Monday, August 31, 2009

A Gate...

We handed over the keys for our rental this morning and I am soooo glad!! I have to go back tomorrow morning because between my cleaner and I we missed a couple of windows and the drawers in the ensuite but no big deal - just pick the keys up, fix up the problems and that's it!

The Real Estate lady did say that the place looked really good just that we missed those couple of things (phew!... because we were a bit worried about a few marks on the carpet following Tyler's recent adventures with my make-up while we were out).

After that last trip, we can now get on with 'settling in' here....

The gate was put on this afternoon and so we now have a complete 'yard'. I just need to complete the dog-proofing and we're right to let Tyler out!!!!! What she doesn't realise is that once she's out, she'll be staying out because she won't be coming inside with muddy feet - and that's unavoidable without any grass :)
Our fencing guy worked most of Saturday on his own and got everything done except the capping to the right side and the gate. So he's coming back sometime today to finish it off.

We spent most of Saturday and some of Sunday working on dog-proofing the fence with chicken wire... I should get the rest done tonight when I finish work. It' will be muddy out there again as it's starting to rain as I type - it doesn't take much.... a light sprinkle and the clay starts sticking to your shoes and suddenly you're 6 inches taller.

I bought myself a pair of gumboots yesterday so that should make things easier - I was wearing my sneakers which are now caked with mud. In fact I then had to wear OHs shoes when I went out to the shops as I had nothing else but dress shoes or sandals... (his shoes are several sizes too big but are OK if you tie the laces tightly )

I'm soooo glad we had a driveway and path to the front door right from the start - it would have been a real nightmare otherwise!!! At least we have one place were we can take the dog in and out for the regular "wee-walks" without us all getting filthy We have a new routine - get to the door, dog sits, human goes in and takes shoes off, dog goes in and sits on it's bed or nearby towel (to clean feet) and then is allowed into house We are now wishing that we had put a tiled strip down the lounge in the part that is a hallway as we had originally planned (and removed to save $$)...

As for the blinds... I was desperate NOT to have sheets and had the 2 blinds for the front rooms made before we moved in, but I didn't get to do the battens (wooden bits on the inside) or the mounting bits and so they're still sitting folded on the floor Hopefully I'll get those two done at least in the next couple of days.

The other thing that I need to get sorted ASAP is our letter box... It's sitting on the entry floor waiting for a mount-post.... Our mail redirect starts this week so will need to make that a priority

Oh and I managed to get the cord for the blinds at Spotlight in Geelong so after the dog-proofing is completed I'll be focussing on curtains - at least for the office and bedroom (I hate having sheets in the window )

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fencing ourselves in...

Our fencees are now almost complete... The guy is coming back tomorrow morning to finish the palings spanning about half of one side and to hang the gate. Then we'll need to get onto some 'landscaping' to create a run for the dog down the blind side of the fence, including measures to ensure that the she can't escape (ie something to prevent her digging under the fence) over the rest of the weekend. Looks like a trip to the local garden centre is on the cards for us

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Moved in...

It's been 2 weeks today since we picked up the keys... Our first week was a waste of time with one of us having to be at the house every day waiting on various tradesman to turn up and do their 'fix'. It started out with 'we'll have everything done by Monday' which then turned into Tuesday, and then Thursday and finally 'the tilers will be done Friday, you'll have to wait till monday for the caulkers..."

So after a week from hell we moved in over the weekend and have had a difficult week moving the dregs from the other house, cleaning it and getting it ready to hand back the keys as well as trying to get our fence up.

We have a dog and so we've been trying to get the fences organised as close as possible to the date we moved in. First we were waiting on the quotes to be redone, and then we were waiting on the neighbour to agree and pay the deposit. Finally we had a date set for Tuesday this week. That quickly got foiled due to Melbourne's horrific weather on both Monday and Tuesday. Finally the fencers arrived on Wednesday only to find that the neighbours block was being prepped for a slab and the concretors told them to leave it and come back Friday - which they accepted without even contacting us!! After making several calls to the fencing guys we managed to get them to come out today and make a start but not before our dog got out and ran through the neighbours slab mid pour... (wouldn't have happened if they hadn't delayed our fencing....)

At last we have fence posts up and a promise (I'm still skeptical) that it will be finished by Saturday...

We did manage to get 1 car into the garage on the second night but that's the "good" car that 'couldn't possibly stay out overnight' (OH's car - can you tell?..) and so what was organised chaos, quickly turned into complete chaos - 'organised' has left the building!

Now I'd better get back to my unpacking....

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Not happy Jan...

Hopefully by Monday afternoon the last of the 'fixes' will be done and we'll be able to start moving in. OH spent the whole day at the house on Friday waiting for various tradespeople to show up. Mostly they looked at what was needed and then told him when they'd be back to do the work so it was a wasted day for him.

By 2.30 the best that could be offered was for the plasterer to come on Tuesday and the painters some time after that. I was not impressed with this, given how adamantly the SS "promised" that everything would be done by the end of Thursday that we decided a phone call to the area manager was necessary. He of course didn't take my call and so after having an argument with the CSO, leaving numerous messages and having the receptionist and another manager physically checking where the area manager was I contacted head office and asked to speak with someone. Of course being a Friday afternoon getting a hold of anyone proved extremely difficult and eventually the receptionist - who was extremely helpful and understanding (a rareity in this company) - asked me to leave it with her and she would see that somebody called me before the end of the day.

Within 20 minutes the area manager did call me and in his 'nice-as-pie-butter-woudln't-melt-in-his-mouth-tyring-to-be-everso-helpful-to-the-customer' voice, asked "what the problem was". So I very calmly that explained that I had two issues - communication and follow-up and that these are the same issues that I'd raised with him approximately 3 months ago. I explained that whilst I understand that things don't always go according to plan, I didn't understand why we hadn't recuited a call on Thursday afternoon explaining the situation and that we still didn't get a call on Friday morning. I asked why it took us to call for any action to be taken. I explained that I felt like there had been no checks done by the SS on Thursday afternoon to check firstly that the required jobs had been done, and secondly that the quality is up to scratch. I also explained that it felt to me that if we hadn't called about these things that they'd have been left as they were. I told him that I didn't agree with the CSO's explanation that as a volume builder these situations are to be expected and that there were other worse off than us and that I didn't believe that this attitude was good enough and that with better though supervision of jobs (as the SS should do) and communication with us as the customer that these sitations could have been avoided.

He didn't have any answers but he listened and did agree that this was managed poorly (probably just so that I would quit calling and abusing his staff) which is more than I can say for the CSO who tried to give excuses(all lies), and told me that as a volume builder issues such as this are be expected (the second time I've heard this excuse throughout our build) and that there were other people who were worse off than us and also hung up on me twice. He promised to make some calls and to call me back in a few minutes. Within a few minutes OH had a call from the SS to say that the plasterer would be in on Saturday and they were still trying to get in touch with painter. The area manager didn't call me back but asked the CSO to call on his behalf...

So the plasterer came on Saturday and did his stuff. The caulking guy also came and did his bit (he did refuse to do the laundry tub which we are grateful for - the tub is dodgy and won't click down into the cabinet as it should and so the SS wedged some plastic scraps under the tiles and expeced the caulking guy to caulk over it - so hopefully that secures our arguement that it's stuffed and needs to be fixed properly). The painter has called and will be in on Monday morning (and probably most of the day judging by the number of bit os blue taping marking the faults). The electrician also needs to come back but we don't have a time yet.

It's not over yet, but we are making some progress. Once the painter has been we should be right to move our stuff in. When they (the builder) have done everything that they think is necessary, we will be contacting the building commission and asking for an inspector to come out and look at the things which we are concerned about. We will also be writing a detailed letter to the general manager, and CC'd to every person in the company that we have had any dealings with, telling of our appalling experience. We may not get anywhere but we feel that we can at least try to get it on record (both within the company and consumer affairs/building commission) about the discusting way that customers are treated and the pathetic standards that they have.

Friday, August 14, 2009

One step forward... two steps back...

I'm really excited about the fact that we can now enter OUR house whenever we want, without making appointments and without the tradesmen. It was kind of exciting last night when we dropped by after work and instead of prowling around the outside, up to our necks in mud, trying to peer through windows into a dark house, we could walk up to the front door and ENTER!! It will be even more exciting when we can go there and don't have to go 'home' afterwards.

We were really hoping to see that everything was finished as promised, but alas it wasn't(and we shouldn't be suprised by now). The painful part is there really doesn't seem to be any pride in the finish - in particular the painting and so Bryan is pursuing it this morning with the Area Manager and the SS. No doubt we'll get the same story... "today! It'll be done today!" (even though yesterday was their deadline, and before that is was Monday and before that it was Monday week ago...).

I really feel that the whole construction process has been a case of one step forward, two steps back. Yesterday's settlement was just another example... we walked away feeling optimistic again only to be dissapointed when they didn't deliver

BUT I'm going to let Bryan deal with that and I'll get on with getting excited about the fact that WE NOW OWN A HOUSE (well the bank does - but we get to look after it for them!).

I've also been working my way through that list over there --> the "To do before moving list" and have added another "To do/buy when we can..." which is growing rapidly...

The appliances were installed yesterday and so our kitchen looks complete and we have hot water as well. Now we just need a dishwasher to fill the ugly gap under the sink (better add that to the list).

The blinds for the front two windows are now done, I just need to put the battens in but I'll check that they fit the windows first before i do that. I took them over last night and held them against the window and it looks like they might be a bit long, but I won't know until I can hang them properly. It's not a big deal if I need to adjust the length, I'm just really hoping that the widths are OK (which looks good on the one that we did hold up so fingers crossed).

Oh and the phone is getting connected as I type!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

We have a house!... We have a house!...

We have a house!... We have a house!... We have a house!... We have a house!... We have a house!... We have a house!... We have a house!... We have a house!... We have a house!... We have a house!... We have a house!... We have a house!... We have a house!... We have a house!... We have a house!... We have a house!... We have a house!...

(I'm just a little bit excited... can you tell?...)

This morning we paid the final invoice and took possession of the keys!!!!!

It wasn't without hiccups... our 10 minute settlement appointment became 2 hours... but it's done now.

We almost cancelled the settlement appointment this morning when we had our meeting with the SS at the house early this morning because there was still a lot to be done (and painting of all things!), and this was after the SS had spent nearly an hour at the house before we got there cleaning (we got there at 7.30am). After some heated words from me that included loosing my temper and being on the verge of tears, he somehow (I have no idea how) assured us that it would be done!?...

So in we went to our settlement appointment and OH explained the situation and asked if we could speak with a manager that would verify what the SS had told us and again was it possible to get something in writing... This started a flurry of phone calls from settlements back to our SS, CSO and the area CS Manager and the promise that everything would be done by 5pm along with a signed letter confirming this. (apparently they rang our CSO who told them they'd have the letter by the end of the day - she was promptly told by the settlements dept that this wasn't good enough and that it would be done immediately LOL!)

Soooo.... we signed the paperwork, collected our keys and accepted their 'gift' (salt and pepper grinders, a bottle opener and a coffee plunger with 2 cups - is there a theme here... we reckon you deserve a drink and a strong coffe to have survived this experience!!) and went on our way.

Unfortunately for us (and luckily for them!) we won't have a chance to get back to the house before 5 this afternoon anyway, but I hope it's done properly this time as I've promised a barrage of calls and an angry sit-in at the office if there's a problem. I've also reminded the SS that avoiding us will be difficult as we now live next door to one of his newest jobs...

Tomorrow the moving starts - best pack some things first though!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Valuation done!!! Cheque received!!!

I rang the bank yesterday to check if the valuation was done.... NO!

And then I rang the bank again (I promise I only called twice and the second time was 5.30pm and I really didn't expect to get through...) and was pleased to hear that the valuation had come back!!

Of course, my hopes were then dashed when the guy told me the cheque would take "a couple of days" - why??? especially when the last person I spoke with said it would be available the next day... Anyway, after explaining that settlement was booked for Thursday morning before the bank opened, and that if possible I would really like to be able to collect the cheque on Wednesday, he did something on the computer and then said "OK it will be ready".

So today I dropped into the bank to see what the process was for collecting the check - ie would they call us, what paperwork was needed etc - and ended up walking out with the cheque!!

Bring on Thursday!!!!!!!!!!!!
(Inspection of the house at 7.30am and then settlement in the city at 9.30am)

Getting there...

We attended the final inspection yesterday and there's only one word for it....


Of the 8 pages worth of items (some 94 items) requiring fixing, we spotted only 2 that had been done and even those were half-a$$ed fixes. They included changing the door handle on the pantry door to the correct one (but leaving the holes from the previous ones only half-filled) and a filling strip behind the bathroom door but they forgot the one next to the window in the same bathroom....

I won't go on about it... suffice to say that when the settlements officer called the SS and put back the appliance installation forward to Thursday (instead of Monday because the bank wouldn't have had the cheque available that early), the SS figured he had more time and didn't bother checking whether everything had been done... We were then coerced into signing the completion report - the one that says we're happy with the place and that all identified items had been fixed satisfactorily - with barely any items fixed.

We did have a minor win though... We asked what the verdict was for the scratched window that he was to follow up on and were told that he (the SS) had checked with his supervisor who'd told him to "make a decision on it". Quite obviously he didn't think that it should be replaced but after a brief discussion where I pleaded our case with something along the lines of... "surely you could give us this, given that we've let a few other things slide such as the power points in the lounge that aren't as per the contract and the raised tiles in the bathroom that he'd agreed is higher than standard..." He then went outside, made a call, put some tape on the door to mark the scratch and informed us that it might take a week for it to be installed. - YAY!!!

We have now booked another inspection (lets call it a final FINAL inspection) with the SS prior to our settlement appointment - at our request - and have made it clear that unless everything on the report with the exception of the replacement window and the appliance installation, that we would be cancelling our settelement appointment and will not be paying until ALL items are finished (reasonable enough considering that these items should all have been finished by Monday (yesterday)).
Anyway... enough of that... here's some photos of the inside at last.

Looking from the lounge through to the living area at the back of the house (the entry, main bedroom and study are behind me)
Looking from the lounge towards to the back of the house

Main bedroom - looking from the WIR

Looking from Main bedroom into the ensuite (WIR on the left)


The study

Opposite wall of the entry

Lounge - the kitchen is on the other side of the wall on the right

Looking from the kitchen doorway back towards the front door

The open plan kitchen, meals and living

Living/meals again


Kitchen - looking out towards the garage

Kitchen again



I am also please to say that I now LIKE the kitchen. Since the painting has been finished and much of the dust and rubbish removed, the kitchen looks much better than it did earlier. The colours blend a lot better and the tiles don't look too dark anymore.

And I really do love the feature tiles in the bathrooms - may not love the ensuite one once I have to clean it but I do at the moment :)

Oh and one more thing... in these photos the carpets look exactly the colour that Bryan and I both wanted, however in real life they do have a greenish tinge but it's grown on me (but not so with B).

Monday, August 10, 2009

Final inspection...

We have our final inspection of the house today... Hopefully everything has been finished (although the SS has already warned us that it may not be complete this morning but will be by the end of the day).

Later today I will give the bank a call and see if the valuation has been done yet. Fingers crossed that it has because that would make picking the cheque up much easier.

The blinds are progressing... Slowly... I have finished the sewing of the front two (main bedroom and office) bit I want to check that they fit the window properly before I put the battens (rowel rods) in. I did also have the lounge blind almost finished too until I measured it and discovered that it was too narrow because I'd stuffed up my measurements so I've unpicked it all and will start again tonight.

And at last I've started packing. Not much but it's a start. I really do hate packing!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

In the hands of the banks once again...

Yesterday I sent off the final invoice and occupancy permit to the bank for processing and now we wait....

The bank will do their valuation and then order the cheque and then we can book an appointment with the builers settlements officer. Hopefully this will all happen by Monday but I suspect we might be looking at later than that.

I remember right back at the start of all this when we were waiting on the loan approval from the bank and how frustrating the waiting was... It seems that this is the way of building - always waiting for the next step, for the next update, for the bank to tell you... for the tiler to finish... for the bricks to arrive... for the fencer to quote....

You really don't have any control over the process when building and so you really just need to be prepared for the ride - much like a roller coaster... you go up... you go down... you slow as you go around a corner... and finally, slowly, you reach the end and you can get out. You'll have had some fun, you'll have been scared and freaked out, it might even have made you sick but you survived and no doubt you'll find yourself trying out another one, maybe not immediately but it's certainly a possibility. Perhaps this is just they way life is - you take the bad with the good....

In the meantime it's back to preparing for the big move... I started and list and it's growing everytime I think about it:
  • Get insurance for the house and our contents (Mum will be very pleased to hear that!) - currently researching...
  • Arrange for fences to go up (with a dog we need to have these up before we can move in - not to mention for security) - will pay the deposit today and hopefully the neighbours have signed off on it too;
  • Transfer the gas and electricity into our names - DONE;
  • Organise the phone and internet connections (I need these so that my work is not interrupted) - will research pricing first...
  • Cull and Pack... even though its just over 12 months since we moved last I'm certain that there's more to throw out - haven't even started!;
  • Finalise the building permit for the verandah - the application is in, just waiting on a response (the sooner we can get the verandah done, the sooner we can get the concreting done - dog plus mud will not make for a pretty picture!);
  • Get the blinds done (at least for the front two rooms so that we can have a bit of privacy - our bedroom is at the front and the ensuite has a great view through the front window) - I have the bedroom one almost done, I just need to glue the rods in place. The others are all cut and at various stages.
  • ....

Hmm... I might need to start a list over there --> in the side bar...

Monday, August 3, 2009

One more week and it will be OURS!!!!!!!!!!!

We had our PCI this morning and I have to say that it went better than I had hoped ::cheerleader::

The idiot construction manager didn't turn up and the SS was very professional. He explained the process, gave us the paperwork and then we went through the house. I'm not sure what brought the turn-around but I am very pleased that it happened. As we walked in he even asked if we wanted to keep the leftover bricks (more than half a pallet) - almost as though they were a peace offering (he knew that we wanted the leftover bricks and that we weren't happy at the started that the excess bricks were thrown out). We also let him know from the start that we weren't unhappy with the house, but there were some things that we could see would need fixing, but we weren't going to nit-picky - we just want a well presented, well built house.

We spent 2 hours going through the place, inside and out and have 8 pages (93 items) of things that need to be fixed.
* Most of the items are paint repairs and touch ups - every window and door architrave and most of the skirtings and cornices require touch ups.
* He has agreed to clean up the grouting (the risidual that was left on the tiles) although at first he tried to tell us that we'd just need to give it a good clean - then he realised that there was actually quite a bit.
* The marks on the carpet in one of the minor bedrooms will be cleaned
* There are a few scratches and bumps/knocks in the plaster
* The tiles in the laundry above the tub will be repaired - mostly because the laundry tub/cabinet is faulty and the tub isn't actually clicked down into the framework and each time you move it, the tiles move (previously we'd been told these wouln't be fixed)
* The pitting in the brickwork will be repaired (the bigger holes at least). Again he started out by telling us that small pitting is acceptable and was recording each hole until he realised that there were lots.
* The bricks will be spot cleaned to remove paint and chunks of mortar, but there are bits that won't be cleaned... so be it...
* The small garage door will be touched up and repaired around the frame where there are holes in the plaster that have been painted over (almost like they'd been covered with paper and then painted)
* The skirtings in the garage will be neatened up
* The mortar droppings in the garage will also be tidied up - OH took the route that he intends on painting the floor and that all the bumps would look unsightly.
* The hole in the fascia of the garage (the bit above the main front door) will be repaired - not sure how but using their guidelines of standing 1.5 meters away it was visible and so will be fixed.

There was only one item that he didn't put down but has agreed to check and that is a scratch in the sliding door to the kitchen - my reading of the guidelines says that it should be fixed so we'll have to wait and see what he decides on that.

We briefly discussed the raised tiles but they were not recorded - we didn't even ask for it to be as it's a battle we will fight another way (and maybe we could live with them after all).

All in all it was a very positive meeting and one of the better (if not the best) meetings we've ever had with our SS (I know, I can't beleive it either).

So we're booked for a final inspection and handover next Monday. The appliances have also been ordered for that day too. I'm now VERY EXCITED and my head is reeling with all that I have to do now (book the settlement, organise the payment from the bank, insurance, phone, utilities.... OMG!!!)