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.