Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Are we in yet?

The short answer is no.  The long answer is that we've achieved plenty in the couple of weeks since we finally took possession of our new home, but we're still waiting for the concrete driveway to go down so that we can move in.  Anyone who has lived in Melbourne for the last few weeks will be able to attest that the drought is well and truly over (take that global warming!) and the rains have certainly been frequent.  This has unfortunately resulted in our concreter being delayed in other jobs leading up to ours and ours being pushed back.  Fingers crossed the weather holds out for a couple of days so that he can start the job on Friday!!!

But stepping back in time ever so slightly to the night of our settlement.  Some of you who have been paying attention might remember that on the night the keys were handed over, they weren't keyed to our locks.  Thankfully the locksmith was able to fix that by the time I turned up on Tuesday morning with a carload of boxes from our storage unit.  I spent the majority of the week ferrying boxes to the new house and slowly filling the rooms with our collection of possessions that we haven't seen for nearly 12 months.  A little bit of help from Sare and my sister on ANZAC day and a lot of help from my old man on Friday and Saturday (he's the ultimate double threat: owns a ute and knows how to tie a trucker's knot!) we managed to completely clear the unit and moved quite a bit of furniture into the house.  I figure this has saved us a heap of effort when we finally get to moving day, as we'll now only have to worry about relocating from our apartment!

In amongst the moving we achieved, I was even able to arrange for a few tradies to come in and provide some quotes on curtains, blinds and shutters.  To make the place seem a little bit like a home, I even bought a letterbox from Buggins (otherwise known as the place whose name I refuse to utter...) and placed it out the front for our mail to be delivered to.

Of course, as these things have a habit of turning into, not everything was as smooth and easy.  Firstly the antenna installation guy was unable to install our antenna on the Friday as it had been raining all night and the roof was too wet for him to climb up on.  Fair call.  Of course, he wasn't able to come out that afternoon, so arranged to come out on Monday morning instead.  Dad kindly offered to go out and wait for him, as I wasn't going to be able to extend my hols any longer, but the installer never turned up.  The office had made a mistake and scheduled him for the afternoon instead.  No good.  The next arranged time was bucketing rain (are you paying attention Tim Flannery?) and we're now currently awaiting a clear day this weekend with fingers crossed.

The dishwasher was the next drama.  Turned up as promised, installer got straight to work only to later discover that the plumber had installed the cheapest possible tapware under the sink (apparently the premium tapware package only includes that stuff that's visible above a bench!?) and he was going to struggle to install it.  He did offer to come back on the Sunday and give it another go, and credit to him, he was there at 8:00 in the morning to try again.  He managed to install it, but found that he was unable to stop the tap dripping, which required a call to the builder on Monday morning to get fixed.  Easily achieved by Tuesday morning, so I can confirm we do now have a shiny new Asko in the kitchen begging for some dishes.  After having to handwash the damned things for the last twelve months, I'm very excited to start giving it a hammering!!

Our fences are still not up, as I'm waiting for one of our neighbours to sign the quote and return it to my fencer.  How hard could it be?  Apparently if you're a surgeon based in Sydney, it's pretty bloody hard.  I won't be going out of my way to help him out in a hurry in the future, that's for sure.

And the last fun thing going on?  Well, our first piece of mail to our new home was a letter from a solicitor acting on behalf of South East Water warning us that they were going to commence legal action against us to collect on 12 months worth of account charges after numerous attempts to collect them from us.  I could have given them a hint that if they'd actually checked to see if they had the right mailing address for us they would have found that it was an empty block of land without a letterbox (or water supply for that matter!)  A quick phone call has hopefully sorted that out, but there had better not be a default listed on my credit file.  To corrupt the quote from Jules in Pulp Fiction: "I will strike down upon (South East Water) with great vengeance and furious anger" if they have taken that step!

Actually, now that I look at it, most of the issues with the home since settlement have been caused by water in one way or another.  Strange coincidences?

All in all though, things are happening.  Telstra will hopefully connect the phone and internet, the antenna will go in, fences up, concreting down and we'll be moving into our beautiful new home in no time at all!  What's another couple of weeks right???

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Now with added pictures for your viewing pleasure...

Another busy day, this time ferrying things between the storage unit and the house.  In amongst locking in a date for the concreting to start, the antenna to be installed and getting a quote for the security doors, I managed to take a few photos of the place before we 'ruin' it with furniture.  Enjoy!

 Give me an H.  Give me an O.  Give me an M.  Give me an E.  What does it spell?

 From the rumpus, looking into the now fully completed kitchen

 And again

 Our back yard.  Plenty of work to do there.  Fence still to come
 The kitchen with our new mess hall style stools

Plenty of cupboard space on both sides

 The cooktop.  Can't wait to give it a crack.  It's HUGE!

 The laundry.  Nothing special to see here, moving right along...

 The spare bedroom.  Plenty of space to store a box.

The completed bathroom.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Good things come to those who wait...

Well, after an epic build, we've finally made it to the day we'd been waiting for.  Handover!!!  360 days since we first contracted to purchase our block of land,  266 Days after the signing of the building contract, 202 days since the slab was laid and what seems like an eternity since we completed our final inspection, we finally have possession of our new home.  .

To say that the completion of the house was somewhat of a drawn out affair is putting it mildly.  It hasn't been a particularly stressful build, contrary to warnings we'd been given before starting the process, but it did seem to take a long time to complete.  Whilst the house was practically complete months ago, several small items held things up significantly.  The largest issue was that there was a need to replace the front door frame and windows as they hadn't settled well and had bowed since installation.  Not such a difficult task one would think?  Wrong!  Seven weeks later and a supplier (who we were assured was subsequently given a rather frosty time by the builder) finally managed to supply the door frame.  Luckily for the builder, Sarah and I are patient people, and had the attitude that it was far better to get the house completed and completed well than to hassle everyone to speed things up. From there it was simply a case of installing the final finishings and away we went.

Sare and I managed to attend a final inspection on April 4 to take a look at any of the things that needed fixing prior to completion.  The SS was more than helpful and keen to point out things that he still intended having fixed before handover.  Most of the issues were paint related and quite easy to attend to. 

Easter delayed things slightly but Metricon had previously obtained the occupancy certificate and our SS managed to get the right tradies in to fix up the issues pretty quickly.  We were issued with our final invoice on April 12, which I quickly forwarded on to the bank for them to process.  Sweet, we'd have our house in a couple of days, I thought.

Cue the delay in the valuer completing their end of the process (seriously, what is it with anyone even vaguely associated with real estate that means they should have a licence to be the most unreliable people on earth?) and the bank hounding them time and again to get it done.  Still, it gave us time to buy a dishwasher and arrange for its delivery following handover.

As I like to make things as much of a challenge as possible, I told the bank on a Thursday arvo that they would need to have the cheque ready for me by COB Monday the 23rd, as we were not going to be happy waiting any longer.  I wasn't intending to waste my week of holidays by sitting around and getting the house after ANZAC day sometime.

We were off to Lorne for a wedding on the Friday and the bank assured me that the cheque would be done and dusted for me to pick up on Monday assuming the valuation was completed as expected.  Great!  Until I received a voicemail message from the SS on Friday evening asking if everything was going to be right for Monday afternoon as he hadn't had a call from a valuer to arrange an inspection.  Being as late as it was, I couldn't call the bank to confirm whether there had been a delay with the val.

Monday morning gave me the chance to follow up with the bank who advised that the valuation had been done (wish I had a job where I could just say I've done something and still get paid!) and that I could pick up the cheque that afternoon after the funds were transferred and they called me to confirm.  I made a few other phone calls to start herding all the cats involved in the process into place (fencer, concreter, insurance, etc...) and headed off to pick up the cheque.  One o'clock passed with no phone call, followed quickly by two and three o'clock.  Finally after going into the bank to confirm that the cheque was still unavailable I was beginning to think that it wasn't going to happen after all.

Finally, at half past three on the dot, I received the call and it was action stations.  I collected the cheque, jumped into the car and headed out to the house.  Sare was running late at work and unfortunately couldn't make the handover itself, but thankfully she made it along shortly after so that I could give her the grand handover.  The SS handed over a bundle of paperwork and warranties, explained the workings of the appliances throughout the house and confirmed that the issues that we'd previously identified had been rectified.  The final act involved me handing over the cheque and receiving the keys in return.  Easy, right?  Not quite.  Handing the cheque over was pretty straightforward, as you may expect.  Of course, having somehow seen everything finally fall into place, it seemed appropriate that the keys I received did not actually open the entry doors!  That will hopefully be rectified tomorrow...

It was finally time to pick up Sare and show her round the place, and introduce our brand new kitchen stools to their brand new home.  Metricon were kind enough to give us a lovely welcome package of some homewares which will go nicely around the place.  We locked up and headed home to plan our next steps.  I've got a week ahead of me moving bits and pieces into the house and arranging for tradies to come visit.  We'll be in before we know it!

No pictures just yet, but I'll update the blog and add them over the next couple of days.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Say hello to my little photos...

Well, whilst progress has been slow, it has also been steady.  I managed to get out to the site this week to speak to a fencer and get a quote.  Whilst I'm still waiting for the quote to be sent through, at least it was progress on the previous experience with other fencers!

Even better news was that while I was at the site waiting for the fencer to turn up, another ute pulled up with a tradie in it who proceeded to open our front door and get to work.  I couldn't resist the opportunity and had a quick conversation with him about the work he's been doing.  Turns out that he had replaced the entire front door fixture the day before (that explained the frame and windows lying in the front yard) and was doing a few other small jobs touching up some of the other finishings.  This was also a great chance for me to ask to have a quick look through the place, which was met with no resistance.  Awesome!!!

It was pretty much as I'd expected, having had plenty of opportunities to look through the windows previously.  Essentially, I was pretty happy with the majority of the work having been completed and feel confident that the remaining issues will be fixed well before we go to PCI.  Anyway, without further ado, some photos:
 The front, including our sad, dead little tree that we'll have to move when we switch our crossover to the left.  The landscaping is looking like a daunting task.

The pride and joy.  The kitchen.  So can't wait...

Looking through into the rumpus (aka my centre of entertainment!!).  Looking through at the new rear neighbours house...

 The bathroom.  You know, the bath, in the room was probably a giveaway.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's the final countdown...

Well it's been weeks since my last post, and that's because of a range of different factors.  Life has been going at a million miles an hour so far this year (so what else is new!) and getting out to the site has been noticably more difficult than it previously was.  At least we've been able to get ourselves into a good shape to handle the move and the other works required when we do finally get to settle on the finished home.

Work on the site has been achingly slow over the last month, with the few big and noticable jobs happening in amongst the multitude of minor detail focused jobs.  Whilst since the last update the most noticable job completed has been that the flooring has been laid throughout the house, the other things also completed include the showers having been fitted, the bath installed (which has come up sensationally well!), all of the door fittings attached and flywire screens put up on all of the windows.  Unfortunately with all of the doors locked, it's been impossible to get in and have a good look (and worse still, we haven't been able to take any good photos).  From what we have been able to see though, we've been pretty happy with everything so far.  Our site supervisor has given us  a lot of confidence in his ability to deliver a good quality project in the end, giving us regular updates on progress and being pretty open with his thoughts on the work being completed.  A couple of issues he's encountered with the completed work have been rectified before any progress was made, the largest of which being the reinstallation of the front door frame which had not been done to a high enough standard.  I've got pretty good faith (hopefully not misplaced) that by the time we get to PCI everything will be done to a top quality standard.

Speaking of which, although we don't have a date yet, we're getting pretty close to it.  From our last visit a couple of weekends ago the temporary fencing had been taken down, and the only noticable jobs to be done were the installation of our stove and cooktop, rangehood, shower fittings in the main bathroom, hot water unit and front door.  In the grand scheme of things, not very many tasks at all considering where we've come from.

On the post-handover list of tasks to complete, we're finally starting to get some good traction.  I'll be meeting with a fencer and concreter for some quotes last week.  The original couple of fencers who did our two side fencers have been as good as useless to us, so we moved on.  It wasn't us, it was them!  Honest. certainly resulted in a huge number of responses to my quote requests.  Hopefully I'm not getting too overconfident here, but if we can get a couple of reasonable quotes, we'll be pretty quick to act on them.   Sare has been busy gathering ideas for decking and garden to take care of the next most important tasks we'll have.  Furniture shopping has been happening in amongst this as well.  Not too many commitments yet, but we've bought three stools for the kitchen breakfast bar, got a pretty good idea of our future couches, framed the print that was my xmas present to Sare and had a canvas made up of one of my favourite photos I took in Vietnam a few years back.  We've also been shopping for a dishwasher so that I can hang up my tea towel once and for all!

It may be time to open up the sweep on our exact handover date.  With absolutely nothing to base it on, I'm going to go with March 28.  Bring on the next few weeks!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sneaking and Peeking

After a few weeks of relative inaction and no desperation to get out to our house to see how little had been done over the xmas break, I managed to sneak past today for a quick look.  There had been surprisingly more action than I expected, with a whole host of little jobs completed.  Even better, the thoughtful contractors that Metricon have been employing didn't even bother to lock up the back door.  Another perfect coincidence that allowed me a good chance to sneak through and get a look around.  It's great that I haven't yet had to resort to breaking anything to gain entrance to the place!!

In no particular order, the work done since my last update include: a garage door, painting throughout the house, lights, switches, powerpoints and data points installed, all of our internal doors and the benchtop in the kitchen, with the sink now also installed.  I didn't get a chance to take any photos as I was only able to stop by briefly, but will hopefully get another chance to do so soon, maybe even when Sare and I finally get a chance to meet our new site supervisor as we get closer to completion.  Next up looks like the tiling and flooring.

We've continued to develop our strategy for all of the small things that we'll have to do when we finally make it to handover date.  We've found our dream couches for the main living area, I'm getting closer to working out how best to network the house properly (because I still have no confidence that the big M's electrical contractors have done things right), we're mapping out the driveway, concrete and decking that we'll need, imagining our garden, about to discuss changes to our lighting plan with some specialists and even more importantly, planning the first dinner party menu!  So much to do still, but until we know our handover date, so much time in which to do it...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What a difference a couple of weeks makes...

It's beginning to look a lot like xmas, and our house is beginning to look a lot like a proper house.  We've been flat out for the last few weeks (what else is new!) and haven't had a chance to get out to see our future home.  On a whim this afternoon, following a morning spent helping Sare's sister move into her new home, we decided to take a left turn off Eastlink and head out to have a good look around.  Not expecting to see much up close, what with the place being locked-up and all, we were surprised to find the back door unlocked, allowing us full access to the place.

The front of the house with the brickwork now all completed

The rear corner where the verandah extends out past the rumpus

Sare standing near the al fresco, pondering how we should deck it and where to put the BBQ!

Overall, the place is looking fantastic!  The completed brickwork is great, with the colour exactly what we were hoping for.  I think it matches perfectly with the roof colour as well.  We can really get a feel for how spacious it is going to be in the living areas, and I guarantee we will not regret going for the high ceilings throughout.  Our entrance hall is larger than some bedrooms we've had in other houses and the kitchen, well, it is a work of art to be certain!  I couldn't wipe the smile off my face at seeing the size of the pantry, the great layout of the cupboards and pot drawers and getting to test the soft close drawers for the first time!!  The sink is currently in a box where the oven will be going, so it can't be too far away from having the caesarstone benchtops installed.

 The view of the kitchen from the main living area

The side of the kitchen where the oven and cooktop will be placed.  Love the size of the pot drawers!

The main bench with space for the dishwasher and microwave (or more likely space for the cookbooks!)
 Notes from the builder in the dishwasher space, which will probably be discovered again in another 50 years or so...

Sare wondering about the size and number of plantation shutters we'll need to divide the rumpus from the living area.

The vanity basin and cabinet in the main bathroom

Our front door, pre-stain and installation

Having spoken to our site supervisor during the week, we can now expect the painting to be done in the next week leading up to xmas, and apparently even having the tiling done in the three days leading up to the new year.  At this rate, the house will be ready to go sometime in January, even earlier than we optimistically thought we could expect.  I was also advised that we would be getting a new site supervisor from this week as the current one is changing the region he works in.  Whilst we never got the chance to meet with him, hopefully our replacement can keep the wheels rolling along nicely!

In addition to the work that has been completed, we've even had another fence built on the other side of the house and had two more progress payments made.  Big shout out to our friends at the NAB who have been flawless so far in their handling of our progress payments and have even been kind enough to drop their rates a couple of times in the last few months!  (Too blatant a plug do you think??)

It's looking like it will be a busy summer period for us in advance of the completion of the build with so many things to organise.  Our list currently includes concreting for the driveway, decks for the al fresco and verandah, shutters for the rumpus, blinds for the rest of the house, dishwasher, rear fencing and gates for the front, a letterbox, clothesline, tv antenna, furniture (we've fallen in love with the Bay Leather Republic couches!), landscaping and lighting throughout the house.  Looks like some of these things are going to become a longer term project as we settle into the house and get a good feel for exactly what we want!

Anyway, I probably won't have a chance to update the blog prior to xmas, so I hope everyone has a great xmas and new years.  For everyone celebrating this year in a new home, I'll admit I'm jealous, but also can't wait to experience it next year when I'll definitely be doing the catering!!!