Monday, November 28, 2011

We are in

Sorry, no pictures yet... though I think we will have to patent the driveway technology employed to get the stuff into our house on the wettest November day in Melbourne for two years.... Should have taken a picture of William Thwaites Boulevard, which was flooded again.

We have to give a big thank you to the people who helped with the moving and cleaning, without them we wouldn't be here:
  • Nat who was the first to arrive and one of the last to leave for his packing expertise; and his wife Mel who helped at the unpacking end.
  • Keith and Daniel who pointed out that once you are wet, the rain doesn't matter any more. Worked all day like Trojans and didn't complain about the lack of tea making facilities.
  • Ryon (brother-in-law), who raced over to our house to be there for the deliveries that came before we got back with the truck, and was part of the inside team putting things where they needed to go.
  • Roy and Linda (in-laws), who packed and moved and cleaned and baby-sat and drove the truck through rain and sleet and snow and mud, and whose help we just couldn't have been without.
  • Mum and Gary, who helped keep our girls out of trouble and threw bits and pieces into boxes ready to be moved, then moved them and then some.... Who said having a guest stay in your house on the day you move in was a bad idea?
  • Dad and Lorraine, who loaned me the car that allowed me to be where my wife wasn't, the logistics would have been horrible without it.  Also big help with cleaning the rental house, getting it ready for hand back to our lovely land lady.
  • Rachel, who quietly helped put things away in our new house and generally supported my wife on a stressful day.  Rachel and Mel basically put the kitchen back together, and cleaned our feral fridge (it looks new now)
  • Tony who borrowed his work truck to move the trampoline in one peice - just as well, as I've lost the tool to put the springs back on.  And his wife Danielle who always brightens my wife's day.
  • Rebeca, who looked after our little cherubs over the moving period on numerous occasions - of more value to us than we can say.
If we forgot anyone, we are sorry, and blame the sleep deprivation.

Oh yeah, and thanks to Debra for sorting Telstra out for our street, as we had no trouble getting an excellent internet connection (best I've had anywhere).

Let's just say, we are very thankful to be in our lovely new home.... even with all the boxes of stuff we haven't seen for two years cluttering up the place.  It already feels like home.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

We have a date - and the Champagne to drink on it

Just a quick note, cause I can't help myself....

Here's the summary of events:

Thurdsay 17th - Bank inspection

Friday 18th - I ask for timelines am assured paperwork will be processed in 24 to 48 hours, transfer of funds another 24 to 48 hours, call builder to suggest that perhaps Wednesday would be a good day to organise things for. (Can we have a "date", we need to organise some things?)

Monday 21st - I advise our builder that the money has left our loan account any sign of it on their end... no our "Client Liaison" has not "been made aware" of it.

Tuesday 22nd - We receive the receipt for the final payment from the accounts department, call our Liaison and ask for the status... hoping to hear "I was just going to call you, payment received, SS advised, when can you come in".... no still "not aware" - apparently Australia Post beats internal mail - and that's with the poor postman having to get off his bike to deliver it as the footpaths are being replaced.

Wednesday 23rd - We have the keys!... with stuff organised for tomorrow as the "awareness" wasn't smacked through her pretty little head (by us) until too late in the day... the gift box looks yummy, and we have champagne to spill all over the new carpet and put the cork through the plaster.

Alls well that ends well?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Anyone for Tiddlywinks?

For those not acquainted with the game of tiddywinks, you can get all the details here... at the moment it seems to be a bit more fun than waiting for handover, and feels about as frustrating and fiddly getting all the little bits to go where you want.

The house has effectively been finished for the last two weeks.  We had our inspection on the 4th of November, and there were only little bits of painting to be fixed, and a chip in the en-suite shower base (poly-marble) which they will fill and polish and we will never know it was there.

The big hold up are the gas and bank.  The gas line people have been busy/late a lot apparently, and between no prompting from the office to call our bank (or perhaps call them themselves?) and the busyness of the people involved the bank inspection isn't until this Thursday (17th)... and we still don't have a hand over date!

I think we won't have a handover date until the day before... really painful, and we had to give notice on our rental as we don't want to have the place for 4 weeks after handover - so the deadlines are rapidly approaching... here's hoping the winks will all drop in the cup soon eh?

On the positive side, the finials have been painted, the temporary fence, skip bin and porta-loo have been removed, and we drove by this morning to find that the gas line has been installed - so all we need now is the gas meter and we will be cooking with... ummm... gas!

I had to delay the Telstra connection (optimistically booked for this morning)... which I really hated to do, as I figured it is usually the other way around.  Here's hoping neither of us will need to delay it a second time.

My apologies for keeping you all waiting and guessing... wonder if the builder will ever offer a similar apology to us?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

and there were lights

... and lots of other stuff. It's been awhile since my last post, feels like an eternity. We have entered this strange state where anything with the house seems to take an eternity, and we feel like we are never going to move in. I'm sure we are going to need to pinch ourselves to wake up when we actually do get in (no help with the pinching please). I'm just going to chat with the pictures this time... the pictures are in chronological order...
(Click image for larger view)

9th of October: If you go across the road, climb up the small embankment and stand on tip-toes, you can just see the outside view of the skylight (and HWS solar panel) that was installed on the same day as the lights. Nice and neat.

11th of October: The lights have been installed, including the fan-light in the main bedroom.

... the lights in the dining room and family-room...

Here's a close up of the family room feature lights - white on white. They have multiple layers with oval holes in them to let the light through. They still have their plastic lining on here. I can't wait to see them lit-up!

Don't forget the heat, light and fan units in the bathroom... (it's a little bit silly, but the builder insisted on still installing their own fans apart from the ones in the 3-in-one light/fan units...hope it's not too noisy when they are all turned on)... I have no idea if any of them are actually vented or not. I guess I'll find out after hand-over.

That is not all that was added to the bathroom! Behold the tap-ware has made it's appearance. This is the main bathroom shower.

(and the toilet)

Not to mention the shelving in the walk in pantry (this is the bench end, the other end is all shelves).

And the shelving in the cupboards, including these in our walk-in-robe.
I'm assured I will get my fair share of the space (at least one of the three sides), which should be more than enough to see us both organised and neat - yay finally!

16th of October: To compound our unease about the stain colour on the windows, one of them was broken. Not particularly good as our carpet was being laid on Tuesday (18th). A hurried note to the supervisor to make sure he was aware of the situation. Emotionally a bit of a downer and with busyness of business, I didn't really feel like blogging at this stage.

But you can't stop progress, and our door furniture was installed - including for the first time the deadlock on the en-suite door.

And the mid-door latch on the double-doors to the study, and of course the rest of the handles and latches throughout the house.

The finials and fretwork have been installed, and the site has had another clean. This time they knocked over the 'bin' like they don't want anyone to use it any-more - seems they are getting serious. I like this photo through the bars, it's fitting as we are still locked out, even though everything is painfully close to completion.

I may as well mention here that either the stain colour has faded a bit, or we are getting used to it, and it no longer feels so bad - we will even get them to do the second coat if it's still possible.

19th of October: My wife managed to get in to the house and couldn't help but play with the lights.

The carpet has indeed been laid, including in the main bedroom - even though the window is still broken and open to the elements.

The observant would have also noticed that the vinyl planks have also been laid in the family room and kitchen. I am really happy with the colour and the effect. What does everyone else think of the vinyl?

The mirrors are also in the en-suite.

.. and the bathroom. Not to mention the shower screens as well!

These are the feature tiles in the laundry... I think my wife thought we didn't have a nice enough picture of them. I'm still not sure we pick up the full range of colour in them, but they are very nice.

29th of October: Finally the caulking has been done (sealing around the tiles and such), though it's hard to take a nice photo of it through the windows

... especially hard through the flyscreens, which have now been installed.

Last but not least, the TermGuard has also been installed around the perimeter.

So where does this leave us? We still have some painting to do (finials, fretwork, and front windows). Perhaps a tile to replace; the quality inspection has already been done and apparently one was chipped. I think that is about it. We should have our own inspection in the later part of this week (we hope).

Yes packing has begun, and as we are renting we plan to have a week or two transition between the properties. There is still a lot to organise - and I think we are going to have sheets on the windows for a few weeks while we sort out what we can afford.

UPDATE: My responses to the comments got a bit long, so I'm putting them here:

Yes window is now fixed - it's double-glazed, so it took a bit longer to source the glass.

The lights came from Australian Lighting and Fans on the Princes Hwy (next to Fountain Gate, near Webb St)

I've added the link to the vinyl flooring product on our colours page, which should provide more than enough information. We sourced it through Dandenong Carpet Choice. We chose it as it seemed to be the better option of what we had available. Here is some of our opinions on the subject:

  • Tiles are hard-wearing, but cold, and the grout usually ends up totally gross, and doesn't have a smooth finish (unless you pay a lot for porcelain square edged with minimal grout - like Tristan & Natasha). Where we living at the moment has tiles in the kitchen and family room - and with little kids they are a death sentence to our cups and crockery.... even the plastic ones!
  • Carpet is just not cleanable enough for these areas.
  • Some laminate flooring is like a thin printed layer on top of MDF and you get this tinny click-clack sound from your shoes on it.... It would drive me nuts..
  • Engineered wooden flooring is nice, but you have to allow for expansion, some people recommend you don't have it with evaporative cooling, but definitely don't let water sit on it for any length of time or it will destroy itself. Plus you can get an annoying bounce or a hollow sound as you walk along it (depending on product and installation method I think). And it can have small catching edges due to unevenness in the floor or product. I didn't want to risk a result I wasn't happy with.
  • I would have had a real wooden floor (like JK), but wasn't able to find a cheap enough option available to us. Plus my dad has this and it got wet and swelled, dried out and had to be totally re-sanded and painted again - two weeks in a hotel anyone? Except I would have liked to use Tung oil and wax instead of the usual paint / varnish - more natural and can be re-finished in small sections easily... just too expensive and time consuming at this stage of our lives.... perhaps one day I will get to do it myself over the top of this stuff - which will act like a sealing layer for it - bonus!
  • So we chose the vinyl planks - a bit more expensive than the tiles, perhaps not everyone's taste... but we had old fashioned (pegulan - good quality) lino in our old house and loved how easy it was to keep clean (even scour off paint!). We were there 10 years and it looked as good as the day we moved in. These promise to be even better! They come in tiles (rectangles like planks), not sheets and are stuck down to the floor with a thin layer of glue (and presumably one could be replaced if damaged). We had a similar product installed in our office kitchen and they were great. It's not soft or spongy like lino and should wear well (colours and finish). No grout, no edges, just a smooth surface to run the enjo mop over.

But it really is a personal thing. There are different forms of the planks too - I think Harvey Norman has a DIY version that just sticks to the next plank (like the wooden versions) - I'm a bit sceptical that they would be as good in the long run, but I'm no expert... ask me again in 5 years and I'll let you know how this one has gone.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tainted tinting


HI everyone, I'm interrupting the regular broadcast to ask your opinion on something.... We noticed that the painter finally applied the stain to the front windows.... and kind of wish he hadn't... although it wouldn't have been good to leave it as it was, it's not looking much better now. When we picked the stain colour it was from a 2cm patch in a brochure (not the way to pick paint or stain colours it seems). Anyway, the painter is willing to work with us to resolve it, but the question is what to do? We would prefer to keep it stained and not painted (or we would have had aluminium windows), but don't know if using a lighter stain would do anything, or if a darker stain would look just as bad. We think the current result is a bit bright / fluorescent ... What do you think?

Will it fade or is that just being hopeful?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Let there be lights

Well today was a little bit different. Today I took our lights to the house to be installed by the sparky. So I met whom I assume was the apprentice going around doing all the preliminary work (very nice young man). I didn't hang around to see the results of his work, so you will have to wait to see the lights.

While I was there the guy arrived to install the solar tube (skylight) for the hallway Can't wait to see the impact it has.

Of course, I was in the house! So I took the opportunity to take some photos... except that I forgot to take a real camera, so all the photos I have are from my phone.they are what they are, and what they lack in professionalism they make up for in number. I have put them into a gallery for your viewing pleasure (The file-names are descriptive as there are no tags.)

Oh and on a side note of interesting things in the area, on the way home I went past Eden Rise Shopping Center and bumped into a replica DeLorean DMC 12 of Back to the future fame, making an appearance for charity. For those old enough or retro enough to care, here's the pics

Monday, October 3, 2011


We were away for the weekend. We were going to visit our house on Friday; travelling in the opposite direction to our destination (because we knew the tiling was probably finished), when our little 3 year old pipes up. "I told you I don't want to go to the house...." I had to admit - she was right, we didn't need an extra hour to our trip with two little bundles, so we skipped the detour and let our curiosity build over the weekend. (... from the mouths of babes...)

Now we are home and had delayed our gratification long enough, so we went to the house after taking care of the little ones. We arrived just on sunset, so I have to apologise for the poor lighting; the photos are a bit fuzzy even though the windows were cleaned. The double-glazing made using a flash impossible... must take a light next time.

(Click image for larger view)

The en-suite has been tiled, floor and walls. The bench-top has been put in - just waiting for the plumbing, mirror, shower-screen and clean.

Here you can see the detail of the feature tiles behind the en-suite sinks a bit better.

Here is the kitchen... part of the bench-top is uncovered, which gives you an idea of the overall colour-scheme.
The shiny feature tiles are stainless-steel... yum.

Rounding off the tour of the tiles with the laundry
...nice and moody in here.

Here's the view from the back yard. You can see here that the down-pipes are finally connected to the storm-water; yay. Also the plastic has been removed from the windows and they have been cleaned.
The French doors never looked so good.

This was a surprise...
We weren't expecting the garage door!
(Or the pile of dirt for that matter)

And from the inside... almost a real garage... only the clutter to go. 8-)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Complete, but not

We got the most useless letter from our builder this week... in summary; Fixing stage is complete (well yeah, I just paid the invoice)... The house is almost complete, painting makes it look real nice, here's a list of things yet to be done. There will be an inspection, but we can't tell you when yet... Sigh... I guess I shouldn't complain, it's about the first bit of information regarding the status of the house that I have gotten from the office (other than the stage invoices).

On the positive side, we sorted out why we thought we had paid a variation and they didn't... lets just say we are going to have the cost of the variation ($217.50) still left to draw out of our home-loan when the final claim is made.

Swung by the house today - no black plastic over any of the windows, and it looks like the internal painting is complete. I think all the painting that is left is the staining of the front timber (door and windows)... at least I hope so as they don't look like they have been painted yet. (-;

Anyway, enough with the boring blather, on with the pictures.

Update: We took the folks by today and I remembered to check if there was a solar panel on the roof to match the copper pipes sticking out of the wall - lo and behold there is! One more thing off the list.

(Click image for larger view)

The front... the gables and eaves are painted... and the downpipes are there; but not connected to the waste yet... I'm not sure if this is an improvement as the water just gets dumped closer to the house - but at least it is progress, and hopefully the plumbing will be connected soon.

Main bedroom.... bring on the carpet and pictures!
(patience grasshopper)

Bedroom 4...not much else to say... it's painted.

Laundry... just wait till the tiles come in to break up the beige (I mean cargo white).

Kitchen - yay the cornices made it before the painting finished.
(not that I was worried or anything)

My study.
The observant might notice something waiting for the next task.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nothing to see

Well not much anyway... When we took a look over the weekend ALL the windows were blacked out (plastic), so we couldn't see a thing. The only thing that indicated progress was the painted gables and garage roof (and an empty bucket of paint).

Today we dropped by quickly, and the painters didn't seem impressed to see me, so all I got was a picture of the garage - the garage walls have now been painted, and the plastic removed from the front windows, and they were starting on the garage door.... so I'm hopeful the rest of the walls are painted too. We'll probably drop by again on Saturday sometime, so we'll have another update then.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

There's a problem

This may sound silly... but something has finally gone wrong - I feel like it's a real build now.

We took photos of the Kitchen, then realised that the pot drawers were all the same size - they weren't meant to be. We checked this morning, and they are all like that; all three banks. Called the SS and let him know, and it should be in the process of being fixed.. bit sad really because it still looks nice the way it is, and I hate to waste things - but we did ask for the change for a reason. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Meanwhile, more progress pictures!

After a quick trip to the house (got to go inside - yay!), we have decided to leave the drawers as they are. The reason is that while we would have been happy with the drawers the way we asked as the top drawer would have fitted our coffee mugs,pot lids, and utensils... we found that the drawers as they are fit the biggest pot we currently have to put into them, while tall glasses would not have fitted into the smaller drawer. So leaving them as they are makes them more flexible. Even though the extra 3cm on the bottom drawers may have proven to be useful, it is only 3 cm. Add to that the delay in ordering new fronts, the mess created by moving the drawer runners, and the compensation offered by the cabinet maker to accept them as they are, and it just seemed better to leave it and move on. Done.

(Click image for larger view)

The eaves are all done now, still missing the finials... but the truck is the interesting thing here... the guy was here to take the templates off to make our stone bench-tops - can't wait to see them installed.

These are the offending drawers... clearly all the same height, while the top one should be 25%, the remaining two 37.5% each.

I was also able to confirm that our bathroom cabinets are definitely in. are the top laundry cabinets...

... and the bench in the study nook (and WIP)... all the shelving beading is in place (but not the shelves). In fact I think the carpenters have finished round one of the fit-out; waiting for painting, which will be next - and probably take two weeks.

Here's the view of our front door from the other side... wonder who will be the first guests we open the door to?