Friday, August 28, 2009

Overdue Update

To all those who have been following our blog, I'm SOOOOO SORRY I haven't blogged for ages. Things got so hectic and since we haven't even got proper internet connection, my visit to the site has been non-existent.

Just a quick one, especially for you, Kathleen (I do hate stories without an ending)!

Yes, the last entry did get resolved - we just had to move the handover date. Clarendon also managed to secure for us the Occupancy Certificate even if some items were pending.

We got our keys on the 17th of June and from then, it was mayhem as we had other things to do like:

Flooring - 18th-24th of June...We absolutely LOVE our bamboo flooring that is practically seamless from room to room and from the ground floor, to the stairs, to the top floor!

Driveway and other concreting - 29th of June to 3rd of July but it wasn't sealed until TWO weeks after because of weather and our concreter's schedule...We went gunmetal grey, just coloured concrete with coving, plain borders. I think it's quite modern. It should be easier maintenance, too - well, that was the plan. NOTE: we've just discovered that one of the pipes that were broken during the excavation must be leaking as water is sprouting from the junction where the garage meets the driveway - concreter admits they'll have to dig it up and fix it - that was about two weeks ago now, I think. Still no word from them. No biggie. I know it will get sorted out.

Fencing - 6th-9th of July...We replaced all our fences at our cost since the old one wasn't too bad. We have great neighbours who didn't complain about the extra retaining we did under the fence. Well, it served all of us well as it meant we all got privace. We were looking in on each other's property because of the way our land was cut and filled. Very happy with our new fence. We chose Merino which is like the paperbark colour we have for our fascia. This was Von's fabulous idea as I wanted just brown to match the garage door type-of-thing. The light coloured fence lifted the whole look of the house. Would highly recommend the people who did it...B-Smart Fencing...except they haven't returned to do our gate and I've left a phone message about 3 weeks now...hmmmm. Maybe I screw these people down in price that they're reluctant to come back - LOL!!!

Electricals and lighting - This went on for about a month and the electrician we contracted had a full-time job and a part-time job. So, he fitted us in when he could. Beacon Lighting in Penrith became one of my favourite places as not only did they have a fabulous sale on, they were also relocating, so I scored quite a lot of floor stock at 30-40% off! Spent another $3,500 on fittings but managed to spend under $1,000 for actual installation. Our electrician was VERY nice to us. Well, we didn't complain about how long it took, after all. We went warm lighting everywhere except the study. Got a lot of pendant lights for mood lighting. We're happy to report that all the extra light points paid off and we were very proud that we only had to move 1 light point because it was poorly placed. Our lighting is something we're very proud of and we're glad we got done as it adds soooo much to the ambience of the house.

Retaining wall in the front garden - can't even remember when this was done but we're very happy with it :D Just need to wait for council to finish the footpath (we were going to re-do all of it but our concreter was told that it was going to be repaired by the various people who damaged it - TELSTRA, gas people, water board, etc). That was really good because right at the beginning, I already had a heated discussion with someone from council regarding our footpath. Quite a few had cracks before excavation even started and we took pics, but they said the damage was acceptable then, not enough for them to repair it. So if it gets more damaged, that would be our responsibility. Now that they're going to fix it, I just have to be patient so that we can turf the garden after they finish.

We've had numerous visits from things that needed fixing: plumbing, water filter, windows.

But now, I've got to go again as I need to pick up the kids....

We're very, very happy with our new home - things now have a place and it's much easier to keep clean although it is so much bigger! My husband is an expert at cleaning the house! We're also excited to report that we're not having a spare bedroom after all, as we are now filling up the 5th bedroom with our latest addition due in March - yes, the baby was a moving in gift - hahaha!!!

More later...when I can fit it in between decorating the house, unpacking boxes (that haven't been touched for 1.5yrs and which probably just need to be binned and donated), and of course, when I am not feeling nausea - I think it's true what they say...morning sickness does get worse with each pregnancy. Hopefully, it won't last as long as the last one (which was right until the birth, pretty much). With it's fiery intensity, I don't know how I could last 30 more weeks of this horrible feeling :D

Anyway, we have too many things to be thankful for. I'll just concentrate on our growing family, on lots of wonderful family and friends that will fill our new home which we absolutely love and are proud of (it's great to see months of visualisation and planning come together as well as we had hoped).

Until next time....

Saturday, June 6, 2009

THIS is Actually the MOST Stressful Issue We've Had

Today (or should I say, Yesterday), my shoulders were so sore at the end of the day because of all the stress. It all started with a call from Von around lunch time to remind me to look into the insurance. Von said our site supervisor said we'll need to do the handover on the Thursday instead as the shower people were coming on Wednesday and that he thinks WE may not be ready for the handover by Wednesday anyway.

I rang our site supervisor and asked him if we could have the handover on Wednesday afternoon as I have the flooring people booked on Thursday at 8am. He said, the cleaners were going to come on Thursday morning. He also asked if we were going to be ready by then? I asked what he meant and he said, "Don't you need that occupation certificate to give to your bank for them to release the final payment?" I did't think it was such an issue because I had emailed our CSO on Monday about it already, telling her that possible handover was in about a week, and she is usually very good with our requests and questions. My immediate reaction was to postpone the flooring until Friday and my flooring guy was soooo understanding despite this being the second time I've changed dates on him.

Next step was to follow-up our CSO (I really hadn't thought about following her up before this because I just had so much confidence in her efficiency - it didn't occur to me that she hadn't replied to my email from Tuesday). I phoned her and got a message that she was on leave until the 11th! (A little panic) Then, I phoned our broker who said the bank usually take 48 hours to process final payments after receiving the certificate but he cannot guarantee anything at the moment as it is very busy. (More panic) Then, I remembered that Monday is a public holiday. (I was starting to feel sick)

I rang Clarendon and someone put me through to another CSO. Got her voicemail at just after 12.30pm. Left a message. By 1.45pm, still no reply, so I rang back. She picked up the phone and said she was just taking my message down. She said the certifier only issued Occupation Certificates which were only issued after all the driveway and landscaping had been done. Well, luckily, our bank understands this and only wants an INTERIM Occupation Certificate. However, this CSO said that the certifier didn't do that and that they only issued a letter to say that the house is suitable for habitation. I said I would check with my broker to see if this was enough and I'd get back to her. Meanwhile, would she find out if she could try and get an Interim Certificate somehow.

I rang my broker and he was pretty sure that the letter isn't enough. I rang the CSO back and got her voicemail. I left her the message and asked to be phoned back about what she had found out. That was around 1.55pm. By 2.55pm, still no reply again. I rang and her voicemail message said she was at a meeting until 3pm. I rang again and again until I got her around 3.25pm. She said she coudn't locate my file and didn't know what stage we were at with regards to the certifier. She said she had tried to speak with the team leader but she couldn't. I'm thinking, "what the....?!?!" How is it possible that I've given her our job number and she couldn't find our file? She said she couldn't do anything until she found our file. I was getting really frustrated and said in resignation, "Well, what can I do" She heard this and basically said there is nothing I can do.

Then, I thought, surely other banks have asked for this interim certificate! Surely, we're not the only ones that aren't getting our driveway done by Clarendon! What the heck are they doing with a certifier that wouldn't issue a proper interim certificate of occupation!?!? Maybe our bank has accepted this kind of letter before in lieu of the Interim Certificate?!?!

So, I told her, I will contact my broker again and double check whether we can get away with the letter because it will be signed by the actual certifier anyway. She said she will ring me before she finishes at 4.30pm to let me know what's happening. I tried to be nice because after all, we are giving her extra work, since we aren't her clients.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get hold of our broker on his mobile or in his office. I got home from picking up the kids from school and went through my paperwork from the bank to see if I can get hold of someone directly. By 4.25pm, I had spent so much time on hold and being caught up in red tape that when the CSO rang, I hadn't gotten a response yet. She said, she had found our file and had emailed to the certifier all the paperwork they needed and as soon as she hears from them on Tuesday, she will let me know. I asked her to request for that letter anyway. She said she doesn't think she'll get that on Tuesday. Most likely, Wednesday.

Finally, I got onto someone at the bank. She said she thinks the letter may be ok. Send it through and the construction department will make a decision on it. That's not really what I wanted to hear. I told her I didn't want to waste time and energy asking for something that would be insufficient anyway. She put me on hold for a while. Then she told me she had emailed the construction department to ask this as no one can attend to me anymore because it was nearly 5pm by then. I asked when I could expect to hear back from her. She said, Tuesday.

I felt so helpless. I rang our flooring people and he said if he cannot start on the Friday, we'd have to wait until the following Friday before he can start. I was getting dizzy from thinking and from trying to solve the problem. My shoulders were so painful that I was starting to feel the pain in my back. To top it all off, my youngest son has been so attached lately that I have been feeling emotionally and physically exhausted. So, I decided to stop stressing. I accepted that there was nothing I could do for now. I had a long weekend to enjoy. God always works things out for me. If we cannot move in for another week or two, well, so be it. I felt a little better. My husband and my three boys visited my in-laws and I went to a good friend's house for a scrapbooking/card-making party. I had to be happy because no one likes being around miserable people. So, I snapped myself out of it! I'll handle it on Tuesday.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Walk Through

A very important day has arrived! We walked through our soon to be home today. Our site supervisor is very proud of his work and so he should be. He had blue tape in his hand to mark all the paint to be touched up as the painter was also there. He assured us that he was committed to point out the issues while the painter was there as they would have to pay the painter if he had to come back later on.

There were times, though, that our site supervisor was getting a little defensive in his tone but I think it's due to the fact that he is very good at what he does and he just doesn't like it when something goes wrong. For instance, I have a roller door cabinet in which we had arranged to have an ADJUSTABLE shelf to be put inside. This was missed before, but after I pointed it out, he got the shelf done. Except today, I noticed that it wasn't adjustable. He was trying to tell me that there's no point adjusting it because there won't be much space in the top shelf, but I know what I'm putting in there. I had it made for a particular purpose, and as it was, I wouldn't be able to do with it what I wanted. I got a little annoyed and I said, "I have things that will fit in there". Besides, the point is, we had specifically asked for it and we wanted it done. No one can tell us that it isn't necessary. He said, if our contract says the shelf was supposed to be adjustable, he would do it. I showed him where it was in the contract and he wrote it on his sheet straight away.

Other outstanding issue was that the kitchen cupboards weren't adjusted yet. He got to the bottom of that right there and then. Kitchen people will come by Tuesday next week. Site supervisor thinks handover will be on Wednesday.

With the pain touch-ups, we were all over the place until our site supervisor got us organised and got us to all together do one wall at a time, marking with the blue tape. Von's eye for detail really shone here. There is a fine line between mistakes and nit-picking, and we took his lead with regards to this. I mean, he is a bit of a perfectionist himself, anyway. We often asked him about things before putting a marker on it. We had to let him know we valued his opinion and expertise because we truly did. He didn't like shining a torch on the walls and again got a bit funny when Von shone a torch on the ceiling to point at something. Von wasn't using it to look for faults, though.

Our independent inspector came and had a report emailed to us by tonight. He is one worth it investment! He found a things we missed and for these, we are sooo glad we hired him to do this second inspection. Here's a list of extra things we didn't pick up, but were in our inspector's report.

Window fixed panel glazing seal not fitted correctly, glue to be removed off the window frame.

The window reveal has been sanded and is not yet painted

Shower screen leaking at its base as tested.

Window reveal has been poorly patched to the sill area.

Shower screen leaks at its base as tested, cavity door internal edges are poor

Wall area damaged above the fridge unit

Linen press units need ceilings patched and painted

Cavity door internal edges are poor

OK, insulation poorly fitted and needs to be rectified.

Weep holes need cleaning out in minor areas.
Stored roof tiles to be removed off the top level right side roof area.
The left side eave linings to be sealed around the A/C duct area.
Cement stain to be cleaned off the front brick wall to the right of the garage door.
The right side eave lining needs patching and painting around this conduit outlet.
The steel lintels above the sliding door units need to be painted.
The left side broken window sill brick needs replacement.

Some of the doors are not sealed to all six faces (for example, entry door).

I've emailed the above to our CSO and Stuart.

Heard from our broker's assistant as I sent the worng request for the final payment. Sent correct one today. Also asked for Occupancy Certificate from our CSO on Monday. She sent me the wrong certificates yesterday and I asked for the right one yesterday. That's all the bank needs and then they can release the final payment and we can get our keys.

Coincidentally, next Wednesday is our wedding anniversary. What a wonderful pressie! I've moved the flooring to start on Thursday as it was originally scheduled for Wednesday. John said they'll be there to start at 8am! Woohoo!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Back to Reality After Our Mini-Holiday

Back from our holiday on Sunday and it was a success in many ways: got to relax with wonderful friends, managed to give two friends their birthday pressies (a pampering treatment with a facial and a hot stones massage), finished our oldest son's project on rainforest that was due the day after we got back (and gave him first hand experience of what it was like in a rainforest), AND got to shop for some interiors for our house (a mirror, bamboo stick thingys, other stick thingys, wall decor above our bed)!!!

On Friday, I managed to get the electrical people to connect the meter to the meter box at a cost of $330. I think that's all I have to do there and we should be right with utilities, as I've sent off a form for the gas thing ages ago.

Today, I sent off the request to be reimbursed for our expenses for our electricals (well, at least we got $3000 for our $6000 bill). We had this incorporated into our loan. I also sent the bank cheque to our flooring people who needed the payment for the materials before delivery. Again, we incorporated this into our loan. The only disadvantage is that because we did this with a few additional items, we couldn't get a cash price for these items because we had to submit the invoice to the bank who wanted to pay the people we were dealing with directly either by bank cheque or direct transfer. Oh well, it keeps people honest, I guess. Luckily for us, our flooring people were quite generous with the discount they gave us. Our driveway people also moved a fair bit for us. We're going with the one that was very professional in getting us the quote straight away and even had the council paperwork ready for us to fill when he met us on site. I had been calculating the amount of concreting to be done myself and his calculations seem pretty close to mine. It's just nice to know I'm not being duped. The other concreter said he wanted our business and would beat any price but since it took him over a week to give me a quote and that's with me following him up, I had more faith in the other one.

I also got the invoice from Clarendon for the final progress payment and emailed that through to our broker today.

My jobs now are to sort out lighting (I've worked out how many downlights, pendant lights and spot lights we need, and how many we are keeping as they are for now). Have to sort out what fridge we'll be getting since we don't want to keep the deep freezer if we can help it as it takes up space in the laundry. That's a lot of research. Then, there's home and contents insurance, too. However, the most important one is to take advantage of the end of financial year sales and get ourselves a dining table! Because of the layout of our dining room, we'd prefer a round or square table. However, with the colours I've chosen for the back part of the house, this is proving very difficult. Von is a wood-type person and I'm happy to compromise here as long as the wood is either the really light one but not beech OR a really dark one. But, I don't want the wooden chairs to go with it - they're too country for my decor. I don't want the leather chair look anymore either, if I can help it - I think that's a bit old now. I've even gone to Ikea last week to look at chairs and it's sooooo hard to find a suitable one. The dining suites I've liked come with a glass top and rectangular shape. Well, Von finds the glass top too cold. And the rectangular table would really be awkward in terms of space. We'll see.

WALK THROUGH TOMORROW!!! I sent both our inspector and our SS a text to confirm. I can't wait to have more structure and normality in our lives. There's heaps happening. We've had to have my car fixed just before we left went on holidays and when we picked it up yesterday, we were $2k poorer. Also a lot happening on the homefront. I'm getting really tired. Geez, imagine if I didn't give up my business!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More Little Issues Followed Up

After seeing our house on Sunday when we met up with the carpenter who was installing our multitude of towel rails and toilet paper holders, we went around the house again to do another critique.

Here are our findings, duly emailed on the Monday to our CSO and site supervisor for follow up. We had a reply from our site supervisor within a few days (also noted here).

1. Kitchen cupboards and drawers are not lined up really well in many places. You can see it because gaps are not consistent between cabinets and between cupboard doors. Cupboard doors don’t line up underneath for a few of them. (Site supervisor has organised for kitchen people to adjust everything).

2. We are missing the light point above the staircase (the one with a two way switch). (Apparently, there is a junction box in the ceiling already and it is up to us to get the hole done when we install our light fixture - due to OH&S issues - it is in our contract and I missed it).

3. Towel rails in the main bathroom are not aligned properly. (Carpenter to fix).

4.There’s a cracked tile outside the laundry door. (SS has already raised this with tiler even before our email and it will be fixed).

Also followed up the following:

1. If the single powerpoint and light point in the roof have been installed already since we can's see it. (Yup)

2. Have they changed the single powerpoint in the rain water control unit into a double power point? (Yup)

3. When does the external ducting of the rangehood happen? (After handover, when appliances are installed).

4. How can we unlock the privacy locks on doors from the outside (eg, if the kids accidentally lock themselves in OR we accidentally shut the door when the lock is on). (SS will show us).

Scheduled our walk through for Wednesday, 3rd of June, at 12 noon, with our independent inspector.

Got a few more quotes for driveways, retaining walls, decks, landscaping. Organised for the boundary to pit connection on the 18th of May and it was done already (for the phone). Now just have to pay $299 to move our phone number to the new place.

Off to a 4-day holiday in Berry with the family and a few of our close friends. Can't wait!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Update on the Intercom Issue

I emailed our CSO on Monday night and she rang yesterday. Firstly, she apologised for not ringing me yesterday. She said she couldn't do something about it herself but she has emailed our site supervisor's area manager and has flagged it as an urgent matter. She said if I don't hear by Friday, I should ring her so she can follow it up.

Well, today, I received an email around 12.30pm to say that it's being looked into. By 1.30pm, whoever was going to look into it has agreed to move the intercom between 30-40 cms towards the right side of the wall. They will also repair the wall. Hooray!

Again, well, handled and in good timing. I complimented our CSO as I have read lots of horror stories about other Clarendon clients not getting acceptable service from the admin people, especially CSOs who do not return calls. Well, our CSO now has been quite responsive with calls and emails. It may take more than 24 hours but I always try to email and phone her to cover all bases.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The End is in Sight

I asked our site supervisor today about the possible date for handover. He said, he will be putting in the paperwork to nominate our house for handover tomorrow. That means, we can expect practical completion and walk through next week, and the handover the week after that. Woohoo!!!

I tried to book our Independent Inspector. But, our site supervisor will need to confirm when he can book the walk through. Apparently, he has had 13 or 14 consecutive walk-throughs with nothing else to fix. He said he will have a painter there with us so he can do any touch ups on the spot. He's a clever man, indeed. We've recommended him to a friend who is starting a build nearby soon. Our site supervisor said they can request for him. So, I rang our friend straight away.

I am inundated with things we need to plan: deck, retaining walls, landscaping, fences/gates at the front, flooring, driveway, connecting the meter to the meter box, moving our number to the new house (which is practically a new connection - $299).

When I visited this morning, garage door was on! I'm very happy with our choice. The painter was there to stain the entry doorframes, seal the entry door and stain our staircase. By the time I saw him, he had finished staining our doorframes - complete match to our door (This is due to our site supervisor being particular.) Unfortunately, by the time I returned in the afternoon, after the door had been sealed, the entry door had become a lot darker. Von and I are finding it hard to get used to it as we were happy with the natural Merbau colour. It seemed more contemporary. With the sealer, the door is much darker than the garage door, too. It's acceptable, though.

Von managed to come home early and because the painter was rushing to finish the job, we managed to visit when he was still there and Von got a look inside. Our stair stain was going to be mahogany. I've been having my doubts and luckily, when I visited this morning, the painter hadn't started on the stain. Mahogany is almost black by the time the painter does enough coats to cover the wood. He said he had the dark stain colour he used for the frames. His boss let me change it to that one by signing on our paperwork kept by the painter.

All that's really left is to replace the broken windows, fix the stacker doors, install the wire shelves in the pantry, built-in robes, linen cabinets; install the towel rails and extra toilet roll holder; address our queries (we found that the powerpoint in the rainwater control unit to be a single when we asked for a double); install the plumbing for the dishwasher; install wall basin in the WC; install toilet in powder room; finish the stain and varnish or our staircase; install appliances and A/C and hot water system; and of course, general clean-up. Can't wait!

Follow-Up on Issues Posted on the 14th May

Site supervisor rang today in response to our email that I sent last week.  We were very satisfied with the way everything was addressed except for ONE.
In the previous email, we highlighted that:
"the intercom unit inside is placed in the middle of the wall. Now, we cannot even use that wall to put up a mirror or an art work. Please relocate to above the light switch on the same wall where we it is in the plan"
According to our site supervisor, he spoke with the contractors and was told that the reason for the placement of the intercom unit is that the light switches and the intercom cannot be located in the same cavity because that would cause interference.  Also, they claim that because it is in our paperwork that "Locations are approximate only.  Points will be placed as close as possible to location on plan"  they didn't have to inform us that the unit was being placed somewhere we weren't expecting it.  Therefore, our site supervisor told me that if I was unhappy with this, email our CSO.
We completely understand that they had restrictions with regards to where the unit had to be placed.  What we are VERY DISAPPOINTED about is that where they had put it is completely wrong aesthetically.  Someone with a little more consideration would not have put the unit where it is now.  That wall lends itself to a decoration of some sort.  I was planning on putting a mirror or a print up there.  Now, we can't do anything with that wall.  Attached is a photo of how it looks like. 

We believe the least they could have done was give us a courtesy phone call to say that where it was in the original plan wasn't going to work.  They could have given us alternative locations.  Instead, they put it where it was CONVENIENT for them - giving the impression that they simply wanted to complete the work and whoever decided to put it there, seemed to lack COMMON SENSE.  I'm sorry to sound harsh, but surely, after seeing the photo, anyone would agree that anyone with a bit more common sense would not place the unit where it is now.
Due to the restrictions, we don't know where we can and cannot put the unit.  Somewhere closer to the edges would have been better, or perhaps another wall.  I told our CSO that I am happy to meet someone there if they can show us where else it can be put. 
Our site supervisor has a very high regard for aesthetics and between our careful planning and his attention to detail, we have a house that is a tribute to the partnership we've had with Clarendon.  I hope Clarendon doesn't let the thoughtlessness of one of their contractors to taint our experience with them.  

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Getting There & Electricals

WOW!  We're really getting excited!  Went there today to see what is happening.  Found the electricians finishing off today.  They asked me a few questions and I was glad I was there to answer them straight away.  I told our site supervisor yesterday that the electricians haven't phoned me like he said they will after I pointed out some of the things that were missing as per our electrical plans.  

I checked some missing powerpoints and 2 out of 3 were there already.  I pointed out the third one and by the afternoon, it was also there already.  The light switch for the play room is also there now.  

They missed a switch for the light in the foyer nook, and asked if I'd mind putting the switch in the entry foyer (but it would be on its own because we got all the switches put on another wall) or in the garage as putting it where we had planned would mean more work.  I wasn't too fussed but, boy, was I glad to check with Von, because he insisted on having it put wherever we had originally planned.  It's true, we're not changing our minds on them.  Why should it be our problem that they missed it in the first place and that it was going to cause more work now?  Why should we put up with even a little bit of inconvenience when it was their error.  When I told the electricians, they were quite good about it.  In fact, one of them said, it's not a problem at all because it was their fault in the first place.  I guess, the other one was just trying to see if they can get away with less work but they were both happy to do as required on the plan.

They also asked about the light above the mirror in the powder room.  Apparently, if it was centred above the mirror, they couldn't put it there because it had to be atleast 600mm away from the shower recess.  He suggested a downlight instead.  And because it wasn't going to cost us any extra, I okayed that straight away.  I'm glad he is on the ball with the legal requirements.  Being there, I was able to ask for the light points above the vanities to be where I want them to be in relation to the mirror.  I want them to be very close to the mirror.  The electrician would have centred it vertically in between the mirror and the cornice and that wouldn't have been good. 

I dropped off some mudcake from James' and David's birthday cake for the electricians this afternoon.  I brought some coffee but they were more keen to finish the job, I think.

There's so much that has happened since I was there on Monday, when the painting was getting finished.  The following have been installed since Monday:  shower screens, mirrors above the vanities, door handles, pantry door, built-in mirrors, tapware, and all the doors are back on.  The door stoppers are also in place - that was a pleasant surprise because for some reason, I thought we still had to buy those. 

Only issues we found are (after a quick sweep of the place):
1. The pin mixers on all vanities are hitting the mirrors when we turn them on.
2. Also, the intercom unit inside is placed in the middle of the wall in the dining/family room (well, about 1/3 from the end where we had indicated on the plan to have it).  It has obviously been mounted by a man because now, we cannot even use that wall to put up a mirror or an art work because there's an intercom unit right in the middle of that wall!  
3. The master bedroom is missing the doorlock.
4. The light under the stairs is too close to the door such that it may not illuminate the bottom end of the storage well enough.
5. There seems to be an extra plate in the main bathroom (may have been a hole made in error being covered up).

Considering how many things could have gone wrong though, they're all doing an ok job.  We still need to carefully check all the electricals against our plans, though.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Towel Rails

We got a call from our site supervisor in the morning because the carpenter on site yesterday didn't know where to put all the extra towel rails we ordered.  We wanted two towel rails in the main bathroom and in the ensuite but he wanted us to tell him where to put them when he installs them sometime next week.

You see, I didn't like the idea of double towel rails because I feel that the towel on the inside rail doesn't get aired properly.  We also paid extra for additional toilet roll holders in all three toilet areas.  I like having a low quality toilet roll for wiping the seat and for preventing skid marks and my quilton toilet roll is for well, you-know-what.  Was that too much detail?  Hahaha!!!  Just something to think about.  Another use for the secondary toilet roll holder is to have good quality toilet roll on both holders in the powder room during parties so, just in case I get caught up, visitors don't have to replace the toilet rolls themselves.  Just like they have in hotels :D

Now, I just have to figure out where they will all go.  We also got hand towel rings - ayayay-yayay!


Friday, May 8, 2009


We got a call earlier in the week because it's not in our paperwork what we chose for the staircase stain colour.  So, last night, we took the whole family to Bunnings to check out which one would match our Merbau door the best, only to find out just before lunch today that we need to stick to the colours that are in the showroom in Clarendon head office.  

So, I rushed there and although it took a little longer to get someone to let me in, I'm glad they let me in without an appointment.  Our site supervisor did tell me to just go in, after all.  Another wait for our CSO who has been frantically trying to find out how she can get me in, not knowing that I had managed to go in already.  She was nice about it though.

The only problem now is that the front door is only getting a clear seal, but the door frame does not match in colour.  Our site supervisor said he'll get that stained as close as possible to the colour of the door.  I think the colour we chose for the staircase is a little too dark, though.  We'll see.  

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Flooring Appointment at the Site

Today, we got the flooring people Von and I were most happy with, to give us a proper quote (they said, they have to do proper measurements).  They got there earlier than agreed on and had just finished their measurements when I arrived.

Basically, John's estimate based on the plan was very close to the actual measurements.  About 280sqm of bamboo flooring.  He said, he'll send me a proper quote soon.

The tiler had just completed the porch tiles when I arrived and John's business partner was to quick to point out that the entrance tiles were going to be too low.  Luckily, the cement wasn't dry yet and our tiler was able to rip off the tiles again.  He said Beaumont didn't send him enough tiles and there were some missing from the laundry floor.  So, he put some in there to finish it off and he'll just get more tiles for our front porch.  We need to tell him to come in once the doors are cut, so he can lay his tiles.  Of course, it will now cost me extra but I'm happy with his work.

It's annoying that Clarendon asked us what flooring we'll be putting in (and we told them it will be hardwood or porcelain tiles), yet they failed to accommodate for this when they instructed the tiler.  Apparently, they only ask that question so they can adjust the dishwasher position.  Never mind that we have the laundry right off the kitchen and there's a difference in height there.  In many ways, though, I understand what our site supervisor was saying about the frames and doors all coming pre-cut, pre-measured.  That's a project home, after all.  Our flooring people will have to do that then.  Clarendon also wouldn't budge about tacking on the skirting board.  They're either on or off (and not cut to size nor painted).  We left them on and will just pay for re-installation of the skirting. 

Some Electrical Inconsistencies

Rang up site supervisor yesterday because I noticed that there were missing powerpoints (2 in rumpus upstairs and one in laundry.  The electrical  provision for the wall mounted lighting for above the bathroom mirrors weren't there either.  Lastly, there was no hole in the gyprock for the light switch for the play room yet.  He told me to take it up with our CSO.  I emailed her this morning and I've been happy with how quickly she replies.  I also asked for all the certificates as recommended by our independent supervisor.  She said, she'll put them together, ready at handover.  

Today, our site supervisor turned up at the site when I had the appointment with the people we're getting to do our flooring.  He said he had already spoken with the electrical people and they will ring me.  I showed him what was missing and he assured me that they weren't big issues.  I openly praised him and thanked him for sorting out our tiling issue.  That letter of commendation to their CEO is getting longer :D

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tiling Issue Sorted

Von asked me last night if the tiling issue has been sorted.  I hadn't heard from our Site supervisor yet, but somehow, the reassurance of the construction manager gave me a lot of confidence on Tuesday.

Today, I visited in the morning and the tiler had already put up half of the wall tiles in the WC - the RIGHT ones!  Hurray!  The tiler said he was asked by Beaumont and our site supervisor if he thought I just changed my mind about the tiles on the spot or whether it was a real error.  The tiler told them that he thought I was telling the truth because as soon as I saw the tiles, I went, "Yup (floor tiles), yup (shower recess tiles), that's not what we picked (wall tiles)".

The tiler also took his time in explaining to me about the fall in the floor - I was asking if it's possible for him to avoid water accumulating in spots as that's something that would definitely bother me.  We got our wall mounted vanities so that I can "wash" the floors easily.  Basically, I was told that the waterproofing is not intended for buckets of water.  We used to pour water onto our toilet suite and let it drip down.  Then we'd roughly mop it towards the drain.  Apparently, that's a big NO-NO.  Woops!

Tiler seems particular with his work.  In fact, I didn't have to ask him to try and align the floor tiles with the wall tiles - he tries to do that normally already.  Of course, it can never be aligned exactly because the grouting between the wall tiles and between the floor tiles are regulated differently.   

Our tile selection works well from what we can already see.  It was worth fighting for.  Tips for those selecting their tiles:  take a photo throughout all your selection appointments - ideally with the person serving you in the background (hehehe).  Ask the person serving you to explain what you are signing for.  It's their job, just as the McDonald's staff say to you, "So, you ordered the...."

Kudos to Clarendon, specifically, to our site supervisor and to his contruction manager! 

Powder room photo shows the pattern on the white tiles the most.  Mocha coloured in the shower recess but white on all the rest of the walls.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Most Frustrating Challenge To Date - Beaumont Tiles!

Our site supervisor left a message for Von on Friday, to update him and let him know that the tiling will begin this week and painters are scheduled for the end of this week.  I rang the site supervisor on Monday to thank him for the update.  Honestly, in our whole experience, he has been the biggest credit to Clarendon.  

My mum dropped by on Monday and the tiler was there and he asked mum to get me to drop by the next day to check something.  I went there at 8am yesterday.  The tiler wanted to check the tiles and lay out with me.  Well, the feature tile was right (mocha coloured, with pattern).  These were to go in every shower recess.  For the rest of the walls, we picked the same pattern but in white gloss.  Instead, we got PLAIN white gloss.  The tiler's documents showed that he had been supplied with the correct tiles, based on product codes.  I said, I will check my documents and then I got his number.

Got home, checked my documents.  Same code as on the tiler's documents.  Checked the "Ideas Planner" sheet I filled out during pre-selection at Beaumont Tiles.  This is the same sheet I handed the person who served me at my tile selection appointment.  For the rest of this entry, I shall call her Kristie.  On my sheet, I had written the codes for the tiles we selected.  Kristie had not entered the whole code.  Instead of 49019IA, she had only entered 49019.  The ommission of the IA, meant that instead of the patterned tile, we got the plain tiles.  Mind you, on the record of selection she printed, the tile still had the name SEQUENZA WHITE GLOSS.  The feature wall is actually called SEQUENZA MOCHA SATIN THONET INSERT.  So, I believe, when I was asked to check the print-out, I just saw the words SEQUENZA and WHITE GLOSS, and I thought that was the same one.  I wouldn't have checked the product code, simply because I gave her the code on paper already.  Besides, how would a regular person be able to spot that there was no "IA"?  Or, had I spotted that, how was I supposed to know that that would make a difference at all?  

As my previous entry relayed (December 24, 2008), Kristie was an abrupt person who acted as if she just wanted me out of there.  I was told to allocate an hour for the appointment.  I was out of there in 30 mins, $1,610 poorer!  What any customer deserved was a confirmation that what was printed was what the customer asked for.  Kristie could have said, "Ok, according to this document I am asking you to sign, for your shower recesses, you have selected this tile (show me the tile), and for the rest of the walls, you have selected this tile (show me this tile), and for your floor, you have selected this tile (again, show the tile that the document is denoting).  You want floor to ceiling tiles in the following wet areas....Is everything correct?"  But, NO!  I didn't get any service like that.  I felt belittled and bullied by her when I dared to ask questions.

Anyway, I rang Beaumont tiles at 8.30, hoping they would be open.  Someone answered the phone and she was empathetic.  She said she was by herself, but she would tell Kristie what had happened as soon as she came in.  I said, I didn't really want to deal with Kristie again because she wasn't very helpful the first time around.  She said she will get someone to follow it up as soon as someone else comes in.

I had things planned for the morning, being school holidays.  I was meeting with friends and some of the kids from school at playland.  By 9.50am, I hadn't heard from Beaumont, so I rang Beaumont Tiles again.  I got to speak with Kristie herself and she said she needs to pull up the files to know what's going on and she'd have to speak to the warehouse (?).  She rang again around 10.45am and said they had delivered the tiles according to the selection I had signed off on.  I acknowledged that that was correct but that the tiles on the selection were not the one I had wanted in the first place.  She said, she's been told that if I wanted MY tiles, I would have to pay a $500 reselection fee.  I said, I am not paying for that fee since I am not changing my mind on them.  SHE took my order wrongly in the first place.  We disputed over what I asked for and what she gave me.  I asked if I could speak to whoever she was speaking to and she said she's not allowed to give the number away.  Besides, Kristie said, they will say the same thing to me.  I said, I know that she cannot do anything else for me and her hands are tied, so I want to speak with someone else higher up.  She said she'll get her manager to ring me as soon as the manager is finished with an appointment with another builder.  Note, this was at 10.45am...

We left playland as by 12.30pm, I still hadn't heard from the manager.  I had to attend to the bub and put him to sleep as I didn't want to leave him in such a state with my dad.  I was lucky that dad was still home.  He was about to leave when we got home.  He agreed to mind the three kids.  I got to Beaumont in Bella Vista by 1.45pm.  I went into the showroom and waited for someone to serve me.  A lady came out from the manager's office and I asked if I could speak to the manager.  She said, that the manager had just finished with an appointment, could she help me out (meanwhile, I could see the manager in her office, trying to look like she's busy).  I started to relay the situation and as soon as she found out that Kristie was the one who served me before, she was going to call her.  I told her I didn't want to deal with Kristie at all as I don't like her and she wasn't good at customer service.  Just then, Kristie came to where we were and started serving another customer.  When Kristie realised who I was, she interrupted us to ask if Kerry from the office hasn't rung me yet as she had rung Kerry 20 mins prior.  I said, I haven't received any calls and it's been three hours.  We started to get into another argument about what she typed into the computer and what I had written and given her and the showroom display we partly based our selection on.  And, in the end, she was doing her thing again, where she's just cutting me off, so I said, "The problem is, you wouldn't admit that you made a mistake in taking my order!"  She kept saying that I had signed off on that blasted piece of paper, insinuating that it was therefore, my fault.  In the end, she said I should just wait, as Kerry should be ringing me soon.  I asked how long.  She said, in the next half an hour, and that she would ring Kerry again.  

I walked around the other shops and was starting to get antsy when my mobile rang just in time.  The Kerry girl was worse than Kristie.  She, too, kept harping on about the fact that they did everything according to MY selection that I had signed.  ARRGGGHHH!!!  I told her how annoying they were because the problem was when I was served and if they cared enough about their customers, they would see that their customer service was lacking and that was the root of the problem.  I was creating a scene in front of Freedom, but I couldn't care less.  I was soooo frustrated by their arrogance!  I can't believe they're still in business, with that attitude.

She was saying that because the tiles were on site, there was no option to do a reselection.  I said, the tiles weren't on site because I was there in the morning and there was only a small trailer box of tiles (it wasn't even full).  She said, according to her enquiries, the tiles were on site so that was that.  I asked if the tiles were to be returned, what would happen then?  She said, I would incur a re-delivery fee and then, the reselection fee.  I asked how much the delivery fee is.  She said she would have to find out.  I asked how long shall I wait until she finds out.  She said, she'll ring me in an hour.  As soon as I got off the phone with her, I rang the tiler, who said the tiles were at his house and if Beaumont Tiles told him to return the tiles to Arndell Park, he would do it.  He wasn't going to charge anything for it.  Poor man, he didn't want to say too much as he didn't want to get caught up in the whole thing.  I rang Kerry back and told her not to bother finding out the redelivery fee as the tiler is willing to return the tiles at no cost.  She said, that's not what the tiling company said.  I said, I will take it up with Clarendon.  She was like, "Yes, sure, you do that."

I hopped in the car, rang our new CSO, left a message saying it's of an urgent nature.  Before I got to Clarendon, she had phoned back.  I explained the situation.  She was empathetic, but, as Beaumont Tiles is run independently from them, she was saying that there's nothing she can do either.  I said, they send all their clients to Beaumont Tiles, surely, they can appeal on my behalf.  She said, she knows they will just come back to her with that piece of paper I signed and she won't be able to do anything about it.  

By this stage, I was in the carpark of Clarendon.  She said she will refer the matter to our site supervisor and if I want, I can take it up further within Beaumont Tiles.  I asked if I could come in and see our site supervisor who should be in because it was Tuesday.  She said she hadn't seen him that day yet, and right at that moment, our site supervisor walked out into the carpark.  I hung up, ran to him and started to tear up because of frustration and anger.  He was very nice, but he, too, said he didn't know what else he could do.  I started crying (embarrassing!), and he came up with an idea to have his construction manager see me.  He brought the construction manager, Warren, down to the carpark, just a few minutes after, enough time for me to compose myself.  I explained the matter in two minutes (no exaggeration), and immediately, he said, he could see that the fault rested on Beaumont Tiles due to the lack of customer service at the time I gave my selection.  He got our site supervisor to take a copy of the sheet I handed over to Kristie and a copy of the Record of Selection.  Warren, then said, he will take it up with Beaumont Tiles and they'll update me.  He asked if I minded a little delay which would mean we wouldn't get the house until end of May.  I said I didn't care, I just want my tiles.  I thanked him profusely.  I got into my car and burst into tears (tears of joy and relief)!  Finally, someone understood me and was willing to fight my cause.  I felt like I could finally sleep that night.

Well, that was yesterday.  I hadn't really heard from Warren just yet and the tiler rang me around lunchtime to ask what happened.  I told him that someone's sorting it out.  Meanwhile, could he do the floors and the shower recess?  He said, in some parts yes, but not in other parts.  I rang our site supervisor who said he was on his way there.  I have confidence that they'll sort it out.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Stairs in Ahead of Schedule & Doors Installed!!!

The stairs were supposed to go in today and they were installed some time yesterday.  Now, it's feeling more and more like a house!  Can't wait to live in it!

Just noticed that the balustrades are not the ones we ordered.  We wanted plains and twists and we got given plains and balls (?)  We worried about the ball because little fingers may get caught in there, or little ones might use them as a step.  I also am concerned that it is potentially a dust collector.  Von thinks it may take long to rectify the problem and is prepared to stick with what we got given.  I personally feel that our original selection would look more modern.

I cannot get over how beautiful our front door looks like!  Just wish that the bottom right panel isn't so mismatched in colour.  The 9-foot ceiling, combined with the double merbau doors, are some of our better decisions in this house.  Forget the facade - for practically the same money, we got the eaves and the extra foot at ground level.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Bamboo Flooring

I've had my eye on bamboo flooring for a while now.  With the prospect of our new home being completed in the next 4 weeks, I thought I better get some quotes done.  

I started on Wednesday and made a trip to Granville where I had seen bamboo floors before.  I sort of know what I want based on many endless nights researching flooring.  I have finally convinced Von to have the same flooring throughout the house as yesterday, I saw one the school mum's house with bamboo flooring (even on stairs) and to me, it was simply stunning.  The thought of using sustainable materials is a wonderful advantage as well.  Doing a little bit for the environment.  Although, BASIX made sure we did do our bit for the environment in building our home, at the cost of around $10k - not to mention all the other things we included to ensure we used less resources, eg. eaves, glazing on the front windows, etc.

Anyway, in Granville, I got two quotes (very roughly as none would commit until they have done measurements in the actual house).  The first came up with an area that was close to what I got (in total, but not when done separately.  The second one calculated a lot more but the second one sounded like he knew what he was talking about more.  The quote was above what we had budgeted for, mainly because the prices had gone up since I was researching the floors nearly a year ago, and also because I hadn't considered the stairs.  We were happy to have carpet on the stairs for safety of the children.  The stairs alone would cost around $2000-$2500.

Today, we met with a good friend's old mate from uni.  He seemed trustworthy and credible.  He was also very nice that I couldn't even bring myself to bargaining with him.  We're going with him - now, if i can only figure out how I can draw down the money (we've made an allocation for floors, electricals and driveway within our loan).  The tricky part is that most flooring installers want 10% at the time of booking and then another 70% at the time the materials are delivered.  Meanwhile, the bank wants a tax invoice from the company installing our floors.  I'm asking our broker - hahaha!!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Gyprock Finished in 4 Days!

Gyprocking started on Tuesday, as our site supervisor has indicated (he is wonderfully forthcoming with the scheduled activities which makes him deserving of our respect and trust).  Already finished today, according to our site supervisor!  Cornices are all there, too.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Inspection Follow-Up

I forwarded our inspection report to our site supervisor on Friday night as our inspector said the email was bouncing back.  It did the same for me and when I spoke with our CSO yesterday, she informed me that our supervisor could only receive text messages on his PDA, but that he would be in today, so she will print my email and the report for him and put it in his pigeon hole.

Our CSO also said she would contact the construction people because I was asking for a "Letter of Undertaking" that states what Clarendon would do because of the report.  Apparently, it is a legal document that binds them to finish whatever they say they will complete.  This was a recommendation from our Inspector.  Actually, our inspector also recommended that I obtain quite a number of certificates prior to handover.  There's about 11 on the list.

Today, our site supervisor assured me that everything on the document has been done except for the T junction girder brackets, which only has TEK screws because that is how they are now done and have been vertified by engineers as being enough.  I understood what he said so I didn't press the matter, especially because when I asked if Von could easily do it after handover, he said, he shouldn't even have to do that.  So, I was quite disappointed to find out today from our inspector that he had just done 3 re-inspections of Clarendon homes and all their site supervisors have done the bolting.

Our inspector's point of argument is that it will actually "prevent possible ceiling damage in the future as any movement from the tek screws will result in popping nails later causing undue maintenance in the defect liability period."  I may follow this up with higher authority as (1) it is in their best interest in the long run; (2) I would like to be entitled to what those three other homeowners got from the same company.

The damages to windows and doors are still to be fixed because our site supervisor normally gets those "fixed and cleaned" prior to handover.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A/C & Alarm System

I realised on Saturday, the day after the inspection, that the A/C ducting and the alarm system should have been installed prior to inspection.  So, I sent a text to our site supervisor, in case I forgot.

I followed it up today and our site supervisor said that the alarm system was indeed installed on Thursday.  The A/C was started on Saturday and completed today.

Batts were supposedly installed today.  I didn't even get a chance to look.  Gyprocking starts tomorrow.  Woohoo!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Frame Stage Inspection

Today is one of those "milestones" as Clarendon and our independently hired inspector carried out their inspections prior to internal linings.

Their certifier was there when we took Von's mum and sister around to the site (as they live quite a distance away and were in our area for the day).  He said, except for very minor things, the house has "passed".  We met up with our Independent Inspector at the site at 2pm and he was already almost finished.  He discussed his findings very briefly with us and with our site supervisor who was present for this inspection.  Our Independent Inspector sent us a report via email by tonight already.  Talk about professional and efficient! 

In the end, the Clarendon contracted Certifier pointed out a few things that were picked up by our inspector, too.  In my point of view, our Independent Inspector was worth the $495 we paid him for peace of mind and the extra bits which we were able to ask our site supervisor to have a look at.  There were a few items that needed another inspection during handover.  We were prepared to have two independent inspections done, as we were informed of this by our chosen inspector.  Just wish it wasn't as expensive!  Hint, hint, Howard, from H & K Ryan!

These are the main issues we are concerned with:
- A garage wall metal brace passing over a copper pipe fitting that needs insulation to avoing future corrosion.
- A truss bottom chord bracing that is poorly fitted in the top floor.
- The T-junction girder bracket/s are apparently tek screwed only when they used to bolt them together.

Also confirmed today that we are supposed to clean the boundary fences ourselves (which has quite a bit of concrete splashes).  In hindsight, we could have covered the fences OR asked the person who cleaned the bricks to give the fences a quick wash, too.  No big deal.  Von can pressure wash it with our rain water later.

Another thing that we confirmed, which, according to our inspector, no other builder requires, is that any footpath damage is OUR responsibility.  Well, the person who dug up our footpath to connect us to the main water supply just quickly patched up the big hole with asphalt.  I was too naive with regards to these.  Hope someone else learns from our lessons.  I read these in the contract but didn't realise the cost of doing the above.  I guess we can just ask whoever does our driveway, to re-do the footpath as well.  Besides, there were cracks on the footpath already and when I discussed this with Blacktown council previously, they said any further damage is our responsibility despite the cracks which would most likely make the footpath susceptible to damage once work on our site began.  Couldn't win that battle either and believe me, I tried.

Overall, we are happy with the inspection report.  

After our inspector left, our site supervisor stayed a little bit and I jokingly asked him if I should start lay-bying furniture as most shops only allow a maximum term of 3 months lay-by.  He said, "I would be doing that if I were you."  Apparenly, he has everything else booked in already and providing we have no unforeseen delays, he thinks he'll be "finished" by end of April.  Technically, with the allowances for Christmas and wet weather, he had told me that from when he got our paperwork, he really had until nearly the end of July.  You can only imagine how excited I got.  I estimate that with the clean-up after, the flooring and the driveway, we can probably expect to move in by end of May.  Our three boys' birthday party (all born in May), may not be that belated after all!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Inspection Booked, Plumbing Query, Update

Today, we heard from our site supervisor, advising us to book our independent inspector.  Woohoo!  We're booked in for this Friday, at 2pm.  Von and I just spent some time drafting an email to show some of the items we felt were questionnable:

1. The roof tiles in one section seemed too far from the fascia as compared to another section, such that you can peer through and see inside the roof.

Roof tiles too far from edge as opposed to photo below.
2. The front left corner where the frames hang over the slab considerably.

3. A small gap between the bricks and where the eaves finish in the front elevation. 

A quick update for work carried out in the last week:  Not much except for the scaffolding being removed from top roof, eaves and upper pipes being painted and scaffolding for bottom roof put into place.  Fascia and gutters for lower roof done on Saturday.

Plumbing inspection was being carried out when I brought over someone to give me a quote for the driveway.  He said there wasn't enough clearance for the bath spout and the flick mixer to be on the wall under the windows in the main bath.  We'll need a U-shaped spout (well, inverted) instead of the ones that simply jut out from the wall.  Apparently, this has to happen.  But when he told me that it would cost around $70 for that and another $200 roughly to relocate the plumbing, I asked him why we should be liable for this when this is not of our choice and it is certainly not within our control.  He said he'll speak to our site supervisor and see if Clarendon will waive the cost. 

To me, work has really slowed down.  Especially when there were days with nothing happening at all during a week with fine weather.  Nothing done today again but our site supervisor thinks gyprocking will commence on Tuesday week.   

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Eaves Out of Nowhere

With rain being on and off for the past few days, I didn't check on the house until today.  Surprisingly, the eaves were done!  Can't wait until Monday to see what else will happen.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

We've Got a Roof!

Yey!  We now have a roof!  All done in ONE day, yesterday - amazing!  I went past around 10.30am and found that the roof on two sides have been completed.  By 4pm, it was all done, bar the lower roof (over the garage).

I contacted our site supervisor today and had to send a text as he was on the phone when I rang.  He rang back very quickly.  I was all praise again because he managed to squeeze in the roof as soon as it stopped raining, thereby, limiting the delay in construction.  He said, it may take a while for more to be done as the rain delays has meant his carpenter cannot finish the eaves for a little while (don't know how long).  This also means, they cannot start any internal work like the electrical stuff until the eaves are done because he's waiting for that before the lower roof can be done (I don't know why the lower roof is reliant on the eaves, though).

I, then, contacted our building inspector who has phoned me twice complaining that neither Clarendon, nor our site supervisor, return his calls even when they have all his paperwork and credentials already.  He also indicated that I need to be on top of things as he has heard that Clarendon is currently having some issues with some contractors, causing delays to construction.

Hmmm, so far, so good with Clarendon and our site supervisor.  Yes, there have been issues, but nothing we haven't been pleased with the results after sorting it out.  

I still think there is a market out there for a liaison officer who can attend to all these nitty gritty stuff that I have been attending to, which full-time working clients, just have no time for.  Thank goodness, we're in a position for me to hold off working as much as I used to and pick up casual work with flexible hours.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Some Disappointment About the Roof

Most of the jobs our site supervisor had organised for the week happened but towards the end, it got delayed.  The cleaning of the bricks was on Saturday and when we drove by at around 9.30am, the man was almost finished blasting the bricks clean.  The thin film that covered the windows washed off, too.  And suddenly, the house looks more lively.  We did, at one point, wonder if the windows had the glazing we added.  Fortunately, once we looked had a look inside, one could hardly tell there was anyone inside.

The scaffolding was adjusted on Monday.  On Tuesday, the carpenter was supposed to trim the frames for the fascia and gutters.  I'm not sure if it happened on that day.  However, the first delay in the week happened on the Wednesday, when the fascia and gutters were supposed to have been finished already.  Mum said she saw someone come down and have a look and then he left in less than 10 mins.  Sure, there were forecasts of rain but it only drizzled at 3pm.

Yesterday, we drove by the site after picking the kids up from school and the gutters and fascia were completed!  How inobservant of me to not realise that fascia weren't made up of wood anymore!  Mum liked our colour combo externally.  Shame though that Von and I didn't notice (nor were we made aware) that the area above the garage is not bricked up.  Considering we have a brown door, perhaps we could simply paint that area close to the wooden colour?

Today, work was not carried out again.  That's two days in one week.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Third Payment

Another entry about payments.  I faxed our third payment request today and had requested for an amount which was different to what the banks expected.  That was because my invoice said the balance was $400 less.  This is to account for the refund that was due to us because no extra fencing was installed (see entry on the 18th of December).

Catherine from our broker's office said the bank has alerted her of this error.  I explained what had happened and Catherine assured me that if they ring her again, she could explain it all for me.

Just looking forward to smoother payment transactions.  No biggie, but worth noting as it could happen to someone else.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bricks All Done!

It's soooo exciting!!!  The bricks are all done after the brickies worked 5 more days on our house. Through that time, I was able to drop by twice to bring some fruit.  

Today, I rang around 11.30am and the head honcho said they were just cleaning up.  I hurriedly bought some food and treated them to fried chicken, fried rice and coke.  I know, I know, their work is finished already.  No more reason to woo them.  However, I truly wanted to thank them for working through some of the hottest days we've had this summer and doing a great job at that (according to our site supervisor).

There were left-over bricks which I asked to be left in case we wanted to use them for a mailbox or across the front yard.  According to our site supervisor, they do leave the intact bricks behind.  I really appreciate our site supervisor as I left a message for him at midday and by 2pm, he had rung me back with all the details I needed plus more.  He was very forthcoming with the schedule and had even given me the estimated finish time, with and without the rain days (2 weeks) & Christmas shutdown (3 weeks).  At this stage, we are apparently 13 weeks and two days into the building since he got the paperwork.  Take away the 5 week allowance and we would be only on week 8.  That's not too bad considering the timeline I managed to find from another builder.

He has the cleaning of the bricks booked in on Saturday, scaffold adjustment on Monday, fascia and gutters on Tuesday & Wednesday, and the roof tiles will start to go on on Thursday or Friday.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rain has Finally Stopped

It has been drizzling, showering, raining for nine days straight.  Today, there was no rain at all.   I drove to our site to see if anyone was such luck!  However, tonight, Von told me that our site supervisor rang him up to say  that the brickies will be back tomorrow.

It has been all that gloomy, though.  On Rainy Day 4, more bricks arrived.  Well, apparently, the builders do allow for about 2 weeks of rain when estimating finish time.  We've just about used that much time.  Here's hoping that autumn will bring less rain and less harsh weather for the contractors to work in.   

Monday, February 16, 2009

Second Payment

Yet another bungle with payments.  I faxed through our request on the 4th of Feb as payment was due on the 9th.  Today, I got a call from our broker's office to say that the bank only got one out of the two pages I sent.  And they only told me now???  Well, actually, technically, they didn't even tell me.  I had to hear it from our broker's office.  They most probably lost it is more like the story!

I faxed it through hurriedly to our broker and we agreed that any future payments, I would fax the request to them and they would forward it on for me to ensure that the paperwork goes through.  Imagine if I didn't have a broker?  The banks didn't even bother to acknowledge the fax.  Besides, we have no particular customer service officer assigned to us.  Again, our broker has saved the day.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Torn About the Weather

It's rained THREE days in a row.  Nothing happened on Monday but scaffolding was delivered on Tuesday and this afternoon, there were actually people assembling the scaffolding.

As much as I know that this rain and the cooler weather would have brought a lot of relief to the bushfire affected areas, I can't help but feel disappointed (sorry!)  I went to Stanhope Gardens today and found all these new homes getting built which were not there only a month ago.  There was a whole lot of project homes getting built in front of the shopping centre and people were actually working through the drizzly day.  I wished right there and then that people would work on our house but I guess it may be a safety issue.  That's why I was pleasantly surprised to see people there at around 3.45pm after I picked up the kids.  My kids were actually the ones who suggested we dropped by and although I told them I'd already done that in the morning, we're lucky that we still went.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Showing Appreciation

I sent an email to our CSO last night to be forwarded to her supervisor.  I wanted her and  our site supervisor that we appreciated the way they have handled our situation and that we are looking forward to working with them until the completion of our house because we have renewed faith in them.

In return, the CSO supervisor replied to thank us and to say that our site supervisor is working on getting our house completed within contract time (weather permitting, of course), although they cannot give me an estimated completion date at the moment.  I'm working on getting the actual contract deadline as I think I've worked it out based on our peg-out date.  However, with the initial 2 week delay prior to excavation and the break over Christmas, I'm not sure when it is anymore.  I was hoping to move in mid to late June, by the time we organise flooring.  I don't know if that is possible at this stage.

Von also received a call from our site supervisor thanking us for our appreciation.  As I see it, he did deserve the credit and I am all for acknowledging credit where it is due.

Yesterday, I passed by the site just before midday to drop off some fruit and they were all packed up already.  The boss brickie said they've brought us back to the stage we were at on Monday (therefore, only losing 3 days of construction time), and that they will be back next week to finish it off.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bricks are Quick - Take 2!

Hoping for the best, mum, Adam and I visited our site again at around 10.30 this morning.  The place is full of activity.  Four brickies and a plumber were working on our house.  Yey!!!

The boss brickie came out to meet me and mum like the other day and was very friendly.  He was very appreciative of the goodies we brought for them.  He moves so fast, he looks like he's running all the time.  Mum was impressed.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Termimesh Finally In

Passed by the site this morning with my mum, bearing some chicken kebabs and ice cold drinks for our brickies to find that no one was there.  The Termimesh people, obviously haven't been yet.  I rang them and found out that they were scheduled for this afternoon.
Dropped by around 4pm after picking kids up from school and found the Termimesh guy there.  Apparently, the mesh stops spiders, ants, cockroaches and other creepy crawlies from coming in as well!  Woohoo!!!  Of course they can stil come in through open doors and other openings like the roof but they'll be far less of them, hopefully!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Big Blunder Rectified by Clarendon

Today, Von rang our site supervisor just before 9am in the morning.  Surprisingly, he got to talk to him.  Our site supervisor is supposedly only contactable between 12.30pm-4.30pm.  Von wanted to check if the Termimesh has been put in, as from the website, we know that the second stage was to go on sometime during the early stages of bricking.

The site supervisor said that it's not in his documents so he hasn't organised it.  He was a little irate, and to Von, he sounded like he was trying to convince us to ditch the Termimesh and opt for the external reticulation system that originally came with the package.  Von asked for an hour so we could make a decision and the site supervisor pulled out the brickies in the meantime.  Von then rang me and asked me to research it further to verify whether Clarendon's chosen termite barrier system was "superior to Termimesh" as indicate by our site supervisor.

I went online and was still convinced we had made the right choice.  I rang Howard (our building inspector to be) to ask if he had an opinion based on the inspections he has done before.  He said as long as they are certified, then they all meet the Australian standards and do what they promise to do.  Perhaps, he's not allowed to make any recommendations.

I rang Termimesh next and asked if our second stage had been done and confirmed it hadn't.  She said the mesh was supposed to go on after ONE course of bricks.  Well, there's already atleast 10 courses of bricks there!  The girl I spoke with said she would ring our site supervisor and I asked her to update me after.  I also asked her to get a consultant to ring me as I wanted to discuss the options further.

I, then, rang our CSO and got her voicemail.  I left a message explaining the situation and asked her to get back to me.  I started to document everything in an email to her but kept getting interrupted as the kids weren't back at school yet and my little one was very clingy today.

After about half an hour, I rang our CSO again and got an additional message saying she was in a meeting until 10.40.  That would be past our deadline with our site supervisor so I rang reception and insisted to be put through to someone else who can help me.  Spoke with another CSO, who only after hearing that the Termimesh was not done, interrupted me to say I should be speaking with our site supervisor about it.  I explained that I do try my best to follow protocol and explained further other issues we've had with our supervisor.  He told Von this morning that there was no problem with that left corner of the front elevation (see entry 16th of Jan).  This CSO then became empathetic then said she would speak with our CSO and they would take it from here.

At 10.30, I received a call from Termimesh and was informed that there are THREE other possible options depending on a site visit by the area manager this afternoon. (1) If the house was going to be rendered, they would put the mesh under the render - that's out as we like the non-maintenance quality of good old bricks! (2) They could do a band of render at the bottom of the bricks all around and do the mesh there. (3) They could concrete around the perimeter (30cms wide) and put the mesh there.  Apparently, the 10 year warranty would hold so I can only assume that the effectiveness would be the same.  

After speaking with Von, we knocked back the last two options because we don't like the look of the half-rendered bricks and that would mean maintenance again.  We also wondered about the look the house will have with that concrete thing sticking out all around - besides, we didn't know how it would fit with any landscaping we would do later on.  My dad asked what would happen if the concrete cracks.  Will the warranty stand?

At 11.15am, we heard from Clarendon's customer service supervisor who explained that the mistake happened because they have a new computer system that gives the site supervior the list of things to be done and for some reason, the document didn't include the Termimesh.  We had actually jumped to the conclusion that our site supervisor was fibbing because we assumed he would have organised the first stage of Termimesh, but maybe he didn't.  Who knows?  Just goes to show that we should have a little more trust in people and not jump to conclusions.  The CS supervisor also said they had looked for other non-chemical termite control systems and had found no other that could be done at this stage of the construction.  Would we like to keep going and just put in a chemical reticulation system  and we would be credited or would we like them to tear the bricks down and put our Termimesh in?  I said, "I'm sorry for the extra cost and time to you, but we want our Termimesh."  She was very empathetic and said it wasn't going to be a problem.  

I asked her if we could get a new site supervisor because our site supervisor may not want to deal with us anymore because we had stuck to our guns and he seemed annoyed with what happened when Von spoke with him this morning.  The CS supervisor said he's actually one their best and that he is known to bring houses in on time.  He may have been like that this morning because he didn't know about the Termimesh and was caught off guard.  She suggested we give it two weeks then she'll phone us.

She then gave us our new CSO (again!) as apparently, they've just had a restructure and now, clients are to have the same CSO from the moment they sign the tender to the end of construction.  However, our old CSO (who was actually terrific and was probably the only one who answered her phone!) is now on maternity leave.  We were assigned someone who has joined the company.  

So, everything was sorted in less than two and a half hours - but that was two and half hours of non-stop discussion and phoning.  My poor husband was on his way to Bega for work for the week and he didn't need this stress.  He's quite level-headed, though.  I thought, what would people have done if they had hectic jobs???  That's why I'm contemplating on becoming some sort of a liason officer for those very busy people who want to hire someone who can check all the proceedings for them, handle the problems that arise, follow-up the builder, monitor that the contract is adhered to and see the building to completion.  But, that's another story...  

I told Von the good news and he said our site supervisor had rung him and asked that Von clarify with the CS supervisor that we were aware that his recommendations were his own and that he wasn't speaking for Clarendon.  Von said the site supervisor must have gotten a serving from the CS supervisor.  Von said yes, tried to ring the CS supervisor, but when he couldn't reach her, updated our site supervisor that he will continue to try, and apparently, the site supervisor was appreciative that Von actually tried to do it.  Our site supervisor did warn Von that he may not be able to get the same brickie (who has done a great job so far) back.  Oh well, what could we do?  We'll have a building inspector anyway, who will make sure the job's done well.

I visited the site in the afternoon and found our brickie there.  He was very friendly and he said he would continue the work.  They had already demolished 3 days worth of work as they also worked on Saturday.  We thought they were fast.  He said it would have cost Clarendon somewhere between $8-$10k to do what they've done.  Von said to me, that really, it could have cost more had we not been vigilant.  True.  What if the bricks were all done (the scaffolding was to go up this afternoon, I think)?  What if the house had been finished and we asked for the certification that the Termimesh was done?  The brickie also said he was surprised this happened as our site supervisor is the best and the most organised out of all the ones he works with.  In fact, the brickie had another job he was meant to start tomorrow but he will complete half of the work again out of respect for our site supervisor.  Then he'll come back next week to finish the job.  Wow!

Through it all, I thought, "Maybe this was meant to happen and there is some kind of benefit that we're not seeing in the situation."  God has done that before when the sale of our house didn't go through with the first buyers because of the pending repairs to the hale damage.  We ended up getting cash settlement which allowed us to do the repairs and more because we paid the tradie directly.  But, nah!  It was a mistake and that was it.  Clarendon was swift to rectify the problem and we're grateful for that.  Well done, Clarendon!

In the end, we're getting our non-chemical termite barrier system that doesn't need annual inspections and periodic replenishment.  That's worth the 2.5 hours today, the additional 3 or 4 days construction time, but most of all, the extra $2k we're paying for. 

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bricks are Quick

We passed by our site before going home and found quite a lot of bricks up already!  I like the bricks we chose.  We wondered whether the Termimesh had been put in, though.  It didn't look like it.

The frames of the lounge room aren't protruding it all, as our site supervisor said - well, not anymore, anyway!  Someone has obviously added to the original concrete base to make the concrete flush with the frames...hmmm.  The frames at the entry are still hanging over a little but because they have now removed the supporting beam across the entry floor, then it's not as obvious.  I wonder what it would be like when the door frames and doors are there, though. 

We also noticed that with the frames upstairs up, the rooms downstairs don't seem as small as they felt before.  Von's decision to ditch the $7.5k facade for 9 foot ceilings has paid off!  Well done, darling!

It made it easier to imagine what it would be like to have our deck in the back with the sliding stacker doors opening from the meals area and the home theatre.  Soooo exciting!!!

We also met the children of our back neighbours.  A girl aged 8 and a boy aged 5.  We're surrounded by children in this neighbourhood and by some coincidence, they're all about our boys' ages.  Well, with three boys aged 7, 5 and 1, there's bound to be some child around their age, but not this much.  So, it's been such a blessing!  

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Brickies are Starting Today!

Away on a week long holiday and haven't seen the house for a whole week!  Excited to hear from our site supervisor this morning when he rang Von up to say that the bricklayers were due to start today.  Can't wait to go home tomorrow!

Site supervisor also said the overhang of the frames was within the standards (1.5cms).  It looked more than that, but we'll see.  Here's a reminder:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Groundfloor Frames All Done

Couldn't wait to come home from our holiday to see what else has happened.  Got there and found that the groundfloor frames were finished.  The two James were in the ute and the older one said they expect to be finished by next week.  I didn't bother asking about them not showing up for 2 days.  The lounge room frames are still hanging over the concrete but I've left a message for our site supervisor earlier this week so I'll wait and see.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Carpenters are No-Shows for a Few Days

Contacted my mum while away to see if it has been raining in Sydney so I can report it under rain days.  Mum said it had only rained from 5pm but she hasn't seen the carpenters for a couple of days.  Actually, we passed by the  site at around 12.30pm on Monday enroute to our little trip and no one was on site, no work has been done that morning.  Maybe the carpenters had other jobs and because I had told them we were going away (oops!), they decided to do the other jobs first...or maybe they just had to take a day off for whatever reason :(

Friday, January 16, 2009

Building Inspector & More Frames are Up

We have managed to contact my husband's work colleague's father about Building Inspections.  Spoke with him and found out there are two recommended inspections: (1) After brick and roof stage, just before internal wall linings; (2) Just before handover.  Each inspection is $495 which includes a detailed, photographic report.  Howard (from H&K Ryan), anticipates that the first inspection would be in about 6 weeks.  

I phoned the site supervisor to give him notice that we have hired an independent building inspector and I asked if he would let them know when the roof is finished.  He said he didn't have anything to do with that.  So, the right protocol is for me to find out when the roof is to be finished, ring Howard and he will organise with our site supervisor when to carry out the inspection - got it.  Checked out the H&K Ryan website and they seem to be pretty credible.  Howard has even appeared on channel 9, imparting his knowledge about inspections.  Feels like we're in good hands.       
More frames have gone up.  Got the carpenter's number as we're going away for most of the week next week and I may not see them again.  Things are looking great, schedule wise!  

We did notice that there is quite a bit of overhang at the front elevation where the lounge is, and also just under the entry door frames.  On the left had corner, the concrete looks like it's been chipped so the actual corner timber frame is not supported entirely.  Must contact our site supervisor about these.