Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 1 - The Build Starts

I wasn't convinced that my file would go to the SS today, so today when I received a call from our SS it was a pleasant surprise and a nice distraction from John Hunter hospitals emergency department.

They say things happen in threes, today is my mums birthday, today our build officially starts, today my 2.5 year old son fell out of our stationery car and broke both bones in his wrist. He required surgery to set it. He is doing well and has been a real trooper today.

I have been told that it is expected that the site will be pegged out next week and by the end of November we should have a slab, frames plus the brickies should be starting. This is music to my ears.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 136 - Frustration

I should not be up to day 136 in my pre-build.  Rawson has a 120 tender period so we are already over that by 16 days.

Maree told me 3 weeks ago that they would need the Authority to Commence within 2 weeks. She also gave me a letter that said that the Site Supervisor would receive our file on 23rd October 2012 and a slab would be laid within 2 weeks of that date.

Last Wednesday (24th October 2012) I emailed Maree to ask whether the file had been collected by the SS. She replied saying that the SS had not come down for his meeting, but it would be sent by courier to him.   I asked when she expected him to receive it, which I received no reply.

I sent another email the following day asking for confirmation that the file had been couriered. I received an email advising that the estimating department were still working on the file and I would be notified once it had gone to the supervisor.   This annoyed me so much, as I had received it in writing and a letter had been drafted for the Office of State Revenue stating 23rd October.  

I asked for an accurate date of when it was going - to be ignored again.  I followed up the following day to be told that it would be 'likely' handed over to the SS on Wednesday 31st October.  When I said about the OSR letter, I was told that it could be amended if that helped me out - changing the letter wont help me out, laying a slab will help me out.

My CC was issued 3rd October.  As per the contract works commence within 20 working days. 20 workings days is up on 31st October.  I have advised Rawson that whether they are on site on Wednesday or not (and at this stage I believe that they wont and I will be let down again) that my contract date starts from this date.

Rawson say that they build quicker than their 40 week contract, but if worse comes to worse, including a couple of weeks for Christmas shutdown, we should have handover 21st August 2013.  Please don't let it be that long, I am hoping we will be in April/May

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 135 - Electricals

Last week I finally had my electrical appointment. To get to this appointment has been a major headache and I am glad that it is over.

Mat couldn't take any more time off work, so I went on my own. One of the positives for this appointment, I didn't have to go to Sydney, it was at Swansea, which is still nearly an hours drive, but at least I could have the appointment and go to work afterwards.

The electrical is done through Your Home Consulting which also does the electrical for a lot of the other project builders.  I can't commend my consultant Mel enough - she was so lovely and friendly and I was at ease straight away.  She warned me that the appointment would be at least 3 hours, and it was, and by the end of it I could have gone home and had a nap.

I had a figure of $3,000 in my mind. I had done a rough estimate at home before the appointment and knew that we would be at least $4,000. That didnt include any extra circuits as I was hoping we wouldn't need any of them.

At the end of the appointment, we were waiting on 2 prices - one to connect our foxtel to other tv's without having to have additional boxes and the cost of a  32 amp hardwire connection for our outdoor spa.  The interim price was $4,500.

Ground floor electricals

One of the things we wanted was lights on the columns on the front of the house. As the electrician has to make an additional call out to the property to install the conduit into the brickwork, while they are bricking there is a charge of $300.00 for this, plus the cost of the lights.  As there was 3 lights on columns, it would have made the cost of each light (minus the fitting) $170.00.  We didn't bother to go for it, and went with them on the garage and on the front of the house next to the front door.

You will notice that there are red and blue lights and powerpoints. The blue ones are free and included in your allowance.  You get a certain amount to cover the whole house and once you go over the allowed you pay for the rest.  We had an additional 21 light points plus the external and stair lights. We also had an additional 10 double powerpoints plus a few outdoor powerpoints.

We have only requested the wiring for future downlights. This was $50.00 per light rather than nearly $200.00 that Rawson was charging per downlight.

You will see that the first floor is basically standard electrical (except for the stair lights).  We will get in an electrician after handover to install downlights and ceiling fans.

Our big spend for the electricals was the tv points.  We have 7 tv points. We get two for free, but have added an additional 5, and we have 3 foxtel points.

The 32 amp hardwire ended up being $668.00. This is quite expensive, but as the electricity meter box is on the garage wall and the spa will be at the back of the house, I think it is worth spending the money to save the hassle later.

A bonus was that Rawson is including for free NBN provisions.  Most of the other project builders are charging $600.00 for this. So that is a saving.

Our total bill in the end was $5,623.00

Thankfully that was the last of the admin things that need to be signed off on. Now we can get on with building.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 124 - More Plants

When we arrived back from QLD, we didn't waste any time and got straight into planting a couple of the plants that we bought.

The Pandanus that we bought in January and the one from this visit are slow growing, so need to get in the ground asap.

This is the Pandanus that came back with us this time. As you can see it is in a 100 litre bag and is very heavy. The leaves are quite spikey. Luckily for the kids it was quite well behaved on the way back.

It is now planted on the front 'mound' of the block.  I took a picture of Mat next to it (in his very good Australian pose) so you can gauge the height of the plant now.  It is supposed to grow between 2cm and 80cm per year. Hopefully we get growth of somewhere in the middle.

The Pandanus that we bought in January. It has been sitting in its original pot at home. Taller than the newer one, or that could be just from the leaves that stand straighter.

One of our good finds on the weekend was 13 x yucca plants.  In Port Stephens where we live, you don't get a green waste bin. So once a year the council have a green waste day, the same as junk day and everyone puts their green waste outside and the council take it away.    Green waste day was Sunday and when we were driving home from the block on Saturday we found a large pile of Yucca stems that someone had thrown out.

I do feel a bit scabby picking up other peoples junk, but the good thing about Yuccas, is that when they are cut off from the original plant, all you need to do is stick them in soil and they will grow roots. You need to leave them until they are root bound in the pot (usually takes about 4 months) and replant them in the garden.  They don't need their roots to survive. It is the same with Agave plants.

Really, we need to see it as doing a good thing for the environment as we are recycling and re-using, plus it is saving quite a lot of money. The cost of 13 large Yucca plants would be quite expensive.

Another bonus of having these plants - they are an instant hedge that blocks out the neighbour.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Day 123 - Its Unrecognisable

Yesterday the site works were completed on our block. To say there is a difference is an understatement.   When I first saw it on Monday I was shocked. Yesterday it was starting to sink in a bit more.

This is what it looked like in the beginning.

I know I said that all the trees were going in front of a certain spot, but I really don't think I was prepared for what that would actually look like

All the trees that we wanted to be removed were taken out.  The block looks a lot larger, but somehow it looks a lot more open and exposed.   It also looks quite bare, and I was worried with the amount of trees that had been taken out.  I counted the remaining gum trees and we still have 27 on the block. So even though it looks vacant, we still have our fair share.

This is the view looking back to the street - so I don't think we are running short of gum trees.

For the house slab, there is a 700mm cut on the garage side of the block (which is the left side of the photo above)  In order to stop any potential water problems we have started the site cut from before the gate and have lowered the block on a gentle slope so we will avoid the large drop into the garage (where the site cut would have started).  We have also added a long drainage trench which is 450mm wide and runs nearly the length of the block.

Do you remember what the back garden looked like before?

This was before we started to work on it.   We put a large amount of effort into it and thought that we had done a pretty good job

This is what it looks like now the excavator has finished.

It's pretty different isn't it?    You will also notice that the container has been moved and now is in the back corner of the block.  The right hand corner of the block has been cleared out as well. There was so much rubbish in there including car tyres and concrete that were hidden under the long grass. 

What were my thoughts when I saw it yesterday after it was finished - we are going to need some turf - quite a lot of turf - about 3000m2 I think.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 122 - Authority To Commence

Yesterday we received out Authority To Commence from the bank.

We are with CUA (Credit Union Australia) I have always found them to be quite frustrating with their paperwork, but they have always come through at the last minute and have never let me down in the years that we have had our mortgages (we have bought and sold a couple of times) with them.

This time, I had a new mortgage person with CUA.  My previous one (who was fantastic) has been promoted  to Manager (which I totally understand)  I told Anthony (the new guy) from the beginning that CUA is frustrating with processing the loan, but they always come through, and the mortgages that they offer can't be faulted. I told him that I wouldn't get stressed as long as everything was done in a timely fashion.

To say Anthony has come through for us is an understatement. He has gone out of his way to get everything done much quicker and with less stress than it has been in the past.  We have had everything in place well before it needed to be.

 Rawson said last Tuesday they needed the Authority to Commence within 2 weeks, Anthony delivered in 4 working days - not bad and a big thank you to him as well  for holding off with the loan paperwork.  The loan was approved one day later so that we could take advantage of the rate cut. Fixed loan at 5.7% for 3 years. I think that is pretty good.

With the Authority to Commence in place, the site works complete (I will post some pictures tomorrow) Rawson can start building.

What excites me, is I have been told that the file is passes to the Site Supervisor next Tuesday 23rd October 2012.  We are so close I can taste it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 121 - Timmmmbbbbbbeeeeerrrrr

Today the block started to be cleared.  It is amazing how different it can look in a short amount of time.  We knew which trees were going to be removed, but didn't realise that the block would look so dramatically different.

The tree guy told me he would be there between 8:00am and 8:30am, so I got there just before 9:00am. He arrived at 7:00am, and quite a few of the trees were already down.

Beware of picture overload

Do you remember that there was a large pile of rubbish on the block before?

It was quickly removed

There is a liquid amber tree that we wanted to keep, but unfortunately it cannot stay in its current position due to a drainage trench going through there. So rather than lose it, we transplanted it

Luckily I got to view the last of the trees going down. Some of them were about 20 metres tall, and they were no match for a 40 tonne excavator. With a small push they fell over.

It is looking a lot different from when we started. It looks a mess at the moment and there is still a way to go. Stand by for some more pics.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 116 - Its a Jungle

Our caravan is quickly filling with plants for the journey home. 

Today after a rather wet morning at Movie World we stopped at a nursery that had a clearance section. Spikey Agave's for $4.00 each. We bought the six that they had.

The nursery person was not that helpful and said that they were Spikey Agave's, and said they grow pretty big, but couldn't give any more information than that.  The plants leaves are green in the middle, with yellow outer. I have googled them, and I think they should end up something like this with some TLC

Yesterday we found a person that had mature Cycads for sale and we bought 4 of them in 400mm pots for the bargain price of $190.00.   That is $190.00 total, not $190.00 each.   I love Cycad's and we salvaged three large ones from our old house before we sold it, so this lot will add to our collection

Quite a few plants coming back with us.  So far we have 10 bamboo, 1 Pandanus (that we pick up tomorrow) 5 Bangalow Palms, 4 Cycad's and 6 Spikey Agave.  With only one day to go, do you think we can add to the haul. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 115 - Plants

Our Construction Certificate and DA conditions were issued on Friday.  Luckily for us, there does not seem to be any conditions other than only removing trees within the building area and 5 metres surrounding the house.   As Rawson Homes is the applicant, the DA and CC was sent to them, so I am waiting for a copy so I can send it to the bank for them to issue the Authority to Commence.

I have finally booked the electrical appointment. After non-reply of emails and more days of promised phone calls that never eventuated, I called the Customer Service Manager. Within half an hour of the phone call, I had a call from the electrical consultant and an appointment booked. Unfortunately, the appointment can't be scheduled until Wednesday 24th October.  Rawson have said that they do not like starting construction without the electrical in place, but they will not hold it up.  So construction should start by the end of the month

Trees are scheduled to be removed next Monday 15th October 2012

We are currently on holidays in QLD.  We were up here in January, we fell in love with the Pandanus trees that grow here.

They don't seem to be that easy to find in nursery's, but we managed to find Bamboo Downunder just outside of the Gold Coast that happened to have two in their clearance section.  Not having much room in the car, we managed to only get one, but at $50 it was a bargain.

Yesterday we went back to Bamboo Downunder to get some bamboo to cover the house on the side fence.

We are planning to have bamboo to cover the majority of the house and continue with a tropical garden in the front of it.  I think the tree which has quite a few leaves now, is going to have to be pulled out to make way for the garden.

We ended up purchasing Chinese Dwarf Bamboo. It is a clumping bamboo, and only grows to a height of 3 metres

We also bought 5 Bangalow Palms.  These are supposed to grow to about 7 metres - these will sit along the fence in front of the bamboo

The great find of the day was the one remaining Pandanus plant. It was the same one from January, and it was still sitting in the clearance section.  I asked the price and was told it was a couple of hundred dollars. I told them I would give them $50 for it as that was how much the other one was. This one was bigger and is in a 100 litre bag.  They agreed at $50.00, so I guess the kids will be sharing the car ride home with another plant.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 108 - DA Approved

Rawson was a bit slow last week and dropped the ball a bit.

The request came through from the council that BASIX information needed to be added to the plans. As the plans were already in drafting and I was promised they would be finished last Monday, it should have been a quick thing. 

On Monday I was promised they would be finished Wednesday. I asked on Tuesday morning whether they could try and send them through by COB so I could print them off and take them to the Council first thing the next morning. Despite assurances they would 'try their best' they didn't come through. Neither did they come through Wednesday as promised.  Thursday, I was assured they would be ready before the end of the day.  They came through at 4:30pm in the afternoon, too late to get them to the council.  With the changes that were made to the plans, I am disappointed that it took them nearly two weeks. In this time our DA has been delayed and our electrical appointment could not be booked.

I dropped the amended plans off to the Council on Friday morning, but a little too late to do anything before the long weekend.  I had the HOW certificate, so hoping that the Construction Certificate would be issued at the same time.

Today  I spoke with the council.  Now that all the amended plans have been received, the DA has been approved!!!!   As they have all the information needed for the CC, that will be issued tomorrow too.  I was told that the DA would be 8 weeks, but they might be able to complete it in 6 weeks if we were lucky. It has been done in 5 weeks and 6 days. Not the 10 days that I was originally hoping for.

Still no change on the electrical appointment.  It hasn't been booked as yet. I have not heard from the electrical consultant despite the plans being sent last Friday and told that I would receive a phone call yesterday.

At least with the CC being issued, as per the contract Rawson have 20 working days in order to commence construction.  The delay in the electrical is now not my concern, it is Rawson's, so hopefully they pull their finger out and book it so the electrical plan can be done. 

Next step - trees coming down. I can't wait for that to happen.