Thursday, September 30, 2010

Resolution of the 'power pole issue'..

Jason spoke to our SS this morning who informed him that the power pole was indeed in the incorrect position. Apparently the sub contractors did install it on the WRONG SIDE of our property.

They will be back (today, I believe) to move it to the correct position on the other side of the property.

Not any fault of Metricon's at all but still very frustrating as the appearance of that tree has now been ruined thanks to a mistake that could easily have been avoided if someone had bothered to check that they were installing the pole in the correct place.

I felt like a bit of a nuisance bringing it up but I feel it was something well within my rights to question - we are afterall paying a lot of money to build this house - and clearly questioning it was worth it.

So a good result, I'm very pleased it will be rectified - I really didn't expect it to be moved but  I am glad I voiced my displeasure (something I am not actually comfortable doing!).

We have booked a walk through with our SS for Monday week - looking really forward to seeing the bricks up close and personal!

Oh, and I wanted to shout out to our Customer Service contact in the office (you know who you are!) who replied to an email from me at 7.35am this morning - thats dedication!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

We have bricks!!

Jason did a quick drive by yesterday and could see the brickies had been on site but couldn't see any actual bricking had been done although bricks had been moved around in preparation.

Today however we were excited to see some brick walls taking shape!

Halfway up the garage has been bricked up already - impressive.

This is halfway up the external wall of the 2nd downstairs living area.

And around where one set of our huge timber stacking sliding doors will eventually live  - thats the dining room in there :)

And around the back wall of the main living room alcove.

Cant wait to see the colour of the bricks en masse once they are cleaned!

The grout is off white so from what I understand will lighten up once it dries and will be a really nice contrast to the bricks.

I am certainly no expert but from here the brickwork looks fantastic - I am looking very forward to having a closer look when I get home from QLD.

We actually have a funny 'small world' story about the bricklayers; Jason met a guy through work and they got to talking and he told Jason he worked for Metricon exclusively which was already a coincidence because at that stage we were still going through the tender stage. He mentioned we should request he do our brickwork, and we did ask about it at the time and were told to talk to our SS when we started construction.
Fast forward to our first site meeting with our SS and it turns out the same bricklayer is the one who works with our SS - talk about small world!!

I have no idea how long to takes to brick a house so it will be interesting to see how fast this stage progresses..

Oh, and a quick point to note - I thought the house would be wrapped in a plastic sheeting before bricking began but thanks to another blog I read I have learnt that the wrap is required in VIC due to the cold and in QLD due to the humidity but not required in NSW! Thanks Megan & Stefan for teaching me that little tidbit!

Until next time - happy building!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Power pole, water connected & bricks delivered!

Just a quick post today as I am busy packing for QLD .

Went past the house today to see the water has been connected (I assume - there is a black tubing now connected to our water meter), bricks and sand have been delivered and our power pole has been erected. The placement of this left me boiling..

More on that with the pics:

Hello mountains of lovely brown bricks! Its hard to see the colour at that angle but they are a chocolatey brown with hopefully little or no variation in batches. I chose 'Orpheus' from Australs Whitsunday range.

Sand ready to go.

 This grew from our water meter today. Probably fairly vital for the brickes to have water on site. :)

This is where the electrical contractors (who will remain nameless) chose to plonk our
private power pole. Extremely close to a very beloved tree that I literally planted with my own hands soon after we bought the original house over 5 years ago. I LOVE that tree. It is a Mop Top Robinia and has a gorgeous HUGE beautifully round canopy. They put the pole so close to the tree that it now has a delightful metal trunk right next to its trunk and they cut at least one big branch off right in the middle to make way for the pole.

Now there *may* be a valid reason for this placement but I am furious they didn't bother to contact anyone to inform me & perhaps discuss where it needed to go. I have spoken to an Electrician friend who said they probably just put it in the easiest spot rather than having to cut down more shrubs to make way for it, and that generally they are placed as close to the boundary as possible. This could definitely have been placed closer to the boundary and would have cleared the tree if it had been. Even behind the tree would have been better.
But no, its smack bang infront of it and it ruins the whole effect of such a beautiful feature tree.

In the middle of Summer when the leaves are all back on the tree they are very dense and lush - now there will be a huge hole right at the front GGRRR.

What makes me even angrier about this is that I was told, during the planning process that the power pole would go on the opposite side of the property - as the meter box will be on the opposite side of the house. So I assume now they will have to dig a huge trench all the way across the front of the property to connect the electricity to the meter box. Seems like more work for them in the end.

Originally Metricon had our driveway drawn in this exact spot and I asked them to move it to preserve that tree!!!

To the credit of our SS he said he will find out why it was placed there and get back to me - he didn't even know they would be there installing the pole today. Communication is key people!!

I know things like this are bound to happen when building but sometimes I think tradesmen don't stop to think that this is someone's home - not just a building site.

Next time I am there I will get some better photos to illustrate the placement of the pole in relation to our boundary.

Bricks placed all over the yard ready to go..

I also asked our SS today about the roof, which will happen after bricks. I've noticed on some builds the roof comes first, other the bricks first. I also asked about our timber sliders and stacking sliders and he said he likes to keep them offsite for as long as possible as accidents do happen, which I am very happy about, don't want them to be damaged or stolen!!

Ok, back to packing :) Hope all of you building have a week filled with progress!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Frame looking mostly complete - roll on the brickies!

Went to the house today to have a look and took lots of photos. I still cant believe we are at this stage less than a month after site start..

Hello pretty house! Love how big the front door is going to be (2340H x 1030W) and the ceiling height in the study (front left) and entry is 3044mm due to the slope of the block. 

We cannot wait to have a big garage - our last one didn't even fit one car in, let alone two!

Eventually there will be a balcony where that door is on the left ;). It entirely made of brick so we should see it take shape in the next few weeks.

I took this one standing where the kitchen will be, looking out to the Outdoor Room

And this one from the kitchen looking through the Dining Room - all those huge open spaces will have timber stacking sliding doors. I assume they will be installed soon as I imagine the bricklayers need them in to brick around. 

Those Mop Top Robinia's (trees that look like lollipops) have a bunch of dirt pushed right up to their trunks so I am going to go over one weekend soon and clear it away so it doesn't damage them. I love those tress and will be very upset if they don't survive the build. I noticed today one has had a run in with a crane or frame or something as a big branch has been snapped recently :(

Bedroom 2. Balcony will be out that door. Thats a nice big bedroom measuring 4080 x 3970.

Master bedroom. They have those same (or very similar ) windows in the Master in the display laguna at Kellyville and I specified I wanted the same. Turns out looking back at photos ours aren't as high as the display ones which I am a little annoyed about but I guess thats why you should triple check plans and details. 
Oh well, can't be changed now and they will be fine - its actually nice to be able to see out of them I suppose, but I do think if they were placed a little higher they would have made the room seem more spacious. 
We will have a timber bi-part door leading out to the balcony so I chose to have timber windows in here to match.
Ceiling height up there is 2550mm. Cant wait to have a spacious bedroom - 4790 x 4950.

Living area (downstairs) I had that long narrow window added in as a variation, in the standard house there is no window there at all.

Looking back toward Outdoor room and balcony off Master Bedroom. We chose not to have Metricon pour a slab out there along with the main slab as we will have the area decked so a slab isn't necessary. Its easy to see now where our Outdoor room (and balcony) have been shortened by a metre due to the rear fence setback, as standard they line up with the rear wall of the house.

Looking toward Living room & Master bedroom. That big panel of chipboard between the two windows downstairs is an alcove for the tv etc.

Its hard to tell how much they had to cut the site at this point but it is a good metre or so. We will need a retaining wall along the back there and all the way down the side of the house to be built after handover. Goodbye lots of money!

I just realised today we will need steps to get out of the laundry door!! Having a sloping block is full of extra expenses - from site costs, to steps, to cut & fill, to retaining walls to having to have a spilt level downstairs to higher ceiling heights!

Should be an exciting week onsite with bricks delivered tomorrow, plumbers onsite tomorrow also and bricklayers due to start Tuesday. I assume then the house will be wrapped tomorrow with blue plastic that goes between the frame and bricks.

The weather forecast is favourable for those of us building in Sydney this week with sunny days all week - I hope that pans out..

I am off to visit family in QLD with our son on Tuesday but will be bugging Jason to drive by regularly for updates!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Good News Friday - Day 24

Jason swung by the house today and true to form it was progressing nicely.

We received a call from our SS who said the frame will be finished today, on Monday some plumbing will be done and bricks will be delivered and the brickies will start Tuesday.
That means we will be getting a nice big invoice for the framing stage any day now.
I am in the area late Monday afternoon and am DYING to see our bricks en masse (its so hard to choose them looking at a 1 x 1 metre wall!) so hopefully they will be there then.

I almost can't believe that the frame is completed just 24 days after the very first day on site when excavation was carried out. Blistering speed!

Lets hope things continue to run as smoothly as they have so far!  Of course there are any number of things that can crop up and cause delays but for now we will happily take this fast pace!

Heres a few pics from today - I spot windows!! Oh - they are not black, thats a protective plastic covering the frames..

And I see more roof trusses. One thing I am kicking myself about is not choosing to pay the extra few thousand dollars to have eaves all the way around the house. Our facade comes with eaves at the front and down each side to 7 metres along the length of each side only.

I am hoping to nosy around the site at some point this weekend, I haven't seen it for myself since Monday so am really keen to do so. Have a great one!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What a difference a day makes!

Jason drove by the site today and the progress is astounding!

On previous drive by visits I have only ever seen two guys working at the site but for this much progress in one day I wonder if they have increased the workforce?

So exciting to see the outdoor room and balcony (off Master bedroom) taking shape, as well as roof trusses.

Looking rather imposing from street level. 

Cant wait to get there and see the changes for myself.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Frame frame and MORE frame!

It has been a little while between posts mainly due to a very busy week but rest assured the house seems to be powering along.

I was last there on Monday, and steel beams had been lifted into place over the garage door opening and along the length of the garage and the chippies had been hard at work with the frame, and the walls were starting to take shape also.

Jason went past today and told me it was coming along but I didn't get the impression there was anything exciting to report.

Until he sent me photos.

Apologies for the quality - they were taken on an iphone.

Is that the beginnings of the upstairs floor I see?

The opening you see there will be our kitchen window splashback.

The garage.

Ah, theres a guy up there - thats a big change from Monday and very exciting to me!

So, as you can see they have started on the second storey. Woot!

These are from Monday, for comparison:

Lots of trusses etc ready to go.

Lots of windows and the odd doors and sidelights.

I am hoping to get time to swing past site tomorrow or Friday (hopefully both) so will report on any progress then.

Haven't heard from our SS in weeks, no matter I guess seeing as though we can see whats happening on a regular basis.

I'm really keen to see how our facade will end up looking, the only display home we have seen in the flesh has the Vogue facade and we have chosen the Kingston.

Friday, September 17, 2010

These guys work fast..

I bundled our almost 2 year old in the car this afternoon and off we went to inspect the exciting developments on site.

Compared with the photos Jason took at about 10am this morning they are powering along:

Entry, study and portico.

The door and side lights there in the right of the photo are for Bedroom 4 which sits above the entry and study.
In the garage there is a stack of windows. Most of our windows are Surfmist, apart from the Master bedroom which are timber to match the bi-part sliding doors we have in there.

Right at the back of the house on the right of this photo is the Family room, and the large opening to the left of the photo is the Dining room.

Large opening seen here is for stacking sliding door into Dining room, and the one on the right is for a stacking slider into the Family room.
More windows piled on along the fence.
Looks like they have cleaned the site too since I was there last.


View from the neighbours front yard.

So exciting to see such progress in one day!

Looks like its set to be a gorgeous weekend here in Sydney - hope everyone has a good one!

We're being FRAMED!

Oh happy Friday! A glorious sunny day today brings with it progress on site!

Jason drove by this morning and took this. Great to see - might drive by this afternoon to check it out with my own eyes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In the absence of progress..

So its now Thursday night - and no tradies were spotted at the house today :(

Jason drove by yesterday and confirmed the frames had indeed been delivered (they were scheduled for Tuesday), yesterday the weather was not on our side but I was hopeful today would see the start of the frames going up. Oh well , maybe tomorrow!

So - in absence of anything too exciting to report I though I would do a post on some of the process that has seen us arrive at this point the build.

We started looking at display homes in November 2009 and very nearly went with a  single level house with another builder before stumbling across an ad for Metricon on the paper. We took ourselves out to Kellyville Ridge and instantly fell in love with the Laguna.

On the way out we briefly discussed prices with a sales consultant (we had our then just 1 year old son in tow on a hot Summer day) and based on what we were told I discounted the house thinking it was out of our budget.

Jason, being ever the optimist ( I think of myself as more of a realist than a pessimist ;) ) decided we should look into it further and that the base price of the house was indeed within our reach. I should mention that before this point we had even had plans drawn up to extend our 1950's fibro house before deciding that knock down rebuild was a much better option for us.

So, this time without our son in tow we took another look and sat down with a Sales consultant to go through the nitty gritty. We pretty much paid our $1000 deposit there on the spot and started the tender process.

Anyone at the every beginning of this crazy process should spend time walking through any house you like with a sales person and have them explain what is STANDARD and what is an upgrade. Guaranteed most of what is on display is an upgrade. Some expensive, some not. At the time we were given a document ( Displayed Option List) that had every upgrade shown on display listed and priced and we went away, decided what we did and didn't want then came back a week later and told Metricon exactly what we wanted in our tender. This was quite a lengthy process during which I asked lots of questions and had them explain a lot of the upgrades listed in the document.

Once we had decided what to include and exclude, we were given a 'Preview Estimate', and the tender process began. This was on December 6th, 09.

If I knew what I knew now - I would have spent MUCH more time thinking about exactly what we wanted and just had everything added in - that way we could have gone through later and deleted anything we decided against.

However, I wasn't that wise to the process and thought of LOTS more to be added in later, at tender stage, which wasn't a huge issue. Also, in my defense, it was really hard to know what changes/upgrades/modifications could and couldn't be made, and exactly what Metricon offered.

In my opinion this is an area where Metricon lets itself down somewhat. I've read on other blogs that Henley has a huge book you can flip through showcasing what upgrades they offer, which sounds brilliant. I feel that Metricon could improve by offering better customer service and support in this area which ultimately could earn them more money!

Anyway - back to the process/timeline!

We received a letter on January 19th, 10 from Metricon informing us that our Tender Presentation appointment was scheduled for Feb 10th. Things obviously move slowly over the Christmas break - meaning 2 months would have passed between our initial deposit and Tender meeting..
However before we got to that appointment Metricon advised us that we needed to meet with our Council for a Pre-Lodgement Meeting to discuss rear setback and a few other small issues. Having this meeting could mean saving time at a later date if council rejected any elements of our plans so we organised that and had to wait a few weeks until a meeting time became available.

As it turns out the meeting went really well and there were no major issues we needed to attend to, just a few minor things that needed adjusting.

We finally had our Tender Presentation on March 15th. This step is a long but important one! You basically sit down and go through every single item you have chosen to be included in your house. From memory it took about 3 hours, and at that stage I had done a lot more research and reading and had quite a long list of items I wanted to be quoted on.

Many emails and phone calls later we went back to Metricon head office and signed our contract on April 21st.

Usually after signing contracts you head over to Studio M (Metricons in house design/colour/fixture studio thingy) and choose Exterior Colours. We werent informed of this however and werent booked in to do so and had to make an appointment to come back the following week to do that.

So by then it was April 29th - almost 5 months since paying our intial $1000 deposit. How time flies!!

Over the weekend I will go into more detail about the upgrades we have chosen and the issues some of those have created..

For those of you still with me at the end of this massive post - thanks :)