint email on her desk, with the words "Meet your customer's expectations!" written on it.  I smiled a little...

After getting the niceties out of the way, we indicated that we do not intend to sign the contract documents today, and request that we are provided with the weekend to review them in detail, prior to signing and returning on Monday 28/3.  We did this for the simple reason that we had invested a significant amount of time and effort in getting every aspect of our build correct and did not want to treat the final stage with any less rigour - if anything, it would require more.  We wanted to build with PD - we were not going to take the documents and drawings to another builder, we just wanted time to review.  Our CSA's initial response was no, but that she could check with her manager.  She went off and did his and returned a minute later with the good news that it was fine to do so.  Good start...

As we started to go through the Contract document, these costs were new:

* Additional items to obtain 5 Star Requirements   $1,201
     - R3.5 batts to ceilings in place of R2.5 blow-in.
     - R2.0 batts plus sisalation foil to external walls.

* Stegbar Grange Inline shower screens for the Ensuite and Bathroom   $767

* Veggie sprayer to the Laundry   $179

* 2 sliding aluminium mesh flydoors in the rumpus   $220 
(half price, as we replaced so many aluminium windows with wooden windows where they would not have to include flyscreens)

And these are the costs of our selections from the Colours Appointment:

* AGD Fineline Timber FX garage door   $ 1,827

* Pull handles for the front pivot door   $448

* Having our standard internal lever door handles on the linen cupboards as dummys   $28

* LaTrobe cat 3 bricks   $1,664

* Off-White rolled mortar   $754

* Cambridge SoHo night roof tiles   $7,152

* Laminex Crystal Gloss cabinets in the Kitchen and Pantry   $5,036

* Upgraded handles (Kitchen, Pantry, Laundry, Bathroom, Ensuite)   $1,114

* Coroma Liano handhelds (Ensuite & Bathroom)   $652

* Tapware (Mizu 1500 mixer with diverter in Ensuite & Mizu 1500 mixer for Bath and Shower)  $562

Expensive taste to say the least...! But it's the spec we want.

One really great sign was that PD basically had everything correct in the Contract document.  There were hardly any errors, but here are details of the things they missed:

* The Laundry trough was in the middle of the bench, instead of up against the external wall.

* There was a sink in the Master Bedroom (probably just a left over icon from the AutoCAD guy).

* The Laundry & Ensuite external doors had no charge for staining (i.e. assumed to be painted) +$99 each

* Incorrectly charged for the Ensuite external door (charged for a taller one) -$184

* The quickslide doors for BRs 2 & 3 in lieu of the flush panel doors completely disappeared +$396

* Charged twice for staining the front entry door frame -$99

* No pot drawer under the steam oven in the pantry.

One contentious item that we felt very strongly about related to the staining of our timber windows.

The pricing model for stain is based on the width of the window, i.e. the price changes if your window is <1000mm, then <2000mm, then <3000mm.  This makes sense and is easy to follow.

However, when they charge you wildly different prices for the same size window, that's another story.  It seemed to come down to which line item they selected in SAP... example:

Obviously, the second one refers to 2 windows, resulting in a single window price of $550.  Still a whole lot more than the $272 in the first one!

It took them a while to see the issue, but when they did, they accepted that that it was wrong and charged us the lesser price wherever this occurred, reducing the total cost by $695.

These items were all corrected in our first PCV.

Pretty exhausting process to say the least, but a good outcome (although we spent a fair bit more than budgeted).  We'll review the documents again over the weekend and we're on track to sign and return on Monday!

Whinge Time

We were a little bit concerned about our CSA, mainly due to the fact that she barely responded to our emails and had still not performed some basic admin tasks.

Building a house requires all parties to act promptly and clearly, and we'd be damned if we were going to let some slow administration get in the way.

So we flicked off a very clear email to our SC who took the matter up on our behalf, resulting in a call from our CSA's boss offering an olive branch and the option of changing CSA.  We declined, instead, letting her learn how to meet customer expectations and hopefully ensuring she would avoid disappointing us again.

With Contract coming up in a few days (Friday 25/3), we're very interested to see how things go.

Finance Check

We set a construction budget of $325,000.

Our flooring is $17,500.

At Tender, we had spent $291,887.

At Tiles, we spent $4,949

At Electrical, we spent $8,790

Total Spend = $323,126

That leaves $1,874 for any upgrades from our colours appointment plus any further charges PD come up with.


Our budget is going to get obliterated...

Sunday, 8 May 2011


After completing the colours appointment, we were straight into the electrical one.  We'd spent some time developing the standard plans to what we wanted - the placement of switches, downlights, power, TV, phone, Foxtel and data points.  This should have made the appointment a lot faster (like the couple who started and finished their appointment in 20 minutes!), but it didn't.  It still took us 2 hours!

Aside from what we planned, we added about 10 more downlights, chandelier provisions (a batten light fitted to a specifically placed nogging) for a feature light in the Master Bedroom, above the Dining Table and for a fan in the Alfresco.

They offered us a ducted vacuum system, which we weren't overly interested in... until we saw the sweeper kick panel (fitting a foot operated slider to the kick panel in the kitchen, which is connected to the ducted system so you can sweep straight into it).  We both found it incredibly awesome, so bought the 4 point DV system to get it :)

Ducted Vacuum points.
The staff at Argus Technologies (PDs Electrical contractor) were fantastic.  Our consultant was patient, efficient and knew what she was talking about.

In addition to the diagrams here, there is some speaker cabling for rear speakers in the 'rumpus' room, and also cabling to the Alfresco for some in ceiling speakers.

Saltwater Coast is part of Telstra's Smart Community, which means the traditional copper lines to the house, aerial and satellite dish on the roof are history.  Telephone, internet, free-to-air (FTA) and Foxtel are all delivered over fibre optic cabling which is terminated on the side of the house.  Even though we are locked into Telstra as the service provider, there are some pretty incredible features that come with the technology, such as internet speeds of up to 100Mbps (average ADSL 2+ is 10Mbps if you're lucky).

So all cabling in the house for these services come back to a cabinet in the garage, which is connected to the fibre optics on the side of the house.

We've spec'd the following services:

FTA - Master Bed, Rumpus, Family and BR4
Telephone - Study
Foxtel - Rumpus and Family
Data - 2 in each of Study, Family and Rumpus

The budget for our electrical selections was $5,000.  We spent $8,790 (with the DV at $1,957).

Monday, 2 May 2011


After feeling pretty good about our Tiles appointment the day before, we were at Hopetoun bright and early the next morning... samples in tow...

It was interesting being there with only a few other people, compared to the relative mayhem of the weekends!

Our consultant basically had online forms to fill in, and away we went.  Here's a summary of our key choices:

Garage Door:  AGD Fineline Timber FX - Walnut.

Brick:  Austral LaTrobe (cat 3) with rolled off-white mortar.

A bit of a funny sample (trying to show all variations we think).
Hopefully our batch is darker, with minimal variation and blueing

Render:  Time Capsule (P13C4) to front projection and Alfresco.

Roof Tile:  Monier Cambridge SoHo Night.

Gutters, Fascia, Downpipes, Meterbox:  Colourbond Monument

Wood stain (windows, bifold, entry / laundry / ensuite door):  Solver Ash Brown-0802

Best sample we could find

Aluminium Windows:  Satin Black

Entry Door:  Corinthian INFWS 6G with PTVFC1 sidelight and 600mm #143 pull handle

Single sidelight not shown
Interior wall paint:  Wattyl Finishing Touches 'New Pearly Gates'

Couldn't find New Pearly Gates, so this is just Pearly Gates

Interior Door Handles:  Lockwood Velocity Glide L4

Decorative Cornice:  CSR Tempo 90mm cornice to Living Areas

Caesar stone:  Mink and Organic White

Mink (cat 3)
40mm to kitchen bench and pantry
20mm to bathroom, laundry & ensuite

Organic White (cat 3)
40mm to kitchen island

Splashback:  Bosco Blue on clear

Kitchen Tap:  Teknobili Billy Sink Mixer

Kitchen Cupboards:  Laminex Crystal Gloss - Parchment,  all with Blum soft closers

Laminex Crystal Gloss - Parchment for all cupboards and drawers

Kitchen Handles:  Laminex slim square handle #935381 (horizontal mount)

Kitchen Appliances:

Blanco DWF6XP Dishwasher

Blanco FD9085FX 90cm Oven

Blanco BRC90BX Rangehood

Kitchen Sink:  AFA Cubeline undermount sink

Ensuite & Bathroom Vanities:  Pisa slim counter top basins

Basin Tapware:  Mizu 1500 basin mixer

Shower Screens:  Stegbar Grange Inline

Shower heads:  Tiber 200mm Overhead Dumper and Caroma Liano handheld (both in ensuite)

Only the Caroma Liano in Bathroom

Shower and Bath Tapware:  Mizu 1500 pin mixer (ensuite shower has a diverter)

Toilet:  Posh Dominique

Ensuite and Bathroom cabinetry:  Laminex parchment in crystal gloss

Ensuite, Bathroom and Laundry handles:  Laminex slim square handle #875611 (horizontal mount)

Bathtub:  Decina Uno 1530

Laundry Trough:  Everhard 45L insert trough (stainless steel)

Laundry Tapware:  Posh Solus sink mixer

Laundry Cabinetry:  Parchment (underbench) and Peruvian Clay (overhead)


Peruvian Clay
Laundry Door:  Corinthian Win 21 Fully Glazed

Without the awesome gold handle