Tuesday, 31 July 2007
I have turned on the settings to allow anonymous comments. You can now leave comments without logging on to Google.
Testing Google Poll
I was also testing the "poll" thing. Currently with Google Poll you can only add it to the left hand side as page element. I was thinking of adding a poll to the end of each post for user to vote how they feel about the content. Also checked a few sites providing similar feature, but not with easy settings as I expected. May be have to wait a bit longer.
Please let me know if you are aware of any sites providing this feature.
Give that a try, it's quite interesting watching the counter changes everyday!
I also added Google Analytics, but they don't provide any visible counter.
I have also added my email contact in case any one needs to get in touch with me.
My wife sent details about this blog to one of the senior managers of our builder on Monday and we received this:
"I have forwarded your email to our construction manager and he assures me that work will commence on your site very shortly. I apologies however we have had a month of terrible weather which really does delay construction."
This looks quite promising, who says bloggers don't have power? I got lots of visitors/potential customers here!
Yesterday, we were talking to our "naughty" neighbour (just moved into the Clarendon house with big chemical factory, sorry, I mean water tank :-P) who's landscaper entered our site without permission to do some work on his backyard and "accidentally" dropped some rubbish on our site.
I wasn't very happy about it and was going to ask them to cover the full price for the future fence as compensation. After some family discussion we decided to be nice, just for one last time. We agree to give them one more day to finish all their work as we are expecting to start some work very soon (have been talking about these 2 words for many weeks.....).
We have already given them lots of time since end of May, if they still can't finish it, tough luck!
Someone Locked Our Site!
When I did my routine daily check on our site this morning, I noticed there's a chain & lock on the front entrance. It's locked!
I think it should be our builder that locked the site. Yeah! We finally have one more achievement (the other is peg-out) on the last day of July... I almost cried...
Added photo of the lock as below, tried a few times but can't get it to open....
Monday, 30 July 2007
My GP asked me to drop 5-10 Kg, and I also like to change my "couch potato" life style after work. Plus I probably need to keep fit for this long battle, sorry, I mean construction work in the next 8-12 months with our builder. So after discussion with family, I decided to attend this 14 KM city2surf thing next Sunday (12/8).
At the same time, I think it would be nice to raise some money for charity, hopefully also generate more traffic to my blog, and have some fun!
My exercise patterns in the past...
In the past few years, I did go to gym every weekend -> but that's mainly for my daughter's swimming lesson, I simply sit there and wait... My daily walking distance is about 1.2 KM from home to train station in the morning and another 1.2 KM back home after work. So both my wife and my concern is, will 14 KM be too much for me...
I did a few trials in the past few days, "walking + light jogging" for about 7-8 KM daily. Other than my sore legs, my body seems to be coping it quite well. And I plan to slowly increase the distance and my speed every day. So I think I should be able to handle that. In the worst case, I can simply walk!!
"Youth off the streets" needs your help
So if you have some spare changes please kindly have a look at my fundraising page and any donation to "Youth off the streets" would be really appreciated. As usual, any amount over $2 are tax deductible.
Have some fun...
To make the whole thing more interesting, I am also thinking about offering the option of putting the company logo/preferred images of the person/company with the highest amount of donation on my blog for the next 6 months. Note: as this is a "G" rated site for family and kids, so only suitable images/logos will be accepted.
Ok, that's almost everything, what are you waiting for?
Again, my fundraising page in case you missed it...
Finally, like to thank my lovely family for their support! Big kiss!
Saturday, 28 July 2007
What is Sarking?
I found this definition of "Sarking" from the internet: "Sarking is a reflective foil laminate that is installed inside roofs. It has many benefits including weather proofing, insulation and reduction of dust and sound". The image below shows what it looks like:
The drawing below is from this page on greenhouse.gov.au, it clearly shows how the sarking are installed under the roof tiles. "RFL" stands for "reflective foil laminate".
The next image shows how sarking been installed: start from the bottom, with some overlapping when installing the second one. This is to ensure that if there's any water, it flows down to the gutter.
What is Anti Ponding Board?
So "sarking" is not that hard to understand, it took me a while to work out what is "Anti Ponding Board" used for.
The most simple and easy to understand explanation I found is from harmonyrooftiles.com.au: "The boards are installed to support sarking and ensure that any water collected by the sarking is correctly discharged into the eaves gutters."
The drawing below is also from the same page mentioned above from harmonyrooftiles.com.au:
The drawing below is from this page on bristileroofing.com.au.
So this "Anti-Ponding Board" thing is installed at the edge of the roof, and under the sarking to allow waters collected by the sarking to discharge into the gutter.
I remembered one of the Clarendon sales strongly recommend not to install sarking. Her reason is, if there's a crack somewhere in the tiles, it will be very difficult to work out which is the cracked tile. Because the water will run all the way to the gutter because of the sarking... Hang on, what are you talking about? That's one of the main reasons for installing sarking: to prevent leaking water from damaging my roof/ceiling! I would certainly prefer to have this extra protection than water damaged roof/ceiling!
Friday, 27 July 2007
Today I found some information related to this from this web site on greenhouse.gov.au.
"Electrical wiring must be appropriately sized or it may overheat when covered by insulation. Have it inspected by a licensed electrician to ensure it can be safely covered by insulation."
"Allow clearance around appliances and fittings. Do not install insulation within 90mm of hot flues or exhaust fans, or within 25mm of recessed light fittings. (Retain a clearance of 90mm for low voltage downlights). Restrain loose-fill insulation with non-combustible barriers."
Tried to upload some firewords GIF images but for some reason they don't work properly, so I quickly removed them :-( ...
I am busy working on a "secret mission", hopefully will attract more visitors. I would like to double it to around 1,000 per month if possible... Can't tell you anything yet as I am still not 100% sure if it's going to work... Keep watching this space!
Feel quite upset with no activity on my vacant land in such a beautiful weather...
In the past month, the only thing happened is the "peg-out"...
Tuesday, 24 July 2007
There's even a video on the web site.
"Ceiling downlights are a serious fire risk thought to cause at least one home fire per week by igniting roof insulation. And because they burn in the roof cavities above fire alarms residents only know their house is burning when the ceiling collapses."
"Metropolitan Fire Brigade investigators Rod East and Colin Fowler say over the past 18 months, in Melbourne alone, more than 57 houses have been damaged or destroyed by a downlight fire."
"Electrician and Managing Director of A and F Electrical, Frank Spiteri, blames a "do it yourself" mentality sweeping across Australia, for an increasing number of dodgy installations."
I guess it could be caused by the downlights not been insulated/installed properly, or the insulation not been installed properly, or both.
If you have downlights in your house, you might want to get a licensed eletrician to check if it's correctly installed!
If you found any problem and looking for solution, thanks to Mark/Cookiemonster from homeone.com.au forum, the following 2 products would certainly help:
(1)Isolite - Downlight Guard 94-114 for $14.95 each.
(2)Isolite Transformer Isolator for $9.95 each.
Monday, 23 July 2007
What happened is, we noticed all large windows displayed in our builder's display are done in "SFS" style (Note: S means sliding panel, F means fixed panel, refer to picture below). In simple terms, that means the (much wider) middle part is always fixed, and only 2 smaller part at both end are sliding panels. We understood it is designed this way to cut the cost down. And regardless of how wide it goes, the 2 smaller sliding panel are always in the same width (about 600mm). I also spoke to quite a few people and not many people actually notice that.
We think it doesn't look good, plus with curtains installed on top, about 30% - 40% of the opening part could be blocked by the curtain. We did some research, found the supplier's brochure (see PDF link below), in the brochure there was a statement saying "FSSF windows are available in sizes 1810mm in width and larger". Based on all these, we asked for "FSSF" style window to be installed on all 3 large windows.
Picture of windows supplier's brochure shown here for your reference (Note: you can download/view the full PDF from this link, the section shown is in page 4 of the brochure):
When we received the quote we were shocked to find that they want to charge us $675 for changing the 3 "SFS" windows to "FSSF" style. I called the supplier's 1800 help desk number and asked for a quote to compare the price differences between the 2, and this is what I was told (only asked for cost to supply material, since delivery and installation cost should be quite similar for 2 different styles):
- 1.2M x 2.1M: 4 panels (FSSF) - $305.85, normal 3 panels (SFS): $290.40 ==> we have 2 of this windows.
- 0.9M x 2.4M: 4 panels (FSSF) - $293.70, normal 3 panels (SFS): $281.60 ==> we have 1 of this windows.
We then have a big argument with the builder about this. They even have the supplier's sales rep on the phone for about 45 min to talk about this. Here're some of their points:
- "FSSF" windows leaks, it is not recommended to be installed unless it's for internal windows (e.g. inside house facing alfresco) -> how many house would have internal windows? And how come this wasn't mentioned in the brochure?
- Around 80 - 90% of the windows cost is in labour, the material only cost very little
- Reason for the high cost is, they are actually installing 2 smaller windows (1 in "FS" and the other in "SF") to achieve the same result
As we are the poor customer who doesn't know much about the industry, in the end we have to give up the idea of changing any large windows to "FSSF" style due to the high cost involved.
So, if you have some large windows, this is to let you know that it doesn't have to be in "SFS" style. And if you don't like it in "SFS", be prepared to pay a few hundred dollars to change to "FSSF" (or actually 1 "FS" + 1 "SF" if it's external facing), and that is for every window you want to change...
Hope you find this tip helpful...
"The Australian Bureau of Statistics says it is the largest quarterly increase of the producer price index in a year."
"CommSec chief equities economist Craig James says two factors drove the overall increase. 'That was higher oil prices and higher building construction costs,' he said."
"A higher Australian dollar pushed down the price of imported goods, particularly electronic equipment and tobacco products."
I don't understand, if higher Australian dollar pushed down the price of all imported stuffs, then why is the building construction cost goes higher? Is that because of increasing labout cost, or something else?
Won't be good news for any mortgage payer like use to have a higher interest rate due to inflation...
Friday, 20 July 2007
First, the good one: we finally have the tiger tails installed, yeah!
This one from a different angle. Sorry if it looks a bit unclear, as it was early in the morning on a cloudy day...
Bad news is, it started to rain again !^@%#^~$#$!%!~!@
It talks about "what is an easement?", "what can I put over an easement?" (diagram shown below, thanks to Matt/mattwalker), and some other stuffs.
This article should give you a better idea about what easement is and provide some knowledge about things can/can't be done on easements.
Please also note that the regulations between different states/councils might be different and they might change as well. Always consult your local council for latest information.
Thursday, 19 July 2007
The photos for some of the sticks installed for "peg out" as mentioned before:
1. These 2 sets are part of the outer ones around the corner of the block:
2. These 2 sets are part of the inner ones around where the house will be built (or where the excavation will start):
There were 8 set of them, each set has 2 sticks: one is higher and more visible, marked with red paints on top plus some writings, the other is lower and installed to the floor level. They are all installed around the boundary of our block.
The 4 lower ones at the 4 different corners of the block was in white colour, and the 4 lower ones in the middle, near the 4 different corners of where the house will be built (or where the excavation should start??) was in red colour.
I took some photos this morning and will post it here tonight. Hope this means our excavation will start very soon. Please, continue with the beautiful weather, no more rain for the next 4 weeks please...
As reported by "Northern District Times" "YES, you will have your hall", and the Epping West Primary School newsletter "Contact", after 79 years of waiting, the school finally have the funding to build a school hall.
Imagine that, 79 years! There have been fund raising events every year, but the money raised can never catch up with the increasing construction cost.
Just wonder how many other public schools are in a similar situation, waiting for years to get funding for setting up essential infrastructure. And ironically, how many other private schools owning more than one halls and are still receiving government funding...
Wednesday, 18 July 2007
Some information from the article:
- the slowest councils for determining development applications are Leichhardt, which takes an average 185 days, Strathfield (158 days), Canterbury (152 days), Ashfield (130 days) and Botany Bay (115 days).
- Eight councils took more than 100 days on average to deal with applications worth less than $100,000. Leichhardt topped the list again at 142 days, followed by Walgett (133 days), Oberon (127 days) and Auburn (124 days).
- some councils lost nine out of 10 court cases concerning DAs.
- Ku-ring-gai had the worst record, with 90 per cent of appeals against its decisions upheld in the Land and Environment Court. Close behind was Baulkham Hills (89 per cent upheld), Blue Mountains (85 per cent) and Wingecarribee (83 per cent).
- Not surprisingly, Ku-ring-gai council also had the highest reported legal costs - $1 million in 2005-06 - followed by Baulkham Hills ($989,994), North Sydney ($893,838), Pittwater ($875,446) and Leichhardt ($751,605).
Monday, 16 July 2007
"Some of the more aggressive lenders, such as Westpac, are offering discounts of 0.7 per cent and there are reports that lenders have given their top brokers authority to discount as much as 0.9 per cent for the right business."
"you can save $68,469 on a $350,000 home loan if you cut the rate from 8.07 per cent to 7.07 per cent. On a $500,000 loan the saving is almost $100,000."
Wow, that's a lot of money, you can get get a brand new BMW for that! So if you don't ask for discounts, where does the money go? The broker's commission or back to the bank!
Sunday, 15 July 2007
In case you are not aware, yesterday I found another article from news.com.au on 13/7 called "Jobs fall puts rate rise on hold" which claims "latest jobs data should ensure interest rates stay on hold until after the federal election".
Economists seems to be always making conflicting statements all the time depending on what data they are looking at. But we certainly want the interest rates to stay on hold for as long as possible (or even lower!)...
Saturday, 14 July 2007
As shown below, our builder setup a sign on our block a few days ago. We are all very exciting although it has been quite frustrating in the past few weeks due to continous bad weather.
Taiger Tail to be Installed Next Week
We have electrician Frank on site this afternoon to inspect the neighbour's power cable for tiger tail installation. Hopefully he will have everything ready some time next week.
We found that the other neighbour's landscaper only has time to finish the excavation before our builder blocked the whole site with fences. As shown below, they still have plenty of soils all over the places. We have given them 5 weeks since end of May and they still can't finish their work. Probably not much choice but to remove them manually without using any bigger machines/trucks.
Thursday, 12 July 2007
The topic today is main entrance door.
Unfortunately our supplier H*** Doors has a very badly designed web site and there wasn't much information available. The best I can find is this very unclear one:
This photo is from another customer of our builder, with exactly the same door like us, but with 2.4M ceiling, no highlits on top and only single door handle.
We are thinking of putting handles like this on the main entrance door:
And probably after hand-over, install door bottom seals like this from Raven.
Quickly did a search and found this "draft Inner North Subregional Strategy" on exhibition for public comment from NSW government web site: "When finalised, the Subregional Strategy will guide land-use planning until 2031 in the Hunters Hill, Lane Cove, Mosman, North Sydney, Ryde and Willoughby local government areas." Click on here to read the full report and other information from NSW government web site.
Although Epping is not part of it, our close neighbouring suburb Eastwood belongs to Ryde council and was included. I am most interested in the housing part, some information shown below:
If you need any further information, please visit the web site or call 1300 305 695.
Tuesday, 10 July 2007
Let me give you an example from our builder, the first photo shown here is the standard kitchen on display. We took this photo on April 2006.
Then another one from different angle on September 2006.
Later, on February 2007, we noticed a sign been posted on the cupboard. Have a look and see if you understand what it means.
We thought: ok, so they are increasing the fridge space for bigger fridges. That's good!
It wasn't until we visited a few houses built by our builder in March 2007 then we noticed something wrong. Have a look at this one:
And this one:
Did you see anything wrong? Give you a clue: compare the cupboards above the fridge space with the first 2 photos.
When they say "increased in height", that doesn't mean they will move the whole cupboard higher. What it actually means is, the top level will remain the same, but the bottom part will be chopped off (and you are not getting any credit for that!).
We went back in April 2007 and took this photo with the measurement tape. You can clearly see that the original fridge space is about 1710 mm. When it's increased to 1820 mm, you lose about 110 mm of cupboard space. And the whole thing will look out of proportion as the 3rd & 4th photos shown above.
Luckily we went back and check earlier this year, otherwise we could have miss it. We argued about this but there's not much we can do. In the end we still have to pay some extra money to increase the height of all the top cupboards to make it looks better. Nothing is free in this world...
Remember 2 things: 1. if you see any notice signs in the diplay home, make sure you understand what it means. If you are not sure, ask the sales for further information.
2. always go back to the display home and check before you sign the contract, they might have added some notice since your last visit.
Hope you find this tip helpful!
A high level summary of the report:
- 52 suburbs median house prices of more than $1 million
- 8 new inductees to the millionaires' club: McMahon's Point, Warrawee, Fairlight, Cammeray, Waverle, Haberfield, and Pymble and Roseville Chase
- median house prices of more than $2 million: Vaucluse, Dover Heights, Clontarf and Double Bay
- number of suburbs with property values below $300,000 almost doubled in the past three years
- 10 suburbs median house prices fall below the $300,000 mark over the same period - Doonside, Summerland Point, St Andrews, Ruse, Killarney Vale, North Gosford, Tahmoor, Yennora, Noraville and Lalor Park
- 131 Sydney suburbs with median house prices between $600,000 and $1 million, while most - 252 suburbs - fall in the $300,000 to $600,000 range
- Suburbs likely to join the millionaires' club within the next 12 months: Abbotsford, Strathfield, Cronulla, Birchgrove and Lane Cove
The reporter used the term "paper millionaires" in the article. I guess it's because you won't actually get the money until you sold the house. Also, don't forget that most of the time a large portion of the money goes to the bank... Well, that's life! Any way, the word "millionaires" does make people excited no matter it's just on the paper or in bricks...
Thanks to "vanderlay", we now have another photo as shown below. I will certainly post some photos of mine when it's available, if we could have a few shinny days in the coming weeks...
If you are interested in other photos from "vanderlay", please visit this flickr site.
Note: due to the high cost involved for the 4 steps cornice, all bedrooms, bathroom, laundry and study room will only have the normal cornice installed.
Monday, 9 July 2007
Let's start with the followings:
These 2 are from Boral:
This is from greenhouse.gov.au click here for the original page
Sunday, 8 July 2007
If you or any of your friends/relatives currently own or planning to own properties in the Epping, Cheltenham, Beecroft, Carlingford, West Pennant Hills, Castle Hills, Cherrybrook, ...etc suburbs, you should keep a close eyes on all information related to the North West Rail Link. As the construction of the rail way will have huge impact to the property price. For me, I only worry about the Epping to Castle Hill part as that's closest to me...
In case you are not aware, I noticed some information has just been released on 4/7, see "Preferred Project Report for the North West Rail Link" on TIDC web site. There's a very detail 127 page report included, which will take some time for anyone to digest and understand. It's good that there're also some detail drawings included.
I have attached the part closest to Epping station below for your reference. The black dashed lines are the new North West Rail Link, and the green dashed lines are the one originally proposed from Parramatta to Epping, which I believe is dead (see further information below).
In the report it also mentioned:
2.2.6 Letters to property owners
Letters were sent to all property owners within the 60 metre wide tunnel corridor and the 40 metre wide surface corridor. The letter outlined that the recipient’s property was potentially affected by the project, and provided information on the project and how to find out more. A copy of Planning Update No.2 was also included with the letter.
So I guess if your property is going to be effected, you would probably have received the notice (Quick, put the house on market for sale!!)...
Is the Parramatta Rail Link Dead?
This is actually a very old news now. I put it together with the article above as it's related somehow. I saw this article from "The Rail Now Campaign Inc." web site dated March 2003 talking about the status of the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link.
The best part of it is as quoted below:
"The Parramatta Rail Link EIS said the line had the capacity to carry up to 15 trains an hour(1). The plan was to have 4 from Hornsby and 8 from Parramatta ending up at Chatswood(2). But the Overview Report on the North-West railway says 8 trains an hour will run from Mungerie Park through Epping to Chatswood and beyond(3). That means 20 trains an hour from Epping to Chatswood, on a line which can carry 15. How can that be done?"
Personally, I don't really see the benefit of linking Epping & Parramatta, as both areas already have railway and other public transporation coverage. The North West one mentioned above would definitely be more beneficial to the public. I know a lot of friends and colleagues living in those areas have to rely on bus or driving to get to the city and it can take hours just for that. Traveling by train would be much quicker and better for the environment as well.
There will definitely be news/articles all over the place for complaints and other opinions (See this as an example) against this kind of major infrastructure construction works. Looking at the long term future for the development of the whole city, unfortunately, this is the price we have to pay...
The next tip I like to talk about is eaves. I think eaves are quite important and I was quite surprise to see lots of builders removed eaves from their houses.
Eaves helps your BASIX rating and houses without eaves looks like faces without eyebrow. When we dealed with Clarendon, we have to pay a few thousand dollars to add eaves. Why should I pay money for something that should have been included as standard in the first place?!
Found a few web sites with information about the importance of eaves, which you might be interested:
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This web site from NSW government has some handy tips and easy to understand pictures on ways to save water and energy, And here's one of them about eaves:
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This web site "Your Home Technical Manual" from greenhouse.gov.au mentioned a few things when choosing project home designs, as quoted below:
1. Select a design that can be positioned on your site to capture cooling breezes, particularly to living areas. Avoid large areas of west facing windows.
Most project home companies will mirror or flip a design to suit your needs at no extra cost.
2. Moving windows or doors from one elevation to another to capture cooling breezes often adds no cost but makes significant improvements to performance.
3. Avoid windows with fixed glass. Ask for windows with a significant openable area for ventilation.
4. Ensure that all openings are suitably shaded. Use landscape as an effective means of providing additional shade.
5. Ask for eaves to be included if the design has omitted them. ==> Why should they specifically mention this? There must be lots of project home builders omitting eaves in their design to cut cost!
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This web site from SA government also mentioned the followings:
A house with no eaves and no additional shading to the windows is required to have less glazed area than a house with eaves.
Good shading of windows (such as eave overhangs) and good orientation of the house (so that the main windows to living areas are facing due north) will enable the new requirements to be met for minimal cost (a few hundred dollars for more efficient insulation).
Saturday, 7 July 2007
What he recommended is either the "Keystone" or "Pyrmont" range from Boral. You can view it online from Boral web site here (Note: there's also a "Pavers and Retaining Walls - Your landscaping Guide NSW" on the same page which you might find quite helpful). I have copied a few photos below from the brochure:
Compared to the ones in sandstone blocks (I reported it here on 30/5), personally I still prefer the sandstone block retaining wall as it looks more special. Those Boral yellowish walls seems to be everywhere. Well, everything comes down to price, if the price is a lot cheaper, we might consider that as well. Have to wait and see...
Attached a few photos below for reference. Tell me, if it's you, ignoring the price difference, which one would you choose?
Doesn't look that good from inside, but as it's going to be covered by soil, who cares!