Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Nice Christmas Present

Upon inspection today we were pleasantly surprised to find most of the floor tiles down! Our site  supervisor said it was a goal to get it done by Christmas, but he wasn't sure if it would happen, especially with the delay with the paining. We are so pleased! The house is looking fantastic and we just want to get in there and start decorating, gardening etc. They did make a mistake with the tiles though. They have laid them between the theatre and the lounge where there was supposed to be carpet. Pretty slack really, they should have looked at the plans. I imagine a lot of people would be a bit annoyed, but it really doesn't bother me. It's not something I was sold on one way or the other, so I doubt we will be kicking up too much of a fuss. What does concern me though is that the place has been left unlocked over the holiday. Given the trouble we have had so far with things going missing, I am feeling very nervous. I sent our site supervisor a text letting him know. I didn't want to ring and hassle him After all, it is Christmas Eve, and he has a life... but it would have been irresponsible of me not to let him know. 

It is starting to get hard to sleep at night! We are really impressed with our building experience so far. Carlisle have been amazing... We even got a Merry Christmas phone call yesterday!

The grand entry hall:

Standing at the laundry door, looking at part of the kitchen bench and the lovely floor tiles:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008


I haven't written for a while now because nothing has really been happening. Apparently the painter got held up on another job and so was a week or so late starting on ours. This means that it is extremely unlikely that the tiles will be down before Christmas and so it will probably now be another month before that happens. 
We are planning our landscaping at the moment... well starting to at least! We are going to get the site cut pushed back a bit from the house below and onto a bit more of an angle so we can put in some terraced garden beds. We will also get a flat bit to the back left corner for the kids swings and some lawn (hopefully). We plan to put a shed in the back corner below and a rainwater tank to collect rain from the roof. We will plant a veggie garden and fruit trees along the back. We will put another rainwater tank against the side of the house over the other side. 

This is the side facing west. We will extend this cut back another couple of metres and angle it more... again to plant some terraced beds and lots of creepers to hold it all together. I'm really looking forward to seeing if I can remember anything at all from my agricultural science degree (other than how to drink beer of course!). 

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ready for Render!

It seemed that not a lot was done in the last week. They may have been working inside, but we are past lock-up now, so we can't go in and see what's going on. We received our bills for lock-up and fixing on the same day, so even though it was  a little daunting, it's good to know that they are actually further along than we thought! Today they rendered the facade and al-fresco. This is the base colour. I guess the feature colours will go on in the next few days. It's starting to look a bit flash! We are meeting with our building inspector on Saturday morning to have a look through and a chat about the progress. Can't wait! 

Monday, November 24, 2008

We've been away again for a bit over a week this time, and when we got back yesterday we went straight to the site to see what had been done. 
The brick work is pretty much complete. The facade needs to be rendered and the tiles etc need to go on. To say that we need to do a lot of landscaping is somewhat of an understatement! 

The en-suite basins have been fitted. 

The bi-fold doors are in. The black colour is protective plastic. They will be silver. 

They have also spent a lot of time finishing off the plastering, skirting boards etc. The internal doors are nearly all in place as are some of the wardrobe doors. 

This is how it looks from a few doors up the street. 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And So It Goes...My

This is completely nuts! We now have most of our cabinets installed. I drove past this morning and again this afternoon for a peak and couldn't really see a lot of progress. However, on closer inspection after dinner, we noticed that they had been extremely busy!
I have an appointment with our supervisor tomorrow morning. I can't wait to hear what he has to say about the progress. We are very impressed.

The vanity in the en-suite:

Vanity in the powder room:

My beautiful kitchen: 

Liquid copper cupboards:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Getting Our Hopes Up Again!

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!! When we went past this evening, we couldn't believe how much had been done (on a 35 degree day too, I might add!). The brick work is probably at least half done, probably more, and some of our cabinets have arrived! The french-doors have also been fitted to the en-suite, and they have had an all-round tidy up too.
So now, we start wondering..... will the house be finished before we have to move out of here Mid-Feb? 

Here are some cabinets, mostly for the kitchen I think. I can see the wine rack sitting there on top. I hope they are going to fill it up for us! 

Part of the kitchen bench I presume: 

French-doors in the en-suite (and the spot for the spa, which looks a bit small to me, but anyway):

Brickwork almost complete along the back of the house. You can see yesterday's dry mortar down the bottom. Blonde me was worried that we had two different coloured bricks. Oh dear! 

Standing in the back corner looking towards the al-fresco and the street: I am pleased with the way the guttering blends in with the bricks and still manages to suit the tile colour. The mortar is a bit lighter than I would have liked though. In the photo you can see where its light at the bottom where it is dried and darker (and looking better) at the top where it is still wet. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

They're Here!

Our bricks arrived yesterday and already the brickies have done a great job putting them all together in the shape of a house! We were very nervous about the colour, but we love them. However we had a close look at one after everyone had gone home from work and they look like a basic red brick with a nice coating painted on. I guess the take home message from this is that one should be a little more thorough when selecting bricks. We saw a wall of them that looked good and went with that alone. A smarter purchaser would have asked to look at some individual bricks to make sure they were suitable. Anyway, as long as the coating doesn't peel off, or chip, we will be very happy. The plasterers have also been exceptionally busy over the last week or so smoothing out the walls and roof... it looks great! 

The bedroom:

Looking at al-fresco and meals/ kitchen:

Standing in the kitchen looking over meals/ family and into rumpus:

Austral Chocolate:

The view from out the back:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I'm not much chop with the horses,
but I am willing to have a bet.
Today I sit here wondering
have our bricks arrived there yet?

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Well, following on from my observations this morning, we returned this evening to see that the plastering had been almost entirely done in one day. It really was quite astounding. The last time we looked, there was a frame, some tiles, windows and a bit of plastic. Now we have rooms, wardrobes and even the feature bedhead in our bedroom. The only things missing are the back of the wardrobe in our room and a bit of plastering in the bathroom. Adding to the excitement, when I got back in the car after taking the photos, what should be on the radio, but "Our House, in the Middle of Our Street"..... Perfect!

The view from the front, plaster in the garage:

Standing at the end of the kitchen bench, View of family, meals and rumpus areas:

Standing in the lounge, looking into the theatre and through the door to the laundry:

The view from inside the front door:

The view from the back of the living area, looking towards the front door. The wall is the back of the kitchen. You can see the al fresco to the left and the big gap where the bifolds will go. You can also see the front doors: 

In our bedroom:

The Bi-Polar Blog Entry. I'm Happy, I'm Annoyed, I'm Happy, I'm Annoyed!

Everyone said we would lose sleep over building a house, and they weren't wrong! I can only begin to imagine how hard it would be doing it all ourselves. Carlisle really have been very efficient at organising things and sorting out our problems. I received a phone call on Monday from our site supervisor introducing himself and saying that he'd been out to look at our watery mess. He concurred that it was unlikely vandalism and reassured me that the water damage was minimal. What a relief! He also said that he was available anytime should anything like that happen again, and gave me his mobile number. He also said we could ring and arrange an inspection with him whenever we wanted. That's what I call customer service. Very impressive!
On Tuesday I noticed that our 3rd brick selection hadn't been delivered. I was told last Thursday that there would be a 48 hour period before the bricks were released... therefore they should have been there. After all the pressure to reselect in a hurry to avoid any more delays (our second choice wasn't available until mid Nov), this is really frustrating. I rang Carlisle and was told that they are due to be released on the 4th Nov (which is a public holiday I pointed out) and therefore we should have them there by the end of next week. GRRRR, that's nearly mid Nov anyway! So now we will have a brick that probably won't look as good, for the saving of perhaps 1 week? 
I know it is just a week, but I'm stressing about becoming homeless when our lease expires. I asked for an estimate of completion time, and was told sometime in April.... what the....???? Only a few weeks ago we discussed the very slight possibility that it would be finished before the end of the year... talk about one extreme to the other!! 
I know the rental house selling and the completion of our new house are totally out of our control.....and being a self-confessed control freak, I am finding it all a tad stressful!
And finally to end, some more good news. I drove past today as we were a bit early for school, and to my surprise there were about half a dozen workmen there busily doing something with the plaster! 

Sunday, October 26, 2008


We've been away for about a week and a half and quite a lot has happened in that time Firstly, we have had to choose yet another brick... not an easy task when one is away from a computer and the brick display centres. Anyway, we have now decided to go with Austral Chocolate. I'm not so sure its the best choice, given its dark colour will absorb heat in summer and make the house hotter than it might otherwise be. I'm so over it all though, and just want to get the house built. If its really unsuitable, we can always render later on. 
From the airport, we went straight away to the house to have a look at the progress. I wasn't expecting a lot, due to the brick delay. I was pleasantly surprised (yet again) to see that some insulation has gone in, the heating and cooling ducts are in, the plaster has been delivered, the electrical wiring is mostly done and all of the windows and sliding doors are in!

Today we got a rude shock. We went past the house again so that our daughter could have a look and what we saw prompted us to call the police! It seemed that our house had been vandalised. The water mains were on and there was a punctured (drilled) hole in the plumbing of the bathroom. There was water absolutely everywhere. We turned it off at the mains and called the police. It also looked like the temporary fencing had been knocked over too. I was shattered. The pooling water made me think that the wooden frame would be ruined, the roof would have to be pulled off and we'd basically have to start from scratch. This in turn let to thoughts of us ending up homeless, as we have a fairly firm deadline to  be out of here.... not nice thoughts at all really.
When the police turned up, they seemed to think that it wasn't vandalism, but poor workmanship. It appears that a builder has drilled a hole through the wood, but not stopped before drilling partly into the piping. Today was very hot, and we think it may have expanded and split, and whoosh... water everywhere.
The good thing, I guess, is that it happened before we'd moved in. I can only dread to think of the mess that would have resulted if it happened down the track. The bad news is that we don't know if there is damage that needs to be fixed, and if it will result in any delays. I will be ringing Carlisle first thing tomorrow, and hopefully a supervisor will go and inspect. 

Monday, October 13, 2008

There's a House With A Roof, With A Roof, With A Roof........

We decided to have a quick drive past today, expecting to see no change whatsoever. We had a good look on Saturday, so there had only been today to get anything done.... I joked that there would be no change at all, or the whole roof would be done. The later proved to be the case. 
It really looks fantastic. We are absolutely delighted with the colour and the shape. I will go past tomorrow and take a picture to post, but I still haven't been able to get the last picture to load up, so it may take some time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Never A Dull Moment

The house is looking fantastic. We are so excited! Yesterday the front door went in. The guttering is done and they have almost finished wrapping the house up like Laura Palmer. 

We got a phone call last Friday afternoon saying that our brick was unavailable. Apparently they have been having problems with it cracking.... So we spent last weekend trying to look at bricks. I emphasise the 'trying' bit. It's almost impossible. One would think that most people building houses would need to look at bricks and tiles etc on the weekends, and that would be a sensible time to be open. They obviously don't concur. Boral were completely closed for renovations (as was another brick place when we first looked). They are either closed, renovating or in the process of moving. It's extremely difficult to look at bricks without driving all over Melbourne. We did manage to inspect Austral Bricks on Saturday and found a brick there that was satisfactory. My eyes kept going back to the original choice though. It would have looked great, but it was no longer an option. Anyway, we've finally settled on Austral Maize with Natural (grey) mortar. I really hope it looks OK, but it won't be seen from the street due to the facade, or from the al fresco as it will be rendered. All in all, its going to cost us ANOTHER $1000. What's another $1000 really, apart from the fact that it's happening a little too often for my liking, and they're adding up into something monstrous!

Another concern is that the house that we are renting while the building occurs has been put on the market. I am terrified that our place won't be finished and we will have to  move somewhere for a few weeks in the interim. Not only will that be a lot more work, it will be extremely disruptive for the children, who have already had a couple of moves in their short lives. At least once we have our own home, we will be able to stay put indefinitely and offer them some stability. 

As I said in the last post, the rate of progress has been exceptional to date, and if it continues in this way, we may have a house by the end of the year!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


If it looks like we have gone from having a bare slab to the full frame for our house in next to no time at all, that's because we have. The walls went up in about 2 days and the roof took another day. It's quite remarkable. Having said this, we now are due to make another payment, and I only made the payment for the slab this morning. I have a feeling we won't be due for another for a while after these two though. A month ago, all we had was a paddock of nice red dirt, and now we have a skeleton of a house.
Back to my pregnancy analogy, viewing at this stage is like having an ultrasound. You can see all the fingers and toes, but still have a bit of waiting before you can see the fine details. 

There are still 12 weeks left in the  year. I don't want to get my hopes up, but is there a possibility?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Resolution Of Sorts

Yes, we were correct about the missing door at the back, and yes, they are rectifying it straight away. Goodo.
We have come to an agreement on the eaves issue. According to the builder, we can't have the big eaves because it simply won't work. The meeting point of the windows in our bedroom has no support apart from the window itself and therefore won't support the eave. If we want the eaves, we would have to change facades, and we ain't gunna do that! The good news is, the display home, which we fell in love with in the first place, doesn't have the large eaves either. The plans they gave us of the display home are wrong too. Apparently they are a work in progress. I would have been nice to have known this in the beginning. I asked if there were any other differences, and apparently there aren't. Until we get to view them for ourselves though, I'm not entirely convinced. Therefore we will still get the same effect, and we will have to plant larger deciduous trees to help keep the sun off the north facing window, and keep the eyes of the neighbours off our incredibly hot bodies....(yeah right!!)
Bad news is, even though its them making the post-contract variation this time, it doesn't seem that they are going to give us $500.... maybe I should ask them about that!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Few Problems Arising

We didn't sleep much last night. I'm starting to worry about the project. We got a lovely surprise yesterday when we drove past, expecting to see no change at all. They'd almost completed the frame. It was so exciting, and I felt a little emotional. I messaged the other half and suggested he drive past on his way home from work to have a look. Sure enough he did, and was delighted with their efficiency.... PROBLEM IS.... they have framed up a window on the back wall of the rumpus instead of a sliding door. It's not just any sliding door missing either. It's a very expensive door, as we had to pay the post-contract variation fee, a fee to get our energy rating reassessed and the subsequent cost of double glazing the back windows to keep our energy rating.
I'm worrying now because with this, and the discrepancy between our plans and the display home plans (even though its just a small amount), I've lost a considerable amount of confidence in Carlisle. Adding to this, when I rang them this morning to inform them of the error, a new matter was brought to my attention.
APPARENTLY, the eaves that are at the front of our house on our plans, and on the plans for the display home aren't supposed to be there. I am really cross and want to use lots of swear words, but will hold off until we get the full story later. The front of the house faces north, and I want the eaves! We have signed a contract saying the house will be built according to these plans, and if they can charge us $500 to make a post-contract variation that we want to make, are they going to compensate us for their oversight? It's not even about the money, I want my bloody eaves!!
All I can think is that it may be because the display home has a colorbond roof and we have tiles, and that alters the pitch of the roof, and therefore the eaves might put it all out of alignment? I don't know. If so, then they should give us a colorbond roof then. It's not our mistake.
What I do know, however, is that we have signed off on the plans with the eaves, and that's what we expect to get.
And, in case you haven't noticed, I'm cross!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Closer Inspection.

We went and had a good look at the slab today. It was very exciting. They had marked out where all of the rooms will be and it was awesome to be able to see it laid out like that. Straight away we thought it felt very small though. Later on that day we went and had a look at the display home again and got warm fuzzy feelings about how great our home is going to be. It felt nice and open and spacious. We then thought, what if the plans for the display home are different from our plans? It wasn't a nice feeling!
We got out the display homes that we'd been given and compared them very closely to our plans.... sure enough, the display home was bigger!! Even though the difference was very slight (our house is 50mm shorter) we still felt like we'd been a little short-changed. It's silly I know, and such a tiny amount, but why do it at all? What if it is an oversight and therefore the bits don't all fit together properly? I know I'm being paranoid, but I just want it to be perfect.
The bill arrived yesterday... base stage and a time interval of 14 days for payment. I hope they don't stop everything until we make the payment. Even though we will be paying by the end of the week, I'd hate to lose the good weather building days we're due to have this week.
From the front door:

And from the back right corner (where the big cut is):

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Finally a Slab!

We were starting to wonder if someone had drank the slab! It was supposed to be laid towards the end of last week, but alas, no slab. There were one or two nasty weather days, but it didn't seem to stop the other builders in the area. Having said that, since I last wrote the blog they completed the drains and boarded up the area for the concrete. They also dumped a heap of white boxes (?) on the block next door. I can only assume these are for the slab?

Today, we had action! I drove past about 9am and they had begun to pour the concrete from the back.

I drove past again at 4pm... they're going to start to think I'm stalking one of them before too long.


We will go and have a closer look on the weekend and maybe take some more pictures.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fenced Out

There hasn't been much activity for about a week now. I am hoping that when I drive past after school today, that I might see a slab... or even just a six pack would be a start! We were told that they'd be pouring the slab late this week, so fingers crossed.
We signed our lives away with the bank yesterday, so it certainly all seems very real now.
There is some temporary fencing up. I was hoping to get the permanent fencing done before the temporary fencing came, because it seemed stupid to pay for two lots of fences. Anyway, in some ways its probably for the best to happen this way, as we will need to do some serious excavating ourselves to make the backyard suitable to landscape, and that will be much easier to be done before the permanent fences are erected.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Busy Bees!

We've gone from having a bare block with a tin dunny on it, to having a massive site cut in just one day. It doesn't look too pretty at this stage, but you can't criticise their efficiency!

This morning when I dropped the eldest at daycare, I swung past to have a squiz. This is what I saw:

And then by this afternoon:


Apart from feeling overwhelmed that the project is finally starting to take shape, it was awesome to finally get a feel for where the house would sit on the block. The steepness of the site cut at the back concerns me a bit. I knew it would be steep, but seeing it made me realise how creative we would have to be with our landscaping design! It also made the block seem so much smaller, and what we thought would be a massive yard look much more manageable!
I can't wait to see the house start to take shape, I guess using the pregnancy analogy, we're starting to show!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Obligitory Hiccups

I doubt anyone has a stress free building process. If they do, they probably aren't passionate enough about what they are doing. We're yet to actually start building and getting to this point has been challenging to say the least. One of the hardest things has been a lack of people to talk to and ask advice of. I'm not talking about the people at Carlisle, they have been full of information.... but it's not independent information. I wanted to talk to other people like us and learn from their experiences, both positive and negative. I am also very keen to see what 'our house' actually looks like when it's built by customers, not designers and decorators optioning everything up for a display home. I'm writing this for my friends and family who want to follow our journey, but also for anyone out there like me who is looking for advice and the experiences of others. Here are some tips.
Firstly, don't believe everything the sales people at the display homes tell you. They are trying to sell you a house and they will tell you what you want to hear. We asked how much the display homes would cost exactly as displayed. The figures we were quoted were nothing like what it would actually cost, but it was too late... we had bitten the bait! We looked at a lot of builders and they all used the same strategy (possibly with the exception of Urban Edge).
You need to walk around with them and point to everything and ask if it is included. When it comes to the facade, the price refers to the physical shape of it, and often doesn't include render, stone, tiles or much else really. We asked two or three times about the facade of the Atlantique (saying we want it to look like THAT) before we could get them to give us an accurate price. We also asked about the lovely cantilevered front door... yes the door is included... just not that door! In fact, not even a cantilevered door, as we found out at our tender appointment.
Be prepared for some disappointments and be flexible with your budget.
One thing that really annoyed us was that the ceiling height of the display was greater than that in the plans. It was the open feeling of the house that we really liked and if it wasn't for my other half going over the plans with a fine-toothed comb, we probably wouldn't have noticed until we moved in. We felt this was like 'false advertising' and we did feel tricked, because the ceiling height is a major component of the structure of the house and we thought that's what we were getting. We went to a display home where the ceiling height was the standard, as on the plans. Luckily it didn't affect the feel of the house too much. It will also make heating and cooling more efficient too.
There were a few other hiccups along the way too. Each time, we felt great disappointment and felt like backing out. We had a back-up builder who was looking pretty good by comparison (but probably only because we hadn't explored their options thoroughly!). However, I think this is all part of the process, and it would have happened with any builder. A lot of our disappointment came from our perceptions arising from the first few inspections of the display home and the misinformation we were given.
Aside from the 'misinformation' our experience has been excellent. The colour selection appointment was inspirational and helped us get around the misinformation we had been given. The tender, although terrifying, was well-presented and the budget-blowout explained in such a way that it didn't completely destroy our vision.
We have signed our contract and site works are due to commence this week.

The Background Noise

I probably should have started blogging this adventure months ago. I've come to think of it as being our third pregnancy. Hopefully it will take about as long, involve a lot of sleepless nights, be very expensive but we will get something wonderful at the end. We are building a house.

The decision was made in May when the Melbourne rental market started to verge on insanity. The house we were in was lovely, but there was no yard for the children or dog and the neighbours on each side of us, sharing our walls were getting younger and rowdier.

We found our block on the internet. 1344m 2, gently sloping, great location, in the middle of a nice looking street. Unfortunately the aspect wasn't ideal, but it had everything else going for it.

We made a list of must-haves and would-likes and then we started looking for our house on the internet. Following securing the land, we embarked on a mad frenzy of display home inspections. The amount of builders, homes and people looking through them was overwhelming.

We decided to go with Carlisle Homes and build the Atlantique Mk2.