Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sitting on our blogging hands!

The old adage “if you cant say something nice… then don’t say anything at all” has certainly been applied by Cam and I of late, with regards to blogging about our build. We did really want to update you all on what has been going on but the thought of writing it all down and reliving it again was too stressful in the middle of the silly season.

So here we are… it has been 2 weeks since we last blogged about the house and it is still very much a ‘brickwork in progress’. The relationship we have had with the “SS”/CM (inverted commas because he really has been a site supervisor in name only) has deteriorated and we have really been tearing our hair out.  He will revert back to our CM once the new SS starts, so unfortunately will need to deal with him further at some point.

Less than satisfied, we engaged the services of an Independent Inspector to run his eye over the build and here are some of the key things that he found.

  • Substandard wrap used underneath the bricks with no reference to Australian Standards (and wafer thin to boot!) Apparently all M builds are now using this cheap wrap with no Metricon branding and the company responsible will provide us with a compliance certificate for sustainability purposes at hand over. Little comfort at that point in time as if there is an issue - what can be done once built.  For all the sections that are ripped, shredded and pieced together by gaffer tape, the “SS” said he would get someone to fix it!??

  • Waste plumbing for powder room toilet does not line up and drainage is restricted. Not sure how this will be fixed yet. The 'acting SS' said he didn’t know the plumbing code and would get the plumber to fix it at some stage (what bollocks!).  Doesnt know the plumbing code.... how can he supervise the plumbing side of things of our build then.... further, he is ment to be a CM.  Offers little comfort to the customers of M.

    • The framework for one of the front portico piers (holding up the balcony) is sitting about 20cm under the ground, meaning the frame will rot over time. This particular issue the Inspector took photos of to put into his ‘idiots’ book! Our 'acting SS' wasn't to worried about it initially saying its how its done. However our inspectors report quoted Australian Building Standards (with sub-sections etc) so the SS will now fix it.  This will be fixed by propping up the frame and building a brick pier underneath on a timber plate.

    These are really just the tip of the iceberg. The wrong bath taps (ie Hot and Cold rather than mixer) were plumbed into the bathroom and Ensuite. There are windows/doors galore that are damaged.  The powder room windows are off centre so to fix the problem extra battens have been placed on one side to centre he windows - results in us losing some space on one side of the room. We are paying for a full room right...

    Then there are issues the bricks. The first batch of bricks delivered were mostly good with one pallet of bricks of a questionable lighter colour. No problem there, the brickies were cluey enough to use them on areas to be rendered. However the second batch of bricks warranted a second visit from the Selkirk brick rep who confirmed that because this delivery were of variable colour, height, length and depth, that they would need to be double-handled by the brickies. SOooooo to cut a long story mid-length… the wonderful brickies are still working on our house even though they should have finished it AGES ago because they are sorting out bricks as they lay them. Thank god we’re not footing the bill for that one!

    Anyways… we are sooo happy with the work that they have done and the quality of the bricklaying! Cam went up to see them on their last day to leave them a slab of cold beers and judging by how much more has been done they obviously did another 3 hours plus of work (taking them to well over 5pm on Fri 23rd Dec). How good is that!

    The Brickies idea of funny... it says "Nah, we want to keep this one, © owners"

    Garage walls

    Other garage wall

    Rumpus and Outdoor Room (glad we upgraded to the brick infills as it looks soooo much better!)

    Outdoor Room loveliness!

    Where the Jetmaster will be going... the firebox!

    Our actual front door... its over 1m wide... massive!

    The beginnings of the front portico piers, i love how the piers run in different directions!

    Portico from another angle
    They will be back on the mortar on Tues 3rd Jan to brick the rest of the upstairs part and finish off the portico. Interesting to see what wrap their use for the upstairs.  Then it is over to the cladding guys to do their thing. The plaster is to be delivered on 16th Jan so Cam is busy getting all the data, speaker wiring organised as we speak! If anyone has any advice on CAT 6 or speaker wiring please leave us a comment…  The general speaker / data wiring had been cleared with our original SS, so nothing untoward there.  If you are doing anything at all on site - you must clear it with your SS. 

    And finally….. HURRAY! Our new SS starts in the Central Area on Monday 9th January. We CANNOT WAIT!!!!

    It can only get better from here….


    Sunday, December 18, 2011

    Brick work - Day 5

    Well after a solid week of work, the brickie's have done a huge amount of work.  They have had up to 6 guys in the 'gang' so probably about right - but I had no idea what amount of work to expect.  Mike, the guy who owns the business sub-contracted to M - comes across as a very straight shooter.  He gave me his business card and I've spoken with him on the phone a few things during the week.  Didn't ask for this to happen nor did I expect it but none the less great to be informed of their progress.  He has 4 'gangs' working at any one time and does a heap of work for M.

    Still a heap of brickwork to be done including the portico, garage, around windows etc to finish up the ground floor.  Hope this is the focus this week heading into Xmas.  Second storey next year I guess.  Would have been nice to have been at lock up this year but the delays we have had with the bricks didn't help much..

    A couple of pic at the end of week 1 - bricklaying.
    From left front corner

    From left rear to street

    Outdoor room

    Rear right corner

    Right from to rear

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    Brick work - day 2

    A quick drive by on the way home found the guys packing up and the first 10 odd rows of bricks layed.  Good start to the week.  The bricks have been mixed in well and all looks very good.  A couple of quick pic's from each side of our new house.  Can't wait until the weekend.

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Friday on-site meeting & FINALLY - solid progress

    Friday's Meeting

    Friday mornings meeting went 'surprisingly' well and we finally have some solid progress....
    I didn't know how it was going to go, but had notes and plans in hand.   All but two items, from what appeared to be an ever growing list of issues, had been rectified.  The other two items he told me he was aware of and will be resolved shortly.  Interestingly, he had my emails in his folder with hand written notes all over it.  At least they have been addressed...

    He did use the Co. line re OH&S and being on-site etc etc... Not surprized by this given my emails with identified issues.  He also offered the use of the scaffold when its up to install my air-conditioning - that was a nice surprize.

    I'm a little more comfortable with his 'hands-on' approach.  But I will still be doing my regular review and asking questions etc so time will tell as to quantity of things I find.  I may have been a little harsh on him but things defiantly fall away with the hand over from our original SS to our new 'acting' SS.  But hey, its not an insignificant investment I'm making, so I'll continue to keep an eye on things....


    I'm happy to say the our bricks actually arrived on Thursday.  All but one pallet look good and will mix in well.  One is very light in comparison - which the 'acting' SS actually pointed out to me - so it will be used where rendering will be done or rejected and sent back.  There is about 7,000 bricks on-site now with a further 9,000 odd bricks to come when there is adequate room on site.  The brickie's were on site Saturday from around 7.30 to 4...  Surprised by that, but very happy at the same time.

    Not much in terms of photo's at the moment.  By the end of this week we should have half of the ground level bricked up and the 'lock-up' carpenter is in this week so maybe some changes to the internals.

    Lets see how the week unfolds.


    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    'Super' Issues....

    Just a quick update re progress and the latest with our SS.

    Well there has been quite a bit of progress with the framers being back to finish off a few things, the roof tilers have been back to finish off the rear ground level roof as well as the electrician, plumber and the duct guys have been in to rough in the electric's, plumbing and duct work.  Sounds all great but there are problems with all of their work, except the roof tilers.

    The framers have finished off the front portico which is great.  Problem is one of the vertical posts, which sits on steel stippups are to be bolted into a concrete slab - ensures no movement to the front portico and provides solid support for the front upstairs balcony.  Well one side is, while the other is sitting unbolted on dirt....

    The electrician has missed two lights.

    The plumber has rigged the bath(s) tap ware as conventional two tap system - should be mixers.

    The duct guys forgot to run duct work into an entire room.

    Apparently the bricks are now available and were to be on site today with the bricklayers to commence tomorrow.  Lets just wait and see.

    Latest with our SS...
    As you all know, our SS resigned.  No love lost between our former SS and the CM.  So much so, that these two guys would not pass each other in the street... only one would continue to walk on by...  A little ugly and I feel I'm in the middle...  Leave me out of it, you guys are old enough and ugly enough to sort it out yourselves.

    Anyway, we were told our file was to handed over to another SS, who we know of and has a very good reputation.  Well it turns out the Construction Manager (CM) has decided to 'act' as SS for our home until another SS from the Southern division transfers across.  I have a problem with this.  Not only is it M's building practice that all jobs have a SS, a CM, a Building Manager (BM) all reporting to the GM - which I do not have - the CM is still in his role as CM so in practice how can he be across everything that is happening on my job when he is looking after other SS x all their jobs.  Hence the above issues I suspect.
    The reassuring 'I'll be there as much as I can' doesn't cut it.  So, I voiced my concern with the BM, once we finally returned my call a few days later. Oh yeah, the return call only came after I call the GM.

    Satisfaction levels are not high and my reasonable expectations are not being met.

    I have a 8am meeting on site with the 'acting SS' tomorrow to discuss the above issues together with other items I've noticed. Oh, did I mention, I found out why I had not been supplied with a copy of the building inspectors report - it wasn't passed, four items not quite right.  Nothing significant but still not correct.

    Going to be a very interesting meeting tomorrow.


    Saturday, December 3, 2011

    10,000 clicks WOW!

    At precisely 12 noon today someone clicked on our blog to view a page for the 10,000 time! Wow.

    Thanks for reading folks!

    PS Cam is down the house checking the duct work, electrical rough-in and some other bits and pieces. Single storey roof has been fasciad (is that a word?) and it will be scaffolded and tiled on Tuesday. and Bricks arrive on Thursday, Brickies booked for Friday! We might have bricks done by xmas afterall but not lock up as cladding wont be on upstairs.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    Front facade.... In piccies.

    Our front facade is coming along. The balcony doors have been installed and they have started the front entry portico. I'm lovin' it!

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    Little change vs. Massive change

    Well upon return from our short holiday away and the follow few days, we have seen little change to the construction of our new home but massive changes within M.

    Construction - lack there of.. 
    Lets start with the changes - or lack there of - in the construction of our new home.  Below is a list of action proposed by M prior to our departure and what was actually achieved.
    • Upstairs front half - tiling finished.  -  YES
    • Frame inspection by M and scaffold down.  -  NO
    • Building surveyors inspection, rear ground floor roof trusses done.  -  SORT OF (survey done but as scaffold not down the rear roof was incomplete so survey will need to be done again !!)
    • Plumbing roughed in.  -  NO
    • Roof tilers back to finish off the rear ground level roof.  -  NO
    • Duct work, house to be wrapped and site cleaned.  -  SORT OF (house wrapped)
    • Brickwork to commence  -  NO (whole other story - refer below)
    One 'YES', four 'NO' and two 'SORT OF' = FAIL........ 

    Well it came of no surprise to us that our SS has resigned.  He was a nice guy, working hard to achieve the desired result and our open communication was such that he gave me the heads up he was on the way out.  He simply had too many "discussions" with the CM re the process for the construction of our home and others.  Its safe to say there is/was no love lost there.  Time will tell who is right and the better operator....

    Thankfully our SS was never interested in a reverse build (previously discussed) largely because its Melbourne.  We're not in northern Queensland.  Melbourne's weather is just too unpredictable.  With his discreet help, the CM intended process was stopped before it could commence.  So must thank him for that.  It was discreet, past tense now I guess.....  He has finished up so no harm done.

    He had been planning to commence his own building company for sometime and had recently signed up a number of projects himself so it all works out for him.  The word on the street or construction site.... is that a few other SS from M central Melbourne team are about to call it a day as a result of this CM.  Lets wait and see what happens there but hopefully doesn't impact any of this blogs readers. 

    But what about us.......
    Its safe to say I've had several phone calls and emails to the CM regarding the next steps, who will be taking over as SS etc etc.  Talk a plenty - action a little..... and no reply to emails.....  Those who know me, know that approach doesn't work well.

    Well via other means, we have been unofficially told who our new SS will be.  Interesting enough, its a SS who we requested at day one but was told was unavailable.  If it all works out, it will be the absolute best result possible (other than having him from day one).  He has an excellent reputation within our area of Melbourne as one of the best SS and comes highly recommended by one of my mates (a SS with another residential builder) who has worked with him and still remains in contact with him.  From all reports, he is a guy I can have open communication with and he can be trusted. 

    The Great Brick Debacle - part 2

    Whilst we were away, we were informed our bricks will not be available on 24 November as previously advised.  The expected date is now 14 December.  WTF - a week and a half pre-Christmas....  So the better part of 6 weeks late.  Looks like lock-up pre-Christmas is out the question.
    Still waiting on a satisfactory explanation from the CM as to how this can happen.  Especially given M have a pre-construction ordering step....

    Oh yeah - 14 December.... I'll believe it, when I see it...

    Construction - since we have been back
    The scaffolding has come down and the framers have been back.  The rear of our house is now complete as is the portico.  Our new home is on the way to work so I know they were there around 7am yesterday morning and still there at 7.30 last night when I drove past last night. Good effort from the guys.

    The plumbing and duct work has also been roughed in.  A few issue there but I'll save that for another day.

    Until then....

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Flat out!

    There's probably stuff going on at our house this week, but we are on holidays busy with some really important other stuff so we aren't really in the loop....

    This photo was taken at my fave spot! The Boathouse at Cottontree (Sunshine Coast) at sunset... With a lovely glass of vino of course....

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    We have a HAT .....

    Well the great brick debacle, as its been called, has been sorted.   After a few bit of mucking around we are sticking to our original plan.  The wait is only a few weeks and as many have pointed out a few weeks isn't long considering we will be living in our new home for many years to come.

    Well I met with our SS this morning at 8am to discuss progress etc and the roof tilers were hard at it.  Stopped by very quickly on the way home tonight and we have a HAT on it.  Its a two storey so you don't really see a great deal of the roof so no pic's this blog.  The roof is probably 85% done.   There was at least three of them climbing around up there.  No mucking around with these guys.

    We are heading off on a 10 day break up north so it was important for us to get an update and an understanding of what is scheduled while we are away.  So this is the plan (subject to weather as they say in the building game),
    Monday - upstairs roof finished,
    Tuesday - frame inspection ahead of building surveyors visit and scaffold down,
    Wednesday - building surveyors visit and chippie' back to finish rear ground floor roof trusses (couldn't be done because of the scaffolding),
    Thursday - potentially plumbing roughed in,
    Friday - roof tilers back to finish off the rear ground level roof.
    Next Monday to Wednesday - duct work, the house to be wrapped and site cleaned,
    Next Thursday onwards - brickwork to commence (assuming delivered on time).

    I'm happy to say the whole reverse build process wont happen.  I wasn't happy about it and told them very clearly I wasn't.  We are in Melbourne not Queensland - didn't they see the down pour the other night... Anyway apparently they were listening...  It appears the SS wasn't a fan of it but the office was pushing for it - implied this was the case anyway.  No doubt the office view is - quicker its done the quicker they can invoice...

    Til next time

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011


    Help needed!

    We just received a call from our SS to say that our chosen bricks the Selkirk "Tawny Heritage" (which were our 3rd choice after the first 2 were discontinued) are in short supply and we wont be able to have them delivered until 24 Nov at the earliest!

    So our SS wants us to see if there are any other bricks that we like and would be happy to substitute? The only ones from my memory would be the Austral Hawksburn but they will cost us an additional $5k for the whole house! Arghhhhhh. Apparently the Austral Hawthorn that we originally were told were discontinued are also available...

    Not sure what to do... should we stay with the bricks at the risk of stalling the build for a minimum of 2 weeks (the brickies are ready to get going next week) OR choose some new bricks which may end up blowing the budget!


    Monday, November 7, 2011

    City Views!

    After a visit to the house with my sister on the weekend, we realised that we have some city views of Melbourne from our master bedroom, infact I probably won’t have to even get out of bed to see them :)

    There are powerlines and trees in the way but city views nonetheless. I am very excited as I guess they will be easier to see from the balcony once it is constructed!

    What a wonderful surprise!


    Gutters, Windows and Walk throughs

    We came back early from the coast on cup weekend, organised for the kids to be looked after by Cam’s parents and hotfooted it out to the house last Monday to meet with our site supervisor and walk through.

    The chippies were there working on the roof trusses but 3pm came and went and our SS didn’t show. He didn’t answer his phone, nor did he return any messages until 4 days later. Not Happy Jan!

    Metricon did however send through the invoice for the frame stage last week, even though the frame isn’t completed and the ‘independent’ building surveyor organised by Metricon has not been to rubber stamp the frames. We are waiting until that happens and given we haven’t had an official walk though (this will not happen til Friday this week); we have no intention of paying the invoice until this is done.

    Despite the lack of communication with our SS, work has still progressed last week and we now have 75% of windows installed (although I don't have any photos of the installed windows upstairs) along with all the gutters/fascias, which is great. The chippies are a good bunch of guys and we are happy with what they have accomplished so far. They are friendly and happy to answer any questions and at the moment they are able to give us so much more information than our SS.

    Here are the piccies from the past week.

    Front View with gutters and Fascia
    Rear view, Rumpus and Grand Outdoor
    Our Front Door with clear sidelights

    Sitting Room with space in the middle for the Jetmaster

    Powder Room

    Lounge Room

    Kitchen Window (also our splashback)
    Dining Room and Bipart Doors leading to Outdoor Room
    Bipart Doors (3m wide)
    Landing/Leisure Room at the top of the stairs

    Lachie's Room

    Kids Bathroom with the shower on left and bath hob under window

    Hamish's Bedroom

    Walk In Robes for Hamish's Bedroom and the 4th bedroom
    4th Bedroom

    The master bedroom (balcony and return wall)

    Whats happening the rest of this week?

    Site has been tidied to make way for roof tiles to be delivered.
    Roof tiling to begin (lets hope the weather holds out!) 
    Frame Review by our SS and another of his colleagues 
    Visit and review by the "independent" building surveyor


    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Chip Chip Chipping Away....

    Just a quick update...

    So, we now have power...  Apparently the paperwork had been submitted to United but it had been 'misplaced' by United.  From talking to a few people in the industry this is a bit of a regular occurrence.  Two upsides to this is the chippies can run their gear from mains power from now on avoiding using a generator (happy chippies) and no more noisy generator (happy neighbours)...

    The rain has held off, so far this week anyway, and it has been a massive effort from the chippies. The same three carpenters have been on-site all week and achieved quite a bit.

    So by Tuesday, all the floor joists were in place and the flooring down.  The timber to make up the second storey walls etc was craned onto the second storey floor for ease of use first thing Wednesday morning.  Must have helped out the guys because when I dropped by on my way home from work below is what I found.

    Front view with gargage to right

    Rear view with 'grand' outdoor room under roof line to right

    Kirst dropped by tonight (Thursday) and pretty much the balance of the upstairs frame had been done.

    Front view with gargage to right

    Left hand front corner - large opening upstairs is for access to balcony upstairs area (yet to be built) 
    Tomorrow morning, if all runs to the SS's schedule, the roof trusses will be craned up and fixed into place.  Expected to commence at 7am - sorry new neighbours.... 

    I need to be in the office early tomorrow and its on my way to work, so may head off early and see if I can catch them in the act, so to speak. Hopefully the tiger tailing will be on the powerlines as there is $1500 in the contract to allow for this. If not, then another nice little refund is in order!

    No trades are working this Monday given Tuesday is Melbourne Cup day except our SS.  Actually our SS has asked us to meet him on site Monday afternoon to check out what has been done (because we don't have access to site) and discuss the next few stages.  That works in well with us cause I'm not working either...

    He also discussed the prospect of a reverse build with us when we met with him on Tuesday. We understand this to mean that the house will be wrapped and then bricking outside and plastering inside will happen simultaneously. We would be interested to hear of others experiences with this/thoughts on this. He estimated that completing the house in this way should knock 6 weeks off the build time.

    Until next time...

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Rain, rain... go away!

    Some floor joists were installed over the dining room and kitchen last Friday but given the rain the chippies didn't get too far with it. They were scheduled to continue with the floor joists and have the second storey floor completed by today. Given the rain today so far, I'm tipping that hasn't happened.

    Tomorrow (Tuesday) the timber to build the second storey frame is to be delivered and loaded upstairs by a crane (but given there is still no floor, not sure how this will happen?) The upstairs walls should be built by this coming Friday hopefully.

    Also supposedly happening this coming Friday... another crane is scheduled to lift the roof trusses up and they will be fixed into place. The following week, Monday through Friday the gutters and roof tiles should be put on/up. 

    I hope that the rain holds off this week to enable the work to get done. Throw Melb Cup day in there too, i think the time frame needs some tweaking by our SS :( We are off to Sunshine Coast in few weeks and it would be lovely for the brickies to be doing their thing when we are sunning ourselves up north!

    Looking at the lounge area from the dining room.

    The joists above the kitchen and dining room.

    Having a ball in the playroom!
    Until next time
    Kirsten xoxo