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.