Monday, September 24, 2012

Day 99 - Fencing

This weekend was spent fencing. Last weekend we were helping friends fence their block to keep in their two year old escapee, but managed to get the holes for fence posts dug on our block. 

We hired a post hole digger to do the job. It is worth its weight in gold as the clay was like concrete.   It cost $115.00 for the weekend. A good thing to note with hire companies. If you hire something on a Friday afternoon you can use it for the weekend and take it back first thing Monday and only pay one days hire.

The front fence has been completed except for the box wire that needs to go on the front to keep the dogs and kids in.  My dad gave us some wire from his place (he has 5 acres) but it was not long enough to cover the front, so we are going to bite the bullet and buy some new wire. 200 metres for $200.00, so it will be enough to cover the front fence and the right boundary fence which needs replacing.

We did the fence that leads up the driveway to the temporary gate.  I eventually want a sliding electric gate, but as this build is blowing the budget big time, I think it will be a bit before I get that.

The gate is 3.6 metres wide, so hopefully plenty of room to allow for delivery trucks.

We have fenced the right side boundary where it was missing. As you can see on the left hand side of the photo the original fence is falling down. We are going to fence inside of the old fence and then push the old one down once its all secure.

We also started pulling out plants to salvage yesterday before we get the DA and the bulldozers move in

This whole section including the trees will be going for the house. There are heaps of cheese plants  plus agapanthus that we want to keep and replant.  Yesterday we removed the cheese plants and replanted them against the left boundary fence.



Mat didnt want me to post the pictures of the neighbours house, it is not the prettiest. As it is an acre block, we dont have 1.8m fences, so we need to be creative and block it off with other means. We are going to put some screens in, but hopefully the cheese plants will grow, and give a little privacy.

We dug the plant into the ground and have wired it to the tree. When it establishes and attaches itself to the tree we will remove the wire.

Blocking off the neighbours pool area.  We intend to put in another garden here along the boundary, but want to leave it until we finish building so they aren't damaged.

As you can see there are still plenty of plants that need to be removed. There are three palm trees that we want to relocate before this area can be scraped out and turf laid.

One of our good finds was a staghorn that was on one of the trees.  As that tree that is was on is probably going to be removed, we transplanted it to another tree that is staying

With a bit of luck we will have our DA through this week.  I was really hopeful until I received an email from Rawson today saying that Port Stephens Council needed new plans with Basix information noted on them. It does make me a little cross seeing they have been in council over 4 weeks now and this information is only being asked for.

As soon as it comes through, the trees will be coming down.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 94 - Contracts

We received our contracts today. There are three copies and each contract must be an inch thick. Every page has to be initialed by both Mat and myself.  

I now totally understand why Maree said that they could not email the contract.

One thing that does excite me is that the terms of the contract is that site works must commence within 20 working days once the CC is issued.

I am hoping that we can utilise the delay with the council and that the CC can be issued at the same time as the DA

If everything runs according to my plan, we have one more week for the house to be on public advertising. If there are no objections, hopefully it will be approved straight away.   Hopefully, keeping everything crossed we will have site works commencing before the end of next month.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Day 93 - A Womans Prerogative

Its a woman's prerogative to change her mind and I have made another change to the internal selections.

Remember the sink - it bothered me.

It was a lovely sink, but there was one thing wrong with it - it has a draining board.  I knew that it would bother me and so I decided to just pay the stupid amount of money that Rawson was asking to undermount the sink.

On Friday I sent an email to ask the cost of the Pete Evans undermount sink

Retail price was the same as the Clark Razor Undermount at $999, but it came with the same attachments as the sink with the draining board.  I actually like the Razor sink better, but Mat wanted the attachments, so I thought I would go for that one to make him happy - see how nice I am

Today, I finally got a price back $1,530.00, that is $280.00 more than the Razor, where not only is the Pete Evans sink smaller than the Razor, they are the same retail price.  Quickly shoot back an email to Rawson, and the price is corrected as they forgot to take off the standard sink. New total cost $1,330.00. Can't work out where the extra $80.00

The fancy attachments are not worth that much, so I am going with the Razor instead.  

I have also decided to take out the water purifier. It is $180.00 to take off the cost of the sink - so we will only be paying an extra $220.00 instead of $400.00 for the new sink. Mat wanted to keep it for re-sale value, but I don't think people really care. We don't use the water purifier. The kids drink normal water and when we move into the house they can have the water that comes from the fridge - which we are paying $380.00 to have that water tap installed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 88 - Ch Ch Ch Changes

I only sent in my signed off selections this morning, but already I have made a change.

I have changed out the Dorf tap

To a Methven tap

The Methven tap is slightly larger at 530mm compared to the Dorf at 500mm. It retails for slightly more than the Dorf tap (but Rawson will do it for the same cost) but the reason I changed it, is that it has a life time warranty. 

One of the things I have read time after time about building with a project builder, is only upgrade the things you can't change later yourself.   So I was a bit worried about upgrading a tap that I could easily change over later.   I did my checks and we weren't paying excessive amounts as to what I could buy it for myself. My main concern was the warranty.  Methven comes with a lifetime warranty.  With two young kids and one that is fascinated with taps at the moment, that has to be worth its weight in gold and worth paying the upgrade fee for.

Day 88 - We're in the Paper

Finally Port Stephens Council got it right!!! Only a week after we should have been, we are finally in the paper for public advertising of the proposed Development Application.

Hopefully if no one complains,  we should have our DA in two weeks.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Day 87 - Ouch, Ouch, OUCH!

When we had our colour selections last week, Mat thought that they would come back expensive. He thought that they would be about $3,000.  I wish they were $3,000. Today we received the prices back $12925!!!!!! OMG. I never thought it would be that expensive.

Here is the list.

Change of 1020mm door to 1200mm door - $1,500.00.  This was the first thing to go. I would love a massive front door, but this build is getting very expensive. Plus for our bushfire we need a screen door and I think you will lose the the effect of it.

Gainsborough Omni Entrance Set - $340.00.

Blue Mountain gutter guard.  When we were going to build with McDonald Jones they included gutterguard as part of the tender for the BAL12.5 bushfire.  With Rawson they did not include it. We questioned this and were told that this is not needed as part of bushfire requirements anymore, and the cost of this was $3,720.00. Mat wanted gutter guard as he doesn't want to clean gutters on a two storey house, and we could have got it slightly cheaper after handover, but it is not worth the hassle.

Water point to fridge $380.00. I think this is really expensive, but what can I do.

Provide two colours for kitchen cupboards - we have one colour on the bottom cupboards and a second colour on the overhead cupboards - $350.00

Provide Polytec 'sheen' for all cupboards $670.00.  I was really happy with this price as it was $1,000 with McDonald Jones and it was estimated that it would be the same. 

Provide 13 pot drawers instead of cupboards.  I have 5 sets of pot drawers, which will leave me with only one set of cupboards. Total $1,250.00. I am happy with this as it is an extra $250.00 per bank of drawers.

The cost for the 950mm set of cutlery drawers instead of the standard 550mm is $200.00.

Handles for the doors and drawers.  It was estimated that these were $15 - $20 each, so I was expecting $400.00. Actual cost $750.00!!!!!! Luckily I was sitting down for that one. 

Brushed aluminium kickers - $670.00.  I will stay with the normal coloured kickers - this has been deleted.

The drawer handles are Hettich brand - they are 494mm and 744mm long. They are nice handles, but ouch.
I actually rung another Hettich supplier and they are $35.87 for the smaller one and $50.48 for the larger. We need 21 handles, so a cost of just over $800.00

The sink has really been my bug bear. I didn't want an undermount sink as I thought that the charges for polishing the edges was stupid.  I wanted a square double bowl overmount. I didn't think it would be a big issue, but apparently it is.  Clark (who Rawson use) don't make this type of sink. For an undermount square it was $1,250.00, not paying that.  I found at Reece an Afa Exact double bowl. It was $495.00. Rawson don't use Reece, they use Tradelink and this sink is a Reece exclusive.  

My option here was to choose another sink, or to have the sink deleted from the contract. I would be credited $170.00 for the standard sink and then Rawson would cut the hole in the bench top with the dimensions that I gave them and we could fit the sink after handover. Mat was not happy with this idea, so we have come to a compromise.   There was a sink on display at Rawson that Mat really liked.  I liked the sink, but dismissed it because it had a draining board - it is $850.00 extra, and it comes with a colander, stainless steel drainer and a bamboo chopping board

The kitchen tap, Rawson came up with a Dorf Jovian pull out mixer - $550.00. The retail of this is $520.00, so a bit expensive, but that is builders mark up for you

The track overhead showers, as seen in the Rawson show homes.  $310.00 each.  Not too bad.

Integrated dishwasher. $895.00. At first I nearly died when I saw the price as all we expected was they would put a door front on the dishwasher - wouldn't cost too much money. When I looked further at the variation I realised the dishwasher model had changed.  We have deleted that variation and will just go for the stainless steel dishwasher.

Adding four downlights to the bottom of the overhead cupboards $560.00. I wasn't sure whether to go with this, it is not really a necessity, however with the amount of money we are spending, what is an extra $560.00.

Adding three double towel rails instead of single - $150.00

Oh a couple of free variations I forgot about

Moving gas point (which was free) from inside to outside on the alfresco - free

Provide cut out for wall hung TV in upstairs lounge - free as we received two as part of our suppliers bonus package.

Change laundry tub from standard 45L to a compact 45L - free

Total cost of the variations $10,970.00 - ouch, double ouch!!!

So now we have agreed on the variations, Mat needs to sign them off and then we can make our electrical appointment.   I need a contract asap so that I can get the contract to the bank for them to do a valuation on the house. 

Good news is (and I will be holding Rawson to it) is that once we have our DA approval they can be on site in approx 3 weeks.  We wont meet our 120 day timeline, but I think we will be about a week over that.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Day 85 - More Planting

We have worked all weekend on the block.  It is starting to come together, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

When we started two weeks ago

After the hedges were planted

 Saturday we installed the treated pine sleepers and painted them. Yesterday we finished filling them with soil, planting agapanthus in front of the hedges and mulching.

You can also see that we have cleared the bank.  This was a combination of the chainsaw and a whipper-snipper - I think it looks much better.

The agapanthus - we quite a few from our old house, but there are sooo many on the block, we have transplanted a small fraction of these to the front.  There are still so many that we need to either remove or give away before the block is cleared.

Next job - front fence, front gate.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Day 82 - Council FAIL

Grrr Port Stephens Council. Major fail today.

I lodged the DA on 24/08/12. On the 27th August it was listed on the Councils DA tracker saying that information check complete. Transfer to building - waiting. Advertising 06/09/12 to 20/09/12 - process completed.

We have been waiting for 06/09/12, knowing that it would be advertised in the paper.  Yesterday I checked the local paper, and there was nothing there.   My boss told me that it was OK as it only had to be advertised for one week.  Didn't think more about it.

I rung the council today and was told by the assessing officer that it was under advertising as of yesterday and due to come off at 5pm on 19/09/12. Everything was good with the application as it was in the building envelope and it was just a formality.

I had some time to kill this afternoon and I went on the DA tracker - advertising date has changed to 06/09/12 - 27/09/12.  I rung the council to be told that it was probably a mistake and they would call me back as far as they were concerned it was 20/09/12 and thankyou for picking up the mistake. 

Check the DA tracker again and it has changed again to 13/09/12 to 27/09/12. Ring the council again to be told it was a mistake and it was 20/09/12.

Get a phone call an hour later to be told that no there has been a mistake and when our DA was lodged there was information missing and that is the reason for the delay in advertising.  I asked what was missing - she said signatures - I told the lady that I lodged the DA myself and I know there was no missing signatures. She then said maybe it was the Basix certificate that was missing. I said no - it wasn't missing. Maybe the plans hadn't been stamped by Hunter Water - no, I had them stamped myself and you had 4 copies.   Well she said she didn't know what was missing, but because it was, it wouldn't be advertised until 13/09/12 delaying it a week. 

I rung Rawson and they have said that they have a letter dated 27/08/12 confirming the application and there is no mention of anything missing and no one from council has contacted them and asked for further information. Basically the council has stuffed up and they forgot to put it in the paper and now we are the ones that have to suck it up.

One thing I was told by the council was to look at this positively, to look at what has happened as something positive, not as a set back.  Hmmm don't see the logic in that one.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day 81 - Internal Selections

Yesterday was a big day. I have been going crazy with choosing kitchen colours. With Sunday being Fathers Day, we decided to drive down to Sydney to visit my parents and while we were there add in a quick trip to the show homes.

In the Rawson Seaview display I found the perfect colour for the overhead cupboards.  Turns out after being given the colour from Rawson, that it was a Polytec colour - Malt. Not what I really wanted seeing the bottom colours I was choosing between were Laminex colours.

To add insult to injury, I had ordered Laminex 150mm x 150mm samples of two colours that I wanted for the bottom cupboards last Wednesday.  The lady asked if I wanted any other colours, I said I was after a grey/brown toned wood without too much grain, but mostly wanted Licorice Linea and Espresso Ligna.  On Monday my samples showed up, I got the Licorice Linea, no Espresso Ligna and a host of other woods that were way too brown and had way too much grain.

Tuesday was spent crawling the net trying to find a colour that matched the Polytec Malt so I didnt have to have two brands of colours in the kitchen.

I should really have saved my energy, as when we went for our colour appointment yesterday at Rawson, Tracey told me straight away that Polytec have a colour called Truffle Lini.

So we have gone with the following kitchen cupboards.

Truffle Lini for the bottom cupboards - will either be matte or sheen, just waiting for a quote - should be about $1,000.00
Overhead cupboards - again will either be in sheen or matte depending on the quote.

Benchtops - we are having 40mm Caesarstone with waterfall ends on 3 runs.

Here is what they all look like together

The reason that I went with the truffle lini over the espresso ligna. When you are far away, rather than looking at a tiny colour chip they do look pretty similar, however, the truffle lini has more of a grey/brown tone that I am looking for.

The house we just sold everything was brown, brown tiles, brown vanities etc.  All our furniture is dark brown wood, so I didn't want to move away from that entirely. So we need to keep the brown tone, but want to move towards more grey tones - so best of both worlds.

All the vanities in the 3 bathrooms and the powder room will be the Truffle Lini in matte with the osprey caesarstone top.

Sink - I do not want a draining board. I really don't like them and they are never clean enough for my liking.  Next thought was an undermount sink.   Two problems there - firstly when you have a 40mm benchtop in caesarstone, it is a 20mm slab with the extra 20mm on the front to make it look like a 40mm slab. This is fine if you keep the illusion, however with an undermount sink, the undermount is only 20mm - so busting that illusion.  Another downer on the undermount, Rawson charge $400.00 - 500.00 for the cutting and polishing and then the additional cost of the sink.  I would rather pay the additional for an above mount sink.

So we are having a sink similar to this.

I am sure there will be a decent upgrade cost in this, but I think it will be cheaper than paying for an undermount sink and then paying for the stone to be polished.

Tap - I always knew what type of tap I wanted, a gooseneck pull out. I just wasnt sure that Mat would share my vision and would go for the standard tap.

Standard kitchen tap (or something similar) we both didn't like it

We could have upgraded to this - at a cost of $200 - $300.00 - cant quite remember the cost (which comes as standard in the platinum package)

I am not a fan either.

This is more what I had in mind

Caroma (who Rawson use) now makes ones of these taps, so they will need to get a quote for it. We are looking at $400.00 - $500.00 for it.  Even Mat was happy at that, as he wasn't keen on the standard that Rawson have.

The main ensuite and main bathroom will have the following shower heads

They come standard in the platinum package, but an upgrade from the standard, which is also not too bad

5th Bedroom ensuite will have the over head rain shower - which is standard with our package

One thing that I was excited about yesterday is that Rawson is changing over their appliance.  We thought we were getting the Baumatic appliances, however, Rawson are moving away from those appliances, because they were the first to have them and now a lot of the large project builders are using them - time to be different again.   They are moving to Westinghouse. No difference in the cost of the appliances, and I think they will be better for resale.

Dishwasher - which is standard with our package. We need a new dishwasher as we had to leave the last one when we sold our house, which wasn't a great loss anyway. It was a Fisher and Paykel and couldn't wash a dish to save its life.

Microwave - also standard with the trim kit. Our microwave will be 10 years old when we move into the house, it was given to us as a wedding present, so I am sure it doesn't have too many years left in it.

Oven - what I have always wanted. A free standing oven.  This bugger is big and will easily fit a couple of roasting trays side by side.  The rangehood will be undermount/concealed.

Really happy with how yesterday went. We were in and out in less than 2 hours. We knew what we wanted and what we didn't.  The thing I was happy with, it wasn't a huge sell.  We had a colour appointment before with another builder and everything that you would expect to be standard was an upgrade. Everything that was standard was cheap and you wouldn't want it in your house. Everything was a massive sell up and you could have spent many thousands of dollars in the blink of an eye.   With Rawson there was no hard push, no hard sell - really easy.  Thanks Rawson, most appreciated.